It
was the great ruler Chingis Khan (Gengis Khan) in the thirteenth century who
first identified the spiritual qualities found in Bogd Khan, Burkhan Khaldun
and Otgon Tenger, three mountains in Mongolia that have been protected down the
ages by virtue of their sacredness. It is thought that he follow Tengriism, the
belief path traditionally trodden by the nomands of Mongolia who revere what
they call the “Eternal blue Heaven” and live with deep respect for nature. In
Tengriism the spirits of the earth, sky and ancestors provide sustenance and
balance, which must be maintained through wholesome, respectful lifestyles. In
keeping these high standards a person aims to strengthen his soul, the Wind
Horse. It is within the inner, essential quality that a person must honor the
relationship between earth and sky, from which flows spiritual health. Any
imbalance rought about by disaster or transgression right again; this is for
the good of the individual and of the outside world.

            Approximately half of Mongolians are
nomadic, living in circular, felt-covered tents called ghers or yurts. The gher
represents the universe in microcosm, its from echoing the paths of the
planets, sun, moon and cardinal points. This conceives of the centre of the
earthand all the three-dimensional axes being linked by a domed outline,
holding the elements of this world in a cohesive mass within the cosmos while
symbolizing the turning of the year and the temporal rhythms of the seasons.
Within the walls of the gher, the domestic arrangements and movements of the
dwellers pay homage to this concept. So, upon entering the door, which faces
south, one must follow the path of the heavenly bodies: the men’s saddles are
kept on the western side for heavenly protection and at the north is the altar;
turning east the area for food preparation is minded by the sun. the fire takes
central position and, representing ancestral links, must not be desecrated with
rubbish or scraps. When it is time to move on to fresh grazing, the gher is
packed away and taken to new pastures, along with the animals.

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            Along the way, ovoos – cairns of
stone or wood – mark auspicious places for worship, and alignment with the path
of the sun is continued here; ovoos are circled three times sunwise, and the
spirits are asked for protection on the journey. Furthermore, votive offerings
may be left- for example a length of blue silk, symbolic of the Eternal Blue
Heaven, or extra stones added to the pile. These cairns may have evolved from
burial and funeral rituals and are now associated with the ancestors and with
shamanic activity, because from the ovoo the shaman may soar through spirit
planes to the secret realms of the upper and lower worlds, returning with
wisdom and solutions. It is said that Chingis Khan spent three days in prayer
at the ovoo on the top of Burkhan Khaldun, invoking guidance before embarking
upon major strategies. By removing himself to the Eternal Blue Heaven in order
to strengthen his soul in readiness to face the world, he clearly recognized
spiritual sustenance as a source of earthly strength.  

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