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The article is devoted to the study of modern Burkhanism among the population of the Altai Mountains. The article uses the author's own field research in the Republic of Gorny Altai in August 2014. The cult of nature and mountains, typical of the modern religious views of the Altaians, represents the emergence of a new worldview among the Turkic-speaking peoples on the basis of a combination of animistic views with near-scientific ideas. Modern religious views of the Altai population are loosely associated with traditional Burkhanism. They can be attributed to the New Age, the veneration of natural objects associated with a pseudo-scientific worldview opposing the world religions (Christianity and Buddhism). The belonging to the shamanistic or priestly community is determined by the ability to heal and predict. New teachers of neo-Burkhanism with higher education appeared. The Altai neo-Turanism is compared with the reconstruction of shamanism in Yakutia and Khakassia. The restoration of Burkhanism in the Altai Mountains has its own variants: urban, Ongudai, Ust-Kan ones. Modern Altaians have weak ideas about Lamaism and adhere to the natural-philosophical views that have arisen from life experience and attitude to the surrounding nature. The veneration of the native mountains, sacralization of the Altai, and environmental problems are the cornerstone of the dogma of the Altaic preachers of neo-Burkhanism. Similar processes of emergence of the New Age elements, sacral ideas and thoughts in general is characteristic of all Siberian population living in taiga conditions near century-old tumuluses and other archaeological sites. So there arise new animistic representations and primitive theological thinking typical of the initial stages of religiousity arises again in minds of the Siberian people.

Key words: ethnography, peoples of Siberia, religious views, veneration of the Altai, white shamanism, New Age, Burkhanism, field studies, cult of mountains

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2017.4.49-55

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About the paper


Vasily V. Ushnitsky – PhD (History), senior research fellow at the Institute for Humanitarian Research and


Problems of Small Numbers Peoples of the North of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences;


677007, Yakutsk, ul. Petrovsky, 1;