Circumpolar Animism and Shamanism, III


pp. 193-206 – 13. Miha`ly Hoppal : "Helping Spirits in Siberian Shamanism".

pp. 196-197 spirit-owners of natural locales




[Yakut] "Among the ic^c^i there is a higher category equal to the gods. These beings do not belong to the categories of either ayi or abasi. ... For all the ic^c^i bloodless sacrifices were made."


[S^or] "mountain spirits (tag-azi) and water spirits (shug-azi). Every clan had its own clan mountain and its mountain spirit, who protected the members of the clan. Every three years sacrificial ceremonies were held on that mountain. To express their respect, every Shor threw a libation to the spirit owner of the mountain or river, when he or she was near the mountain or river."


[Kumandine] The spirit owner of the waters was ... a long-armed naked woman".


[Tuvan] "They made an ovaa ... for her, too, on the riverbanks ... near the fords ... like a hut, and they placed ... in it : stones, ... horsehair, etc."


"Among the Tuvans the cult of springs (arzhan) ... was interwined with the cult of trees growing around the springs. {cf. [Manda<] cult of <ayna (water-spring) & sindirka (date-palm)} ... Passers-by ... even today ... place some moneu under the tree, tie a little piece of their clothes ... to its branches ... . They ... maintain that the trees bring good fortune to travelers and protect people from accidents."

p. 197 forest spirit

"When the Yakut hunter is getting ready to hunt, he turns to the forest spirit ... to win its favor. He pours some oil on the fire, gets down on his knees, puts his hands over his heart, bows to the fire, and says an alghis (prayer asking for blessings). ... Before the start they sometimes ... stretched a rope between two trees at arm’s height, ... on this they hung a hare’s pelt, and the horsehair taken from the mane of a white horse, and they tied woodpecker feathers on it. This sacrifice was intended for Bayanay. ... In the old times a white shaman ... of the ayii deities ... poured butter mixed with q’umis or sorat ... from a hamiyah (large wooden ladle) ... on the hunter".

"Among the forest Yuraks, who belong to the Uralic group of peoples, the ... forest spirit, or parnee, was believed to be a female being, who lived underground in a decayed tree-trunk and ... possessed wings".

pp. 198-199 spirits of water and of fire


elemental spirit


[Selkup, along the river Ob] "... in order to ensure the success of fishing, one should give a gift or sacrifice to the spirit owner of the water (utkim-loz)."


[Nenets] "When sitting down to dinner, a senior person, if not all the persons who are present at the dinner, is sure to ... pour some ... alcohol to the fire. ...

It used to be forbidden to stir fire with sharp metal objects {cf. Golden Saying (by Puthagoras) "Stir not fire with a sword", commonly understood as meaning not to provoke the enraged (RAH 66:22), but "Horace quotes this proverb (2 Serm., iii. 274) with a somewhat different meaning. Porphyry considers it a precept against irreverent language towards the Deity, the fire being a symbol—for instance, the vestal fire—of the everlasting nature of God. Σκάλευε in Hippolytus is also read, e.g., by Basil, ζαίνοντες, that is, cleaving. This alludes to some ancient game in which fire was struck at and severed." (ibid., n. 664) – For further interpretations by Diogenes Lae:tios, Ploutarkhos, Platon, et al., vide A, pp. 36-37}, otherwise the hostess of the fire might be wounded. Women and girls are forbidden to step over the fire".


[Samoyed] "fire was a living being, notably an old woman. The licking flames of fire are her movements, and She is the guardian of the tent, who become angry is someone ... spits into the fire, or hits it. When children lost their teeth, they were told to throw the teeth into the fire, so that old Grandmother Fire could give them new ones instead."


[Tuvan] "family holiday "fire-feast," which meant that under the direction of the most powerful shaman they sacrificed ... to the fire, feeding the fire with oil and butter so that the following year the fire spirit would provide the family members with health and happiness".


[Yakut] "the spirit owner of fire (Uat ic^c^ite)


... was a grey-haired, loquacious, old man in perpetual motion. What he chatters and twaddles is intelligible only to the few : shamans understand him, also the tiny babies ... still not used to ... human speech. The fire, burning in the family hearth, however, understands brilliantly what is said and done around him. Hence the warning that it would be dangerous to insult the fire. ... Housewives always attempted to keep the fire satisfied, and they gave him a piece of everything they ... baked."

RAH = Hippolutos : Refutation of All Haeresies.

A = Desiderius Erasmus : Adagia (Adages). In :- The Collected Works of Erasmus. U of Toronto Pr, 1982.

pp. 200-201 the 5 categories of Tuvan shamans



"Shamans who descended / originated from __"



"previous shamans, ... these shamans called upon their ancestors or mentioned their abodes in their invocations preceding rituals."



"earth and water spirits".



"the sky; ... the rainbow ...



storms, thunder, and lightning; a man struck by lightning was thought to become a really powerful shaman."



"the evil spirit called albis ... . This evil spirit ... steals the soul of a shaman-to-be, who falls ill with ... epilepsy or temporary insanity ..., such a shaman will be called a "sexless shaman" (uk chok hamnar)." {Sumero-Akkadian death-constable deities, who arrested souls of the dying, were likewise regarded as sexless.}



"a devil-like spirit called aza. This kind of shaman always invited his / her spirit helpers to a session to fight sickness (spirits of sickness)."

p. 201 shamans’ assuming bodily shapes of animals [during dreams ]

"The activities of the "free spirit" of the shaman are marked in accordance with the various animals shapes of the spirit helpers. This means that ...

as fish they would swim to the underground waters, to the domain of the dead;

as birds they would soar to the sky gods of the Upper World;

while in the form of reindeer stages ... they would fight ... evil spirits on the ground."

p. 201 shamans’ sexual relations with spirits

"Buryat shamans formed ... with their spirit helpers ... sexual relationships. The whole shamanic session ... consists of symbolic motions comparable to sex".

p. 202 shaman’s drum

[Altai] "Inside the drum, on the longitudinal axle of the frame there is a grip ... representing a man standing with outstretched hands, who is called the spirit owner of the drum (tu:ngu:r a:si). ... On this handle red or blue ribbons were attached, which symbolized the ancestors of the shaman".

p. 202 accoutrements of white shamans and of black shamans, of the Yakut

__ shaman



main accessory





moonless nights

sacrificial animals



p. 203 beliefs & practices of the Todz^a Tuvan

"even big rivers and lakes have their spirit owners, which appear to people in the form of women only. They performed sacrifices to those before fishing; they tied a c^alama on the tree near the river or lake, or sprinkled some tea or milk on the bank. ... every arzhan (medicinal spring) has its own spirit owner. The people who went there prayed to the spirit of the medicinal waters, making supplications that they would be cured ... . Around the arzhan hunting was forbidden, because all the animals and birds there were regarded as the property of the spirit owner."


pp. 207-228 – 14. Takako Yamada : "The Concept of Universe and Spiritual Beings among Contemporary Yakut Shamans". [Yakut = Sah^a]

pp. 208-209 cosmology




"The universe is divided vertically into three spheres :

the upper world (uwehe doydu),

the middle world (orto doydu), and

the underworld (urlala doydu).

... the Tree of Life, i.e. the World tree, is running through these three worlds.


The upper world is considered to be in the sky, composed of nine levels, each of which is inhabited by its own deity (aiyy, also called tangara). The chief benevolent god ... called Urung Aiyy Toyon (the White Lord-Creator), who is the personified image of the sun, resides on the highest level in the eastern part of the sky."


"On the other hand, the middle world is ... where ... live ... spiritual beings called ichchi (pl. ichchilar, literally "owners" {cf. [Kna<ni^] gods Ba<li^m ‘owners’}) and yo:r (the soul of a bad person after death). ... another world, where ichchi ... dwell, exists within the middle world.


The underworld is located beneath the ground and is the world where evil spirits, called abassylar, dwell. They are thought to "eat" human souls, especially the buor-kut (earth-souls) of humans."

pp. 209-210 magical experiences while visiting the upper world, during dreams


upper world


[autobiographical account by shamaness] "I can fly during my night dreams up to the upper world, while I [physical body] remain in the middle world. Toward the upper world, I have a special seat "olobokh." I go up to the upper world on my olobokh {cf. vimana} using a special cord (bwe). {as in the account by the Bukidnon of Mindanao}


... I may fly up with a cord made of horsehair, which is very long and protects me from other accidents. I can even fly around the sun. If someone touches this cord (bwe), that person may become ill. The olobokh and the bwe used to fly up to the upper world are only for myself.

In the upper world I meet its inhabitants. They are tall, beautiful, and very highly developed. They dwell in houses whose windows are shaped like semi-ovals. The upper world is very rich in color. It is so bright and full of light that sometimes it becomes difficult for us to see with our eyes. {cf. descriptions of brightness of divine worlds, in visionary accounts of Radha-Swamin} In the upper world, there are no seasons {as in the tropics} and no nights. ...

The sun belongs to the upper world, while the moon and stars are in between the upper and the middle worlds. The sun in the upper world is so bright that it is difficult to compare it with that which we see in this world."


[account by senior male shaman] "there are uaru tordo (the roots of illness) in the upper world, which are usually considered spiritual beings."


[account by another male shaman] "he flew to the upper world with the salgyn kut (air-soul) of a patient by means of hypnotism and ... usually a patient got a good impression from meeting in the upper world with spiritual beings or other persons who have already died."

pp. 211-212 visits to the netherworld [during dreams]




[by senior male shaman] "the underworld is dark, without sun or moon. Its surface is ... muddy. There are lake with fish which have reversed scales. ... A kingdom of the abassylar (evil spirits) and most of the roots of illness lie in the underworld ... as spiritual beings ... . They are evil spirits who can have fantastically different forms, such that animals can have two heads." {cf. the multiple-headed deities depicted on cloth from tomb in antient C^>u}


[by a shamaness] "In the underworld ..., there live abahe. ... I usually extract this bad energy in a manner similar to slowly pulling a rope out of someone’s body."


[autobiographical account by other shamaness] "It is very, very difficult for us to see in the underworld. There are inhabitants who have cattle, while in the upper world there are no cattle. ... I go to the underworld through a special passage called aartyk, which every


shaman has for his own use ... . The passage is so narrow that I usually have to crawl. ...

The inhabitants of the underworld are gray {cf. grey navigators of a category of UFO}, weak, and not very nice. They walk slowly step by step. The people [denizens of the netherworld] say to me that the underworld is dark because there is no sun, and ask me to bring the sun there. They say that they can see the sun only when I come down." {cf. Kemetian denizens of the netherworld who see the sun only while it is voyaging through that hour of the netherworld}

pp. 213-215 souls




"The immaterial essence of a human being was considered to include kut (... "the soul"), sur (the force of life), and tying (the respiration ...).

The ... kut was usually considered to include three categories : bour-kut (earth-soul), iya-kut (mother-soul), and salgyn-kut (air-soul).

Tying was thought to be common to humans, animals, and plants, while kut and sur were common to humans and animals".


"It was generally believed ... that the mother-soul was the most important element; it came to the child from the mother, was unchangeable during his or her life, and determined a person’s individuality and fate.

They thought that the earth-soul was connected first of all with a person’s health and physical development. The air-soul was related to a person’s mental ability and carried the potential for developing intellectual and rational knowledge. These latter two elements were believed to be subject to change and were bestowed on a person after his birth".


"If the earth-soul "left," ... the person would die, as ... the earth-soul ... returned to the earth after death. ... the abassylar in the underworld were always trying to "eat" the earth-soul.

When a person slept, his air-soul could leave his body. ... Furthermore, ... when someone died in a family, the dead usually took with them the air-souls of favorite relatives. In such cases, people usually asked an aiyy oyuun (white shaman) to bring back their air-soul".


"human ghosts, yo:r" : "the souls of those who died young or suffered death by violence, or who were buried without ceremonies, ... became yo:r."


sur [according to a shamaness] : "People who have received talents from nature [weather-phainomena] leave behind traces of themselves after their death ... in the middle world ... through snowfall or rainfall." "when a child is born with open kut-sur, ... his kut-sur is not protected and ... needs our laughter and kindness. ...


After death, the soul of the dead remains in the middle world for 40 days. Then, the soul transforms in a bird or a plant". "During the 40 days, we make offerings of food for the dead : ... [this offering] symbolizes a lake where a bird an swim, ... snow, and ... ice. ...


The soul of a bad person transforms into yo:r. They ... live between the middle and the underworld."


[according to another shamaness] "For the first three days after the funeral, kut stays in the house of the dead. Until the ninth day after the funeral, kut stays near the house. ...


Only after 40 days can the soul go to kuyar (outer space), which is located above the ninth sky."


[according to a male shaman] "After the death of a man, if the death is proper and normal, the bour-kut (earth-soul) returns to the earth. The iya-kut (mother-soul) goes to the cosmos [upper world]. If a man dies improperly, such as by killing himself, he becomes yo:r.


In the case of a low (i.e., less powerful) shaman, the soul remains in the middle world for about 40 years after death;

for a shaman of middle power, 200 years; and

for a great shaman, the soul continues for 400 years in the middle world. {cf. hieroglyphic Maya /cuc/ ‘400-year cycle’} ...

After the soul – i.e., the mother-soul is cleansed there [in cosmos = upper world], it can be reborn in the middle world. ... A cycle for the soul of a shaman is very long".


[traditional belief] "The mother-soul went back to the upper world, was purified there, and by the order of Urung Aiyy Toyon was reborn again in the middle world. Thus, the ... belief that pregnancy occurred due to a transmission of the mother-soul to a woman ... is still maintained among the shamans."

p. 216 good deities in the 9 levels (counting upwards) of the upper world




"Urung Aar Toyon (or Urung Aiyy Toyon), the White Benevolent Lord"


"Jurgha Haan, who knows the fate of people, and Odung Haan, who manages the fate of people"


"Suge Toyon (Thunder God) ... to kill the evil forces that are hidden in trees or houses"


"Josegei Toyon (God of Horses)"


"Alam Khotun (Goddess of Cattle)"


"Uluuru {cf. Ayer’s Rock} Cuorun Toyon (Great Raven-God)" {Raven is the usual supreme deity among tribes in Alaska & British Columbia}


? {perhaps here ought belong "Hotoi Aiyy (God of Eagles)", instead of on the 6th level}


"Ayisyst (Goddess of Childbirth) ... actually gives women children".


"Ieykhsyst may give women the desire to have children".

pp. 217-218 Ayaraidar & Abassylar


revolted deities


"Ulutuyer Uluu Toyon is the chief of evil spirits in the upper world. This chief spirit ... lives in the south, or southwest, of the lower level of the sky {exactly which level : the 5th?}, and ... his younger daughter is the goddess of cattle. ...

Cuorun Toyon (God of the Raven), who lives on the fourth level of the sky, ... was ... a brother of Uluu Toyon (chief of ajaraidar)."


"Ajaraidar (evil deities in the upper world) were originally part of the tangara in the upper world, but revolted {the theme of a divine revolt is also Maori} against Urung Aar Toyon ... . Ajaraidar always cause bad feelings among people, resulting in killing, fighting, or quarreling."

{/Ayarai/ = /Ayyar/ (S^emitic a month-name); /-dar/ is a dialectal variant of /-lar/, the plural affix}

pp. 219-221 Ic^c^ite goddesses of borders & of trees; also of waters


female Ic^c^ite


"when traveling to another district, people usually "feed" (i.e., make offerings to) Sir Ichchite before crossing a border between districts. Every place has its own Sir Ichichite. ... If we don’t respect Sir Ichchite, she will cause us ... traffic accidents, or misdirection. Making offerings to Sir Ichchite usually helps us in our travels. ...


Not only Doydu Ichchite (the same as Sir Ichchite) but also Uot-mas Ichchite (Spirit of Flora) live in the tree of life (i.e., the world-tree). Children of Doydu Ichchite, who are called Eleke:jeleke:, manage and are responsible for the lives of plants."


"Even today, every spring, people perform a ritual called "sichi uyarna" (lit., a hanging cord of horsehair) ... to Aan Doydu


Ichchite. For this ritual people usually choose a birch and decorate it with horsehair, small baskets made of birchbark, various colored strings, etc. ... Then people eat the best of foods under the tree, dancing and singing in the spirit’s honor."


"the spirit of water ... is seen as an old woman and addressed usually as Abe, "Grandmother." When people prepare to fish, they address the spirit of water, and make offerings to the water spirit ... . The Yakut usually throw a bit of bread into the water when asking for favor." {"Cast thy bread upon the water" (Qohelet 11:1), referring to escaping drowning "by clambering to a rock" (E, p. 204), for when the ship of Donn foundered, his body was "carried to a high rock" (MD 114) as per the advice by Amairgin}


"At one time, some others said that the spirits of water lived with cattle". {cattle of [Irish god] Tetra (in the Song of Amairgin) are either "fish" (CGCG, p. 121) or else "waves of the sea" (T)}

E = Edward Hayes Plumptre : Ecclesiastes. Cambridge, 1888.

MD = The Metrical Dindshenchas.

CGCG = Steward; Gray; Davis: Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses.

T =

pp. 220-222 Ic^c^ite gods of fire & of the cattle-house


male Ic^c^ite


"The fire is the place for Uot {cf. [Highland Maya] god UOTan} Ichchite (Spirit-Lord of the Fire) ... an old man {cf. [Aztec] Huehue-teotl (‘Old Old God’ of Fire)} with great power, who can call any power from the upper world. He resides ... usually in the oven {cf. Chinese god of oven/stove (MF)}, so people usually "feed" (make offerings to) him in the oven."


[comment by shamaness :] "If I don’t regularly feed the fire in the oven, the spirit of fire shows signs such as opening the door of the oven or asking me to feed it during my dreams."


"When we destroy a cattle-house, then Hoton Ichchite (the spirit-owner of the cattle-house) usually remains in the wood, which it then used to build another cattle-house. ... Hoton ichchite (lit., cattle-house owner) is also seen as the smallest in size among the ichchilar. This spirit is considered to reside on top of a pillar which stands in the opposite left corner from the entrance. ...


The spirit of the cattle-house is also considered to help a person who has some mental or nervous system deficiency."

MF = Robert Chard : Master of the Family : the Chinese Cult of the Stove. PhD diss, U of CA, 1990.

p. 223 helping-spirits & animal-guises assumed by shamans [during dreams]

"shamans are thought to have many many helping spirits, "ko:mo:lo:hochi ichchi," who are ichchilar, to accompany them, but they cannot be seen by ordinary people." A shamaness may "have many helping spirits such as kutaluck (a kind of white crane), kuba (white swan), turuya (crane), so:r (raven), elk, and ... can transform herself into a bird or even into a fish. ... she has traveled to the upper world with the help of the spirits of birds, and to the underworld through the death water with the help of the spirits of fish."

p. 224 sub-categories of oyuun (‘shaman’)



"a wicked, bad-tempered shaman, who did not help people."


aiyy oyuun

"a helper of people, who had special algys-toyuk (invocations of blessing) and served the welfare of people."


yohetten tuttarbut oyuun

"one who received an assignment from the upper world while he was ill with madness. He usually treated insanity".


alaraatan tuttarbut oyuun

"one who had received his force from the underworld. He only treated diseases".


yo:rtten tuttarbut oyuun

"one who received his force from yo:r (ghosts). He only performed in simple situations."


emegetten tuttarbut oyuun

"one who received his power from emeget (spirit ... patron of oyuun). He could only catch evil spirits who caused disease."



"a shaman woman."


pp. 229-253 – 15. Juha Pentika:inen : "Shamanism and Animism".

pp. 242-243 H^anty world-ages




"God lives for 3000 years. In 3000 years he grows old and becomes young again. At that moment the period changes. When a new period begins, ... customs and laws ... may change. ...


When the land burns, ... somebody ... who survives the fire, usually prepares a raft, ... in order to remain ... and not be swept away by the floods. For that it is necessary to twist a long rope."

{world-fire succeeded by world-deluge is common in South American Tropical Forest mythologies}

pp. 243-244 H^anty myth about goddess Agan-Imie (‘the river Imie’)




"Father sent his daughter to the Agan-river. ...


"She ... Went downstream, over the Surgut river. ... From there she deiced to go downstream the Ob river, then upstream the Trom-Agan and Agan. ... Agan-Imie lagged behind. She looked and saw he had hitched a frog to her skies. ... Walking upstream the Agan, Agan-Imie reached the place pointed out by her father. ... As soon as she sat down to have a rest, suddenly again a man skied down the mountain. ... So, they began living together. One day, she told her husband : "... Go look what is going on in the Agan." ... He moved upstream and shot once. ... When the master of the Agan hit him, his belly burst and a lake appeared at that place. And from that lake seven brooks flowed in different directions. Once the master said : "... Now the river is closed downstream." The mistress ... turned into a frog, and went downstream the river, to the place where ... a fence {dam?} was built by the villains. She moved her hands apart, like a frog to the fence, and it tumbled down. The villain ... cried : "Yim, yim, yim ..." On that place a ... big lake appeared. Yim {cf. [Zaratustrian god] YIMa} is its name. ... Now the Khanty go there for praying."


pp. 255-259 – 16. Nacunbuhe : "Stone Worship in Mongolian Shamanism".

p. 256 taar stones

"In the northeastern part of Aruhortsin in Inner Mongolia is a large mountain called Tohoikhan. North of the mountain, there is a hill of rough, round white stones, called Taar. According to legend, Taar is actually two eggs laid by Tohoikhan, a blue bull from heaven (the region is definite known to have blue cattle)." {should be a blue cow-bird?}


Takako Yamada and Takashi Irimoto : Circumpolar Animism and Shamanism. Hokkaido U Pr, Sapporo, 1997. pp. 183-283 = Part III. "Northern Eurasia".