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117. Sacrifice, Varia And Conclusions

Sacrifice to the spirits, as a special aim of shamanizing, is commonly observed, and it can be segregated into a special group. A sacrifice may by itself constitute a performance. In fact, the yearly sacrifice to the spirits of a shaman is a great event in the clan. Among some groups, such as, for instance, the Manchus, it lasts several days and is carried out with great solemnity. However, it may also be reduced to a very simple performance, as it is among the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia. As in other cases of shamanizing, different methods may be used by the shaman, i.e. without and with the help of shaman's spirit, with and without their introduction into the shaman. Thus, in so far as forms of performance are concerned, the methods greatly vary.

In a simple case the shaman may call the spirits by a prayer, by drumming, and by inviting them to a sacrifice. The occasions for a sacrifice may be different, e.g. sickness of the people, thanksgivings for recovery, as well as for remaining on good terms with the spirits. When the matter concerns sickness or recovery, the sacrifice is only a part and merely a means of a greater shamanizing: so it ought not to be regarded as a special

form. However, there are also cases when sacrifice constitutes the only purpose of shamanizing. These are cases: :(1) when the shaman offers annual sacrifice to his spirits; (2) when the shaman, after assuming his functions as a clan-shaman, must offer a sacrifice to all his spirits. As a rule, both acts are very solemn and important, and since they are connected with the person of the shaman, they will be described in a special chapter dealing with the shaman.

Under the heading «varia» I include all cases of performances which cannot be grouped with the preceding types of performances. Some of them I shall now indicate. One of the rare purposes of a performance is that connected with the formal recognition of a new shaman. It is exceptional as to its complexity and frequency. In fact, among some groups, e.g. among the Manchus, it may last nine days, and usually not less than three days. The new shaman is usually created only after the death or the disability of the old shaman, and it may happen only once in a shaman's life. This performance will be further discussed.

More frequent are the performances connected with 'ho regulation of cattle breeding, hunting and fishing, when the shaman intends to eliminate a harmful activity of spirits and to attract the attention of the spirits which regulate the life of animals. The analysis of these cases is not always easy. In fact, in the case of sickness of cattle, or horses, or reindeer, the shaman may actually deal with the problem of neutralization of harmful spirits. The performance will then not differ from the case of «treatment». However, there may be another case, namely, a request, addressed to the corresponding spirits, to increase the number of the domestic animals. As shown in the preceding chapters, this is usually done among the Manchus by the p'oyon saman, i.e. the clan «priests», and by experienced persons among the Tungus, and even merely by persons who know the prayers. I have never heard of great shamans performing this function. Moreover, an interference of shaman's spirits with the activity of other spirits is usually considered undesirable.

Interference of the shaman with hunting and fishing is also not an interference in a direct sense. Indeed, as in the case of domestic animals, the shaman as a good singer and person familiar with prayers, may influence the spirits controlling animals, but the shaman would not act with his spirits, whose interference can bring a new complication of relations between men and spirits-masters. However, as shown, the shaman may interfere in case a person cannot hunt or fish, being disturbed by the spirits. In this case the shaman would act not on the spirits-masters, but on the spirits which affect the hunters and fishermen. Lastly, the shaman may be interested in hunting and fishing, as a divination of the future, as fortune-telling. In this case, as shown, it will be a simple case of «divination and discovery», which has nothing to do with the influencing of spirits-masters which control animals. I could find no cases when the shaman would directly interfere with the activity of these, spirits; in the Tungus complex it is impossible. When one is not familiar with the essential functions and aims of performances, one may easily make this misinterpretation of the shaman's performance.

For the same reasons the shaman very rarely figures in the matter of child delivery, for the spirits which are held responsible for the success are beyond the shaman's control, and the interference of his spirit may only be harmful (cf. SONT, p 275, SOM, p 113). His assistance is required only in exceptional cases. The shaman does not act, as a shaman in the wedding ceremony (cf. SONT, p 234) but he may act as a simple singer. These instances show that in every case when the shaman is acting the aim must he definitely established, and particularly it must be found out whether he uses his spirits or not as will be shown, the shaman's personal character has also to do with his functioning in cases relating to this group «varia», and this should he taken into consideration when the cases are analysed. For instance, a bad-natured person (shaman) will not be allowed to do many occasional varia performances while a good-natured shaman will often be called upon. The errors on the part of observers are very likely in all such cases.

* * *

From the description and analysis of various cases of shamanising it can be seen that the aims of performances may be very numerous and that new ones may appear at any moment. However not all of them are frequent and in most of the cases there are several aims of shamanizing combined in one performance. Since in different cases different aims of shamanizing may be combined their classification into a rigid system is practically impossible. The Tungus and Manchu systems as to the classification of performances may be of little help to us, for all of them distinguish on a formal ground only three forms, namely (1) when the shaman goes to the lower world which implies a rather long shamanizing; (2) when the shaman performs a long shamanizing without going into the lower world, which is

usually designated by the adjective «great»; (3) all forms of short shamanizing without discrimination of whether the shaman calls into himself his spirits or not. It is evident that this classification can be absolutely misleading, for in the subdivision (3) one has to include a great variety of shamanizing carried out with various aims and in different forms. A classification based upon a distinction upon of two fundamental forms, in their turn based upon the fact of introduction (ecstasy) and non-introduction of spirits into the shaman, also cannot be considered as satisfactory, for in some very important cases of shamanizing the spirits not introduced, e.g. when a new shaman is created, or when a spirit is mastered for the first time; while there are cases of shamanizing on minor occasions, such as «divination and discovery» when spirits be introduced. Owing the complexity of shamanistic performances, it seems to be safer to clarify them simultaneously, according to the aims, the place of acting (one of three worlds), and the participation of the shaman's spirits. Only such a three-fold classification may give an exact definition of the particular forms of shamanizing, but in some cases it will be rather complex, for one and the same performance may include several types of shamanizing.

Another approach may also be made from the point of view of psychological effect and psychological condition of the shaman; but this principle cannot be made the basis of classification, for it presumes a detailed analysis impossible in the great majority of cases. However, this side of the problem is most important in the functional system of shamanism, and will require supplementary analysis of performances in general and in particular cases.

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