Mircea Eliade - On horses
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy
For the moment, let us note the importance accorded to the Buryat shaman’s ‘horse’; this is one of the characteristically Central and North Asian means of accomplishing the shamanic journey, and we shall find it elsewhere.................
The iconography of the drums is dominated by the symbolism of the ecstatic journey, that is by journeys that imply a breakthrough in plane and hence a ‘centre of the world’. The drumming at the beginning of the séance, intended to summon the spirits and ‘shut them up’ in the shaman’s drum, constitutes the preliminaries for the ecstatic journey. That is why the drum is called the ‘shaman’s horse (Yakut, Buryat).
The Altaic drum bears a representation of a horse; when the shaman drums, he is believed to go to the sky on his horse. Among the Buryat too, the drum made with a horse’s hide represents that animal. According to O. Manchen-Helfen, the Soyot shaman’s drum is regarded as a horse and is called khamu-at, literally ‘shaman horse’. …………..
Miraculous speed is one of the characteristics of the Taltos, the Hungarian shaman. A taltos ‘put a reed between his legs and galloped away and was there before a man on horseback. All these beliefs, images and symbols in relation to the flight, the riding, or the speed of shamans are figurative expressions for ecstasy, that is, for mystical journeys undertaken by superhuman means and in regions inaccessible to mankind