Tibetan Oracles

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Tibetan Oracles

In Tibetan tradition, the word oracle, or kuten, literally interpreted means “the physical basis.” The word oracle is also used to define the spirit which enters into men and women who are acting as a medium between the spiritual and natural realms. Oracles serve as a guide for Tibetans in political decisions, predictions about natural forces, etc. Their decisions help guide internal and external affairs. They most clearly demonstrate their function while in trance. In this mind-altered state prophecies and predictions are made about questions asked. Their answers are taken seriously by Tibetans and high-standing political and religious individuals. The occurrences that take place while in trance cannot all be explained by scientific means and there is some spiritual force acting on the situation.

To fully understand Tibetan oracles and their trances, some background information about them must be given. The first recognized Nechung oracle was realized in 1544 AD. This was the first time that the spirit of Nechung was possessed in a human being. The name of oracle was Drag Trang Go-Wa Lobsang Palden. Many oracles used to be present in Tibet, but their numbers have diminished as a result of various factors such as Chinese occupation. However, the phenomenon of oracles still remains central to Tibetan life. The oracle is not only used to predict the future, but they are also sometimes used as protectors and healers.

The main function of oracles in Tibet is to answer tough questions about internal and external affairs both religious and political. They way that this is most effectively performed and acted upon is through possession or trance induction. Trance induction in the Tibetan State Oracle is a complex process involving certain physical deprivations and stimuli from various sources of anything from music to hyperventilation. Symbolic elements as well as visualizations induce possession and trance in the oracle. (Ellingson 58)

Certain questions about the spirituality of the oracles arise. It could be argued that oracles are taught to act in spiritual ways and that these actions are just reproductions of what they have been taught.

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