Turkish culture has a rich heritage shaped by the effects of shamanism. Even today, many traditions and customs still bear the traces of this deep-rooted belief system. Practices such as tying a wish cloth to trees, visiting shrines, sprinkling rose water on the corners of houses where mawlids are recited are indicative of the profound effects of shamanism in the lives of the Turkish people. Wisdom and guidance from shamans continues today with saintly persons such as hodja, sheikh, pir, saint. Animals and symbols considered sacred by shamanism also hold an important place in Turkish art and culture.
This content, which we have prepared based on all of them, covers the customs that have passed from shamanism to Turkish culture. You can read on to learn more about the traditions you do in your daily life but don’t know exactly where they come from.
What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is a belief system that spans the entire Asian continent. According to this belief, the world is divided into three as heaven, earth and underground. In shamanism, where belief in the sky god is dominant, the spirits are divided in two as “good” and “bad”. Although various rituals are organized to communicate with good spirits, it is believed that a balance must be established between the sky and the earth in order to be protected from the evil spirits that live underground. Shamans mediate to maintain this balance and protect people’s souls.
What does shaman mean?
People who believe in shamanism are called “shamanists”. Shamanists form a deep connection with nature and spiritual beings. However, to become a shaman, it is necessary to undergo certain training and to have innate qualities. Shamans are the religious leaders of shamanic communities and they lead the rites. They communicate between good spirits and evil spirits and provide guidance to meet the spiritual needs of the society. Shamans have the ability to enter a trance and transform into various animals.
What are the rituals of shamanism?
1. The circle ritual
One of the most common rituals among shamanists is the circle ritual. Shamans form a circle and stand in the center of this circle. Incense and candles are important elements of the ritual. The shaman drums with his eyes closed and the other participants make a fire. When the shaman enters a trance, he performs symbolic acts such as spitting fire and communicating with good spirits. Since evil spirits can intervene in some cases, the shaman seeks help from good spirits. When the ritual is over, the shaman usually does not remember what he experienced during the ritual.
2. Funeral ritual
Death and communication with mortals are of great importance in shamanism. Funeral rituals aim to ensure that the soul of the deceased is properly directed to the other world. The deceased may want to return to the world, so before burial, the dead are shown around different places. It is believed that during this process, the soul of the deceased becomes confused and cannot find its way home. This interesting ritual is still practiced in some societies.
Traditions of shamanism
Many of the traditions we use today come from ancient Turkish culture. In fact, the rituals of shamanism and belief in the sky god are still practiced today. Here are some of these habits:
1. Attach wish cloth to trees
These traditions were considered worship in the ancient Turks. Today it continues as a frequently visited custom for success or wishes to pass the exam.
2. Click on the board 3 times
It comes from shamanism to hit wood or other objects three times against bad events that we don’t want to happen to us. This act was done to prevent evil spirits from hearing and to drive them away with sound. This movement can still be found in many countries.
3. Sprinkle rose water on the corners of the house or burn incense
It is one of the ancient traditions of shamanism to expel evil spirits and drive away evil. Today, these applications are carried out in the corners of the house.
4. Tie a red ribbon to the woman in birth
It is an application created to protect against evil spirits in the shamanic faith. A red ribbon is tied to the newborn child and its mother according to custom.
5. Don’t give importance to numbers like 40-52-7
They are numbers that are considered sacred in shamanism. These numbers are often used in traditions or stories about the dead in Turkish society.
6. Ornate tomb
Ornate tombs are generally not found in Islamic culture. This custom comes from shamanism. Ancient Turks made a grave in the form of a mound for a deceased person and placed a carved stone on his head. This custom continues today. It is not possible to see a similar practice in Arabia.
7. Lead casting
It is the current version of the practice of casting blessings in shamanism to drive away evil spirits. It is done with the aim of eliminating bad luck.
8. Pouring water behind the one who sets off
It stems from the belief of the ancient Turks in the Yer-Su cult. It is still used for the same purpose.
9. Make a wish
In the ancient Turks, wishes were considered prayers. Today, the methods used for wishing have the influence of shamanic beliefs.
10. Pray and sing with music
Kopuz and percussion instruments were used in shamanic rituals. No ritual without music. Today, the tradition of chanting and reciting mawlids is a practice that stems from this effect. While it is possible in Islam to recite the Qur’an with a certain melody, there is no such thing as worship with songs.
11. Wear evil eye beads
The evil eye was regarded among the ancient Turks as an ailment caused by evil spirits or evil looks. One of the methods used by shamans was the use of conspicuous objects. The evil eye bead is still used today, aiming to attract the first glance with its eye-like texture and sparkle.
12. Thinking about a howling dog is a sign of bad news
Since the ancient Turks lived with their dogs, the dog’s sudden howling was considered a sign of the arrival of evil spirits. Today, the belief that bad news comes from a house where a dog howls is still common.
What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is one of the oldest belief systems dating back to the Stone Age. It is defined as the cult of influencing the spirit realm.
What tasks do shamans perform?
Shamans perform tasks such as curing diseases, resolving conflicts and influencing society with their wisdom.
How do shamans heal?
Shamans seek cures for illnesses using rituals, prayers and various methods. Talismans and elements of nature are also used to provide healing.
What influences of shamanism are there in Turkish traditions?
Shamanic influences can be found in Turkish traditions such as tying a wish cloth to trees, tapping wood, sprinkling rose water on the corners of the house where mevlits are read.
Which animals are considered sacred in shamanism?
Nature and animals are sacred in shamanism. Animals such as horses, wolves, eagles, rams are important symbols.