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Tuvan Shamans

by Dancing Bear

In August of 1998, the Foundation for Shamanic Studies sponsored two shamans and a professor of shamanism to visit the United States from Tuva. In case you are not an expert on geography, Tuva is a small Russian state located just north of Mongolia, west of Tibet in the southeast region of Russia. There was an exchange of learning techniques with us sharing with the Tuvans and the Tuvans sharing with us.


Sharing with the Tuvans was very enlightening and interesting. To work with shamans who live in a country where 100% of the population believe in shamans was incredible and a first for me. Below are some of the highlights of what the Tuvan's shared with us:

  • The Tuvan shamans place a large emphasis on rituals and cleansing.
  • They always perform a lengthy ritual at the beginning of each healing session. It is much more than just lighting a candle, some incense, some drumming, and holding hands. Some of what they do is listed below:
    • They cleanse every object they work with (paraphernalia they call it) with candle smoke.
    • Then they cleanse themselves and then everyone in the circle several times. Before doing a ritual they do several rounds of clearing which varied by shaman. Included were bell ringing, drumming, throat singing (unique to the Tuvans), rattling, and other activities.
    • The shaman would circle around the group at least once for each type of cleansing they would use.

Most people are very affected by the throat singing as the vibration is very powerful and incredibly healing. Sometimes the shaman would hit someone with their drum beater, either on the head or shoulder (yes I was hit several times). It was supposed to drive out some negative energy.

They would also pass around a liquid concoction made of a type of evergreen and milk. It seemed rancid but we were told that we should transmute the liquid into a healing elixir as we drank it.

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