Turkish God Erlik  

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Turkish God Erlik Cover
Erlik was the Chief God of the Underworld. In the Orkhon-Yenisei Inscriptions, Erlik is called Erglik. Erlik is described as an old man with an athletic built. His eyes and eyebrows are jet-black and his parted beard reaches his knees. His moustache is like tusks that curl behind his ears. His horns are like tree-roots and his hair curled. Erlik was connected with the worst disasters, epidemics and illnesses of people and cattle. He caused these illnesses to compel man to sacrifice to him. Men feared Erlik, especially when ill and were afraid to use his name, calling him Kara-Name (something black) instead. The sons of Erlik helped him rule the Underworld, where there were lakes, rivers and seas. Erlik also had several daughters whose number varied between two and nine. They were described as idle, sexually promiscuous and had a desire to lure Kams to their beds, as they descended into the Underworld for ceremonies. They stole the sacrifices Kams made to Erlik, with whom they were closely associated. Ancient legends state that Erlik taught ritual to the first Black Kam (Kara Kam). Ceremonies in the subterranean world were performed by black Kams, whilst white Kams (Ak Kam) never ventured there. Though Erlik was the supreme God of the Underworld, he rarely caused evil. He did not regulate the death of mortals and did not take away their Kut. He only accepted their material bodies after their demise. Kut returned to the Sky, after the body was cremated. Malicious spirits (Kermeses) dwelled in the Underworld and sometimes surfaced at sunset to cause harm. Sacrifices to Erlik were conducted at night, by slaughtering domestic animals with some defect (a broken horn, lameness, etc), as it was believed that the invisible Underworld contrasted with the visible one, where humans dwelt.

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Baba Yaga 3  

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Baba Yaga 3 Image
With the dark season of winter, many of us are reminded of death...which doesn't necessarily mean the actual loss of life. Death can also be symbolic of the shedding of old, the destructive influences which are not longer necessary. This time of cold, darkness, and changes connects us to Baba Yaga.

Baba Yaga is actually one of my favorites, and I have been waiting patiently for the opportunity to write about Her. She is a Slavic Goddess, and She is the Old Crone who guards the Waters of Life and Death. "Baba "means "old woman" and "Yaga "means hag. She is the mentor of old age and of the life cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. She sings as she sprinkles corpses with the Water of Life to let them be reborn.

There are many folk tales and fairy tales which have been written about Her. In some of these tales, we find Her as a kindly old woman, but in most She appears as a wicked, old hag with an appetite for children. Legend has it that She has a hut in the deepest and darkest section of the forest. They say it moves on chicken legs which move with the changes in the seasons. The hut is also surrounded by human bones.They also say that She rides in a mortar which She rows with a pestle.

Yes, Baba Yaga can appear pretty scary, but don't all the dark goddesses seem that way until we get to know them, for as terrifying as it may be to face Her, She is here to force us to examine our soul and to be forever transformed. Whenever we experience the darkness, She forces us to see our true and darkest selves and then grants us the deep wisdom that we have attained by accepting the dark shadows within ourselves.


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Goddess Shitala  

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Goddess Shitala Image
SHITALA is the Hindu Goddess of smallpox, both the disease and the cure. When Shitala first arose from a sacrificial fire, Brahma told her that humans would always worship her, as long as she carried the seeds of a particular lentil. Along with her companion, Jvarasura, the demon of fever, she traveled to visit the other Gods. Somewhere along the way, her lentils turned into smallpox germs, and anyone who they visited came down with a fever and smallpox. The Gods asked Shitala for mercy, and asked her to take her load of germs and go to the earth. She agreed, and she and Jvarasura went down to the earth. Their first stop was to the court of King Birat, who worshipped Shiva. King Birat would not give Shitala supremacy over Shiva, so she threatened to infect his people. He was not swayed, and Shitala called down 75 different kinds of pox on his people. The disease spread far and wide, and there were many deaths. Finally, King Birat relented, and Shitala healed him and his people.

Shitala rides on a donkey, and she has four arms. In her hands she carries a silver broom, a fan, a small bowl, and a pot of water. She uses these items to rid a house of disease-she sweeps up the germs with her broom, uses the fan to collect them, and dumps them into the bowl. She then sprinkles water from the pot (which is water from the river Ganges) to purify the house. Shitala's name means "the cooling one", and is also seen as SHITALA MATA, SHEETLA MATA, SHITALA DEVI, and SHEETALA DEVI.

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