Discovering the Spiritual Practices of Mongolian Shamans

Today, we embark on a fascinating journey as we delve into the spiritual practices of Mongolian shamans. In this video by Jargalsaikhan Dorjgotov, we are offered a glimpse into the world of Mongolian shamanism, specifically the rituals performed by the Mongolian shaman 27 Mongolyn Booyn Negdsen Evlel MBNE and the Urianhai people during their grand Naadam festival. With stunning visuals and captivating storytelling, this video provides an intimate portrayal of the ancient traditions that have been passed down through generations. From the rhythmic beating of the shaman’s drum to the mesmerizing movements of their dances, we will witness the profound connection between the shamans and the spiritual realm, gaining a deeper understanding of this mystical practice. Prepare to be captivated.

Introduction to Mongolian Shamans

In the vast landscapes of Mongolia, an ancient spiritual tradition has endured for centuries – Mongolian shamanism. Shamanism has been deeply rooted in the culture and beliefs of the Mongolian people, shaping their worldview and providing a connection to the spiritual realm. This article aims to provide an in-depth look into the world of Mongolian shamans, exploring their historical background, beliefs, rituals, and the challenges they face in the modern era.

Historical Background

Origins of Mongolian Shamanism

Mongolian shamanism finds its origins in the ancient nomadic traditions of the Mongol tribes. The shamanic practices began to take shape around 2000 BCE and evolved over time through the intermingling of different tribal beliefs and practices. Shamanism played a crucial role in the lives of the Mongols, offering guidance, healing, and protection.

Significance of Shamans in Mongolian Culture

Shamans held a central position within Mongolian culture. They were revered as the intermediaries between the human realm and the spiritual world. People turned to shamans for divination, healing, and spiritual guidance. They were believed to possess the ability to communicate with the spirits and navigate the invisible realms.

Suppression of Shamanism during the Soviet Era

During the Soviet era in the 20th century, Mongolia came under the influence of communist ideology. As a result, shamanism and other religious practices were suppressed, and many shamans were persecuted. Shamanic rituals were banned, and shamans were forced into hiding or forced to renounce their practices. This suppression greatly impacted the shamanic traditions in Mongolia, leading to a decline in its practice.

Beliefs and Spirits

Central Beliefs of Mongolian Shamanism

At the heart of Mongolian shamanism lies the belief in the existence of spirits in all aspects of nature. The shamanic worldview sees the world as a vast interconnected web of spiritual beings, where everything, from mountains to rivers to animals, has its own spirit. Shamans believe that by communing with these spirits, they can gain insight, guidance, and power.

Pantheon of Spirits

Mongolian shamanism encompasses a rich pantheon of spirits that play an integral role in the shamanic practices. The spirits are categorized into various types, including nature spirits, ancestral spirits, and spirits associated with specific places or objects. Each spirit embodies unique qualities and possesses specialized knowledge, which can be accessed by the shaman to aid in their work.

Ancestor Worship

Ancestor worship is a central aspect of Mongolian shamanism. The belief in ancestral spirits and their ability to influence the lives of their descendants is deeply ingrained in Mongolian culture. Shamans act as intermediaries between the living and the spirits of their ancestors, performing rituals and ceremonies to honor and seek guidance from these revered spirits.

Discovering the Spiritual Practices of Mongolian Shamans

Initiation and Training

Becoming a Shaman

Becoming a shaman in Mongolian culture is not a straightforward process. It is believed that individuals are called to be shamans by the spirits themselves. Various signs and visions are interpreted as indications of a person’s shamanic potential. Once identified, the future shaman must go through rigorous training and initiation rituals to prepare them for their shamanic journey.

Apprenticeship with a Mentor

Aspiring shamans undertake an apprenticeship with an experienced shaman, known as a mentor. The mentor guides and teaches the apprentice the spiritual practices, rituals, and techniques necessary for becoming a shaman. The apprenticeship is an intimate and long-lasting relationship, with the mentor passing down their wisdom, knowledge, and experiences to the next generation.

Training in Spiritual Practices

Shamans-in-training undergo extensive training in spiritual practices to enhance their abilities to communicate with the spirits and perform rituals. This training includes learning shamanic chants, dances, and drumming techniques. They also learn how to enter altered states of consciousness and navigate the spirit realms, gaining wisdom and knowledge from the spirits.

Shamanic Rituals and Ceremony

Role of Rituals in Mongolian Shamanism

Rituals hold a significant place in Mongolian shamanism, serving as a means of connecting with the spirits and seeking their guidance and assistance. Rituals are performed for various purposes, including healing, divination, protection, and celebration. Through rituals, shamans establish a sacred space, invoke spirits, and engage in ceremonial activities to bring about desired outcomes.

Types of Shamanic Ceremonies

Mongolian shamans engage in diverse types of ceremonies, each serving a specific purpose. Some ceremonies focus on healing physical and spiritual ailments, while others celebrate significant life events or seek guidance from the spirits. The rituals may involve offerings, chanting, drumming, dancing, and other symbolic acts that create a connection between the shaman, the spirits, and the participants.

Use of Music and Dance in Shamanic Rituals

Music and dance play a crucial role in Mongolian shamanic rituals. The rhythmic beat of the drum, accompanied by other musical instruments, helps the shaman to enter an altered state of consciousness. The vibrations and melodies have the power to invoke spirits and create a harmonious atmosphere conducive to shamanic work. Dance is another integral part of rituals, with the shaman embodying the spirits and expressing their presence through movement.

Divination and Healing

Divination Techniques

Divination is an essential practice in Mongolian shamanism to gain insight into the past, present, and future. Shamans employ various techniques for divination, such as interpreting dreams, reading omens in nature, and performing rituals with sacred tools. Through divination, shamans offer guidance and advice to individuals, communities, and even leaders in matters of personal, social, and spiritual significance.

Methods of Healing

Healing is another fundamental aspect of Mongolian shamanism. Shamans harness their connection with the spirits to facilitate physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. They use a combination of rituals, chanting, herbal remedies, and energy work to restore balance and harmony within a person. Shamans are recognized for their ability to diagnose and treat ailments by addressing spiritual imbalances and invoking the assistance of the spirits.

Role of Shamans in Medicine

Shamans hold a respected position in the field of medicine within Mongolian culture. They often work closely with local healers and herbalists, combining spiritual practices with natural remedies. Shamans serve as intermediaries between the human world and the spirit realm, seeking guidance from the spirits to aid in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Their role as healers extends beyond the physical, encompassing the holistic well-being of individuals and communities.

Spiritual Tools and Objects

Use of Ritual Tools

Mongolian shamans utilize a variety of ritual tools to aid in their communication and interaction with the spirits. These tools include drums, bells, gongs, shamanic costumes, and masks. Each tool holds symbolic meaning and is believed to amplify the shaman’s power and connection to the spirits. The shaman’s drum, in particular, serves as a vital tool for entering altered states of consciousness and calling upon the spirits.

Symbols and Meanings

Symbols hold great significance in Mongolian shamanism, representing specific spirits, energies, or concepts. Each symbol carries its own meaning and power, allowing the shaman to invoke and work with the associated spirits. Symbols can be found in shamanic artwork, ritual objects, costumes, and even tattoos. They serve as a visual language through which the shaman communicates with the spirits and the community.

Important Ritual Objects

Certain ritual objects hold particular importance in Mongolian shamanism. These objects serve as conduits between the physical and spiritual realms, aiding the shaman in their work. Examples of important ritual objects include the shaman’s drum, staff, altar, and ritual clothing. These objects are consecrated and imbued with spiritual energy, acting as a focal point for the shaman’s intentions and connection to the spirits.

Shamanic Journeys and Trances

Entering Altered States of Consciousness

Shamans in Mongolia have the ability to enter altered states of consciousness, allowing them to connect with the spirit realm. Through techniques such as drumming, chanting, dancing, and fasting, shamans achieve trance-like states in which they can receive spiritual guidance, communicate with spirits, and embark on shamanic journeys. These altered states of consciousness serve as a gateway to accessing profound spiritual wisdom and knowledge.

Shamanic Journeys to Other Realms

Shamans venture into other realms during shamanic journeys, exploring the dimensions beyond the physical world. Through their altered state of consciousness, they travel to the spirit realm, known as the Upper World or Lower World, where they encounter spirit guides, receive teachings, and retrieve lost souls. These journeys are not only personal quests for the shaman but also serve the purpose of healing and retrieving important information for the community.

Communication with Spirits

Communication with spirits is at the core of Mongolian shamanism. The shaman establishes a direct line of communication with the spirits, engaging in dialogues, seeking guidance, and transmitting messages. Through their altered states of consciousness and heightened sensitivity, shamans are able to perceive the spiritual realm and relay the messages and wisdom of the spirits to those seeking their assistance.

Shamanism in Modern Mongolia

Revival of Shamanism

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mongolia experienced a revival of shamanism. As restrictions on religious practices eased, shamans re-emerged and began to openly practice their traditions. This revival has been driven by a renewed interest in the cultural and spiritual heritage of Mongolia. People are once again turning to shamans for healing, guidance, and the preservation of their traditional way of life.

Integration with Buddhism

Shamanism in modern Mongolia has also integrated with Buddhism, which has a longstanding presence in the country. Many shamans now incorporate Buddhist practices and rituals into their shamanic work, creating a unique blend of traditions. This integration has provided new avenues for spiritual growth and has allowed for the coexistence of multiple belief systems within Mongolian society.

Contemporary Challenges

Despite the revival of shamanism, contemporary Mongolian shamans face numerous challenges. As modernization continues to shape the country, traditional practices and beliefs are increasingly being threatened. Economic pressures, urbanization, and the influence of global cultures present challenges to the preservation and transmission of shamanic knowledge. Additionally, skepticism from some segments of society and the lack of formal recognition pose obstacles to the legitimacy of shamanic practices.


Mongolian shamans are the custodians of an ancient and profound spiritual tradition. Their practices, beliefs, and rituals provide a deep connection between the physical and spiritual realms, offering guidance, healing, and wisdom to the community. As Mongolia navigates the complexities of the modern world, the resilience and revival of shamanism provide hope for the preservation of this invaluable cultural heritage.

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