Notmuch is known about Hungarian shamanism except for what we can deduct from
their oral tradition, stories, folklore, and mythology.
Hungarian shamans were called Táltos and they chanted their way into the lore of the shamanic pre-pagan and pre-Christian culture.
According to some scholars, shamanism as a religious calling
blends mysticism, spiritualism, and rituals…
It manifests through the crisis of shaman’s emotional balance
where the profane and sacred are being separated and the shaman goes on a
spiritual journey to rediscover truth.
Taltoses were said to be able to freely travel through three
cosmic domains, the lower world, the earth and the sky or in other words,
places where spirits of the dead and ascendant beings dwell.
There were some abilities that Taltozs were born with, but
some were acquired through discipline, focus, and self-control.
They were said to be able to command fire and other elements
and there we see an intrusion of magic elements into the shamanic culture
because shamanism’s not about control of nature.
Shamanism is rather about giving in to the spirits of nature and communicating with them in order to let them guide us.
That’s why Taltozs could communicate with animals and spirits of their ancestors. They provided spiritual protection, guidance healing, and soul retrieval.
Hungarian culture is specific because it mixed with elements
of Slavic cultures, but it mainly carries Finno-Ugric motifs.
Taltose’s social and religious role was also to give out
prophecies and integrate Magyar
cultural traditions by connecting the future, past and present.
They shared knowledge acting as teachers and mediated communication with the transcendent (révülés) via ceremonies and rituals.
Their healing capabilities were particularly pronounced. They practiced
meditation induced by powerful drumming and chants in order to eliminate
Taltoses were believed to gain their
powers at birth. Those powers could not be acquired differently. They were
chosen by the gods.
Taltoses were marked at birth by some
oddities such as an extra finger, teeth or some extra bones.
If their mark was taken away from them by the age of seven, they would lose
their special abilities.
It was a supernatural calling and a gift than gods could give, but men could
take away sometimes.
Some legends state that taltoses were breastfed until seven years which was
deemed to give them abnormal strength.
Since they used their drumming to travel to the sky, their drums were called
Their main ritual included climbing the sky-high tree which encompasses three
Upper (where Gods
dwelled), Middle (the world of humans and some magical creatures) and the Lower
world or underworld.
The World Tree / Tree of Life (Világfa/Életfa) was in
the center of these worlds and the Turul bird dwelled on
top of it.
Their creator God
Isten controlled the thunders and the wind and the fates of men from the sky.
He would send thunders as his warnings.
It’s very peculiar
and vibes with Zoroastrianism that Isten created the world in cooperation with
the god of Evil or the Hungarian devil – Ordog who created everything bad in
the world, such as insects and poisons.
They also had other
feminine deities in between such as Mother God and Blessed/Merry Lady or the
war commander Hadur.
Hungarians thought that the sky was a big
tent and the Tree of Life was its pole. The holes in the tent’s ceiling allowed
the celestial light bodies to shine to the world.
They thought of the human soul as something immortal.
Different kinds of spirits such as Wind
mothers and Wind kings as well as dragons also inhabited the Middle world.
Taltoses were believed to be able to
communicate with elves, goblins, dwarves, giants in the mountains, as well as
with the fairies – gorgeous, playful virgins that fulfilled wishes.
The opposite of Taltoses were the babak –
old women of tremendous power that they feared. It bears striking resemblance
with the Slavic baba Yaga.
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