The ability to speak the words of the spirits (kongsu) is central to shamanic practice, and the opening of a prospective shaman's “gates of speech” (malmun) is the central task of an initiation ritual. This chapter tells the story of a bashful, reticent initiate, Chini, and the initiating shamans' struggles to open her gates of speech. The analysis of hours of video, and the opportunity to discuss the outcome of this kut with Chini, her initiating “spirit mother,” and the other participating shamans has brought the author as close as she has ever been to understanding what a shaman is supposed to experience during kut and how shamans balance performance skills and inspiration to manifest their gods.
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