Tuva, Siberia 2002

Expeditions – Previous Trips 

Bringing Rain and Rainbows to Tuva

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A recount of  our 2002 expedition to Siberia, by Lucian Kragiel

(For a full account of this expedition, read Making Rainbows in Tuva by Bill Pfeiffer published by Shaman’s Drum, Issue 64, 2003).

On June 7th, Sam and Aaron and I headed off on a two week adventure to visit and learn from Shamans (medicine people) in the far off land of Siberia.  There were 12 of us in our group, led by a facilitator from Dreamchange Coalition and one from Sacred Earth Network.  It was a very unique experience in many ways.

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After several days of travel, we arrived in Kyzyl, the capitol of Tuva, a republic in southern Siberia just north of Mongolia.  We visited the shamans that evening, and were treated to a concert of Tuvan throat singing in which a singer produces several different tones at the same time.  While we visited with the shamans (one man and three women) in the ceremonial yurt, a dark and powerful storm blew outside.

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This was a good thing, as it had not rained in two weeks and it was becoming very dry. We went outside to witness the most intense full double rainbow that any of us had ever seen. It was perceived as a very good sign having to do with our arrival.

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Immediately following, we took part in the first of what was to be many practices of ceremony, which is an hour (or several hours) of chanting, drumming, praying, movement, offerings, and sometimes fire.  It is a way of honoring the land and the spirits, and of bringing one’s wishes into reality.

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The next morning we took a long drive to the village where we were to stay.  We had come there in the midst of the driest weather and the worst forest fires in memory, and the shamans put us right to work performing ceremony and praying for rain at sacred sites along the way.  They felt that our group had power, and that we could help the land. On several occasions we began with clear blue skies and finished with winds whipping in dark clouds and sprinkles of rain.

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We arrived at the village of Moren, whose people had never before had American visitors.  We felt quite honored, but apparently not as honored as they felt to have us there.  They had set up a camp by a river for us, with five yurts and a dining tent.  They greeted us with song and dance and celebration.  They fed us and took care of all our needs.  We were showered with food, gifts, and hospitality everywhere we went.

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Despite the physical demands and lack of sleep, the whole experience in Siberia was somewhat magical and transformative.  The best part for me was the bond that was made with my sons, as well as the other wonderful souls who accompanied us.  I never would have thought that we would go on a journey like this, but now I am almost ready for the next one.

By the way, the rain never came in a big way while we were in Tuva, but [we later learned that] it rained for a week straight and all the fires were put out [after we left].

This is something that we will never forget.

More Testimony from SEN’s Siberian Expedition…

“The trip was too marvelous for words…and too easy, especially for a trip story that starts with “Oh, I just came back from Siberia”.  There are no brushes with disaster that usually make the best stories on the return.  Running out of gas on the way to the airport comes the closest, but even that was an easy recovery! … The most awesome parts of the trip can’t be shared or at least not fully with the “general public”… Let’s just face it…It was a wonderful experience that YOU HAD TO BE THERE to experience!   And I’m glad I was!” -Dorothy Cunha

“That is so wonderful about the rain [putting huge fires out in Tuva]–a perfect end to a more than perfect journey! I’m still in awe about how transformational it all was–have no doubt that its blessings will be reverberating for a long time to come…” -Dery Dyer

 “My deep thanks go to SEN for providing my path to Tuva. There is so much to integrate and the powerful dreams of Siberia continue nightly.” – Wendy Taylor

“Thanks Bill [Pfeiffer] for hooking up with Lyn [ Roberts-Herrick] to make your collective vision a reality and sharing it with the world.  I wanted to know I can maintain the feeling and energy that the Tuvan land and people have given me.  Also coming back from Siberia, I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to describe to people the purpose of my trip.  I’m reduced to telling them that I went on a tour group.  I had one person say to me, “Isn’t Siberia the place where criminals go.”  Don’t worry, I corrected his perception real fast! What an amazing, indescribable journey.” – Charline Souffrant

“When I was invited by Lyn and Bill to take part in the trip as a translator, first I was very anxious. I was not sure whether I could cope with this work. The group was rather large [12] and included different people from different states of the USA and other countries. However, all of them were so wonderful people, that I felt at ease on the very first day in Golitsyno [suburb outside Moscow]. They were friendly and supportive during the whole trip, so that I considered myself one of the participants (not just a translator). I thank Lyn and Bill for giving me an opportunity to see the unique land of Tuva, to meet the wonderful people of that country; for having a chance to see (and to take part in) the work of the remarkable Tuvan shamans. Before the trip, my knowledge of shamanism was fragmentary. The journey over the southern Tuva awoke an interest for a deeper learning of this ancient religion. I feel a deep respect for the Tuvan shamans, who are very dedicated to restoring the ancient culture of their people. I was very much impressed by the land itself, its steppe and mountains, forests and rivers. It was sad to see the burning forests, which, according to shamans, were the punishment of the people for their being indifferent to the environment and not praying to the Earth. I hope this beautiful land will be preserved due to the efforts of such strong shamans as Ai-Tchourek and Herell, and the future generations will see their nature as rich as it was in the ancient times.” –Valentina Glavcheva