Not Quite Shamans









Shamanic States



Shamanic Praedicament



Layered Lands, Layered Minds



The Shaman's Two Bodies



Mischievous Souls


Capp. 0-2.





pp. 1, 4-5 agsan {It is evident (from further description and instances) that /agsan/ is the Siberian aequivalent to the Malayan /amoq/ ("amuck").}

p. 1

"The term agsan -- which is used to describe fiery-tempered horses that are particularly difficult to break in -- ... was said to afflict ... people in northern Mongolia ... . The person struck by agsan quickly loses control over himself (it is primarly a male phenomenon) and screams ...

growls resembling those of a shaman {or of a growling, snarling person (usually a woman) possessed by a fox-spirit or by a badger-spirit in the Omoto cult of Nippon} possessed by an animal spirit."

{N.B. Much as agsan persons are constantly threatening to beat up their prospective victims (infra p. 4) in Mongolia, similarly fox-with-badger pairs hunt underground game-animal-victims in Nippon and in Asia, just as coyote-with-badger pairs hunt underground game-animal-victims in North America.}

p. 4

"In being the instrument of occult forces whose manifestation is beyond his control, the agsan person is like a shaman, but not quite. Like the shamans ..., he embodies potent nonhuman forces. But [unlike shamans,]... agsan persons ...

p. 5

offend the spirit masters ... ."

{This offense is due to the agsan's impious and truculent attitude.}

p. 12 the confoederation-name /OIRaT/ is a contraction of /OIn-IRgeD/

"the Shishged was inhabited by so-called forest-peoples (oin-irged), a ... term used ... to describe ... hunters and and reindeer breeders of the north. It ... secured the survival of the Oirats as a tribe". After 1368, "for nearly four hundred years, ... the Jungar {'Left [wing]', in northern Sin-kian} (Oirat) federation ... was caught in endlessly shifting alliances".

p. 13 Darhad

"Thus the ethnic group known as "the Darhad people" (Darhad yastan) ..., and indeed the occult orientation sometimes referred to as the Darhad shamanic faith (Darhad bo:o: mo:rgo:l) ... resembled those of Daur Mongolian and Buryat contemporaries."

p. 13 forest-spirits

"Thus, the abodes of most Darhad shamanic spirits (ongod) are today found in or around the edge of the taiga,

while the region's flat steppe zone is dominated by ... spiritual entities such as mountain spirits (gazryn ezed)."

{In the Himalaya region, worship "of a god who is the personification of the mountain" (WhGAM, p. 30) is typical of such of "aboriginal inhabitants of" (ibid., p. 29) the pertinent locality as persist in the aboriginal faith.}.

WhGAM = Rene' von Nebesky-Wojkowitz (transl. from the German by Michael Bullock) : Where the Gods Are Mountains. Reynal & Co, NY.

pp. 31-2 likeness of praevalence of occult mysticism ("witchcraft") in Africa and in Mozambique, to its (shamanry's) praevalence in Mongolia

p. 31

"Peter Geschiere's acclaimed study ... shows how ... in postcolonial Cameroon, witchcraft (djambe) became a "key element ... of power ..." (1997, 7-8).

The efficacy of djambe hinges on an irreducible ... fact that they are "related to the accumulation of power but can ... serve to undermine it" (16). ...

{The "power" alluded to here is oikonomic-political, and to "undermine" it can imply to subvert (with supernatural/divine assistance) any harshly exploitative despotisms.}

p. 32

All this sounds very familiar to the student of Mongolian shamanism."

Geschiere 1997 = Peter Geschiere (transl. from the French by Janet Roitman) : The Modernity of Witchcraft. Charlottesville : Univ Pr of VA.

p. 32, fn. 17 the likelihood that anyone highly evaluating the potentiality of effectual communication-with-deities ("sorcery") in dismantling despotic-political-systems-of-oikonomic-social-oppression, may well be personally practicing such effectual communication in secret

"Harry West's 2007 Ethnographic Sorcery ... points that ... the people "with whom [we] worked said that ... those who articulated visions of sorcery's workings were sorcerers; talk about sorcery was {indicative of secret practice of} sorcery;

words and deeds were cosubstantial" (59-60)".

{Metonymy for :- talk about any activity was substantive evidence of secretive performance of it.}

{It may be added that anyone proposing ritual prayerwork, at consecrated altars, for the purpose of overthrowing oppressive tyrannies, is virtually sure to be seeking to recruit, among hearers of such proposal, further practitioners for prospective engagement in such activities.}

pp. 34, 36 supernatural shapeshifting by "labile" spirits through otherwise "impossible" forms, is inhaerent in their controlling, through such processes of formation, the material universe

p. 34

"In northern Mongolia, the invisible powers of the spirits ... are imbued with ... labile shapes shapes or

(as I like to call) "impossible forms.""

{impossible to be retained for any very long while : for, the spirits involved are habitual shapeshifters}

p. 36

"In Melanesia, the Amazon, and northern Asia, {ideological ritual-religion} forms are thus ...

features of the world in their own right, which must be continually recreated, recalibrated, and reapportioned for the cosmos to assume its correct proportions ... (Hodges 2007; Holbraad and Pedersen 2009a; Nielsen 2009 ...; Pedersen and Willerslev 2010).

{Cf. formal "World Renewal" Caerimonies performed by "four northwestern California tribes" ("R"WR). "The purpose of the World Renewal Ceremony was to prevent {hindre} the occurrence in the coming year of disasters {calamities}, such as earthquakes, ... floods, hurricanes, and the like. Such disruptive events may have happened in the ancient past, and the ceremony was developed as a means of pacifying the supernatural spirits and thus averting a repetition." (NWCI, p. 33)}

Few have captured this ... idea of form better than Terence Turner ... on Kakapo {cf. /Kickapoo/} (Amerindian) cosmology :

[quoted :] The forms ... are actually embodied processes of formation ... . They contain the agency ... that drives ... specific ... behavioral patterns proper to their species ... . ... In these respects the form {the Platonic /idea/, derived from the Zaratustrian /fravas^i/} of the entity ... acts as -- or in pragmatic terms is -- its spirit."

Hodges 2007 = ? Matt Hodges : "Rethinking ... the Anthropology of Time". ANTHROPOLOGICAL THEORY 8 (2008).4:399-429.

Holbraad & Pedersen 2009a = Martin Holbraad & Morten Axel Pedersen (edd.) : Special Issue Technologies of the Imagination. ETHNOS 74.1.

Nielsen 2009 = Morten Nielsen : In the Vicinity of the State : ... Personhood ... in Maputo, Mozambique. PhD dissertation. Univ of Copenhagen.

Pedersen & Willerslev 2010 = Morten Axel Pedersen & Rane Willerslev : "Proportional Holism : Joking the Cosmos into the Right Shape in Northern Asia". In :- Nils Bubandt & Ton Otto (edd.) : Experiments in Holism. London : Blackwell. pp. 262-78.

"R"WR = Erminie Voegelin : "Review of :- World Renewal : a Cult System of Native Northwest California, by A. L. Kroeber and E. W. Gifford. ANTHROPOLOGICAL RECORDS, Vol. 2, no. 1, Univ of CA Pr, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1949." AMER ANTHROPOLOGIST 53 (1951):92-3.

NWCI = Robert Fleming Heizer & Albert B. Elsasser : The Natural World of the California Indians. Univ of CA Pr, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1980.

p. 37 to viewed, and to be viewed by, spirits

"the shamanic gown ... has the capacity ... for inviting ... spirits ... .

{In spirit-possession rites, the caerimonial robe peculiar to a particular possession-deity, may when donned, even if by an inappropriate person, induce that deity instantly to arrive and to possess the wearer.}

For ... wearing a costume gives gives Tsagaan Nuur's shamans the ability to see and be seen by the spirits".

p. 38 joking so as to enhance occult power for shapeshifting

"Throughout Mongolia, Darhads are notorious jokers. ... In this regard, joking is imbued with an occult agency of its own ... . ... For joking emerges as a way of acting shamanic ... . ... As "impossible forms" -- inherently labile entities that ... exist only in their endless becoming -- they ... make visible the invisible forces ... ."

p. 40 paradox of the multiple, the indeterminate : praeternatural "vague presences"

"it is by virtue of its multiplicity, indeterminacy, and plasticity -- its capacity for endless deferral, irresolvable paradox, and infinite self-extension -- that shamanism is imbued with such a potent efficacy in northern Mongolia ... . ...

In what follows, shamanic agency is also -- perhaps even predominantly -- found in a bewildering wealth of nonhuman {praeternatural} agents, such as vague presences and ephemeral atmospheres

(a cool sensation in a hot room,

{The literal meaning of /psukhe/ 'disembodied soul' is (in its neuter form /psukhos-/) 'cold, coolness' (L&S:G-EL, s.v. "psukhos").}

a conspicuous silence between words) ... ."

{advent of the Valentinian hypostasis /Sige/ ('Silence'), with reference to Apokalupsis of Ioannes 8:1, where the silence is a praeparation for (in such a dream) hearing "voices, and thunderings", seeing "lightnings", and feeling an "earthquake" (ibid. 8:5).}

L&S:G-EL = Liddell & Scott : A Greek-English Lexicon.

Apokalupsis of Ioannes 8



Shamanic States


p. 46 spirit of trees

"Every year, the {spirit-}masters ["ezed"] wake up with the thaw. ... . ... if you were to ask a shaman, he would say that the spirit comes from the trees themselves."

p. 66 repulsion, of the experiential praeternatural, by emblems of the political state

[quoted from Purev 2004, pp. 153-4] "Some shamans ... who were able to find and fetch lost items with their own magic gifts, said, '... But no shaman can fetch a bank note or coin, because of the state emblem on it.' So a shaman, who has fallen into an Ongod's trance, ... cannot pick up even a small ... state or national emblem".

{The unstated (but implied) explication of such praedicament would, of course, be that the praeternatural spirit-helpers of shamans consider the accursed emblems of the atheistic political state to be so defiling as to decline to assist in locating them, let alone to participate in teleporting them.}

Purev 2004 = Otgony Purev : Mongolian Shamanism. Ulaan Bator : Admon.

p. 67 a single transcendental Heaven ascititious to the 99 readily-attainable Heavens

"Whereas the state used to be conceived of singularly, and was in this respect conflated with the Eternal Blue Sky (Tenger), the post socialist state has taken on ... multiple appearance, akin to the so-called ninety-nine skies (tenger)".

{The analogues would be : of the singular heaven with unknown (lost) 100th name of >al-Lahh and with the lost sheep; and of the 99 heavens with the known (never lost) 99 names of >al-Lahh and with the 99 never-lost sheep.}

"Ninety-nine beautiful names of God".

Ninety-nine sheep &



Shamanic Praedicament


p. 85 danger, during hunting, from "souls of dead shamans"

"Some animal ... game gets hit ... by the souls of dead shamans. The su:ns [soul, scil. of a dead shaman] enters the hunter after he kills it [the game-animal]. ... A good hunter knows this from his premonition ["o:o:riin sovin"]. ... The hunter must recognize signs ["temdeg"] of the spirits, which [both the spirits and their signs] can be either big or small, but always new and different."

pp. 92-3 half-people

p. 92

"the "half people or badagshin -- semimythological creatures living somewhere in the depths of the taiga, ... appear to man as "vertically halves" (in the shape of a person with one arm and one leg, a deer with two legs, and so forth)."

{"There appeared to the shamans and occasionally to laymen ... half-people ... with one eye, half a mouth, one leg, and half a body. There were half-birds, too, with one wing, one foot, and so on." (SCNE, p. 198a)}

p. 93, fn. 1

"The etymology of badagshin is uncertain (it does not not seem to be of Mongolian origin)."

{It may be derived from Bodish /bDag/ 'master' ("OTb&b>").}

p. 93

"Badagshin are people of the wilderness (heer). Their mind are like humans', but their bodies are half (tal). They are small as dwarfs, only the size of an elbow {cubit}. ... Badagshin are covered with yellow hair, especially during winter ... . ... However, despite their small size, they are extremely strong."

SCNE = Margaret Lantis : The Social Culture of the Nunivak Eskimo. TRANSACTIONS OF THE AMER PHILOSOPHICAL SOC, new series, vol. 35, pt. 3. Philadelphia, 1946.

"OTb&b>" = "On Translating bDag and bDag ’Dzin".'dzin-Liberman.pdf

p. 111 "paradox" of "missing" shamans??

"The paradox of the missing Darhad shamans is underscored by the fact that the Mongolian ethnographer S. Badamhatan and the Hungarian ethnographer La`szlo` Dio`szegi, who both visited the Shishged around the middle of the of the twentieth century, met a large number (more than sixty) of what they referred to as "former shamans," ... Yet ... by the mid-1980s, there seems to have been only a few shamans left in the region ... . What happened?"

{This is no paradox. It is explained by a statement on p. 109 supra : "Balzer ... : "One of the many tragedies of the Soviet repression of shamans is that the shamans only with great difficulty found appropriate youth to whom to bequeath their secret knowledge and practice" (2006, 90)." With no further recruitment, the shamans were in their 50s (at least) "around the middle of the of the twentieth century", and had died off (from old age) "by the mid-1980s".}

Balzer 2006 = Majorie Mandalstam Balzer : "Sustainable Faith? Reconfiguring Shamanic Healing in Siberia". In :- J. D. Koss-Chiono & Philip Heffer (edd.) : Spiritual Tansformation and Healing : Anthropological ... Perspectives. Lanham (MD) : Altamira Pr. pp. 78-100.


Morten Axel Pedersen : Not Quite Shamans : Spirit Worlds ... in Northern Mongolia. Cornell Univ Pr, Ithaca (NY), 2011.