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Observations placeholder

Mircea Eliade - On cosmic mountains



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

Another mythical image of the Centre of the World that makes connection between the earth and the sky possible is that of the Cosmic mountain. The Tatars of the Altai imagine Bai Ulgan in the middle of the sky, seated on a golden mountain. The Abakan Tatars call it ‘The Iron Mountain’; the Mongols, the Buryat, the Kalmyk know it under the names of Sumber, Sumur, or Sumer, which clearly shows Indian influence. The Mongols and the Kalmyk picture it with three or four stories; the Siberan Tatars with seven; in his mystical journey the Yakut shaman, too, climbs a mountain with seven storeys. Its summit is in the Pole Star, in the Navel of the Sky. The Buryat say that the Pole star is fastened to the summit.

The idea of a Cosmic Mountain as Centre of the world is not necessarily of Oriental origin, for, as we have seen, the symbolism of the ‘Centre’ seems to have preceded the rise of the paleoOriental civilisations. But the ancient traditions of the peoples of Central and North Asia – who doubtless knew the image of a Centre of the World and of the cosmic axis – were modified by the continual influx of Oriental religious ideas, whether Mesopotamian in origin and disseminated through Iran or Indian and disseminated through Lamaism. …………..

 The other cosmic mountains of Oriental or European mythologies [include] Haraberezaiti (Elbruz) of the Iranians, for example, and Himingbjorg of the ancient Germans.

In Mesopotamian beliefs a Central mountain joins heaven and earth; it is the ‘Mount of the Lands’.

The source of the experience

Siberian shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps