Ecstasy, Ritual, & Alternate Reality, 8

p. 137 Evenk directions to worlds




"The upper world is shown in some wooden figures opposite the east entrance to the tent. they are "giant reindeer," the most powerful spirit helpers of the shaman and herd leaders of all his other animal spirits.


To the southeast of the upper world, a pole is set up with ... hanging on it, ... skins of sacrificed animals. This is the road to the upper deities.


The sun and the moon, and


an assemblage of deities called collectively "bear,"{with the name of the bear-goddess ARTemIs, cf. /Nir-R.TI/ in southwest} are represented ... .


Opposite the west entrance of the round tent is another group of wooden figures, the representatives of the lower world.


The central figure is a spirit elk, flanked {at northwest and at northeast?} by Siberian spirit stags.


Anthropomorphic figurines of the shaman’s watch spirits guard ... from the back, prevent the spirits ... from entering." [p. 138 : "the tent is closed by small planks, the spirit watchmen."]

pp. 137-42 Evenk healing-caerimony : spirit-journey; recitation (describing the spirit-journey); exorcism-proper; communal feast with ritual-dance by shaman [reference :- Anisimov 1963]


event of caerimony


"A spirit river, originating in the upper world, flows ... . In the course of the ritual, the shaman’s soul floats down it to the lower world, with the drum his boat and the drumstick his pedal {sic : read "paddle"}. ...


At a sign by him, his assistant dresses him in his shamanic robes and places an iron crown on his head with iron reindeer horns on it. He warms the drum at the fire. The shaman sits down on a small wooden platform representing the fish spirits. ... Addressing each of his spirits in turn, the shaman vividly describes its form, listing its services ... and the characteristics of its power. He relates where the spirit is at the time, what it is doing, and whether it is obeying the summons. Finally, he tells how each spirit is leaving its own ranges and is coming to the tent. ...


In the ensuing silence, the spirits begin to announce their presence. There is a snorting of beasts, bird calls, the whirring of wings. As each one appears, the shaman yawns deeply and with it, takes the spirit into himself, then calls to the next one to the incessant rolling of the drum, until he has gathered all of them into himself. The shaman now issues orders to the spirit assemblage inside him. Some are to guard the tent, others all the various pathways. Under heavy spirit guard, he then dispatches his khargi, his chief spirit helper, to the lower world ... . ... the khargi and his body guards pass to the lower world by way of the world tree. In a dramatic and often comic dialogue ... from the mouth of the shaman, the audience hears how the khargi seeks out the chief ancestor spirit of the shaman and consults with him. ... . ... it seems that everything is humming – the poles of the tent, even the buttons on the clothing of those present. ... the shaman ... throws the drum into the hands of his assistant, ... and begins to dance a pantomime, illustrating how the khargi with his guides rushes further ... . ... The snorting of the beasts is heard once more ... . The shaman leaps into the air, ... demonstrating the running and the furious flight of his spirits, then ... collapses on the rug. ... .

the shaman ... at this point is {possessed by} the khargi in the lower world. ... The assistant bends down, put his ear to the shaman’s lips, and reports what the shaman {viz., h^argi} says is happening during this return of the khargi and his entourage. ... The assistant gets hold of the drum once more, warms it over the fire, and, starting to beat it, entreats the shaman {h^argi} not to get lost on the road, to look more fixedly at the fire, to listen more closely to the sound of the drum. ... This leads the shaman into renewed ...


dancing the return of the khargi and its attendant spirits. Now the shaman ... tells the audience of the khargi’s journey to the other world and all its adventures. ...

He picks up the drum and begins the attempt to expel the disease spirit. He starts negotiating with it, trying to talk it into leaving the patient’s body voluntarily. The spirit refuses. The shaman ... bursts into ... threats. ... He goes into a ... whirling dance beside the patient, but to no avail. ... he ... in a song asks his spirit helpers about what to do next. Upon the advice from his khargi, he begins to try ... expel the disease by fanning and rubbing the spot where the disease is located in the body of the patient by using

some hair from the neck of a reindeer,

a piece of skin from the nose of a Siberian stag,

the antler of a wild deer,

the skin from the forehead of a wolf, and

eagle feathers. Again he is unsuccessful.

... the shaman denounces all manner of disease spirits; he .... passes into the former melody once more to consult with his spirit helpers about what to do next. Following the advice of the khargi, he now proposes that the disease spirit pass into a ... reindeer. A long dialogue develops between the shaman and the disease spirit. The shaman praises the ... reindeer’s ... body, and speaks disparagingly about the body of the patient. ... the disease spirit ... does agree to accept the reindeer as a substitute for the patient. ... The shaman is handed the heart, which now supposedly holds the disease spirit. He bites a piece off of it, spits it into a hole in the spirit figurines, stoppers it, and carries it to the representation of the lower world west of the


tent. There he orders his spirit helpers to throw the captured evildoer into the abyss of the lower world.

Unfortunately, however, the disease spirit has fooled the shaman ... . The shaman ... shouts invectives, abuse, and threats at the offending spirit. He orders his spirit helpers to surround it and to start attacking it {the spirit-helpers are willing the assault the disease-spirit only after they have themselves witnessed treachery by it, its illegally breaking its contract with the shaman by its fooling the shaman}, and begins an account of the ensuing battle. ... the disease spirit has now hidden itself in the patient’s stomach. The goose, the most cunning of the shaman’s spirits, pushes its beak into the patient’s stomach and catches the disease spirit. ... The disease spirit tears itself loose from the goose’s beak ... . However, another of the shaman’s helping spirits, the splintered pole, a stand-in for the tree of life, manages to catch it, squeezing it into its wooden body, and together with two other wood spirits, takes it in front of the shaman. The shaman’s spirits surround the captured disease spirit ... . They pinch and bite it, and pull its legs; the most outraged of them even defecates and urinates on it. ... Then ... the shaman and his helpers drag the disease spirit to the lower world. On its brink, ... the loon spirit swallows it, flies over the abyss, and there expels it through its anus.

On their way back to the middle world, the party barricades all the passages. Upon arrival, the shaman ... returns to his seat, and to the accompaniment of his drum, he recounts all the details of the expulsion. ... In a special song addressed to the gods, the shaman thanks the protectors ... for their help.

He then performs a special


dance, his journey to the upper world, which he reports reaching by way of the larch. ... When he reaches the upper world, he walks over its earth until he gets to Amaka sheveki, Grandfather Spirit, and leaves in his keeping the soul of the patient ..., in the form of a small wooden figure of a man attached to the tip of the larch. A final ... dance celebrates the return of the shaman to the middle world, and with that ... the patient to renewed health. The tent is left to the elements {abandoned} afterwards; only its reindeer-skin covering is removed."

Anisimov 1963 = Arkadiy Federovich Anisimov : "The Shaman’s Tent of the Evenks". In :- Henry N. Michael (ed.) : Studies in Siberian Shamanism. U of Toronto Pr. pp. 84-123.

p. 142 Evenk levels of the upper world (heaven)

"topmost" level of the upper world

"Amaka sheveki ... is in charge of the societal aspect of the Evenk world."

"lower level of the upper world"

"This is where the supreme lord of the animals, birds, fish, and plants lives. It is also the abode of the spirits of the sun, the moon, thunder, the stars, the clouds, the sunset, and daybreak."

"in addition" {middle level of the upper world?}

"the upper world has a storehouse for unborn souls. It is guarded by watchmen whose generic name is "bear."" [the "assemblage of deities called collectively "bear,"" on p. 137]

p. 142 Evenk lower world (netherworld)

[world of souls of the dead {upper level of lower world?}] "The spirits of the dead live in the lower world ... . Admission to it is handled by ... the mistress of that realm. The shaman has the task of guiding the departing soul to her and requesting permission for it to enter."

[world of pernicious spirits {lower level of lower world?}] "Its exits are guarded by watchmen such as spirit eelpouts, who gulp down any spirit inhabitant of the lower world that might attempt to cross its boundary and trespass into the middle world of people, causing them harm. ... Disease spirits are banished to it, and all manner of pernicious spirits, assuming the form of ermines or stoats, also live there."

pp. 142-3 Evenk spirit-owners of game-animal species

p. 142

"A very special category of spirits was comprised of the ruling spirits of waters, mountains, forests, various species of beasts, and others. There were whole tribes of these". (quoted from Anisimov 1963:108)

p. 143

"The different species of animals that Evenks hunt are thought to be the tame herds of these spirits, which have the same social structure as that of the Evenks. The Evenks have cordial relationships with these "neighbors.""

p. 143 Evenk invisible spirit-fortification around the living human community’s earthly territory

"the shaman surround the territory of his clan with a spirit stockade. On dry land, the stockade is a fence of wood spirits. It extends, invisibly, across the taiga, from one ridge to the next, from rivulet to rivulet, from mountain to mountain. Day and night, the spirit watchmen of the shaman guard this fence. In the air, they are supported by bird spirits, in the river by fish spirits. ... Upon a shaman’s death, the stockade disappears, and it is imperative for a new shaman to reconstruct it."

p. 143 Evenk shamanesses

"Divination may also be performed by female shamans; in fact, ... it is their only public shamanizing task (see Hamayon 1984:312-313)."

Hamayon 1984 = R. Hamayon : "Is There a Typically Female Exercise of Shamanism ...?" In :- Miha`ly Hoppa`l (ed.) : Shamanism in Eurasia. Go:ttingen : Edition Herodot.

p. 146 Tuareg "ecstatic convulsion" ["The women’s rite described here is summarized from Nicolaisen (1961:126-129)."]

"The possessing spirits that appear in the ritual are the Kel Asouf, the exponents ... of pre-Islamic Tuareg religion. ...

Possession by the Kel Asouf manifests itself by ... "ecstatic convulsion," which takes hold of women during certain songs and dances that are accompanied by a rhythm beaten out on the tambourine. ... . ... it often happens that one or more women collapse in what appears to be spasmodic hiccoughs. ... A man ... moves ... around the prostrate woman. If she then rises and starts running around ..., with her hands cramped and folded, he will then try to separate them ... .

However, the most effective method ... is to induce in the possessed three successive spasmodic attacks by means of the rhythms of the drums and the songs. ... In preparation for such an ecstatic experience, the woman is helped to a sitting position on two large leather cushions. Her head is swathed in cotton bands, applied so ... that she cannot see. One woman begins beating the drum, while all the other women of the group mark the rhythm with singing and clapping. The particular beast is used exclusively for this rite. During the music and singing, the possessed woman rocks from side to side on her pillow, marking the rhythm, sighing, murmuring, or whistling, as is customary during the trance. Eventually, she falls unconscious".

Nicolaisen 1961 = Johannes Nicolaisen : Ecology and Culture of the Pastoral Tuareg. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF COPENHAGEN, NATIONALMUSEETS SKRIFTER, ETNOGRAFISK RAEKKE IX.

pp. 149-50 Kel Asouf (prae-Muslim deities of the Tuareg)

p. 149

"the Kel Asouf spirits ... are "people of the solitude," of the desert, the earth, or the night ... . ... They are also attached to prehistoric ... graves. ...


Kel Asouf may assume either anthropomorphic or animal shape. ... In the former case, they are ... beings or elongated shape, having only four fingers on each hand, eyes with a vertical slit {like unto felines’ eyen}, their faces on the back of their heads. But ... they are of both sexes; they reproduce and die, and they have their own "spirit" language. ...


They may hide ... in the sources and the flow of rivers. Not only do we see here an affinity of the Kel Asouf with a river, but they also have their favorite tree, the agar (Maerua crassifolia) ... . According to ... law, a woman may not remarry or have sexual contact for three months after the dissolution of her marriage. She can free herself of this burdensome rule by going to an agar tree, preferably to one standing alone. She asks the tree to lift the prohibition. At the same time, she deposits kohl (a cosmetic) and perfume".

"However, people, either men or women, can make a compact with the Kel

p. 150

Asouf, and in that case they will be their helpers. Such friends of the spirits ... can carry several Kel Asouf with them, talking with them in their special language and sending them on errands. When sent out this way, they will travel fast and very far, locating a lost camel for example. The friends of the Kel Asouf can also give advice in the case of an accident or illness ... having been caused by other Kel Asouf."

pp. 154-7 religious practitioners of the Dodot of northwestern Uganda


Dodot nimurok


"The Dodoth call their religious specialists ngimurok, the plural of emuron; the feminine form is amuron."


"the sacred trees" include "the fig tree" under which domestic oxen are immolated. {cf. as`vattha ‘fig’ as the tree sacred to Yama the death-god (according to the Brahman.a-s of the Veda)}


In divining, the immolated ox’s "integument can be read "like a page in a book," the Dodoth say."


"But the most important way in which one may come in contact with the alternate reality is controlled dreaming, familiar to both men and women. ... Great ngimurok ... engaged extensively in dreaming :


[quoted from Marshall-Thomas 1972:173] [A certain emuron] had a stool ... which ... he ... used as a pillow by night. The stool was beautifully carved and had a special power to make his dreams come. He dreamed of ways to heal the sick ... . ... He was uncannily right."

Marshall-Thomas 1972 = Elizabeth Marshall-Thomas : Warrior Herdsmen. NY : Random House.

p. 157 Dodot theology

"The Dodoth have one god, and his name is Akui. ... he inhabits the air and sometimes settles on treetops.

... Akui ... communicates with people in dreams. He uses ... a shooting star, which is a message from God".

"The dead survive ... . Some elders return in the shape of snakes. They wear white plumes like the plumes of a headdress, and visit the sacred groves." {There are Kemetic depictions of divine serpents having a plume extruding from their head.}

"The water spirits ... have human form and are transparent like water, with billowing rust-colored hair. They are seen in lightning and also float in air like mist. ... They keep cattle below the rivers, marry, have children, and die. If a water spirit dies, his family moves away, and the pool where they lived dries up. {a commonplace event for East African geological conditions} They ... possess people ... . If that happens, an emuron has to paint that person with ... stripes like the stripes of a rainbow. He then persuades the water spirit to enter a goat, leads the goat around a tree, and the water spirit will climb the tree."

Felicitas D. Goodman : Ecstasy, Ritual, and Alternate Reality. Indiana U Pr, Bloomington, 1988.

[N.B. authoress’s distinction (on p. 77 et passim) between "dreaming" and "spirit-journey" is ill-founded – every "spirit-journey" (inclusive of jaunts aboard UFOs) is actually a dream -- unless projection of the aitheric & astral bodies (neither of which is she considering in this book) be possibly excepted as a state intermediate betwixt waking and dreaming].

[Howbeit, the authoress’s expectation (on pp. 99-100 etc.) that events assigned in myths to the primaeval era of the animal-deities (prior to the advent of humans, or to the distinguishing and separating of humans from the animals) can be readily applied (largely a speculative exercise, and implicitly rather than explicitly suggested) to achieve spiritual effects in the current era; may well be practicably feasible. If so (as might be further conjectured), the process might be abetted by actions performed during dreamings, or by conjuring (during the waking-state) of deities who themselves abide in the dream-world.]