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Batyr Elistaev, about spirit-masters of lands and waters

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


When you are appealing to ancestral spirits, it is not necessary to call their names loud. You can just imagine them in your head. When you are appealing to the spirits of a specific area or land, you can use the name of that place, for such spirits do not have personal names. Not all ponds are inhabited by spirits. In this pond, however, there lives a very strong spirit. There are people who saw it in the form of a 10-meter long snake. Basically, the spirit manifests itself when a rite is being held here. In the past, the village of Orgakin was located right in this place. People settled along the springs that flow here. When the Kalmyks returned from Siberia, they found their village relocated where it is today. In terms of hierarchy, Tsagan Aav is more senior than the spirits of nature. He is their leader. Since we live on earth and feed off it, it is important to perform rituals of making offerings to these spirits. A problem with the modern man is that he feels himself a hegemon: he climbed into the concrete buildings, wrapped himself with wires, and thinks that he is protected. However, he is not. Often, it is large cities that are affected by floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. This happens because we have lost touch with the world around us. We disrespect the land and its spiritual owners, polluting and poisoning the land. As a result, we fall ill with skin rashes, and our immune system deteriorates. This is the vengeance of the spirits of the earth, water, space, wind, and mountains.



Spirits, masters

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin