In our first interview with Elizabeth Barton, we discussed the oral history and fundamentals of Hungarian shamanism. In this post, the second of three, we delve deeper into the practices of the Hungarian shamans of her family.
PYN: What else is typical of Hungarian shamanism?
Elizabeth: The wind, and your connection to the wind, is really important. Because through the wind you can ask questions. And by the way it moves through the trees or the grass you can divine an answer – especially the movement of the grass, because the Hungarians were horse people. Horses were their lifeline. So you could ask questions, do the divination, and watch, literally, the answers being woven by the wind into the grass. [Tweet this!]
PYN: You mentioned to me once there are both warrior and healer shaman traditions in Hungary.
Elizabeth: My family had both the warrior/healer types. My grandfather was the warrior and my grandmother the healer, so I learned a bit of both. The part about connecting with the trees, so you could know the army was there, that was definitely the warrior side. But it’s also standard shamanic practice, because the shamans were the early warning system for the people, to alert them that something was changing. And in the battles, way back when, you never killed the shaman first. You always made sure you killed everything, even the animals, and then
you left the shaman to die last, because they could take the information of the tribe and jump into an animal and escape. Imagine a young girl being told this, “kill the Shaman last.” Okay Grandfather… will do.
PYN: Tell me more about the healer side of Hungarian shamanism.
Elizabeth: I can only tell you what I learned from my grandmother. She used to be able to heal by doing astral work. A lot of astral projection to get information… This is again where Hungarian shamanism is almost identical to other types of shamanism – being able to go to the other side, connecting to your familiars, and then going in and removing the energy that’s blocking the other person first astrally, and then physically.
Quite often when you remove the astral disturbance, the physical body heals immediately and you don’t have to do further healing. But if the illness hadn’t been tended to soon enough, and the disease had taken hold in the physical plane, after the astral treatment my grandmother would treat with herbs and incantations.
My grandmother also used a lot of white quartz. I remember she would pay me to find quartz crystals. I have no idea what she did with them, but I know she must have used them in some kind of ritual. It may have been for divination. Who knows?
PYN: In the Norse shamanic tradition, shamans travel to other worlds on a magical horse. Since Hungarians are such horse people and are related to the Finns, do Hungarian shamans travel by horseback to the astral plane?
Elizabeth: Makes sense but I was not taught that. We mainly used birds to travel to other worlds, but I think different shamanic families had different ways. The only one that I was taught was bird. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the animal is for journeying.
PYN: You refer to the other world. Do the Hungarians differentiate between upper and lower worlds, like other shamanic traditions?
Elizabeth: There was no distinction between upper and lower world that I was taught, just the other side.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s third and final installment on Hungarian shamanism, and Elizabeth’s practice today.
Elizabeth A. Barton is an astrologer, energy worker, and the director of the Transformative Healing Center.