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Observations placeholder

Mircea Eliade - The secret language of the spirits



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

In the course of his initiation the future shaman has to learn the secret language that he will use during his séances to communicate with the spirits and animal spirits.  He learns this secret language either from a teacher or by his own efforts, that is directly from the spirits; both methods co-exist among the Eskimo, for example.

The existence of a specific secret language has been verified among the Lapps, the Ostyak, the Chukchee, the Yakut and the Tungus.  During his trance the Tungus shaman is believed to understand the language of all nature.  The secret shamanic language is highly elaborated among the Eskimo and used as a means of communication between the angakut and their spirits.  Each shaman has his own particular song; which he intones to invoke the spirits.  Even where a secret language is not directly concerned, traces of it are to be found in the incomprehensible refrains that are repeated during séances, as for example, among the Altaians

This phenomenon is not exclusively North Asian and Arctic; it occurs almost everywhere.  During the séance the Semang pygmy hala talks with the Cenoi (Celestial spirits) in their language…. The Batak shaman uses the ‘language of the spirits’ during séances and the shamanic chants of the Dusun (north Borneo) are in secret language.  According to carib tradition, the first piai (shaman) was a man who, hearing a song rise from a stream, dived boldly in and did not come out again until he had memorised the song of the spirit women and received the implements of his profession from them

References:  C F Rasmussen – Intellectual culture of the Iglulik Eskimo

                    Eliel Lagercrantz – Die Geheimsprachen der Lappen

                    Lehtisalo – Beobachtungen uber die Jodler

                   Thalbitzer – The Heathen priests of East Greenland

                  Weyer – Les magicians esquimaux

                  L H Roth – The natives of Sarawak

                 Metraux – Le Shamanisme chez les Indiens de ‘Amerique du Sud tropicale

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Symbol system

Activities and commonsteps