[Buryat sections of] Bo# & Bo:n, IX-XIII

pp. 354, 364 rainbow-ladder to heaven

p. 354

"One of the ways the Bo# journey into the dimension of the Sky is by means of a rainbow, ... either in trance or while dreaming. ...


The legends of some Buryatian clans tell of how they arrived to the area of Lake Baikal by means of a rainbow ladder : ... descended by means of a rainbow-ladder connecting the outer and inner worlds to the water" of lake Baikal.

p. 364

[atmosphairic phenomenon at a tailgan :] "From an absolutely clear sky, clouds of all possible shapes and sizes began appearing just above us, circular rainbows manifested and some drops of rain fell."

p. 356 divine ocean

"In the Hungarian language. ‘tenger’ means ‘ocean’, ‘sea’, ... while ‘tengeri’ stands for ‘maritime’."

{Mongolian /TeNGeRi/ ‘god’ is likely cognate with Sumerian /DiNGiR/ ‘god’, the hieroglyph for which is a 6-spoked asterisk : cf. the 6-petaled Svadhis.t.hana Cakra of Varun.a the water-god}

pp. 379-382 sacred deer

p. 379

The "Lady Owner of the Earth was called Buga Hatan where ‘buga’ is one of the Buryat words for ‘deer’. The Owner of the taiga, Bayan Hangai, often appears riding a deer ... . ... . ... some Kami of Japanese Shinto ... also either appear as or ride on sacred deer." {Riding on deer is a frequent feature of Taoist deities.}


"An archaeological site on Oleniy Ostrov (‘Deer island’) in Lake Onega ... has also yielded ... belonging to the Mesolithic period, ... the grave of a priest in full ritual dress complete with ... a hat with a female moose or deer head and sticks carved with moose or deer-headed handles ... . ...

p. 380

The headdress corresponds to the Bo#’s maihabshi horned crown while the moose-headed sticks correspond to the Bo#’s hor>bo-canes ... . ... The purpose of these walking sticks is to aid the Bo# as he journeys through the Three Worlds".


[Russian folktale descriptive of shamanic animal-transformation (translated from NRS, p. 259) :] "After walking ... he turned into a fast-legged deer ...; he ran and ... then ... turned from a deer into a hare; ... and so did he turn from a hare into a little golden-headed bird".

p. 381

[Nanasan (translated from MSIPNg)] "The shaman always imitates the reindeer when travelling to the Underworld."

p. 382

"The two steeds used most frequently by the Bo# for ‘flying’ are the Deer and the Wolf ... . An experienced Bo# can also travel through the air by sitting on his hese-drum, as is the case with Bo:npo following the Bo:n of the Deer. The Bo#’s ritual hese-drum is made from deer skin. decorated with images of the deer".

NRS = A. N. Afanasyev (ed. V. Ya. Propp) : Narodnye Russkie Skazki. Moscow, 1957.

MSIPNg : B. O. Dolgikh : Mifologicheskie Skazki i Istoricheskie Predaniya Nganasan. Moskva, 1976.

pp. 321, 399-400 rites of ‘body-washing’ & ‘purification by water’

p. 321

"Once an experienced Bo# has entered the trance state and confirmed that the person showing the symptoms of Ongon Daralga really has the calling, special rituals are performed ... . One of these rituals is the Ugaalga or body washing ritual. Not everyone who receives the calling becomes a professional Bo# or Utgan but all must take part in this special washing ritual. ... During the Ugaalga certain deities are invoked and a number of stones of various colours taken from creeks or a riverbed are heated and put in sacred spring water so that it boils and is sanctified. {cf. Jaina boiling of water before it is quaffed} Bunches of reeds or twigs are dipped in the water and used to slap the acolyte on the back or all over."

p. 399

"When this rite is used for general healing and purification it is called Uhan Tarim, ‘purification by water’ whereas when ... performed as a preliminary part of a Bo# or Utgan’s initiation, it is called Ugaalga, ‘body-washing’. ... The boiling water is purified by adding ... ‘god’s grass’ [fn. 42 : Thymus serpylum], sagaan dali [fn. 43 : Rhododendrum adamsii] and juniper. The presiding Bo# then chants an invocation of the deities while holding ... a mix of pine, larch, sagaan dali, cedar, birch, Siberian fir and a kind of willow. Dipping the bunch into the sanctified waters, he sprinkles it over the bare back of the person who requested the rite ... . After that the patient is fumigated".

p. 400

"Ugaalga ... is mainly performed during initiation ceremonies. ... In this case the water is prepared in the same way ... and then some hairs from the ears of a billy-goat, horse or other animal (depending on the type of initiation) are added."


"Another version of this rite is performed specifically to purify and protect a new-born baby. {In the Christian infant baptism derived from some variant of this Mongolian caerimony?} Such rites are known as ... ‘washing by water’. ... the baby is placed in the centre of eight white stones symbolizing a protective circle and one black stone symbolizing the closed gates through which no malevolent spirit can enter. With a bunch of twigs, the Bo# or Utgan sprinkles the sanctified water over the baby, ... and a special silk protection cord with nine knots is tied around the baby’s neck. Water is poured onto the roof of the gher-dwelling and a bunch of twigs is fixed above the entrance. The rite is repeated at regular intervals until the child reaches the age of fifteen."

p. 419 tailgan (annual public caerimonies) in the several months


__ Tailgan

its features



"worship of ancestral spirits, Noyon spirit-governors and patron Bo#-smiths."



"archery, horseracing and wrestling."



"clipping horses’ manes and tails".


Haan Hahii Tengeriin

"dedicated to the Tengeri sky-gods and the Thirteen Northern Kings".



"dedicated to the five Hangai-Owners of the taiga".

p. 421 stages of a tailgan


Praeparation stage


"Purification of the Bo#, Utgan and other participants. This ... is carried out at a location other than the sacred site"


"Traveling to the site in a special order"


"Ritual circumambulation of the site"


"proclaim the reason for calling the gods and spirits. The To>oerih divination ... involves throwing a drinking bowl in a special way".




Main stage


"Purification of the offerings by means of fumigation"


"The offering itself"


"Verifying the gods have accepted the offering"


"Ritual exchange ... amongst the participants"




"Burning the skin and bones with special gifts to the Ezhen-owners"


"Concluding offerings and prayers"


Final stage


"Clearing the site"


"Departing from the site in reverse order."

pp. 515-516 rituals of animal dedication

p. 515

"Various animals, birds or fish could be used ... selected according to its species and colour, as each god or spirit has a preference for a certain species of animal. ... The dedicated animal is first purified through sprinkling with sanctified water and fumigation ... . After that the animal was decorated with coloured ribbons and set free."


for __

the dedicated animal is __


Uta Sagaan Noyon, the Ez^en-owner of Olhon island

pigeon decorated with white-&-blue ribbons


Uhan-Haat, the king of Lusuut water-spirits




special horses festooned with ribbons


"The dedicated animal could not be hunted and was left to wander freely and unharmed."


"This custom of dedicating animals decorated with coloured ribbons to the gods is found also in the branch of Bo# Murgel practiced in Tuva".

p. 516

"A similar way of dedicating animals is also found among the Yakut (Saha) people ... . ... the Yakuts had a custom of dedicating horses to the sky-god Urun Aiyy. Selected horses were set aside and consecrated to this god and then young lads clad in white holding sticks ... chased them far away from the herd so that they could not come back."

pp. 525-527, 531-534 multiple souls



its function


hain hunehen = zayaas^i

"It is sent from the Sky and stays with a person for the duration of their life. ... If a person lives well then their zayaashi is well-dressed, ... and rides a good horse. If a person’s life isn’t so good, then their zayaashi is badly-dressed, ... and travels on foot. At death zayaashi withdraws to the Sky ... . ... This first soul is tightly connected with a person’s destiny and so in Russian ethnographic works it was nick-named ‘fate-soul’. The word ‘zayaashi’ is derived from the word ‘zayaa’ meaning ‘fate’, ‘destiny’, ‘lot’. The



name zayaan, a god or spirit who has the capacity to control the fate of humans, is derived from the same root. ... this soul has an autonomous and actually more refined and powerful existence that that of its owner {protege’e} ... . This soul ... resembles the Western notion of the guardian angel." {The Christian guardian angel is derived from its Zaratustrian aequivalent; much of Christian (and <ibri^) religion is taken from Zaratustrianism, as is likewise apparently much of the Mongolian religion.}


dunda hunehen

"It is an ‘astral double’ of a living person and looks exactly like his/her body, so it can be short or tall, fat or thin



depending on the physical constitution of its owner. ... . ... its is nicknamed ‘shadow-soul’ because it follows a person everywhere and mimics the physical body. ... However, it can leave the body ... during sleep. ... This accounts for the period of ‘blankness’ when people sleep and have no dreams {[Skt.] sus.upti ‘dreamless sleep’}; it is the time when the soul wanders away. Dreaming starts when it comes back to the body and unfolds its memories. {Thus, it is a variety of possessing-spirit : exercising a spiritual-mediumship during which memories are not generated – and it is, furthermore, a bringer of memories from another source : as in the process of hypnotic past-lives regression, where possessing-spirits describe their mysterious lives in remote worlds (detailed, e.g., in the book-series The Convoluted Universe). This Buryat scheme, involving a praternatural entity praesenting its experiences to the self [to produce dreams as memories], is the converse of the situation described in John William Dunne’s The New Immortality and Nothing Dies, in which descriptions the ordinary self (Observor 1) praesenteth its experiences to the overself (Observor 2) [to produce after-death experience as Memories] – as described in M&T, p. 260.} ... Experienced Bo# and Utgan have ... control over their dunda hunehen soul and can consciously make it travel in all the dimensions of the Three Worlds, sometimes for very long periods of time during trance ... . For ordinary people, however, ... this soul ... is stolen by malevolent spirits or gods ... . So when Bo# or Utgan perform ‘recalling the soul’ or ‘ransoming the soul’ rituals, it is mainly to return this dunda hunehen soul. ... It is this soul which reincarnates after death." {According to this, it is not one’s consciousness that redincarnateth, but something quite extraneous to consciousness; something which though not the same as the person, poseth feigningly as the same person.}


mu hunehen

"This is the third soul. It is very tightly connected to the physical body and ... its main dwelling place is in the bones and skeleton. ... after death ... it is taken to the realm of Erlig Khaan or becomes a dangerous bad spirit."



"It is a life-sustaining energy possessed by all living organisms for the duration of their life. ... .



... it is said that after a person dies amin transforms into a whirlwind ... . {According to Carlos Castan~eda, death cometh to oneself in the form of a face in a whirlwind.} According to Bo# Murgel, amin’s main location is the human body is in the ... bronchi and windpipe."



"hulde is an external energy present in the universe which can be invoked and internalized ... . For example, one can invoke hulde of children in order to have descent [descendants], hulde of domestic animals ..., ... and so forth. ... . ... if hulde of children is summoned then it is invoked into the womb of a woman who wants to have a baby. However, there is also an external support for personal hulde, namely a specially dedicated arrow. ... for larger units such as a clan, tribe or nation, the support is a tug or specially made spear with a kind of trident on top decorated with animal tails ... . ... Hulde is a universal energy ... while zayaashi is a personal protective deity



which has the function of ‘managing’ hulde. Zayaashi brings hulde to its owner ..., guards and multiplies it."



"It dwells in or above the head and is a kind of protective and illuminating energy, a kind of inner clarity which influences a person’s actions, a source of intuition which helps them attain their goals." [fn. 54 : "because erdeni is connected with the head it is also connected with the hat which is worn on it so one’s hat shouldn’t be given to another ... . One shouldn’t wear another person’s hat."]

M&T = J. B. Priestley : Man and Time. Doubleday & Co., Garden City (NY), 1964.

pp. 544-545 zalaa

p. 544

"Another common custom ... is the widespread practice of tying coloured ribbons, zalaa, on trees and bushes in holy power places such as healing springs, rocks and woods where the tailgans are held, and other revered sites such as the shrine to ... a local deity." {The custom of tying ribbons onto sacred trees is likewise common in S^into.}

"during a tailgan or other offering ritual each person had to tie two ribbons on the branches of trees at the sacred site. One ribbon was blue or white symbolizing the sky, the other yellow for the earth so in this way the energies of the sky and earth were united and harmonized."

p. 545

"during initiation ceremonies, white and blue ribbons were tied on trees as an offering for white Bo#, and yellow and red ribbons for black Bo#."

p. 559 deified persons

"The hunehen-soul of a strong Bo# or Utgan can become a local protective Zayaan divinity for a clan, tribe, or area, residing in a particular place such as a hillock ... . Alternatively it can be taken by the Haats ... into their dimension and live in their places on the mountain tops ... . ...

Hada Ezhed and Hada Uulyn Ubged are the spirits of deceased Bo# residing on the mountain tops;

Daidyn Ubged and Daidyn Hamgad are Elders and Women of the Soil;

To>odei Nuud are ‘Grandmothers’, power female ancestral spirits of the tribes and clans."

pp. 559-561, 565 post-mortem destiny of animals and of ordinary humans

p. 559

"customs ... ensure the reincarnation of a ... killed animal. ... in the context of bear-hunting, one is to bring the bones back to the place where the animal was killed and ask it to return and take again the form of this type of animal".

p. 560

"According to Bo# Murgel, when someone dies their hunehen wanders near the site of their death for three days and looks exactly as it did when alive. At first, the dead person (... his/her hunehen) doesn’t understand that it is dead. The relatives and friends of the deceased soon arrive to welcome him or her to the realm of the dead and throw a big party. However, the ‘newly’ dead often doesn’t believe them when they say he or she is one of them now, so to prove it they ask the walk on the ash of the hearth; no traces are left on the ash so there can no longer be any doubt that the deceased’s hunehen now belongs to the realm of the dead. After this three-day period has passed, the spirit of the deceased moves further and further from the place where they died until finally it finds the new location where it will spend its afterlife. This may take several weeks depending on the deceased’s personal qualities and other circumstances."


"The mu hunehen, the so-called ‘bad soul’, is commonly thought to transform into a dangerous spirit which tries to kill other people ... .

As for the dunda hunehen, in the Tunka region of Buryatia in particular it is believed to become a Boholdoi-spirit which can be benevolent ... although they also believe that Gooideg ‘runner-spirits’ manifest after a death, and these are always evil, trying to enter the houses of relatives, friends or local villagers to kill or seriously harm them. ... Each person may have several Gooideg depending on how they died, their age, virtue and spiritual power and a truly virtuous person with highly-developed spiritual powers will not have manifestation of Gooideg upon death. ... To

p. 561

minimize the harm they cause, it is very important to swiftly determine the direction from which the Gooideg will come and perform an exorcism ritual, Gooideg Garguulha, to send them away to the Underworld and thus protect the living".

p. 565

"Uhanoi Boholdoi ... are spirits of people who drowned and became ill-willed water-spirits who drown others."

pp. 561, 563 twilight world & the world of Erlig H^aan

p. 561

"Boholdoi were considered simply as the spirits of ordinary people who don’t have enough spiritual power to rise up to the Sky ..., aren’t good enough craftspeople to be taken to the workshops in Erlig Khaan’s Underworld ... . Boholdoi live on the same land as the living but in a kind of parallel dimension. They have more or less the same kind of existence filled with the same activities as the earthly plane. ... In their world there is no sun but some kind of dim light and at night they burn bluish fires making this a twilight world. Boholdoi-spirits mainly appear at night."

p. 563

"The ‘bureaucratic machine’ of Erlig Khaan needs many scribes, so the souls of the educated are taken there to work, and the souls of good craftsmen also have designated areas where they continue their work."

pp. 563-564 judging the fate of the dead : the Zayaan & appellate courts [based on SS, vol. II, pp. 134, 215-7]

p. 563

"The Zayaan – Tengeri, Haats and ancestral spirits – meet regularly to decide the fate of the living and ... the fate of animals ... . These gatherings, called sooglan [suglan (fn. 150)], are ... court hearings ... . The hunehen-souls of the accused are summoned in time of sleep. ... . ... the Tengeri meet for their sooglans on planets and constellations. The huhenen of the living are summoned to these sooglans and their fate is decided by the Zayaan. Spirits of living and deceased Bo# and Utgan attend these meetings in the capacity of ‘defence lawyers’. ...

p. 564

There are also four permanent sooglan courts of appeal :

Sooglan of Erlig Khaan,

Sooglan of Oihon Buural (owner of Olhon Island[)],

Sooglan of Saitani Burhad (... Western gods) and

Sooglan of the Western Haats. ...

Sometimes the hunehen-soul can win the case if a higher level of justice deems that the judgement or actions of some lower Zayaans was mistaken."

p. 564, 566 ferocious spirits of dead females; sexual intercourse with spirit-women

p. 564

"the Dahobar spirits, ferocious spirits of women who died in childbirth, from female diseases or ... when young women receive the calling to become an Utgan but were murdered by relatives. So great was the fear of witnessing the terrible feats which accompany the Ongon Daralga, would tie these young women up and abandon them in a closed gher while the family moved to another place. After such a death, the spirit of the Utgan may start taking the lives of many."

p. 566

"Anahai ... spirits ... have only one eye in the middle of their forehead while ... they are the souls of wicked childless women who cause miscarriages and other harm to pregnant women."


"Mu Shubuun, the spirits of sexually frustrated girls and young women which dwell in the taiga. These ... take on the guise of beautiful women and seduce hunters or lonely travellers. then, while engaging in intercourse, they transform into a bird with a hard red beak and kill them or eat, steal or damage their hunehen-soul." [p. 762 : mu ‘bad’ + s^ubuun ‘bird’]

pp. 570-573 disposal of human corpses; a shamanic cemetery

p. 570

"should the dead be put into a deep hole, their soul would remain stuck there forever. Consequently burial were shallow and sometimes the corpses were simply left on the ground in the taiga in a specially designated place. ... the corpse ... was covered in white felt ... . ...

[fn. 168 : "in modern Hinduism ... a dead body is ... draped in a white cloth".]


Sometimes the dead Bo#, fully dressed in his orgoi and with all his ritual objects, was left on a wooden aranga platform for sky burial in the woods; sometimes they were left sitting facing south in a purpose-built gher; ... bones were put in a box and skilfully hidden high up in a tree trunk [fn. 171 : the Bo#-pine] ... . The deceased Bo#’s ritual objects were hung on the surrounding trees."

[for details, vide SS, vol. I, pp. 385-92]

p. 571

S^iizGa : "It is a burial place for Bo# and Utgan, and also a place where the ‘little people’ [fn. 176 : "A kind of dwarf-spirits."] live. ... It was a hilly place scattered with trees twisted into queer forms ... . Huge nests were everywhere among the branches and great white cranes rose from them majestically. ... The local people believe that they are the souls of dead Bo# and Utgan. {In S^into, souls of the blessed dead are associated with cranes.} ...

{[in Hmub myth,] the horse-mulberry tree "grew crooked and useless" (BM, 198, n. 2) due to its being cursed for having provided footing for the archer who shot down superfluous sun and moons : that archer’s shot (BM, p. 70) a goose in the goose’s eye.}

p. 572

"[Visitors of the author’s party in this cemetery] ‘saw’ many spirits of the Bo# and gods, right in front of us. ... I looked down and ‘saw’ a little man. He was almost as high as my knee, had a beard and was dressed very oddly in something a bit like a gown. ... The little man again tugged my trousers, twice, saying, ‘Pour!’ So from a small silver goblet, I quickly poured. ... As soon as we got back, ... tie zalaa ribbons and place

{cf. the ‘pourer’-god Huta Havya-vaha (mentioned in the Puran.a-s)}

{[in Hmub myth,] "the Silver Mold Bottom ... bore the Sky Dog that ... is able to eat the Sun and Moon in the Sky." (BM, p. 69)}

p. 573

coins at trees. Throughout the whole ritual, hats and belts must be worn, and all buttons fastened." [fn. 178 : " ‘not to show the bare head to the Exalted High Sky.’ This is a sign of respect for the gods ... . ... However, some traditions ... (such as Christianity) adopted it from earlier religions (in this case Mithraism)"]

{[Norse myth] dwergar (‘dwarves’) made a divine belt.}

{a "liberty-cap" is depicted as worn by Mithras.}

BM = Jin Dan (compiler and translator from Miao into Chinese); Ma Xueliang (editor of the Chinese version); Mark Bender (translator from the Chinese) : Butterfly Mother. Hackett Publishing Co, Indianapolis, 2006.

Dmitry Ermakov : Bo\ and Bo:n. Vajra Publ, Kathmandu, 2008.