Dyukhade's initiatory visions
At first he was descending somewhere, then he grasped that there was a sea beneath him. While walking by the sea, he listened the voice of upper disease who told that he would acquire the shaman's gift from the Mistress of water and his shaman name would be Hotarie. After that he reached the shore. A naked woman, who was lying there, suckled him. She was the Mistress of water. Her husband Frosty God gave an ermine and a mouse to guide him.
They leaded him to the hill in the lower world where he saw seven tents. Dyukhade entered the second tent. The Smallpox people was living there. They cut out Dyukhade's heart and put it in the cauldron to boil. Afterwards Dyukhade visited other tents and got familiar with the spirits of diseases who lived there. Still preceded by his guides, Dyukhade came to that place of the Shamans Land where his throat and his voice were strengthened.
Then he was carried to the shores of the nine lakes. In the middle of one lake was an island and in the island there was a tree, quite similar to the larch, only its top rose to the sky. It was the tree of the Mistress of earth. Beside it grew seven herbs, the ancestors of all the plants on the earth. In each of the lakes swam a species of bird with its young. There were several kinds of ducks, a swan and a sparrow-hawk. With singing songs and telling incantations, Dyukhade walked round all of the lakes. Some of them were very hot, some were terribly salt. Thereafter Dyukhade raised his head and saw men of various nations in the top of the high tree. There were Nganasans, Russians, Dolgans, Nenetses and Tunguses. He heard voices: "It has been decided that you shall have a drum from the branches of this tree."
Then he grasped he flew with the birds of the lakes. As he left the shore, the Lord of the Tree called to him: "My branch has just fallen. Take it and make a drum of it that will serve you all your life!" The barnch had three forks and the Lord of the Tree bade him make three drums from it. "Let you have three wives, who will watch over your drums," he said. "The first drum you have got to use for shamanising women in childbirth, the second for curing the sick and the third for finding men lost in the snowstorm."
Dyukhade took the branch and flew away with the birds. On his way he met a demiman-demitree creature who told: " If you will be asked to shamanise in the case of serious illness and your heart will not be strong enough, then you will take this," and he gave him seven herbs. "Each of them has its lords. If you will meet an orphan girl or a widow, you will help them."
Then Dyukhade reached the large sea. He saw seven cliffs on the shore. When he got close, one of them opened. There were the teeth like bear's ones inside the cliff. The cliff told: "I am the Heavy Stone. By the use of my weight I held the fertile soil in its place. The wind would carry it away without me." The second cliff opened and said: "Let all men melt iron from me." So Dyukhade learned seven days near the cliffs.
Afterwards the ermine and the mouse leaded him by the marshland. They reached the hill with swampy slopes. There was an opened doorway in the closest slope, and they went in. The interior except ice around looked like the one of the conical tent's. There was the hearth in the middle of the room. On the left side two naked women were sitting. Their bodies were furry and both they had antlers (one of them had green ones). Both of them bore him two reindeer calves destined for sacrificing and nourishment. They gave him some reindeer fur for shaman costume and for good luck with reindeer.
Then Dyukhade came to a desert and saw a distant mountain. After three days' travel he reached it and entered an opening. There was a naked man working a bellows inside the mountain. On the fire was a cauldron as big as half the earth. The naked man saw Dyukhade and caught him with a huge pair of tongs. Dyukhade had only time to think: "I am dead!" The man cut off his head, chopped up his body and put in the cauldron. There he boiled them for three years. There were three anvils on the tundra side of this mountain. The naked man forged Dyukhade's head on the third anvil, which was the one on which the best shamans were forged. Then he chilled his head in the cauldron, in which the water was the coldest (there were three cauldrons with water indeed). He said: "When you will be called to cure someone, you will remember - if the soul of your patient will be warmer then water in the first cauldron, it will be useless to shamanise, for the man is already lost. If the soul will be as warm as water in the second cauldron, your patient is not very seriously ill and you will shamanise to cure him. Water in the third cauldron has the temperature of healthy body." Then the blacksmith poured Dyukhade's bones and muscles out of the cauldron and separated flesh from bones. He said: "As you have three of them too many, you will have three shaman costumes too." Afterwards he said: "Your spinal cord is a river now, look at your bones floating away!" He fished Dyukhade's bones out of the river and put them together. The bones covered with flesh again. Only skull was still separated. Then the blacksmith told Dyukhade to read the letters inside the skull. And Dyukhade read. Then the blacksmith covered the skull with flesh and put it to its original place again. He changed his eyes and pierced his ears, making him able to understand the language of plants. Then Dyukhade found himself on the summit of a mountain. He entered a tent and waked - in his own tent.
Afterwards he behaved like an insane: daily he sung incantations and frequently swooned away, nightly suffered torments caused by spirits. On seventh year of his illness he went far to the tundra and met there a man who gave him back his heart, cut out at the very beginning of his shaman's sickness.
A. Popov "Tavgitsy" - Trudy Instituta antropologii i etnografii, t. 1. vyp. 5. Moskva-Leningrad 1936, pp 85 - 93. Abbreviated translation by A. Lintrop.
Back to the Incantator's page
Back to the Shamans from Kosterkin Family page