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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 culture of the indigenous population of North and Central Asia.
By the way, the word "shamanism" came to us from the Evenk language and it means "one who knows". Modern man's attitude to shamanism is based on scant mentions from the school course, children's fairy tales, speculation and rumors.
As a result, the look at this aspect of the cultural life of many peoples takes on a very simplified and stereotyped form. Let's look at shamanism from a different angle, debunking along the way several myths about this side of the life of indigenous Siberian peoples.
Shamanism is an extremely primitive phenomenon. Usually shamanism is considered a primitive faith of backward peoples far from civilization. In different historical eras, China, Japan, and the Middle East were awarded similar epithets. Today, few people doubt the high cultural level of these peoples, noting the special mentality, culture, and life positions. Today it is difficult to draw a clear line between civilized and primitive peoples. If we start from economic well-being, is the development of the region worth the loss of the habitual habitat of the peoples of Eastern Siberia? We can talk about a low level of knowledge and primitiveness of the civilized world, which allows for environmental problems, which indicates a lack of understanding of human interaction with nature. You can compare a car and a horse, for European values a car is an indicator of civilization. Auto allows you to move quickly, does not require much maintenance. The horse, on the other hand, is a living creature with which you still need to find contact; it is not a machine, not a thing. So where is primitivism hidden? We consider nonsense what shamans talk about - stories about spirits, which are the sources of troubles, misfortunes, gains. But this atheistic approach rejects all other religions. After all, any religious denomination is based on postulates that are taken exclusively on faith. Shamanism cannot be considered simpler in comparison with other religions, because the same phenomena are simply given different meanings and terminology. Once upon a time, for the conquistadors and the Incas were primitive creatures that had to be conquered and robbed. Today we find the riddles of ancient peoples and cannot fully solve them. We cannot fully understand shamanism, since we do not have complete information about its structure and hierarchy. But this faith is not inferior in complexity to world religions.
Shamans are pathological and inferior. This myth arose along with the formation of pathopsychology. At various times, scientists have identified epilepsy, encephalopathy, nervous diseases, hysteria, etc. in the behavior of shamans. This point of view was also largely fed by shamans with their stories about a certain "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 a trance state were not noticed in everyday life. It is curious that during the shamanic ritual the weight of the priest's vestments could reach 20 kg, the ritual could last all night. All this time the shaman beat the tambourine and danced, jumped. He read spells. Researchers believe that chaotic movements with such a load would simply destroy the entire home, but this does not happen. Consequently, shamans are clearly aware of everything that is happening, calculating their movements, rejecting arguments of inconsistency. The study of the psychological characteristics of shamans showed that their memory and abilities for self-control are much higher than average. Often it is the shamans who are the bearers of the oral epic. The Yakut shaman has 4,000 words in the commonly used dictionary, while his poetic dictionary includes 12,000 words. This testifies to the rich inner world of the shaman, he is able to convey and realize a great experience.
The followers of shamanism are themselves primitive people. It is at least strange for us to hear about the spirituality of inanimate nature. However, in everyday life, we often treat the surrounding objects as if they were alive. Shamanism is simply consistent, filtering out exactly those cases that demonstrate the spirituality of the 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 places of veneration for the Ezhins, the owners of the area. Someone will tie a ribbon, someone will throw a coin or candy, and someone will sprinkle alcohol. In fact, living with indigenous peoples, the aliens over time adopt their behavioral patterns. Today in the Siberian you can find notes of Christianity, Buddhism, shamanism, atheism and Islam, while they coexist without much disagreement.
Shamans and their culture are asocial. What is this asociality? First of all, the shaman appears to us as a man in an old tent in the taiga, surrounded by wild animals. Shamans are set up against a person, taking souls and lives, treating the needs of others with disdain. Shamanism, allegedly, is not focused on a society in which social problems are not solved, the basis is communication with the other world. The first part of the statement is partly correct. For some time now, shamans were divided into white and black, depending on their interests. Today black shamans are the descendants of those who, in the community's transition from hunting to cattle breeding, did not want to give up their ambitions and adapt to the changing environment. The main interest for them is a person and his interaction with nature and the world in general. It is believed that such shamans are able to travel to the lower and less often to the upper worlds. In essence, these are healers who can fight the spirits. Usually, such people prefer a secluded lifestyle, although they do not avoid family concerns, they acquire offspring. White shamans, on the other hand, play the role of storytellers, performing rituals for the needs of the whole community - calling for high yields, in order to avoid diseases, etc. Such people establish a connection between nature and society, they cannot travel to the lower worlds. Simply put, the white shaman is engaged in prevention, and the black one is in the fight. White shamans are active members of society, they run the household, they 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. Stealing souls and bringing pestilence is a job for black shamans, who, due to their characteristics and abilities, are forced to participate in this side of the community's life. The reason for such actions may be the resentment of the person in power, such phenomena have roots in the social order itself. In our modern world and among other confessions, there are stories that compromise the essence of the teachings, so shamanism in this regard is more sincere. For shamans, there is a niche in society, although by and large such stories sound more in legends, in the modern world there are very few people capable of harming others at this level. Continuity is gradually fading away. Shamans have a value orientation that seeks to preserve the natural environment in which a person grew up. Shamanism brings people back to nature while preserving invisible connecting threads. There are some taboos that demonstrate a reverent attitude towards nature. Shamans believe that it is necessary to give something in return, if you have already taken something. A felled tree must be sprinkled with blood, apologize to the plucked flower. Such actions prepare the consciousness for a respectful attitude towards nature, or, as it is fashionable to say, form ecological consciousness.
Shamanism is essentially 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 were drawn between rituals, costumes, attributes, etc. The qualities of Buddhist and shamanic masks for rituals were different - it was suggested that the tribes of the shamanic faith borrowed them from Buddhists. The Buddhist practice of Chod was transformed into a shamanic disease. However, studies carried out later showed that shamanism is inherent not only in Siberia - similar beliefs existed in other parts of the world, in all cultures in general at certain stages of development. Today we can confidently call shamanism a pro-religion. In all world religions and their descendants, we can distinguish elements of more ancient views on the world, which relate specifically 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 faith that leads to the burden of karma and confusion. Such opinions are conveyed by other denominations. The main thing that lies in this myth is the 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, including shamanism, are trying to overcome. 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 so widespread in shamanism so as not to violate harmony, omens to diagnose the emerging signs of discord, fortune-telling and other eccentric actions. The main goal of all this, we repeat, is to support and diagnose the connection with the world, which is broken due to life circumstances.
Shamanism is incomprehensible to humans, as it is too abstract. This myth arises from a failure in understanding, which is based in its essence on the thought process. Understanding requires experience and words to describe it. Another aspect of understanding is the alignment of new information with old ideas. We know the shamanist worships spirits. The spirit for us is a kind of otherworldly force that affects the world and us. This is usually how we represent God. Shamanism says that there are many spirits, but we logically come to the fact that polytheism is present. In this case, the interpretation of experience takes place, but it itself is absent. In Russian culture, the word worship itself comes from "bow", that is, an expression of reverence, respect and obedience, but the shamanist has a different attitude to spirits. In relation to our concepts, we can say that shamans perceive spirits more as masters of the area, where people are just guests. The reason for the disagreement lies simply in the wrong interpretation of experience and words, shamanism just interprets reality differently.