Although examples of the Shamanic tradition can be found in every corner of the world few areas are more closely connected to what many see as its most important and authentic strand as the region of Mongolia.
This relatively small country is sandwiched between the countries of two of the leading super-powers of China and Russia and as a result of its geographical and political position it has been a country susceptible to the imposition of foreign values.
Despite this, and the centuries of Buddhist and communist persecution, the country has seen an exponential rise in the number of Shamans practicing in Mongolia in recent years and particularly since the 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed as an oppressive, authoritarian regime.
Born in Arizona and raised in the Midwest of America, Director for Asia of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Kevin Turner, has spent most if his life in Asia.
His calling into the world of Shamanism began at the early age of four when he had many out-of-body experiences. This later led him into studying Eastern philosophy and practising meditation.
After obtaining his masters’s degree in linguistics he embarked upon training in Core Shamanism, developed by Shamanic teacher Michael Harner he worked with indigenous Shamans in Asia and Central and South America.
In his book Sky Shamans of Mongolia Turner explains how when he originally reached Asia to study its Shamanic tradition he was surprised to find that it was composed of not one universal lineage but was in fact formed from many layers of influences from different traditions.
In the end Turner decided to embark upon an investigative journey into three primary strands of Mongolian Shamanism – namely the Darkhad, Khalkh and the Buryat traditions.
In the opening to his book Turner describes the events at a ‘ger’ camp north of Ulaanbatatar – the nations capital, where four Mongolian Shaman led four hours of invocations, blessings, and healing. Here he experienced a dramatic personal healing at the hands of one of the shaman present.
In his time in the country during 2011 and 2012, the author interviewed several of the more well-known shaman within Mongolia. In his book he describes their work, their experiences journeying to other worlds and the nature of the spirits – both black and white that they work with.
Throughout he presents first-hand accounts of Mongolian shamanic work, their colourful traditions and the nature of the social conventions that have impinged upon this rich and varied form of spiritual work.
In the closing of his book Turner speculates on the future of shamanism and comments upon his belief that our current society is in dire need of the knowledge and experience of circumnavigating consensus reality to help us break out of this mass psychosis of materially that he believes our group consciousness has fallen into.
However his work with the shamans of Mongolia has left him feeling optimistic that changes will be forthcoming and that
…the fog is lifting, and the living nature of our many worlds is revealed.
Our Review of Sky Shamans of Mongolia by Kevin Turner
I do not suppose that too many books published here in the West have explored and revealed the nature of Mongolian shamanism at such a close up and personal level. Shamanism is by its very nature a private and introspective aspect of spirituality but Kevin Turner has done an impressive job in his book of conveying to Western minds the core features of the practice and those who follow its path.
Turner’s account of his experiences in Asia is a very personal one and whilst this might be a failing of books of this type it is the authors own training and commitment to Shamanic studies that gives this book a real sense of authenticity and authority without been overly ponderous.
Several themes emerge from his first hand experience with the Mongolian shaman including the clash of ideas inherent within Mongolian Shamanism, the often diverse political and spiritual persuasions of its practitioners as well as the clash of ideas regarding how the tradition can best adapt to the forces of social change taking place within Mongolian society.
Turner is clearly sympathetic to their challenges and myriad of conflicting ideas but he does not let himself get dragged into the debate to the point where he colors the book with his own bias.
p>Both well written and illustrated this is a most enjoyable and engaging look at an extra-ordinary community of some of the worlds most powerful magicians and healers. I am sure that they would be impressed by the impressive and respectful way in which Kevin Turner has approached and revealed to the rest of the world their remarkably rich and ancient tradition.
Sky Shamans of Mongolia offers a close-up look at the work and practices of one of the worlds oldest and respected spiritual traditions. It is also a timely reminder of the importance of supporting the continuance of their healing practices and to this end Kevin Turner has done an exemplary job.