Mongolia is a country I have been fascinated for a very long time and a place someday I hope to visit. Mongolia is so rich in history, culture and spirituality. Lesser known by most, which is unfortunate, is Mongolian Shamanism. This is a subject I touched on in my blog post regarding the Tengriism which is the native religion of Siberia, Mongolia and throughout the Asian Steppe. Even the great Genghis Khan (ca. 1162–1227) himself was a believer in Tengri and attributed his success and rise to power due to his devotion to Tengriism. So now I wish to dive into specifically what Mongolian Shamanism is all about, at least what is known because the unfortunate truth is with modern society taking a strong hold in Mongolia, the native religion is slowly disappearing. So I wish to at least do my part in sharing with you what I have gathered to help preserve this fascinating spiritual practice.
Mongolian Shamanism is an ancient ethnic religion, tradition and moreover, a way of life. It is a way to connect with nature and all of creation. As all ancient spiritual practices are rooted in nature, shamanism is the method by which we can strengthen that natural connection. It is also centered on the worship of the Tenger “Tengri” (Heaven, God of Heaven, God)
Shamanism is the universal spiritual wisdom inherent to all tribes and it is memory of tribes and nations, preserving the traditions throughout the centuries. Mongolian shamanism is an all-encompassing system of belief that includes medicine, religion, a reverence of nature, and ancestor worship.
It is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with spiritual world. A shaman is someone who is regarded as having access to the world of spirits and enters into a trance state during a ritual and connects with spirits of their ancestors. Shamans perform a variety of functions depending upon their respective cultures; healing, leading a sacrifice, preserving the tradition by storytelling and songs, fortune-telling, and acting as a psychopomp (literal meaning, “guide of souls”). A single Shaman may fulfill several of these functions. In this way the Shaman helps to maintain balance and harmony on both a personal and planetary level. SOURCE
Ovoos or aobaoes (in Mongolian “heap”) are large rock ceremonial altars in the shape of mounds that are traditionally used for worship in the indigenous religion of Mongols and related ethnic groups. Every ovoo is considered to be the representation of a god. There are ovoos dedicated to heavenly gods, mountain gods, other gods of nature, and also to gods of human lineages. In Inner Mongolia, the ovoos for worship of ancestral gods can be private shrines of an extended family or kin, otherwise they are common to villages (dedicated to the god of a village). Pilgrims passing by an ovoo traditionally circle it three times in clockwise direction while making prayers. They often make offerings by adding stones to the mound, or by hanging blue ceremonial silk scarves, called khadaq, symbolizing the Tengri mountain spirits. Some pilgrims also leave money, milk, incense sticks, or bottles of alcoholic beverages. SOURCE