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Observations placeholder

Tae-kon, Dr Kim – Shape shifting to animals and birds and flying out of body



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Korean Shamanism – Muism – Dr Kim Tae-kon

The Shaman Matvei Afanasyev (a male, 73 years old, a Dathat shaman from Hupskul), whose case the author examined during a field trip to Yakutia, obtained a "loss of consciousness" from the age of 16 onwards.

During this state he was unable to see anything around him, could not sleep or even eat, and did not know what was happening to him.

After these manifestations occurred over a period of 4 to 5 years, his neighbours said he had become "deranged." During that time he felt the illusion that his body changed into a "guagats" (a duck), while he also experienced the illusion of changing into an eagle or a wolf.

Still later, when he was in the mental state which accompanies the process of becoming a shaman, he was under the illusion that his body was cut into pieces.

He claimed that he had similar illusions when performing rites (ceremonies) after becoming a shaman, when he would call on the animal into which he had been transformed, be it a duck, an eagle or a wolf. This animal would then come to his side and converse with him; or he himself would even become that animal. In the middle of a rite he would ascend to the upper world or descend to the lower world. When he was rising to heaven, his soul would change into a duck, and he would ask the highest god, Chyobon, about his concerns. When descending, his soul would change into a wolf.

On the part of his attire that covers his breast, he wore several images (cut out of thin copper plate, about 7 centimeters long) of a duck, an eagle, a wolf and a human. He explained these were the various stages his body went through when he had lost consciousness.

A similar case of using copper cut-outs, is that of the shaman Vuegom, or whose breast one may discern images of a swan, a fish resembling a carp, a diving beetle, a huge worm, and a bear (altogether up to l0 different animals, though during my research only 7 were present).

During a rite, he claimed his soul changed into the same objects which were hanging on his breast, and in the form of the appropriate one, he would travel through the skies or through the water.

Evnky Shaman Savey (a deer) is a 45-year-old male who lives in the Yeringri area, located south of Yakutsk. From my field research notes on July 25, 1993 he became a flying bird.

Mulveuii, a female shaman from the same tribe (aged 112) made a "chirping" sound and sang and played the drum during a ceremony on August 7, 1994. She drank a couple of glasses of vodka and burned incense (called PPa Kul Nik) which had a very strong odour. Afterwards, when she was asked what the sound meant, she explained that she had become a bird and therefore made the sound of a bird.

The source of the experience

Siberian shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items


Shape shifting

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Activity not known