Dialogue on the Threshold

Диалог на пороге

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The seven-tiered universe

In the Vogul conception, the vital space of the surrounding world consists of seven strata or tiers. According to our information, these are as follows: 1) Yoli torum “the nether realm” or “netherworld”, which is mainly inhabited by beings inimical to man or the spirits of “the upside-down world”, which as a rule cause people illnesses and misfortunes; 2) Yalping ma “the sacred earth” or the stratum that supports life and in which inheres future life and the life force (oln yor); 3) Ma unlup, unlup torum or posing torum “the earthly realm”, which is all that dwells on earth, all the things that exist, visible and invisible to the eyes of ordinary men. The last are concealed from human eyes in a thin layer of bark (sas khalyup sayt olnă makhum). The realm stretching from the Earth to the blue Heaven; 4) Torum “Heaven”, which is the blue space above the earth; 5) Numi Torum, which is the world above the celestial cupola, shining blue above us; this is the stratum wherein dwells the life of the spirits or folk of the overworld, including God and his children; 6) Opil, which is the uppermost stratum of the vital space, above Numi Torum (the term opil derives from opa "paternal grandfather"); 7) Kors > Kars, literally “High”. Herein dwell the all-powerful forces, the all-seeing forces, unconcerned with the life of the earthly space, although in time of great misfortune men can make appeal to them in prayers for succour. Their likenesses are not depicted; they are invisible, indescribable. The Voguls have no places in nature where they worship or pray to them.

Е. И. Ромбандеева, История народа манси (вогулов) и его духовная культура (по данным фольклора и обрядов), "Северный дом" Северо-Сибирское региональное издательство, г. Сургут, 1993

(trans. A. I. Blyth)

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