Gods and spirits of Altai shamanism. Spirits and deities of the Upper and Middle world

The upper world, as well as the lower world, is inhabited by various supernatural entities (“aru tös” - pure spirits). At the head of the heavenly gods is Ulgen, a beneficent being who lives “beyond the month, the sun, above the stars of heaven”. Ulgen created the sun, the moon, the rainbow, as well as man and cattle. According to other data, the supreme creator of the world was not Ulgen, but a deity named Kudai or Hadai, which is also found in Tatar, Kirghiz and Khakass mythology. It was he who created man from clay, and Erlik-khan breathed his soul into him.
Ulgen — the God of Sky
Ulgen — the God of Sky
However, Ulgen has a special function that Kudai does not have. He is the creator of fire and the lord of thunder, lightning, and hail, which the Altaians call “God's spits.” This in a certain way brings Ulgen closer to the pleiad of thunder gods (Perun, Indra, Zeus), the veneration of which is characteristic, first of all, of Indo-European peoples.

In the early to mid-20th century, ethnographers recorded many texts of Altai shamans' rites to the deity Ulgen. Among other things, they indicate that Ulgen lives in the sky in a golden palace, the way to which lies through seven (or nine) barriers. Shamans have for centuries offered blood sacrifices to Ulgen, usually a three-year-old white mare; the ritual was performed after three, six, nine or twelve years in large crowds. Together with Ulgen in the sky live his sons and daughters, and the sons of Ulgen, as well as the sons of Erlik, were the protectors of the Altai clans, they were offered the same sacrifices as Ulgen.

The Great Goddess Umai

Umai, the oldest female deity of the Turkic peoples, was especially honored in Altai. Like many other female deities, Umai patronized women in childbirth and, especially, children. In the front corner of the yurt the Altai people placed an image of this goddess - a doll made of blue cloth, which was fed with porridge if the child fell ill. The cult of Umai was quite widespread in Altai at the beginning of the 20th century. There is also an opinion that the veneration of Umai is connected with the fertility cult.

The spirits of the earth

It's a completely separate category.
They do not belong to either Ulgen or Erlik, people saw in them both their benefactors and their punishers, as these spirits could inflict disease for disrespecting themselves. These spirits are strictly individualized and attached to certain places. On this basis, spirits of water and earth (yer-su), spirits of mountain glaciers (yazim taika) and spirits of mountains (altai) are distinguished. Almost always in Altai the geographical names of rivers, lakes and mountains are not simple names, but proper names of the spirits-masters of the area. The veneration of these beings goes back to ancient times and exists in Altai to this day.
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