Siberian spirit guides join fight against deadly wildfires

Siberian shaman with drum Image copyright Artyom Geodakyan / Getty Images
Image caption Shamans lend the government a helping hand

Pagan guides have been performing rituals to ask ancient Siberian spirits to end the wildfires and floods ravaging huge swathes of eastern Russia.

In a video posted online, the shaman holy men can be seen walking around a tree and beating drums on Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal, a massive freshwater lake not far from Mongolia and deep in the heartland of shamanism.

The 50 or so shamans, including colleagues from Mongolia, Germany and Poland, made an offering of food as part of the Tailagan ritual.

'High energy'

"Energy levels were very high," one reassured Russia's official RIA Novosti news agency.

Olkhon Island is the centre of the local Buryat branch of shamanism, which considers it to be the home of 13 major spirits.

An area the size of Belgium has been affected by the fires.

To make matters worse, parts of Siberia have also been affected by severe flooding, which has swept away whole villages and killed two dozen people.

You may also be interested in:

The shamans have added their efforts to those of hundreds of emergency workers, who have been battling the fires for weeks.

Russia's military has been using water tankers planes and helicopters against the flames, and says it has extinguished a significant share of them.

But some social media users remain sceptical about the pagan contribution.

'Drums have fixed it'

"Phew, you can recall your planes. The drummer boys have fixed everything," said one Siberian Telegram account.

This is not the first time shamans have got involved in issues of state importance.

Earlier this year, some sacrificed five camels "to make Russia stronger", while one shaman embarked on a 2,000-km journey "to rid Russia of President Putin".

Image copyright Grigory Sobchenko / Getty Images
Image caption Drumming is a traditional part of pagan rituals

By Vitaly Shevchenko

Next story: Secret Cold War base shifts through Greenland ice

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.