Pre-IE/Eurasian (Shamanic) Hearth-Goddess?
- Hey guys, I am presently engaged in a study re: hearth-goddesses, and
have been struck by the amazing cultic similarities between IE
countries with those in Siberia, Mongolia, and China, etc.! Many
themes occur in these "eastern" and shamanic lands that also occur in
the IE countries. Among these are the tending of the hearth-deity by
a virgin; the annual extinquishing and renewal of the flame
(universally with a fire-drill culled from an especial source of
wood); the head Mistress of the home usually tends the hearth spirit;
a token flame of the hearth is employed to re-kindle a new hearth
when the clan or family moves to a new location; and a new bride is
usually introduced to the hearth-spirit of her new family; while the
ability of fire to be the provence of purity itself seems near-
universal, as well, perhaps to the extent of the family line, I
wonder (What other reasons could there be?), etc. Another theme I
see is regarding the opening of seasonal portals--for example
February opens the seasonal portal of Spring in China, Rome
(according to one source), Lithuania, and Ireland, for example. I
have found other analogous evidence for some of the other Irish-
Gaelic celebrational dates/seasonal portals. So, I was wondering is
lines of transmission might be clearly drawn in any of this data into
IE cultures? Another thought that occured to me re: the virginal
attendees of the hearth is this: I wonder if their impetus is, in
actuality, associated with their womb as a sort of force of untapped
potential in carrying on the family line/genes, etc.? Many hearth
spirits seems associated with the family seat in this way. Here are
some of the Asiatic and shamanic hearth-goddesses that I have culled,
so far. What do you think? Also bear in mind that I have even found
male hearth-gods that fit some of these themes, as well; so, they are
not confined to goddesses. Honestly, I'm surprised that I've never
come across any literature (academic or otherwise) that deals with
this subject in any depth!
Among the Sakha (or Yakut) communities of Siberia, it is standard to
introduce a new bride to the family "hearth spirit" (yot ichchite),
at which point offerings of food were made by her. (I have
notbeen able to discern the gender of this hearth-spirit, yet.)
BOKAM is the feminized hearth-flame worshipped by the shamanic Ket
tribe of Siberia; they dominate the lower basin of the holy Yenisei
River in Russia's Krasnoyarsk Krai district. Imagined as a beautiful
woman; Bokam is thought to guard both hearth and home. Mealtime
offerings were made to the goddess, usually with small portions of
meat and tea. Her name translates as "Fire-Mother"; and, as a
consequence of her gender, she bears certain connotations with clan
lineage. Moreover, when Bokam was addressed, it was with the same
due respect given one's grandmother. When the Ket people migrated to
a new encampment, the hearth was carried with them in a special box
in order to re-kindle their ancestral flame.
FUCHI or Huchi probably means "Fire". She is a kamui [goddess] of
the hearth worshipped by the Ainu aborigines of Japan; and according
to one account of her mythic origins she was borne from the spark
kindled by a fire drill. As a hearth-goddess it is believed that she
functions as an intermediary between the gods and humankind; while,
one's ancestors are thought to pass into the Ainu underworld through
the hearth-flame. Being the Mistress who oversees domestic affairs,
the purity of the hearth is paramount so as to avoid angering the
goddess. Consequently her sacred fire must never be intentionally
extinguished. The Ainu believe that the goddess resides within
the hearth (a rectangular space located at the center of each home,
or chise), from where she extends her blessings upon each clan member.
 She may be associated with Fuji.
FUJI / Fujiyama / Sengen-Sama The Japanese hearth-goddess of the
native Ainu people, and personification of Mt. Fuji (an extinct
volcano), the apex on which her sanctuary was constructed. Due to
the predisposition of the Ainu people towards an indigenous form of
shamanism, this mountain may have been regarded as an axis mundi
serving to unite the "heavenly" world of the gods with
the "Underworld" presided over by one's ancestors. This is a
demonstrably pan-global religious theme probably dating to the
Neolithic period or earlier. Throughout the summer calends it is
common for parishioners to climb Mt. Fuji in order to pay homage to
the rising sun, while women were once excluded from such sacred
processions in the view that they were impurethis social tabu is no
longer recognized. However, sometime between the fourteenth- and
sixteenth-century CE Fuji was eventually superseded as the dominant
spirit of the mountain, being displaced by a goddess from Japanese
folk-religion named Konohana Sakuya Hime ["The Goddess of Flowering
Trees"] who was believed to keep the volcano from erupting.
Fujiyama's name means "grandmother" or "ancestress", indicating that
she may have been a deified tribal elder; however, it has also been
suggested that her epithet is derived from that of the goddess, Fuchi.
Fuji may also be a goddess connected with native game
animals, particularly the bear. After a successful hunt, when a wild
bear was killed, its carcass was brought into the home of an Ainu
tribesman and positioned next to the central hearth (which she is
thought to guard) where this deified animal would engage in a
ceremonial conversion with the goddess, discussing their common home
the sacred mountain. The next day the creature was flayed and
cooked, with generous offerings being made to its skull. After the
observance of these honorary customs the spirit of the bear is then
asked to return to his forest-home on Mt. Fuji.
HINUKAN is a hearth-goddess worshipped throughout Okinawa, Japan; she
ensures the safety of each household. Her rites are conducted by the
eldest female residing in the home. However, it is not deemed
customary for men to pray at her hearth, probably because males have
never been associated with religious authority in this region of
Japan. Hinukan is esteemed as the mediator between the gods and
mankind. The cultic hearth was constructedin times pastwith three
stones that were placed inside a box, upon a layer of ash, and then
positioned next to an oil lamp; but, today, a ceramic censer (kouro)
is employed to petition the hearth-deity. According to tradition,
when the matriarch of the home dies, her successor destroys the
censor and establishes a new one in honor of the fire-goddess.
Of course, women have always held an honorary position within
Okinawan religious life in the belief that they are spiritually
superior to menthey are the natural intercessors between mankind and
the supernatural. Household rites associated with the hearth are
usually commenced on the 1st and 15th of each month where the senior
female prays to Hinukan, reporting the activities of those living
within the home; the hearth-goddess then relays this message back to
the higher gods. Thanks and requests are then made, often with
prayers offered to the flame of the hearth inscribed onto pieces of
wood or paper. At an earlier age in Japanese history it was thought
that each household chose a virginal daughter to guard the hearth
flame from being extinguished. Her name means "Fire Deity".
HWEI-LU or Wei was originally a Chinese fire-goddess, but gradually
came to be recognized as the spirit of the hearth (or Tsao shin)
during the end of the seventh-century BCE. The caretaker of an
ancestral temple at Lu is thought to have first worshipped her in
this guise, sacrificing to the goddess with firewood that he had set
ablaze. Her cult assumed a role of only marginal importance within
native folk-religion for the next five-hundred years, until the early
second-century, when an Emperor from the Han dynasty officially
adopted Hwei-lu as a member of the imperial-cult; hitherto the late
nineteenth-century CE, however, the presiding spirit of the hearth
has come to be regarded as one of the most preeminent deities of
China. The goddess was commonly imagined as a beautiful woman
dressed in red; while, during the late third-century, Emperor Kao-
tsu, decreed her to be First Cook (Sien tch'vei)an epithet of
apparent importance within the region of Tsinregardless of the fact
that an alternative epithet, Spirit of the Furnace (Tsuan shin), was
regarded with equal importance at that time. It was during this
century that her gender was re-defined, and her identity as the male
kitchen-god firmly established. But, Chinese folk-religion is
diverse in many ways, depending upon one's clan or tribe. As a
result, some households are known to revere both a hearth-goddess and
a hearth-god, known by local titles. For example, in the district of
Fuhtchou, the Prince of the Hearth (Chau Kung) was worshipped
alongside the Mother of the Hearth (Chau Ma) as a divine pair.
During the late seventh-century BCE, it was decreed that all
hearths throughout China must be extinguished for three days
preceding the vernal equinox in order that they might be annually
renewed; during this period, all food must be eaten raw. This edict
was established by the Marquess Wen, husband to Ke-Wei (a chieftain's
daughter), after whom the goddess came to be euhemerized as Wei. The
impetus for this annual custom was the primitive notion that fire was
a substance of purification. As a result, at each seasonal portal,
large state bonfires were kindled in order to ward off any evil
influences and misfortune from the approaching quarter. Especial
kindling was also chosen for these ceremonies.
UT is the chief goddess of the Mongolian peoplethe spirit of fire
and resides in the domestic hearth, located in the center of each
yurt. It was she who ensured the safety of each household, and
bequeathed to those who respected her with happiness and wealth.
Valuing her societal tabus, and keeping her hearth clean generally
assured this. The Mongolian domicile was essentially a microcosm
of the Universe, surrounded by the native zodiac, with the hearth
burning at its center.
Fire was endowed with the ability to purify; and the hearth
was naturally thought to confer not only light, but would render
one's home a virtuous space. As a result, fire was employed to make
inanimate objects, persons and animals "clean" either by holding a
flame over that which is to be cleansed, walking between two flames,
or carrying an item over a low fire. If a person was to die, having
a torch carried around their remains, or their possessions, was
thought to ritually purify them and their objects. This belief
denoting fire as the provenance of purity was also extended to any
foreign dignitaries who were asked to walk between two fires before
approaching the Mongol court, in the view that it would neutralize
any desire for adversarial behavior.
Ut was presented with daily mealtime offerings of oil, wine,
or fat because these items would enhance the hearth's flame.
However, any individual struck down with a sickness or serious injury
was thought to have offended the goddess by violating one of her
sacred prohibitions. Among these tabus, it was not deemed acceptable
to cast any offering onto the hearth that might produce a foul scent;
nor was one permitted to step directly over the hearth, or brandish a
sharp weapon in its general direction. But, spitting on the hearth
or pouring water onto it was considered the most grievous of "sins"
both gestures clearly intended to threaten or vanquish the goddess.
 However, these prohibitions might also ensure proper respect
for one's ancestral line and genealogical continuity. Proper
reverence for the hearth-flame was especially important due largely
to the belief that, to "extinguish one's hearth-fire" implied killing
an individual, or his entire family (though, sometimes both). In
Mongolian tribal society the hearth is connected with the youngest
son of each yurt, who is believed to inherit the tribal homeland and
his ancestral hearth, while older sons are required to found a new
residence. Ut's name is derived from the archaic Turkic noun ot,
meaning flame or fire.
 Ramet, Sabrina P. . Religious Policy in the Soviet Union.
Cambridge University Press: pp. 239.
 Bianchi, Ugo, C. J. Bleeker and A. Bausani . Problems and
Methods of the History of Religions. BRILL: pp. 186.
 Ashkenazy, Michael . A Handbook of Japanese Mythology.
ABC-Clio: pp. 191-192.
 Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History. The Arctic
Studies Center. Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People. " Chise: The Ainu
House, Room 4 Overview".
<http://www.mnh.si.edu/arctic/ainu/html/room04.html> [Last Accessed:
15 August, 2008]
 University of St. Francis. "Mount Fuji".
20Bettylou/Mount%20Fuji.html> [Last Accessed: 31 March, 2007]
 Blacker, Carmen . "Two Kinds of Japanese Shamans: The
Medium and the Ascetic" in J. Narby & F. Huxley [eds.], Shamans
Through Time: 500 Years On The Path to Knowledge. Tarcher/Penguin:
pp. 210; Eliade, Mecea . Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of
Ecstasy. Bollingen Series LXXVI. Princeton University Press: pp.
 On this theme see: Lewis-Willians, David & David Pearce .
Inside The Neolithic Mind: Consciousness, Cosmos and the Realms of
the Gods. Thames & Hudson.
 University of St. Francis. "Mount Fuji", Ibid.
 Campbell, Joseph . The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology,
Vol. 1. Penguin Compass: pp. 338-9 and 395.
 Okinawa.Com: Religion. "Keys to Okinawan Culture", pub. by the
Okinawan Prefectural Government .
accessed: 4 July, 2007]
 Nanzan University. Reichl, Christopher A. "The Okinawan New
Religion Ijun: Innovation and Diversity in the Gender of Ritual
Specialists". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. 20.4 (1993).
u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/jjrs/pdf/403.pdf> [Last Accessed: 20
 Terrien de Lacouperie, Albert Étienne . Western Origin of
the Early Chinese Civilization from 2,300 B.C. to 200 A.D. Adamant
Media: pp. 160-3.
 Znamenski, Andrei A. . Shamanism in Siberia: Russian
Records of Indigenous Spirituality. Springer: pp. 68.
 The Silver Horde. Mendsaikhan, B. . "Mongolian
[Last Accessed: 20 August, 2008].
 Shamanism in Siberia, Ibid.
 Mcalester College: Anthropology Dept. Mongolian Language
Accessed: 20 August, 2008].
 Bulag, Uradyn Erden . Nationalism and Hybridity in
Mongolia. Oxford University Press: pp. 71.
- Just found a couple other entries from my food ol' personal Library!
GHALAKHAN EKE was originally a Mongolian fire-goddess. She enjoys
worship on one of the last day of the years where a sheep's breast
bone was offered to her; as well as at weddings; the summer solstice,
when libations were poured out to her; and at spring requesting that
camels be blessed. Her name means "Fire-Queen Mother". Ghalakhan
Eke came into existence when the gods of Heaven and the Earth, as
well as those of the mountains, animals and trees were, as of yet, in
a primordeal state. Her cult seems to underscore genealogical
continuity and the family, because she is frequently invoked for fine
sons, daughters, brides, and sons-in-law. Butter (ghee) is also
offered to her, as with other hearth-cults, such as that of Agni in
India. The Mongolian hearth-deity is now generally conceived of as
masculine. The Mongolian hearth-cult enjoys many Indo-Iranian
GHOLUMTA EKE ["Hearth-Mother"] is another identity of the Mongolian
 Baldick, Julian . Animal and Shaman: Ancient Religions of
Central Asia. I. B. Tauris: pp. 117.
- This is wonderful! I am very interested in learning more about a common
Eurasian religion since I am myself of both stocks.
2008/9/3 Wade MacMorrighan <Wade@...>
> Just found a couple other entries from my food ol' personal Library!--
> GHALAKHAN EKE was originally a Mongolian fire-goddess. She enjoys
> worship on one of the last day of the years where a sheep's breast
> bone was offered to her; as well as at weddings; the summer solstice,
> when libations were poured out to her; and at spring requesting that
> camels be blessed. Her name means "Fire-Queen Mother". Ghalakhan
> Eke came into existence when the gods of Heaven and the Earth, as
> well as those of the mountains, animals and trees were, as of yet, in
> a primordeal state. Her cult seems to underscore genealogical
> continuity and the family, because she is frequently invoked for fine
> sons, daughters, brides, and sons-in-law. Butter (ghee) is also
> offered to her, as with other hearth-cults, such as that of Agni in
> India. The Mongolian hearth-deity is now generally conceived of as
> masculine. The Mongolian hearth-cult enjoys many Indo-Iranian
> GHOLUMTA EKE ["Hearth-Mother"] is another identity of the Mongolian
>  Baldick, Julian . Animal and Shaman: Ancient Religions of
> Central Asia. I. B. Tauris: pp. 117.
>  Ibid.
"Our lives begin to end the day we keep silent about the things that
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