Journey to the Upper World: A Shamanic Rite of Purification

This is the most significant part of the rite of purification of the house, which can be carried out in two ways. In the first case, an akhanad (the leader in the ritual) plays a drum alone and makes a journey to the upper world on behalf of all those present. In the second case, if all those present are practicing shamanism, the akhanad can present to others the journey to the upper world that he is making, so that everyone can become a participant in his journey.

The beating of a drum is faint at first, increasing in intensity as the journey to the upper world progresses. Akhanad stops the story once he reaches the upper world so that everyone goes their own way. Since most of you will most likely be doing this ritual with similar shamans, I will describe the second method in more detail.
Shamans with drums performing ritual
Make sure that all those embarking on the journey either lie down or take a comfortable position where nothing will distract them from the pictures of the journey. Only you as ahanad beat a drum, all other drums should be put away. When telling, make sure that your beats do not prevent those present from hearing you clearly: perhaps you will limit yourself to beating on the edge of the shell or stop beating altogether if, in your opinion, the sounds are distracting. Let the spirits tell you the most lucid and effective words.

Describe the image of a shaman's dwelling as it would appear in a traditional ritual. Ask those present to imagine that each of them is a shaman acting on behalf of the whole tribe and going to the upper world for the benefit of the whole community. What kind of shamanic dress are they wearing? Are they able to feel the warmth of the ceremonial fire and smell its smoke? Visualize the smoke rising upward toward the smoke hole of the yurt. Use the images of your vision as you walked in a circle with your eyes closed. Suddenly a tree, tall and majestic, arises out of the fire, pointing to the sky. It is so huge that it reaches the heavens; it has nine branches arranged like steps that will lead you to the top (imagine a pine tree with tiers of branches). As you climb to the top, describe each branch and how you perceive it. As you ascend, you will feel the weight of physical existence falling away; with each level, you will become more and more encompassed by lightness and intoxication. If you are leading people, you may want to strike a drum as you move from branch to branch with them, engrossed in the same vision.

When you step on the first branch, you leave the surrounding reality and enter the time of your ancestors, following in the footsteps of former shamans. You are one with all the shamans before you. You realize that you are journeying with a huge army, as all the helper spirits, like birds, are crowded on the branches around you.
As you climb up the second branch, you become free from all worries, anxieties, regrets. Your mind becomes more and more concentrated.

When you reach the third branch, your mind, like a spearhead, is focused on what you are journeying for. You may experience a sudden epiphany of what you are living for, why you are called to be a shaman. Linger here for a few minutes (consistent with the time of the journey, not the passage of real time). Feel the roughness of the bark beneath your fingers, take in the smell of the forest, feel the beat of life within the trunk as you wrap your hands around it.

The fourth branch gives even more lightness and intoxication. Imagine the enthronement of peace and happiness in your life, in your community, in the world.

On the fifth branch, fears, diseases and dangers disappear for you and your companions. All these misfortunes are driven away or sealed for a whole year by the dictates of Mother Earth, Father Sky and the spirits. Suddenly you notice that your spirits are singing like birds.

On the sixth branch, the haze of time, distance, and separateness falls away. The tree you are climbing is the goal, the center of all being. The very sensation of being in a physical body disappears and you become airy, infused with light. Listen to the rustling of the leaves rippling in the wind, and suddenly you will recognize the cry of a flock of geese, stretching upward, as if pointing the way. On the seventh branch the foliage thins and you can already see the sky. Like the walls of a yurt, the sky rises steeply into the opening above you. You feel like a bird and, spreading your wings, soar easily to the eighth branch.

When you reach the eighth branch, you see a huge luminary in the sky like a full moon. It illuminates the branches of the tree with a silvery light. This is Altan Hadaas, the Pole Star. In flight you pass it, reaching the ninth branch at the top of the tree.

Here you are overwhelmed by the perfect ecstasy of the tempestuous state. You and your spirits cling to each other and some enter your body. On the ninth branch you realize that you have reached an opening in the sky, a passage to the upper world, similar to the chimney of a yurt. You stand up and peer through the opening. Is it night or day in the sky below? Is it clear or cloudy? (The weather conditions in the upper world at the time you enter reflect the weather below for the next year.)

Now you can go to the spirits of the upper world to ask for good for your tribesmen. All those who accompanied you will now go their own way. Resume striking the drum, choosing the speed that would best stimulate your imagination. Continue walking as long as the path under your feet; your blows will stimulate the imagination of other participants of the rite. When you have completed your journey and returned to everyday reality, gradually slow down the blows so that the rest of your companions will also start their return journey. Sudden cessation of beating the drum is undesirable; after all, the soul of Sunesu leaves the body of its owner during the journey, so a sudden return may lead to the loss of the soul or at least to temporary confusion of Sunesu, and the traveler will not know what to do.

After the journey is over, it is customary to share the experience.
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