§ Широкогоровы §
toggle menu

129. Recognition And Election Of A New Shaman

Along with the treatment of various elements which constitute shamanism as a complex, and along with the treatment of various conditions which underlie or result from shamanism, we have seen that the part of a community in defining whether the person, willing to be a shaman, may actually become one or not, and the part of a community in maintaining this complex are always fundamental conditions of shamanism. Without such a social approval, or consent, shamans cannot function. In fact, we have seen that the shaman's chief function is a social function of regulating the psychomental complex of the social unit, which may be a clan where the clan organizations well established, a village where the settled life has resulted in a strong territorial connection, finally, even a whole ethnical or regional unit, chiefly in the case when the clan organizations not fixed as a permanent system. Therefore the social unit which forms a milieu for a shaman is not only a clan, as it is observed in the greater part of instances, but there may be other units as well. So in case the clan organizations destroyed, the social milieu for a shaman may be shifted to any other existing unit. We have such instances even among the Tungus and Manchus who settle in villages, in groups composed of a few families of different clans. There are some shamans among the Manchus who serve villages, and not clans, whence a new complex of clients families connected with a shaman has already originated. There is another very important condition which may bring into life a new grouping around an individual-shaman. This is the theory of spirits which may remain outside of a clan. Since dona (Birarchen and Kumarchen) spirits exist, the dona shamans may also exist. This is actually observed among the Birarchen and Kumarchen who are badly attacked by the foreign spirits which, however, are not all included in the complexes of clan spirits. The Khingan Tungus and Tungus of Transbaikalia have no dona shamans; all of them are clan shamans, as it is also, at least formally, among the Manchus. So long as the dona spirits are not incorporated into the clan lists, the shamans mastering than are «foreign» shamans, but, as stated, the dona spirits may also be mastered by the clan shamans, while dona shamans do not master clan spirits. However, when the dona spirits are entered into the list of clan spirits, the dona shamans cannot exist. It is thus evident that an influx of new spirits may produce shamans independent of the clan. Still, these shamans will not remain without a social milieu. The latter will be formed around them after a series of successful cases of performances. Such shamans may easily become into clan shamans in settlements which consist of mixed clans. Finally, there are shamans who are not clan shamans and who may exist in a special social milieu. There are cases of shamans who belong to distinct ethnical units; for instance, several Chinese shamans practicing among the Manchus; there are Dahur shamans practising among the Birarchen; Buriat, Goldi, Manchu and Chinese shamans are occasionally invited by the Northern Tungus. Around them a group of clients will be formed who will function as their social milieu. Such cases may also occur without the interference of foreign ethnical groups, and even without dona spirits, namely, when there are different currents of centrifugal movement in a clan, which result in a loss of social unity in the clan. Since there are dissidents in the matter of treatment of spirits, shamans may appear approved by a part of the clan. Such an approval — a recognition — may lead even to the splitting of a clan. So that from time to time shamans may appear who are not recognized by a community as a whole, but only by a part of it. Anyhow these shamans will have their social milieu.

However, in exceptional cases, a person who has no social milieu, is not recognized as a shaman, still tries to perform, either under a stimulus of practical calculation, or in consequence of a special psychomental condition. I have met a few cases of such persons among the Tungus and Manchus. Here, however, two different situations must be distinguished, namely, (1) when a person who pretends to be a shaman is not yet formally recognized, but is awaiting such a recognition, from time to time practices shamanizing without a milieu, and (2) when a person is not and will not be recognized, as it was in Case 4, where the performer was not recognized even by his own son, and in the case of a Manchu to which I shall revert later (vide infra). These are not shamans, because they cannot produce a real extasy, especially without an audience, and they have no social functions, usually no paraphernalia, but they are either dishonest impostors or psychomentally affected people. By this I do not intend to say that they cannot become shamans, but I want only to indicate that they do not function as shamans, have no milieu and probably cannot assume the functions of shamans, because they are not recognized; this may be dependent, at least sometimes, on personal considerations.

Generally there are very few shamans who act outside of the clan and are recognized shamans. Their recognition by the social groups may take a shorter or longer time. If the shaman-outsider is successful, he will soon be recognized; if he is not successful, the recognition may be delayed. A great number of such shamans drop the practicing of performances, when the recognition does not come soon. Indeed, such a recognition does not and cannot require any special formal acts. However, from time to time, usually once a year, the Manchu shamans undertake a great review of their spirits, on which occasion admirers of these shamans may produce a demonstration or their recognition.

It is different with the clan shamans whose recognition is usually connected with a complex ritualism, proving of candidates, «teaching», sacrifices, etc. The outcome of this act is a social recognition of the shaman. Actually it is an act of «election» of the shaman, either from the number of candidates designated by the clan, or candidates who present themselves and who are allowed to be tried.

The most important condition for being allowed to carry out a performance of election and recognition is the candidate's will and his ability to «master spirits», which must be proved by at least one successful performance. The second condition is, whether the clansmen want to have the candidate or not. The new shaman may be needed (a case of free spirits which harm the clansmen), and the candidate may prove his or her ability in mastering, but there may be objections of a social order or that of personal character, e.g. the bad character of the candidate (mischievousness, bad temper, etc.; criminality e.g. as in Case 8, the candidate B, etc.); so the candidate may be rejected even before his final trial, or he may be put in such a position that it will be impossible for him to perform, even after the election, in any case, the clan has to decide it, and by this the clan takes upon itself a further obligation as to the equipment of the new shaman with the paraphernalia.

If we consider what has been stated as to the function of shamanism, the shaman, when recognized and elected, becomes a real safety valve of the clan. The shaman «collects» all spirits and bears all responsibility for the further psychomental equilibrium of the clan, in so far as it is reflected in the spirits and in so far as they may be fought. Therefore the act of recognition acquires an especially great importance in the Tungus complex.

In the ethnographical literature it has received different names. It was called «consecration», «initiation», etc., which terms are not good, for in the acts here discussed there is nothing «sacred», is no «initiation». In fact, we have seen in the Tungus and Manchu complex that the shaman and shamanism cannot be treated in the meaning of «sacred» phenomena of the European complex. There is also no initiation, for the candidate is already «initiated» before attending the act. Therefore I do not use these terms but I prefer to use a neutral term «Formal Recognition», which is a social act of making of a person a clan shaman. This act may take various forms which I shall now describe and illustrate.

Электропочта shirokogorov@gmail.com
© 2009 - 2021