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Монголоор уншиж болно

001 – Тамлага  (Invocation)

This tale takes place in the late of autumn, when the first snow gently falls on the land. We gather around a freshly prepared bonfire lit from branches of birch and pine collected around, to invoke and honour our forefather. It is with undeniable joy and excitement that we join for his arrival. His wise words and counsel always uplift our spirits and guide us to a better place… one could say toward our own purpose.
The ceremony starts with a melody inspired by ancestral time, whispered by the wind passing through the trees and swaying grass, travelling above high mountains and within vast valleys. As the rhythm intensifies we feel our forefather getting closer, grasping his echoing voice from afar in indistinguishable words, and sometimes giggles. The melody imbued by the surrounding nature keeps unfolding,  as ridden by our coming guest…
Eyes closed, we all wait, our body softly balancing in rhythm. Our hands gently laying on our laps, with palms oriented to the sky. A sign of respect and a gesture of welcoming. The melody continues to grow and builds room for our forefather… After a final exhilaration, similar to ground heating hooves of a horse in its final effort of a long run, our beloved sits among us, slowly getting familiar with his physical form. He lets the instrument rest behind him, on his left side. He sets his right elbow on its lap, and prepares his right hand, ready to receive his silver bowl of fresh milk. After a few sips, we know that we can approach him with reverence and respect. One after another we greet him and let him smell our scent from our forehead, a way for him to get familiar with each of us present. He makes a joke or two, a way to get a little bit closer with us while we share welcoming words. We all smile and jubilate for the moment to come. After this affable and tender introduction, he takes his pipe to smoke his favourite tobacco, peacefully, quietly… A way to collect himself… while we patiently wait for him to begin telling his stories…

002 – Сохор элээний ширтэлт  (The gaze of the observant kite)

In the light scent of the smoky pipe, we listen with attention to the slow, rocky and elderly voice of our grandpa. We feel above us the observant gaze of a kite, with light brown feathers, a sharp beak, angled wings and a distinctive forked tail, a bird of prey often considered as the ride of our ancestors’ spirits. It peacefully soars and glides in circles, calling… and scrutinises each of our movements, as if verifying that our forefather landed properly and that everything is going well. Its curiosity leads it to observe our encounter. 

Now within the lively conversation, we all start to feel more comfortable. An intimate mood is setting as we share the still smoking bun cookies draped with fresh clotted cream. The salted milk tea in which we can see rich butter floating also helps warm our body and our heart. One by one, we sit beside our grandfather to ask for his wise words and guidance. 

The kite’s shrill whinnying voice echoes in the vast clean sky. It can be heard in the distance, and gives us the pleasant feeling that Tngri is close and is looking upon us. After taking great care to sense our intentions and confirm that the meeting with our grandpa is going well, it just flies away, its curiosity satisfied. It disappears in the horizon, and there, will wait for our forefather’s departure.

003 – Эрчимт голын харгиа  (The flow of the lively river)

Not too far lies a wide and powerful river. Its bank is whiten by ice gradually formed as the snow gently falls. The sound of its intense flow, gushing between rocks and shocking against the ice resonates in a low and mellow rumble. Through its melody we can almost perceive the story of this river from its source, streaming on the slope of a mountain, progressively merging with other thin branches, growing to a larger river, crossing caves and woods, swiftly passing beside us to finally release all its strength within a close lake. This constant low pitch starts to settle in our ears, soothing our soul and being, enveloping the area and setting the stage for our forefather to start recounting a tale.

004 – Гуринх эх чоно  (The ravenous mother wolf)

We all sit comfortably around our forefather as he is about to start telling a story… the tale of the ravenous mother wolf… we know that it will take a few evenings around the fire to hear the whole adventure as it will be shared with us a little at a time. After finishing his tea, our forefather begins.

In the snowy mountainside a starving mother wolf waits patiently, in her den, with her two cubs. The leader and most of the pack went away a few days ago on a hunt but still did not come back. They may have been stuck in the fallen snow or did not manage to get a satisfying prey yet. The first signs of starvation start to show on her thin body. After lingering for too long, the sight of her babies beginning to moan in hunger forces her to take action. Her pack not coming back leaves her with no other choice, she cannot stay still. In a moment of determination, she gathers her strength and desperately moves away, looking back at her two cubs half asleep, dedicated to finding food. It would be only for a brief moment, she hopes. Once in the wild her senses are acute and she starts to slowly move into the deep of the wood, to detect an interesting prey to bring back to her loved one. This walk is consuming all the strength she has left, but her mind is focused and her motivation is unbiased. A determination that might bear fruit as she perceives a faint scent. Is it a deer? She follows the scent and once it becomes clearer, prowls in the snow, slowly moving forward her body getting ready for the battle to come.

After a walk through the snowy pine, she finally spotted the deer… Majestic, in the youth of age. This would be quite a feast. She walks toward him quietly, carefully setting her paw gently in the snow to avoid attracting attention. When finally feeling close enough, she jumps in an attempt to pierce the skin of the deer but largely misses. Startled, the deer ran off and here begins a wild chase of slalom between the trees, avoiding bush and using all vigour to catch up with the deer… in vain… After a few minutes of pursuit, the deer is now only a memory and is nowhere to be seen. The mother wolf does not intend to give up and keep moving forward tracking her prey. She decides to call in a desperate howl.. Maybe her pack is close and would come to her help?

Moving in the slow growing snow mist she gets to smell her pack coming along, their smell transported in the wind. Maybe they also found the track of the deer. The smell is getting stronger, she can now smell the deer on top of her companion. It seems they are all going to gather in one spot for an epic confrontation.

Now with the herd of deer in sight, she prawl again, soon joined by her pack.. In a rush, all animals run in confusion, in every direction.. It is chaos.. But the deers know the terrain better and just disappear quickly in the woods…

After a hard chase, using all her last ounce of strength she finally slows down in pain and resolves to endure for another day…

005 – Хиа дөнөн буга  (The four-year-old red deer scout)

As every story has two sides, we now hear, or experience this adventure through the deer point of view.

This majestic red deer gives a lot of promises to become the leader of his herd in the near future. As he is only four years old, he takes the status of scout to prevent any danger for his herd. He is posted on the west side of the mountain, peacefully grassing, looking for tasty roots hidden below the fresh fallen snow.

After this tale the forefather gives us a mission.. to go to that khairkhan afat to soothe the spirit guardian of the place.. the trip will take a few days and we need to get there for the next new moon as the time is better propice for this kind of rite.

006 – Модноо дүүлэх хэрэм  (The hopping squirrel in the wood)

After recounting these stories our forefather informs us that a nearby mountain’s guardian spirit is offended and feels, one could say, a little bit grumpy. This mountain has been nothing short but ignored by the locals and it took a toll on this good hearted spirit. We are then charged to go on its cairn and perform rites and offerings to soothe the wrath of this guardian. 

Before departing, we gather some horse blue dungs, dried curd, milk, a khadag in light blue colour, some branches of “gangan” that we put carefully in a leather pouch. All these will be required reagents for the ceremony. Everything being ready, we take our leave, on our way to the mountain, crossing the river beside and riding toward its foot.
Once there we enter the mantle of the khairkhan, ornamented with pines and covered by a slim layer of snow. This reminds us of the scenery depicted in the tales about the wolf and deer. After passing the first few trees, we cross paths with a joyful squirrel, jumping around and looking at us. He takes a little pause between his every few jumps as if checking our direction or even like teasing us a little to chase him. We take his cute game at heart and follow along. And so, we share a little piece of the way with our new made friend. Nonetheless he is too fast for our peaceful pace and after looking back at us a few times soon climbs into a huge pine. We keep walking peacefully toward our goal, with the joyful squirrel above our head, jumping from branch to branch. We enjoy the soft breeze making the leaves fall and swirl before getting into the dense forest, into the heart of the mountain.

007 – Үүлэн чөлөөний наран  (The sun veiled by the clouds)

As we keep moving forward to the top of the mountain, we remark that our little fluffy friend is not following anymore. He probably stopped by its dwelling to comfortably savour his collected nut treasure. He too might be sharing a moment of warmth with his friends or family.

Close to the top, the trees become a bit rarer. The few that are standing here are not covered with thin snow anymore but with strong ice. On some of them we can even see icicles ready to fall at the slightest gush of wind. The mood definitely evolved in the last minutes. The sky that was before spotless starts to fill up with mist and clouds, and the sun that before was warming us kindly, is now getting veiled by this sudden haze. Without a doubt this change is of magical nature. We are assuredly getting closer to the home of the grumpy and broken hearted spirit.

008 – Цөхөрсөн онгодын аяглал  (The tempest of the dejected spirit)

Noe finally on the top, we can barely find the cairn who would serve as the stage of our ritual. The weather has something close to a supernatural tempest. The wind blowing in all directions, the thin rain, mixed with wet snow and hail. The sound of thunder makes us feel very small, and we realise that nature is not to be played with. In the midst of this wild weather, we do our best to protect the offerings we prepared. The leather pouch starting to be soaked with water, we put it inside the front pocket of our deel to add a layer of protection in hope to keep everything as dry as possible.

We keep walking in the direction indicated by our forefather and soon distinct the long searched cairn. In the last few meter the thunder shook three times as a final attempt to push us away from the bad behaving spirit. Once in close reach, the rain starts to ease, leaving only a gentle snow swirling in the gust. It is as if the guardian understood that we were here for him and finally let us in, open to listen. We take a moment to collect ourselves and appreciate this little moment of reprieve. It is now the time to initiate our soothing ritual.

009 – Хөх хомоолын май  (The whirlwind of the homool’s smoke)

Before performing a rite, it is customary to clean the area of negative energy. To do so we burn some khökh khomool (which are dried horse manure that has long been weathered by the sun and the wind) and let it consume slowly in incandescence just like one would do with scent. The smoke that exhilarates is very dense and white. It can even take human or animal shape from time to time. We turn three times around the cairn with the smoking khomool. Gradually what was a mountain fresh mist turn into the warm mist of the khomool’s smoke. The typical smell brings back many memories… A smell always affiliated to humane moment of conviviality. We also prepare the various offerings. Mostly grain and see as well as a bit of milk, and some pieces of dried curds. The hadag is also tightened on the ritual offering spoon, satslaga. Everything is now set for the confrontation.

010 – Уулын савдгийг аргадахуй  (The soothing of the mountain’s guardian)

Now enveloped by the khomool smoke, everything is set to start honouring and soothing this khairkhan’s spirit. The altercation starts in the midst of an alternate state rich with emotions. It almost feels like traditional wrestling, but between two minds, each trying to pull one another to its side. The guardian spirit misery is very palpable and tears start to flow on our cheeks. We align ourselves to it to try to let it through and flow back to our mother earth. We all radiate positive energy to the khairkhan and to the spirit hoping to open a bridge of constructive dialogue. Some of us are charged to offer some drops of milk to its cairn or grain and seeds to the surrounding which will please the local fauna. These offerings are always to be done with parsimony. Giving too much is only a reflection of greed and would only disturb nature and have the opposite effect. We believe that the right amount simply fits in the palm of the hand. It is only by feeling and embracing the full lenght of the offering that we can appreciate and value it properly. The rest of us who are less familiar with the rite simply sit and send their appeasing vibration. After some instant of contact, the guardian spirit starts to yield, our good intent is finally reaching out. The wrestling gradually changes into a mutual dance and what was some grumpy onomatopoeia gently becomes warm giggles. The sky gradually gives way to its infinite blue as we can feel the sun’s warmth again. Around, the birds resume their chirping, and the noise of the wind lets place to countless conversations between animals and plants. The rite being successful we sit in a circle in front of the cairn as a final goodbye, ready to relate this adventure to our forefather.

011 – Гэнэн майга бор  (The ingenuous bow legged bear)

The ritual is done, and the spirit is soothed and back to joy. Before departing and going back to our forefather, we spotted a young bear in the distance, probably 2 or 3 years old, walking and rolling. He just starts his independent life and learns to be on his own. He still feels like a little cub in his behaviour, but he definitely looks like a big boy. He is walking peacefully alongside a little river, sometimes playing in the water, sometimes crossing it. Would he be lucky to maybe find a fish in this little flow of water. We keep watching him while he playfully runs toward a tree. It seems that his back is hitching. After making acquaintance with the tree, he scratches his back a little. This looks like a great relief to him. 

After a moment of thought, looking around, probably wondering what to do next, he gets back alongside the little river resuming his walk and exploration.

012 – Бэлгэт зарааны мөрөөр (The path of the hedgehog of good omen)

While going out of the woods, we come across a cute hedgehog, walking and running away from us. In a rush of curiosity we chase him gently to try to get another look at him. Hedgehogs are often seen as a sign of good omen, so we can take this as a farewel sign from the guardian spirits we had contact with.

Little fella scurrying away and pushing through red and orange leaves

013 – Хайрханы сүлд ирвэс  (The majestic snow leopard of the Khairkhan)

Back to our grandpa, we sat around to listen to another of his tales. This time it feels more like a praise, a praise of the snow leopard, being seen as the master of the mountain. This was probably the revered totem of our forefather tribe.

014 – Урин ханш нээхүй  (The rejuvenation of the spring)

Spring is now at the door and the first buds begin to pierce through the infinite white like stars in the sky of a dark night. The snow melts and pristine pearls of water drops from rocks.

 It is the moment where nature awakens and shows its dedication to life. The land slowly leaves its numbness in an eclectic excitement changing its mantle from white to green in a delicate choreography. The trees get out of their hibernation joined by bees and birds. The actors of this marvellous surrounding stage are now back in place to unveil their unique performance.

015 – Мордох  (Departure)

The time for our forefather’s departure is here. Just like we welcomed him, around the fire, we now do the ceremony of farewell. We can hear the kite coming from afar as our grandpa starts to swift back into the realm of Tenger.