It’s been three hundred years since people in the remote land of Khakassia in Siberia adopted Christianity, but they still cling to many pagan traditions. Their ancient culture still believes in the mysterious healing powers of shamans.
Anna says a pole with ribbons represents the nearby mountain's spirit. She offers some vodka and bread in sacrifice to the gods every day and performs it with total dedication.
She says something bad may occur if she fails to win the spirit's favour – for instance, a road accident or sickness.
“Once the spirit kept my mother's grandfather in a pond where he went to swim till dusk,” says Anna.
According to the shaman community, all of them have their own protectors. It could be birds or animals or even humans. Alisa Kyzlasova, who is a shaman and an actress, refuses to say where her supernatural powers come from.
“There is fierce competition among us. I'll never reveal what or who my protectors are. Shamans who are stronger than me may win them over, and then all my power may vanish!” Alisa says.
The looks of some of the Khakas shamans fully correspond to the typical image of a shaman, with special clothes and ritual dances. But not all of them look like sorcerers.
Svetlana Ugdyzhekova dreamed of a career as an archaeologist. Her ambition was to find the grave of Genghis Khan. Instead, being a hereditary shaman, she became a doctor and psychotherapist.
“I believe my exceptional abilities were given to me to help people. For instance, I am able to prevent some events if they are a threat to me or to my friends and relatives,” Svetlana says.
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