Colin Thubron - Siberian shaman
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
In Siberia – Colin Thubron
My eyes wandered round the room, searching for tell tale signs, but noticed little new; a plastic box filled with tomatoes, a miniature incense burner, a coil of yellow silk. I wondered what he was doing.
Then BOOM. My hair prickled. BOOM, BOOM. A ginger cat shot out from under the curtain. BOOM BOOM BOOM. It was a deep, haunting reverberation.
I parted the curtain. Kunga Boo had lifted his tambour like a trophy, and was banging it with a padded stick, and over his bed lay all his shaman's regalia. BOOM BOOM BOOM. He was beaming like a child. It was as if he had known my interest all along, and had been testing me.
He said 'this is my coat'. He laid aside the tambour. 'It is very old'.
It was long and black, dripping black tassels. He clashed some ribboned cymbals. Then he took the cloudy gold disc that he passed over patients' bodies and touched it across his own like an astral stethoscope.
'And this is my head-dress'. He held it delicately.
From a circlet of gold plates which jangled and overlapped in his hands, there sprouted glossy black feathers. It looked barbarian. As he donned it, a cascade of attached black hair tumbled to his waist, and the vertical war bonnet transformed him into a Sioux. He stroked it in delight. Then he thwacked his palm with a short, seven thonged flail and beat it at the air.
'Vor, Vor, vor!' he was laughing 'that is how I beat them'.
'The black spirits?'
But even now he could not name them. His face set. 'When I dance I recognise them.. and what I need to know, I know'
He whipped the air again 'they flee away!'
Then he picked up the tambour and struck it in a trilling burst.
'When I dance I chant to the music manix-hu-ma, manix-hu-ma' – he pointed to the ceiling 'and power comes to me out of the sky'