Friday, January 24, 2014

Carpe Diem 382, Amur River

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We have still a few days to go on our journey on the Trans Siberian Railroad, but our goal, reaching Vladivostok, is almost in sight. Yesterday we went with Paulo, Yao and Hilal to the shore of Lake Baikal to meet shaman. As we arrived there Hilal is told that she cannot come with them and has to stay on shore with a few other women.
Today we will go on a 'dream-flight' lead by the shaman, but first I love to tell you something more about Amur River, our prompt for today.

The Amur River or Heilong Jiang is the world's tenth longest river, forming the border between the Russian Far East and North-eastern China (Inner Manchuria). The largest fish species in the Amur is the Kaluga, attaining a length as great as 5.6 metres.
The Chinese name for this river, Heilong Jiang, means Black Dragon River in English, and its Mongolian name, Khar mörön , means Black River.

Amur-River (credits: Wikipedia)

The Amur arcs to the east and turns southeast again at the confluence with the Bureya River, then does not receive another significant tributary for nearly 250 kilometres (160 mi) before its confluence with its largest tributary, the Songhua River, at Tongjiang. At the confluence with the Songhua the river turns northeast, now flowing towards Khabarovsk, where it joins the Ussuri River and ceases to define the Russia-China border. Now the river spreads out dramatically into a braided character, flowing north-northeast through a wide valley in eastern Russia, passing Amursk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The valley narrows after about 200 kilometres (120 mi) and the river again flows north onto plains at the confluence with the Amgun River. Shortly after the Amur turns sharply east and into an estuary at Nikolayevsk-on-Amur, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) downstream of which it flows into the Strait of Tartary.

Bridge over Amur-River, the Khabarovsk Bridge (credits: Wikipedia)

The first permanent bridge across the Amur, the Khabarovsk Bridge, was completed in 1916, allowing the trains on the Transsiberian Railway to cross the river year-round without using ferries or rail tracks on top of the river ice. In 1941 a railway tunnel was added as well.

Back to 'Aleph'. Where we are on a rock not so far from the shore to experience a shaman ritual. It doesn't really matter if the shaman is a male or a female, because they sure have the same powers, maybe the female shamans have even stronger powers than the male ones, but that's not the point here.
The shaman is lighting a fire in a hollow dug in the ground to protect the flames from the wind that continues to blow. He places a kind of drum next to the fire and opens a bottle containing some unfamiliar liquid.
By the way, the term 'shaman' originated in Siberia. So we are here at the 'birth-place' of shamanism. So it must be a strong ritual and I am looking forward to it.

Siberian Shamanism

The shaman starts beating on the drum gradually getting faster and faster. The wind is getting stronger. Even though Paulo is well wrapped up, it's not enough. His nose appears to have lost all feeling, small ice crystals gather on his eyebrows and beard. Yao, who's accompanying him, kneels his legs folded neatly beneath him. Paulo tries to do the same, but cannot find the right position. The flames dance wildly about, but do not go out. The drumming grows more furios. The shaman is trying to make his heart keep time with the beating of his hand on the leather skin, the bottom part of the drum being left open to let in the spirits.
The ritual continues, the drumming is getting louder and faster all the time. And than ... Paulo sees how the shaman is changing from an old man into a feminine young man. Paulo sees the moon rising which is reflected in the waters of the lake. He feels serene and further on in this strange mysterious and magical night Paulo learns that he and the shaman once were good friends in another life. The shaman also tells him, that what he already knew, that he and Hilal have known each other for a long time.
Paulo's body is still on earth, but his spirit is with the shaman high up in the sky, Paulo experiences the flight of the Eagle of Baikal and cherishes that moment until the end of the ritual.
As the wind is getting up again. The shaman bows to the earth and the sky. He thanks them ... the fire goes out. It's in the middle of the night. The moon on her highest point granting the earth her soft silverly light. Paulo notices that the shaman is an old man again and he realises that the ritual is over.
As they reach the shore it turns out that Hilal has gone back to the hotel.

Siberian Shaman

Wow! What an experience ... what a joy to have experienced the flight of the Eagle of Baikal.

above the lake
Spirit is showing me the way
my feet strong on earth

my feet strong on earth
forever in tune with her
in balance again

in balance again
my Spirit has turned back - there
above the lake

(c) Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will be open until January 26th 11.59 AM (CET). I hope to post our next episode later on today. That will be Khabarovsk. Have fun, let the Eagle of Baikal pointing you the way to write an all new haiku inspired on this post.(I am hopelessly behind with commenting and I hope to catch up soon.)


  1. An amazing, beautiful post. Wonderful haiku, informative and so spiritual. Yes, I recognise the spiritual path you are on, and notice even the similarities in our eras! You have led us so well, on this journey, and it has been an experienced I felt honoured to share with others. Quite a deep experience in fact.

  2. Enjoyed this post...interesting and informative...a good read.