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58. Preliminary Remarks to Chapter XVI

The present part is chiefly devoted to the practical ways of regulation of various relations which originate between the human beings and spirits. Before proceeding to the description of the methods in particular cases I shall now give the present introductory chapter for showing the methods and their practical general application.

In the present and following chapters I shall give some instances of managing souls and spirits without shaman's and other specialists' assistance. Indeed, the occasions on which the Tungus and Manchus are acting according to their own knowledge of methods are much more numerous than those when they appeal to the specialists' art. Yet we shall see later on that there are very serious reasons for avoiding specialists, particularly shamans.

As a matter of fact, the spirits are so numerous and so frequently met with along the way of the Tungus, and they keep themselves so near to the Tungus families, that every one must know at least the simplest methods of managing spirits and methods of avoiding their harmful activity. There may be distinguished various signs which are considered as indicative of the spirits' activity. In fact, from the description of the spirits we have seen that these hypotheses explain many facts which without these hypotheses would remain unexplained and, on the other hand, the hypotheses themselves sometimes may bring some superfluous consciousness and produce unnecessary fear, and consequently, result in a reduction of adaptive functioning, in individuals and groups.

Spirits' activity is very often supposed to take place in all cases when the situation does not correspond to the expectation. For instance, if the hunter has a good rifle to which he is accustomed and which he knows, provided the cartridges or charge of powder are good and correct, the missing of hitting an animal is ascribed to the influence of spirits. The spirits can make gun too heavy or too light, they can turn it aside, and so forth. This will not be, perhaps, noticed by the hunter. Indeed, in most cases of this type we have a simple case of self — suggestion or an explanation of the chance of hitting. In the same way the hunter would explain the chance of missing animals in spite of a great probability of meeting them, provided the footprints are found and the hunter takes all necessary precautions for preventing himself being seen, smelled or heard by the animals. The spirit does not want to give «luck», — to send the animal in the direction of the hunter. Yet, the incidental coincidence of «bad» events in the life of a family sometimes remains unexplained as a case of chance, but it might be explained as result of an intentional and malevolent influence of spirits. Still more common is this attitude in case of diseases which sometimes affect indiscriminately both weak and strong, healthy, members of the community. A great number of cases of psychomental troubles which remain beyond the Tungus understanding such as effects of parasites, partial destruction of the organs, or as cases of adaptive disfunction, is often explained as result of spirits' activity. Indeed, the cases of slight deviations from the average behaviour, especially those resulting in the phenomena of loss of adaptiveness to the situation, which are felt by the persons affected by them, are also explained as due to the spirits' activity. In the same groups of phenomena is found the case of «loss of soul», — total and partial, — which is due to the same spiritual nature of the soul as that of some spirits.

There are cases in which the Tungus always has an occasion of seeing activity of the spiritual world, for which he must find a suitable opposition when the situation affects his interests [371]. Since, as shown in previous chapters, there may be found different explanations of the same phenomenon, the Tungus must make a correct diagnosis of the case in order to find an effective remedy to it. Not in all cases it can be done without a competent assistance of specialists, which will be treated in other chapters, but there are cases when it can be done and there are different preventive measures, which I shall treat first.

It is well known to the Tungus that some spirits are permanently menacing him, or they may come at any moment and there is no other means, but to satisfy them with prayers and sacrifices, for these spirits cannot be avoided. His own observations and those of other people carried out during a long time, have convinced him of this truth. Therefore, the Tungus is prepared to deal with these spirits throughout his whole life, but he will do everything possible for reducing the burden of constant anxiety about them. He would make his prayers and sacrifices no more than required by his own self — confidence in security, and he would spend possible minimum energy on it. These are first of all his own soul, those of his family's members and souls of ancestors; in second place, the spirits of his own clan, spirits of his wife's clan, spirits of taiga, spirits of heaven, and some other spirits, with which he has nolens volens to deal, such as mafa and fuch'k'i of the Manchus.

On the other hand there are spirits which may be easily avoided. Since there are localities where the spirits are pleasant and may become harmful when approached, particularly at night time or in a state of intoxication, therefore if possible to avoid it he could not go there at all, and he could not go there at night or being drunken. There are rivers haunted by spirits which may take hold of people, — those rivers will be avoided. There are women who may be carriers of their clan's spirits, — these women will be avoided in so far as their sexual attraction may be fought. There are hundreds of spirits which may attack man when he is not protected by his own spirits, or if he loses self — control. Here we have a long list of places and persons to be avoided. Some of these may be justified from the point of view of hygiene or from the point of view of physical safety, as, for instance, contagious diseases such as smallpox, measles, venereal diseases, infected regions, rapids in the rivers, etc., but among these there are many which exist only because of the theories and hypotheses. In the group of these spirits we may include a great number of spirits which inhabit the taiga, mountains and marshes, and spirits which belong to other clans and to other ethnical groups. Incidentally these spirits may have their share in sacrifice and prayers.

Yet, there are spirits which are not yet well known, - they are not yet carefully investigated, — but their presence is suspected and they cannot be avoided. In order to neutralise their activity the Tungus would take great precautions for avoiding their anger and for avoiding them in general. On this ground, the Tungus would give a short sacrifice of tea, wine, meat, and generally of everything which he, himself, eats or drinks, in the form of throwing of pieces of his food and sprinkling of some of his drink into the air or into the fire. In many a case, the Tungus cannot say to which particular spirit the sacrifice is served, and he would do this almost automatically. Indeed, this is an important preventive measure.

In Tungus practice there is also a great number of prohibitions, taboos, which are strictly observed, but they are not connected with any of known spirits. In this case the Tungus attitude is simple: «Since these practices were established by our forefathers and they were not established by the caprice of people, but after a long experience, why should we abolish them. They might be created for protection against the spirits which were known to our forefathers, which do now exist, but remain unknown of our young, ignorant generation». Indeed to break with these prohibitions is always possible, but the experiment may sometimes become more costly than a faithful imitation of the older generations, and the taboos survive v without even being explained. However, since an accumulation of taboos may arrest normal run of life and may become absolutely unbearable, some taboos are gradually dismissed and new ones, still unexplained and usually borrowed from the neighbours, occupy their place. The complex of taboos, many of which often have nothing to do with the hypotheses of spirits, is almost always explained as a practical method of preventing malevolent activity of the spirits. So in this case, the explanation of taboos with the help of pre — existing hypotheses is of secondary origin, as many taboos themselves Indeed, there are some taboos, for instance, those regulating social relations, which do not need to be explained, but even in this case the practice of taboo may often be supported by fear of entering into troubles with the spirits, sometimes of an unknown origin and description.

At last, there are some spirits which may be sent away by frightening or destroying them. These may be spirits which originate from the souls of dead people, chiefly those who perished without receiving a ritual burial, also souls of shamans who have a «bad heart» and other people's souls which may do harm to the people. Destruction or merely injuring of spirits (also souls and consequently bodies which are carriers of souls) is usually done by means of destruction of a placing into which the spirit or soul has been called. Neutralisation of shamans' souls constitutes an important group of cases of this type. Again, without a shaman's help this is not an easy undertaking, and common people are rather reluctant to undertake it.

The diagnosis of the diseases and special psychomental conditions, especially in women and children, forms one of the constant occupations of the Tungus. First of all it ought to be pointed out that amongst the Tungus certain diseases and conditions producing subjective effect of uneasiness are perhaps even more frequent than amongst other groups and for which, on the one hand, the conditions of life are greatly responsible, and, on the other hand, it may be supposed, the existing psychomental complex, in which the special psychomental conditions are created and resolved, is a favourable ground. Owing to the fact that the shamans and other specialists are not competent to treat certain cases, and even their interference may result in complications, every Tungus must possess a certain knowledge in diagnostics. As shown, the Tungus recognize existence of infectious diseases which may be treated with medicines and even preferably by the foreign doctors; they also recognize some other contagious diseases which, for theoretical reasons, must not be treated by the outsiders and especially with medicines; and yet they also recognize conditions which are due to the activity of spirits and which must be treated either by the Tungus themselves or by the specialists, particularly shamans. So that every Tungus must recognize whether the case requires assistance of specialists, — they may be foreign (Chinese, Mongol, Russian) doctors, or merely experienced man, or specialists dealing with certain spirits, at last the shamans, — or the case can be treated by himself with the help of other near relatives. Success greatly depends on the diagnosis. Indeed, in a great number of cases the error in diagnosis, committed by the Tungus, may be responsible for his own condition; for his error he will feel remorse and it is very likely that in such a case he will feel he must take special care of the soul after the death.

By giving the above picture of the Tungus activity respectively as to his own soul, those of other people, spirits, and at last diseases, I do not want to produce impression such as that which is made on readers by the great writers on the «primitive peoples», — the Tungus does not remain in a continuous struggle with the spirits and he is not at all oppressed by them. The troubles caused by souls, spirits and diseases are common, so the Tungus must be ready to find a good solution and to take necessary precautions. These conditions put on him great obligations, but in his theories and hypotheses he finds sufficient explanation and practical means for neutralizing effects of his own psychomental complex upon himself, in order to be functionally adapted for continuity of the species and maintaining its welfare. In the description which will now follow I shall give methods used by the Tungus without very much touching the problem of functional significance of these practices. This will be discussed in the conclusive chapters of the present work.

371. It must be pointed out that in many a case the Tungus look for explanation of these phenomena into the inherited psychomental condition as some above shown instances of inheritance already discussed in Part One.

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