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Observations placeholder

Mircea Eliade - Describes Yakut shaman rebirth



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

A Yakut shaman, Sofron Zateyev, states that as a rule the future shaman ‘dies’ and lies in the yurt for three days without eating or drinking.  Formerly the candidate went through the ceremony three times, during which he was cut to pieces. 

Another shaman, Pyotr Ivanov, gives further details.  The candidate’s limbs are removed and disjointed with an iron hook, the bones are cleaned, flesh scraped, the body fluids thrown away and the eyes torn from their sockets.  After the operation all the bones are gathered and fastened together with iron. 

According to a third shaman, Timofei Romanov, the ceremony of dismemberment lasts from three to seven days during all that time the candidate remains like a dead man, scarcely breathing, in a solitary place.

The Yakut Gavril Alekseyev states that each shaman has a Bird-of-Prey Mother, which is like a great bird with an iron beak, hooked claws and a long tail.  This mythical bird shows itself only twice; at the shaman’s spiritual birth, and at his death.  It takes his soul, carries it to the underworld and leaves it to ripen on a branch of a pitch pine.  When the soul has reached maturity the bird carries it back to earth, cuts the candidate’s body into bits, and distributes them among the evil spirits of disease and death.  Each spirit devours the part of the body that is his share; this gives the future shaman power to cure the corresponding diseases.  After devouring the whole body the evil spirits depart.

The Bird Mother restores the bones to their places and the candidate wakes as from a deep sleep

The source of the experience

Siberian shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items


Spirit helper

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Nutritional deprivation