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Rituals for an Ongon to enter a Shaman

The Shamans consider that an Ongon’s entering a Shaman and the Shaman trance involves a meeting with the spirits of their Shamans who died years before. In April 1991, shamaness Tsegmid of the Red Huular conducted offerings for Agar’s Hairhan (Deity)” in Bayanzurh soum, Hovsgol. At the end of her service, she said, “I was supposed to meet three people, but I met four. Who the fourth one was, I cannot remember”.

     Shamaness T.Baljir explained the general belief of Shamans as follows, “When a Shaman is possessed by an Ongon, he/she is unaware of his/her actions, what is happening inside and outside the home, but are talking, playing, singing and dancing with their Ongons. My Ongons enter through the ger’s roof-ring, come down the rafters to the place of spirit effigies or images on the top of the lattice-wall and after a while transfers to the Shaman that carrying out the rituals.

     From that point, there is a three-way interaction between Shaman, Ongon and spectators at the shamanizing on subjects including life, business, the weather, politics, economics and so on. Problems such as the selection or discovery of a new Shaman or Shamaness are also resolved in this way. According to S.Badamhatan’s explanation, this action of Shaman in regard to calling an Ongon, “absorbing” it into the Shaman’s body and shamanizing is “His or her mental power or belief, which becomes a habit or even a mental illness during a shaman show, rather than the witchcraft of an Ongon. According to the “Explanatory Dictionary of Mongolian language”, the “Ongon is a wraith, which becomes visible for a Shaman, who fell into a trance”. As a result of his shaman studies, D.Mansan concluded that shaman abilities including licking red-hot iron and sitting directly on the top of a fire “are not fake or trickery, but the manifestation of a natural gift”. However, according to D.Surbadrah, all of these may be natural abilities.

     All the above conclusion might be correct in basic terms, but provide a superficial understanding of the relationship between Shaman and Ongon. they are inadequate as an explanation of an Ongon’s location, range and other issues closely related to the Shaman spirit and its current research.

     During my own fieldwork in 1995, with Buriyata’s Shamaness V.B.Baldakhinova in Tsagaan Nuur soum, Hovsgol image, I conducted an experiment involving some local people in an electric shock with her natural bioelectricity. We concluded that the greatest response was from the people, who were Shamans in past times or had strong Shaman ancestry; some heard the beating of a drum or smelt juniper incense in a remote field or forest. among them, one man suffered a nervous disorder for several months afterward until Shamaness B.Bayar eventually healed him.

     So, with the experience gained from forty years of research, I became able to instruct young Shamans in the traditional customs of Mongolian Shamanism, which had been interrupted during the socialist era. Moreover, thanks to the collaboration with elder Shamans and researchers, I have acquired much previously undisclosed knowledge regarding its historical beliefs and religious rituals. Finally, I became absolutely confident that the magical deeds of Shamans can influence people and things from a distance, their fortunetelling can come true, and their advice can be both helpful and useful to those who seek it. The secret of all these is an Ongon, which possesses a Shaman and giving the Shaman assistance, information and their own power. Therefore, people may trust the myths concerning the witchcraft of ancient famous Shamans. The aforementioned Shamaness Tuvaany Baljir said in 1944: “The Shaman Ongon is a powerful and clever thing, which gives all kinds of information from all over the world… As an old woman, I am often tired of them. Last year it told me that a war would take place in Europe (It did in Russia and Yugoslavia). This year I have been warned of storms. Indeed, we are eye-witnesses of a lot of rain, lighting floods and storms with enormous damages caused by them all over the world. In regard to Mongolia’s future, my Ongons said that there will be a recovery in the next year of the Rat…” Her foretelling of the airplane crash in Hovsgol has already been noted in the previous chapter.

     Therefore, it is impossible to refute the miraculous activities of the Shamans. Besides, the Ongon’s power, much of this is based on the Shaman’s gifts such as divination, conjuring, and hypnotism.

     However, the main difference between a Shaman and an ordinary fortune-teller is the former’s higher senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch capacity.

     There are several ways in which the Shaman may carry out divination. For example, Shamaness T.Baljir scorches a sheep’s shoulder blade, D.Barii used forty-one small stones, H.Luvsday muttered over magic substances and D.Badrah rotates his Shaman Mirror. Moreover, L.Nadmid read fortunes on a “hadag” and the blue ten Togrog banknote of 1991 or using 41 small stones of a river. Thus, an Ongon’s entry means that the spirit of departed Shaman passes on information through the Shaman or Shamaness making a shaman show. Some Shamans become better fortune-tellers while drunk/ tipsy and after recovering from their trance do not remember what was said.

     Indeed, genuine Shamans can never remember what they said during a Shaman show. This means that an Ongon can have a powerful effect on the mind of a Shaman. So an “Ongon” perhaps is a spirit of higher descent joined with the Lus and Savdag communing with the body and mind of a living Shaman or Shamaness. Consequently, every kind of magic is implemented through the bioelectric capacity of the Shaman or Shamaness who performs a shaman service.

     This current influences the Shaman’s nervous system and an area ranging from a couple of meters to several hundred kilometers. It seems that the area of this influence and the Shaman’s “power” is dependent on his or her own life force or bioelectric capacity. When two or more currents of a clash during simultaneous shows in neighboring localities, the weaker Shaman may be mentally damaged, a drum or mouth organ may break or a sacrificial tree may burn down. Moreover, these currents may influence people or animals several kilometers away. They may even have an impact on natural phenomena such as rain, storms, and snow.

     The main influence over a man or animal is in the brain and central nervous system. Manifestations of this include muscle spasms, cramps, loss of memory, a sudden concern for someone area of thirteen to fifteen meters radiating from the Shaman or Shamaness. Incense from evergreens such as Juniper and Fir (Abies Subirica) are often used to heighten and soften the influence of an Ongon over a Shaman.

     All of these findings are based on research into the Shamans of Mongolia and should be analyzed further in detail.


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