How to become a Russian shaman?

Valentin Khagdaev: I’m a traditional shaman, and was born in a yurt. My grandfather was also a shaman. I was raised by him and my grandmother. I was born with a sign—six fingers. A Mongolian shaman said: “Shamans with an extra bone are born only once a century, so this is proof of a real, true shaman.” I’m the only one in our region with six bones. It’s like a diploma from the Sky.The local tea sometimes contains Saagan Dalya—a low-growing evergreen shrub found on the shores of Lake Baikal. It is believed to be a cure for almost all diseases.

Valentin Khagdaev: I’m a traditional shaman, and was born in a yurt. My grandfather was also a shaman. I was raised by him and my grandmother. I was born with a sign—six fingers. A Mongolian shaman said: “Shamans with an extra bone are born only once a century, so this is proof of a real, true shaman.” I’m the only one in our region with six bones. It’s like a diploma from the Sky.The local tea sometimes contains Saagan Dalya—a low-growing evergreen shrub found on the shores of Lake Baikal. It is believed to be a cure for almost all diseases.

Alina Desyatnichenko
Not everyone is destined to become a shaman. The chosen few need special genealogy and an explicit sign from the Sky Father—the Creator of the Universe and the progenitor of all that exists. Such a sign can be a prophetic dream, a fallen meteorite, the death of a domestic animal, a sixth finger on the hand or so-called “shamanic sickness.” This sickness can manifest itself in various ways: antisocial behavior, chronic ailments, bad luck, alcoholism. It is believed that the sickness will pass if the sufferer embarks on his destined path and becomes a shaman. If he rejects the hand of fate, it can end badly for himself and his family. Shamans live throughout Russia in many regions. Our stories come from the shores of Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake, located in Siberia.

Boris Khungeyev: My ancestors were shamans, on both my mother’s and father’s side. At 55, I began to perform the rites. Not everyone is able to do it. Only those with udha, or genealogy, can perform them.

Shamans believe that after death a person’s soul moves to the ancestral tree, from where, in the shape of a white-headed eagle, it reaches the “supreme world,” which is home to the deities Tengri and the Sky Father.

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