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Siberian Shamanhood



Gavriil Alexejev, Isle of Tojon-Aryy Dschobulga, January, 12th. 1925.

    According to the traditions every shaman has a "Animal Mother" (I choose the term "Tiermutter", similar as in my writings on the "Tiergeist"). She is said to look like a very big bird with a beak that reminds on a iron icebreaker, with hooked climbing claws and a nine yards measuring tail.

    The Tiermutter appears at the birth and during the raising of the shamans soul; later she returns only shortly before the death of the shaman. If the Tiermutter appeares again it is a sure sign of his very soon death. All shamanic Tiermütters are similar in appearance and have similar characteristics.

    The Tiermutter takes the soul of the future shaman with her into the lower world and raises it on the twigs of a fir-tree. The soul of a great shaman is being raised on the ninth level of twigs (counted from down below).

    If the soul is ready for life the Tiermutter is ascending to the middle world. She is dismembering the body of the shaman into little bits and scatter them on all paths of death and disease. She distributes them under the evil spirits. It is said that each spirit of a particular disease owns the part of the part of the body affected by this disease. A shaman can cure the manyfold diseases Painting of Timofej Stepanov only after the complete scattering of his body among the evil spirits, which withdraw after the feast.

    Less important shamans are not slashed into bits. These, which have become shaman due to hysteria or falling disease granted by normal evil spirits ("üör") are not dismembered, too. Only a great shaman with many shamanic ancestors is enduring the dismembering.

    Some shamans hang up a certain curtain when they are at home during the dismembering. Therewithal they are very cautious and don´t eat or drink. They forbid the people to pass between their layer and the fire of the herd. Only a pure boy is allowed to bring food. According to the traditions shamans once isolated themselves from public contacts and built a special tent (uras) at a remote place, far away from humans, where the lay down for the dismembering.

    After the dissection of the body and its distribution every bone is placed properly again at its place, joint is being fitted to joint and then the shaman awakes as if he had slept. The whole dissection and distribution of his body the shaman is experiencing with his own eyes.

Jakutian Shaman's Dismemberment, Drawing by Timofej Stepanov

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