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The Sunny and Dark Worlds of Black Shamanism

The Yellow Shaman conception of the “Intermediate realm” and “Dark World” is rather confused, both appearing to be the same place and the home of departed spirits. However, the Black Shaman view of the ‘Sunny or Light” and “Dark” is of two contrasting places. So in their callings and invocations said: “Light nice world”, “Charitable light world”, “Desirable light”, “Fair light”, “Both the light and darkness: “Alive world”, “visible light world” and so on.

     Thus, they considered that the Universe is divided into “Light or Sunny” and “Dark” worlds. The former is our world and the “Darkness” is the place, where the spirits of dead men go.

     The Shamans considered, in comparison to Heaven, that people of this world are similar to some animals or “red worms of Sunny World”. Therefore, in their calling said:

…All of us from Sunny splendid World,

Everyone of them from nice leafy Earth,

All your red worms of nine kinds,

Beg your grace by calling you directly, 

To send us everlasting happiness,

As your creatures in this Sunny World…

     Moreover, in order to make a calling differentiation between a man and an animal, according to the Lunar astrological cycle of 12 zodiacal animal years, an ordinary man was called “Your creature of the year of the Rat |or Horse, Tiger, etc|”. But a Shaman or Shamaness, “Your messenger or attendant of the year of the dragon |or Dog, Snake…|” and so on. Animals are grouped in “The worm-muzzled cattle” |horse and sheep| and “The cold-muzzled cattle” |cow, camel, goat and reindeer|. 

     Perhaps it means, the “Sunny world” exists for living creatures, while the Dark World was created for the lifeless spirits or Ongons.

     However, the definition of the Dark World is the opposite of Sunny World. Therefore, it is considered a void: without destiny, thanks, happiness, beauty, or life. The shamans believed that the Ongons, as spirits of the late shamans, existed in this Dark world by radiating special light/beam from their bodies. 

     Jugderiin Chagdar Zayran of White Huular origin and shamaness Dugaryn Barii of Black Darhad origin had callings about these spaces. So, on the one hand, the Darkness was a lower stratum of Heaven and the space for Ongons, while on the other hand, it was a space of human spirit. 

     The meditating Shamans have ranged far and wide during their travels through the Dark World. They have met and talked with Ongons, Heavens, and Lords of that place, transmitting people’s requests, desires, and wishes from the Sunny World to them. In turn, they carry replies, commands, and advice from these spirits back to the people. Therefore, most of the shamans meditated or “shamanized” in darkness, but a few of them did with their eyes closed. The believers say that a Shaman who carries out the rituals with his eyes open does not harm others. However, that is not to say that Shamans who meditate with their eyes closed only cause harm to people.

     There are clear regional variations in Shaman practice revealed by careful study. The Shamans of Black Darhad origin perform their actions with open eyes, but in contrast, those of Huular origin do so with their eyes closed. The author has had many opportunities to talk to the shamans in regard to their visits to the Dark World and their falling into a shaman trance. For example, Sandag Zayran’s adopted daughter, the shamaness. Choin Dolgor |1902-1951|, explained:

While I was calling my Ongod, it seemed to me that something invisible embraced me suddenly and I lost consciousness. afterwards, it seemed very easy for me; I was riding on a nice horse through unfamiliar and beautiful mountains, plains and rivers. During this time I met many ancestors |Ongons| one after another. Unfortunately, I did not know what they were talking about. Only after their departure, and my return, did I begin to understand who were in my place and what they were talking or asking about. 

     Nevertheless, “Dark World” does not just mean dark space, for it is invisible only for ordinary people, but is visible, or close to the Shamans during their shamanizing or meditation. In turn, the Spirit or Ongons that exist in this “darkness” take care of all of our World’s animals, plants, and people, as well as the mountain, rivers, lakes, and even stones, trees, and so on.

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