Author Topic: Steve Greybraids/Tengerism  (Read 10997 times)

Offline Ganieda

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Steve Greybraids/Tengerism
« on: October 12, 2005, 12:48:20 am »
Hi!  Is there anyone here who could telll me a bit more about this fellow and his organization.  
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
quote from post:
"Across Siberia and Mongolia, shamans are organizing into shaman associations.  Due to the large number of immigrants from these countries to North America, it was decided that a North American association was necessary.    
  This organization would primarily serve the ever-growing immigrant community, but it would also teach Americans about their traditions.  
  I am very excited about this and I hope you enjoy their site as much as I have."    
  Steve Greybraids  

http://www.Tengerism.org

Thank you

*May the Sun warm your Heart, The Moon light your Path and Sacred Mother Earth embrace and protect you always.*

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Steve Greybraids/Tengerism
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2005, 02:02:06 pm »
I'm not sure what to think about this group because I don't know nearly enough about Siberian culture(s). But I do see some things which strike me as very good ideas or information.

http://www.tengerism.org/becoming_a_shaman.html
"Becoming a shaman is often just as much of a curse as it is a blessing....To grow into a shaman, they must accept the calling and be recognized and trained by an elder shaman....it takes an elder shaman to watch for signs from the person who was hit. If they believe they are chosen, they would take them as a student.
A shaman’s training takes a lifetime of work....
If anyone claims they can make you a shaman in one weekend for a fee, you should think twice. If you were to walk into a martial arts equipment store and buy a black belt, this would not make you a black belt. There are no quick fixes.
To preserve the ancient traditions, official shaman’s associations were founded in Mongolia, Buryatia, and Tuva. The governments of these countries are involved with the registries in order to help preserve the ancient traditions and integrity of Siberia’s aboriginal people.
This is for a good reason. The aboriginal peoples of the Americas have had a great deal of problems with their spiritual beliefs. Their ways have been misrepresented and even blasphemed. Fake “Indian medicine-men??? have charged an unknowing public for pseudo Indian teachings and ceremonies. Nobody knows who is the real deal and who is just out to make a buck.
Wanting to avoid such an exploitative situation, the shaman associations make sure that the traditions remain true and keeps dishonourable or fake shamans from practicing."

But I think the title of this page is misleading. It actually agrees with what we've been saying about not charging.
http://www.tengerism.org/shamans_do_not_charge.html

While the sites does seem to be primarily to educate the public in a general way, there's also a page saying they plan to hold workshops, so I'm still uncertain what to think. I also found one of their pages reposted on a historical reenactors site.
http://www.ernak-horde.com/What_is_Shamanism.html

Offline Sarangerel

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Re: Steve Greybraids/Tengerism
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2005, 01:53:20 pm »
Greetings,

Tengerism and the role of Greybraids in it seems to have been misunderstood from the get-go.  By the way Greybraids may sound a little Native American but I don't think he tries to be native anything, he has just been a very helpful person.  
The Circle of Tengerism is a non-profit organization that is being organized in the United States in order to educate people about indigenous Siberian spirituality.  It has been organized to specifically coordinate with the shamans' associations in Siberia and Mongolia in order to present factual information about Native Siberian beliefs and combat a lot of misconceptions about Siberian shamans as well as debunk some of the cults and false teachers who have made their way over here and are causing confusion and dishonoring the ancient traditions.  In many ways we are following the lead of what Native Americans have been doing to take back their own heritage from those people who were exploiting their spiritual symbols and ceremonies.
Greybraids is a person who is interested in Siberian spiritual traditions and because he sympathizes with the goals of the Circle of Tengerism he volunteered to help spread information about the inauguration of the Circle of Tengerism site to people whom he believed would find it interesting.  He is not a member or officer but a very good friend of the organization.  His help has been much appreciated since he has skills that others of us do not have in using the Internet.
Some of you may wonder why we chose to use the word Tengerism instead of the more familiar word "shamanism."  This choice has its roots in Siberia.  "Shamanstvo," which became the word shamanism, was the word that Russians came to apply to Siberian native spirituality in general.  In the 20th century Native Siberian scholars came to favor a new word, "Tengrianstvo," Tengerism in English, for it described the Native Siberian spirituality more adequately.  This name is based on the word used to describe the spirits that are revered, the spirits of the heavens especially, but also the spirits of the earth and ancestors which is central to our beliefs.  Shamanism over-emphasizes the shaman.  First, you do not have to be a shaman in order to practice most of the basic spiritual practices that native people in Siberia practice as a part of their everyday life.  Shamans are spiritual specialists who are called upon for certain situations of spiritual crisis or for certain rites of passage and for healing.  Most of the time people interact with the spirits directly through personal ceremonies done every day and in all kinds of contexts.  Secondly, in the western world shamanism has taken on such a confused meaning largely thanks to the New Age that unfortunately for us it is practically impossible at this point to even re-possess it as part of a uniquely Siberian spiritual heritage.  For example, at a gathering of spiritual leaders and teachers some years ago in Virginia that I attended wearing traditional Buryat clothing someone asked me what nationality I represented.  When I stated that I was a Buryat shaman I was asked "Is that something like a Native American shaman?"  It kind of rankled me that people live under some delusion that Native Americans have shamans and somehow we Siberians, who gave the word to the world vocabulary, are just some kind of imitators.

Offline Sarangerel

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Re: Steve Greybraids/Tengerism
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2005, 02:11:50 pm »
The second half of this post, a balky computer and bad connection problems again (argh!)

I would like to make one comment to educatedindian, and I hope it will be understood in the way it is meant to be.  That is with regard to the comments about whether shamans get paid or not.  It should be understood that Native Siberian people and Native American people do not have exactly the same customs.  Whenever shamans receive money or other gifts for ceremonies or other services in which it is the spirits that serve the shaman are believed to do the work the "mense" is given to the spirits although ultimately it benefits the shaman and his/her family.  When the shaman is performing other services where the spirits are not directly involved there may be a literal price but in that case the shaman is acting as a human being and receiving pay as any other person would.  In spiritual work, however, there is no discussion of compensation for that is completely taboo, the only thing that may be mentioned is that certain objects will be required for the ceremony (especially since some of the younger or urban folks don't remember exactly what they need to bring and nothing is more awkward than being ready to do ceremony and having to send someone out to the store at the last minute to get what is missing).  
The point is that we are different.  We cannot be held to Native American standards of behavior.  Native Americans have had to endure a lot of stereotypes about how they are supposed to believe and how they are supposed to behave.  If we do things different from Native Americans it is because we are Native Siberians and we have different customs, the standard that we should be held to is if we are honest, true to our traditions, and honoring to the spirits we profess to work with.  By those criteria I think almost any reasonable person can believe that the Circle of Tengerism is an honest representative of Native Siberian traditions in the English speaking world.  
If you want to do more in-depth research compare the statements on the Circle of Tengerism website with the ethnographic literature about Siberian shamanism and you ought to be satisfied.  Hopefully that will be enough to take them out of questionable status in this forum.  I vouch for them as a founding member of the Golomt Center in Mongolia and a founding member of the Circle of Tengerism.

regards,

Sarangerel

p.s.  The fact that some statements on the Circle of Tengerism website are mirrored on the other website you cited is not of any great consequence with regards to the legitimacy of the Circle of Tengerism.  A couple of members of the Circle of Tengerism belong to that re-enactment group and there is nothing objectionable about that material being used to explain the shamanist beliefs of Mongols.  After all since Mongols originated in Siberia Mongolian shamanism is essentially identical to that of their Siberian neighbors.  It also should not be assumed that all Mongol re-enactors are white Americans.
Furthermore none of the members of Circle of Tengerism in the group who have that site do ceremony as part of their re-enactment.  They put that page up because a group called the Dark Horde did a page about Mongolian shamanism that was so full of fiction and lies that they felt compelled to present information about authentic Mongolian shamanism to rebut that scandalous page.

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Steve Greybraids/Tengerism
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2005, 09:53:11 pm »
Sarangerel, my main concern over the section on payment was that some of the frauds could misquote or take parts of it out of context to claim it's OK to sell ceremonies. I also mentioned the reenactors site just because I couldn't find anything else mentioning the Tengerism site in English. I also wasn't sure what to make of the message onthe site that they did workshops. I'm guessing now it's educational and cultural workshops, and certainly not how-to-do-ceremony.

Offline Sarangerel

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Re: Steve Greybraids/Tengerism
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2005, 01:46:29 am »
Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
Tengerism is a new word in English but not so new in Russian, but it is really only coming into discussions about indigenous spirituality now.
Indigenous Siberian shamans or Tengerists practicing as lay people know that by our traditions charging any fee for ceremony is strictly taboo.  This is also mentioned on my Buryat Home Page on which I wrote about a fraudulent group using the same name as the officially recognized Golomt shamans' association that operated a healing center in Ulaanbaatar for a few months that was to our great embarassment featured in an Italian amateur film-maker's documentary.  Not only did they imitate the Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and charge fixed fees for certain ceremonies but the "shaman" was allegedly drunk most of the time.  Thankfully that film did not become too popular!  That is also why by being an organization officially endorsed by the Mongolian government the Golomt Center is trying to make sure that people presenting themselves as Mongolian shamans are legitimate traditional shamans, since with the freedom of the democratic market society in Mongolia inevitably a lot of impostors have cropped up and some of them have even gone abroad, even to the United States.  I heard that one of them even attended a pow wow and participated!  Which culture is offended more?
The Circle of Tengerism is established for two purposes, to educate people about Siberian/Mongolian shamanism and to assure the integrity of indigenous teachers teaching in North America.  The workshops that the website refers to have not been scheduled yet since this is a new organization, but the purpose of any workshop that the Circle of Tengerism presents is not to give a quick education on how to be a shaman (after all haven't we tried to avoid the "s" word in our name?) but rather to educate people about what we believe and offer practical and interesting information that any person can use.  We have to do this because there are so many other people out there now who use our name and terms (Siberia, shamanism, Mongolia, Altai, etc.) who promise some easy solution in a weekend workshop, some 21st century instant spirituality.
That is not our way.  If a person is called by the spirits to become a shaman it takes years of personal instruction as well as ceremonial work to be a shaman worthy of being called that.  My own education has already been almost 20 years but I still feel like a baby compared to the shamans who teach me.  Anyone who thinks they can be a shaman from a few weekend workshops are fooling themselves.  This may be my own personal experience and opinion but it certainly reflects the views of anyone from the Circle of Tengerism and the indigenous organizations it represents.
Hopefully this will satisfy any concerns you have about our sincerity and dedication to the preservation of traditional ways.  We are on your side.

regards,

Sarangerel

Offline Sarangerel

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What more do we need to say?
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2005, 03:52:34 pm »
Greetings again to all of you,
A week ago I wrote at length about the beliefs of our people and the real meaning of the Circle of Tengerism and tried to correct the misunderstanding about the connection with Greybraids.
Reading the new posts here I find that people trying to give a voice to GENUINE Native Siberians are still being listed as dubious next to some people who seem pretty slimy if not fraudulent!
Can't you give us some more respect please?  And get Greybraids' name off the thread!  With all due respect to a good man his chosen web name makes us sound like twinkies and I don't like it.
Furthermore if any of you read the Tengerism site it is all about debunking the fluff-bunny myths about our shamanism that are just as offensive to us as to Native Americans, it is all about education, not about making a buck off of gullible New Agers, what is questionable about that?
If any of you have a chance to go to a library or bookstore and find it read the book "A History of the Peoples of Siberia."  You will see that every single injustice and dirty trick and bad experience that happened in this country happened in Siberia too; it was almost as if the white folks on both continents were sharing notes on how best to crush the native peoples of the lands they were conquering.
Thus as a Buryat person I want to say, we might be a little different from Native Americans but we have gone through a lot of the same things and our spirituality is just as valid.  Please give it the respect it deserves.  We might not be Native American but we deserve to be moved to the non-frauds.  Educatedindian, if you refuse to, give me a good reason why.

regards,

Sarangerel

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Steve Greybraids/Tengerism
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2005, 11:06:18 pm »
Research Needed means "not sure". It's not the same as a fraud at all. And the only reason it has not been moved was because of having so much work at the moment that I overloked doing that. No harm intended, and certainly no insult.