Siberian Shamanism

The Siberian shamanism is ancient as the human kind itself  . It exists since the times when the shaman was the most important figure in the community . The tradition of shamanism is still followed in Siberia . Even the word shamanism has Siberian roots . It originates form the Tungusic Evenki language . The region of Siberia is a home of a large variety of ethical groups . Most of them are still practicing the shamanistic traditions .


Siberian shamans preforming a ritual


The Siberian shamanism refers to the universe as a living organism


Polar star is called , Celestial Claw . She plays a major role in the Siberian shamanic tradition . The Altaian shamans decorate their drums with the Venus symbol and the Ursa Major constellation . In the symbolism of the Buryat  shamanism (Buryats are indigenous group in Siberia)  , the World’s Tree is connected to the World’s River . The World’s River  connects all the three worlds . The underworld , our world and the celestial world . A shaman must travel alongside the World’s River , so that he’d be able to tap in all the tree worlds .  In the Siberian cosmology the universe is also connected to energies of the animals . The moose is connected to the human world . The bear is the master of all animals . The Evenki also consider the bear as their founding father .


Accordingly to the Siberian shamanism the universe has three-stage structure . All these stages are a representation to one another 


The Siberian shamanism is buildup of symbolism . For example the Yakutsk shaman must climb the World’s tree . The drum of the Siberian shamans is a representation of the universe itself . The shamans ties red and blue bands on the drum inner frame . These bands symbolize the souls of the shaman’s ancestors . The traditional Evenki costume of 18th century has a Chinese mirror on his left shoulder . The shaman uses this mirror to peep in to the other two worlds and to trap the misguided souls . The whole tunic is encrusted with the images of his helping spirits .


Siberian shaman playing on drum


The Animistic realm of the Siberian shamans is filled with spirits


Some of them help and aid the shaman . Other are malicious and harmful . The most important however are the helping spirits . They turn in to the shaman’s alter ego in time . Thanks to teir power the shaman can turn in to animals . There are two forms of helping spirits . The first is bounded with the shaman . The second type of spirits are free , not bounded by the shaman . These are souls of deceased shamans . These spirits aren't controlled by the shaman and can come if asked . The Siberian shamans also cooperates with the animals and their spirits . The most loyal helpers of the Yakutsk shamans, for example are the bull , the eagle and the bear spirits . In the Siberian shamanism it is believed that only a person born with the gift can become shaman .


The shamans in Siberia according to Mongush Kenin-Lopsan are divided in five different types


The first group is of shamans that are direct descendants of shamans . They work is a symbiosis with the spirits of their ancestors .


The second group is originating from the earth and water spirits . In Tuvinian their name is “cher sug öazinden hamnaan hamnar . They draw their powers from the spirits guardians of the earth .


Another group of shamans is the celestial - Tengi Boo(celestial shaman) . Tengi Boo are connected to the rainbow and the celestial world . They draw their powers from the rainbow and can identify signs in it . Furthermore the people believe that a person struck by lightning can become a powerful shaman. In their songs the celestial shamans praise the lightnings and the thunders .


Siberian shamanism


The next shamanic group is originating from evil spirits - Albistan Hamnaan Hamnar


The evil spirits are stilling the person’s soul . As a result he becomes sick  from a severe illness like epilepsy or mental illness . These are of the most powerful shamans .


The last group of shamans in the Siberian shamanism are the Aza shamans . They also drain their powers form evil spirits . These type of shamans always collaborate with helping spirits to fight the illness spirits . Their specialty is fighting diseases .


The Siberian shamanism still lives today and is the guiding light for the indigenous population of Siberia . The shamans are still of major importance for the indigenous people there . Their ancient tradition of shamanism is still preserved and passed through the generations .

Related Literature

Calling the Bear Spirit: Ancient Shamanic Invocations and Working Songs from Tuva

by Mongush Kenin-Lopsan


Siberian Shamanism: The Shanar Ritual of the Buryats

by Virlana Tkacz, Sayan Zhambalov and Wanda Phipps


Entering the Circle: Ancient Secrets of Siberian Wisdom Discovered by a Russian Psychiatrist

by Olga Kharitidi


Siberian Shamanism

by M. A. Czaplicka


Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination

by Ronald Hutton


Riding Windhorses: A Journey into the Heart of Mongolian Shamanism

by Sarangerel