The Powerful Spirits of the Sky and Nature: Understanding Their Essence and Ways of Control

There are different types of spirits in the sky and in nature. Some of them possess great power, and shamans cannot control them, while others are relatively easy to manage. Spirits cannot be disturbed or forced to serve unless it is for the purpose of restoring balance in the world, let alone for trivial reasons.

Spirits are neither higher nor lower than other living beings; they simply have a different essence. Therefore, it is necessary to treat spirits with the same respect as one would treat humans and animals. The most powerful of all natural spirits are the spirits of the sky, called gaenger, who reside in all four cardinal directions.
A shaman with a drum and the spirit in the forest
Many Siberian peoples, who classify shamans as either "white" or "dark" consider the western and eastern spirits to be their respective allies. It is believed that the western tengri created humans, dogs, and all animals used as food by humans, while the eastern tengri created eagles, animals that cannot be consumed as food, as well as spirits that cause illness.

Since there must be a balance between good and evil in the world, the spirits of the eastern direction are not necessarily considered bad. The greatest among the western tengri is Ulgen, the son of Father Sky and the lord of the spirits of the Upper World. The greatest among the eastern tengri is Erlik, Ulgen's brother and the lord of the spirits of the Lower World. The chief among the tengri of the southern direction is Usan-Khan, the lord of water spirits. In the northern direction, Kaiden reigns, also known as Tatai Tenger. He controls storms, lightning, tornadoes, and other manifestations of the elements. Tengri spirits are considered very powerful and cannot be controlled, but a shaman can call upon them for support during his rituals. The sky is also the dwelling place of endur spirits, which are the souls of people who have lived such exceptional lives that they did not have to descend to the Lower World again. These spirits are not as powerful as tengri, but they reside in the clouds and occasionally bring rain.

The Earth serves as a home to a great variety of spirits, including Chogagor, Ozur, Ongon, Buran, and Gazrin Izen. Chotgor spirits often turn out to be the cause of physical and mental illnesses, as well as confusion. Some of these spirits are the souls of deceased individuals, called Sane, who either did not find their way to the Underworld or returned from it to our world. Upon encountering them, a shaman must send them to where they belong.

Other troubling spirits have never been born as humans or animals but simply exist in nature. Once a shaman masters them, they can become spirit helpers. Ozur, Ongon, and Buran spirits are usually neutral towards humans, although they can occasionally cause issues. Ozur and Ongon spirits are often the wandering souls of ancestors known as Suld, freely roaming in nature. They are among the most important shaman's helpers. Ongon spirits of a special kind, called Utha, bind themselves to shamans of the same lineage and become an additional soul and teacher for them. This kind of spirit is not born within the body of a shaman, but rather serves as the guardian of collective memories of all the shamans they have connected with in the past. An Utha spirit may initially be an ancestor of the founding shaman of a new lineage, but after his death, this spirit attaches itself to the one who should become the next shaman, causing him to have visions.

Buran spirits are very powerful, and usually, shamans cannot gain control over them. However, if these spirits are causing illness in a person, a shaman can compel them to leave his body. Shamans who possess particularly strong spirit helpers can still command Buran spirits, and in that case, he trains them in a special manner, transforming them into lesser Ongon spirits.
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