1999 Expedition to Tuva, Page 3
By Paul Uccusic
© Shamanism, Fall/Winter 2000, Vol. 13, Nos. 1 & 2

Later, in the Communist era there was diminished interest in the stone. The old trail leading to the rock was then widened into a street, and people built their houses and fences near its resting place. An historian and writer recently learned the myths surrounding the rock and wrote a book about it. Local shamans and our group were invited to sanctify the rock on this special date so important for Kyzyl and Tuva.

Nikolai and the other Tuvans prepared a fire in an outstandingly short time. As it burned, we all could feel the spirits of fire coming down, merging with the place and the people. All of us touched the stone to feel its power. People living there were curious about the event, perhaps because shamanism is not an important part in the lives of the people in that part of Kyzyl.

After this, we had to hurry back for a big theater event in the city center. The event had just begun and the doors had been closed, but we were admitted so we could watch the dances and listen to the music and the speeches of local dignitaries, among them Mr. Oorzhak-Ool, the president of Tuva and Victor Vusatyi Vasilyevich, a former Russian officer and a great supporter of shamanism.

Among many other invitations, we had one to a nice dinner at the new house of Ai-Churek, (Moon Heart), the famous female shaman we first met in 1993 when she experienced her initiation in our circle while the famous Tuvan actor was being healed from heart disease. She is now married to a man whose family convinced her that the best way of healing him would he to marry him. He is an excellent cook and takes care of the household and her nine-year-old son when Ai-Churek is abroad (she often visits Europe, mainly Italy , and is well known elsewhere in the West). By Tuvan standards she lives in excellent economic conditions. Her rented site consists of winter and summer houses, both connected by a yard, and all fenced. She usually accepts four clients a day with whom to work shamanically.

The next day we had to start early for a five-day trip to the west. Nikolai Oorzhak had made appointments for us in some communities in need of shamanic help. It seemed, as in former years, to be a good opportunity to provide help, and to learn about the people, the landscape, and the spirits at the same time. We left with a delay of only two hours, which proved the competence of our organizers; in former years delays were measured in days.

Shaman, Nina Dovuu
Shaman Nina Dovuu at Sut-Khol Lake, September 1999.
Photo by Paul Uccusic.

Our minibus, an Uasik, (the typical Russian Jeep) and a second car with Nadia and a driver with food and beverages took us to the west. The first stop, as usual, was at Khaiyrakan, the sacred Bear Mountain near Shagonar. The stop there was to greet the spirits and to call their power. The shaman's tipi (tschum) that we saw in 1993 was knocked down by a powerful storm and had not been rebuilt. The site now only holds a bear skull and a Buddhist plate upon which there are mantra inscriptions. We also held a short ceremony in remembrance of the late Heimo Lappalainen (it is the site where his ashes were scattered in 1994).

Finishing our work at Khaiyrakan, we left for a village named Sug-Aksy. As soon as we arrived, everybody in the town of 2,500 knew that foreign shamans were there. (Was it Professor Rhine from Durham, NC, who discovered that thoughts move faster than the speed of light?) The yard outside the building where we stopped quickly filled with sick people. We looked around for the Tuvan shamans with their drums, roots, herbs, other remedies, and, of course, with their knowledge of the Tuvinian language. We quickly noted that one was taking care of arranging rooms and our luggage while the females prepared potatoes, lamb, and onions—it was obviously the turn of the Austrians to do the healing work.

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