Holidays in Shamanism
Holidays in Shamanism
Those who practice shamanism can celebrate the New Year not twice, but three times - the beginning of the year according to the shamanic calendar never coincides with either the first or the fourteenth of January. And they also live in a world where you can always negotiate with the forces of nature - for this it is enough to perform some rituals. Actually, the main meaning of shamanic holidays is to achieve the location of the spirits. All over the world they are closely related to the annual solar cycle. There are eight main events in the shamans' festive calendar: the winter and summer solstices, the spring and autumn equinoxes, and intermediate dates between them.
shamanic New Year according to the Buddhist calendar
To the question “What is the most important holiday of the year?” any Russian will answer: “Of course, the New Year!” The inhabitants of those regions where the traditions of shamanism are still strong, for example, Siberians, will not be an exception. In Buryatia and Tuva, the New Year is called "Tsagan Sar" or "Sagaalgan". It is also called the "White Moon". The beginning of the holiday, as a rule, coincides with the Chinese New Year, which begins on the first day of the second lunar month following the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year. Quite difficult, but Buddhists and shamanists do not think so. Sagaalgan starts between January 21st and February 21st. On the holiday it is supposed to dress in white, there must be dairy products on the table. White color symbolizes happiness and prosperity.
According to a Candidate of Historical Sciences in Russia, Valentin Berezutsky, initially, Sagaalgan appeared in Mongolia and celebrated it in the fall. It was a holiday of renewal, it was necessary to appease the spirits - the patrons of the family, so that the year would be successful. However, the grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, who ruled in China, postponed the holiday to the end of winter - the influence of the Chinese lunar calendar affected. Over the next few centuries, Buddhism spread among the Turkic-speaking peoples of Central Asia, and Sagaalgan received a new semantic content. It became a holiday of cleansing from the sins accumulated over the year. There was a tradition to burn garbage, which symbolizes these sins. In the modern version of Sagaalgan, moments associated with both shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism have been preserved.
One of the important traditions of Sagaalgan is a special festive greeting. This is a whole ritual that is supposed to be performed by everyone who met on this day. For example, in Tuva it is so complicated that a joke even appeared here: “Why say hello during the year if you already said hello on Sagaalgan?” The details of New Year's greetings vary slightly in different regions, but the general meaning is the same: the younger extends both hands to the older, the older puts his hands on top of them. At the same time, the younger one supports the older one under the elbows, as if preventing him from falling. This gesture symbolizes respect and readiness to provide support in case of emergency. Equal in age clasp each other's right hands. While they are holding hands, it is necessary to ask each other obligatory questions: how did the year go, did you manage to winter without loss, how do all family members and relatives feel, are livestock sick. Even on Sagaalgan it is customary to visit each other and give gifts - just like on the Russian New Year.
In some regions, the beginning of the year according to the shamanic calendar does not coincide in date with the Chinese one. It is celebrated on the day of the spring equinox - March 21 - or one of the following days. In Khakassia and Mountain Shoria, this holiday is called "Chyl-Pazhi", which means "head of the year". On this day, shamans perform cleansing rites, and mere mortals tie special ribbons on trees - “chalama”. Black ribbons symbolize the troubles of the past year, and colored ribbons symbolize wishes for the next year.
Opening heavenly gates
The next shamanic holiday is the day of the beginning of spring, the midpoint between the spring equinox and the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. From the point of view of astronomy, the date of the holiday should be April 30, but in many regions it is celebrated later, adjusted for climate. In Mongolia, Buryatia and Tuva, it usually falls in mid-May. It is believed that on this day the heavenly gates open and the spirits descend to earth. They are asked that the year be fruitful, the cattle give offspring, and the people be healthy. Spirits are indulged with sweets, milk and grain, coins are left for them. During the tailagan, a tribal rite that is held in honor of the beginning of spring and the awakening of nature, a fire is always kindled, over which you need to jump. Shamans say it brings good luck. Fire cleanses from sins and gives strength.
Those who did not manage to participate in tailagan still try to visit one of the sacred places and leave offerings to the spirits. The Tuvans call such places "ovaa", the Buryats - "obo". Both are small pyramids of stones and poles. They are built near springs, on passes and just in beautiful places. If trees grow next to it, then they are hung with a chalam from top to bottom. People passing by a sacred place must stop and say hello to the spirits - then they will be accompanied by good luck.
Sevakan and Muchun
Evenks also celebrate the holiday of spring awakening of nature. Among the Evenks living in Eastern Siberia and the Far East, it is called "Sevekan", among those who live on the Yenisei and its tributaries - "Muchun". The signal for the beginning of the holiday is the appearance of green grass, new needles on larches and the first call of the cuckoo. The rituals performed by the shamans of Evenkia, Tuva and Buryatia in honor of the beginning of summer are very similar to each other. True, for the Evenks, the opening day of the heavenly gates is also the New Year.
Holidays that fall in the middle between the spring equinox and the summer solstice are not only among Asian peoples, but almost all European ones. Moreover, the tradition of celebrating the awakening of nature goes back to pre-Christian times, when all European nations were pagans.
One of the most revered shamanic holidays is the longest day of the year, the day of the summer solstice. It is called differently by different nations. For example, in the Buddhist belt - Kalmykia, Buryatia, Tuva and Mongolia - it is called "Naadym" or "Nad". On this day, competitions in wrestling, archery and horse racing are held. An obligatory element of the holiday is a fire, around which they dance all night long.
And the Yakuts celebrate their New Year on this day - Ysaakh. And they also dance around the fire, holding hands - this is the famous dance yokhor. If several generations gather for the holiday, the yokhor can dance for several days in a row, replacing each other. The round dance moves in the same direction as the sun: the dancers, as it were, reproduce its cycle, helping to give birth to a new day and a new year. Another rite, without which the Yakut New Year is indispensable, is the sprinkling of fire, grass and trees with koumiss. This is a sign of gratitude to the spirits for the fact that summer has come. Yakut shamans believe that on the day of the summer solstice spirits descend to earth to look at people. Therefore, both women and men wear their best clothes.
Autumn and winter Tailagans
Surprisingly, contemporary Americans and shamans of Central Asia have holidays in common, such as Thanksgiving. Practical Americans celebrate it in November, when the battle for the harvest is long over and the trophies are safely hidden in barns. But the shamans of Buryatia, Tuva and Yakutia prefer to thank the spirits immediately, "on the fact of shipment."
Corresponding shamanic rituals - taylagans - are held on the day of the autumn equinox, September 21st. Close to this date, Orthodox Christians celebrate the Intercession. Under the influence of Russians, Buryat shamans called their Thanksgiving Day Pokrov-tailagan. This is a celebration of the end of autumn and the beginning of winter. Bears are escorted into hibernation, performing a special dance. During tailagan, a huge bonfire is kindled - not a single shamanic holiday can do without it - and thanksgiving sacrifices are made to the spirits of earth and water. The duty to appease them lies with the two oldest men of the family. They sprinkle the earth and water with araka, a weak vodka made from sour milk. The shamans of Tuva act in the same way. In those days, when the Buryats and Tuvans were still nomadic peoples, after the autumn equinox, the clan usually moved from summer camps to winter camps.
There they celebrated the next big holiday, which fell exactly in the middle between the autumn equinox and the shortest day of the year - the winter solstice. At the end of October, shamans performed rites for the exorcism of evil spirits. It was believed that at this time the border between the worlds opens and spirits are among people. In addition, since the border is still open, the shaman must help the spirits of the dead to finally move to the lower world. Therefore, performing ritual dances, the shamans covered their faces with a bandage so that the dead would not recognize them and take them with them.
Tailagan, dedicated to the exorcism of evil spirits, is another ritual common to Central Asians and the United States. On the night of October 31 to November 1, Americans, and after them all the rest of the inhabitants of the planet, celebrate Halloween. The main attribute of this holiday is a Jack-o'-lantern made of pumpkin, designed specifically to drive away unwanted guests from other worlds from home.
So to speak, the grandfather of Halloween is the Celtic holiday of Samhain. The Celts divided the year into two halves - light and dark. So, Samhain is just the beginning of the dark half, when the gates to the world of the dead open. The lunisolar calendars of the Celts and Turks of Central Asia are very similar. And dividing the year into light and dark halves is customary for both. This is hardly just a coincidence, but in order to find a common root in the religious beliefs of the Celts and Turks, we simply do not have data. And yet the fact remains: for the shamans of southern Siberia, the holiday, which falls in the middle between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, has the same meaning as for the ancient Celts.
After the evil spirits are safely deported to where they are supposed to be, it remains to wait for the holiday that completes the annual cycle - the winter solstice. On the longest night of the year, shamans light fires to help the sun rise. According to one version, before Genghis Khan created his empire, the Mongols celebrated the New Year on December 21st. For modern residents of Buryatia and Mongolia, the tailagan, held on this day, serves as a signal for the start of preparations for Sagaalgan, the Buddhist New Year.
Rituals that help the sun to revive after the longest night of the year are also performed by shamans of the indigenous peoples of the North: Chukchi, Yakuts, Evenks. At the same time, it is also customary among the northerners on the day of the winter solstice to woo and arrange marriage. Perhaps because on the shortest day, the bride's parents have much less time to think, and the groom receives an answer as quickly as possible.