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113. Divination And Discovery Diagnosis And Treatment


From the instances of shamanizing shown in the previous chapter it can be seen that the aims or shamanizing may be different, but not all cases are seen in the above instances. When summarised, the aims of shamanizing may be classified into six groups, namely; (1) divination (discovery) of the causes of various troubles and of the future; (2) curing of persons; (8) transportation of the souls or dead people to the world or the dead and the governing or souls; (4) sacrifice to the spirits; (5) management of spirits and souls (including mastering); (6) various (e.g. new shaman). One and the same performance may have several aims, and it may have only one of the above indicated aims.

The discovery of causes of troubles and the divination of the future are the commonest aims of shamanizing. The shamans perform this very often, as a preliminary step, in order to find out what step should next be taken. Therefore, this almost always precedes the great shamanizing. In the latter it may constitute one of the parts or it may be carried out some time before the great shamanizing, i.e. in some cases even several months prior to the shamanizing. Among the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia the divination, as a rule, is included in the shamanistic performance, as a conclusive part of the performance, or it is inserted into other parts. Finally, the shamans themselves are interested in getting acquainted with the spirits activity, or with other people, and especially with the future, so that they very often perform divination and discovery even when they are alone.

The frequency of these practices and the methods of divination and discovery are variable in individual cases of the shamans and in ethnical groups. In fact, the shamans, among the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia, are more inclined to these practices, than those among the Tungus of Manchuria and the Manchus. Some shamans devote to them more time than others, and I have met with some shamans who did this only when it was necessary for the performance. Those of them who are interested in finding new methods of divination and discovery practise this much more than those who follow the known practices.

In so far as the methods are concerned, divination and discovery may be distinguished (1) in the state of extasy; (2) in the state of sleep; (3) with the help of various technical and often mechanical means; and (4) by simple logical reasoning. In the first case the shamans believe that they can see the causes of troubles or the future with the help of the spirits which must be introduced into themselves. In order to introduce a spirit the shaman must first bring himself into a state of extasy. The question as to the nature of extasy, and the possibility of «divination and discovery» in this state, I leave for further discussion. The second method — in the state of sleep — is based on the same idea of spirits help during the shaman's sleep, when the shamans sometimes find the solution or problems set before them when they were awake. In the third method, technical and mechanic means are numerous. Such as, for instance, divination by means of the throwing down of a stick (vide supra), the burning of incense (vide supra.), the throwing of cups, etc. all of which are based upon chance. Throwing of rolls or Chinese bread (vide supra) through a window paper is more than a simple game of chance, for the paper may be stronger or weaker, and the strength of the shaman may vary, as well as the hardness of the breads. Still more place for personal interpretation is found in the divination on the cracks of the omoplates of animals subject to the effect of fire. This method is known in Asia from time immemorial [615] and is widely practised especially by the Tibetans and Mongols of our days. In this method a great accumulation of the previous experience constitutes the whole art, in different degrees assimilated by the shamans, some of whom do not practise it at all. I need not explain the last case of divination and discovery based upon reasoning. It is done without the help of spirits, e.g. the shaman considers all symptoms of the disease, supposed to be produced by a certain spirit, and makes his inference as to the cause; the shaman may also consider all available facts and make his inference as to luck in the hunting, or travelling, or weather. In the same group we may include all cases in which a shaman influences himself or other people who act according to his prediction. Lastly, some shamans may foretell the future without a direct help of spirits, e.g. as to the arrival of other people, the change of weather, the movement of fishes, etc., and they sometimes believe themselves to be acting independently of spirits. Individual shamans use the above indicated methods in different proportions, which depends on the character of the shaman, his experience, and his belief in the effectiveness of these methods. A young inexperienced shaman will surely not rely very much on his or her simple reasoning. The choice of methods also depends on the knowledge of various methods (especially of the group of mechanical methods) within the ethnical groups. Since it is so, the methods may become fashionable and they may be easily forgotten. Naturally these must be known to the groups practising them as good and reliable methods. They become so either being borrowed from other ethnical groups which are considered to be superior to the Tungus, e.g. the Chinese with their numberless methods of divination or the Russians, with their fortune-telling with cards, or when the new methods are introduced by the influential shamans, whose credit is great among the given unit. Owing to these conditions, the complex of mechanical methods among the Tungus groups and individual shamans is variable. In some cases these methods may become of great importance, even for testing the shamans themselves by the audience, or for making the shamans themselves sure of their solving of some problems. Such a «hypertrophy» of the divination complex does occur among some Tungus groups [616].

It should also be noted that all these forms, with the exception of cases when the spirits are helping, are practised by some Tungus and especially by the mafar'i among the Manchus. Naturally in the groups, among whom divination is widely practised by the common people, the shamans confine themselves only to the forms where spirits are needed. Here there may be a case of shifting of function.

Indeed, on the formal ground, that shamanizing is considered as a complex requiring extasy, the «divination and discovery» carried out without extasy could not be regarded as «shamanising». However, this point of view cannot be accepted, if we regard shamanizing as a complex operation consisting of various elements, in other words, as shamanizing actually is. «Divination and discovery» carried out by the non-shamans and without extasy cannot be regarded as «shamanizing». From the above given facts it thus appears that shamanizing for divination and discovery of the causes of trouble, or for foretelling the future may be lacking in the performance, and it may by itself constitute a performance (e.g. Case 3, the Khingan Tungus). It may be also a very complex operation, or a combination of various methods, and it may be confined to a simple «reasoning» and a conclusion not differing from those practised by the common people.

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT which may be accomplished in different ways are thus an important moment in the shamanizing. I shall now give, in addition, some more details.

When a shaman is called in among the Manchus, the case is as follows. He takes note of all symptoms and decides whether the assistance of a professional doctor or a treatment with medicines, hot or cold mineral springs etc. is needed. He may find out that a pure and simple psychological state of the patient, such as fear, anger and, in general, strong emotions, not involving any spirits could be suspected. A special treatment may then be used to call back the soul, which does not always require the assistance of spirits and which can be carried out without ecstasy. Finally, there may be cases of interference of various spirits. The Manchus distinguish nine cases, in which different causes are suspected.

1. saman joyun (shaman's road) may be suspected if there is a wicked shaman who sends various spirits in order to harm the people. This is recognized by the behaviour of the patient — he or she may repeat the name of a spirit, or of the shaman, or imitate the attitude of a spirit, as it is believed to be, or that of the shaman. Extasy and nervous attacks or fits are likely to occur. In order to neutralize this harmful activity, either a simple introduction of the spirit (the shaman) into a special placing or its sending off is effected, or a very complex performance takes place. The usual placing on such occasions is one made of straw, dressed in a shaman's costume made of paper and supplied with all shamanistic paraphernalia also made of paper and exactly imitating those of a shaman.

2. sula joyun (sula road) = xutu joyun [sula is a spirit of unknown origin, much weaker than xutu; it is a loan - cf. sula (Mong. Kow.) — «faible, lache, vide, libre, sans charge, qui n' a aucun emploi», etc. cf. soal (Dahur, Poppe) sullu (Xalxa, Poppe) — «free».] is recognized in troubles of the patient. One. two or three anthropomorphic placings and a dog are made of straw. The sula may be introduced and sent off.

3. pucheye xutu joyun («dead people's spirit road») is recognized if the patient sees one of the dead persons in his hallucinations and dreams. Anthropomorphic placings according to the number of spirits (xutu) seen are made of straw.

4. sayale joyun («black road») usually occurs in the case when the people remain without regular burial. Such spirits require regular food, clothing, etc. They may remain for a long time among the people; e.g. the clan sagda (sakga xutu) has such a spirit, and it is very difficult to send it off. Its presence is recognized by the same signs: extasy, fits, attacks, dreams, etc. A dog and up to twenty anthropomorphic placings all of black paper — are made. The sacrifice consists of a black chicken. A complex shamanizing is usually required.

5. mafar'i (mavar'i) joyun («mafa road») is if the patient performs acts which are known as a speciality of mafa spirit. Fodoyon mo, — «blooming tree», is made by which the spirit is called in and sent off.

6. sula mavar'i joyun («free mafa road») (sula, cf. no. 2; there are some «free mafa»). Fodoyon mo («blooming tree»), three kinds of coloured cloth, each about sixty-five centimetres long, and a small shrine of birch wood are made.

7. pushuku joyun («pusuku road») (cf. supra) is recognised by a pathological condition of the blood. The shamans usually refuse to interfere.

8. pucheye samanjoyun («dead shaman's road») is recognized by the activity of spirits left by the deceased shaman. Straw placings for the shaman and his assistant are made. The best way to cure is to take up these spirits.

9. pucheye jarun saman joyun («dead helping shaman's road», i.e. the shaman who assisted the people now affected) — the same as in No. 8.

In all these cases an ordinary hen is given as a sacrifice; only in Case 4, the hen must be black.

Another group of cases are those of various xutu, fuch'k'i and other spirits, not mentioned in the above cases, which may take hold of the soul. The diagnosis is made according to the character of the spirits.

The methods of diagnosis among the various Tungus groups are in the main the same; the behaviour of the patient, his own indications, his dreams, nervous attacks, fits and an occasional state of extasy are indicative of the presence (self-introduction or introduction by a shaman) of specified spirits. The condition of the patient may also be indicative of diseases caused by «spirits» of certain diseases. The treatment of such cases would depend on the character of the spirits, and thus the shaman may decide, whether a simple treatment with medicines is needed, or a prayer and sacrifice, or whether shamanizing ought to be performed with the assistance of the shaman's spirits. It should be noted that the diagnosis can be made by any competent person without the shaman's interference, and the shaman can be asked to act, in order to send off or fight a definitely indicated spirit. In case the shaman cannot make a diagnosis without extasy, a performance with the introduction of spirits into himself takes place and with the help of those spirits the cause of the trouble is round out.

615. Cf. for instance, divination bones found in prehistoric sites also in historic sites, in China.

616. Cf for instance, the case of divination with small stones, and others, among the Goldi during the identification of the soul to be brought to the lower world (cf. I. A. Lopatin, op. cit. p. 307, where P. Simkevich's observations are quoted).

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