Social pressure has been one of the core factors affecting choices in religious practices among indigenous peoples of Siberia in the context of drastic contemporary changes. Until the mid-1990s, in some isolated groups with elders practicing shamanism an individual choice of religion operated in a traditional way. However, in the process of becoming a society open to external religious influences broadening religious and cultural communication has led to the popularization of new religious preferences within indigenous societies. In the course of these changes both religious praxis is changing along with the content of social pressure. Previously unanimous public support of traditional religious praxis is becoming a conflicted discourse concerning expanded religious choices.
This article discusses the sociological hierarchies among Nanay shamans. The shamans evaluate one another and the community also evaluates them, ranking them in myriad informal ways in terms of effectiveness with spirits and healing power. These rankings come about through discursive activities associated with recounting shamanic healing and other ritual practices. While shamans try to maintain close communicative and social relationships with their community, they actively avoid direct interaction with one another as part of a conflict avoidance strategy.
A Nanai Case Study
Tatiana D. Bulgakova
This article concerns the space through which shamans journey (its relationship to physical space as well as to the person), and how it is represented in indigenous Nanai discourse. From the perspective of traditional Nanai shamans, spiritual and physical spaces are interconnected. Events having spiritual significance saturate physical space and thereby open up an additional spiritual dimension. Shamanists believe that by appearing simultaneously on different sides of the border between the spiritual and physical worlds, they are able to observe one another and, having met in the spiritual world, they can enter into lasting relations with one another, continuing them in the physical world. These and other analogous emic ideas permit the conclusion that, for practicing traditional shamans, spiritual space is objective and in relation to the person is externally situated.