Few people know about such a unique phenomenon as Siberian shamanism. Even the Siberians themselves have a vague idea of the content of this part of the indigenous culture of North and Central Asia.
By the way, the word “shamanism” came to us from the Evenki language and it means “he who knows.” Attitude to shamanism in modern man is built on the meager references from the school course, children’s tales, speculation and rumors.
As a result, the view on this side of the cultural life of many peoples acquires a very simplified and stereotyped view. Let’s take a look at shamanism from a different angle, debunking in passing a few myths about this side of the life of indigenous Siberian peoples.
Shamanism is an extremely primitive phenomenon.
Shamanism is usually considered a primitive faith of backward peoples, far from civilization. In different historical epochs such epithets were awarded to China, Japan, the Middle East. Today, few doubt the high cultural level of these peoples, noting a special mentality, culture, life positions. Today, it is difficult to draw a clear line between civilized and primitive peoples. If we start from economic prosperity, does the development of the region mean the loss of the habitual habitat of the peoples of Eastern Siberia? One can speak of a low level of knowledge and primitiveness of the civilized world, which allows for environmental problems, which speaks of a lack of understanding of human interaction with nature. You can compare a car and a horse, for European values the machine is an indicator of civilization. Auto allows you to quickly move, requires not much care. A horse is a living being, with which one still needs to find contact, it is not a machine, not a thing. So where is primitivism? We consider nonsense what the shamans say – stories about spirits, which are the sources of troubles, misfortunes, and acquisitions. But such an atheistic approach rejects all other religions. After all, any religious denomination is based on postulates that are accepted solely on faith. It is impossible to consider shamanism as simpler than other religions, because the same phenomena are given simply different meanings and terminology. Once for the conquistadors and the Incas were primitive creatures, which should be conquered and robbed. Today we find the riddles of ancient peoples and can not fully understand them. We can not fully understand shamanism, since we do not have complete information about its structure and hierarchy. But this belief in complexity is not inferior to world religions.
Shamans are pathological and inferior.
This myth originated with the emergence of pathopsychology. At different times, scientists isolated epilepsy in behavior of shamans, encephalopathy of nerve diseases, hysteria, etc. This view was largely fueled by shamans and their stories about a kind of “shamanic disease.” However, close examination reveals features that do not fit into the generally accepted approach. For example, a significant number of pathological symptoms observed in the state of trance in everyday life were not seen. It is curious that during the shamanic ritual the weight of the priest’s vestments could reach up to 20 kg, the ritual could last all night. All this time the shaman beat the tambourine and danced, jumped. I read spells. Researchers believe that chaotic movements with such a load would simply crush the entire dwelling, but this does not happen. Therefore, shamans clearly realize everything that is happening, counting their movements, rejecting the arguments about insolvency. Study of the same psychological characteristics of shamans showed that their memory and ability to self-control is much higher than average. Often shamans are the bearers of the oral epic. The Yakut shaman in the common dictionary has 4000 words, whereas his poetic dictionary includes 12,000 words. This testifies to the rich inner world of the shaman, he is able to convey and realize the great experience.
The followers of shamanism are primitive people themselves.
It is at least strange for us to hear about the spirituality of an inanimate nature. However, in everyday life, we often treat the surrounding objects as living. Shamanism is simply consistent, filtering out exactly those cases that demonstrate the spirituality of an inanimate world. In addition, many educated people in Siberia, with higher educations, having a high social status and income, no, no, and will stop at the places of veneration of the ezhinov-owners of the area. Someone will tie a ribbon, someone will throw a coin or a candy, and someone will splash alcohol. In fact, living with indigenous peoples, aliens eventually adopt their behavioral patterns. Today in Siberia one can find notes of Christianity, Buddhism, shamanism, atheism and Islam, while they are neighbors without special disagreements.
Shamans and their culture are asocial.
What is this asociality? First of all, the shaman seems to us a man in the old plague in the taiga, surrounded by wild animals. Shamans are set up against a person, taking away souls and lives, treating others’ needs with disdain. Shamanism, supposedly not oriented toward such a society, in which social tasks are not solved, is based on communication with the other world. The first part of the statement is partly true. For some time now shamans have divided into white and black, depending on their interests. Today, black shamans are descendants of those who, when moving from hunting to cattle breeding, did not want to give up their ambitions and adjust themselves to a changing environment. The main interest for them is represented by man and his interaction with nature and the world as a whole. It is believed that such shamans are able to travel to the lower and less often in the upper worlds. In fact, they are healers who can fight with spirits. Usually such people prefer a solitary way of life, although family cares are not avoided, they acquire offspring. White shamans serve as narrators, performing rituals for the needs of the whole community – appealing to high yields, to avoid diseases, etc. Such people establish a connection between nature and society, they can not travel to the lower worlds. Simply put, a white shaman is engaged in prevention, and black is a struggle. White shamans are active members of society, they lead like the whole economy, create families, but they are not actually leaders, content with the role of spiritual leaders. Regarding the attitude towards other people, it should be noted that shamans are a product of their society, everything depends on the environment. The kidnapping of souls and the building of morale is a work for black shamans who, due to their characteristics and abilities, are compelled to participate in this aspect of community life. The reason for such actions may be resentment of the power of the one who has such a thing, these phenomena have their roots in the social order itself. In our modern world and among other faiths, there are stories that compromise the essence of the teaching, so shamanism in this regard is more sincere. For the shamans, there is a niche in the society, although by and large such stories are more pronounced in tales, in the modern world of people capable of doing very little at this level. Continuity is gradually coming to naught. Shamans have a value orientation that seeks to preserve the natural environment in which a person grew up. Shamanism brings people back to nature, preserving invisible connecting threads. There are some taboos that demonstrate a timid attitude to nature. Shamans believe that it is necessary to give something in return, if you have already taken something. The felled tree must be sprinkled with blood, apologized to the torn flower. Such actions prepare the mind to care for nature or, as it is fashionable to say, form an ecological consciousness.
Shamanism is in fact a distorted version of Buddhism.
This myth was formed by our scientists in the first half of the twentieth century. It was believed that Buddhism, spreading north from Tibet, was transformed by local tribes into shamanism.To prove the version, parallels between rituals, costumes, attributes, etc. were drawn. The qualities of Buddhist and shamanic masks for rituals differed – there arose the assumption that the tribes of shamanic faith borrowed them from Buddhists. Buddhist practice Chod was transformed into shamanic disease. However, studies conducted later showed that shamanism is inherent not only in Siberia – similar beliefs existed in other parts of the world, in all general cultures at certain stages of development. Today, one can safely call shamanism a prerelogy. In all world religions and their descendants we can distinguish elements of more ancient views on the world, which relate to the worldview of shamanism.
Shamanism is a black faith, as a result, the soul is given to the devil.
You can often hear that shamanism denies the existence of a single god, shamanism is a pagan belief that leads to an aggravation of karma, confusion. Such opinions are heard from other faiths. The main thing that is inherent in this myth is goals and methods. A distinctive feature of most people is that they are constantly looking for something – better, more. It is this instability that religions try to overcome, including shamanism. Shamans help overcome internal imbalances and find themselves in harmony with nature. All human diseases – physically and mentally, are manifestations of internal disharmony, therefore superstitions and taboos are prevalent in shamanism, so as not to disturb harmony, signs, to diagnose emerging signs of discord, fortune telling and other eccentric actions. The main goal of all this, we repeat, support and diagnosis of communication with the world, which is broken due to life circumstances.
Shamanism is incomprehensible to man, since it is too abstract.
This myth arises from a failure in understanding, which is based in its essence on the thought process. For understanding, experience and words are needed to describe it. Another aspect of understanding is the alignment of new information with old representations. We know that the shamanist worships spirits. Spirit for us – some otherworldly power, affecting the world and us. Usually, we represent God in this way. Shamanism says that there are many spirits, we logically come to the fact that there is polytheism. In this case, there is an interpretation of the experience, and he himself is absent. In Russian culture, the very word worship comes from “bowing”, that is, an expression of reverence, respect and obedience, but the shamanist treats spirits differently. With regard to our concepts, we can say that shamans perceive spirits more as hosts of the terrain, where people are just guests. The reason for the disagreement lies only in the misinterpretation of experience and words, shamanism only differently interprets reality.