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Culture Unplugged – International On-Line Film Festival – 2 Ethnographic Films

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Film #1 - Siqingua, Daur Shaman of Inner Mongolia, China

Director: Susan Ross Grimaldi & John R Lawrence Jr PhD | Producer: Susan Ross Grimaldi & John R Lawrence Jr PhD
Documentary | Produced In: 2013 | Story Teller's Country: United States
Americas, China, Culture, Healing, Spiritual Awareness, United States

Synopsis: In Inner Mongolia, China, a Daur shaman of the highest status was filmed her working in her clinic demonstrating her ancient, traditional healing approaches and conducting a ceremony in full regalia to initiate a shaman into her house of power. 

Nowadays, shamans are regarded as heroes and cultural treasures in their homeland of northeast China. The fact that shamans are again practicing healing in China is an important development. What makes this documentary outstanding is the rare opportunity to know the words of the shaman’s chanting, which have been translated from their original language of Daur, into English.

 Click here to view the film

VIDEO NOTE: Even if you missed seeing the film on the dates listed on the link above they will be shown once a week for the months ahead. To find the next show dates Simply click on the above link.

 Film #2 - Shamans of the Reindeer Herders of the Northern Mongolia Taiga

Director: Susan Ross Grimaldi & John R Lawrence Jr PhD | Producer: Susan Ross Grimaldi & John R Lawrence Jr PhD
Documentary | Produced In: 2013 | Story Teller's Country: United States
Americas, Belief, Community, Culture, Healing, Mongolia, United States

Synopsis: In Mongolia, traveling by horseback to the most northern region of the Sayan Mountains, located on the edge of the Siberian frontier, a captivating story unfolds of a quest to find shamans among a small band of nomadic, reindeer herders, known as the Dukha. Cresting a mountain pass, the nomads are spotted living in teepees in a high valley along a stream of clear water. A herd of reindeer grazed nearby. Three shamans are featured in this film preforming shamanic rituals. 

The Dukha are among the last nomadic, animal-dependent, self-subsistent cultures remaining in the world. Their way of life has been passed down through an untold number of human generations. They currently face many challenges as they struggle to maintain their ancestral lifestyle in an ever-changing world

Click here to view the film

VIDEO NOTE: Even if you missed seeing the film on the dates listed on the link above they will be shown once a week for the months ahead. To find the next show dates Simply click on the above link.

REVIEWS of Both Films:

Film Reviews from SACRED HOOP ISSUE 93 2016


Directors: Susan Ross Grimaldi and John Lawrence Susan Ross Grimaldi and John Lawrence Film : 31mins


Directors: Susan Ross Grimaldi and John Lawrence Susan Ross Grimaldi and John Lawrence Films : 36mins Reviewer: Nicholas Breeze Wood

Susan Grimaldi is a film maker and shamanic practitioner. She wrote for us about the Dukha reindeer people in Sacred Hoop Issue 88, and I have other films by her, about Manchu shamanism in China and shamanism in Tuva.

In the first of these two films she and her partner John travel to Inner Mongolia - a region of China - to meet Daur shamans there. the Daur people are of Mongolian descent and their shamanism is related to that practised by the Buryat people of Southern Siberian Russia, and also the Evenk people who live in both Siberian Russia and the extreme North of China close to the Russian border.

The film focuses on the work of one shaman, a woman called Siqingua, and it shows her doing diagnostic work with patients, healing, going into trance and in the last section of the film performing a ceremony for Susan. The ceremony includes a long song, and the film has subtitles in English allowing the song to be understood. I found little glimpses into links between shamanism and Buddhism throughout the film interesting, such as the use of various Tibetan Buddhist objects here and there.

The second film is about the Dukha people, who live in the remotest part of North West Mongolia, up by the Russian border. These are people who - due to their remoteness - are said to have the purest form of shamanism in Mongolia. They were so out of the way that Tibetan Buddhism - which influenced a lot of Mongolian shamanism - and Communism - which almost eradicated it - didn’t make too many inroads there.

In the film Susan and John talk to various shamans, including several who have featured in various articles we have published over the years, and attend ceremonies.

Both films - despite not being full length - are extremely informative, as are Susan’s other two films - about Manchurian and Tuvan shamanism.

The two films can be watched free on-line at the ‘Culture Unplugged Film Festival’ for at least the next 6 months. For the next screening date go to these links:

A LiveStream Event: Members’ Dinner with John Lawrence & Susan Grimaldi: In Search of Traditional Shamans in the Eastern and Western Taigas of the Far North of Mongolia

Details: Thursday, November 7th, 2013  7:00 PM EST, 4:00 Pacific
Susan says, "Our new video, "Shamans of the Reindeer Herders of the Northern Mongolia Taiga", will be shown. It starts at 7PM EST, but there will be a dinner during the first hour with some introductions, and comments by the coordinator of the event.  I'm not sure how the first hour will play out, but I know the presentation will, begin in earnest, a bit before 8PM."

To join the audience, visit

Susan and John Lawrence attend an Explorer's Club gala in NYC and are featured in the New York Times Evening Hours section by Bill Cunningham. Click her to view the entire photo spread (pdf)

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LA Talk Radio December 7th, 2012: Click here to listen

Listen to Susan answer questions about her background, her Choctaw heritage, and what led her into Shamanic healing; how she became connected to Asian Shamanism; about her travels in Mongolia and her experiences with the nomadic Reindeer people. She tells about her invitation from China to come and demonstrates her healing methods; and what her role has been in the resurgence of Shamanism world wide. Additionally, you can also hear interviews with Sandra Ingerman, Brant Secunda, Brook Medicine Eagle, Serge Kahill King, Angeles Arrien, and others by visiting the Shaman's Keep Radio web site

LA Talk Radio February 22nd, 2013: Click here to listen

"Susan joins us again this week. She is a member of the Choctaw Nation, and is world renowned for her Documentaries on Shamanism in China and Mongolia. She has practiced Shamanism for over 35 years, and has participated in more that 10,000 healings. She will be sharing wisdom and insights from her vast experience, so all practicing healers, listen up. This is your chance to hear amazing stories from a true Native American Shaman that may enhance your own practice. And for all you listeners who are hungry to know more about how Shamanism works, this is the show that will shed new light on healing the whole body - physical, mental, and spiritual. We are indeed blessed that Susan is willing to share her precious knowledge with us, so don't miss this show!" From the Shaman's Keep Radio web site

WGDR/Goddard Radio 2012:  Click here to listen  (on Soundcloud)

Susan speaks about her travels to Inner Mongolia, China and Mongolia. She talks about what she learned from the shamans there, and shares recordings of drumming and chanting that she made on location during an actual healing ceremony. She describes an initiation that she underwent while there, and she speaks about her life and her private practice.

WBKM/Paradigms Radio Interview 2013:  Click here to listen  (on Soundcloud)

Susan is interviews on the Paradigms radio program by Baruch, an old friend. You can hear her speak of her early childhood, her grandmother's teachings and her early experiences.

Susan Grimaldi interviewed by Michael Watson Click Here to watch

According to Michael: "Yesterday Jennie and I spent the day with our long time friend Susan Grimaldi. Susan, and her partner, John Lawrence, are soon to be heading back to Mongolia to continue their work with shamans in Mongolia. Over lunch our conversation ranged over many topics, including the state of the world. In this video, Susan speaks to her hopes for the Earth and the people who live on her. She then address her research in Mongolia, and the ways her meetings with remarkable shamans there have changed her. Jennie served as videographer for the video, while I am responsible for the editing. The video is presented with minimal editing. We hope you enjoy it. Oh, the crash near the beginning is a cat knocking over lamp."  Click here to visit Michael Watson's Blog

2010 Interview with Susan about Asian shamanic culture conducted by Adam Silver, Executive Director of Asian Cultural Center of Vermont, Inc.

Here is an excerpt:

"...The shaman knows the nature of suffering and holds the ability to seek a vision of the healing. This understanding taps into a collective source of human wisdom. Healing comes from nature. The vision informs the shaman as the healing is conveyed. This guidance brings the suffering person back to a state of ease. The shaman can travel outside of time to when the ‘dis-ease’ first occurred. By re-dreaming the experience, solutions are experienced, the suffering is removed and the purity of the soul’s essence is restored. " Read The Full Interview (will open in its own window)

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“Shamanic Traditions of the Tsaatan Reindeer Herders of the Mongolian Taiga, and Daur Shamans of Inner Mongolia ” 

We were able to meet with the Duar shamans in Northern, Inner Mongolia and observe their work and witness their ceremonies.  We also interviewed and filmed them.  In Morin Dawa, we attended a Nassam festival, and were received as invited guests and shown every courtesy with our digital video and still photography.

We received a very warm welcome and tremendous generosity as we were provided with extensive free transportation, food, and hotel accommodations.  Our presence attracted unexpected press interviews, with TV and newspaper coverage throughout our stay in Inner Mongolia. 

Not without difficulty we were able to cross the Chinese-Mongolian border by train and traveled in comfort to Ulaanbaatar.  After landing on a dirt runway at the Moron airport, located several hundred miles north of Ulaanbaatar, we set off in a sturdy 4-WD vehicle built in Belle Ruse.  We headed west and then north as we began our search for the nomadic Reindeer peoples' encampment near the Russian Siberian border. 

After leaving Moron there were no roads, only un-graded meandering tracks which lead us over rough terrain, through river beds, and over mountain passes, to our outfitters station on Tsnaauur, (White Lake).  From there we rode for two, very long and challenging days through gorgeous fields of wild flowers, and through boggy swamps, while we tried to keep our horses from floundering in the miles of deep mud. We arrived in the western taiga, reaching elevations of over 10,000 feet.  We rode beside snowfields in near freezing temperatures. We were traveling with a translator, and a cook, along with four horsemen, and three packhorses, making a train of 11 horses.  We arrived tired and covered in mud at the summer home of the Tsaaten Reindeer People.  We found them living in a high valley with a stream of clear, mountain water running beside their teepees.  A herd of Reindeer was passing around us as they grazed. During our stay among the Reindeer people we lived in a teepee.

While there we met with the shaman, interviewed her, and filmed a shamanic ritual.  She was very informative and we were satisfied with our success.

We then had 36 more hours of hard travel to get back to Moron.  When back in Ulaanbaatar, we were able to consult with authorities there and assess the resurgence of shamanism in Mongolia.

The Explorers Club flag represents an impressive history of courage and accomplishment and has been carried on hundreds of expeditions by Club members since 1918. To carry the Club flag is an honor and a privilege. It has flown at both poles, from the highest peaks of the greatest mountain ranges, traveled to the depths of the ocean, to the lunar surface, and outer space. A flag expedition must further the cause of exploration and field science. Use of the flag is governed by stringent standards. To obtain permission to carry the flag, a Club member must show that the expedition holds the promise of scientific results and have value to humanity.

Photo Notes: The Grimaldi/Lawrence/  EC Flag (#74) Expedition to China (Inner Mongolia) and Mongolia, June 23-July 21, 2011

The two following two videos were produced by, Susan Ross Grimaldi and John R. Lawrence, Jr., after the completion of their first Explorers Club Flag expedition, which they co-led. They were awarded this flag by the prestigious Explorers Club for their expedition in search of traditional shamans in Inner Mongolia, China and Mongolia.

Shamans of the Reindeer Herders of the Northern Mongolian Taiga

Preview the video, "Shamans of the Reindeer Herders of the Northern Mongolian Taiga"
Click to view entire video
  • Filmed in the East Taiga, of the far northern frontier of Mongolia, July, 2011. We found this small band of nomads in the most remote section of Mongolia, living in Teepees, sustained primarily from the milk of their reindeer herd.  To see the video sample, CLICK HERE

Preview the video, June 2011, "Siqingua: Daur Shaman of Inner Mongolia, China"
Click to view entire video
  • This excerpt features a female shaman of Daur ethnicity in full regalia, deep in trance. The full 30 minute version shows her conducting divinations, healing rituals, and performing a special ceremony with chanting and drumming.  To see the video sample, CLICK HERE

Video Sample of "Drums of the Ancestors" from a 1995 expedition
Click to view entire video
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  • This is a shortened version of "Drums of the Ancestors", a video project I did in 1995 in North China and Inner Mongolia during a field study by The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, offering a rare opportunity to experience the living traditions of shamanism as practiced by the Manchu and Mongol peoples. The film includes an ancient harvest festival, a ceremony for healing, and interviews with shamans. To see the video sample, CLICK HERE

An Evening with Susan Grimaldi, John Lawrence and the Daur Shaman of Mongolia

January 30, 2013 Whidbey Island welcomes "Tsaatan Shaman Ceremonies of the Reindeer Herders" a documentary film with John Lawrence, PhD and Susan Grimaldi. The filmmakers present their expedition to remote Mongolia to record these ancient lifeways and shamanic healing practices   Click here to watch the video (YouTube)

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CDs You Can Order

CD   Siqingua, Daur Shaman Ceremonial Chanting:
Click here to listen to a brief audio excerpt (mp3)

Recorded in Inner Mongolia, China, a female shaman of the Daur ethnicity, is chanting in her native language of Daur, and playing her drum during an empowerment ceremony. This improvised chant is exacting in cadence and offers strength to listeners.

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CD   Ganbat, Tsaatan Shaman Ceremony from the East Taiga, Mongolia:
Click here to listen to a brief audio sample (mp3)

We were granted rare permission to record on location in the remote northern region of Mongolia a shamanic healing ceremony.  A male shaman of the Dukha nomadic reindeer herders chants and plays his drum while deep in trance.

Click to Order this Disc

Tuvan Shamanistic Healing (Audio CD)

Tuvan Shamanic Healing" (audio CD) Tuvan Shaman Ai-Churek Oiun learned the ancient art of throat singing directly through her relationship with the drum and the spirits. The drumming style used by Ai-Churek is not typical of Tuvan shamanism and is distinctive to her. This healing ritual was recorded in California during a workshop sponsored by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. A circle of healing, rich in vibratory overtones, is woven by this one female voice, her drum and her dream. Order This Audio Recording online

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