Incentives of Revival of Shamanism in Contemporary Russia

Valentina Kharitonova

Incentives of Revival of Shamanism in Contemporary Russia

(62nd Meeting Friedensau, 2019)

The report considers the processes of revival of shamanism, primarily in Southern Siberia (the emergence of new shamans, the formation and transformation of neo-shamanic organizations, the role of shamanic leaders, etc.) in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

The author shows that most important stimulants for the revival of shamanism in this region were economic problems, political tension, religious and cultural activity, the destruction of the educational system and the health care system.

The emergence of new shamans and shamanic organizations was associated, to a greater extent, with the medical and psychological problems of the population. This led to the formation of groups of individuals according to the principle of healing organizations that had arisen en masse in the capital region and large cities of Russia. Intellectuals (scientists, teachers, cultural workers) became their leaders.

In the early 1990s, Russian legislation recognized the existence of unconventional medicine and began to require the formalization and registration of religious organizations, creating special conditions for religions that were recognized as traditional. The organizations that started work should have made their choice between healing (commercial activity) and religious practice (preferential tax conditions). At the same time, in emerging republican legislation (initially in the republics of Sakha (Yakutia), Buryatia, and Tyva), shamanism was recognized as a traditional religion and entered into official documents along with Orthodoxy, Old Believers, and Buddhism. This became the most important stimulus for official registration of “local religious organizations of shamans”, respectively, and subsequent transformations of their practices and proposed sets of services. The author discuss how the mentioned changes affected the main ideology of shamanism.