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Observations placeholder

Keith Howard - Delsjumjaku Demnimeevic Kosterkin sings and plays excerpts from a ritual



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Shamanism, music and the soul – Keith Howard

In 1992, above the Arctic circle at Ust'-Avam on the Ienissei river in Siberia, Delsjumjaku Demnimeevic Kosterkin sang and played excerpts from a ritual that originally protected from diseases but which, today, aims to prevent the young from committing suicide. He wore a cloak with bronze and iron pendants representing bear's skeleton, and accompanied himself on a frame drum with metal rings attached to cross-members behind. A bearskin was placed on the ground, which the shaman caressed with his drum stick before throwing it in the air and divining from the way it fell. The bear is, invoked as the helping spirit, protecting the vulnerable:

A shaman and his helpers call the spirits, benefactor animals from earth, water and sky. When they meet, the shaman starts singing. Now it is night, it is December. One can hear [the bear's] steps. It is really dark ...

In December, three days, [the bear's] steps. We do [this ritual] against diseases and also so the young ones will not kill themselves anymore. When I plunge the knife in, I divert suicide.

When they get up, they start to make the road to be able to leave when warmer days come. For the moment, the bear is sleeping. His fur is the shaman's friend, his spirit. He helps build the road. The mallet of the drum is the tongue of the shaman. The mallet fell on its side: It's good ... Everything the shaman says comes to him from the nape of his neck. In my nape I have a hole through which I hear everything I then transmit to others.

The source of the experience

Siberian shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps