During the recent ICASS congress a good friend of the anthropology research team, Alexandr Artemiev from Yakutia, called Kulan, blessed the 396 delegates during the banquet with a ceremony. Kulan is a representative of the new Sakha spiritual movement
that unites an animistic worldview rooted in Sakha shamanic spirituality with elements of a global spiritual revival that we see happening in so many other places on our planet which has given ‘new age’ so much uniting power.
As Kulan was playing the Khomus (Sakha mouth harp) during the blessing, Dolphins entered the port area of Akureyri, which we were told was highly unusual, especially as there were quite some people outside there in the port, among them even swimmers. ICASS VII convener Jon Haukur Ingimundarson was very surprised and pleased about this encouraging sign, which indicated the good spirits present at his conference. Certainly the sound of a Sakha Khomus is not amongst the most usual sounds that dolphins get to hear with their excellent ears in the fjord of Akureyri, which may have added to their generous curiosity. When Kulan stopped playing and dozens of people streamed out to see the dolphins, they retreated back towards the open sea, so that few of us actually saw them.
Kulan also gave a presentation with Florian Stammler about the scientific and the supernatural at one of ICASS VII’s largest sessions, Stephan Doneckers “Imagining the supernatural North”. There he tried to explain how ancient Sakha spiritual knowledge seamlessly integrates with recent esoteric movements and also makes use of scientific terminology to describe the world beyond its measurable dimensions. It all comes down to an understanding of what several of our anthropology colleagues have extensively studied in many remote societies of the Arctic, which is the organic unification of the bodily, tangible, natural, spiritual, mental and all other components in the environment to a partnership of agency. In a talk with Tim Ingold Kulan and Florian Stammler noticed that anthropological enquiry and this spiritual work can go along similar lines, when we accept what Ingold (2000) has called the “dwelling perspective” and the “human agent-in-the-environment”, or David Anderson’s “sentient ecology” in Taimyr (Northcentral Siberia) (2000:116), Florian Stammler’s “livestyle nomadism” in Yamal (Northwestern Siberia) (2005:23).