Tenger, Chotgor, and other Nature Spirits

There are many different types of spirits in the sky and in nature; some are very strong and cannot be mastered by shamans, others are relatively easy to control. No spirit should be disturbed or controlled unless for the purpose of restoring balance, and not for any frivolous purpose. Spirits are not greater or lesser than living things with bodies, only different in essence, and should be treated with the same respect as humans or animals. The strongest of the nature spirits are the sky spirits, tenger, who live at each of the four directions. The eastern and western tenger are associated with the black and white shamans in those Siberian tribes that make the. The western tenger are said to have created man, the dog, and all the food animals, while the eastern tenger created the eagle, the animals forbidden to eat, and the disease spirits. Because the world needs balance between good and bad in order to be stable, the eastern tenger are not
necessarily considered evil. The greatest of the western tenger is Ulgen, son of Father Heaven and lord of the spirits of the upper world. The greatest of the eastern tenger is Erleg Khan, Ulgen’s brother and lord of the spirits of the lower world. Usan Khan, the lord of the water spirits, is invoked from the southern direction; Keiden, also known as Tatai Tenger, is invoked from the north, he is the controller of violent weather, lightning, and tornadoes. Tenger are very powerful and cannot be controlled, but they can be called for assistance during shamanist rituals.

The sky is also home to the endur spirits, who are the suns souls of humans that have lived such outstanding lives that they do not return to the lower world. They are not as powerful as tenger, but live in clouds and cause rain to fall.

The earth is home to a great variety of spirits, including chotgor, ozoor, ongon, burhan, and gazriin ezen spirits. Among many Siberian tribes these nature spirits are known collectively as the ayyy. Chotgor spirits, also known as kut or abaasy, are frequently the cause of disease, mental illness, or confusion. Some chotgor are the suns spirits of dead people who did not find their way to the lower world or came back from the lower world. In such cases a shaman simply needs to send them to their proper home. Other troublesome spirits have never been incarnated but simply exist in nature. After being mastered by a shaman they can become helper spirits.

Ozoor, ongon, and burhan spirits are generally neutral in their effects on people, but may occasionally cause problems. Ozoor and ongon spirits are frequently the suld souls of ancestors that are freely ranging in nature. They are some of the most important helper spirits of shamans. A special type of ongon spirit, known as the utha, follows shaman lineages and becomes like an extra soul as well as guide for the shaman. It does not incarnate in a shaman’s body but is a carrier of the collective memories of all the shamans that it has been associated with in the past. An utha spirit may start out as a shaman ancestor but after the original shaman of the lineage dies it attaches itself to shamans-to-be, bringing on the initiatory vision. Burhan spirits are very strong, and usually cannot be mastered by a shaman but simply urged to leave a patient alone if it causes illness. Shamans with very strong spirit helpers may be able to gain
control of a burhan; in such a case it is tamed into a less powerful ongon spirit.

Gazriin ezen are the master spirits of places on the earth, including mountains, bodies of water, rocks, trees, settlements, buildings, even
countries. They sometimes come in conflict with ancestor spirits that want to inhabit the spots in nature that belong to them. Some funeral customs are directed at reconciling the suld spirit of the deceased and the gazriin ezen so that the ancestor spirit will be able to reside in nature peacefully.

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