Naughty Shaman

I’ve been reading Mircea Eliade’s SHAMANISM: ARCHAIC TECHNIQUES OF ECSTASY (1951) and I came across this little gem of a story near the beginning of Chapter 3.

It put a smile on my face.

Certain legends explain the present decadence of shamans by the pride of the “first shaman,” who is believed to have entered into competition with God.

According to the Buryat version, the “first shaman,” Khara-Gyrgan, having declared that his power was boundless, God put him to the test. God took a girl’s soul and shut it up in a bottle. To make sure that it would not escape, God put his finger into the neck of the bottle. The shaman flew through the sky, sitting on his drum, discovered the girl’s soul and, to set it free, changed into a spider and stung God in the face. God instantly pulled out his finger and the girl’s soul escaped.

Furious, God curtailed Khara-Gyrgan’s power, and after that the magical abilities of shamans markedly diminished.

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