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Location, Running, Weight, Species and Color of an Ongon

The main place where the Shaman Ongon or spirits are located and transferred is the “Darkness” or “Space of Shaman Ongons”. As mentioned above on the subject of darkness, this place is only visible to Shamans who are in a Shaman trance. Moreover, there are many geographical sites where the Ongons shelter and their ranges are associated with these.

     In this way, each Ongon is named according to its home or geographical locality where it was sheltered, “Father of X River”, “Mother of Y Mountain” or even a “Thing” (Ium) if it is a Shaman Ongon no so well known. Each of them has a well-defined influential range marked by two points. For example, Baataryn Lamjav’s mother was originated from a Sakha (Yakut) family. Her original Guardian Ongon was located on the Toj River in Russian Tuva of the current days. Her first journey from Yakut to Mongolia was very difficult because her only transport was reindeer. She passed many mountains, crossed large rivers and mudflats; there were torrential rains and heavy snowfalls.

Therefore, in its calling encantation said:

On the Past of Gunna Gulgadag 

I lost three reindeers loads of luggage,

On the top of Doroo Hanginadag

I left four hides; of my belongings,

A frosty cave was my house,

Snowdrifts were my blankets, 

I had worn through my leather boot soles,

Had poured out my cold sweats to reach here…

     It means that this Shaman Ongon’s home was far away, on the Toj River. Likewise, the Mongols chose a powerful Ongons as a “Guardian Ongon” and, regardless of where it was located, stayed close to it in order to be protected from childhood.

     Moreover, as mentioned above, the Ongons change their geographical locations temporarily from one place to another, which is known as the range (running route) of an Ongon. There are two kinds of range, known as short and long. The former is for visits to familiar and related Ongons or their remains. The latter is only for an express purpose, which must be carried out without any resistance. For example, in the early twentieth century, “Mother Bud” of Namnan Mountain in Ived River was running from the top of this mountain, where its Asar had been built, to the pen of a Russian tradesman named Andrei Shubin, in Zoolon Lamasery. The main cause of this long run of about thirty kilometers was a trade dispute between the late Shamaness and the Russian trader. Her Ongons was about to take its revenge, which was properly implemented in the few years after the event. Moreover, the short ranges of an Ongon will not pass over water, but for the long distances they will, for they travel through the atmosphere as the crow flies. Between the ends of a suchlike long run, there are also resting sites, which may be a Shaman-tree, a sheer-cliff, mountain pass or alone tree on a steppe. It is said that the passing of a Shaman Ongon is signaled to ordinary people by the sound of a drum or chimes. So, as a rule, hunting or sleeping near an Ongon’s path is prohibited.

     In general, the range of an Ongon takes place at night during spring. In this way, it is possible for the same relief sites to be used by several Ongons in the locality. Thus, according to Black Shamanist belief, it was forbidden for several Shamans to carry out rituals in the same area at the same time to prevent undesirable consequences such as a drum braking, the destruction of the Shaman’s mind or the loss of the Shaman’s powers. Therefore, each shaman of a given locality has a particular time schedule for his or her regular shaman services.

     Although Mongolian Shamans consider that Ongons are invisible and ghostly, there are many saying concerning their weight. For example, it is said that a Shaman of White Huular Origin, Ariya Zayran sent his Ongon to Jalkhanz Hutugt Damdinabzar to assail him with witchcraft. Knowing this, the Hutugts went to see Ariya Zayran in order to resolve the conflict. However, “Uzuuriin Aav” had made some barriers to prevent him from reaching the Zayran. In this way, the Hutugt had to seek the assistance of Jembee Zayran, who lived on the other side of the Ih Gol (Large River) or its tributary, the River Ol.

     When Jembee Zayran started crossing the Ih Gol River on a raft, the Hutugt observed that the Zayran with his Ongons were all going to drown. Thus, the Hutugt shouted to him to leave his followers/Ongons on the other side, the Zayran did so and crossed the river successfully. When they met to greet each other, the Hutugt said, “I am afraid of crossing my arms with you, because a bear with five heads is standing behind you”. The Zayran answered, “Excuse me please, it is no bear, but my sheathed knives and flinted-lighter. I forgot to loosen them down before our meeting”. afterward, they greeted each other promptly, thanks to Jembee’s intercession Jalkhanz Hutugt met with Ariya Zayran, and the conflict was resolved.

     There is also a saying that the weight of Yanjiv Zayran’s skull-bone, who was defeated by the evil deeds of Tergelhen Udgan of Tuva, was equal to the weight of three baskets (hunz) of tea bricks (approximately 60-70 kg -Transl). Moreover, an Ongon is capable of lifting heavy objects up to 10-15 kilograms, but cannot take treasures such as gold, silver, precious stones, and state banknotes or bonds of a few grams.

     According to Shamanist custom, the Ongons are inherited from parent to child and from a tutor to disciple among the Shamans. Additionally, someone else may be lent an Ongon for short periods to accomplish a specific task. Black Shamanism classifies Ongons as either of Lus or Soul origin, whereas Yellow Shamanism divides them into with and without Lus. The Yellows consider that Ongons with Lus have their own Garabwanchig deity to the south-eastern side. For example, the Shamaness Dulam of Chonos origin possessed a Shaman Ongon of Lus origin “The Thing of Red Cliff”, whose original legend is summarized here: Once upon a time there was a childless young couple. The husband hunted and his wife toiled. once, during a hunt, the husband found a baby – boy in his cradle, inside a mountain cave. He did not tell his wife but nourished him with wild vegetables and plant juices for three years and the child grew up healthily. At that time he told his wife, who allowed him to bring the child home. Eventually, she became jealous and gave some roe deer blood to the boy, who died straight away. After three years, his soul transferred to the Red Cliff’s Ongon of Lus Origin. Suchlike, there were many Ongons of Lus Origin in Hovsgol province including “The Thing of Blood Lake”, “Tilig’s Thing”, “The Thing of the Nine Passes”, “Iron Horse Ongon” and “The Thing of Uur (River)”.

     The Ongons are also divided into Black and White Ongons. The Black ones are mainly originated from Lus; so they are relatively violent and fond of black or bad deeds such as curses. In contrast, the White Ongons relatively calm and mostly used for white or good deeds such as healing. In this regard, Shamans are influenced by the color of their Ongons. The Black Ongons of Lus (no-soul) origin were called “The Black Heavens”, which may be a relic of ancient times of Shamanism, when no soul, but only natural forces such as Heaven, Earth and Water were revered as Deities. 

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