This picture is showing a Siberian Evenk Shaman elder with a collection of shamanic objects, including images of helper spirits, early 1900s, Siberia (Northern Asia).
(The Evenks are one of the indigenous tribes of Northeast Siberia, their language belongs to the Manchu-Tungusic subbranch of the Altaic language group)
Respect for elders
Elders are here to bring us into the world and impart their knowledge to us through teaching and guidance. An upright human being is grateful for this and is polite and considerate to their elders. Grandparents, teachers, and other elders in the community can enrich our lives if we give them the chance…
Our ancestors always had very powerful shamans around — the latter protected them, gave them blessings and ensured security and safety in all circumstances — in everyday life, at a hunt, on a journey, and at war…”Shamanic practices may originate as early as the paleolithic, predating all organized religions, and certainly as early as the Neolithic period.
“Siberia is regarded as the locus classicus of ‘shamanism’.” The term “shaman” is a loan from the Tungus word saman, meaning “priest” or “the one who know” of the Ural-Altaic (Turanians) tribes”. ‘Shamanism’ is the term that Westerners use for the ancient spiritual beliefs of Central Asia, Siberia, Caucasus and Eastern Europe.A more accurate name for these beliefs is Tengerism. Tengerism means a reverance for the Sky-God “Tengri” while “Shamanism” seems to mean reverance toward shamans. Shamans are not to be worshiped but merely respected as priests of Tengerism. Calling our beliefs “Shamanism” would like be like calling Christianity “Priestism” or Judaism “Rabbiism”.
In Tengerism, the world is alive. The plants, animals, rocks, and water all have spirits. These spirits must be respected and cared for or the land would become hostile or barren. Therefore, protection and balance of one’s environment is of utmost importance.
Personal responsibility is the second main tenet of Tengerism. Tengerists believe in a concept called buyan that is very close to the belief of karma. Being responsible for one’s own actions is the mark of an upright human being.The third tenet of Tengerism is balance. Balance is important to keep harmony within oneself, the community, and the environment. When things get out of balance, there are harmful effects. This is when a shaman is needed. Many Westerners try to categorize a shaman as a “medicine man” or “witch doctor”.Siberian spiritual beliefs are far more sophisticated than that. There are many kinds of healers that are specialists in their field. There are otoshi (healers), barishi (bone-setters), and bariyachi (mid wives). All of these specialists are believed to have some form of help from the spirit world.
It is the shaman, however, that is the true master of the spirit world. The shaman is chosen by the spirits at birth and an extra soul called an udha enters them. This soul helps them gather other spirit helpers that protect the shaman. Without this protection, rituals and other world journeys are dangerous and foolish to attempt.
The main function of the shaman is to restore and maintain balance in his community. Shamans conduct blessings, rituals of protection, hunting magic, and divination. They also cure sicknesses that have spiritual causes such as spiritual intrusions, spiritual pollution, soul loss, and curses. Shamans are also the caretakers of traditional culture. Because of their knowledge of ancient tradition, their counsel has been sought throughout the ages.
Posted by Teri Perticone