Monday, June 14, 2010

Entry 5: Ulanbaatar, Mongolia and Shamans: 2010, June 6

The girl from San Diego we met earlier at the Beijing airport, in Ulanbaatar to visit her family in Mongolia has showed us around a bit. Turns out, her dad is “Mongolia’s number one Shaman” (by her account. - Incidentally, he does appear on a History's Channel's documentary about the search for Genghis Khan's treasures. He was one of many who opposed digging up Mongolia's graves and land in the name of exploration). We were invited to first go to his Ger (a Mongolian round house) where we witnessed him perform a ceremony to cure a man of alcoholism.

(our friend is on the left)

(inside the Shaman's Ger)

We then went to a ceremony in a grassy spot with many flags just a few miles from the city. The ceremony was held for a female being initiated as a Shaman. The ceremony appears to be highly ritualistic and lacked what use to be the main ingredient that now a Shaman never uses – the psychoactive mushroom. A few days later, we were lucky enough to attend a gathering of 15 shamans in the same spot.

The pouring rain and hypothermal bone-chilling weather seemed to intensive the franticness of drumming, as Shamans passed into the realm of spirits and then passed out with family members catching their limb bodies just before hitting the ground.

With fires issuing clouds of smoke, fueled by sacrifices of volatile vodka and some unrecognizable animal jaws wrapped in green linen, pitched into the flames, goat heads sitting in pools of blood or top their own dismembered bodies,

offerings of bread piled into castle like structures with many other colorful food treats on tables,

milk and seeds being tossed everywhere into the air by families of the shamans and the air filled with the sound of chanting pounding drums and tiny mouth instruments - all made for a pretty impressive scene.

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