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 publicthese 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shaman HealerPomo 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
blocka very common traditional way to clear unwanted energies.
- Throat Singing from 4 ContinentsAfrica, Italy, Middle East, Tibet (3 mins.)
- Canto armonico in Africa (Xhosa tradition) (2 mins.)
- Arctic Circle Throat Singing: Overtone throat singing and the mimicking of animal or environmental sounds was likely the precursor to language and music.
- South Bali, 1941Kecak (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 wordsits 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.
- Sami Grand Prix, All the Yoiks, 2012 (9 mins.)
- Olena Uutai (5 mins.)
- Jon Henrik's Emotional & Powerful Song (5 mins.) Sweden's Got Talent
Hakas: Maori People of New Zealand
In memory of Jarom Hadley Nathaniel Rihari. Haka 'Tau Ka Tau' (3 mins.), July 5, 2017.
- What Is a Haka? (5 mins.)
- Emotional Wedding Haka Moves Maori Bride to Tears
Throat Singing & Icaros of the Americas
Galdrs of the Norse (a sung spell or incantation)
- How to chant Runes into Galdr & Runic visualization example with Algir, Algiz (8 mins.), Sigha, Feb. 13, 2013
- Rune chantingThroat singing Galdr 2 (5 mins.), AnU Skyrun, Jan 16, 2017
- Galdor (Rune chant) of the Elder Futhark (6 mins.), WyrdWeb, July 5, 2020
- Water Drumming (3 mins.) from Vanuatu (South Pacific island off Australia).
For Further Exploration
"The Sound of the Sun: Throat Singing and Tuvan Shamanism," Nikolay Oorzhak and Vladislav Matrenitsky, Sacred Hoop, #63, 2009, pp. 20-23.
Indigenous All Stars Women Unity Dance vs Maori Ferns Haka 2019 (8 mins.): indigenous cultural unity dance meets haka
Everyday Rhythms When You Sweep, Go Down StairsExplore 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
"Songs and Shamanism," Susan Mokelke, Shamanism: Journal of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Spring/Summer 2004, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 25-28.
- How to Write a Shamanic Song (pdf, 2 pages), Shamanic Spring.
- 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.
- 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.
- Throat Singing