Learning to work with the rattle is learning to listen to its Spirit. For me, the rattle is not a tool — it is an ally. Listening to the Spirit of the Rattle In the beginning, working with the rattle can be an exercise in exceeding your boundaries, or as don Juan used to say, in losing self importance. This feeling generally disappears after the second or third shake of the rattle.
But the work of the shaman is not just to experience the ecstasy of contacting the Spirits. The work of the shaman is to step through the door of that ecstasy into the world of the Spirits to find the wisdom, the power, the help she needs to do her job in the physical world. This means that one must learn to listen to the voice of the rattle.
The rattle, like everything else, is alive, and it is trying to tell you something. Listen with your entire being. In our attempts to understand, we, in the western world, have broken everything down into classification systems. We label everything. Admittedly, this can be very helpful, but the side effect is that what is too sensitive to be measured and classified is reduced in importance until it seems to disappear.
The soul has been reduced to five or six separate senses. Hearing is just one of them. But when you listen to the rattle you must recombine all of your senses. Ask your rattle to help you, and then open your self to the help that comes. Opening yourself to that help is perhaps the most difficult task of all. Most of us want to control our lives. We think that as long as we are in control everything will be all right. We have invented the myth of security to make ourselves feel better, as if feeling better is an end unto itself.
However, the way the shaman works is to surrender to the Spirits. When you surrender to the Spirits, you fill yourself with their power. You may or may not be able to control the situation, but you will be able to face it in a power-filled way. The Rattle as Healer After becoming friends with your rattle, you will find that it has many aspects.
The healing power of the rattle is one of them. This was shown to me in an experience many years ago. A woman contacted me because she was "blocked. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I trusted that my Spirits would know what was going on. When I asked my Spirits, they said, "Use your rattle. She began to shake, more and more violently, and then to convulse. The part of me that was in ordinary reality began to be quite alarmed. I asked my Spirits what was going on, and was told to shut up, pay attention, and keep rattling.
Finally with a roaring-barking sound, she heaved one final huge convulsion and something left her body, flying out of her mouth, and out the opened window. I quite honestly replied that I just shook the rattle and it took care of the rest. As the years have gone by, I have relied more and more heavily on the rattle. I have learned from the rattle that it is excellent for doing diagnostic work, for opening up areas where energy is blocked, for re-establishing energy flow, and for helping to remove inappropriate energy.
Something to Consider One idea I often hear from people goes like this: "A big drum rattle, crystal, etc. Sell the rights SR-EL 1. Sell the rights SR-EL 3. Sell the rights SR-EL. We accept all major credit cards from Finland. More similar stock images. Two women with their sacred drums. One of them points a drumstick to the sky Shaman tambourine in the spring meadow Pretty pocahontas indie tribal girl Shamanic drums Historical Assyrian relief of musician with drum playing traditional music Singing and playing drums Musicians playing on drums during the Tet Lunar New Year in Saigon, Vietnam Set of shaman drums.
More stock photos from Konstantin Litvinov 's portfolio. Shamanic tambourine. The rhythm of the drum can also indicate the stage of the shaman's journey. Various shamans also have their own methods for achieving shamanic flight. Some shamans, such as Grandmother Tika, would fly on the backs of their animal spirit helpers, and some others would travel in a sled pulled by flying reindeer. Grandfather Misha would often fly in the form of a swan, a crow, or a bat, and his form might change during each stage of the journey. Some shamans travel up the Tree of Life, the great tudja whose roots extend to the underworld and whose branches touch the heavens.
Grandfather Misha sometimes launched himself off a specific mountain top, while petitioning his ancestors and his helping spirits for assistance. Once flight is achieved, movement between the worlds can happen instantaneously. Grandfather Misha, for example, often rested on a cloud and then, upon taking flight, suddenly found himself in the lowerworld or middleworld.
Oftentimes, the shamans themselves do not choose the path they are to follow; it is their helping spirits that decide where to go. According to Ulchi beliefs, each person actually has three souls, one housed in the person's heart, one that travels when the person dreams at night and then returns to the body, and a third that has similarities to the Western concepts of the astral body, double, or doppelganger. It is this third soul that is prone to wandering and to being captured by evil spirits, and that is recovered by the shaman during the kamlania.
Sometimes soul loss can be caused by merely startling a person who is sleeping or relaxing. The soul may remain where it was when the person was startled, and this may require the intervention of a shaman. The soul may wander for a wide variety of reasons, but it must be returned to the body or put in a safe place, to avoid imbalance, illness, or even death. Once the soul is in a safe place, an offering must be made to the spirits each month. The souls of children are particularly vulnerable. Until a child reaches one year of age, the soul is considered to be in a stage of development called ome, in which it belongs to the heavens and resembles a bird's soul.
During that first year, even if a baby becomes ill, a shaman will not intercede, as the soul does not belong to the Earth. If the infant dies during that time, the body is not buried in the ordinary way but is wrapped in white cloth and hung on tree branches deep in the forest, so that the soul can quickly fly back to the heavens. Once the child reaches one year of age, the soul enters the second stage of development, known as urga. At this time, the child soul is said to fully belong to the Earth, and the shaman is able to intercede on the child's behalf. The soul will remain in this stage until it transforms into the adult soul, the panya, at eighteen to twenty years of age.
Whenever a soul has been lost or abducted, a kamlania must be held to retrieve and safeguard it. Grandmother Tika told Nadyezhda about how she had once lost her soul and had fallen sick for a long time. A shaman performed kamlania for her and saw that her soul was fastened to a tree in the lowerworld. In her sleep, Tika said, "I see that over my head the tiger is hanging from the tree.
To recover a lost soul, the shaman may go directly to one of the worlds, or he or she may search among the worlds to find it. Both Grandfather Misha and Grandmother Tika would ask their saivens to help them recover the missing soul. The shaman may find the soul lost or wandering, upon a cloud or among the stars, trapped in a tree or held captive by an evil spirit. Then, with the assistance of the helping spirits, he or she will recover it and return home. The retrieved soul may be either returned to the client's body, or if the shaman has agreed to become a personal shaman for that person and to help him or her on an ongoing basis, placed by the shaman in a secure location.
Nadyezhda had a personal shaman who performed kamlania for her and watched over her soul from early childhood until she was fifteen years old, when the grandmother passed on. In a kamlania, this grandmother traveled to the blue star, the earliest star that appears in the night sky, and placed Nadyezhda's soul there for safekeeping.
Nadyezhda says, "When she had my soul there, I felt great. It was not in my body" I was a little child, I didn't understand anything. But I did not get sick. Everything was fine for me. The grandmother also prepared a sacred bundle to protect Nadyezhda's child soul, and to this day, that bundle which has since been renewed, with new items added protects both her soul and the souls of her children. At times, if she or one of her children is ill, Nadyezhda cleanses the contents of that bundle with the smoke of burning senkure or passes the bundle over her body with cleansing motions; sometimes that is sufficient to drive the illness away.
After the death of Nadyezhda's personal shaman, Grandfather Misha took her soul into protection. When she asked him what would happen to her soul if he died while it was under his protection, he replied, "Your soul is where it is, where I have it. And if I die, it won't be a bad thing. Every month, you must make the offering even if you're afraid, even if you get sick, every month if you feel bad, if something's not going well for you, or if it's difficult for someone in your family.
Enduree sees everything and will put everything in its place. Even when a soul is under a shaman's protection, however, there is always the possibility of it wandering or straying. The spirit master of Grandfather Misha's storage place would take regular inventory of the souls under his care, and if any had strayed, he would notify Grandfather of the need to recover them. Grandfather Misha would hear the spirit master giving him that message and would then either conduct a kamlania or set out to recover the souls during his sleep, while lucid dreaming.
Grandfather Misha's own soul was protected directly by the spirits. Once when he was out hunting in the taiga, he made an offering at a place of three larch trees. Although he was ill, he asked only for happiness and success in his hunt.
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That night, in a visionary dream, the master spirit of the taiga took Grandfather's soul into his care and stored it with the three larch trees, which guarded and protected it henceforth. Sometimes, during the kamlania, the shaman may search for a saiven for the afflicted person to wear and care for, in order to attain health. Certain types of saivens are known to be effective for specific ailments. For example, one saiven with a pointed head can heal and protect people from head illnesses, and a saiven called ayami literally, "twins" , which can have either one or two heads and which contains the representation of a heart, is often prescribed for heart ailments.
In some cases, the shaman will create the saiven for the client. In other instances, the client will be instructed to either make it or order it from the village woodcarver. Some saivens, particularly those dealing with women's illnesses, may be fashioned of cloth, grass, paper, leather, or other materials. Whatever its construction, the saiven is either worn or carried by the client, usually for a specific time period or until the illness is gone, and it must be given regular offerings. If a prescribed saiven fails to help the patient, the shaman may determine that evil spirits have entered it and interfered with the work.
In this circumstance, the saiven will be discarded and the shaman will search for a new saiven to help the patient. Nadyezhda relates how, many years ago, before there were any Western doctors in Bulava, her sister was cured of rheumatism by a shaman's kamlania and prescription of a saiven. That saiven, a figure with jointed legs and hands, carved of larch, was a helper spirit used specifically for healing bones and rheumatism.
Each month, the sister would make an offering to the saiven, and gradually her rheumatism was healed. Later, when medical doctors were unable to help Nadyezhda heal a leg injury, she herself was healed by a series of three kamlanias conducted by Grandfather Misha and his prescription of a saiven depicting the head and one paw of Mapaw, the bear. This earlier accident, he told her, created a weakness that led to her later injury.
It was not until the last kamlania, though, that he identified the saiven for her, which she still wears and feeds every month. Thus, it like the fire is usually referred to as Mapaw, "Old One. After the soul is recovered or the other needed information is received, and the shaman returns from his or her ecstatic flight, the results of the ceremony must be fixed, or fastened. In the case of a healing, the shaman typically hands the drum to an assistant to play, while he or she works with the patient.
Heaven's Hand Shaman
Frequently, the shaman will cleanse and heal the person with the gimsacha, the sacred streamers. During healings, the gimsacha can be used to entrap evil spirits and pull them out of a person. In a soul retrieval, the shaman may also use the gimsacha to capture and return the wandering soul to the patient's body. The gimsacha will then be placed at the top of the patient's head and stroked down his or her body, while the shaman sings to call the soul back into the body. As the soul returns, the gimsacha also captures any otherworldly residue or any negative energies that may still be clinging to the soul.
Afterwards, the gimsacha used in this way is considered polluted, or toxic, and it must be taken out usually by the patient to the family tudja or deep into the forest where no one will disturb it. In contrast, the gimsacha worn by shamans as part of their regalia are often reused; if one should fall to the floor during a kamlania, it is considered good luck for a person to pick it up and keep it.
Once the cleansing is completed, the shaman will typically take the drum beater, or geespu, and place it on the top of the patient's head while singing a fastening song. The geespu helps fasten the soul back into the body. Sometimes, the shaman will perform a final fastening, known as sukponguwu, which involves removing the geespu from the patient's head and quickly bending over and biting the top of the head while uttering a loud cry.
It is said that if the sick person is startled and feels tremors through his or her entire body, and then experiences flying through the clouds, lighter than air, he or she has truly had the healing experience. If such sensations are not felt, then the healing is considered not quite complete.
When Grandfather Misha conducted the series of kamlanias to heal Nadyezhda's leg, he performed sukponguwu on her each time. She relates that the first time he did this, she didn't experience any change. The second time, she reports, "I felt the change from my waist up. After completing the fastening, shamans usually save themselves, driving away any remaining evil spirits from themselves, the patient, and the others assembled there. Different shamans save themselves in different ways.
Grandfather Misha would drum and sing while moving about and shaking the yampa fastened around his waist. Grandmother Tika would throw her yampa over her back, beating her back with it. All, however, tend to use the yampa at this time. Once this process is completed, the shaman thanks all of the helping spirits and bids them fly away, back to their homes. The lights are turned back on, and the shaman gradually returns to a normal state of consciousness.
The shaman is then presented with the second odee, or gift, by the client. This gift traditionally includes a small bowl, usually made of porcelain, and some cloth, either a bolt of cloth or a new piece of clothing. The gift is obligatory, as it closes the deal between shaman and client in the required way and serves to prevent the shaman from taking on the client's evil spirits. After addressing the altar and making offerings to the spirits, the shaman may again flick a little vodka into the corners of the house.
Any remaining ritual vodka is usually passed around and shared by all present. The oto is also passed around, with each person eating a bit of the ritual food. The remaining food will be taken out to the tudja of the house, to feed the house spirits. A feast, sponsored by the petitioner, is then served, and all present eat together.
Even after the kamlania is completed and the feast is done, the shaman's work may not be over. It is not unusual for a healing to involve a series of kamlanias, as when Grandfather Misha healed Nadyezhda's leg.
Grandfather Misha explained that, between sessions of a healing, it is the shaman's responsibility to think about the patient and to commune with the spirits about that patient's needs twenty-four hours a day, if possible. The patient's work will also continue after the kamlania is over. He or she must follow the spirit prescriptions regarding obtaining, feeding, and caring for the saivens. And if it has been determined that the patient has forgotten to do a proper ritual for hunting or fishing, or has failed to keep up the rituals necessary to his or her ancestors, these oversights will have to be rectified.
In one interesting case, which took place in Bulava in early , Grandfather Misha conducted a kamlania for a man suffering from chronic depression and from bad luck in fishing. During the kamlania, Grandfather began talking to this man as if he the client were a woman, referring to his husband and the children he had borne. It soon became apparent that Grandfather had traveled into a past life of this man and had determined that the depression was caused, at least partially, by problems stemming from that life.
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How a person lived in Bunee will determine the form in which he or she is born, whether that be the form of a human, an animal, or an evil spirit. Then Grandfather switched back to referring to his client as a male and commented that the client's mother had died about a year before. When the client confirmed that this was so, Grandfather said that the spirit of the man's mother was unhappy, because the man had neglected to make the required offerings to her tudja.
He determined that the man's bad luck in fishing was caused not by a violation of the fishing taboos but by his neglect of his mother's tudja. After the kamlania, the man started making regular offerings to the tudja, and within several months, his luck had changed dramatically. Disrespect to a family tudja is known to have serious repercussions, even if the act of defilement is performed inadvertently or by an unrelated party.
In one example, Grandfather Misha sold his home, located near his tudja, and the new owner defiled the tree, apparently unaware of its sacred status. Within a year, the man had died, and his son died soon thereafter. Moreover, Grandfather Misha himself suffered ill health that he attributed to this cause. The case of the young man with epilepsy treated by Grandmother Indyaka demonstrates the broad reach of prescriptions given by the spirits.
The day after that kamlania, the young man and his mother traveled to Khabarovsk for the son's annual physical exam.
There, the shocked clinic doctors kept the son for observation and tests for six days, but they were unable to determine how he had become completely well. Despite the apparent cure, the family still needed to move to a new home. During the kamlania, Grandmother Indyaka had seen that the evil spirit of a young woman lived in the family home and, furthermore, that the house had been built in an unfortunate place in which a bad deed had taken place long ago.
Indyaka had determined those problems had caused the young man's sickness, as well as the ill health of his mother. She had advised the family that they needed to move to a different plot of land and they did. The information gained in Indyaka's kamlania was later confirmed independently by a friend of the mother. This friend had gone to visit the mother a short time before the healing.
When she had arrived at the family's home, and the mother opened the door, the friend had seen the apparition of a beautiful, young woman standing next to the mother. Frightened speechless, the friend had turned around and run home. A year after the fact, the friend related her experience of seeing the woman's spirit, and her description matched what Grandmother Indyaka had seen during the kamlania. Kamlanias may be used to provide help and healing at great distances.
In cases where the shaman and patient are unable to physically meet, the patient may provide a photograph or other personal items to the shaman, who will perform the kamlania as if the patient was present. Nadyezhda relates the story of a friend, a Russian woman named Natasha, who had suffered for three years from a women's illness that medical doctors had been unable to cure. Grandmother Tika was provided with a photograph and some of Natasha's personal possessions, as well as the traditional shamanic payment.
After studying the photograph and handling Natasha's clothing, she conducted a kamlania and accurately saw Natasha's symptoms, which had not been described to her. She prescribed and made several saivens two frogs and a lizard, all made from paper that Natasha was to wear in an amulet around her neck and make offerings to on a monthly basis.
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Natasha followed these instructions, and reported that the saivens had afforded her some relief. However, Grandmother Tika said that the healing would require a second kamlania, to finish the fastening. After the second kamlania also conducted long distance , Natasha's condition began to improve, and within four to five months, she was restored to health, with no reoccurrence to date. Kamlanias have also been known to afford the gift of long-distance sight.