Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Tuva Connection

Tuva: Shamans and Spirit

Presented by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies

Violently repressed for almost 50 years during the Soviet era, shamanism is experiencing an enthusiastic revival in the Russian region of Tuva, (between Mongolia and Siberia). This currant revival may be the closest contemporary example of America’s earliest religion or for that matter humankind’s most ancient spiritual practice. Photographer, Yann Mingard describes Tuvan shamanism… “According to the shamanic worldview, the world is divided into two realms, the real and the invisible, the latter being a projection of the real world inhabited by spirits whose actions influence the life of humans. Shamans are believed to have the power to see the invisible world and communicate with spirits. Some work in 'shamanic clinics' and have clients from all over the world. Other shamans prefer to live surrounded by nature, which they worship over all other things, working alone and receiving clients in their home, according to ancient traditions.”

Tuva Shaman Healing Ritual
Yann Mingard for Time

Meanwhile back in the USA, I ordered Sandra Ingerman’s audio book, Beginner’s Guide to Shamanic Journeying from Sounds True. Ingerman is the educational director for the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and teaches about Shamanism throughout the world. On the Beginner’s Guide she gives an overview and then introduces the listener to the technique of “journeying” or entering non-ordinary reality to solve problems and contact spirit helpers.

Laying on my bed listening to it I began to drift in and out of dream states when I had a surprising… dream? vision? that woke me with a little jolt. I was riding a winged horse through a night sky filled with stars and planets… I was surprised. I’ve been asking to find my spirit animal. I was thinking maybe a frog would hop into my consciousness but my fleeting vision seemed like something out of Narnia or Harry Potter. A Pegasus? My first reaction was, “oh no”. It was too much like the little girl’s toy, my little pony.” But Ingerman says not to dismiss anything that comes. So I haven’t. Pegasus carried thunderbolts for Zeus. The Tibetan version of a flying horse, the Windhorse represents power swift as the wind. Now, I find myself whispering to my Spirit Pony. Thumbing through a catalog at work I found this poster by the Cree Artist George Littlechild. It captures the feeling of my dream vision.

Look Back to the Land by George Littlechild
Poster available from Native Northwest