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Shaman from Tuva


My name is Vera Sazhina, I am Tuvinian shaman.

Tuva is a land of incredible natural beauty, lies in the geographical center of Asia. The land is bordered by the Sayan and Altai mountains to the north and the mountains of neighbouring Mongolia to the south. In the middle there is a valley of big river Enisei. Mountains are covered by taiga on tops with larch trees, lower – hardwoods. Also there are steps. Climate is sharply continental, summer +40C degrees, winter -40C degrees. There are not many people live in Tuva: on the area surpasses common area of Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Switzerland taken together there lives only 300.000 people. The independent Tannu-Tuva Republic was proclamed in 1921. It joined the USSR in 1944 and later become part of Russia. Tuva is ancient shamanic land, where shamanic culture has stayed intact and save longer then other people of Siberia.

Map of the ex-U.S.S.R.

Who are shamans? Shaman is a person who is chosen by spirits and comes through some mistical expirience, sometime very paintful and dramatical, after which he gets a gift to communicate with spirits and help people.

There are different categories of shamans, depending on their origin, which spirits give them power: hereditary shamans, shamans from the spirits of earth and water, Sky-origin shamans, shamans originate from the spirits of
Albys (mermaids) and Aza (maliciouse spirits). Every shaman has unique costume for sacred work, his own songs and poems, his own dance and personal story about his shamanic roots and ancestors. Every detail of shaman’s costume has its own meaning.

In Tuva there were no school to educate young shamans. But in practice « shaman bull » mighty shaman could spend some time with young shaman making him practice the art of creating shamanic songs, dance and drumming.

I met my teacher Kyrgys Huurak in 1994. He was recognized as the great shaman in Tuva. During a visit of Dalai Lama they did together ritual on sacred mountain Khaiyrakan.

2Khaiyrakan mountain

When I met my teacher he told that I must become shaman. He dressed on me his shamanic coat and hat, gave me his drum. Then he took me to the sacred place and we did ritual together.

In 1997 he died. After that I inherited his shamanic paraphernalia. In 2000 I with help of famous shamaness Ai-Churek Oyun organized and conducted a ritual for memory of my teacher in the date of 3 year since his passage on
the sacred mountain Khaiyrakan. In this ritual 23 shamans from different regions of Tuva participated and they told me that I must open shamanic society in his memory in Shagonar, town when he lived. So I did.

In 2001 I opened shamanic society « Ush Mooruk ». There I work together with his widow who is my friend and helper. She is not shaman but she knows all old Tuvan traditions and assists me in sacred rituals as she did before for my teacher.

3Republic of Tuva

In my work I do shamanic kind help for people. I do individual receptions and collective rituals. In individual sessions people talk about their problems and I ask spirits to help. My spirits tell me which ritual is necessary and I follow their advices, also I apply my personal power. I do divinations and help by using of 41 stones (huvaanak), by shamanic brass or copper mirror. People come to get advice and help for their job, family relations, success, health problems, education, protection of their house and property. I do purification and opening of road rituals with drum and drum stick, wearing my shamanic coat and hat, use my shamanic paraphernalia. I do use shamanic astrology as well.

I do rituals for prevention of different deseases, rituals to make sacred fire, sanctification of a shaman’s tree, sanctification of a holy water spring, sanctification of a taiga mountain, sanctification of a ritual cairn (ovaa), sanctification of a domestic animal (horse, ship etc). Also rituals of 7th and 49th day after death and passage of a soul.

Tuvan shaman may do ceremony in any time: day or night, morning or evening. I prefer do healings in morning, when it is light sun on sky, and do protection and divination in evening time. All Tuvinian shamans celebrate shagaa – meeting of the new year dawn in a first day of new moon in February.

4Vera Sazhina

In Tuva there lives very respected old wise person who collected wisdom and myths of Tuvinian shamans in books. His name is Mongush Kenin-Lopsan. He writes: « Ancient Tuvinians exalted the sky as the main Khaiyrakan, deity, they called it father. Since ancient time with first sun rays in morning Tuvinians sprincle white milk or tea with milk with special wooden spoon to the side of the sky and the sun, bowing and praying with the sun rises. They do it because the life of every living being on Earth depends on the sun in the sky. Since ancient time people belive that the Earth is Mother. Mother suckles her baby, the Earth feeds adults with its wealth. Children are not born without woman-mother. There will be no water without the earth, therefore no human being appears, so they say. Old Tuvinians worshipped the Moon as well ».

Mongush Kenin-Lopsan

Published courtesy of Vera Sazhina.