Segments in this Video

Sabu Oracle Divination: Overview (06:29)


Ladakh oracles become possessed by spirits and suck diseases out of patients or expel malign spirits. As Tibetan Buddhists, they are trained in monasteries. Patients include Christians, Hindus, and Muslims. See descriptions of spiritual hierarchies, divination, and training processes.

Preparing for Divination (07:13)

Ayu Lha-mo prays to the patient's kitchen altar while patients wait outside. Then, people gather while Ayu chants, fixes offerings, and rings bells. She and a novice oracle don ceremonial clothing, including veils and headdresses.

Inviting Possession (05:17)

The oracles chant, ring bells, and beat drums. Ayu guides the novice on allowing only certain spirits to appear; as they enter a trance, changes in their vocal pitch indicate a spirit has entered their bodies.

Sabu Oracle Healing Ritual (03:14)

Ayu uses the voice of the goddess possessing her to instruct the novice. She instructs a patient suffering stomach issues to drink cleansing water and pray to Buddha. She sucks out the illness.

Sabu Oracle Advice (03:57)

A woman's son has joined the army; she suffers muscle aches. Ayu instructs her to bathe in hot springs and pray with beads. She sucks disease from her stomach. The novice sucks sickness from a patient and prescribes a burning-knife treatment.

Treating Physical and Social Ailments (04:47)

Ayu uses a pipe to suck the sickness from a Muslim patient's eyes and instructs him to perform the rite of Sadaq Dondol. She says another patient has been digging and breaking stones too much. Patients discuss problems with their children.

Providing Advice on Justice (04:50)

Ayu and the novice oracle pray and ring bells. She tells a man whose watch has been stolen to give an offering to Jakman Gyalpo. She advises a patient suffering acne to consult an herbalist and avoid meat.

Hot Knife Treatment (06:36)

Ayu will chant a mantra with a hot dagger placed on her tongue. She interrogates spirits in patients and says their problems arise from actions in previous lives.

Finishing Divination (05:33)

Ayu purifies patients with juniper and sandalwood smoke, recites mantras, and blesses them with rice. Her novice oracle removes her ceremonial clothing and prays to the altar.

Oracle Ritual Conclusion (06:42)

Ayu comes out of her trance, prays, and makes supplications to the Buddha. Her novice oracle clears the altar while patients pay and leave.

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Sabu Oracle Divination

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In this program by anthropologist Barrie Machin, Ayu Lha-Mo of Sabu calls on an oracle to possess her body. She goes into a trance. The oracle is Dorje Drakden and answers questions about sickness, diagnoses sickness, anything about the future the future, travel plans, children etc. With English subtitles.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL192068

ISBN: 978-1-64867-351-1

Copyright date: ©1986

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