Itwas the great ruler Chingis Khan (Gengis Khan) in the thirteenth century whofirst identified the spiritual qualities found in Bogd Khan, Burkhan Khaldunand Otgon Tenger, three mountains in Mongolia that have been protected down theages by virtue of their sacredness.
It is thought that he follow Tengriism, thebelief path traditionally trodden by the nomands of Mongolia who revere whatthey call the “Eternal blue Heaven” and live with deep respect for nature. InTengriism the spirits of the earth, sky and ancestors provide sustenance andbalance, which must be maintained through wholesome, respectful lifestyles. Inkeeping these high standards a person aims to strengthen his soul, the WindHorse. It is within the inner, essential quality that a person must honor therelationship between earth and sky, from which flows spiritual health. Anyimbalance rought about by disaster or transgression right again; this is forthe good of the individual and of the outside world.
Approximately half of Mongolians arenomadic, living in circular, felt-covered tents called ghers or yurts. The gherrepresents the universe in microcosm, its from echoing the paths of theplanets, sun, moon and cardinal points. This conceives of the centre of theearthand all the three-dimensional axes being linked by a domed outline,holding the elements of this world in a cohesive mass within the cosmos whilesymbolizing the turning of the year and the temporal rhythms of the seasons.
Within the walls of the gher, the domestic arrangements and movements of thedwellers pay homage to this concept. So, upon entering the door, which facessouth, one must follow the path of the heavenly bodies: the men’s saddles arekept 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 takescentral position and, representing ancestral links, must not be desecrated withrubbish or scraps. When it is time to move on to fresh grazing, the gher ispacked away and taken to new pastures, along with the animals. Along the way, ovoos – cairns ofstone or wood – mark auspicious places for worship, and alignment with the pathof the sun is continued here; ovoos are circled three times sunwise, and thespirits are asked for protection on the journey. Furthermore, votive offeringsmay be left- for example a length of blue silk, symbolic of the Eternal BlueHeaven, or extra stones added to the pile. These cairns may have evolved fromburial and funeral rituals and are now associated with the ancestors and withshamanic activity, because from the ovoo the shaman may soar through spiritplanes to the secret realms of the upper and lower worlds, returning withwisdom and solutions.
It is said that Chingis Khan spent three days in prayerat the ovoo on the top of Burkhan Khaldun, invoking guidance before embarkingupon major strategies. By removing himself to the Eternal Blue Heaven in orderto strengthen his soul in readiness to face the world, he clearly recognizedspiritual sustenance as a source of earthly strength.