Not much 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.

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Their healing capabilities were particularly pronounced. They practiced meditation induced by powerful drumming and chants in order to eliminate harmful thoughts.

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 taltoses’ horses.

Their main ritual included climbing the sky-high tree which encompasses three world spheres:

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. 

Now Taltose’s role in society was to climb the World Tree, face the demons and bring back the treasure of knowledge to the people.

They did that trough rejtezes, a form of controlled ecstasy in which the tetejetlen fa (tree without a top) reveals the glory of the world to them.

The other roles of Hungarian shamans were fortune-telling, finding lost items, affecting the weather, healing with herbs, etc., but them climbing the World tree is something indigenous.

It relates Hungarian shamanism to the Norse mythology rather than the Slavic elements and begs the question of their mysterious origin.

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