Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Genghis Khan's Guide To Fairies

Politics of Blood and Spirit Worlds
(About Genghis Khan)


Nations rise and legacies fall into despair quickly on the Steppes where wealth can be obtained which is so great, even the greatest Kings of Europe and China couldn’t dream of possessing it. Then with death it all slips away.  Within her short life Genghis Khans mother was the Queen of two different Kingdoms which collapsed, as well as a refugee, a kidnapped outsider forced to be the wife of a man who had been her enemy, and then at last Queen Mother of the largest land empire the world has ever seen, a legacy that would also vanish quickly after her sons death.

Genghis Khan's father was poisoned when he was just twelve, but he still demanded the right to rule his clan. Not wanting to be ruled by a twelve year old, the clan abandoned his family alone on the steppes, in a world where their was no real separation between the human and the spirit worlds.

Every morning when he awoke, he likely would have greeted his fire, for the spirit of the fire was important to his survival as a protector of children and families.

An ancient Greek historian said that the people of the Steppes primary deity was the goddess of the hearth, and it's possible it was, or at least that it looked that way. The spirit of the hearth and fire were extremely important to the people's of Mongolia.

The Tuvan's believed that the spirti of the fire brought fortune and luck to the family, happiness and safety to the children, and even kept the livestock growing (Very important for people whose livelihood comes from their livestock). Each hearth had a different animal devoted to it, and the spirit of the fire in that household was described in terms of that animals. If people offended them by swearing, fighting constantly, etc. than they could grow sick, or sometimes even dangerous. Among the Yakut the bride would offer the spirit of the hearth food when she first came to the home in order to honor it.

Still hungry he would step out onto the windswept steppes to hunt for small game with his brothers. As they traveled they might pass a pile of stones. Knowing that the spirit inside it ruled the land they were walking through they might offer it a bit of cloth or some food, when they had it, being desperate however, the best they could do was put another stone on the pile and bargain with the spirit, promising it more if they had success while hunting.

Here Ovoo's dotted the land, and within these piles of rocks lived the spirits who ruled the land around them. As people passed these ovoo they would leave offerings, alcohol, strips of cloth, money, food, etc. For without doing so one couldn't pass through the spirit of the ovoo's territory. 

An Ovoo
It's interesting to note that there was a similar tradition in ancient Greece. Here rock piles contained the spirit of Hermes. A mischievous being, who was both loved and feared in early Greece, as was the ovoo. he was also a protector of travelers and herd animals, like the ovoo. 

Gazriin Ezen  are the spirits owners of specific places in Mongolian lore. They can dwell in mountains, water, rocks, villages, buildings, nations, trees, etc. Many of them were once the souls of humans who went to reside in nature on the persons death. Others were the souls of shamans who had died. Often it's been so long since these spirits were human that they don't remember having ever been so. Ceremonies would be held to honor the most powerful of these, which could send wolves to gather people's horses or other herd animals if it felt it wanted more. There's a tale about a spirit of the land growing offended when a man tries to stop these wolves, but the man makes his own case, so there was a push and pull between humans and wilderness in fairy tales. 

As he walked into the trees to find game animals, he might have passed little statues which housed the spirits of great shamans.

Ongon were shamans helper spirits, who were sometimes the spirits of previous shamans who had died and come back to continue to help humanity. They dwelt within consecrated idols which were placed in a place of honor in the home or in the wilderness, most often in places at the border between the taiga and the steppe, or at the mouths of rivers.

Once in the forest he would also have to leave an offering for the spirit of the woods, tying a strip of cloth to a large tree or praying to the spirit of a powerful predator. For the spirit owners of the land were both kind and dangerous. In a heartbeat a hunter might vanish on the steppes, never to be heard from again. While he was out hunting, Genghis Khan might have stumbled upon abandoned Yurts, empty villages whose people had disappeared without a trace. For in addition to the spirit owners of the land, many other hungry monsters roamed the wilderness.

In Yakut Lore Al Lukh Mas Are the spirits of large trees. Such spirits of the forests were very important and were given coins, scarves and ribbons in order to bring luck and avoid their wrath.

The Anda Bars was a tiger spirit to whom the Buryat would pray in order to be successful at hunting.

Good and evil aren't as important as purity in this world, as avoiding offence, not sin determined if you would survive or not. Indeed, when a crime was committed the clan of the victim and the clan of the criminal would get together with arbitrators. The goal of these meetings wasn't justice, rather it was to work out an arrangement in which there would be no hard feelings.

At the same time, however, revenge killings were important. Fearing that Genghis Khan would take revenge for having been banished, his enemies sent a small army to kill him when he was still a boy. He had to hide in a thicket of trees for days before killing one of the people searching for him and making his escape.

Perhaps Genghis Khan and his mother's experience altered his thinking with regards to laws. as while he  burnt hundreds of cities to the ground, was responsible for the death of millions of people. On the other hand he had laws against raping a woman during a time of war, or killing children.

Despite all the dangers, perhaps the most important thing you can understand about the deities and spirits of the steppes is that they cared about people, a lot. Some of the more cruel ones saw people's souls as food, and would snatch these away as they passed. This caused a person to grow sick and die. The gods seeing this suffering sent spirits to teach people to become shamans. These spirits would help the shaman's soul leave their body and enter the spirit world to retrieve the souls of those who were sick.

One of the spirits of the Yakut people that takes human souls is the Abaasy, which are one eyed, one armed, one legged monsters of the underworld. They ride two headed dragons, and can at times be the unclean dead, dwelling near graveyards. They served Arson Doulai the rulers of the dead

Among the Tuvan there were spirits called Albys which would make a rustling sound as they flew. They would act as spies for the shaman in the spirit world, in order to discover the causes of illness and misfortune. 

You can see more spirits of Mongolia and Siberia here.