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Are You a Shaman?

By Ongodtengertei on Friday October 23rd, 2015

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There are many people who claim to be but what does it actually take?

Are you a shaman? Let’s be honest: Probably not. Feel free to get angry and defensive, but let me talk through this.

A lot of people claim to be shamans in the Mongolian style. Most of them have read books by Michael Harner or Sarangerel. They say that they were “initiated by their spirits” and “felt their calling” and so forth.

It doesn’t work like that.

Here’s how it works in regards to Mongolian shamanism

Let’s start at the very beginning: What does a shaman do? A shaman is a person who becomes fully posessed by their ancestral or heavenly spirits. During this time, their soul exits their body (usually flying up to the heavens) and another spirit takes over their body. This spirit uses the body to communicate. They will speak, eat, drink, sing, smoke, conduct massage, even accupuncture, all through the body of their ulaach or medium.  When the spirit is finished they will leave. The shaman’s soul will return to his or her body. He or she will have no memory whatsoever of what has occurred in this time.

Mongolian shaman singing
This spirit uses the body to communicate

So if you think you are “channeling” a spirit and it’s “speaking through you” but you remain even vaguely conscious, you are not practicing our tradition and you are not a Mongolian shaman. 

So what does it take to actually be a Mongolian shaman?

You don’t get any choice in the matter. I don’t care how badly you want it.

First, you must have shamanic ancestry. This is blood lineage ancestry. It may be many generations back, but it has to be there.  That means that pretty much across the board you must be  Mongolian or Siberian. Remember this point, because it will be returned to many times later. So if you don’t have shamanic ancestry, then you are not a shaman in the Mongolian tradition. The end.

Mongolian shaman ancestry
Blood lineage ancestry is essential to Mongolian shamanism

Second, you don’t feel your own calling.  You are interested in shamanism? Cool. You feel spirits? Excellent. You’ve seen ghosts? Congratulations. None of this makes you a shaman. It just doesn’t.

Your calling happens when the spirits choose you. Now STOP! This doesn’t mean you can say “Oh, the spirits chose me! I feel them around me!” Because that is not how it works! The spirits choice is indicated through an absolutely horrible experience called “shamanic illness” which you can read about in this link. A shamanic illness is an extremely severe, horribly painful experience that will continue for a very long time, often years. It is so severe that people have died from it. In addition to the previous example, one of my ongodtengertei (with spirits, which is to say: future shaman) friends is often crippled and unable to walk when she has an episode. Another friend who is now a shaman described her as like being constantly stabbed with knives. Almost every shaman and ongodtengertei person I know has contemplated suicide as a way to solve the pain of this illness. That includes me.

Doctors cannot diagnose it, priests cannot cure it

You go to a shaman who’s spirits will recognize that you are with spirits and then they will decide whether or not you are meant to be a shaman.  Let me re-emphasize: it doesn’t matter what you want, the decision is up to the spirits. If the other shaman’s spirits recognize that you have spirits and that you are supposed to become a shaman, then you have to find a teacher which may or may not be that shaman.

If you are one of those very rare people who is not of Mongolian/Siberian ancestry but is recognized within our tradition as being “with spirits”, 99% of the time the recognizing spirit will say “You have spirits, but I cannot teach you. Our traditions and ceremonies would be innapropriate for your spirits as they are not Mongolian and it is not their spirits.” In short: go back home and find your own ancestral traditions. They are your birthright. You can follow them as much as you please.

Mongolian shamanic illness
This is Pujee, a Mongolian “white” shaman – photo from Caiseal Mor

Finally, you must be initiated under the guidance and proper full initiation of a qualified Mongolian shaman who has become your teacher.  And there are plenty of fakes out there who would love to “recognize” your spirits and become your teacher for fame or money. So I mean it has to be legitimate.  You cannot practice without initiation, which is to say a complete chanar or actual initiation by a shaman teacher with other shamans present and helping you through it.

If you have not done all of these things you can be spiritual, you can be sensitive to spirits, you can be a channeler or spirit worker or whatever you want to call yourself but you are not a shaman in the Mongolian tradition and you cannot be one.

Sorry, but that’s the truth.

If you would like to contact an actual Mongolian Shaman, you can do so here: BlueSky Shaman

Editor’s Note: The term ‘Shaman’ comes from the Tungusic language of Siberia and describes those working in the Siberian/Mongolian tradition. The term was imported to the West via Russia in the 16th Century. Although it has been widely used to describe a complex phenomenon across many traditions, it has often been used very loosely and is rarely used by other indigenous practitioners to describe their practices. This article, though you may not agree with the author’s point of view, represents an argument that the Mongolian shamans we contacted agreed with. In order to avoid confusion, many people practicing similar, but different, traditions are choosing to call themselves ‘Shamanic practitioners’, rather than ‘Shamans’.

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Words By Ongodtengertei

Originally posted on Being with the Spirits

 

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107 Comments on "Are You a Shaman?"

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Birch
Guest
Birch

Thanks for the cultural clarification. Most of us are shamanic practitioners, practicing shamanism in a variety of ways and do not claim the title of shaman.

Jonathan Davis
Guest
Jonathan Davis
The word ‘shaman’ comes from the tungusk region in siberia, and I agree there is some contention about people from around the world adopting the term and this could be considered cultural appropriation. In one sense, anyone who doesn’t come from that language group should not technically be called a shaman. This is quite different to the argument that the people who legitimately carry that title and come from that region are the only ones who perform that function. Every ancient culture in one form or another has carried traditions that are termed in the modern day as shamanism. The… Read more »
Ana Massien
Guest
Not everyone who says they are shaman are trying to be mongolian shaman. Shamans are known to every culture on earth, both modern cultures and ancient. You can be your sooth sayer and say they are whatever they are but shaman. But still they are a shaman. Shaman originally meant peace keeper, because they would dream, meditate, use drugs or alter states to see the outcome of a thing, therefore keeping the peace with their people and others. I’ve never even heard of mongolian shamanism? Perhaps other cultures also have the sickness, and also walk with spirits too before they… Read more »
ARTAVAR
Guest
ARTAVAR

The tile of the article is totally misleading…Where does it mention you mean Mongolian shamanism????

Artist in Resonance
Guest
Artist in Resonance

The author, as the author, is using the author’s definition of shamanism. That’s fair enough. Shamanism originates in Central Asia. That’s common knowledge, sir. Consider rereading the article, but this time with a mind to understanding it from the author’s point of view, not merely for what you can think up to say about it. Otherwise, all you will have in your head is your same old thoughts and will have gained nothing for your efforts.

ARTAVAR
Guest
ARTAVAR

“We know jack shit of what is going on,” to quote Terence McKenna, about this world. Not because we have written history and laid down the rules for it means that Shamanism only originated in SIberia. NO, the word Shaman-from Saman- originated there for anthropologists. Other than that, it remains misleading, as you want to make a case for Mongolian shamanism…ever lived in Peru or met shamans in the Amazon, where they found proof of settlements 40.000 years old???

Artist in Resonance
Guest
Artist in Resonance

Chillax, buddy. You know LESS THAN Jack Shit. Anyone can throw quotes around. It proves nothing. You appear to have trouble with simple conversation, let alone following a logical progression of thought building to a rational conclusion. We have genes that go back a hell of a lot farther back than 40,000 years… and so what???comment image

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

I’m glad someone wrote this article. Shamanism is a broad term for “exotic” spiritual practices stolen and appropriated by Americans and Europeans without shame. These practices DO NOT belong to you!!!

Khai Fox
Guest
Khai Fox
So you don’t think European shamanism exists? Where do you think my blood comes from? I’m descended from a long line of germanic royalty that has the innate genetic gift of witchcraft. black forest shamanism. black magic. Shamanism, as we know the modern term, is simply any legitimate indigenous spiritual practice that draws from the reality of the connection with nature. Anyone born with natural gifts, who hears the rocks and wind and trees speak to them, who feels the power in blood, who can see through water and air and who can run fire through their bodies and put… Read more »
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

Did I say that? No. I’m a member of a Native American tribe. My view comes from years of watching Europeans STEAL my traditions.

Khai Fox
Guest
Khai Fox

If thats really how you feel about it, then youve been infected by the same racism that destroyed your people. How very sad and how very not my fucking problem.

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

Sorry but my religion and culture is not a commodity and fuck you for thinking you can take whatever you want whenever you want even if it doesn’t belong to you.

Red Feather
Guest
Red Feather

How do you expect anyone else to learn what we have learned if we shut ourselves away? We must be willing to teach others. Many of our brothers and sisters have hidden away our spiritual knowledge of the land. If we wish to reconcile we must be willing to share, even if we get burned along the way.

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

I understand that but I have a serious problem with people coming in and profiting off my beliefs the way Michael Garner and others have.

Me,You, All - Michelle
Guest
Me,You, All - Michelle
Response to all and the author: We are in a dream, an illusion…you dont own anything…stealing is not possible. All I see here is childs play tug a war, “ Im a shaman, no im a shaman” (I know you are but what I am bullshit!), a defensive article and responses that are merely an expression of unhealed wounds, insecurities, fear and false ownership. You are merley carrying you and your ancestors pain and suffering by having to defend yourself…you are trapped by your ego, your mind, your beliefs. You’re not expressing freedom but a false sense of self (that… Read more »
Khai Fox
Guest
Khai Fox

Oh and since your feeble mind compulsively talks without speaking, and since you clearly know nothing, it is necessary to adopt a few local spiritual practices in order to harmonize with the physical land that you actually live on. There are native american bones in this soil and I have to be able harmonize with the soil to acheive balance. Thats what I need for my own health and sanity. Your stupidity does not factor into my decisions.

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
If you wish to learn from someone willing to teach certain methods and traditions that’s 100% okay. My problem is when people make a profit selling these traditions. My issue is with the Michael Harners, etc of this world who profit from stealing traditions of others and commoditizing it. If you wish to harmonize with the land and respectfully ask for teaching from a spiritual leader willing to teach you their ways that’s 100% okay. Looking at your past disqus posts you seem to be a very disrespectful and unbalanced person in general. So forgive me if I don’t believe… Read more »
Red Feather
Guest
Red Feather

This is probably the most sensible and pragmatic comment I have read on this thread.

Khai Fox
Guest
Khai Fox

I dont give a shit what you think. Youre a racist asshole on the internet. You could die today and I would laugh. You dont get power by respecting idiots. You’re born with it. I dont have to prove shit to you or lift a goddamn finger to get my power. Its in my blood. It IS my blood. If you dont get that, thats your stupid ass problem.

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

Apparently your blood is full of stupid, violent and angry people who make false accusations. Good to know. My point’s been more than proven.

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

*Yawn* I don’t even need to read your crazy nonsense to know you have no idea what you’re talking about. If you did you wouldn’t need to justify yourself to me. Have fun commoditizing your ancestors.

Khai Fox
Guest
Khai Fox
Oh I don’t need to justify myself to anyone. I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m trying to communicate to you and break through your wall of stupidity. Of course it’s made of brick because you have a hard heart and no mind whatsoever. I know exactly what I’m talking about. And how exactly am i making a commodity out of my ancestors? I don’t practice publicly or charge for my work. The few times I have charged have been VERY little and only to meet immediate needs and I did my absolute best to help the person and declined payment if… Read more »
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

Not hating anyone. Like I said, some traditions aren’t for sharing with others who don’t understand the powers that they mess with. You wouldn’t want me messing with your ancestors, don’t mess with mine. That simple.

Khai Fox
Guest
Khai Fox

No, go ahead. Mess with my ancestors. See what happens.

Khai Fox
Guest
Khai Fox
Oh and I have no idea who youre talking about. No one HERE has claimed that your culture is a commodity, nor have we treated it as such. So youre taking your pain and shoving it on innocent people. That makes you the villain in this story. I have only a very small amount of native american blood but my dominant genes are from germanic witchcraft. My culture derived from germanic and mediterranean shamanism, because those are my genetics, those are my ancestors, and those are the spirits who come to me. And anyone who is a real genetic shaman… Read more »
Khai Fox
Guest
Khai Fox

Let me be more frank. Youre a moron. A serious serious moron and a serious racist. Spiritual power is in my blood. It doesnt belong to you or your culture. It doesnt belong to any culture. It is present in the genetics of people all over the whole world. You are a serious moron. Do us all a favor and shut your dumb mouth.

Khai Fox
Guest
Khai Fox

Let me be more frank. Youre a moron. A serious serious moron and a serious racist. Spiritual power is in my blood. It doesnt belong to you or your culture. It doesnt belong to any culture. It is present in the genetics of people all over the whole world. You are a serious moron. Do us all a favor and shut your dumb mouth.

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

Wow, why are you so offended over my opinion? Feeling guilty? Some traditions are not for sharing. People mess with powers they know nothing about and get burned. No great loss if you do, obviously. Good riddance. I have better things to do than argue with scum such as yourself.

Khai Fox
Guest
Khai Fox

Guilty about what? What is my crime? Nothing, because you’re racist and full of shit. You’ve demonstrated your inferiority quite well.

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

Why do you need to prove that you are superior to me? Seems like your the one with the problem, not me. I made my opinion known. If you see it as racist so be it. Some traditions aren’t for sharing. Some people (regardless of race or religion) mess with powers they know nothing about or use them for greed. The person I originally responded to after careful research was one such person who claimed she had powers but was also a known scam artist. So I responded as I did for that reason.

Junkman107
Guest
Junkman107
Wow…reading this thread breaks my heart. Truly. I see two people with deep-seated fears, pain and feelings of inadequacy. I see anger. I see someone trying to “prove” themselves. But you know what I *don’t* see any of in this exchange? Wisdom. Khai Fox, what *are* you trying to prove? That you’re a “badass shaman” or that you’re not just some poser goth Wicca chick, like so many others? How exactly do you heal people when such psychic bile courses through your own spirit? How can you help other people let go of their own pain, when you can’t even… Read more »
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

I wrote what I wrote because I have a right to speak my mind and let this person know they are offensive. Do I expect them to change their ways no. But I have every right to call them out on their nonsense just as they have to spew it. No one is forcing you to read it, no one is forcing you to like it.

Junkman107
Guest
Junkman107

Yes, yes. You have every right to do anything you want.

Upon first impression, I just thought you were better than that. I was clearly wrong. My apologies.

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

No one is forcing you to read anything I wrote.

Tammy Soper
Guest
Tammy Soper

My practice as a SHAMAN belongs to ME. I developed it.

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

If by shaman you mean creator of shams then sure. You steal from people’s ancient cultures and practices and money from the gullible who believe what you say. You’re despicable.

Brian Mackenzie
Guest
Brian Mackenzie
The word shaman entered the English language, it seems, just over 300 years ago, via German and Russian sources. The original source however does seem to be Siberian/Mongolian, although I’ve seen it opined that it in fact derives from the Sanskrit sramana, meaning an ascetic Buddhist monk [http://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/%C5%9Brama%E1%B9%87a/index.html]. The current usage of shaman to mean a practitioner of indigenous spirituality, no matter where on the globe they originate culturally, is due largely to Mircea Eliade, who wrote definitively on the generalized practise in the mid-20th century [https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.amazon.com/Shamanism-Archaic-Techniques-Ecstasy-Bollingen/dp/0691119422&ved=0COYBEBYwCmoVChMI8bfev9vayAIVyjKICh0IZwZZ&usg=AFQjCNGqI8kOD_34b7BpoFv-DzTXSp5AjA&sig2=U4PSLPdhfTIX2qOyijdfbQ]. It is worth noting that many of the rules given in this article… Read more »
Neshama
Guest

Thank you.

Everywhere I go, people are claiming to be Shamans. Usually Native Anerican Shamans, but still.

It gets tiring to see people state. Oh, I’m a shaman. How so? Well, because its my calling. What?

It’s become a mockery and it’s so offensive.

Again, I thank you for oosting this. Hopefully, other’s will follow suit and put an end to this garbage.

Healer Mike
Guest
Healer Mike

I agree. I was born with innate talents and have found many who have the ability, yet stand in front of themselves and eschew the very release. I’ve healed many since age 4, and will continue to, with God, as I chose to call him, as my light. Neshama, we’ve all felt the literal wounds of those who haven’t quite got it, those who do act differently entirely.

Neshama
Guest

I understand. I’ve had natural/innate talents all my life. I’m ok at healing, but I’m better with energy manipulation.

True. Those that have it, never need to broadcast themselves. They simply know.

Tammy Soper
Guest
Tammy Soper

I am a Shaman. Make an appointment with me and see if I am lying

Veronica
Guest
Veronica

If ur white, U ARE NOT SHAMAN, End of story

————
Guest
————
Whoa.. that’s not right. Not picking on you, but from what I can see we all need to learn our history as a human race, do not let people who say we are seperate because of culture or color lead you away from the the truth. The truth is we are the human race and we started together so we are one. I believe I read one other person say that shamanism is a very ancient practice, not derived from one particular place on the earth. It started in animism which predates history. It started when we were one and… Read more »
Neshama
Guest

Never said everyone was a liar. I said I see a lot claiming to be something that just is not truly possible. Especially if you are not part of that tradition and family. Unless they took you in.

TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie
Guest
TooWeirdToLiveTooRareToDie

You are lying Tammy. I don’t need to make an appointment to figure that out.

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