Tibetan oracular ritual, Pokhara area.
In the classical pattern of a pa-wo oracular séance, the evocation and descent of the deity are followed by the consultation of one or more of those present, who formulate their requests to the pa-wo either directly or through the mediation of the latter’s assistant. The deity’s answer is communicated verbally, through the pa-wo, in a language sometimes so obscure and full of metaphors that it may require the assistant to interpret. During this same phase, to make the answer more explicit and comprehensible, the pa-wo may utilise ritualised gestures, aimed at providing a figurative explanation of the words themselves.
At the end of the séance, the pa-wo dismisses the deity present with the aid of music. The deity’s egress is ritually marked by removal of the pa-wo's headdress, made to slip slowly off his head as a result of his slow movements.
Rāi shamanic séance, Kathmandu Valley
Among the ritual actions of an exorcistic nature performed during the séance, a special place must be given to exploits of fire mastery, typical of Nepalese shamanism. In the Rāi culture, they commonly take the form of licking a red-hot iron. This deed, accomplished during the initial stages of the séance, is deemed to have the power to put to flight any demonic entities infesting the sacred area and jeopardizing the successful outcome of the rite.
Here you can see the purification of the utensil used for exploits of fire mastery by fumigation with juniper.
"Suspended" coffin of an Evenk shaman. Northern Yakutia, 1905
The remains of Siberian shamans were usually not buried but placed above ground level in some way or another. Burial customs vary between ethnic groups, so there are examples of remains being placed into the trunk of a tree, on top a raised wooden platform, or put into a coffin built onto a raised platform.
A rather oversimplified explanation for this seems to be the following: since the living shaman is a mediator between worlds, the body of the dead shaman should also be symbolically suspended between worlds.The shaman’s clothes and tools were usually “buried” along with the remains - this means that they were hung onto nearby trees, or onto the grave itself, sometimes with some damage inflicted on them. This was done in order to ensure no one gets hurt by the objects, as they were deemed dangerous because they were touched by the spirit world while the shaman was still using them.
Reindeer shaman’s iron crown worn by the son of the shaman, Kellog Village 1976
I’ve found this photo in a fascinating article on Ket shamanism, which I highly recommend! It was originally published in Shaman, which is the journal of the International Society for Shamanistic Research.
Ket shaman’s drum. Painting by Freda Heyden
A bit of info about the symbolism on the drum - the lines on the side symbolize the seven layers of the sky, and that gap on the bottom is the entrance to the Underworld. The stick figure in the middle is Doh, the first great shaman of the Ket people.
Rāi shamanic séance, Solukhumbu
Even during the rite - and particularly its opening phases - the presence of the shaman’s own human master is required on several occasions. Once the officiant has entered a self-induced trance, the human master’s role is to assist him to move succesfully and without risk during this experience, preventing or neutralising any related potential dangers.
Tamang shamanic séance, Kathmandu valley
The female Tamang shaman Som Maya Lama accomplishes the invocation to the spirit-guides, using the two-headed drum (dhyanro) as a ritual evocatory instrument. Although this séance did not involve wearing the complete shaman ritual garments, the mere presence of some specific paraphernalia connected to the figure of the spirit-guides themselves - the bandoleer of bells (ghanta mālā), the black necklace (kala mālā) and the necklace of elaeocarpus ganitrus (rudrākṣa mālā) - was deemed sufficient by the shamaness to guarantee the effectiveness of the rite and ensure that a full ecstatic condition would be induced.