Rite of soul substitution in the shamanic
practice of the Buryats
In Buryat shamanic ritual practice, the important question of life and death is closely connected with the question of the mythological function of the human soul, which is considered the guardian of the life force. Shamanic ritual actions dedicated to any event have both pragmatic and semiotic status. Significant in the ritual event is the connection of the upper, middle and lower worlds, shamans directly contacted the spirits of other worlds, or they themselves could reincarnate and find lost souls.

The rite of summoning the lost soul is closely related to the rite of replacing the soul. In the rite of the return of the lost soul there is an interesting interpretation of the thread as a symbol of connection with the human soul. A special arrow is stuck into a bucket, a long red silk thread with a brass button is fixed in the eye of the arrow, which is pulled outside to a special birch tree and attached to it. This thread serves as a guiding star for the return of the lost soul. In shamanic practice, the soul in the rite of replacement is used exactly as a source of life.
drawing of a yakut shaman
Rite of replacement of the soul (human to animal)
With the prohibition of rites with human sacrifice, the rite of replacing the soul of a sick person on animals was until recently considered a widespread method of treatment in shamanic practice. In the "dolig" rite, as in all Western Buryat shamanic rites, the guardian deity zayan Dolbon-Sagan-noyon was summoned to help.

When the animal was chosen, it was brought to the house where a sick person was lying; before stabbing it, the animal was brought to the sick person three times, this animal was spat on three times; after that the animal was brought back to the door, it meant that the animal went to the master to dolyo for the sick person. After that the animal is stabbed, then the meat is boiled in a cauldron; ... Һurai is put into a dish, some soup is poured into it and brought to the sick person, the sick person sits over it and inhales the steam.

In this case, the hurai, which is the same zhulde (head, trachea, lungs and heart), in which the animal's life force is stored, also acquires a special significance. Thus, it turns out that the life force of a healthy animal, i.e. its soul, replaces the sick soul.
Rite of replacing the soul (of a person with an object)
Perhaps, the exchange of a human soul with an animal is still practiced, but the most common in modern shamanic and Buddhist practice is the exchange of a human soul with an object. The following example of a shamanic rite of substitution of the human soul with an object, recorded from the Shenekhen Buryats, is unique material:

"One morning our mother could not get up, her head became big,
like a stomach filled with water. We were forced to find an aspen tree. [Father] split the aspen, made it as wide as a board, made a hole in the middle, stuck the tumbleweed in there. Then he wrapped the tumbleweed with sheep's wool and made a lamp out of three pinches of flour. He painted the lamp-pad black with soot and began the ritual, striking a drum. "Evil spirits have done harm" he said and burned the tumbleweed. Then all the preparations were thrown far away from the house. The next morning [the mother] was normal."

It is noteworthy that in this example, as in the previous one, the objects for the rite are made of aspen. In the Buryat tradition aspen is considered a shamanic tree, and perhaps in this case aspen, acting as a natural model of the universe, acquires the mystical power of connecting the other world with this one. In the mythological ritual in carrying out magical actions to eliminate the evil spirit in this case the grass tumbleweed, in which as if concentrates the disease, is iconic. Here the motif of exchange is transformed, perhaps in this rite there are already elements of the Buddhist rite of burning, throwing away unclean objects used to eliminate the causes of disease.
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