LADAKH, INDIA: Mystics, Oracles & Shamans of Ladakh – Coming in 2015!
Join Lisa Tully for this special journey designed to explore the local spiritual and mystical traditions of the Tibetan and Ladakhi people. You will have the opportunity to participate in various ceremonies along with the local folks as well as watch their beloved masters, shamans, and oracles in action.
The Forgotten Land of Ladakh
After being closed to outsiders for thirty years for military and strategic reasons, Ladakh was partly opened in 1974. Often considered to be an extension of Tibet, Ladakh actually has its own language and social and cultural identity. It is situated in Northwest Indian state of Kashmir. With a size equal to that of Scotland, the population of this land is at a mere 150,000.
A unique eco-system brings desert-like summers and frozen winters where parts of Ladakh are inaccessible for several months of the year. Home to incredible wildlife and fauna – its most locally revered inhabitant is the beautiful snow leopard.
It is believed that Buddhism actually came from India to Ladakh before Tibet, 300 years before Christ. What existed prior to Buddhism was a shamanistic tradition called Bon in which aspects of the environment were worshiped. A fusion of the two belief systems is a highly esoteric religion that contains magical formulas, the exorcism and destruction of demons, oracles and divinations!
Ladakhis believe earth, water, air, rocks, and trees all have spirits – some of which are good, and some of which are bad. The lamas or monks act as the intermediaries for the lay people, helping them to avoid offending these spirits or to appease them if they have unknowingly evoked their wrath.
Festivals, Oracles & Shamans!
The lamas may use their understanding of astrology to assist in matters of business, farming, and travel for example. Some however give assistance by becoming vehicles for particular spirits, during which they speak with the spirit’s actual voice.
These are the infamous oracles – and the best ones in Ladakh are those of Matho Gompa, one of the festivals we’ll be attending during our journey. Local people travel from far and wide to these yearly festivals to have their futures predicted, fears eased, and bodies healed by the oracles.
The Matho oracles are chosen by lot every three years. In preparation for the festival they are purified by months of fasting and meditation, after which they become the receptacle for the Rongsten Karmar deity. Once this happens they perform incredible feats such as jumping along the tops of the monasteries blindfolded, seemingly immune from falling down into the rocks of the valleys below.
While in this trance state they answer questions about Ladakh and Matho for the coming year. Individuals also put forward questions about their own spirituality and welfare. But skeptics be warned, the spirit is said to be able to detect when their powers are being tested through questioning, resulting in a dramatic display of anger!
A Journey of the Heart
During this unusual adventure we will attend two winter festivals of the oracles, the Stok Guru Tsechu festival and Matho Nagrang Festival – as well as attending a local shamanic session with a female lay oracle (where you’ll have the opportunity for personal healing).
We will also have a talk by a local expert before attending the Oracle festival to prepare ourselves. By eating and praying in the homes of the local monastic and lay people, Tibetan and Ladakhi, yogi and shaman alike – you will have a true cultural experience you will never forget.
Along the way you’ll have the opportunity to also visit the Green Tara temple in the Tibetan Quarter of Delhi (where we can chant her mantra), Old Delhi to participate in the Holi festival (to celebrate the start of spring), and visit the Taj Mahal in Agra as an optional tour if you like.
Want to Join Us?
Questions? Give us a ring at 727-421-0849 or email us – we can’t wait to hear from you!