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Observations placeholder

A A Popov - The initiation of an Avam-Samoyed shaman



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Dr Joan Halifax – Shamanic voices

An account by A. A. Popov of the initiation of an Avam-Samoyed shaman in the early 1900s gives some notion of the psychosymbolic context of shamanic illness:

Stricken with small-pox, the future shaman remained unconscious for three days, so nearly dead that on the third day he was almost buried.

He saw himself go down to hell, and, after many adventures, he was carried to an island in the middle of which stood a young birch tree that reached up to heaven. It was the Tree of the Lord of the Earth.  And the Lord gave him a branch of it to make himself a drum.

Next he came to a mountain. Passing through an opening, he met a naked man playing the bellows at an enormous fire beneath a kettle. The man caught him with a hook, cut off his head, and chopped his body to bits and put them all in the kettle. There he boiled the body for three years, and then forged him a head on an anvil. Finally, he fished out the bones, which were floating in a river, put them together, and covered them with flesh.

During his adventures in the Other World, the future shaman met several semi-divine personages, and each revealed doctrines to him or taught him secrets of the healing art.

When he awoke in his hut, he was initiated and could begin to shamanize

The source of the experience

Siberian shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps