March 2, 2019
Myths and tales have always been a part of our lives and have always found a nurturing home in the imagination of our curious minds. Later, through ages, some of these tales have become habits or beliefs, while others have drifted away on the ocean of time. We discover these stories through archaeological excavations, from daily life, from books and from older generations. In the worst case, their existence is forgotten forever. In Sakha, the place I come from, people still strongly believe in these superstitious things which have become habits and irremovable parts of life. People still perform many special rituals for the gods of the Sakha pantheon and spirits of nature. In today’s post, I am going to discuss the basis of these aspects of life.
If you were following my blog posts up to now, you may also have noticed that I have disappeared from my writing here for some time. I have been focusing on a large writing/illustration project which will be a central part of my future work and also moving to Sheffield from Dublin. I’ll write more related this soon and I’ll also continue to write about myself as an indigenous woman as well the culture of the North/Siberia. Perhaps not every week, but when I do I will announce on my social media accounts.
Before moving to Turkey (which is a story I am definitely going write about for you, because it was related to supernatural reasons) I prepared some illustrations for my fortune telling cards – Oracle of the Universe.
Going back further, in my school when I was a small girl we had one class which I was attracted more than others; in this class we were taught about our native culture, belief and traditions. One interesting thing that grabbed me was the pantheon of gods in Sakha mythology. At the same time, in our history classes we were studying ancient Egypt, Greek and Rome, where they had also pantheons of their own gods. I clearly remember one of our homework assignments; to draw the gods along with a description of responsibilities, names and relatives. I even went to the local library for more details about each god. I remember I took a high mark for that drawing! I even remember my teacher’s face — she was surprised how the notes were made carefully and almost resembled a mini encyclopedia. The main point of interest for me is how our own pantheon has many similarities with the Greek pantheon. It was very fascinating to study them. I was carrying my ideas related to the pantheon for many years, and in 2014 I published my fortune telling cards illustrated with deities and spirits from the Sakha pantheon and mythology.
In fact, through my life I have discovered that the Sakha pantheon has some profound similarities with a few different pantheons from over the globe — especially other far Northern nations.
Sakha mythology is somehow a belief without being a religion and each individual person from Sakha knows who Yurung Aiyy Toyon is — the main ‘supreme’ god, who lives in the ninth sky.
So what does ‘the ninth sky’ mean?:
The world in Sakha mythology is divided into three dimensions. Upper world – Yehee Doydu, Middle world – Orto Doydu and Lower World – Allaraa Doydu. This may sound similar to the Christian religion: Earth, Heaven and Hell. Well, that cosmogonic construction came exactly from Russian Orthodox Church; while the concepts of the upper world and middle world existed for a much longer time (far before the Orthodox religion came) the description of the universe gradually became restructured to include a lower world that is more closely analogous to the Orthodox concept of Hell. Since ancient times the upper world contained nine layers (or ‘floors’) of skies, each sky containing a main god and their family. The middle world is inhabited by spirits such as river, fire, land, home and many many more. The middle world is also inhabited by people, animals and small demons. The lower world contains dark spirits and gods. Before the Orthodox ages, instead of the lower world the day of the middle world was divided into two dimensions, like dark and light sides. During night time, there would appear twilight creatures. In day time sometimes people would meet these creatures in human form, later often realising that it was not a human at all.
The centrepiece of the cosmogonic structure of the universe is Aal luk Mas — The World Tree. This great tree defines the laws of life and keeps the entire universe in balance. If the tree would stop existing, then total chaos would come.
These days most rituals dedicated to the gods of the pantheon take place during the summer solstice celebration Yhyakh as well as other more minor traditional events. The universe hears our words and words were always the strongest part of humanity; through the mind’s eye we can make contact with the universe.
Apparently, according to the words of shaman people who have travelled there since ancient times, the upper world is incredibly cold. They would return from their shamanic journey into the upper world with frost covering their body.
I am currently in the process of finishing a new book dedicated to the pantheon of the Sakha. The book will be called ‘The Cosmogonic Mythology of the Sakha’ and features full illustrations, which I am currently working on.
To touch on the topic of supernatural things, I have recently released a new track featuring a creepy story from folklore which actually happened in reality in ancient times, in the endless forests of Sakha. Please leave your comments about it below!
I will write more about each god, spirit and sign from my oracle cards in future posts!
Oracle Cards are available for sale on my Etsy shop!