Shamanism is an ancient practice that originated in Siberia then later spread to other regions of the world. The practice varies from one culture to another owing to factors like geography, beliefs, myths, and religions.There are also shared beliefs and practices across most Shamanic communities. For instance, natives regard Shamans as the link between the natural and the supernatural world. Shamanic rituals are characterized by trances, dancing, drumming, and carefully-crafted costumes. Some shamans would show impressive feats of physical strength such as ventriloquism and hand tricks. Let’s take a deep dive and look into a few shamanic practices worldwide.
Shamanic practices around the world
Unlike in other regions around the world, in Korea there are male and female with different names.The natives referred to male Shamans as baksoo mudangs, while female Shamans were known as mudangs. In Korea, you could become a Shaman if you were born with natural abilities. Another way of becoming a Shaman was if you inherited the title from an ancestor or close family member. Shamanism still continues in modern Korea, where New Age Korean Shamans help their clients solve financial and marital problems.
A certain ancient community in China known as the Hmong practiced and continues to maintain a Shamanic culture known as Ua Neeb. The primary responsibility of Hmong Shamans was to perform rituals that promoted harmony at the family and community levels. Apart from entering into trances, animal sacrifice was another dominant practice in Ua Neeb from time immemorial. The Shamans would borrow the animal’s soul before the slaughtering and use it to heal afflictions or rescue someone captured by evil spirits. The natives would perform a ceremony during the Hmong New Year to free the animal’s soul to join the spiritual realm.
A significant percentage of Siberians still practice Shamanism. It is unsurprising given that Siberia is known to be the source of classical Shamanic practices. The Chukchis believe that anyone possessed by a spirit is a Shaman and should assume the role of their society. Established Shamans in the Siberian Buyat community are tasked with consecrating new candidates through a ritual known as shanar. Unfortunately, when the Russian and Siberian border was sealed, numerous Shamanic Tungus groups were trapped in Inner Mongolia and Manchuria, contributing to the rapid decline in Shamanism.
The most important functions of Mongolian shamans included exorcism, rainmaking, oneiromancy, and healing. The clan-based Mongolian society consisted of several complex hierarchies. The highest rank was the 99 tngri group and 77 natigal. The next rank comprised ancestral spirits: the Lord-Spirits, the Protector Spirits, and the Guardian Spirits. Mongolian neo-shamanism emerged in the early 1990s, causing Shamans to monetize their practices and start businesses in larger towns. Clients from all walks of life would go to their offices and pay for services such as healing, divination, and fortune telling. However, not all Shamans were thrilled by Mongol Shamanism in the post/1990 era and sought to protect their genetic roots.
Originally, the people of Central Asia were nomadic, meaning their primary mode of survival was the animals. Some of the sedentary population were not particularly inclined to agriculture, meaning they too relied on their livestock for sustenance. The natives used shamanic rituals to grant them good luck while breeding their livestock and hunting for food. Shamans incorporated hides and animal skins in their costumes that helped them transform into animals during their rituals. Apart from animals, geographic factors in Central Asia played a significant role in shaping the rituals, characters, myths, and Shamanic religion. For instance, the Shamans regarded the mountains and rivers as living entities with a soul and mystical capabilities.
The main ethnic religion of the people in Vietnam is the Dao Luong, which entails the worship of mother goddesses. Shamanism is a significant part of this religion typified by artistic elements such as music, dance, special costumes, and offerings. Traditional folk art known as hat chau van was a famous genre that Shamans used in rituals for mediumship to help diviners connect with the spirit world.
The Shamans in pre-colonial Philippines islands were popularly known as Babaylan, most of whom were women. If a Shaman was not a woman, it was almost always a feminized man, also known as bayok or asog. These individuals were so respected in the community that they were placed on the same pedestal as the noble class in the pre-colonial period.
Anytime the head of the domain, or the datu, was absent, the babaylan would take over. The main function of babaylan was performing séance rituals known as pag-anito. Other functions of various subtypes of babaylan include divination, sorcery, healing, and herbalism. Unfortunately, the influence of shamanic babaylan declined when native Philippine groups began converting to Islam and then to Catholicism.
In a nutshell, shamanism has been around for centuries and it still remains a strong persistent practice today around the world. The mysticism and continued practice remain strong. Today, shamans are more or less service providers who provide healing and divination from changing the weather to growing a business and more!