The Huns were never converted to Christianity by their Roman contemporaries. Indeed, the Huns remained Pagan throughout the entire time that they were mentioned in the historical chronicles. Through archaeological and literary evidence, it is believed that the Huns practiced a form of shamanism, (also called Tengerism). Shamanism is an animistic belief system in which all things have spirits. This includes everything from animals and plants, to rocks and rivers. Animals can also have significance. Among the Huns, bears symbolized peace while wolverines symbolized war. Birds of prey such as eagles and hawks were often the symbols of Hun royalty. When the spirits needed to be consulted, the Huns would turn to a spiritual specialist called a kam (shaman). Chroniclers of the time state that the Huns would never go to battle without consulting a shaman first. Priscus wrote that Ernak was Attila’s favorite son because the shamans favored him. (journal of Priscus of Panium- P.fr.8 ctd)

Maenchen-Helfen writes, “That the Huns had shamans is certain. Kam in the names Atakam and Eskam is qam, the common Turkish word for shaman. To judge from the two names of high ranking Huns, the shamans seem to have belonged to the upper stratum of Hun society.” (The World of the Huns pg 269)

Archaeological evidence shows that the Huns practiced the Altaic form of scapulimancy which is heating up the scapula bone of an animal- usually a sheep- and reading the cracks in the bone to tell the future. The graves also gave evidence of eidola (idols) that are referred to as ongons in Altai and Sayan regions. These eidola were made from felt, wood, bone, and metal and served as houses for spirit-helpers. The shaman would call upon the spirit helpers to help him/her in their spiritual work. These discoveries show a strong connection to Shamanism practiced in Mongolia, Siberia, and among many Turkic peoples throughout Central Asia where the Huns originated from.

Below: Image of a Hun shaman

Below: Photos of Shaman robes from Mongolia and Siberia


Marking sacred sites