Womb Mother and “Great Mother of Mercy and Love” of Bon and Mongol cosmology, and Tibetan influences upon southwest China and East Asia

“The deity worshipped by the Bon has the name Kuntu zanpo (kun tu bzang po), lit. the “All-Good”.  But since nothing can, according to the Bon, appear on this earth without a mother and father, along with this deity there exists a goddess who appears now as the tender “Great Mother of Mercy and Love” now as the ” Glorious Queen of Three Worlds” who rules all the world including China, Tibet, Shanshun and Li (Khotan). This goddess is honoured even more than her husband, since here power is linked with the earth, as a consequence of which she is called in Western Tibet the Earth-Mother.
According to Bon cosmology, the world is made up of three spheres: the heavenly region of the gods is of white light, the earthly region of people is of red light and the lower world of water spirits is of blue light. The mystic world tree grows through all three universes and is the means by which the worlds communicate with one another…
Bon is professed in Sikkim, to some extent in Bhutan, in the south-west of China (Sichuan and Yunnan) by the south Chinese minorities, the Miao, Lolo, Lisu and others, and also in Western Tibet.
…apart from religious conceptions, there were many in the consciousness of the 13th c. Mongols that had no connection with dogma and theodicy. Among these are belief in wizardry divination and omens. … Wizardry ie magic, is based on the principles:(1) everything in the world is interrelated and 2) like gives rise to like. The presence of god is not obligatory for the wizard nor are spirit forces. Equally when a man engaged in divination it does not matter whether he uses the shoulder blade of a sheep, beans or the cards; he does not summon up any supernatural power…
What is there in common between this priest and a frenzied medium at a spiritualist seance (which is what a shaman’s performance is, in essence)…? plano Carpini and Rubruck also tell us of shamnism but they call the shaman kam. This is an Altai Turkish word, and in the 13th century century shamanism had been considerably developed in the Altai where it existed along with Nestorianism. …shamanism in the restricted and direct meaning of the word developed as an ideological system in direct proximity to Mongolia and it seems, at the same period. And we have found it among the Kara-Khitan and the Naiman, it is natural to seek its origin in the homeland of these peoples, i.e. Manchuria. In fact, we found the conceptions, rituals and temrinology sought for there in the Jurchen Qin empire. Certain researchers consider the word ‘shaman’ itself a Jurchen one ad the Jurchen the originators of shamanism. The J. considered people with outstanding abilities shamans, just as we call them geniuses, from the Latin word ‘geinus’ the protective spirit of the clan.
The Khitan even had a shaman hierarchy: the ordinary shaman cured and engaged in wizardry, but the secret rituals took place under the guidance of a supreme shaman who had a high position in (p.281) in the Liao Empire. This genuine shamanism was recorded in 1714 when the Manchurian ritual was uniified. In brief, shamnism also was a state world-view, though not amog the Mongols, but among their eastern neighbors.
Both systems co-existed and interacted, but did not fuse, for their dogma and origins were different. Shamanism turned out to be more long lasting and beat the highly developed religions–Bon and Nestorianism which disappeared in Mongolia, and this confused the 19th C scholars who tried to lump together all the faiths of ancient times, but to contemporaries of those events the distinction of Mongol religion from other Asian cults was obvious.
All knowledgeable observers considered the Mongol faith as monotheism, but neither Muslims nor Christians noted any similarity between the Mongol faith and their own.
Thus the ancient Mongol religion appears before us as a view of the world that had been carefully worked out, with an ontology (a teaching of a two-in-one deity, creator and provider), a cosmology (the conception of the three worlds with possible inter-communication), ethics (condemnation of the lie), mythology (the legend of an origin from the ‘sun man’) and a demonology (distinguishing the ancestor spirits from the spirits of nature). It was so different from … Moreover the ancient Mongol culture was so specific that any borrowing from it, or simply a veiled reference to it, is easily recognized.”

Source of extract:  “Searches for an Imaginary Kingdom: The Legend of the Kingdom of Prester John“, Lev Nikolaevich Gumilev (Page 277-282)

***

More on the Womb Mother in the Mongol and Qhitan faiths below. Umai (Ymai, Mai, Omai) might be a cognate of Xiwangmu/Amaterasu/Jizo=Kshitagarba/Amaterasu/Kannon/Kwanyin:

“Umai was a female Deity associated with benevolent deities and spirits. She was considered to be a favourite wife of the Sky God, Tengri. Like Yer-Sub, Umai obeyed Tengri. If Yer-Sub ruled over all the living on land and water, Umai was the giver of special divine powers to mankind. Umai lived in the skies and radiated down to the Earth. Her rays penetrated man and dwelled in him like a spark until he died. This spark accounted for man’s vital energy and physical force, but it was not Kut (spirit). It was rather a divine power linking man to the heavens, sent by Tengri. Once the spark perished, death followed. Thus, everything spiritual and physical in our Universe was subject to two Goddesses, Yer-Sub and Umai. The Turks did not sacrifice domestic animals to the Goddess Umai, but dedicated carefully prepared dairy and meat dishes in solemn ceremonies. Umai protected the Turkish tribes and participated, together with Tengri and Yer-Sub, in the victory of their forces over an enemy. In the Orkhon Inscriptions honouring Tonyukuk we read: “Tengri, Umai and Sacred Yer-Sub, it should be known, gave (us) victory.” In the inscriptions there is also a comparison of the Khagan’s wife to Umai: “…Her majesty, my mother Katun, is comparable to Umai…” This testifies to the reverence of this Goddess by the highest ruling classes, especially the representatives of divine authority on Earth, the Khagans.
After the disintegration of the ancient Turkic states and the migrations of the ancient populations of Eurasia, the Goddess Umai began to be considered only as a protector of pregnant women and small children, from malevolent earthly spirits. The reverence to Umai (Ymai, Mai) remained fresh in the memory of the Altai until recent times. Today, some Altai testify that when the Kut of a child reaches the Earth, he is weak and helpless, and therefore Umai descends with him from the heavens, and guards him even in the womb. This is necessary, for the malicious spirits penetrate the body and the womb of the pregnant woman, ruining the child and causing abortion. As delivery approaches, Umai helps the child arrive, entering sometimes in a struggle with a malicious spirit, who interferes with the delivery and pulls at the child. This is how late and difficult deliveries are explained. Umai helps to properly cut the umbilical cord.
She protects the child, educates and talks to him, for they understand each other well. When a child cries during a dream and sleeps restlessly, Umai is said to have left him. Many families make a small bow and arrow (boys) or spindle (girls), to serve as talismans. These amulets are attached to the dwelling near the cradle. They are made when the newborn is first placed in the cradle and removed when the child no longer needs it. On the child reaching the age of six months, a Kam is invited for a special ceremony to Umai-Ana (Mother Umai), involving the sacrifice of a young bull.
During this they ask Umai to safeguard and protect the baby. A talisman is attached to the cradle, i.e., a small bow and arrow, symbolising the weapon Umai uses against malicious spirits. The complete care and the constant presence of Umai near the child continues until he learns to walk, run, understand speech and speak fluently. This happens at approximately 5-6 years. When the child becomes accustomed to his social environment, especially his parents, relatives and later his playmates, his connection with Umai-Ana ends.6 When a child reaches this stage, a special ritual is performed for Tengri, which involves the sacrifice of a domestic animal. Appeals are made for the child痴 longevity. The name Umai also referred to the womb, placenta and cut umbilical cord. This underlined Umai痴 functions as a Goddess of reproduction. It was to Her that barren couples prayed for a child.7 These concepts are not alien to both modern Altai-Sayan Turks and Mongols. Some still believe that Umai remains in the umbilical cord to protect the child. The umbilical cord may be buried near the hearth. The modern Volga Tatars do not revere Umai, but she is remembered in the pre-Islamic Tatar dastans (poetic tales) and legends, in their language and customs.

Erlik – cognate of Mercury???
Erlik was the Chief God of the Underworld. In the Orkhon-Yenisei Inscriptions, Erlik is called Erglik. Erlik is described as an old man with an athletic built. His eyes and eyebrows are jet-black and his parted beard reaches his knees. His moustache is like tusks that curl behind his ears. His horns are like tree-roots and his hair curled. Erlik was connected with the worst disasters, epidemics and illnesses of people and cattle. He caused these illnesses to compel man to sacrifice to him. Men feared Erlik, especially when ill and were afraid to use his name, calling him Kara-Name (something black) instead. The sons of Erlik helped him rule the Underworld, where there were lakes, rivers and seas. Erlik also had several daughters whose number varied between two and nine. They were described as idle, sexually promiscuous and had a desire to lure Kams to their beds, as they descended into the Underworld for ceremonies. They stole the sacrifices Kams made to Erlik, with whom they were closely associated. Ancient legends state that Erlik taught ritual to the first Black Kam (Kara Kam). Ceremonies in the subterranean world were performed by black Kams, whilst white Kams (Ak Kam) never ventured there. Though Erlik was the supreme God of the Underworld, he rarely caused evil. He did not regulate the death of mortals and did not take away their Kut. He only accepted their material bodies after their demise. Kut returned to the Sky, after the body was cremated. Malicious spirits (Kermeses) dwelled in the Underworld and sometimes surfaced at sunset to cause harm. Sacrifices to Erlik were conducted at night, by slaughtering domestic animals with some defect (a broken horn, lameness, etc), as it was believed that the invisible Underworld contrasted with the visible one, where humans dwelt…

Source: Tengrianism

“Among the Buryats oboos are also made from cut birch trees, often intricately carved and decorated with horsehair and ribbons. Instead of adding rocks, worshipers will tear off a strip from their clothing or bring a piece of cloth with them fro this purpose. A variation on this are the turge and serge, cut birch trees used in various shamanist rituals, all of which symbolize the World Tree. Most commonly the celebrants of the ritual will do a yohor circle dance around the serge in order to raise energy for various purposes. This custom is thousands of years old and is depicted in ancient petroglyphs. A similar ritual also exists among the Dene tribes of Alaska, where it is known as the Stickdance. A special kind of serge is erected next to cave entrances and is carved to look like a phallus. This type of serge is called Baabain Mungun Bagana (Father’s Silver Pole) and is placed by caves because caves represent the womb of Mother Earth; the pole balances the feminine energy of the place with the male energy of the phallic symbol.
Mountains, streams, forests, and individual rocks and trees are all part of Mother Earth, but are also the home of gazriin ezen, nature spirits. Some, if not all, of them were once souls of human beings, ancestors from so long ago that their numerous descendants no longer remember them and the spirits no longer has any connection with them. Looking back on the hundreds of thousands of years of human history it is easy to imagine how many of these spirits exist out in nature. A mountain or tree of great majesty will be said to have suld, which is the same word that is used to refer to the soul which remains in nature after death. Unusual rocks or trees are believed to have strong spirits and are respected or given offerings of tobacco, food, money, liquor, or ribbons tied on branches. Because these spirits are found throughout nature it is considered taboo to offend them by needlessly damaging natural features or mutilating trees. An angry nature spirit is very powerful and can create many problems for a person or community until a shaman can placate or control it. When a dead person’s suld soul goes out into nature, it may come into conflict with gazriin ezen spirits if it tries to settle in a place where other spirits are already living; certain prayers are thus said at funeral ceremonies in order to allow the deceased person’s spirit to settle in a place peacefully.

Mountain spirits are considered to be very powerful, and they represent not only the individual power of the gazriin ezen of the mountain but also the abundance of food plants. These ceremonies are usually held around the times of the equinoxes and solstices and are often done by the elders of the local clan or tribe. The wolf appears to be especially connected with mountain spirits, because when a horse or other herd animal is stolen by wolves it is the custom to say, it has been taken by the mountain god.

Mountain spirits and other powerful gazriin ezen spirits are worshiped at special shrines called oboo, which are tall piles of rocks and tree branches. An oboo is roughly conical in shape, about 6-10 feet tall. When passing by an oboo travelers are required to walk around it three times and place a rock on it. In doing this not only is a person showing respect for the spirit, which would be the least required of him, but in symbolically by adding to the spirit痴 power by adding the rock he is receiving windhorse and good luck for his journey. In order to get more windhorse (hiimori) and buyanhishig a person might also make and offering of liquor, milk, or butter. Sometimes car parts will be hung from the tree branches to assure that there will be no breakdowns.”
Source:”Sacred Mountains and Trees

:::

Among the Buryats oboos are also made from cut birch trees, often intricately carved and decorated with horsehair and ribbons. Instead of adding rocks, worshipers will tear off a strip from their clothing or bring a piece of cloth with them fro this purpose. A variation on this are the turge and serge, cut birch trees used in various shamanist rituals, all of which symbolize the World Tree. Most commonly the celebrants of the ritual will do a yohor circle dance around the serge in order to raise energy for various purposes. This custom is thousands of years old and is depicted in ancient petroglyphs. A similar ritual also exists among the Dene tribes of Alaska, where it is known as the Stickdance. A special kind of serge is erected next to cave entrances and is carved to look like a phalus. This type of serge is called Baabain Mungun Bagana (Father痴 Silver Pole) and is placed by caves because caves represent the womb of Mother Earth; the pole balances the feminine energy of the place with the male energy of the phalic symbol.
Mountains, streams, forests, and individual rocks and trees are all part of Mother Earth, but are also the home of gazriin ezen, nature spirits. Some, if not all, of them were once souls of human beings, ancestors from so long ago that their numerous descendants no longer remember them and the spirits no longer has any connection with them. Looking back on the hundreds of thousands of years of human history it is easy to imagine how many of these spirits exist out in nature. A mountain or tree of great majesty will be said to have suld, which is the same word that is used to refer to the soul which remains in nature after death. Unusual rocks or trees are believed to have strong spirits and are respected or given offerings of tobacco, food, money, liquor, or ribbons tied on branches. Because these spirits are found throughout nature it is considered taboo to offend them by needlessly damaging natural features or mutilating trees. An angry nature spirit is very powerful and can create many problems for a person or community until a shaman can placate or control it. When a dead person痴 suld soul goes out into nature, it may come into conflict with gazriin ezen spirits if it tries to settle in a place where other spirits are already living; certain prayers are thus said at funeral ceremonies in order to allow the deceased person痴 spirit to settle in a place peacefully.

Mountain spirits are considered to be very powerful, and they represent not only the individual power of the gazriin ezen of the mountain but also the abundance of food plants. These ceremonies are usually held around the times of the equinoxes and solstices and are often done by the elders of the local clan or tribe. The wolf apears to be especially connected with mountain spirits, because when a horse or other herd animal is stolen by wolves it is the custom to say, 的t has been taken by the mountain god.

Mountain spirits and other powerful gazriin ezen spirits are worshiped at special shrines called oboo, which are tall piles of rocks and tree branches. An oboo is roughly conical in shape, about 6-10 feet tall. When passing by an oboo travelers are required to walk around it three times and place a rock on it. In doing this not only is a person showing respect for the spirit, which would be the least required of him, but in symbolically by adding to the spirit痴 power by adding the rock he is receiving windhorse and good luck for his journey. In order to get more windhorse (hiimori) and buyanhishig a person might also make and offering of liquor, milk, or butter. Sometimes car parts will be hung from the tree branches to assure that there will be no brakedowns.
http://www.ethnikoi.org/tengrianism.htm Umai (Ymai, Mai, Omai) Cognate of Jizo or Amaterasu??? “rays”

Umai was a female Deity associated with benevolent deities and spirits. She was considered to be a favourite wife of the Sky God, Tengri. Like Yer-Sub, Umai obeyed Tengri. If Yer-Sub ruled over all the living on land and water, Umai was the giver of special divine powers to mankind. Umai lived in the skies and radiated down to the Earth. Her rays penetrated man and dwelled in him like a spark until he died. This spark accounted for man’s vital energy and physical force, but it was not Kut (spirit). It was rather a divine power linking man to the heavens, sent by Tengri. Once the spark perished, death followed. Thus, everything spiritual and physical in our Universe was subject to two Goddesses, Yer-Sub and Umai. The Turks did not sacrifice domestic animals to the Goddess Umai, but dedicated carefully prepared dairy and meat dishes in solemn ceremonies. Umai protected the Turkish tribes and participated, together with Tengri and Yer-Sub, in the victory of their forces over an enemy. In the Orkhon Inscriptions honouring Tonyukuk we read: “Tengri, Umai and Sacred Yer-Sub, it should be known, gave (us) victory.” In the inscriptions there is also a comparison of the Khagan’s wife to Umai: “…Her majesty, my mother Katun, is comparable to Umai…” This testifies to the reverence of this Goddess by the highest ruling classes, especially the representatives of divine authority on Earth, the Khagans.
After the disintegration of the ancient Turkic states and the migrations of the ancient populations of Eurasia, the Goddess Umai began to be considered only as a protector of pregnant women and small children, from malevolent earthly spirits. The reverence to Umai (Ymai, Mai) remained fresh in the memory of the Altai until recent times. Today, some Altai testify that when the Kut of a child reaches the Earth, he is weak and helpless, and therefore Umai descends with him from the heavens, and guards him even in the womb. This is necessary, for the malicious spirits penetrate the body and the womb of the pregnant woman, ruining the child and causing abortion. As delivery approaches, Umai helps the child arrive, entering sometimes in a struggle with a malicious spirit, who interferes with the delivery and pulls at the child. This is how late and difficult deliveries are explained. Umai helps to properly cut the umbilical cord.
She protects the child, educates and talks to him, for they understand each other well. When a child cries during a dream and sleeps restlessly, Umai is said to have left him. Many families make a small bow and arrow (boys) or spindle (girls), to serve as talismans. These amulets are attached to the dwelling near the cradle. They are made when the newborn is first placed in the cradle and removed when the child no longer needs it. On the child reaching the age of six months, a Kam is invited for a special ceremony to Umai-Ana (Mother Umai), involving the sacrifice of a young bull.
During this they ask Umai to safeguard and protect the baby. A talisman is attached to the cradle, i.e., a small bow and arrow, symbolising the weapon Umai uses against malicious spirits. The complete care and the constant presence of Umai near the child continues until he learns to walk, run, understand speech and speak fluently. This happens at approximately 5-6 years. When the child becomes accustomed to his social environment, especially his parents, relatives and later his playmates, his connection with Umai-Ana ends.6 When a child reaches this stage, a special ritual is performed for Tengri, which involves the sacrifice of a domestic animal. Appeals are made for the child痴 longevity. The name Umai also referred to the womb, placenta and cut umbilical cord. This underlined Umai痴 functions as a Goddess of reproduction. It was to Her that barren couples prayed for a child.7 These concepts are not alien to both modern Altai-Sayan Turks and Mongols. Some still believe that Umai remains in the umbilical cord to protect the child. The umbilical cord may be buried near the hearth. The modern Volga Tatars do not revere Umai, but she is remembered in the pre-Islamic Tatar dastans (poetic tales) and legends, in their language and customs.

Erlik – cognate of Mercury???
Erlik was the Chief God of the Underworld. In the Orkhon-Yenisei Inscriptions, Erlik is called Erglik. Erlik is described as an old man with an athletic built. His eyes and eyebrows are jet-black and his parted beard reaches his knees. His moustache is like tusks that curl behind his ears. His horns are like tree-roots and his hair curled. Erlik was connected with the worst disasters, epidemics and illnesses of people and cattle. He caused these illnesses to compel man to sacrifice to him. Men feared Erlik, especially when ill and were afraid to use his name, calling him Kara-Name (something black) instead. The sons of Erlik helped him rule the Underworld, where there were lakes, rivers and seas. Erlik also had several daughters whose number varied between two and nine. They were described as idle, sexually promiscuous and had a desire to lure Kams to their beds, as they descended into the Underworld for ceremonies. They stole the sacrifices Kams made to Erlik, with whom they were closely associated. Ancient legends state that Erlik taught ritual to the first Black Kam (Kara Kam). Ceremonies in the subterranean world were performed by black Kams, whilst white Kams (Ak Kam) never ventured there. Though Erlik was the supreme God of the Underworld, he rarely caused evil. He did not regulate the death of mortals and did not take away their Kut. He only accepted their material bodies after their demise. Kut returned to the Sky, after the body was cremated. Malicious spirits (Kermeses) dwelled in the Underworld and sometimes surfaced at sunset to cause harm. Sacrifices to Erlik were conducted at night, by slaughtering domestic animals with some defect (a broken horn, lameness, etc), as it was believed that the invisible Underworld contrasted with the visible one, where humans dwelt

Source:”Sacred Mountains and Trees” http://www.tengerism.org/sacred_mountains.html

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