Tuvan Shamanic Prayer

Despite being a writer, I find speech difficult. I don’t think in words or pictures, but mostly in silent abstract ideas, which I must clumsily translate into words. Give me time to write, and I will find poetic ways to honour these abstract ideas. But in daily conversation, I am lost, unable to quickly translate what’s on my mind.

I have long loved to whisper in a ‘nonsense’ language, improvising speech and imagining that it means what my heart is saying. This is how the Tuvan shamans pray. Spirit knows the language (spirit knows what your heart is saying), and the sounds help to focus what you are thinking and praying.

It is my new morning ritual to sit outside and whisper improvised non-linguistic prayers to spirit, giving blessings and asking for blessings. It is better than anything else I have tried — the sounds are alive with energy, coming straight from the heart, not stilted by “trying to sound beautiful” — they simply are what they are.

Sound in Tuvan shamanism is very powerful. I have found that some things I enjoy — overtone singing and wearing so many charms and trinkets that you clatter when you move — is part of their tradition. I am still waiting for Spirit to show me how to use my beautiful drum, which I have kept reverently and patiently. I also love making and using rattles. These instruments speak for me, speaking directly to spirit in the most honest way possible.


5 thoughts on “Tuvan Shamanic Prayer

  1. That first paragraph, oh my gosh. I relate so much. I can write any abstract thought down…but put a person in front of me who wants a conversation and I stumble over words and end up talking about something inane and pointless simply because it’s easier than trying to put into words all the thoughts in my head.
    I may have to do some more research into this Tuvan shamanism. I keep reading about it here on your blog and I am fascinated.

    1. Oh my goodness, no one has EVER understood what I mean by that! It makes me feel better (and less crazy) knowing that someone else gets it. I know exactly what you mean about inane conversation, I act like a passive, fluffy fool when talking to someone, meanwhile having flights of thought that I simply can’t translate. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, it really does mean a lot to me. Have you ever wondered if it’s an autistic-spectrum thing? I don’t think any label would capture it, though.

      1. I don’t think any label would capture it, either. I’m not sure about the autistic spectrum, although it has occurred to me before that I might be that way, since two of my siblings are. Most of the time, I joke that I’m “verbally dyslexic.” Word vomit is a regular conversational phenomenon. On the upside, I suppose it makes us better writers, since we don’t waste our poetry on deaf ears, yes? 😊

      2. My wife is a brilliant person, but communicating with her can be frustrating at times. We discovered that she has Aspergers a few years ago, which explained a lot. I cannot tell if this might have any bearing here, but since you mentioned an “autism-spectrum thing” I thought I would share it for potential research if you are interested.

        I am also pleased to learn that this is a prayer method. I have used this method, particularly when very frustrated. I won’t feel so silly doing this in the future. Thanks.

      3. Thank you very much.I have indeed considered it, especially after a psychiatrist noted (in frustration) how I took things very literally. I can’t ever drive because I somehow manage to misinterpret the most obvious street signs.

        I used to think that speaking “gibberish” to myself was a silly, self-indulgent game. But it makes me feel so focused and lends a sacred air to my prayer. I adore it now. Let me know if you try it how it goes!

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