Saturday, November 19, 2011


(Tengri in Orkhon lettering)

Sky God – Tengri. The ancient Türks believed that 17 Deities – Tengri, Yer-Sub, Umai, Erlik, Earth, Water, Fire, Sun, Moon, Star, Air, Clouds, Wind, Storm, Thunder and Lightning, Rain and Rainbow, ruled our Universe. Mongols believed that 99 Deities-Tengris, ruled our Universe. From ancient and medieval written sources (Türkic, Mongolian, Chinese, Byzantian, Arabian, Persian etc.), it is clear that between Türkic and Mongolian deities the superiority belonged to Tengri. The faith in Tengri of ancient Türks and Mongols was continuous, and it was preserved partially by the Altai peoples to the present time. The Türkic peoples named the Sky God almost identically: Tatars – Tengri; Altais – Tengri, Tengeri; Turks – Tanri; Khakases – Tigir; Chuvashes – Tura; Yakuts – Tangara; Karachai-Balkars – Teyri; Kumyks – Tengiri, Mongols – Tengeri, etc.

In the beliefs of the ancient Türks and Mongols all existing on the Earth is subject to Tengri – the incarnation of a celestial beginning, the Creator of a Universe, the ‘Spirit the Sky’. It was Tengri who first of all appeared as a Supreme deity located in a celestial zone of the Universe, ruling the fates of entire peoples, and their rulers, the Khagans, Khans etc. In the Orkhon stone inscriptions was imprinted the belief expressed by Bilge-Khagan of the role of Sky – Tengri: ‘All human sons are born to die in time, as determined by Tengri’.

The Kuk-Tengri (Blue Sky) is a non-material Sky, as opposed to the usual, visible sky. The appearance of Tengri is unknown. The words ‘Tengri’ and ‘Sky’ for the ancient Türks and Mongols were synonyms. The epithet ‘Kuk’ was also given to some animals, such as a horse (kuk at), ram (kuk teke), bull (kuk ugez), deer (kuk bolan), dog (kuk et), wolf (kuk bure). This epithet was not for a hue of the animal (skewbald), but it’s belonging to Sky, Kuk – Tengre, i.e. of a divine origin.

Yer (Earth) and Tengri (Spirit of the Sky) the Türks perceived as the two sides of a single beginning, not opposing each other, but mutually complimentary. A man is born and lives on the land. The Earth is his habitat. After the death the Earth swallows him. But the Earth gives the man only a material shell, and to be creative and to differ from others, living on the earth, at birth Tengri gives a Kut (Soul) to the man, and takes it back after death. There is an element of dualism here, but Tengri is supreme. It is known from Chinese sources that ancient Türks believed the lifetime of the man was at the will of Tengri. Bilge-Khagan said of the death of Kul-Tegin: ‘Human sons are all born to die in time, as set by Tengri’. And consequently the Türks addressed to Him for the help, and if the call was to Yer, Tengri was also always mentioned. Tengri could be mentioned without the Earth, but not Yer without Tengri. Tengri was considered a father, and Yer a mother.

Tengri acts freely, but He is fair, He awards and punishes. The well being of the persons and peoples depends on His will. Expressions ‘Tengri – jarlykasyn’ – Let Tengri award you, ‘Kuk sukkan’ (damned by the Sky) and ‘Kuk sugar’ (the sky will damn) were preserved from ancient Türkic times until now and are connected to faith in Tengri.

The Omnipresent Tengri was worshipped by lifting hands upwards, and giving low bows, praying for Tengri to give good mind and health, to help in good deeds; and nothing else. And Tengri assisted those who revered Him and also were active themselves. Tengri was God of the Sky, and was superior in the Universe. His greatness was emphasized by an addition to His name of the title ‘Khan’.

Further in the monument in honor of Kul-Tegin is: ‘Tengri (Sky), ruling my father Ilterish-Khagan and my mother Ilbilgya-Katun from the (celestial) heights, ennobled them (above the people)’. ‘As Tengri (Sky) gave them strength, the army of Khagan my father was like a wolf, and his enemies like sheep’.1

Tengri gives Khagans (Khans) wisdom and authority. We read on the monument in honor of Bilge-Khagan: ‘After the death of my father, at the will of Türkic Tengri (Sky) and Türkic sacred Yer-Sub (Earth and Water), I became Khan’. ‘Tengri who gives the states (to Khans), put me, it should be thought, as Khagan, so that the name and glory of the Türkic people would not disappear’.

After Khagans ascended to the throne, he became the state Patriarch for the people and for the nobility. He is esteemed as a son of Tengri. Tengri gives Khagan to his people, and punishes those who sinned against Khagan, ‘instructing the Khagan, attends to state and military affairs’.2 Crimes or offences against their Khagan were punished by Tengri (or by His will), for He gave the authority to Khagan. By Tengri a man became Khagan, and lived under His protection for as long as he himself was in accord with Tengri, was in His favor.

There was a system of election of Khagan and during the election, the Beks felt and spoke, that Tengri Himself points to the candidate. A legitimate Khan was looked at as ‘Tengri-like, begotten by Tengri, a wise Türkic Khagan’. Election of Khagan was done with full responsibility. The Khagan (Khan) should be brave, clever, honorable, vigorous, fair, be in all features a real Bozkurt (wolf), be respected by the people and by the nobles. With help of these qualities Khagan unified all subordinated Türkic peoples and clans into a united nation–army, and stood to lead them. Only very energetic Khans knew how to keep under control this force, dangerous for the enemies. Khagan (Khan) had to take care of the people and Motherland. The care consisted not only of feeding and clothing his people; his main task was to raise the greatness of the Türks and the national glory.

On the ancient rock carvings of the 6-9 cc., found by the scientists on the banks of Orkhon and Tola rivers, in Altai region and in Tuva, the Türkic Khans – batyrs (mighty Heroes) left to their descendants these words: ‘Forward, to the sunrise; right, to the noon; back to the sunset; left, to the midnight... For the Türkic people I did not sleep nights and days, did not rest... Let not the Türkic people to vanish! Let not vanish the name and glory of the Türkic people!’ ‘My silver people increases the freedom, wealth, possessions... ‘ But when Khagan ruled improperly, it was said that Tengri reclaimed his capacity, requests him to be de-elected. Usually the Khagan perished incidentally, i.e. went to Tengri.

The sources of the ancient Türks, especially the Türkic inscriptions, contain facts, from which it is possible to extract data about punishment by Tengri of the individuals and sometimes of the whole people, with death and other retributions for some or other crimes or offences.

The forswearers swearing by Tengri were subject to a heavy punishment by Him; as was punished disobedience to Khagan, let alone attempts to overthrow him, switch to the enemy side, etc. Because Khagans usually lived in harmony with Tengri and were set on the throne by Him. Death of the criminals, with whatever circumstances it occurred, was caused by the will of Tengri; Tengri punished Khagan and even the whole nations by death, captivity etc., if they conflicted with Tengri. The disobedience to a deity or resistance to His will was inevitably punished by death.

Khagans themselves were fearful of the punishment by Tengri, even though they declared that He gave their authority. Chinese chronicles describe a case when one of the Türkic Khagans decided not to fulfill his promise to give his daughter as a wife to the emperor of the Northern Chjow dynasty. Later, however, he rescinded this intention, and only because he was afraid of a punishment by Tengri. The idea of a sin in a Christian or Islamic sense did not exist. Good and bad, goodness and evil, happiness and misfortune during the earthen life depended on Tengri, and reward and punishment followed immediately after offences. Tengri power over man ended after his death.

Mongols also worshipped Sky – Tengri. The information about Mongols’ Supreme Almighty God is written in ‘Secret Story’. There Tengri is also named Eternal Sky. Gengiz-Khan, addressing to his sons, says: ‘Eternal Sky will multiply your strength and power and will pass to your hands Togtai’s sons ‘. And later: ‘with the help of Eternal Sky shall we transform our commonwealth state’.3

Gengiz-Khan said that Tengri (Eternal Sky) requires not only a pray, but also activity: ‘... You, Djurchedai, have struck an enemy. You overturned them all: Djurginians, and Tubeganians, and Dunkhaits. And one thousand of selected guards of Khori-Shilemun. When you advanced to the main central regiment, then with arrow – uchumakh you wounded rose-faced Sangum in a cheek. That is why Eternal Sky opened for us gates and paths’.

As we see, Eternal Sky – Tengri not only assists, but also requires action of the worshipers, that is in addition to the pray the actions are also needed. Does it explain the startling successes of the ancient Türks in international arena?

Sky God – Tengri received in the Middle Ages a Persian name Khodai and later the missionaries of world religions tried to identify Him with the Christian God or Moslem Allah. But even such mighty religions as Islam and Buddhism failed to erase from the memory of the Türks and Mongols the name of Sky God – Tengri. Thus the great Sky God – Tengri never became neither God, nor Allah. Even now Moslem Türks in speech and writing use Tengri instead of the Allah.

Times and rules of sacrifice ritual to Great Kuk Tengri. The Chinese testimony about rituals of Kuk Tengri are few and brief. The ‘Chjoushu’ chronicles about ancient Türks say: ‘In the 5-th month Türks usually slaughter sheep and horses to sacrifice to Tengri’. Another record: ‘Each year Khagan led nobles to the cave of his predecessors with offerings, and in the middle decade of the 5-th month they gathered at river Tamir to sacrifice to God Tengri’.4

The ancient Türkic peoples carried the ritual of sacrifice to Great Kuk Tengri through the centuries, and preserved it among Altai peoples. Likewise, Khakases organize the annual prayer to Tengri in the middle of June. It coincides with the time of prayer recorded by the Chinese sources, in the modern calendar falling between 5 and 10 of June. Tatars also preserved the celebration in the beginning of summer, but only in a truncated form and under a name Saban-Tui, and Buryats living in Transbaikalia and Siberia, have it under a name Subarkhan.

During a period of almost 15 hundred years (2 c. BC to 14 c. AD) in Türkic and Mongolian Khaganates, Khanates and Empires were organized annually on a statewide scale grandiose public warships – sacrifices to Great Sky God Tengri. Leading these warships to Sky God Tengri were Khagans and Khans themselves, since the authority of the Khagan was considered given by Tengri, and therefore he was a Patriarch of the state for the people and nobility.

In the beginning of a summer, at the time determined by Khagan, tribal leaders, Beks, famous commanders and Noyons etc. gathered in the Horde (capital). Together with Khagan (Khan) they went to the sacred mountain to sacrifice a colt to Great Tengri. The prayer to Tengri on this day was held throughout the whole state. Thousands of people from nearby auls (villages) and cities gathered at sacred mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes and springs. It was an impressive show. Tens of thousands of fires burnt near birches on sacred grounds, where were sacrificed horses, sheep, lambs. The purpose of warship was to pray for a crop, condition of cattle, abundance of milk, health and smarts for the people, help in just deeds. The prayer was held without women and Kams. They ended with a common celebratory feast, fun, various games, competitions, and races. Unfortunately the modern Tatars have retained only this materialistic part of a holiday (Saban-Tui).

The written evidence about Altai peoples, and especially about the Central Asia Türks, not only records a wide spread worship to Tengri as a highest Deity, but also underlines the solemnity of the sacrifice ceremony. Also testifies about the large role in the past of Tengri religion between Türks and Mongols the preservation of its ancient name among modern peoples, even among those who accepted Islam, Lamaism, and Christianity.

With abandonment by Türkic and Mongolian Khanates of the religion of ancestors (Tengrianizm), and with acceptance of the world religions the grandiose All Türkic worships to Tengri on the state scale ended. A local tribal worships proliferated in these conditions. The ritual side of Tengri worship began to weaken, and then vanished and turned to a vestige.

The recorded rituals of the ancient Türkic peoples in the past had various functions. And consequently the ritual rites varied. Ones were accompanied by sacrifices. Others were limited only to prayer. The collective ritual sacrifice to Tengri was made as an act of Creation. The ritual was meant to reconstruct Cosmos in the most sacred point of its space, at a world tree. The ritual was conducted on a spring morning in a place associated with a center, on a mountain between four sacred birches. The ritual accentuated the East: in this direction from the trees was set up a large sacred fire. The East, spring and morning corresponded with the beginning of space and time, with a place and time of the sunrise. The East in the ritual became a starting point in the ‘creation’ of the world. Then, strolling in the direction of sun, each mountain and river were worshiped, not only those within sight, but also those invisible, but real. Invoking names of the mountains, rivers etc. replicated a symbolical creation of space. In the direction from center to periphery it was ‘filled’ with objects. The replication of Cosmos was done cyclically; people in order turned to the sides of the World and thus closed the Earth circle. Following the path of the sun closed the circle of times. Thus the ritual physically re-created and embraced the space. At the beginning of circling the sides of the World a rope was tied to the eastern birch. Having made a complete circle, it was stretched around other birches and tied at the other end to the extreme western birch. The rope, stretched between four birches, visibly replicated the enclosed space with a boundary, a sign of steadiness and stability. The same symbology of the semantic center, enclosing four-cornered spaces, defined the forms of many ritual structures, ‘memorial fences’ of the ancient Türks. In mythological tradition the world is reliable if the same coordinates coincide for all its spheres. It becomes repeatable, reproducible and, as a consequence, ‘controllable’ by people.

A known scientist-researcher L.P.Potapov studied the ancient beliefs of the Türks for more than a half-century in the field in the Altai territory. He collected and recorded the most valuable materials about the preserved worship and sacrifices to Tengri by Kachines and Beltirs, nowadays commonly called Khakases. The first description will be about the Kachines.

‘Prayer was organized on the top of a specific mountain, next to a sacred birch (bai kaen). If no naturally growing birch was there, it was dug out with the roots, brought here and replanted. If it did not take root, the next year another birch was brought and replanted.

The Abakanian Kachines (Troyakov Ulus etc.) organized worship to Tengri on a mountain Saksor, on the right bank of Uybat (influent of Abakan). The inhabitants of various seoks (localities where particular kins lived. – Translator’s note.) gathered there. But it was organized and conducted by Kachines of one seok, in accordance with the agreement reached at a previous gathering. Neither women, nor girls were admitted here. Even the female domestic animals (mare or sheep) could not be here. The sacrificial lambs were usually male of white hue, but with black head or black cheeks. They were sacrificed in various quantity (3-15 heads), depending on number of the participants desiring to bring their animal as a sacrifice to Tengri. Men coming to the prayer attached to their headdresses two ribbons, white and blue. After arrival at the mountain the ribbons were removed, incensed with a medicative herb, called in Kachinian ‘yerben od’, and attached to the branches of the sacred birch. During worship could not be worn hats and there was no tobacco smoking.

Prayer went on without involvement of Shaman (Kam). Led it a selected old man who knows algys, i.e. the words of Tengri litany, named Algyschan kizi. He was dressed in felt clothes and high female cap. Behind a sacred birch (on the west), at some distance, was a sacred fire. Between it and the birch was a little table, hastily assembled of birch branches; cups, dishes, and spoons made from bark were left there. The worship started without any sacramentation, with appeal to the sacred birch and food alms. Simultaneously the procession encircled trice the birch (as orbits the sun), striding in such order: first went Algyschan kizi; then two worshippers (one with a cup of vine, another with a cup of kumys); behind them the householders leading their sacrificial lambs (with right leg folded), each holding a birch branch; then, crowding, followed all others. Algyschan kizi was saying blessings and appeals to sacred birch, the followers were splashing with spoons vine and milk on its top, and all others were bowing to it. After a third circle they stopped, drank from the cups the rest of vine and milk (everyone one sip) and went on to slaughter the sacrificial lambs.

It was done in an ancient way (osot sogarcha): tumble the animal down on its back, cut the hide at the breastbone, squeeze the hand into the slot and tore up an aorta. The blood could not be spilled to the ground when the animals were butchered. Meat was cooked and the broth with pieces of meat was put on the little table; vine, milk, and cheese were also placed there. Then again circled the birch three times carrying the little table. After each round Algyschan kizi threw to Tengri pieces of meat (from the broth), cheese, sprayed vine and milk, throwing it all over the top of the birch and asking Tengri for a well being. Simultaneously everybody raised their hands to the sky, bowed and exclaimed: Tengre! Tengre! Here are some algys phrases recited by the old man:

Sacred is the birch with nine leaves. Tengri!
Nine lambs we offered up, Tengri!
We ask for a rain, Tengri!
We ask for a crop, Tengri!
Let the life be prosperous. Tengri!

With the last circle around the sacred birch the prayer ends and a ritual meal started. After the meal, all remaining meat, bones, skin of the sacrificial lamb (with head and legs) were burnt in a sacred fire. After prayer there were no games on the mountain. Before departure they agreed which seok and who from it specifically would host the following prayer. After a descent from the mountain the games and entertainment begin.

As to the praying to Tengri of the Beltirs, it had some specific features. It was organized by Beltirs in the basin of river Teya, in the upper rivulet Sari-Khol, and had an expressed clannish character. In preparation to it, vine was made, various products prepared for a ritual meal and a lamb for the sacrifice (eight lambs, and a ninth was especially for Tengri). The supplier of the latter lamb braided at home an eight yards’ rope and bought a dead eagle or a bercut (golden eagle. – Translator’s note). The bird was plucked ahead of the prayer; householders going to the prayer took the feathers. At home they made bands from feathers for a headdress – ul durbe. The grown-up sons living with parents did not wear a band. To the band in addition to feathers were also added red, black and white ribbons. The feathers and the ribbons were alternatively attached to the band, so that a first was upwards, and next hung down. This attractive band was put on a headdress at the time of departure for prayer, first performing an alas – incensing it with grass ‘yerben’. On the prayer day a man selected for the delivery of the sacrificial animal left the house early in the morning, with a band on the hat.

Following tradition, he had to arrive the first at the site of the prayer and start the sacred fire at once. Therefore he was called tutchan kizi. Reaching the top of the mountain, he approached the four birches growing there, unsaddled his horse, spread shabrack (kichim) and laid his hat with the band on it, then using only flint started a fire near the birches (in the space assigned for prayer). Not far from the main fire (ulug ot) was set a second, ‘a small fire’ (kichi ot). The first fire was intended for burning a sacrificial animal, second for cooking meat of the other eight lambs slaughtered at the prayer for a ritual meal. The prayer participants soon started showing up. Only men could come. Every householder on arrival removed his hat with a band and laid it on shabrack, next to the hat of the tutchan kizi. To come up the mountain was possible only on colts and geldings. Arriving on mares left them at the foot of the mountain and ascended on foot or joined some rider. Not only women and girls could not come to the mountain, but even to be near it on the day of prayer, where, for example, were left mares. The arriving men (independent homeowners, and also those who arrived without carriages, and the visitors from others seoks and tribes) sat to the south of the small fire. Everyone was without a hat. Having settled down, they started to drink araka and slaughter lambs. The sacrificial lamb was slaughtered by the ancient way, the others as usual, by cutting the throat. Sacrificial lamb’s meat was cooked on the main fire, the others – on a small fire. The cooked meat of the sacrificial lamb was put in a separate wooden dish (tepsi), and the meat of the other eight lambs was put in a second tepsi. During the meat cooking one of the Beltirs, who knew the words of prayer to Tengri, approached a pile of headdress uldurbe and attached them to a long rope (chilpag). He braided it with the ul durbe bands, then went to the opposite (eastern) sacred birch and attached the end of the rope to it, and then, holding in the hands the second end of the rope, went south for the full length of the rope. East of the small fire were tueses (vessels made from birch bark. – Translator's note.) with araka (one tues from each master), with a special attendant. Behind the man with chilpag (chilpag tutchan kizi) there were two Beltirs with tepsi. The leader of the prayer prayed to Tengri, and a man standing behind him sprinkled sacrificial vine at the Sky with a bark spoon. The men holding dishes with steaming meat extended hands, and a man with chilpag raised the rope and waved it as a fan. Everyone was bowing. The old man leading the prayer called out by the name the prominent large and small mountains and rivers, turning from the east to the south, west, north and again to the east, and for each of them the prayers raised boiled meat, waved chilpag, sprinkled vine, and bowed.

After the ritual of revering Tengri and treating of mountains and rivers, they ate the meat of the lamb, drank araka, and burnt on the first fire the meat of the sacrificed lamb, together with guts, skin and bones, until nothing was left. Chilpag was tied to all four birches. The bird with plucked feathers was left on the birch where chilpag was tied in the beginning of the prayer. The bird was left there to dry up.

After the prayer the men discussed, who will arrange a sacrificial lamb and start sacrificial fire on the mountain in the next year. When a person was chosen, a large wooden cup of araka was poured and given to him to drink. The ceremony ended before the evening, and all departed home.

It is possible to analyze some of the elements of the prayer to Tengri based on the factual material of its ritual side. The ritual part of the prayer is sated with ancient Türkic features. Except for timing and periods, and also the general character of the prayer, we shall point to the epithet of the deity: ‘Kuk Tengri’ – ‘Blue Sky’. It is a distinctive aspect of ancient Türkic and Mongolian ritual terminology, carried through the centuries and preserved with Altai peoples, despite of their complex ethnic history’.5


Tengri or Tengger (Old Turkic: ��������; Mongolian: Тенгери, Tengeri; Chinese: 腾格里, Mandarin: Ténggélǐ; Turkish: Gök Tanrı) is a sky god, formerly the chief deity of the early Turkic peoples, including the Xiongnu, Huns, Bulgars, Magyars and Xianbei[1].

Because of his importance to their religion, it is sometimes referred to as Tengriism. The core deities of Tengriism were the Sky Father and Earth Mother (Yer Tanrı). Its practice involved elements of shamanism, animism, totemism and ancestor worship.


Tengri was the main god of the Turkic pantheon, controlling the celestial sphere.[9] The Turkic sky god Tengri is strikingly similar to the Indo-European sky god, *Dyeus, and the structure of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is closer to that of the early Turks than to the religion of any people of Near Eastern or Mediterranean antiquity.[10]

In Turkic mythology,[clarification needed] Tengri is a pure, white goose that flies constantly over an endless expanse of water, which represents time. Beneath this water, Ak Ana ("White Mother") calls out to him saying "Create". To overcome his loneliness, Tengri creates Er Kishi, who is not as pure or as white as Tengri and together they set up the world. Er Kishi becomes a demonic character and strives to mislead people and draw them into its darkness. Tengri assumes the name Tengri Ülgen and withdraws into Heaven from which he tries to provide people with guidance through sacred animals that he sends among them. The Ak Tengris occupy the fifth level of Heaven. Shaman priests who want to reach Tengri Ülgen never get further than this level, where they convey their wishes to the divine guides. Returns to earth or to the human level take place in a goose-shaped vessel.[11]

According to Mahmud Kashgari, Tengri was known to make plants grow and the lightning flash. Turks used the adjective tengri which means "heavenly, divine", to label everything that seemed grandiose, such as a tree or a mountain, and they stooped to such entities.[12]

Tengri is considered to be the chief god who created all things. In addition to this celestial god, they also had minor divinities that served the purposes of Tengri.[13]

As Gök Tanrı, he was the father of the sun (Koyash) and moon (Ay Tanrı) and also Umay, Erlik, and sometimes Ülgen.

Seal from Güyüg Khan's letter to Pope Innocent IV, 1246. The first four words, from top to bottom, left to right, read "möngke ṭngri-yin küčündür" - "Under the power of the eternal heaven".

Tengri was the national god of the Göktürks, described as the "god of the Turks" (Türük Tängrisi)[3] The Göktürk khans based their power on a mandate from Tengri. These rulers were generally accepted as the sons of Tengri who represented him on Earth. They wore titles such as tengrikut, kutluġ or kutalmysh, based on the belief that they attained the kut, the mighty spirit granted to these rulers by Tengri.[14]

The Mongolian Great Khans of the 13th century ideologically based their power on a mandate from Tengri himself, and began their declarations with the words "by the will of Eternal [Blue] Heaven."

The Turko-Mongolic concept of a sky god has an analogy in the Daoist coinage of 靝 (with 青 "blue" and 氣 "qi", i.e., "blue heaven") and derived Confucian concept of Tian Li. The four direction symbols of Blue Dragon (East), White Tiger (West), Red Phoenix (South), Black Snake-Turtle (North) in Chinese cosmology is also analogous with the four direction symbol used in Tengriism.[citation needed]

A severely damaged Greek language inscription from the times of Danube Bulgarian paganism is found on a column near Madara, Bulgaria, which is believed to have been used as an altar stone. The inscription has been interpreted as saying "(Kanasubig)i Omu(rtag), ruler (from God), was ... and sacri(ficed to go)d Tangra ...(some Bulgar titles follow)."[15]

From: Wiki
Father Sky, Mother Earth and Heavenly Objects

In shamanism Father Heaven (Tenger Etseg) and Mother Earth (Gazar Eej - Etugan) constitute the central figures. Father Heaven is the timeless and endless blue sky. He is not visualized as a person, and he has two sons: Ulgen (the creator of the world) and Erleg Khan (evil spirit - the power of the underworld).

Mother Earth (Gazar Eej - Etugan), like Father Heaven, is not visualized. She is also called itugen, and the names for shamans, especially female shamans, are variations of her name (yadgan, utgan, udagan, etc.). Her daughter, Umai, is the womb goddess and goddess of the body souls (ami), similar to the World Tree. Umai is also known as Tenger Niannian, which comes from the Tungus word for "soil". Trees are a manifestation of Mother Earth’s power, and worship for her may be performed at trees which suitably reflect her power and beauty. Mother Earth and her daughter Umai are appealed to for fertility. Another daughter Golomto, the spirit of fire, is reborn by flint and iron.

Tenger is the creator and sustainer of balance in the world, the nature, the weather and the seasons. Lightning is Tenger’s form of showing displeasure or an indication of high spiritual power. When the light comes from displeasure, a shamanist ritual or yohor dance is performed (circle dance).

Objects struck by lightning, meteorites or ancient artefacts are called Tengeriin us (Heaven’s hair). They contain a spirit (utha) which is a concentrated package of Heaven’s power. Objects struck by lightning (nerjer uthatai) and meteorites (buumal uthatai) can be placed in milk or liquor to energize the liquid with the spirit of the object. Shamans drink this liquid to incorporate the power of the utha spirit (Heaven's power). Another form of Tengeriin us is the bezoar stone, which is used for rainmaking magic.

The sun and the moon are the eyes of Tenger; they are also seen as two sisters, and their essences are fire and water. Their light represents the power of Tenger shining eternally upon the earth. The cycles of the sun and the moon demonstrate the circularity of time and all processes in nature.

Several other Heavenly bodies are considered to have spiritual power. One is the planet Venus (Tsolmon) which can appear both in the morning or at night. It is often painted on shaman drums to invoke its power. Tsolmon is the sender of comets and meteors, which are called "war arrows". The Big Dipper is called the Doloon Obgon (Doloon Uvged - the seven Ubgen - the Seven Old Men or seven stars). Their position points out the location of the Polar Star (Altan Hadaas), which holds up the sky. The observation that the constellation rotates around the axis of the Polar Star through the year led to the creation of the temdeg symbol, which superficially represents the swastika but actually represents the position of the Big Dipper in the four seasons. The Pleijades (Mushid) are revered as another group of powerful spirits, and it was also the place where the sky spirits of the western direction met to decide to send the eagle as the first shaman down to earth. During the White Moon festival fourteen incense sticks are kept lit, seven for the Seven Old Men, and seven for the Pleijades.

No shamanist ritual starts without the invocation of Father Heaven, Mother Earth, and the ancestors. Everyday activities acknowledge Tenger’s presence, and he is integral for living one’s life in balance with the universe. When a new bottle of liquor is opened, the top portion of the content is poured into a container, taken outside, and offered to Father Heaven, Mother Earth, and the ancestors. This ritual is called tsatsah. Housewives also offer milk and tea in the same way, walking around the ger flicking the liquid three times in each of the four directions. Tenger’s role in determining fate is acknowledged in everyday languages by means of phrases such as Tengeriin boshig (Heaven’s will). Women are required to keep their kitchens and cooking utensils clean because if they get dirty this is seen as an insult to Father Heaven. Prayers and offerings are made to Tenger on holidays and at times of sacrifices to the mountain spirits. There is also a special sacrifice to Father Heaven in times of emergency which is a private ritual. Rainmaking rituals are directly addressed to the Tenger, and they are held at ovoo (stone hill - shrines), also dedicated to local spirits (Tengers) or the mountain spirits. Every human being has the right to appeal or pray to Tengers directly for help; however, when balance has been disrupted by calamity or the intrusion of a powerful spirit, the shaman will use the power of his spirits to restore his patient’s connection with Tengers or help spirits and bring all into balance with the universe.

The crown of the head has a small piece of Tenger residing in it; it is the point of connection between the individual standing in the center of his world and Heaven above. This point receives energy from Tenger which flows down the center of the person’s soul sphere. This piece of Tenger in a person’s crown has a counterpart star in the Heavens. The star shines brighter or dimmer according to the strength of the person’s windhorse (personal power). At death, the star goes out.

From: Father Sky, Mother Earth and Heavenly Objects

Also see:

The Gods of the Turks
Tengerism in Mongolia
Mongolian Cosmology
The religions of Mongolia By Walther Heissig (chapter preview, Google Books)
Asian mythologies By Yves Bonnefoy (chapter preview, "The Sky God and The Stars Amongst the Turks and Mongols," Google Books)
Myths & Legends: Stories Gods Heroes Monsters By Philip Hooper, Philip Wilkinson (chapter preview, Google Books)

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