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Observations placeholder

Mircea Eliade - On Bird song as spell



Type of Spiritual Experience


**Notes: Psychopomps (from the Greek word psychopompos), literally meaning the "guide of souls") are people often shamans, or creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly-deceased souls to the afterlife


A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

Magic and song especially song like that of birds – are frequently expressed by the same term. The Germanic word for magic formula is galdr derived from the verb galan ‘to sing’, a term applied especially to bird calls.

All over the world learning the language of animals, especially of birds, is equivalent to knowing the secrets of nature and hence being able to prophesy. Bird language is usually learned by eating snake or some other reputedly magical animal….. learning their language, imitating their voice is equivalent to ability to communicate with the beyond and the heavens…. birds are psychopomps.

Becoming a bird oneself or being accompanied by a bird indicates the capacity, while still alive, to undertake the ecstatic journey to the sky and the beyond… Imitating animal voices, using this secret language during the séance is yet another sign that the shaman can move freely through the three cosmic zones – underworld, earth and sky.

The source of the experience

Shaman unspecified

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Singing spells