Shamanic Power Songs from Around the World   

A Private Page from Shamanic Spring

About this Compilation

This compilation of more than a dozen short clips shows power songs for various uses from many different traditions. Songs are private or public—these are public.

In shamanism, songs have the power to do many things from everyday uses to high ceremony: bless a meal or a newborn, greet the morning or go to sleep, bless a marriage or coming of age, help send the dead off on their final journey to cross over, plant or harvest a crop, heal a person, animal, plant, river, landscape, etc. These clips illustrate some of that range. A few of these clips are actual shamans, but most are everyday people whose culture works with songs in powerful ways.

What I ask you to notice is the different approaches to "singing." Some people who've never heard throat singing think it sounds creepy, like music from a scary movie. But throat singing is known in most cultures around the world and has no such scary connotations. Be open and notice how you respond. My main goal is to give you a feel for the range of singing styles.

Healing Applications

The first two are healing chants in Old High German, called Merseburg Incantations because of where they were found. The manuscript itself dates from the tenth century, but the language, style, and meter within the document suggest an earlier date. It lists eight names of ancient Germanic heathen deities, many with direct counterparts in the Poetic and Prose Eddas, the main source documents for North European pre-Christian beliefs.
  1. First Merseburg Charm (3 mins.), by Waldteufel, May 2012 at the Olympia ballroom in Olympia, Washington. Female spirits break the shackles of warriors caught during battle to free them. The Idisi are likely the German equivalent of the Norse Valkyrie, spirits who decide who lives and dies on the battlefield. Translation: "Once the Idisi set forth, [once sat women] to this place and that [they sat here, then there]; Some fastened fetters; some hindered the horde, Some loosed the bonds from the brave. Leap forth from the fetters! Escape from the foes!" I have sung this in healing sessions for clearing misplaced energies and helping the dead cross over.

  2. Merseburg Charms Magic Spell (3 mins.), by Heilung in 2018 at CastleFest, a medieval/fantasy festival in the Netherlands. Odin heals a horse after 4 goddesses tried to heal the horse and failed. Translation: "Like bone-sprain, like blood-sprain, Like limb-sprain: Bone to bone; blood to blood; Limb/joing to limb/joint, like they were glued." I have sung this in healing ceremonies to restore the body and lost soul parts.

  3. Shaman Healer—Pomo Shaman (1963) Anthropology Documentary, "Sucking Doctor" (5 mins.—Start clip at 7:35, End 11:57). This excerpt shows a rare 1963 documentary of Pomo Shaman Essie Parrish doing an extraction healing. The clip begins with her finishing a spoken prayer and beginning a power song. I'm not certain, but I believe that the clip shows her calling her helping spirits to her so she can do the healing for the man lying on the floor. This excerpt ends as she's about to start the extraction or clearing work, which she does by "sucking" out the energy block—a very common traditional way to clear unwanted energies.

Throat Singing

  1. Throat Singing from 4 Continents—Africa, Italy, Middle East, Tibet (3 mins.)
  2. Canto armonico in Africa (Xhosa tradition) (2 mins.)
  3. Arctic Circle Throat Singing: Overtone throat singing and the mimicking of animal or environmental sounds was likely the precursor to language and music.
  4. South Bali, 1941—Kecak (6 mins.), Music for the Gods

Joiking/Yoiking: The Sami Peoples

Source: Sami Culture, The Sami Yoik Joiking is Sami music of Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Russia. The yoik is a living replica, not just a flat photograph. It is not about something, it IS that something. A yoik does not need to have words—its narrative is in its power, it can tell a life story in song. The singer can tell the story through words, melody, rhythm, expressions or gestures.

Yoiks are sung without musical instruments, except for a drum. Gradual pitch changes are key to yoiks, and accompanying instruments interfere. Western European songs are understood to have a start, a middle, and an ending. A yoik seems to start and stop suddenly. It has no start nor end, following the circular patterns of nature that have no beginning and no end.

Traditionally, Sami yoiked for themselves or their communities, whether the reason for the yoik was personal self-expression or spiritual aid in reindeer herding. Receiving one's yoik was like getting a name and traditionally an important adolescent rite of passage. For the shaman or noaidi, the essential tools were the drum and the yoik. Among other things, the noaidi sang fish into the net and whales up on the beach.
  1. Sami Grand Prix, All the Yoiks, 2012 (9 mins.)
  2. Olena Uutai (5 mins.)
  3. Jon Henrik's Emotional & Powerful Song (5 mins.) Sweden's Got Talent

Hakas: Maori People of New Zealand

  1. What Is a Haka? (5 mins.)
  2. Emotional Wedding Haka Moves Maori Bride to Tears
  3. In memory of Jarom Hadley Nathaniel Rihari. Haka 'Tau Ka Tau' (3 mins.), July 5, 2017.

Throat Singing & Icaros of the Americas

Galdrs of the Norse (a sung spell or incantation)

Water Drumming

  • Water Drumming (3 mins.) from Vanuatu (South Pacific island off Australia).

For Further Exploration

  1. How to Write a Shamanic Song (pdf, 2 pages), Shamanic Spring.
  2. Circle Songs: Simple Songs for Earth-Based Ceremonies & Healing Work; this free online resource of 17 power songs includes two of the songs I've received from my helping spirits: Bear Nudges Me and We Are All Connected.
  3. Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh (3 mins.). In his intro, he says he wants the song to create a sense of the cosmos and for us to listen to the Earth.
  4. Throat Singing
  5. "The Sound of the Sun: Throat Singing and Tuvan Shamanism," Nikolay Oorzhak and Vladislav Matrenitsky, Sacred Hoop, #63, 2009, pp. 20-23.
  6. Indigenous All Stars Women Unity Dance vs Maori Ferns Haka 2019 (8 mins.): indigenous cultural unity dance meets haka
  7. Everyday Rhythms When You Sweep, Go Down Stairs—Explore everyday musical inspiration with the troupe Stomp. They have lots of short one-song video clips if you go to youtube and search "stomp." Start with their great 7-minute intro.
  8. "Songs and Shamanism," Susan Mokelke, Shamanism: Journal of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Spring/Summer 2004, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 25-28.

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