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Observations placeholder

Mircea Eliade - The Eagle in Buryat and Yakut legend



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

The majority of myths concerning the origin of shamans posit the direct intervention of God, or of his representative the eagle, the bird of the sun.

Here is the story the Buryat tell; in the beginning there were only gods …. and the evil spirits.  The gods created man, and he lived happily until the time when the evil spirits spread sickness and death over the earth.  The gods decided to give mankind a shaman to combat disease and death and they sent the eagle.  But men did not understand its language, besides they had no confidence in a mere bird.  The eagle returned to the gods and asked them to give him the gift of speech, or else to send a Buryat shaman to men…… [the story continues here with the first shaman a woman]……..

This is why, in other legends, the appearance of an eagle is interpreted as a sign of shamanic vocation…. Among the Yakut of Turukhansk the eagle is likewise considered to be the creator of the first shaman.  But the eagle also bears the name of the Supreme Being Ai (the Creator) or Ai Toyon (the Creator of Light).  Ai Toyo’s children are represented as bird spirits perching in the branches of the World Tree; in the top of it is the two headed eagle, Toyon Kotor (the Lord of Birds)….

Among the Yakut, again, the eagle is also related to smiths; and these are supposed to have the same origin as shamans.  According to the Yenisai Ostyak, the Teleut, the Orochon and the other Siberian peoples, the first shaman was born of an eagle or at least was taught his art by an eagle.

The source of the experience

Siberian shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps