Common steps and sub-activities
Tundra and taiga
Tundra is a form of natural environment where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands", "treeless mountain tract". In tundra, the vegetation is composed of dwarf shrubs, sedges and grasses, mosses, and lichens. Although the occasional scattered tree may grow in some tundra, only the whole the environment is largely featureless and perfect to provide the sort of monotonous and harsh environment capable of producing an experience.
Taiga is an environment characterized by coniferous forests consisting mostly of pines, spruce and larches.
It is the world's largest terrestrial biome. In North America it covers most of inland Canada and Alaska. It also covers most of Sweden, Finland, much of Norway, much of Russia from St. Petersburg in the west to the Pacific ocean (including much of Siberia), northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia, and northern Japan (on the island of Hokkaidō). However, the main tree species, the length of the growing season and summer temperatures vary. For example, the taiga of North America consists of mainly spruces; Scandinavian and Finnish taiga consists of mainly pines; Russian taiga has spruces, pines and larches depending on the region, the Eastern Siberian taiga being a vast larch forest.
The term "boreal forest" is sometimes used to describe the more southerly part of the biome, while the term taiga is often used to describe the more barren areas of the northernmost part of the taiga approaching the tree line and the tundra.
Taiga is ‘hostile’ to human populations BUT the monotony of many of the forests, the lack of any paths or roads, the cold, the presence in some areas of bears and wolves and the ‘sameness’ of the environment create all the right conditions – exhaustion, fear, befuddling etc conducive to spiritual experience. It is used deliberately by potential shamans to tip them over into the full role.