A Multiplicity of Souls, their Form and Function

All humans and animals possess more than one soul; multiple souls are
required in order to inhabit a physical body. Throughout Siberia and
Mongolia it is believed that all humans possess at least three souls; some
groups such as the Samoyed believe there are more, four in women and five
in men. Animals also possess two souls, the ami body soul and the suns
soul, both of which reincarnate. For this reason, the game animals possess
souls which return again and again to their habitat and must therefore not
be offended. Human beings possess the following three souls (for simplicity
I give only the Mongolian names):

  • The suld soul, which resides in nature after death
  • The ami body soul, which reincarnates
  • The suns soul, which also reincarnates

The three souls reside in the field of energy that envelops the physical
body. Of the three, the one most vital to life is the suld, if it is
separated from the body death is practically inevitable. The other two
souls may be separated temporarily from the physical body without harm. A
living being occupies a spherical field of energy. This sphere has an
upright axis within it, pierced by seven holes that correspond to the seven
chakras. The suld soul resides at the crown of the head, where there is a
direct connection to Father Heaven through the small tenger that is also
located there. The other two souls oscillate back and forth through the
holes of the body axis in a sine wave pattern. In order to be perfectly
balanced, the suns and ami souls should always be on opposite sides of the
axis. When a person become excited, the circulation of the souls through
the seven holes speeds up, causing the heart to beat faster and creating a
feeling of high energy or tension. The balance of the suns and ami souls
can be thrown off balance by spiritual attack or physical trauma. In the
most serious the ami or suns may get knocked out of the body and if this
continues for a long time it will result in illness or mental confusion. In
cases of soul imbalance or loss a shaman’s help is needed to restore order.
The strength of the souls is proportional to the amount of hiimori
(windhorse) a person possesses. Human awareness (setgel) is centered around
the chest area and while the brain is recognized as being important to
bodily function, the ultimate seat of consciousness is in the chest.

The suld is the most individualized of the three human souls. It lives in a
physical body only once, then takes residence in nature. After death it
remains around the body for a while and some groups create ongon spirit
houses for these souls in order to keep them near and have their aid and
protection. After eight or so generations the suld will become a nature
spirit. The suld carries no past life experiences so it develops the
characteristics that distinguishes a person from other people. Charisma and
dignity are evidence of a strong suld soul; for that reason suld is also
used to describe the majesty of mountains or trees.

The ami is the soul that enlivens the body. It is related to the ability to
breathe, amisgal. It returns after death to the World Tree, where it roosts
in its branches between heaven and earth in the form of a bird. Ami souls
tend to reincarnate among their relatives. They are under the care of the
womb goddess Umai, who dispatches them on spirit horses, omisi murin, to
enter the body at the time of birth. While the ami may be temporarily
displaced during illness, the ami does not leave permanently until after

The suns soul, like the suld soul, contributes to the formation of a
person’s personality, but carries the collected experiences of past lives
within it. The suns is an inhabitant of the lower world between
incarnations but may return as a ghost to visit friends or relatives. Erleg
Khan, ruler of the lower world, is responsible for the disposition of the
suns, and determines when and where it reincarnates. If a soul was
extremely evil during its life on earth he may send it to Ela Guren, a part
of the lower world where souls are extinguished forever. The suns may also
temporarily leave the body and sometimes wander as far as the lower world,
which may require a shaman to negotiate with Erleg Khan for its return.

The triad of souls which comprises human beings can be seen as a
combination of essences from all three worlds. The suld is the most closely
tied to this world because it lives no place else. The ami lives on the
World Tree and is practically a being of the upper world. The suns is
definitely a part of the lower world. The need for multiple souls in order
to be a visible physical entity implies that a physical living being
represents an intersection of spirits from more than one of the three

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