Potanin - Kam out of body
Type of Spiritual Experience
The following came after a lot of drumming and dancing about, jumping and other frenetic activity
A description of the experience
Potanin, Sketches of N. W. Mongolia, vol. iv,
The kam directs his way towards the south. He has to cross the Altai Mountains and the red sands of the Chinese deserts. Then he crosses a yellow steppe, such as no magpie can traverse.
''Singing, we shall cross it', says the kam in his Song.
After the yellow steppe there is a 'pale' one, such as no crow can pass over, and the kam in his imaginary passage once more sings a song full of hopeful courage.
Then comes the iron mountain of Tamir Shayha, which 'leans against the sky'. Now the kam exhorts his train to be all of one mind, that they may pass this barrier by the united force of their will. He describes the difficulty of surmounting the passes and, in doing so, breathes heavily. On the top he finds the bones of many kams who have fallen here and died through failure of power.
Again he sings songs of hope, declares he will leap over the mountain, and suits the action to the word. At last he comes towards the opening which leads to the underworld.
Here he finds a sea, bridged only by a hair. …. In the depths of the sea he beholds the bodies of many sinful kams who have perished there, for only those who are blameless can cross this bridge.
On the other side he meets sinners who are receiving punishment suited to their faults; e.g. an eavesdropper is pinned by his ear to a stake.
On reaching the dwelling-place of Erlik, he is confronted by dogs, who will not let him pass, but at last, being appeased by gifts, they grow milder. ….. Having successfully passed these warders, the kam, as if approaching the Yarta of Erlik and coming into his presence, bows, brings his drum up to his forehead, and says, 'Mergu! mergu!' Then he declares whence and why he comes.
Suddenly he shouts; this is meant to indicate that Erlik is angry that a mortal should dare to enter his yurta. The frightened kam leaps backward towards the door, but gathers fresh courage and again approaches Erlik's throne.
After this performance has been gone through three times, Erlik speaks: 'Winged creatures cannot fly hither, beings with bones cannot come: how have you, ill-smelling blackbeetle, made your way to my abode?'
….The kam returns in high spirits, not on his horse as he went, but on a goose--a change of steeds which he indicates by moving about the yurta on tiptoe, to represent flying.