apashka_280People address the shaman who is living in Ungurtas village, Kazakhstan, as Apa or Apashka, which means ‘granny’ in the Kazakh language. 

Originally from Turkistan, Apa was told by the spirits to find a particular mountain. She found it eight years ago and made a temporary living space and started accepting pilgrims. Soon after, pilgrims built a whole farm and made steppes on the mountain, which is thought to have healing properties. 

Apa is a sufi. She calls herself the last dervish of Kazakhstan. Some of the rituals she performs include slaying of a goat and pouring blood on half-naked people. Or after killing an animal, blood is smeared on to the face, hands and feet of her followers.

Life at the farm is very basic. Every day starts with chores: bringing water from the river, cleaning the stoves and putting new coal in them, taking care of the goats and other animals. Women usually cook and take care of the dishes.

Once in a while Apa says that she receives a command from the sprits and gives out personal or sometimes common assignments, which usually include visiting some nearby holy place or saying particular mantras.

People come from other countries to visit her — Russia, Ukraine – and other parts of Kazakhstan. Some people come to her for health or addiction problems, others to resolve life issues. Some stay there for a short period, some stay for a period of three months and often come back more than one time.

Pavel Prokopchik