As I pointed out yesterday in the Profiles in Ethnology review, the word "shaman" actually comes from the languages and cultures of the Siberian reindeer herders. In When Languages Die, linguist Harrison eagerly tells us about uncovering an almost lost description of a shamanistic rite described one of the last remaining speakers of the Ös language in 1972. I find this description interesting because most living cultures that include shamanism (Mongolian, Tibetan...) have had contact directly or indirectly with other cultures that have their own forms of spiritualism and alternative medicine. Do modern Mongolian shamans, of which there is now a glut if I understand, represent a living tradition of shamanism or the expectations of modern Mongolians and visitors from the west looking for exoticism?

Herewith, a record of a real old shamanistic rite:
When the shaman shamanizes, there is a plate of meat and three liters of alcohol sitting nearby.
Around her neck hang nineteen stings of beads, and a white scarf is tied on her head.
She holds twelve rings in her hand and beats on them with a wooden spoon.
Then she takes the spoon and shamanizes with it.
If the wooden spoon lands right side up, it augurs good.
If the wooden spoon lands upside down, it augurs bad.
(from Harrison, When Languages Die, p. 153)
I find it fascinating that there is a verb "shamanize."