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Elina Hytönen-Ng

Anthropology and anthropological literature have had an irreversible effect on the practice of contemporary shamanism. In this small-scale study, I look at the complex ways the literature has been recorded, initiated interest, revived and verified the shamanic practices. Over the years, anthropologists have also caused distortions in revived practices as they have left some things unrecorded. On the basis of written responses and interviews from shamanic practitioners and active drumming-group members, I demonstrate that the argument of neo-shamanism as the only form of shamanism still alive is not completely true. Attention is drawn also to the claim about the cycle of learning in contemporary shamanism. My argument is that the main part of learning in the deeper levels of shamanic practices still happens in face-to-face situations.

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Spiritually Enmeshed, Socially Enmeshed

Shamanism and Belonging in Ulaanbaatar

Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko

This article examines how shamanic practices can, through the generation of a spiritualized narrative past, relocate individual subjectivities in an extensive web of relationships that include and extend beyond living relatives. The analysis describes the transition from collective to individual responsibility and concurrent feelings of dislocation that occurred in Mongolia at the end of the socialist period. Referring to the biography of a young Mongolian woman, the article looks at how the vertical ontologies present in Mongolian shamanic practice have relocated Enkhjargal in extended kinship connections, building cosmologically enmeshed relationships that reach back into the pre-socialist past. In the increasingly fluid and unpredictable urban environment of Ulaanbaatar, it explores a living instance of re-engagement and attendant growth in both obligation and capacity.

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Beyond Belief?

Social, Political, and Shamanic Power in Siberia

Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer

An analysis of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in the Russian Federation reveals a variety of village and urban reactions to crises of faith and power. The significance for group identity and instances of synergistic group belief are discussed. The transition that has seen amorphous underground shamanic practice lead to the institutionalization of shamanic cosmology is reflected in the recent opening of a temple in the Republic's capital, Yakutsk, and in the various groups that adhere to charismatic healers and seers. Debates about faith, as well as fragmented faith epistemologies, are described. The data derive from over 25 years of intermittent fieldwork in the Republic and with the Sakha diaspora. My approach is situated at the crossroads of medical-psychological anthropology, political anthropology, and new religious movement analysis.

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What If We Don't Know Our Clan?

The City as New Ritual Form in Buriatiia

Justine Buck Quijada

“Traditionally” Buriat shamanism is clan-based. Ritual practice embedded kinship relations within a sacred geography, linking the living and the dead through a relationship to the landscape, reaffirmed at yearly tailgan ceremonies. In Buriatiia, Soviet modernization transformed the Buriat relationship to the land, and with it, the conditions of shamanic practice. As a result, many urban Buriats either do not know their clan affiliation, or no longer hold clan ceremonies. In response, two urban shaman's organizations have begun to hold tailgans on behalf of the residents of the city. The new ritual form relieves anxiety at the loss of tradition and underscores that loss. However, by redefining the ritual community around the city instead of the clan, the ritual community becomes multiethnic.

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Jack Hunter, Annelin Eriksen, Jon Mitchell, Mattijs van de Port, Magnus Course, Nicolás Panotto, Ruth Barcan, David M. R. Orr, Girish Daswani, Piergiorgio Di Giminiani, Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Sofía Ugarte, Ryan J. Cook, Bettina E. Schmidt and Mylene Mizrahi

detailed ethnography of Yanomami shamanic practices based on fieldwork in 1999–2000, intertwined with a description of the ancestral continuum of the Yanomami, cosmic differentiations, and ongoing transformations. His account is largely based on his