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Bogoras - Siberian shamanism - Chukchee drumming



Type of Spiritual Experience


Communication with the spirit helper may or may not be accompanied by a vision.

A description of the experience

Waldemar Bogoras – The Chukchee

 . . . began, as usual, in the dark; but when the shaman suddenly broke off beating the drum, the lamp was again lighted and the face of the shaman immediately covered with a piece of cloth. The mistress of the house, who was the wife of the shaman, took up the drum and began to beat it with light, slow strokes. This lasted the entire time.

 ...........The beating of the drum, notwithstanding its seeming simplicity, requires some skill, and the novice must spend considerable time before he can acquire the desired degree of perfection. This has reference especially to the performer's power of endurance. The same may be said of the singing.

The manifestations continue for several weeks, during which time the shaman exercises the most violent activity with scarcely a pause. After the performance he must not show any signs of fatigue, because he is supposed to be sustained by the "spirits", and, moreover, the greater part of the exercise is asserted to be the work of the spirits themselves, either after entering the shaman's body or while outside his body.

The amount of endurance required for all this, and the ability to pass quickly from the highest excitement to a state of normal quietude, can, of course, be acquired only by long practice. Indeed, all the shamans I conversed with said that they had to spend a year, or even two years, before sufficient strength of hand and freedom of voice were given to them by the spirits. Some asserted that, during all this preparatory time, they kept closely to the inner room, taking up the drum several times a day, and beating it as long as their strength would allow.

The source of the experience

Siberian shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps