Shamanism in Siberia

A large minority of people in North Asia, particularly in Siberia, follow the religio-cultural practices of shamanism. Some researchers regard Siberia as the heartland of shamanism.[1][2]

The people of Siberia comprise a variety of ethnic groups, many of whom continue to observe shamanistic practices in modern times. Many classical ethnographers recorded the sources of the idea of "shamanism" among Siberian peoples. [3]

Мальчик на шаманском обряде
A Buryat boy in a shaman ritual
Шаман Ташоол Бууевич Кунга - обряд освящения места (санг)
Buryat shaman Tash Ool Buuevich Kunga consecrating an ovoo.

Terms for 'shaman' and 'shamaness' in Siberian languages

  • 'shaman': saman (Nedigal, Nanay, Ulcha, Orok), sama (Manchu). The variant /šaman/ (i.e., pronounced "shaman") is Evenk (whence it was borrowed into Russian).
  • 'shaman': alman, olman, wolmen[4] (Yukagir)
  • 'shaman': [qam] (Tatar, Shor, Oyrat), [xam] (Tuva, Tofalar)
  • The Buryat word for shaman is бөө (böö) [bøː], from early Mongolian böge.[5]
  • 'shaman': ńajt (Khanty, Mansi), from Proto-Uralic *nojta (c.f. Sámi noaidi)
  • 'shamaness': [iduɣan] (Mongol), [udaɣan] (Yakut), udagan (Buryat), udugan (Evenki, Lamut), odogan (Nedigal). Related forms found in various Siberian languages include utagan, ubakan, utygan, utügun, iduan, or duana. All these are related to the Mongolian name of Etügen, the hearth goddess, and Etügen Eke 'Mother Earth'. Maria Czaplicka points out that Siberian languages use words for male shamans from diverse roots, but the words for female shaman are almost all from the same root. She connects this with the theory that women's practice of shamanism was established earlier than men's, that "shamans were originally female."[6]


Siberian shamans' spirit-journeys[7] (reenacting their dreams wherein they had rescued the soul of the client) were conducted in, e.g., Oroch, Altai, and Nganasan healing séances.

Songs, music

Buryat shaman performing a libation.

As mentioned above, shamanistic practice shows great diversity,[3] even if restricted to Siberia. In some cultures, the music or song related to shamanistic practice may mimic natural sounds, sometimes with onomatopoeia.[8]

This holds true for the practices of the noaidi among Sami groups. Although the Sami people live outside of Siberia, many of their shamanistic beliefs and practice shared important features with those of some Siberian cultures.[9] The joiks of the Sami were sung on shamanistic rites.[10] Recently, joiks are sung in two different styles: one of these is sung only by young people; the traditional one may be the other, the “mumbling” style, which resembles magic spells.[11] Several surprising characteristics of joiks can be explained by comparing the music ideals, as observed in joiks and contrasted to music ideals of other cultures. Some joiks intend to mimic natural sounds. This can be contrasted to bel canto, which intends to exploit human speech organs on the highest level to achieve an almost “superhuman” sound.[12]

The intention to mimic natural sounds is present in some Siberian cultures as well: overtone singing, and also shamanic songs of some cultures can be examples.

  • In a Soyot shamanic song, sounds of bird and wolf are imitated to represent helping spirits of the shaman.[13]
  • The seances of Nganasan shamans were accompanied by women imitating the sounds of the reindeer calf, (thought to provide fertility for those women).[14] In 1931, A. Popov observed the Nganasan shaman Dyukhade Kosterkin imitating the sound of polar bear: the shaman was believed to have transformed into a polar bear.[15]

Sound mimesis is not restricted to Siberian cultures and is not necessarily linked to shamanistic beliefs or practices. See, for example, Inuit throat singing, a game played by women, an example of Inuit music that employs overtone singing, and, in some cases, the imitation of natural sounds (mostly those of animals, e.g. geese).[16][17] The imitation of animal sounds can also serve such practical reasons as luring game in hunt.[16]

Grouped by linguistic relatedness

Fenno-Ugrian people
Uralic languages. The language isolate Yukaghir is conjectured by some to be related to Uralic[18]
Turkic language map-present range
Turkic languages, including also North Siberian Yakuts (but Dolgans are omitted), South Siberian areas, and also Central Asia


Uralic languages are proven to form a genealogical unit, a language family. Not all Uralic peoples live in Siberia or have shamanistic religions. The largest populations, the Hungarians and Finns, live outside Siberia and are mostly Christian. Saami people had kept shamanic practices alive for a long time. They live in Europe, but practiced shamanism until the 18th century.[19] Most other Uralic peoples (e.g. Hungarian, Finnic, Mari) have only remnant elements of shamanism.[19] The majority of the Uralic population lives outside Siberia. Some of them used to live in Siberia, but have migrated to their present locations since then. The original location of the Proto-Uralic peoples (and its extent) is debated. Combined phytogeographical and linguistic considerations (distribution of various tree species and the presence of their names in various Uralic languages) suggest that this area was somewhere between the Kama and Vyatka rivers on the western side of the ural mountains. [20]


Among several Samoyedic peoples shamanism was a living tradition also in modern times, especially at groups living in isolation until recent times (Nganasans).[21] There were distinguished several types of shamans among Nenets,[22] Enets,[23] and Selkup[24] people. (The Nganasan shaman used three different crowns, according to the situation: one for upper world, one for underneath word, one for occasion of childbirth.)[25]

Nenets people, Enets people, Nganasan people speak Northern Samoyedic languages. They live in North Siberia (Nenets live also in European parts), they provide classical examples. Selkups are the only ones who speak Southern Samoyedic languages nowadays. They live more to the south, shamanism was in decline also at the beginning of the 20th century, although folklore memories could be recorded even in the 1960s.[24] Other Southern Samoyedic languages were spoken by some peoples living in the Sayan Mountains, but language shift has taken place, making all these languages extinct.[26][27]


There were several types of shamans distinguishing ones contacting upper world, ones contacting underneath world, ones contacting the dead.[22]


The isolated location of Nganasan people enabled that shamanism was a living phenomenon among them even in the beginning of the 20th century,[14] the last notable Nganasan shaman's seances could be recorded on film in the 1970s.[14][28]

One of the occasions in which the shaman partook was the clean tent rite. held after the polar night, including sacrifice.[21][29]

Sayan Samoyedic

Some peoples of the Sayan Mountains spoke once Southern Samoyedic languages. Most of them underwent a language shift in the beginning and middle of the 19th century, borrowing the language of neighboring Turkic peoples. The Kamassian language survived longer: 14 old people spoke it yet in 1914. In the late 20th century, some old people had passive or uncertain knowledge of the language, but collecting reliable scientific data was no longer possible.[26][27] Today Kamassian is regarded as extinct.

The shamanism of Samoyedic peoples in the Sayan Mountains survived longer (if we regard Karagas as a Samoyedic people,[26][27][30] although such approaches have been refined: the problem of their origin may be more complex[31]). Diószegi Vilmos could record not only folklore memories in the late 1950s, but he managed also to talk personally to (no longer practicing) shamans, record their personal memories, songs, some of their paraphernalia.[32]

Whether this shamanism is borrowed entirely from neighboring Turkic peoples, or whether it has some ethnic features, maybe remnants of Samoyedic origin, is unresolved. Comparative considerations suggest, that

  • Karagas shamanism is affected by Abakan-Turkic and Buryat influence.[33] Among the various Soyot cultures, the central Soyot groups, keeping cattle and horses, show Khalkha Mongol phenomena in their shamanism,[34] the shamanism of Western Soyots, living on the steppe, is similar to that of Altai Turkic peoples.[35] A shaman story narrates contacts between Soyots and Abakan Turkic peoples in a mythical form.[36]
  • Karagas and Eastern (reindeer-breeding, mountain-inhabiting) Soyots. have many similarities in their culture[37] and shamanism.[38] It was these two cultures who presented some ethnic features, phenomena lacking among neighboring Turkic peoples. E.g., the structure of their shamanic drum showed such peculiarity: it had two transoms.[39] It was also these two cultures who showed some features, which could be possibly of Samoyedic origin: the shaman's headdress, dress and boots has the effigies symbolizing human organs, mostly bones;[40] in the case of headdress, representation of human face.[41] Also the dress-initiating song of the Karagas shaman Kokuyev contained the expression “my shamanic dress with seven vertebrae”.[42] Hoppál interprets the skeleton-like overlay of the Karagas shaman-dress as symbol of shamanic rebirth,[43] similar remark applies for the skeleton-like iron ornamentation of the (not Samoyedic, but genealogically unclassified, Paleosiberian) Ket shamanic dress,[44] although it may symbolize also the bones of the loon (the helper animal of the shaman).[45] (The theory of Ket origin of the Karagas has already been mentioned above.[31]) The skeleton-like overlay symbolized shamanic rebirth also among some other Siberian cultures.[46]


Starting from the late 9th century onwards, the ancestors of the Hungarian people migrated from their Proto-Uralic homeland in Siberia to the Pannonian Basin, an area that includes present-day Hungary. Today, shamanism is no longer widely practiced by Hungarians, but elements of shamanism have been preserved in their folklore. Comparative methods reveal that some motifs used in folktales, fragments of songs and folk rhymes retain aspects of the ancient belief system. In an effort to prove that shamanistic remnants existed within Hungarian folklore ethnographer, Diószegi Vilmos, compared ethnographic records of Hungarian and neighboring peoples, and works about various shamanic traditions of some Siberian peoples.[47] Mihály Hoppál continued Diószegi Vilmos's work[48] comparing shamanic beliefs of Uralic peoples[49] with those of several non-Uralic Siberian peoples.[50][51]

Although Ugric (which includes Hungarian) folklore preserves many traces of shamanism, shamanism itself was a dying practice among the Khanty and Mansi people by the 1930s. Shamanism is still practiced by many indigenous peoples,[52] but, among the Ugric people, shamanism is largely practiced by the Khanty.[53]


Ket shaman 1914
Ket shaman, 1914.

Traditional culture of Ket people was researched by Matthias Castrén, Vasiliy Ivanovich Anuchin, Kai Donner, Hans Findeisen, Yevgeniya Alekseyevna Alekseyenko.[54] Shamanism was a living practice in the 1930s yet, but by the 1960s almost no authentic shaman could be found. Ket shamanism shared features with those of Turkic and Mongolic peoples.[55] Besides that, there were several types of shamans,[56][57] differing in function (sacral rites, curing), power and associated animal (deer, bear).[57] Also among Kets (like at several other Siberian peoples, e.g. Karagas[40][42][43]), there are examples of using skeleton symbolics,[55] Hoppál interprets it as a symbol of shamanic rebirth,[44] although it may symbolize also the bones of the loon (the helper animal of the shaman, joining air and underwater world, just like the shaman who travelled both to the sky and the underworld as well).[45] The skeleton-like overlay represented shamanic rebirth also among some other Siberian cultures.[46]


Turkic peoples spread over large territories, and are far from alike. In some cases, shamanism has been widely amalgamated with Islam, in others with Buddhism, but there are surviving traditions among the Siberian Tatars, Tuvans and Tofalar.

The Altai Turks may be related to neighboring Ugric, Samoyedic, Ket, or Mongols.[58][59][60] There may be also ethnographic traces of such past of these nowadays Turkic-speaking peoples of the Altai. For example, some of them have phallic-erotic fertility rites, and that can be compared to similar rites of Ob-Ugric peoples.[59][60]


Chuonnasuan, the last shaman of the Oroqen, in July 1994 (Photo by Richard Noll)
Chuonnasuan (1927–2000), the last shaman of the Oroqen people, picture taken by Richard Noll in July 1994 in Manchuria near the border between China and Russia. Oroqen shamanism is now extinct.

Among the Tungusic peoples of Siberia, shamanism is also widespread.

The Tale of the Nisan Shaman, a famous piece of folklore which describes the resurrection of a rich landowner's son by a female shaman, is known among various Tungusic peoples including the Manchus, Evenks, and Nanai people.[61][62]

Koryak and Chukchi

Linguistically, Koryak and Chukchi are close congeners of Yup'il. Koryak shamanism is known.[63]


Yupik shaman Nushagak
Yup'ik shaman exorcising evil spirits from a sick boy, Nushagak, Alaska, 1890s

Yup'ik groups comprise a huge area stretching from Eastern Siberia through Alaska and Northern Canada (including Labrador Peninsula) to Greenland. Shamanistic practice and beliefs have been recorded at several parts of this vast area crosscutting continental borders.[64][65][66]

Like Yup'ik cultures themselves, shamanistic practices reveal diversity. Some mosaic-like examples from various cultures: the soul concepts of the various cultures were diverse as well, some groups believed that the young child had to be taken for by guardian names inherited from a recently deceased relative. Among some groups, this belief amounted to a kind of reincarnation. Also shamanism might include beliefs in soul dualism, where the free-soul of the shaman could fly to celestial or underneath realms, contacting mythological beings, negotiating with them in order to cease calamities or achieve success in hunt. If their wrath was believed to be caused by taboo breaches, the shaman asked for confessions by members of the community.

In most cultures, shamanism could be refused by the candidate: calling could be felt by visions, but generally, becoming a shaman followed conscious considerations.

SB - Altay shaman with drum
An Altai Kizhi or Khakas shaman woman – her exact origin cannot be ascertained from the image alone. Early 20th century.[67]
Schamanin während einer Kamlanie-Zeremonie am Feuer in Kysyl
Shaman holding a séance by fire. Settlement Kyzyl, region Tuva, Russia


The 2002 census of the Russian Federation reports 123,423 (0.23% of the population) people of ethnic groups which dominantly adhere to "traditional beliefs"

Traditional beliefs in Russia, based on 2002 Russian Census and Ethnic Group predominant religion
Ethnic Group Population (2002)
Evenks 35,527
Nanais 12,160
Evens 19,071
Chukchi 15,767
Mansi 11,432
Koryaks 8,743
Nivkhs 5,162
Itelmeni 3,180
Ulchs 2,913
Yup'ik 1,750
Udege 1,657
Ket 1,494
Chuvans 1,087
Tofalar 837
Nganasans 834
Orochs 686
Aleut 540
Oroks 346
Enets 237
Total 123,423

See also


  1. ^ Hoppál 2005:13
  2. ^ Compare: Winkelman, Michael (2010). Shamanism: A Biopsychosocial Paradigm of Consciousness and Healing. ABC-CLIO. p. 60. ISBN 9780313381812. Retrieved 4 October 2015. Part of Bahn's and others' arguments are based in an arbitrary approach to conceptualizing shamanism. For instance, Bahn characterizes Siberia as 'the heartland of true shamanism' (59), resorting to the idea that the word must be restricted to the cultural region of its origin.
  3. ^ a b Hoppál 2005: 15
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 January 2001. Retrieved 17 July 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Lessing, Ferdinand D., ed. (1960). Mongolian-English Dictionary. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 123.
  6. ^ Czaplicka, Maria (1914). "XII. Shamanism and Sex". Aboriginal Siberia. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  7. ^,_2-D&C.htm
  8. ^ Hoppál 2006: 143 Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Voigt 1966: 296
  10. ^ Szomjas-Schiffert 1996: 56, 76
  11. ^ Szomjas-Schiffert 1996: 64
  12. ^ Szomjas-Schiffert 1996: 74
  13. ^ Diószegi 1960: 203
  14. ^ a b c Hoppál 2005: 92
  15. ^ Lintrop, Aarno. "The Clean Tent Rite". Studies in Siberian shamanism and religions of the Uralic peoples.
  16. ^ a b Nattiez: 5
  17. ^ Deschênes 2002
  18. ^ Vaba, Lembit. "The Yukaghirs". The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire. NGO Red Book.
  19. ^ a b Hoppál 2005:84
  20. ^ Jaakko häkkinen
  21. ^ a b Hoppál 2005:92–93
  22. ^ a b Hoppál 2005:88
  23. ^ Hoppál 2005:89
  24. ^ a b Hoppál 2005:94
  25. ^ Hoppál 2005:207–208
  26. ^ a b c Hajdú 1975:12
  27. ^ a b c Hajdú 1982:10
  28. ^ Hoppál 1994:62
  29. ^ The Clean Tent Rite
  30. ^ Diószegi 1960:102,154,243
  31. ^ a b Viikberg, Jüri. The Tofalars. The Peoples of the Red Book of the Imperial Russia. NGO Red Book. ISBN 9985-9369-2-2.
  32. ^ Diószegi 1960
  33. ^ Diószegi 1960:243
  34. ^ Diószegi 1960:226
  35. ^ Diószegi 1960:238
  36. ^ Diószegi 1960:62–63
  37. ^ Diószegi 1960:242
  38. ^ Diószegi 1960:164
  39. ^ Diószegi 1960:198,243
  40. ^ a b Diószegi 1960:128,188,243
  41. ^ Diószegi 1960:110,113
  42. ^ a b Diószegi 1960:130
  43. ^ a b Hoppál 1994:75
  44. ^ a b Hoppál 1994:65
  45. ^ a b Hoppál 2005: 198
  46. ^ a b Hoppál 2005: 199
  47. ^ Diószegi 1998
  48. ^ Hoppál 1998
  49. ^ Hoppál 1975
  50. ^ Hoppál 2005
  51. ^ Hoppál 1994
  52. ^ Hoppál 2005:96
  53. ^,_III.htm
  54. ^ Hoppál 2005: 170–171
  55. ^ a b Hoppál 2005: 172
  56. ^ Alekseyenko 1978
  57. ^ a b Hoppál 2005: 171
  58. ^ "The s". The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire.
  59. ^ a b Vajda, Edward J. "The Altai Turks".
  60. ^ a b Hoppál 2005:106
  61. ^ Richtsfeld 1989, p. 200
  62. ^ Heissig 1997, p. 200
  63. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  64. ^ Kleivan & Sonne 1985
  65. ^ Merkur 1985
  66. ^ Gabus 1970
  67. ^ Hoppál 2005:77,287


  • Balzer, M. M. (ed) (1990). Shamanism: Soviet Studies of Traditional Religion in Siberia and Central Asia. Armonk NY.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Deschênes, Bruno (2002). "Inuit Throat-Singing". Musical Traditions. The Magazine for Traditional Music Throughout the World.
  • Diószegi, Vilmos (1960). Sámánok nyomában Szibéria földjén. Egy néprajzi kutatóút története (in Hungarian). Budapest: Magvető Könyvkiadó. The book has been translated to English: Diószegi, Vilmos (1968). Tracing shamans in Siberia. The story of an ethnographical research expedition. Translated from Hungarian by Anita Rajkay Babó. Oosterhout: Anthropological Publications.
  • Diószegi, Vilmos (1998) [1958]. A sámánhit emlékei a magyar népi műveltségben [Remnants of shamanistic beliefs in Hungarian folklore] (in Hungarian) (1. reprint kiadás ed.). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. ISBN 963-05-7542-6.
  • Gabus, Jean (1970). A karibu eszkimók [Vie et coutumes des Esquimaux Caribous] (in Hungarian). Budapest: Gondolat Kiadó.
  • Hajdú, Péter (1975). "A rokonság nyelvi háttere ["Linguistical background of the relationship]". In Hajdú, Péter (ed.). Uráli népek. Nyelvrokonaink kultúrája és hagyományai [Uralic peoples. Culture and traditions of our linguistic relatives] (in Hungarian). Budapest: Corvina Kiadó. pp. 11–43. ISBN 963-13-0900-2.
  • Hajdú, Péter (1982) [1968]. Chrestomathia Samoiedica (in Hungarian) (Second ed.). Budapest: Tankönyvkiadó. ISBN 963-17-6601-2.
  • Heissig, Walther (1997). Zu zwei evenkisch-daghurischen Varianten des mandschu Erzählstoffes "Nisan saman-i bithe". Central Asiatic Journal. pp. 200–230. ISBN 978-3-447-09025-4.
  • Hoppál, Mihály (1975). "Az uráli népek hiedelemvilága és a samanizmus [The belief system of Uralic peoples and the shamanism]". In Hajdú, Péter (ed.). Uráli népek. Nyelvrokonaink kultúrája és hagyományai [Uralic peoples / Culture and traditions of our linguistic relatives] (in Hungarian). Budapest: Corvina Kiadó. pp. 211–233. ISBN 963-13-0900-2.
  • Hoppál, Mihály (1994). Sámánok, lelkek és jelképek [Shamans, souls and symbols] (in Hungarian). Budapest: Helikon Kiadó. ISBN 963-208-298-2.
  • Hoppál, Mihály (2005). Sámánok Eurázsiában [Shamans in Eurasia] (in Hungarian). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. ISBN 963-05-8295-3., also in German, Estonian and Finnish. Site of publisher with short description on the book (in Hungarian).
  • Hoppál, Mihály (2006c). "Music of Shamanic Healing" (PDF). In Gerhard Kilger (ed.). Macht Musik. Musik als Glück und Nutzen für das Leben. Köln: Wienand Verlag. ISBN 3-87909-865-4.
  • Kleivan, I.; B. Sonne (1985). Eskimos: Greenland and Canada. Iconography of religions, section VIII, "Arctic Peoples", fascicle 2. Leiden, The Netherlands: Institute of Religious Iconography • State University Groningen. E.J. Brill. ISBN 90-04-07160-1.
  • Merkur, Daniel (1985). Becoming Half Hidden: Shamanism and Initiation among the Inuit. : Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis / Stockholm Studies in Comparative Religion. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.
  • Nattiez, Jean Jacques. "Inuit Games and Songs • Chants et Jeux des Inuit". Musiques & musiciens du monde • Musics & musicians of the world. Montreal: Research Group in Musical Semiotics, Faculty of Music, University of Montreal.. The songs are online available from the ethnopoetics website curated by Jerome Rothenberg.
  • Richtsfeld, Bruno (1989). "Die Mandschu-Erzählung "Nisan saman-i bithe" bei den Hezhe". Münchner Beiträge zur Völkerkunde. 2: 117–155.
  • Rubcova, E. S. (1954). Materials on the Language and Folklore of the Eskimoes (Vol. I, Chaplino Dialect) (in Russian). Moscow • Leningrad: Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Original data: Рубцова, Е. С. (1954). Материалы по языку и фольклору эскимосов (чаплинский диалект). Москва • Ленинград: Академия Наук СССР.
  • Shimamura, Ippei. The Roots Seekers: Shamamisn and Ethnicity Among the Mongol Buryats. Yokohama, Japan: Shumpusha, 2014. ISBN 978-4-86110-397-1
  • Szomjas-Schiffert, György (1996). Lapp sámánok énekes hagyománya • Singing tradition of Lapp shamans (in Hungarian and English). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. ISBN 963-05-6940-X.
  • Vitebsky, Piers (2001). The Shaman: Voyages of the Soul – Trance, Ecstasy and Healing from Siberia to the Amazon. Duncan Baird. ISBN 1-903296-18-8.
  • Vitebsky, Piers (1996). A sámán (in Hungarian). Budapest: Magyar Könyvklub • Helikon Kiadó. Translation of the original: Vitebsky, Piers (1995). The Shaman (Living Wisdom). Duncan Baird.
  • Voigt, Vilmos (1966). A varázsdob és a látó asszonyok. Lapp népmesék [The magic drum and the clairvoyant women. Sami folktales]. Népek meséi [Tales of folks] (in Hungarian). Budapest: Európa Könyvkiadó.
  • Andrei Znamenski, ed. (2003c). Shamanism in Siberia: Russian Records of Indigenous Spirituality. Germany: Springer Verlag. ISBN 978-1-4020-1740-7.

External links

Altaic mythologies

Altaic mythologies include:

Turkic mythology

Mongol mythology

Tungusic creation myth

Anthropological Perspectives on Religion

Anthropological Perspectives on Religion (Anpere), is an open access journal founded in 2006 by Swedish anthropologists Pierre Wiktorin and André Möller. The journal's focus is anthropology of religion.

Black shamanism

Black shamanism is a kind of shamanism practiced in Mongolia, Siberia and Romania. It is specifically opposed to yellow shamanism, which incorporates rituals and traditions from Buddhism. Black Shamans are usually perceived as working with evil spirits, while white Shamans with spirits of the upper world.Buddhism entered Mongolia in the sixteenth century after the conversion of Altan Khan. In 1691, after Outer Mongolia had been annexed by the Qing Dynasty, Buddhism became the dominant religion of the entire area and shamanism began incorporating Buddhist elements. Violent resistance in the eighteenth century by the hunting tribes of Northern Mongolia against the (Buddhist) ruling group, the Khalka Mongols, led to the foundation of black shamanism.


A Bobohizan (Tangaa' Kadazan term) or Bobolian (Bundu Liwan Dusun term) is a high priestess, a ritual specialist and a spirit medium in Kadazan-Dusun pagan rites. The office of Bobohizan or Bobolian, is also the chief preserver of Momolianism, i.e. the philosophy and way of life of the Kadazan-Dusun people.

One of the primary roles of a Bobohizan is to appease the rice spirit Bambaazon during harvest festival or Kaamatan. During the event, she will lead a procession of people from her village through the paddy field under the full moon, to give thanks and to seek a bountiful harvest for the rice-cultivating Kadazan-Dusun people. A Bobohizan also plays a role as a mediator between the spirits and the people. One of the commonest duties of a Bobohizan is to heal and cure illnesses with herbal remedies and rites.

Bora (Australian)

Bora is an initiation ceremony of the Aboriginal people of Eastern Australia, descended from groups that existed in Australia and surrounding islands before European colonisation. The word "bora" also refers to the site on which the initiation is performed. At such a site, boys, having reached puberty, achieve the status of men. The initiation ceremony differs from Aboriginal culture to culture, but often, at a physical level, involved scarification, circumcision, subincision and, in some regions, also the removal of a tooth. During the rites, the youths who were to be initiated were taught traditional sacred songs, the secrets of the tribe's religious visions, dances, and traditional lore. Many different clans would assemble to participate in an initiation ceremony. Women and children were not permitted to be present at the sacred bora ground where these rituals were undertaken.

Indigenous peoples of Siberia

Including the Russian Far East, the population of Siberia numbers just above 40 million people.

As a result of the 17th to 19th century Russian conquest of Siberia and the subsequent population movements during the Soviet era, the demographics of Siberia today is dominated by native speakers of Russian. There remain a considerable number of indigenous groups, between them accounting for below 10% of total Siberian population (About 4,500,000), which are also genetically related to indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Ken Hyder

Ken Hyder (born 29 June 1946) is a Scottish jazz fusion drummer and percussionist born in Dundee, Scotland, perhaps best known for combining folk, ethnic and Celtic music with jazz. He has worked with and recorded with many musicians, including Elton Dean, Chris Biscoe, Tim Hodgkinson, Paul Rogers, Maggie Nicols, Don Paterson and Frankie Armstrong.

He has also worked with Dick Gaughan, Vladimir Rezitsky, Phil Minton, the Scottish Lindsay L. Cooper, Sainkho Namtchylak, Jo'burg Hawk, Marcio Mattos, Jim Dvorak, John Edwards, Dave Webster, John Rangecroft, Radik Tyulyush, Julian Bahula, Lucky Ranku, Larry Stabbins, Harry Beckett, Art Themen, Gary Windo, Pete McPhail, Keith Tippett, Harry Miller, Nick Evans, Raymond Macdonald, Ntshuks Bonga, Hamish Henderson, Jon Dobie, and Lello Colombo.

Hyder has been playing and composing music for over 40 years. In that time he has produced more than three dozen albums of highly original material. He began playing jazz in Scotland before moving south to London where he played at the legendary Little Theatre Club - an avant garde haunt run by the late John Stevens.

Hyder formed Talisker and went on to make six albums with this pioneering and proto-type Celtic jazz group. In the 1970s he began moving away from jazz and into collaborations with musicians from different musical backgrounds including Irish, South African and South American players. Later, he became interested in exploring spiritual aspects of music with spiritual practitioners like Tibetan and Japanese Buddhist monks, and Siberian shamans.

Scotland and Siberia are now the strongest influences in his current work.

Hyder's current projects include K-Space, with Tim Hodgkinson and Gendos Chamzyryn; Hoots and Roots with Scottish singer Maggie Nicols; RealTime with z'ev, Andy Knight and Scipio; Raz3 with Hodgkinson and Lu Edmonds; A revived Talisker, with Nicols and Raymond MacDonald and a duo with pianist Vladimir Miller.

Most of his recent releases are on Ad Hoc records, Ayler records and SLAM.

Hyder's e-book novel based on shamanism in Siberia - Black Sky, White Sky - has been published on Amazon and Smashwords. His second novel - Hack Attack - about cyber crime and cyber terrorism is also available.

And the memoir How to Know - Spirit Music - Crazy Wisdom, Shamanism and Trips To The Black Sky is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Ket people

Kets (Russian: Кеты; Ket: Ostygan) are a Yeniseian people in Siberia. In the Russian Empire, they were called Ostyaks, without differentiating them from several other Siberian peoples. Later they became known as Yenisey ostyaks, because they lived in the middle and lower basin of the Yenisei River in the Krasnoyarsk Krai district of Russia. The modern Kets lived along the eastern middle stretch of the river before being assimilated politically into Russia between the 17th and 19th centuries. According to the 2010 census, there were 1,220 Kets in Russia.

List of Neopagan movements

Modern paganism, also known a "contemporary" or "neopagan", encompasses a wide range of religious groups and individuals. These may include old occult groups, those that follow a New Age approach, those that try to reconstruct old ethnic religions, and followers of the pagan religion of Wicca.

Mongol mythology

The Mongol mythology is the traditional religion of the Mongols.

Polytheistic reconstructionism

Polytheistic reconstructionism (or simply Reconstructionism) is an approach to modern paganism first emerging in the late 1960s to early 1970s, which gathered momentum starting in the 1990s. Reconstructionism attempts to re-establish historical polytheistic religions in the modern world, in contrast with neopagan syncretic movements like Wicca, and "channeled" movements like Germanic mysticism or Theosophy.

While the emphasis on historical accuracy may imply historical reenactment, the desire for continuity in ritual traditions (orthopraxy) is a common characteristic of religion in general, as seen in Anglican ritualism, or in much Christian liturgy.

Purity and Danger

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo is a 1966 book by the anthropologist and cultural theorist Mary Douglas. It is her best known work. In 1991 the Times Literary Supplement listed it as one of the hundred most influential non-fiction books published since 1945. It has gone through numerous reprints and re-editions (1969, 1970, 1978, 1984, 1991, 2002). In 2003 a further edition was brought out as volume 2 in Mary Douglas: Collected Works (ISBN 0415291054).


Quikinna'qu or Kutkinnaku is a chief deity of the Koryak mythology, part of the wider Siberian mythology. Quikinna'qu is depicted as a shapeshifting god or spirit that taught humans to hunt, fish and make fire.

Revitalization movement

In 1956, Anthony F. C. Wallace published a paper called "Revitalization Movements" to describe how cultures change themselves. A revitalization movement is a "deliberate, organized, conscious effort by members of a society to construct a more satisfying culture" (p. 265), and Wallace describes at length the processes by which a revitalization movement takes place.

Shamans (Hutton book)

Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination is a historical study of how westerners have viewed the shamans of Siberia. It was written by the English historian Ronald Hutton, then working at the University of Bristol, and first published by Hambledon and London in 2001. Prior to writing Shamans, Hutton had authored a series of books on such subjects as Early Modern Britain, pre-Christian religion, British folklore and Contemporary Paganism.

The book is divided into three sections. The first, entitled "Why we think we know about shamans", looks at how Russians and other westerners have understood Siberia and its shamanic practitioners from the Middle Ages to the present day. Specifically, it looks at how the concept of Siberia was created by the invading Russians, and how the governments of the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union interacted with the many ethnic groups who lived there, and how they dealt with its indigenous shamanic beliefs. In the second section, "What we think we know about shamans", he proceeds to highlight the difficulty with the concept of shamanism, which has never been definitively defined by scholars. He goes on to explore the various traits associated with shamanic beliefs and practices in Siberia, looking at cosmology, equipment and costume, and their ritual performances; throughout, he emphasises the great diversity among the shamans of this region. In the third and final section, "Siberia in the shamanic world", Hutton looks at the historical development of shamanic beliefs both in Siberia and outside of it, in other parts of Eurasia. Finally, he turns his attention to the current state of shamanism in Siberia and the influence of Neoshamanism.

Academic reviews published in peer-reviewed journals such as Folklore and the Journal for the Academic Study of Magic were predominantly positive. The archaeologist Neil Price however noted a problem in Hutton's discussion of shamanistic beliefs in Scandinavia.


The slametan (or selametan, slamatan, and selamatan) is the communal feast from Java, symbolizing the social unity of those participating in it. Clifford Geertz considered it the core ritual in Javanese religion, in particular the abangan variant. The feast is common among the closely related Javanese, Sundanese and Madurese people.

A slametan can be given to celebrate almost any occurrence, including birth, marriage, death, moving to a new house, and so forth. Depending on the intention, the mood and emphasis may vary somewhat, but the main structure is the same. Geertz categorizes them into four main types:

Those relating to the crises of life: birth, circumcision, marriage, and death

Those associated with events of the Islamic calendar

The bersih désa ("cleaning of the village"), concerned with the social integration of the village

Those held irregularly depending on unusual occurrences: departing for a long trip, moving residence, changing personal names, illness, sorcery, and so onThe ceremony takes its name from the Javanese word slamet, from Arabic: salam, which refers to a peaceful state of equanimity, in which nothing will happen. This is what the host intends for both himself and his guests, by experiencing the egalitarian structure of the slametan and the petitions of supernatural protection from spirits.In Geertz's fieldwork in Mojokuto in the 1950s, he found that costs of slametans varied from 3 to 5,000 Indonesian rupiahs, depending on the type and the relative wealth of the host.

Tale of the Nisan Shaman

The Tale of the Nisan Shaman (also spelled "Nishan"; Manchu: ᠨᡳᡧᠠᠨ ᠰᠠᠮᠠᠨ ᡳ ᠪᡳᡨᡥᡝ; Möllendorff: nišan saman-i bithe) is a Manchu folk tale about a female shaman who resurrects the son of a rich landowner.

Tungusic creation myth

The Tungusic creation myths are traditional stories of the creation of the world belonging to the Tungusic peoples of Siberia.

Yellow shamanism

Yellow shamanism is the term used to designate a particular version of shamanism practiced in Mongolia and Siberia which incorporates rituals and traditions from Buddhism. "Yellow" indicates Buddhism in Mongolia, since most Buddhists there belong to what is called the "Yellow sect" of Tibetan Buddhism, whose members wear yellow hats during services. The term also serves to distinguish it from a form of shamanism not influenced by Buddhism (according to its adherents), called "black shamanism".

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