Shamans in the News

URUMQI (China), Dec. 22 (Xinhua news agency) — Chinese scientists are conducting laboratory work hoping to identify a 2,800-year-old mummy found in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which they believe is the body of a shaman.

The well-preserved mummy of a seemingly Caucasian man with a Roman nose and deep-set eyes was unearthed from a cluster of ancient tombs in 2003 and research work has been going on ever since.

Archaeologists found the mummy most intriguing because a sack of marijuana leaves was found buried alongside the corpse.

The mummy remains intact in its original outfit despite the passage of time: leather hat, heavy coat and boots, huge earrings of copper and gold, a turquoise necklace, a copper-laced stick in his right hand and a bronze ax in his left, according to Li Xiao, head of the heritage bureau in Turpan.

Inside the leather coat, the man was wearing a knitted brown and red mantle with triangular webbing, with pants of the same color but in wavy patterns, and his hands were crossed in front of his chest, said Li.

“From his outfit and the marijuana leaves, we assume the man had been a shaman. He must have been between 40 and 50 years old when he died,” said Li, a noted historian in Xinjiang.

He said the corpse is about 1.2 meters long [3 feet 11 inches] and its legs are at least 80 centimeters [2 feet 7.5 inches].

Li and his colleagues are taking fabrics from the mummy’s clothes for laboratory work, hoping to identify the mummy and unravel more mysteries of shaman clothing, culture, and religion.

The mummy was the best preserved and most decoratively dressed of some 600 excavated in 2003 from a cluster of 2,000 tombs in Turpan. A dozen of the mummies are believed to have been shamans. Archaeologists assume the tombs, which dated from the Bronze Age to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), belonged to several big clans.

The tombs also produced a wide variety of stone implements, bronzeware, color chinaware pieces, and knitwear.

Update

URUMQI, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) — Chinese scientists have carefully stripped a 2,800-year-old mummy, only to find the corpse underneath the delicate attire of a possible shaman priest had decayed and broken at the neck and arms.

But research work on the mummy would continue, said Dr. Li Xiao, head of the heritage bureau in Turpan, of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

“We didn’t expect the mummy to be so badly decayed, but technically, it won’t prevent us from confirming his status and further research on the history of shamanism in northwest China,” said Li, a noted historian.

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In other news . . .

The tabloid Life & Style Magazine reports that socialite Nicole Richie, daughter of singer Lionel Richie, has hired a shaman to perform a $1,000 ceremony to cleanse her apartment of “bad luck”:

A shaman chanted, danced and burned sage in every room of the star’s home for two hours. A friend says, ‘She’s very superstitious and believes in this stuff. It’s a very personal thing for Nicole.’

She said she believes her many troubles in 2006—her battle with anorexia that landed her in a treatment center, her break-up with her semi-celebrity boyfriend, and the horror of learning her beloved cat had broken its leg after plunging ten floors from the balcony of her apartment—all came about after someone in her social circle “hexed” her.

No word on whether she believes her arrest in December for driving under the influence also stems from said hex. She admits to smoking pot, taking Vicodin for menstrual cramps, then driving down the wrong side of the freeway, but was reportedly highly incensed when someone used a cell phone to call the cops.

Thoughts? Comments?

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Categories: Humor, Shamanism | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Shamans in the News

  1. Sounds like bad mojo to me…I’d hire a shaman too.

  2. I have no doubt whatsoever that she has some bad mojo going on in her life. But I think the only way the shaman could help would be if he told Nicole to stay in rehab until her anorexia was well under control, to get completely sober and clean, and to start living a grounded life that doesn’t revolve around her “social circle” or being in the tabloids every five minutes. If she did, I think her bad mojo would start to disappear right away. Karma is simply kicking her butt right now, and will continue to do so until she learns its lessons.

    By the way, Michele, we’ve actually met. I attended one of the advanced workshops you hosted a number of years ago for the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, “Death, Dying, and Beyond” taught by Dana Robinson!

  3. I found you again on Google Alerts. You are one of the few shamanic practitioners who are getting noticed. Good for you. I do remember you. Great site and good writing.

    Betsy Bergstrom is a shamanic pracitioner and teacher who works with middle world spirits- Heart Centered Shamanic Depossession and Curse Breakings. Her work is incredible, it rocked me to the core. For me it’s the chicken and the egg, which came first…a possessing spirit (suffering being) will drive the person to drink and eat. In other words rehab won’t work and while it can be attributed to Karma, first consult the shaman.

  4. A friend and fellow shamanic practitioner told me that were she the consulting shaman, she would have done the rituals, smudged and drummed and sung, but also told the client that the spirits were urging a change in behavior–no more driving while drunk or high!–and that she wouldn’t be responsible for the outcome if the spirits’ warning wasn’t heeded.

    Michele, I certainly agree that many behaviors have underlying spiritual causes. Our body and mind are one, and the spiritual is not divorced from the physical. One needs to heal on all levels for any permanent healing to take place. But I cavil at the idea that someone in this celebrity’s social circle has “put a hex” on her, or that all her troubles are due to “bad luck,” when a more prosaic explanation–her own addictive behavior–is warranted.

    Can people really change their behavior until they’ve accepted responsibility for their actions? Once they do that, seeking spiritual help–shamanic or otherwise–will be of tremendous help. But until they do, I think all the burning sage in the world isn’t going to help “remove the hex.”

  5. Oh my, It may be Nicole’s first step is with a shaman, who diagnoses the possessing spirit or sees the hex. It may be committing to change- which comes first. Like I said it is the chicken and egg, which comes first- the issue or the hex?

    If one has an addicition that they have been to rehab for, and been trying to change, then consulting a shaman may help bust through the resistance…if it is a hex, it is is a suffering being who is seated deep then rehab is not going to work. And we don’t know what exactly is happening with Ms. Richie, because the media does not know how to cover the sacredness of it all.

    People have issues that someone would hex another… opening up a can of whop-@#$ss on another psychiclly.

    There is a dark form of shamanism that is involved in hexing and cursing. The shadow is the shadow and it comes in many forms. I live in South Florida. Cross culturally there are black magic rituals going on down here…I was directed to study with Betsy and it was a real eye opener.

    Now that I stirred the pot, journey to your Helping Spirits and ask them about the hex issue. Maybe speak with or go take a session with Betsy at http://www.BetsyBergstrom.com

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