Shamans and Shamanism

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Shamanism is one of the oldest, most ancient forms of religion, and goes back to the distant times of primitive society. When Shamanism was born is unknown, because at the time of Paleolithic stone ages had no written language, only the rock carvings on the walls of caves. The main actor in shamanism is the shaman – an intermediary between the spirit world and the world of men. Our ancestors who lived in a primitive society, had a very strong belief in numerous spirits that are invisible, inhabit our world, and have a huge impact on people’s lives. Therefore, the shamans as mediators and “the mouth of the spirits” in high esteem among his contemporaries.

Later replaced shamans as mediators come other actors: the priests. Gradually, with the development of civilization, culture, religion, shamanism position more and more weakened, and the shaman departed to the periphery of public life, and eventually in many civilizations and cultures have disappeared completely. Only in remote areas that have not been affected by human civilization and scientific progress, where people today continue to live as their ancestors lived many centuries ago (despite the fact that it is 21st century already) in such places to Shamanism is still alive and flying spirit of the great shaman, and ordinary shamans are still continue to beat their drums, doing magic rituals and communicate with spirits. In the 20th century, shamans and shamanic culture still persisted among the tribes of American Indians, the inhabitants of distant Russian Siberia (among peoples Chukchi, Evenki, Bashkirs), many native tribes of central Africa, Australia and Polynesia.

In Ukraine, the descendants of the ancient shamans have been preserved in the picturesque Carpathian Mountains. Ukrainian shamans call themselves molfar (wizards) and live somewhere high in the Carpathian Mountains, far away from human civilization and tourist routes.

Shamans are different from the priests, of the fact that they often become shamans against their will, but the spirits themselves choose them to shamanism (shamanic service). Being a shaman is hard, very hard, and often people who fell on themselves choice of spirits, did not want to become a shaman, but nothing can be done, the spirits did not argue. Before becoming a shaman, a person on whom the spirits choice fell, passed through the rite of recreation, which is still known as the shaman’s disease. During this ceremony (which can sometimes last for years!) The future shaman goes through great suffering and trials. Spirits can cook a shaman’s body in the boiler, remove it from the skin, count his bones, sometimes the body of a candidate for the shamans, for no reason at all, covered with bruises and abrasions. On the part of such a person is very sick, sometimes it will give the impression of a Madman, he might be epileptic seizures and just severe pain in all parts of the body.

Over time, a man begins to slowly shaman and pain and suffering due to this pass, recovery occurs, after which a person becomes a full-fledged shaman. In the Chukchi belief, the man who suffered the shaman’s disease has a choice – either to die at some time in great agony, or start to shaman, and finally did become a shaman. It should be noted that being a shaman was a great honor, and when someone happened shamanic sickness, all the relatives and friends of the man closely began caring for the sick and the whole tribe than it helped the family of the future shaman.

Have much in common between the shamans and other well-known religious figures – prophets. There is even an opinion that it was the first prophets were shamans. The generality of the prophets, the shamans in the fact that people who are became the prophets, as well as shamans, became not on their own will. We may recall the biblical story of the prophet Jonah, who instead of going to preach the will of God in the city of Nineveh, and tries to run away from God and the mission of the prophet and the punishment for it is in the belly of a giant fish. Also in the descriptions of people who lived as the prophets can see something similar to shamanic ritual of recreation. For example, if you take the biography of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. According to legend, angels, cut it in half, cleaned the body and only after that he received the gift of prophecy and became a prophet of Allah.

The ceremony during which the shaman communicates with spirits called – rite. In ritual the shaman enters a trance or ecstasy. Modern psychology (which by the way, recently took a strong interest in the phenomenon of shamanism) is the state of the shaman, when he was in communication with the spirits is in a trance, calls for scientific – “altered state of consciousness.” In this state the consciousness of the shaman expands, he sees things that can not be seen in the normal state. During the ritual the shaman can hop on one foot, rolling on the ground, dance, beat the drum, take a hot iron with his bare hands, but can do nothing, just a lie on the ground, while traveling with the spirits somewhere in the other places.

Tambourine – a special shamanic tool. Shamans drum is perceived as a living creature, embodying the spirit shaman’s assistant. Without it, the shaman loses his force. If the shaman during the ceremony of ritual drum breaks, this shaman may even die.

shamanic drum

It looks like a typical shamanic drum, although in different shamans of various tambourines.

shamanic drum

And it’s obvious the big drum of computer shaman Bill Gates.

An interesting story can be found in the writings of the Russian scientist Popov ethnographer who spent much time studying shamanic cultures, living in the tundra of Chukotka tribes.

In January 1931 during a severe blizzard has not returned from the tundra one of the hunters. To find it, the hunter’s relatives appealed to the local shaman. The shaman has agreed to find a hunter, for he had contact with the spirits of the ritual – rite went into a trance. First Shaman tied his eyes, and clothing from had only a shirt, wearing his naked body. In these clothes blindfolded shaman for three days running across the tundra, searching for a lost hunter. The temperature in the tundra was a minimum of – 30 degrees with a minus sign, the shaman is running around in his shirt, barefoot and with a blindfold! Relatives of a hunter all the time followed the shaman on the sleds. Finally, the third day they found a hunter who was cold, but still alive, lying in the snow. Shaman was feeling fine and not even cold!

Speaking later to the scientists, the shaman told him that when entering into a trance, he ties his physical eyes, because the spirits of his other eye open – spiritual, which he can see much better and sharper. Those eyes, he looks for lost objects, in particular people. Also, the spirits reveal his spiritual ears with which he hears the trees and bushes. “I myself sometimes wonder, when a tree stump or pine gives me an indication of where to go and where to find the missing hunter,” – said the shaman.


For their tribes shamans were primarily physicians, because of the belief of many primitive tribes, any disease which has occurred with people is a consequence of the negative influence of spirits. And who has to deal with the spirits – only a shaman? Also, the shaman is the messenger of the will of the spirits can see into the future, predict the weather. In some tribes, shaman’s beliefs are agents of the dead to the afterlife.

And finally, take a look an interesting video with a ritual ceremony of the northern shaman.

Although the ritual may be indicative for the tourists. It is worth noting that in 1992 in the Russian city of Yakutsk hosted an international conference on the study of shamanism, but to take part in it could not attract any real shaman.

P. S. This post appeared in some ways due to our German friends: Eine dunkle Begierde Intelligentes Drama über eine junge Frau, die in den Anfängen der Psychoanalyse und einer Zeit des Antisemitismus hart um ihre Freiheit und ihre Position kämpfen muss.

One Response to Shamans and Shamanism

  1. Phoenix the Elder

    All the books written in the 70s through 00s were written by PhDs (University professors) who traveled to interview people, and were not shamans themselves. So when youth here out of the mouths of real shamans telling them what shamans do, they have a difficult time believing real shamans. I find that just one more layer of corruption of shamanism in general. And since all shamans were female before the patriarch, people also assume that shamans are males… males have little power compared to adult middle aged or elder female shamans world wide. There are Northern Shamans in Siberia etc who have told young women who were under 24, that they had to sleep with the male shaman to heal or be initiated, that is called rape. The first shaman was woman and she didn’t need to hide her face from demons and spirits, but male shamans still do.

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