Talk:Shamanistic remnants in Hungarian folklore

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Good start. Would this article be better though merged in with Hungarian mythology? The mythology article needs a lot of work. --Stacey Doljack Borsody 19:02, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Dear Stacey Doljack Borsody,
Thank You for Your reassuring.
Thank You also for Your proposal.
There are links pointing to this article from
I am afraid, if we merge Shamanistic remnants in Hungarian folklore with Hungarian mythology, then these links get broken. Section links can help for a while, but section links are a very fragile "solution".
Unfortunatelly, I am not an expert in cultural anthropology. Maybe the topic of “mythology” and “shamanism” do not overlap enough: in this case, it will be harder to make logical connections between related articles. Decomposition, and also separation of concerns can help much more in such cases. In programming, they promote reusability and also modularity,[1] but also in other areas of life, they can be advantagous. Thus, maybe, without merging, the topic can be “reused” better by other articles.
In short, I am afraid that crosscutting concerns may occurr between topics of mythology and shamanism, raising orthogonal, mutually exlusive classifications. And if so, merging may be disadvantageous.
Best wishes,
Physis 01:45, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Stacey, a fair amount of this article is redundant with Hungarian mythology and as for the rest, I'm not sure it warrants a separate article. I also support a merge into Hungarian mythology--I understand your concern about broken links, but I'm sure someone can find an elegant way to link from shamanism to Hungarian mythology. K. Lásztocska 21:33, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Dear K. Lásztocska,
The topic of Hungarian shamanism is a vast material, and has to be included to Wikipedia in some way.
Because of two reasons, there is only one way to process the topic of Hungarian shamanism: using indirect methods, a plethora of sources, guarded by comparative methods to ensure creditability and scientific accuracy. Also You have mentioned the Táltos article --- we have to take care of scientific accuracy.
The two reasons I promised are:
  • the lack of "big epics" (unlike in the case of German or Greek mythology)[2]
  • even in the case of our nearest language relatives, the departure took place several thousand years before now. We cannot restore ancient Hungarain beliefs simply by examining the recent Obi-Ugric peoples.[2]
Thus, searching remnants of Hungarian shamanism is not an easy task. It must be inferred.
The research of Hungarian shamanism is discussed in vast books and materials. I think it deserves a separate article. I admit mine is thin yet. But there is plenty room for the topic itself: by processing Diószegi's book[3] and Hoppál's articles[4][5] books and the ethnographic records they refer to, hundreds of pages could be written.
I did not answer the main question yet: why I do not want to merge to Hungarian mythology.
I am a beginner in cultural anthropology things (I learn Eskimo language). I can grasp only that cultural anthropology (and even the culture of a single community) is a surprisingly difficult thing. I am not sure that shamanism is related to mythology in a clear way, at least,this relationship cannot be one-directed. I suppose, that the relationship of shamanism and mythology (of a given culture) is complex. The question is: how can we express this complexity to readers? Wikipedia provides us many tools to represent information: we can use links, categories, images etc. Among these tools, I think, merging is a tool of restricted possibilities and should be use with care. Merging implies a part-whole relationship of two notions. In some cases, this is good. In many cases, this is insufficient to express things beyond a limit. Sorry for the oversimplified example: how could we merge "dog" into "mammals"? Dogs can be grasped not only by genealogical taxonomy, but also by other classifications (e.g. dogs are at the same time examples of "domestic animal"s, thus it is a crosscutting aspect).
To be more concrete:
  • how could we link from shamanism to Hungarian shamanism after the merge? :By Hungarian mythology#Shamanism? A slight renaming in the section title makes the section link broken (redirection does not work for section links). Section links work for a while but are fragile.
  • what should we do if we read in a scientific publication, that shamanism has many features which are not part of mythology? That the two notions are crosscutting, or orthogonal. How shall we go on including the topic further, knowing that it's already embedded into a bad structure to which the topic does not fit well? (I don't say it is the case, but it is very probable that while reading the thousands of pages in the scientific literature about shamanism, we shall have to face that things are more complex than we originally imagined.)
In summary:
  • I admit that writing a separate article is a "over-cautious" solution: we wait till we see how the topic fits to Wikipedia, and then we move or merge it in the right way.
  • But I fear that merging an article at once to another is a bold solution: during the work proceeding, it may turn out that the relationship of the two topics is too complex. Then, separating them and making the right connections is a bit harder. There are tools for automatic merging, by (as far as I know) there are no tools for automatic separation. I think the cause for this lies in that merging is inherently an information-losing process; or at least, it expresses a very special and rare relationship.
I'd like to say the shamanism topic is huge, huge, very huge, and we do not see the end of the road. Diószegi's book devoted entirely to this topic is 486 pages,[3] and he wrote several other related books, used vast ethnographic records (which should be read too), some of his views are debated, most are acknowledged... Premature decisions about our articles can be make restructuring harder, than over-cautious solutions.
Maybe an unfair argumentation from me, using a maybe unrelated analogy: I fear a similar situation would happen that happened with the relation of rite and myth. There were many debates in scientific life how rite and myth is related. Which determines which? Which precedes which? Is the rite the (mere) acting, expression of the myth? Or vice versa, is the myth a (posterior) justification of (already existing) rite? The debate went on, theories came, mode changed.[6] We should not restructure the whole "social science" part of Wikipedia every decade. We have to accept that rites and myths are things whose relationship is debated yet, and be over-cautious, and devote a separate room for both, making links between them. Relinking is easier that "re-merging".
In fact, I am ignorant --- ignorant even of the most fundamental and basic questions.
  • Is shamanism a religion? Some say it is linkes to everyday life in a special and elaborate way, which distingushes it from what we regard as religion (or at least, from dogmatics).[7] Also it is said that several things (which we regard as magic) was part of mere economical things for the cultures involved. Shaman undertook to find lost animals, but it was a service of economical nature, not a supernatural or religious thing. The amulets, spells, charms etc. were regarded as rather mechanical things, almost the same as electricity or machines for us: they were neither good nor bad, they could hit back even to their own originator.[8][9]
  • How is shamansim linked to culture? Some say it is rather a set of techniques, and many different cultures can share shamanistic techniques.
In fact, cultural anthropology is for me like a dawn: I am in the dark yet, igorant of basic things, but I conjecture it is a huge and complex thing.
Till I know more about anthropology
With best wishes,
Physis 00:34, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

I made the original merge suggestion because I think the Hungarian mythology article is weak and somewhat ridiculous. Hungarian mythology, in the classical sense, should include information about the Turul and Stag legends too. --Stacey Doljack Borsody 15:33, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Dear Stacey Doljack Borsody,
I tried to solve the problem at least parcially by writing a summary text in Hungarian mythology about shamanistic remnants, and pointing to Shamanistic remnants in Hungarian folklore with Template:Main template link. See it under section Hungarian mythology#Remnants in folkore.
From Turul and Stag legends, I know very few, and nothing about how relyable data can be found. The same applies to all Hungarian legends known as such. I read only ethnographic data and comparative studies, that's what I can contribute till now. To tell the truth, I am most interested in gatherer cultures (or their remnants). Maybe becaue I am generally oriented to natural sciences. I read more about symbols relating to polar light, will-o'-the-wisp, celestial bodies, ecological aspects of environment (which abound among gatherer cultures), than about heores.
with best wishes,
Physis 20:12, 31 August 2007 (UTC)


Can someone add to this article information about the dual-soul concept as embodied by the Hungarian words lélek and iz? Előre köszönöm! --Stacey Doljack Borsody 23:01, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Dear Stacey Doljack Borsody,

Thank You very much for the idea. Soul dualism can be observed in several cultures in many variations, and in many instances it is related to shamanism in several aspects. I do not know enough from many important details, but till then, I tried to write this section of the aritcle which contains also the lélek versus iz distinction, approached here as breath soul versus shadow soul.

Diószegi made some remarks in several works, which may refer to soul dualism concepts among some Turkic peoples, maybe exactly those living near the Sayan Mountains, but I am not sure yet, I have to study it carefully. I suppose You know many about soul concepts of Turkic peoples, especially that of Tuvans.

Hoppál writes about some other dualistic features in shamanic symbolics of some Siberian peoples (especially those of some Samoyedic peoples). There may be also other dualistic motifs also in creation and culture hero myths, now I tried to initialize Dualistic cosmology.

Best wishes,

Physis 00:08, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the info. I was wondering what the modern usage of these terms for soul are since they still appear in the language while Hungarians converted to Christianity about a 1000 years ago and would have adopted a different belief system regarding the soul. The sources I have only talk about the existence of the words, not their usage. I'll try to add some more info to this new section later (specifically the cognates in other Uralic languages with the word iz and the meaning of shadow soul). I actually don't know all that much about Tuvan concepts on the soul because most of my study has focused on their language and throatsinging. Hoppal wrote a book with Kenin Lopsang Mongush, a Tuvan scholar and shaman, that I am thinking about picking up... I wish more of Hoppal and Dioszegi's works were in English :) --Stacey Doljack Borsody 16:44, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Dear Stacey Doljack Borsody,

Thank You for the answer.

Unfortunately, all I wrote about lélek vs íz distinctions are (at best) archaisms in contemporary vernacular speech, for the everyday people, The content in soul dualism is known only by ethnographers and linguists. I corrected my statements accordingly in the article.

Have much success in Your studies, also in studying overtone singing. Also some Eskimo peoples have such: Inuit throat singing. The Yoiks of Sami groups are told to have the motivation of simulating the sounds of nature,[10] and throatsinging is sometimes told to have similar motivations as well. Also some shamanic songs of some peoples contain imitations of animal sounds to represent helping spirits, e.g. that of Soyots,[11] Nganasan people.

Have much succes also to avail the English-language books of Diószegi Vilmos and Hoppál Mihály You mentioned! Till now, I could collect the the following external links, and also bibliographical data:

Book Online
  • Diószegi, Vilmos (1968). Tracing shamans in Siberia. The story of an ethnographical research expedition. Translated from Hungarian by Anita Rajkay Babó. Oosterhout: Anthropological Publications.  See more biliographica details at AntiQbook.
  • Diószegi, Vilmos; Hoppál, Mihály (1996) [1968]. Folk Beliefs and Shamanistic Traditions in Siberia. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. ISBN 9 630569 65 5. 
Diószegi, Vilmos; Eliade, Mircea. "Shamanism". Encyclopædia Britannica (online). 
Hoppál Results of search "Hoppál" on online book providers

Best wishes,

Physis 00:03, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, Physis. Found Folk Beliefs and Shamanistic Traditions in Siberia plus these titles at Stanford library...
ISBN:  9630580853
ISBN:   9789630580854
Title: Rediscovery of shamanic heritage / edited by Mihály Hoppál and Gábor Kósa.
Imprint: Budapest : Akadémiai Kiadó, c2003.
Physical Description:   x, 360 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Series: (Bibliotheca shamanistica, ISSN:1218-988X ; v. 11)
Note:   "This volume is based on a conference that took place at Hungarian Culture Foundation,
Budapest in April 2000"--P. [4] of cover.
ISBN:  9630574489
ISBN:   9789630574488
Author: Diószegi, Vilmos.
Title: Shamanism : selected writings of Vilmos Diószegi / edited by Mihály Hoppál.
Imprint: Budapest : Akadémiai Kiadó, 1998.

--Stacey Doljack Borsody 17:38, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Shamanism, throatsinging, other related topics in musics of various cultures[edit]

Dear Stacey Doljack Borsody,

Thank You for the bibliography. I hope I shall able to read them. In genarally, while reading, I am more and more despaired about my ignorance. (Six year ago, I did not even notice that.)

You mentioned Your studies throatsinging. I read the corresponding article, and its linked articles. They mentioned many other cultures (Sami, Inuit) and functions (shamanistic practices). I tried to summarize the sporadic topics in a single, new article: Imitation of natural sounds in various cultures. I hope it has not become annoying, I suppose You know much more about this topic.

Best wishes,

Physis 23:02, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Now it came across my mind: I hope that Imitation of natural sounds in various cultures does not hurt Wikipedia:No original research#Synthesis of published material serving to advance a position. The parts are referenced, but the introductory and transduction sentences can theoretically be problematic. Fortunately, most of intro and transduction sentences are rather trivial (typically, "The imitation of natural sounds in various cultures is a diverse phenomenon, and can fill in various functions. In several instances, it is related to the belief system ... It may serve also such practical goals as ..."), thus, they do not convey any new step. But I must consider the whole. I am afraid making original research by synthesis is hard to notice for me, I may make faults here.

Physis 00:08, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Renaming instead of merging[edit]

Links among concerned articles

I illustrate with the following image that merging into Hungarian mythology can raise linking problems. If the new merging proposal was raised because of the lengthy, essay-like title of the article, then I propose Shamanism among Hungarians as new title. It corresponds well with Hoppál's article "Sámánság a nyenyecek között" (= Shamanhood among the Nenets),[12] and also with existing Wikipedia article Shamanism among Eskimo peoples. "Hungarian shamanism" would be an even shorter title, but I am not sure that shamanistic beliefs and practices were so homogenious to justify speaking about "the" Hungarian shamanism. Instead, I suppose rather that there were rather diverse beliefs and practices.

Physis 12:46, 2 December 2007 (UTC)


Maybe Shamanhood among Hungarians would be an even better title. It occures also in the scientific literature, even in titles (two book titles: Shamanhood and Shamanhood, Symbolism, and Epic, both by Juha Pentikäinen), and even in a conference name (Shamanhood: The Endangered Language of Ritual), out of three reasons:

Term “shamanhood” corresponds better with the terms for shamanism in the old (early XXth century) sources: Russian “шаманство”, German “Schamanentum”.[13]
the above term, both in the old sources and in the revitalized usafe, stresses more the diversity of the local variants.[13]
Both Hoppál and Juha Pentikäinen stresses that shamanism is not a religion in the modern sense. For example because it is linked closer to everyday life, etc. [1] Hoppál uses the same term sometimes also for the Hungarian variants.[14]

A summary article about the term can be read in [2].

Physis 13:25, 2 December 2007 (UTC)


  1. ^ I took the motivation of the reuse + modularity metaphors from Why Functional Programming Matters written by John Hughes, and partly from Wouter Swierstra: Why Attribute Grammars Matter (published in The Monad.Reader, Issue Four)
  2. ^ a b Hoppál 1998:32
  3. ^ a b Diószegi 1998
  4. ^ Hoppál 1975
  5. ^ Hoppál 1998
  6. ^ Tokarev 1988:219
  7. ^ Hoppál 1998:40
  8. ^ Kleivan & Sonne 1985
  9. ^ Durkheim 2002, see online Igaz, ha azt látjuk, hogy jelentéktelen tárgyaknak rendkívüli erényeket tulajdonítanak, a világmindenséget pedig olyan lényekkel népesítik be, amelyek egymással össze nem illő elemekből állnak és a mindenütt jelenlevés nehezen elképzelhető tulajdonságával rendelkeznek, akkor hajlunk rá, hogy ezekben a világképekben misztikus jelleget lássunk. Úgy gondoljuk, hogy az emberek csak azért nem tudtak lemondani a mi modern elménk számára zavarba ejtő képzetekről, mert nem voltak képesek racionálisabb magyarázatot találni helyettük. Valójában azonban ezek a meglepő magyarázatok a primitív ember számára a lehető legegyszerűbbek. Nem valamiféle ultima ratiót lát bennük, melyhez az értelem csak kétségbeesésében folyamodik; számára ez a környező világ legközvetlenebb elképzelési és megértési módja. Nincs számára semmi meglepő abban, hogy hangadással vagy kézmozdulattal parancsolni lehet az elemeknek, meg lehet állítani, vagy siettetni lehet a csillagok járását, esőt lehet fakasztani vagy el lehet állítani azt stb. Az ő számára a föld vagy a táplálkozását biztosító állatok termékenységét elősegítő rítusok nem irracionálisabbak, mint számunkra az agronómusaink által alkalmazott, hasonló célzatú technikai eljárások. Nem lát semmi kifejezetten misztikust az effajta módokon megidézett hatalmakban. Ezek az erők nyilván másmilyenek, mint amilyeneket a mai tudósok gondolnak el s tanítanak bennünket használni; másféleképpen viselkednek, másféleképpen lehet igába fogni őket; de aki hisz bennük, annak számára nem felfoghatatlanabbak, mint a nehézkedés vagy az elektromosság a mai fizikusok számára. Látni fogjuk egyébként még e könyv lapjain, hogy a természeti erők fogalma nagy valószínűséggel a vallási erők fogalmából eredeztethető; eszerint nem lehet akkora szakadék a kettő közt, mint amekkora a racionális és az irracionális közt tátong. Még az sem bizonyíték irracionális voltukra, hogy a vallási erőket gyakran spirituális entitások, tudatos akaratok formájában gondolják el. Az elme nem vonakodik a priori annak feltételezésétől, hogy az úgynevezett élettelen dolgokat, miként az emberi testet is, értelmek mozgassák, jóllehet a mai tudomány nemigen éri be ezzel a hipotézissel. Amikor Leibniz azzal állt elő, hogy a külvilágot szellemek hatalmas társadalmaként kell felfogni, akik közt nincs és nem is lehet más kapcsolat, mint szellemi, racionálisnak tekintette magát, s egyetemes animizmusában semmi olyasmit nem látott, ami zavaró lett volna az értelem számára.
    A mai értelemben vett természetfölötti gondolata egyébként újabb keletű: feltételez ugyanis egy ellentétes gondolatot is, amelyet tagad, s amelyben nincs semmi primitív. Csak akkor lehetett azt mondani bizonyos tényekről, hogy természetfölöttiek, amikor már megvolt az az érzésünk, hogy a dolgoknak van egy természetes rendjük, vagyis hogy a világ jelenségeit szükségszerű kapcsolatok, úgynevezett törvények kötik egymáshoz. Ennek az elvnek a fényében aztán minden, ami áthágta e törvényeket, óhatatlanul mint a természeten, következésképp az értelmen kívül álló dolog jelent meg: mert ami ebben az értelemben természetes, az egyben racionális is, lévén hogy e szükségszerű kapcsolatok pusztán a dolgok logikai kapcsolódási módját fejezik ki. Csakhogy az egyetemes determinizmusnak ez a fogalma viszonylag újabb keletű; még az antikvitás nagy gondolkodóinak sem sikerült teljes mértékben tudatára ébredniük. Az érdem a pozitív tudományoké; ezen a posztulátumon alapulnak, ezt bizonyították fejlődésük során. Amíg azonban ez az elv még nem volt meg, illetve nem szilárdult meg eléggé, addig a legcsodásabb eseményekben sem volt semmi olyasmi, ami ne lett volna teljes mértékben felfogható. Amíg nem tudták, hogy a dolgok rendjében van valami megingathatatlan és megváltoztathatatlan, amíg minden eseményben a dolgokhoz kapcsolódó akaratok művét látták, addig természetesnek találták, hogy ezek az akaratok vagy mások önkényesen megváltoztassák e rendet. Ezért a csodás isteni közbeavatkozások az antikvitás embere számára nem voltak a szó mai értelmében vett csodák. Hanem szép, ritka, vagy borzasztó színjátékok, amelyeken lehetett meglepődni, amelyekben lehetett gyönyörködni (GÖRÖG SZÓ, mirabilia, miracula); de semmiképp sem tekintették úgy őket, mint valamiféle, a misztikus világra nyíló alagutat, ahova az értelem már nem képes behatolni.
    and also "Mi sem tanúskodik jobban az embernek a mennyei vizekre gyakorolt mágikus hatásáról, mint a X, 32, 7 vers, amelyben ez a hiedelem oly általános jelleggel jut kifejezésre, hogy a mai emberre éppúgy alkalmazható, mint valóságos vagy mitológiai őseire is: lA tudatlan megkérdezte a tudóst; a tudóstól kitaníttatván cselekedett, s íme az ő kitaníttatásának eredménye: elérte, hogy folyjanak a zúgók.l (137. o.)"
  10. ^ Szomjas-Schiffert 1996: 32
  11. ^ Diószegi 1960: 203
  12. ^ Hoppál 2006
  13. ^ a b Hoppál 2005: 15
  14. ^ Hoppál 1998


  • Diószegi, Vilmos (1998) [1958]. A sámánhit emlékei a magyar népi műveltségben (in Hungarian) (1. reprint kiadás ed.). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. ISBN 963 05 7542 6.  The title means: “Remnants of shamanistic beliefs in Hungarian folklore”.
  • Diószegi, Vilmos (1960). Sámánok nyomában Szibéria földjén. Egy néprajzi kutatóút története (in Hungarian). Budapest: Magvető Könyvkiadó.  The book has been translated to English: Diószegi, Vilmos (1968). Tracing shamans in Siberia. The story of an ethnographical research expedition. Translated from Hungarian by Anita Rajkay Babó. Oosterhout: Anthropological Publications. 
  • Durkheim, Emile (2002). A vallási élet elemei formái. Kultúrák keresztútján (in Hungarian). Budapest: L'Harmattan Kiadó. ISBN 963 9457 16 7. 
  • Hoppál, Mihály (1998). "Lehet-e népnek mitológiája? Jegyzetek a magyar mitológiáról". Folklór és közösség. Budapest: Széphalom Könyvműhely. pp. 32–39. ISBN 963 9028 142. 
  • Hoppál, Mihály (1998). "A honfoglalók hitvilága és a magyar samanizmus". Folklór és közösség. Budapest: Széphalom Könyvműhely. pp. 40–45. ISBN 963 9028 142. 
  • Hoppál, Mihály (2006). "Sámánság a nyenyecek között". In Hoppál, Mihály & Szathmári, Botond & Takács, András. Sámánok és kultúrák. Budapest: Gondolat. pp. 170–182. ISBN 963 9450 286.  The chapter title means “Shamanship among the Nenets”, the book title means “Shamans and cultures”.
  • Szomjas-Schiffert, György (1996). Lapp sámánok énekes hagyománya • Singing tradition of Lapp shamans (in Hungarian and English). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. ISBN 963 05 6940 X. 
  • Tokarev, Sz. A. (1988). Mitológiai Enciklopédia I. Budapest: Gondolat.