This webpage shows paintings inspired by the indigenous peoples, teachings, shamans and customs of Siberia

 The Aboriginal peoples of Siberia viewed life in a holistic way that incorporated animism, spiritism and shamanism. They held a dualist philosophy and believed in two major planes of existence: the human and the universal. Everything compromises two distinct parts: the visible (material and palpable) and the invisible (immaterial, abstract, spiritual). The visible world is inhabited by humans, animals and plants - the invisible world by the spirits and gods.

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world




SHAMAN'S COAT   (30x 30 cm)   £125
This picture was inspired by the (abstract) patterns on the clothing of a Siberian shaman

Siberia stretches from the icy Arctic Ocean in the north to borders with Kazakhstan and China in the South. From the Ural mountains in the West to the Pacific Ocean in the East. It covers eight (!) different time zones. It's VAST. Nearest the North Pole, the ground is permanently frozen (permafrost) and the coastline is populated by seals, walruses, beluga whales and polar bears. South of that the Arctic wilderness turns into tundra, where only lichens, mosses, spiky grasses and some dwarf grasses and some dwarf trees grow. The winter lasts between eight and ten months. At the end of November the sun dips behind the horizon and doesn't return until January. From sometime in May to sometime in July the sun doesn't leave the the sky at all. The tundra is home to reindeer (caribou), the Arctic wolf, the Arctic fox, the great white owl and the ptarmigan (a bird that winters by hiding itself under the snow!). In Spring the tundra the welcomes the arrival of many migratory birds.


If a Siberian woman wanted to fall pregnant, she had to go hunting for the Spirit Soul of her baby and fetch it home from the Spirit Masters. She was expected to go off and live in solitude while she did this. Spirit Souls one level down from the Upper World have the appearance of little birds fluttering from branch to branch. The great Siberian goddess Umai lives by the Tree of Life and sends these birds (the souls of children) into the world.

 Today Siberia is populated by members from more than a hundred ethnic groups from all over the Soviet Union. However, in the past there were aboriginal tribes inhabiting the region that were misunderstood and not taken seriously for many years, much like the Aboriginal people of Australia (see Australian Aboriginal Series). There were nomadic tribes on the tundra hunting reindeer. On the coast there were tribes living off the resources of the sea, in ways very similar to their Inuit (Eskimo) counterparts.

Siberia was incorporated into the Russian Empire in the Tsarist period. The Aboriginal people were brutally repressed. As happened in America the colonists brought unfamiliar diseases that wiped out thousands of people. They brought addictions too (to tobacco, vodka and sugar). At the beginning of the 18th century brutality and massacres accompanied the forcible conversion of the Aboriginal people to Christianity. In the early years after the October Revolution the Soviet Authorities formulated a special policy to protect ethnic groups.

(Enet Shaman) (80x 100 cm)    £485

Many aboriginal Siberian tribes saw footwear as a point of contact between the sacred and the profane. For this reason Shamans often wore elaborately decorated footwear, made of reindeer skin. The patterns used were highly symbolic.  A Shaman of the Enet tribe would wear a 'Boot of the Sun' on the right side and the 'Boot of the Forest Spirit Monster' on the right side

Collectivisation of the means of food production began in the 1930s. This put an end to any Aboriginal ways of life left in Siberia. Property and lifestock were confiscated, shamans were outlawed, pollution came to Siberia and, finally, poverty. Siberia today is a region of disillusions, material and spiritual poverty, loss of tradition and identity and addiction to vodka. Life expectancy is low. For a while Perestrojka brought a new interest in and documentation of the traditional ways of life. The paintings in my Siberia Series were inspired by the way of life and ways of thinking of the Aboriginal peoples of Siberia. Not by Siberia as it is today.

A person has definitely one Spirit Soul, maybe several (Mongolian Tengerism distinguishes between three souls). And definitely one Spirit Protector, often several (a whole spirit team!)  The Spirit Soul can leave the body and travel (dreams) or be possessed (leading to mental illness or in extreme cases death).

A Shaman can be of either sex, but one essential rule is that he or she has to have a Spirit Protector of the opposite sex. Female shamans can enjoy and excellent reputation, but they are understood to lose their powers during pregnancy and for some years after birth.


A woman's headdress intertwined with branches of the Tree of Life was found in a kurgan (funeral mound) in Pazyryk, Siberia. That concept formed the inspiration for this painting

There are three ways of becoming a shaman:

being born into the role
be chosen
arrive at the profession through a demanding period of self-examination and challenges (isolation, asceticism, celibacy)

There were rituals too surrounding the death of animals. They existed to ensure the Animal Spirit Souls returned to their spirit masters. This involved magical dances and eulogies. The animals were addressed as esteemed hosts rather than victims! This was to encourage them to be reborn and return quickly to once again be hunted, providing food and leather and so forth.

On the Pacific coast the Chuckchis, Aleut and Uit (Inuit or Eskimo people) venerated the whales they hunted. After a successful hunt they cut off the head of a whale and took it to one of the houses in the village. Here it was addressed with great respect and implored to tell other whales about the welcome it received! The spirit soul was then sent home with ceremony to ensure successful future hunts.


The raven god or spirit Kutcha (or Kutkh) is important in the shamanic tradition of the Koryaks and other indigenous Chukotko-Kamchatkan peoples of the Russian Far East.  Kutcha is traditionally revered in various forms by various peoples and appears in many legends: as a key figure in creation, as a fertile ancestor of mankind, as a mighty shaman and as a trickster. He is a popular subject of the animist stories of the Chukchi people and plays a central role in the mythology of the Koryaks and Itelmens of Kamchatka. 

 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world


>   KING OF THE WOODS   (80 x 100 cm)   £495

In the first age of the world, Hare had stubby little ears. One day he found himself eavesdropping on a conversation between a Great Elk and his wife. The time had come for Great Elk to cast off his antlers. Hare begged to be given them and strutted around with his new antlers, several times bigger than he was himself! He thought himself King of the Woods! However, his antlers soon got entangled with bushes and brambles in the thicket and Hare was well and truly stuck. Great Elk said Hare was too scared to ever lock antlers with anyone and replaced them with great long ears - much better suited to an inquisitive an animal so keen on eavesdropping...



A shaman merges with his spirit helpers so client can have a consultation with Spirit. This work is offered by contemporary shamanic practitioners today. I myself have done this many times!

 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world 


This painting was inspired by the shapes and names of patterns found in Aboriginal Siberian Footwear! (30 x 30 cm) £125

The indigenous peoples of the Circumpolar Arctic had unique and distinct footwear. 

E.g. The Ainu in Japan are a native people of Hokkaido (the northernmost Island of Japan). The Ainu are culturally and genetically realted to the indigenous people of the Siberian Far East Coast, though today (in the 21st century) the Ainu have been almost completely assimilated into the general Japanese population.

The Ainu winter boots are made of several salmon skins that are sewn together and then lashed to the wearer's feet with rope!



The Pazyryk were nomadic people who lived in the Altai mountains in what nowadays is Siberia just south of the modern city of Novosibirsk. This area is near borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. It forms part of the Urok plateau. Here barrow-like tomb mounts were found. In Russian these are called kurgan. This word travelled the world with the news of the Pazyryk discoveries and is now universally used. In 1993 the totally frozen body of a girl was found during excavations. Now world famous, she is known as the Ice Princess. Two years later the body of a man was found. He is known as the Ice Warrioror The Horseman.

Even today nomads still inhabit the region. These people enjoy the freedom to roam at will. Unfettered by ties to land, buildings or material possessions. The only things a Pazyryk nomad will defend and preserve at all cost are the tombs of his ancestors.

<  PAZYRYK MAIDENS   80 x 100 cm   £585

Bodies found in Pazyryk tombs bear elaborate tattoos depicting real and mythical animals. One example is a deer with long antlers. The tines on the antlers are birds' heads. Many animals are decorated with swirls and stripes. Tails of many animals end in birds' heads. These tattoos may well be the most elaborate works of body art to have survived from ancient times anywhere in the world.

It is clear that the animals in these tattoos are not simple respresentations or real animals. All animals have been 'transformed' in some way or other. You could say that they are all 'spirit animals'. Deer have bird-head antler tines and eagle heads. Almost all carnivorous beasts have striped heads with an animal on the tail end.

Much of the finest and most complex art left behind by the Pazyryk is associated with horses. One very striking technique they used was fastening an entire set of gilded antlers to an elaborate bridle-cum-headpiece which their horses wore, turning them into deer-horses. Imagine how these horses would have looked glittering the sunshine! (For more paintings about horses and information about horses in world mythology see the end of the Mythological Beasts Page)



 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 Apart from looking striking, these antlers probably symbolised rebirth. Every year after the rutting season, deer shed their antlers and regrow them in the Spring. As has been noted in pieces about other cultures, this is seen as a magical process, a kind of rebirth. It is probable that the Pazyryk depicted these animals on their bodies and adorned their horses in this way because deer and horses were special sacred animals for them. This way the 'Deer Spirits' became their companions in the afterlife.


<  EMERGING   30 x 30 cm   £125

Adj. 1. emerging - coming to maturity; "the rising generation"
future - yet to be or coming; "some future historian will evaluate him"
2. emerging - coming into existence; "an emergent republic"
nascent - being born or beginning; "the nascent chicks"; "a nascent insurgency"