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One of the strongest Tuvan shamanesses has died

One of the strongest Tuvan shamanesses has diedOn November 21, one of the strongest Tuvan shamanesses, Ai-Churek (Moon Heart) passed away in Kyzyl; she was the head of organization of Tuvan shamans “Tos Deer” (Nine Heavens). In the words of one of the members of association “Dungur” (Drum), “Ai-Churek was called by the spirits.” in her opinion, that is also the cause of death. Officially  physicians determined the cause of death as a heart attack. Special funeral ritual is planned fro November 26. “The strongest shamans will gather and perform a mystery”,  as  “Dungur” announced.

Ai-Churek Shiizhekovna Oyun was born on august 15 1963 near river Tes in  “Tos Bazyryk” (nine kurgans), at the foot of Mt. Ak-Bedik. Shamanic roots can be traced in both her paternal and maternal lineages. Her father was a master of the technique of divination by stones - khuvaanak. In her mother’s lineage, there were nine sisters - shamanesses.  Beside Ai-Churek, who was born as the eighth child in the family (nine in total) two older and one younger sisters became shamanesses. In 1993, after meeting the famous scholar of shamanism Mongush Borakhovich Kenin-Lopsan, Ai-Churek’s shamanic gift became known even far from Tuva. The shamaness participated in the First International Symposium for Study of Shamanism.

That was the start of her active shamanic activity. In 1998, a film with Ai-Churek’s participation was published in Tuva - “Kuzungu algyzhy” (The voice of Shaman’s mirror). In the same year she traveled to Italy to participate in an international congress, where she took the first place among healers from various countries of the world. This trip resulted in a film “Moon heart” filmed by Italian documentary film makers. In 2001 Ai-Churek Oyun became the chairwoman of the Centralized religious organization of Tuvan shamans “Tos Deer”. from 2000 to 2007, Ai-Churek traveled throughout Europe and throughout all the states of US, taking part in shamanic symposia  and conducting seminars on the themes of “The shaman’s country”, “Healing Mother Earth”, “Shaman and Eerens”, “Shamanic massage”, “Shaman and spirits”, and “Khuvaanak”.

Web site “credo-ru” conducted an interview with Ai-Churek Oyun in 2007. We are presenting excerpts from this interview. What does shamanism mean to you personally? Why do you occupy yourself with it, what do you feel, what does it give you?

Ai-Churek: In Tuva, and not only in Tuva but  throughout all Russia, shamanism was prohibited for a long time. My ancestors were shamans, and for us, it is the line of fate. We inherit it from generation to generation from birth. Shamanism is like gift, and for me, for example, it is for life. A shaman needs this power for himself, but if there are people in need, a strong shaman can help such people in many ways. Shamanism has very ancient origins.  For my ancestors and for myself, one of the most important aspects of shamanism is singing and special melodies.

I remember from childhood how my grandmother addressed  the rain, the sun, and the wind with invocations, performed other rituals, invocations to Nature, which were always accompanied by ancient ritual songs. For me - the main thing in shamanism is the Earth, Nature, and my connection with ancestors.

In 2000 I performed a very major shamanic ritual on the banks of River Moscow. I also performed a ritual for protection of the parks and green areas, and the result was help to people who are not indifferent to the fate of trees, the fate of living nature.

On this trip to Moscow, beside performing rituals, I also emphasized the ancient ritual singing. I performed many mysteries for calling down prosperity and longevity. This ritual is intended, first of all, for people who have lost their roots, their connection with their ancestors.

Shamans believe that each person has a treasure, his own riches in one’s previous lives.  And after this mystery, the person can see his treasure in a dream. What he sees in the dream, what he touches - it can be, for example, a trunk or an adornment - that is his treasure, that is what will bring him luck, riches and longevity.

For ten years I have traveled much throughout various countries in Europe  and America - and there is a need fro shamanism everywhere.

It is very rare to see people who want to become shamans themselves. This is because shamanizing is very hard. A person who would through his own desire accept the way of the shaman, learned how to do it, learned to control the power, this gift - I have never met such a person.


You were born a shaman. Is it your fate, your purpose?

As I have already said, all my ancestors were shamans. It is our purpose, and I received it from my maternal lineage. My grandmother had 8 sisters, and all nine women were shamans. She had only three daughters, and she died soon after the last one was born. That is why many people thought that the tradition of shamanism was broken in this lineage, and lost.

My mother is the middle one of the three daughters of my grandmother. In the 50’s and 60’s, my mother gave birth to nine children. I am the eighth sister.  The youngest sister is a very strong shamaness, and she works in Tuva with me in our organization. She was born in 1967, and our mother died two years later.

Our mother’s death is also connected with shamanism, because many people hated her for giving birth to nine whole people, and wished her dead. Most probably, she had a strong nervous collapse, nervous exhaustion, and she died.

In the various kozhuuns of Tuva, shamans’ families often have 7-9 children. Those are hereditary shamans and they are the strongest ones. All of us nine daughters are shamans and we work in Tuva. We have an official shamanic organization with a constitution, ceremonies, and rituals, which is legally registered by the Ministry of Justice of Russian Federation.

As my grandmother used to tell us, everybody in the family was a shaman. Shamans are connected with other worlds, and it is from those, as well as from the wind, heaven and earth, that our ancient melodies, singing, and rituals originate. Based on this we now adopt many different methods of healing and purification.

Books and legends describe lone shamans. Earlier, many were really afraid of shamans - it was simply impossible to work. A family in which a shaman was born was considered to be cursed.  I am speaking of lone shamans, who used to be plentiful earlier. Often, when a shaman was born, the family would leave him somewhere in the forest, in a sacred place, by a shaman tree, by a water spring.

If such a shaman survived and grew to adulthood, he, as a rule, had a very hard life.  They did not get married, they were considered to be insane, asocial. From that, they often became ill-tempered, and performed rituals intended to do not good, but harm.

That is why the situation with these lone shamans was very complicated.  As a rule, they were considered to be very strong, and performed very strong ceremonies and rituals. They could send a person into the other world, or drive a spirit out of a person, and they could turn into animals.


You say that the strongest shamans are those who inherited this gift from their ancestors. But is it possible to become a shaman without it, and if it is so, do you, for example, have any apprentices?

Currently I have been conducting many mysteries, rituals and seminars abroad. For example in Italy I have conducted many seminars over the past five years, including in groups groups of Yogis, Sufis,  Reiki practitioners, and followers of many spiritual directions came to me. It was especially the followers of various spiritual schools who were most interested in the practical methods of shamanism, and this is why they came.

For example, the Reiki practitioners were more interested in techniques of shamanic massage and methods of purification, including very powerful shamanic methods. The Yogis were more attracted by the shamanic “kamlanie” especially the forms connected with fire. The Sufis visited, as a rule, the mysteries, which are centered around ritual dances.

If we speak of shamanism as such, I am very glad that  people are turning to shamanism, are interested in it, and come to the seminars. But if we are speaking about the possibility of  the people who are interested in shamanism continuing their development in this direction, then I am afraid that the strength that is necessary for it does not exist.

The majority of people who turn to shamanism can receive help from the spirits, can improve their situation become stronger with the use of shamanic techniques of divination, meditations, and active dreaming - I have such a seminar in my arsenal. As a rule, seminars like that, conducted by a professional shaman, are the most useful to the people. But I think that it is impossible for a simple person to continue on this road.

During my last few visits to Moscow, at the end of 2003 and now, it has been very interesting for me to see the attitude of Muscovites and Russians as a whole towards shamanism.  It is because I have a lot of respect for Moscow and Muscovites for their knowledge, intelligence and culture.

It is not very easy to work here. The seminars are not all that popular, but if people do not come to shamanic seminars, it means that that the people are conquering, that the people are very strong even without it, and do not need the help of a shaman.  But for a shaman, the most important thing is - that the people can go their own way.

Once I was conducting a seminar here, it was in the spring of 2003. Ten people participated in this 2-day seminar, and it seemed to me that they were seeking for ways to re-establish connection to their ancestors. I also noticed that all of them were very strong. They were teachers themselves, they would build their own road in life and walk on it.

Now I see that people in Moscow are very smart and very strong thanks to their spiritual merit, and there is no necessity for me to work here a lot. In this respect Russia is very different from other countries.  Why here, in Russia, people are very smart and value themselves, their possibilities?

Because here there is certain freedom, unique nature unique land. Here any person can choose their way of life and control it. Right now, a rebirth is under way.  In a few more years, maybe five years, Russia will be all in order.

Abroad, things are completely different. There, many people come to the seminars - twenty, thirty, forty - and sometimes it is even difficult for me to conduct seminars like that. Many people come, for example, in Turin (Italy), and in America. I have this seminar “khuvaanak” -  divination with stones, it is very popular. And after some time I realized that that the people who have taken my seminars will later work in business and make money. And to me, this is, to be honest, a little bit incomprehensible. I get invited abroad by managers, producers of ethnic music, and they do it to make money from my activities.

For me, the most important part is that by my mysteries, rituals and music I am helping my compatriots, Tuvans, their culture and our native country. I spend a lot of strength on that. Every summer, I participate in festivals, including the annual festival of live music “Ustuu-Khuree”, which takes place in Chadaan, in Tyva, and I do this for free. I give many people the opportunity to purify themselves with the help of my ancient shamanic ceremonies.

The main law of our lives - those are the powers of good and evil, and a person can choose between them. If he chooses evil, evil will return to him, and he will be responsible for his choice. In those cases somebody like that becomes very terrifying and terrified, and, of course, can lose somebody close to him and even himself. I work on this very seriously, because I also had very difficult times in my life. My spirits saved me.

But if a person walks the pure road of good, he will always be in good health, good friends, and his life will be easier.

In Russia, there are many bells, which give the people an opportunity to improve their lives. But most people do not understand this. If a person does not understand how sounds and melodies act, including on himself, he simply walks by, and all the possible benefit from them will be wasted. In shamanism, much information is communicated through sound, and that is why everybody who is interested in shamanism should pay a lot of attention to it.

I am very grateful to the country where I was born to the people around me, and also to the people who are seeking good. I do not want people to seek evil.


What are the internal mutual relationships in the shamanic milieu in Tuva? Why are there two shamanic organizations? Are all the shamans in them, and what is their attitude to the fact that the head is a woman?

The number of shamanic organizations in Tuva grows every year. Only in Kyzyl there are not two, but three organizations. In the kozhuuns, there are four.

Most Tuvans believe in spirits, because shamanic traditions in our country have extremely ancient roots. For example, on the Shagaa holiday, or the holiday of White Moon in lunar calendar, the majority of Tuvans perform the holiday rituals lighting the fire of the New Year, they feed the spirits, etc. (for more details about the New Year rituals , see rubric Buddhist New Year on the Portal-Credo.Ru). We believe that the root of the Earth is her echo, and that is why shamans pay so much attention to  melodies and sounds. Every year we have a symposium in shamanism which are organized by our association.

In 1993, the first shamanic organization, “Dungur”, was registered, and in 1998, the centralized religious shamanic organization “Tos Deer” (Nine kurgans). These organizations pay state taxes. Old shamans get a state pension, and shamans with children get child support subsidies.

Of course, it is very difficult to organize all the shamans, to collect them all under one roof, so to say. Shamans are very individualistic people, and are not inclined to be always associating with their professional colleagues. It goes with the character of the activity. Shamans often receive invitations to perform rituals, including in other districts of Tyva. Many go on business trips, abroad, to Europe and America.

Of course4, there are also various problems within the shamanic association, including conflicts, but that is prevalent in any organization, and much more so in such specific areas like our shamanic organization.

We have our own president, who was elected by the shamans. He was elected for this function for life. He is a very significant figure for the shamans, and only a very worthy person can receive this post. His name is Mongush Kenin-Lopsan. He worked very much throughout his life, even during the Soviet era, even though for obvious reasons he had to hide many of his activities and had to work in secret.

Mongush Kenin-Lopsan authored several works on the subject of shamanism. He has an academic degree, and now he combines in one person the rank of a scientific worker on one side, and a practicing shaman,  president for life of our association, on the other. He is one of three people in the whole world who have been awarder the honorable title of “Treasure of the World” (the two other are Americans).

Mongush Kenin-Lopsan and other shamans including Saryg-ool Ivan Nikolaevich and Oorzhak Nikolai Munzukovich got together ten years ago and founded the first shamanic organization “Dungur”, so that shamans would get public recognition, official status and government support.

There are different categories of shamans. Shamans of the first category, whom the whole Tyva knows, have even international recognition, and travel abroad. Then there are the beginners. On the other hand, there are also those who are not in our organization and work individually at home. There are also masters of different levels among them.

In 1993 there was a large symposium on the subject of shamanism; predominantly the hereditary shamans gathered there, and there were about 500 people. But now, I think, that about half of Tyva is connected with shamanism in one way or another.

The thing is, if a person is born a shaman, and has this gift from birth, he has to develop it, otherwise the gift will be wasted, and he will suffer. There will be many problems and difficulties in his life. It think that this is because Tyva is a land of shamanism.

All the shamans meet once a year on Shagaa - the Holiday of New year by the Lunar calendar. The shamans meet and wait for the sunrise in the place at the center of Asia, by the confluence of two rivers into one - Yenisei. It is indispensable for each and every shaman, and if somebody does not come, the next year will be unlucky for him.

I always meet the New year and the sunrise in Tuva. The shaman who is the first one to meet the Sun, will be the most successful one in the new year. Since 1993 and to this time I have been the first one to meet the Sun. I know the secrets of  the stars and the sun, I know the direction where the first ray of sun will come from. Some shamans are afraid to go first, thinking that they could make a mistake, and they cede the way to me. That is why I meet the Sun every year, and the other shamans follow me.

translated by Heda Jindrak
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