Rituelle Reise der Schamanen

Michael Oppitz
Germany 2011 | 27 Min. | bluray
Q&A with:
Michael Oppitz

Taking as its exam­ple a local, Himalayan shaman­ic tra­di­tion that of the North­ern Magar from the Dhaula­gari Massif region this film puts on dis­play the land­scapes called upon by local heal­ers in their night­ly, ritual songs. The film deals only with actual, geo­graph­ic loca­tions that the singers have come to know through their annual treks with sheep or during their trav­els along well-known trade routes. At the same time, how­ev­er, the topo­graph­i­cal names invoked by the shamans are also loca­tions of poten­tial tran­scen­den­tal encoun­ters with the ghosts that the heal­ers’ patients have robbed, leav­ing them in poor health. It becomes the task of the healer, then, to find the expired souls at each of the sites called up and to reach them before they cross a promi­nent bound­ary: the line between this world and beyond. This is one type of ritual jour­ney. In a second, the focus is on a story of origin over the course of which two myth­i­cal pro­tag­o­nists an orphan girl and a wild pig set out on a jour­ney to the under­world in order to free fallen souls so that they may once again return to the earth­ly world. In this case as well, the jour­ney leads to the tra­ver­sal of famil­iar geo­graph­i­cal stretch­es. Even the des­ti­na­tion the under­world itself finds a coun­ter­part in the actual land­scape: the low­lands along the Indian border. The film com­bines aerial shots of these land­scapes taken from a heli­copter with the noc­tur­nal songs of the shamans sung in the homes of their patients.