Volume 16 Numbers 1 & 2 (Spring/Autumn 2008)


MICHAEL BERMAN (London): Mircea Eliade and the Shamanic Story

As well as writing on the history of religion, myth, ritual studies, religious symbolism and yoga, Mircea Eliade also wrote what could be regarded as the first shamanic novel, The Forbidden Forest, which was translated into English in the late 1970s. This pre-dated Castaneda's efforts and all the novelists who post-dated him such as Lynn Andrews and Mary Summer Rain's books about her blind teacher 'No-Eyes'. Eliade wrote shamanic stories too. A shamanic story can be defined as a story that has either been based on or inspired by a shamanic journey or one that contains a number of the elements typical of such a journey. This paper offers an appreciation of two of those tales—A Great Man and With the Gypsies.

DAGMAR EIGNER (Vienna): Spirit Possession Rituals in Central Nepal

The present study investigates indication, structure, and dynamics of nocturnal spirit possession rituals. The diagnosis known as “possession by a spirit that has been sent by a witch” calls for a special kind of therapy session in which important family members of the patient have to take part to help restore the harmony in the extended family or in the neighbourhood. By presenting parts of the dialogues that take place during the possession rituals we wish to demonstrate the emic view of the systemic logics of such rituals. Some persons who are present in the healing session even make remarks about the meaning of spirit possession states as they appear in the light of the ritual process. By means of a comparison of life histories and utterings made in the course of a ritual the specific features of the liminal phase—beyond the time that measures secular routines—and their therapeutic value are discussed. Finally, the similarities of the structure and the effects of ritual drama and of Ancient Greek tragedy as described by Aristotle are pointed out.

SHUYUN GUO (Jilin, China): Religious Education in Manchu Shamanism, as Seen from Jiaowuyun

The Manchu have practiced shamanism since time immemorial. Owing to the particular development of their society, Manchu shamanism has developed certain unique qualities, among them the jiaowuyun system. Jiaowuyun function as a religious education and ritual training for Manchu shamans and their assistants that embodies many of the main questions relating to Manchu shamanism. This article, based on the author's many years of research on the Manchu people, will describe the fundamental elements of jiaowuyun, including the structure of the overall system, the methods it incorporates, and characteristics of those methods.

ALEXANDRA KIM-MALONEY (Anchorage, AK): Selkup Shamanism in Correspondence between Vilmos Diószegi and R. A. Uraev

This paper focuses on an original source on Selkup shamanism from the archives of my late uncle, ethnographer Rafael Amirovich Uraev. These contain a draft of his reply to a letter from Vilmos Diószegi, the famous Hungarian scholar, asking for details of the shamanic huts (ambarchiks), wooden idols, open-air burials and fortune-telling among the Tym Selkups which he thought Uraev might be able to provide. The correspondence was dated October/November 1966.

DANIEL A. KISTER (Chengdu, China): Shamanic Healing Dramas and their Healing Agents

The healing effect of many shaman rites derives from their dramatic potential to induce a psychological effect. Some Siberian, Korean, and Chinese rites exemplify a contemplative, symbolic form of psychodramatic healing. They aim to free one from a debilitating self-image by centering consciousness on a world of supernatural power. Other Korean rites and a Manchu rite exemplify a spectacular, mimetic form of psychodrama. These derive their healing potential from dramatic interaction with gods, spirits, or ghosts. In all rites, that potential is virtual; it needs the patient's mental interaction to be realized. The process commonly involves interaction as well between the supernatural and natural, belief and experience.

DÁVID SOMFAI KARA (Budapest): Rediscovered Buriat Shamanic Texts in Vilmos Diószegi's Manuscript Legacy

The article is based on the materials collected by ethnologist Vilmos Diószegi (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) and folklorist Nadezhda Sharakshinova (Irkutsk State University) from the Western Buriat Bulagats on a joint field trip in September, 1957. It was the first time that a Hungarian ethnologist had undertaken fieldwork in Siberia during Soviet times. Nadezhda Osipovna Sharakshinova, herself a Bulagat Buriat, took Diószegi to her home area around the town of Bokhan. During the one-week field trip they collected folklore texts mainly on shamanism and native religion. This fieldwork marked the beginning of Diószegi's research on Siberian and Mongolian shamanism (1957–1964). Later Sharakshinova typed the Buriat texts and sent them to Diószegi, and together they published six prayers to the ancestors (durdalga) in English in 1970. Diószegi died two years later and the rest of the material remained unpublished, even though the most interesting information on shamanism (on all kinds of spirits and idols: udxa, zayaan, onggon, neryeer) is to be found among these items. The present article is a short introduction to this valuable material, which is now kept in the archives of the Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

CATHERINE URAY-KŐHALMI (Budapest): (The Problem of) Shamans in the Secret History of the Mongols

In the Secret History of the Mongols none of the persons mentioned is explicitly identified as a shaman. But two persons, Kököčü Teb Tenggeri and Üsün ebügen have been hypothesized to be shamans. Studying the characterization of both in the text of the Secret History, it became evident that Kököcü was a great shaman but that Üsün ebügen was a tribal leader in charge of certain ritual functions.

VILMOS VOIGT (Budapest): Amban-Lai, a Siberian Shaman? The First Theatrical Representation of a Shaman: A Play by Empress Catherine II of Russia

Empress Catherine II of Russia wrote a comedy in five acts in 1785 entitled Shaman sibirskoi (A Siberian Shaman). The main protagonist in the play is Amban-Lai, a shaman. A Russian nobleman from Tobolsk, Bobin, takes the Siberian shaman to his home in St Petersburg, where he performs some shamanic activity and enters into discussion with the guests of the house. The play has been mentioned both in the history of Russian literature and in the history of shamanism. However this article presents the first description of the shamanic elements in the Russian text of the play. Also reproduced and discussed here are written notes by Catherine about the characteristics and doctrine of her “shaman,” which deal more with the phenomenology and philosophy of religion (by Denis Diderot) and conspiracy phobia (by Catherine) than with Siberian shamanism.

PETER ZIEME (Berlin): A Note on the Word 'Shaman' in Old Turkic

The aim of this article is to introduce two Old Turkic text passages in which the word saman < Sanskrit sramana 'monk' (Prakrit samana, Gandhari samana) occurs. While the word was borrowed into several Central Asian languages like Tocharian, Parthian and Sogdian, it has not been found so far either in Old Turkic or in Mongol. As the sphere of the Old Turkic culture is closer to the Tungusic world, the etymology of the term 'shaman' should be discussed in the light of these new data.

Field Report

DÁVID SOMFAI KARA (Budapest) and LÁSZLÓ KUNKOVÁCS (Budapest): An Uighur Baxši from the Ile Valley, Kazakhstan

Review Article

MÁTYÁS BALOGH (Budapest): Shamanism in Present-day Mongolia and a Review of Some Related Books

Book Reviews

TATIANA MOLDANOVA: Arkhetipy v mire snovidenii khantov (Márta Csepregi)
JUHA PENTIKÄINEN: Golden King of the Forest. The Lore of the Northern Bear (Péter Simoncsics)

News and Notes

Minutes for the General Assembly of the 8th Conference of ISSR, Dobogókő, Hungary, Wednesday 6 June, 2007 10 AM. (Merete Demant Jakobsen)
The Ninth Conference of the International Society for Shamanistic Research (ISSR), Anchorage, AK (USA), From May 27 Through June 1, 2009