Kungaa Tash-ool Buu is aware of the rarity of knowledge there is of the special places of shamanic practice in the extreme south-east of Tuva, on the border with Mongolia.
That’s why every time I go back to Tuva, he organised an expedition to some of those places where he first began shamanising many decades ago, when it was outlawed.
The highlight of my last trip was visiting an outcrop of rocks – called Kayzhege – bursting out of the rolling steppe.
We drove south, past Erzin and on to a narrow dirt track. After a few miles we veered off this track on to a much rougher ride over the steppe.
We stopped at the outcrop in a box canyon. At the far end, there was a pool of water from a small spring.
It was a magnificent spot, like a big room of high rocks and no ceiling, just the sky. But there was more. Through a narrow gap above the pool, we scrambled up maybe just 20 feet or so, and were confronted by a much circular larger room of rocks 50 or 60 feet high.
Instead of grass, there were rocks and bushes festooned with ribbons brought by followers of shamanism, hoping for some intervention or other. There were kids’ toys left by couples hoping for a baby, and models of animals…livestock to be blessed.
The spirit host of Kayzhege is a female deer, and you could easily feel the history of the place.
It’s not easy to get to, yet most of the ribbons there were fresh, indicating how well supported the place is.
We shamanised together there and at a few other special places too. But this place was the most special of all.
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