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Siberian Shamanhood



Osip Rykunov, Isle of Tojon-Aryy. Dschobulga. January, 17th. 1925

    The new shaman is feeling sick a long time at the beginning. He sings frantically sometimes. The spirits are singing which are entering his body and soul. This diseases lasts up to five or six years. The spirits of his ancestors, long dead shamans, are descending. A spirit of a dead shaman which has no descendants will become a wandering spirit. Sometimes such a wandering spirit finds an unlucky man, singing ...

    If there are descendants in his bloodline the spirit of the shaman descends primarily on descendants of the female lineage (siän uruu). Only one of the famous shamans of the past did not come down in this manner: the shaman Küstäch.

    The near relatives of some shamans are dying. The spirit of the shamanic ancestor kills, destroys and devours them because of the resistance upon the call he sends to his descendant.

    For each bone in  the body of a great shaman one relative of his lineage has to die as a toll to the spirits: for each of the eight big bones one human and for the skull another one. So nine people die for the nine primary bones of the shaman.

    The fate that a shaman has to be slashed into bits according to the rules and that he cannot come back to life without a toll of blood leaved marks in our everydays language. It is said about great shamans: "That's a great one, a horrible man which name should not be uttered without care during the holy month."

    You shouldn't argue with such a shaman. Opposition is not recommended, too. Everything he demands you have to give him and obey all orders. He can evoke every bad luck you can think of.

    During the jakutian "old times" a great shaman necessarily had to endure the dismemberment of his body. During this dissection the shaman remained outside his lodging and stay in the taiga. He used fresh barks from the birch for his resting place. Only one human can help him during this time. He had to choose one from his relatives, a young boy or girl being innocent and knowing nothing of the other gender.

    As long as four or five days the shaman lays there without any sense; out from his mouth comes white foam and from each joint blood rins down. His body is covered with blue and bloodshot spots. It is said that he lost his language. He lays there, more dead than alife and hardly breaths.

    It is said that the flesh is separated from the bones down in the lower world and the parts are distributed on many different paths. At each bifurcation of a path one piece comes to rest.

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