Ancient Bulgarian Mythology by Dimo Dimov
We won´t look through an ethnographic window at ancient bulgarian/bulgar culture nor won´t we divagate ourself with historical issues, we will more breath a dusty air about the spiritual item of ancient tangrism.
Seeking deep in black dwells, gathering sources, different ones. It seems impossible to be able to lurk through the shadows of the past. Unlike germanic, slavic or asian traditions where you can find a lot of material, scripts and words the ancient bulgarian culture and traditions were nearly extinguished, mostly in the period of communism as the soviet system tried to sew the seeds of panslavism and so to “exchange” silently the yet week bulgar heritage with a slavic one, although noone should and could deny the symbiotic interlacing of bulgar and slavic culture.
Lets begin with a look into the very past and into the word itself.
T’ien (à Tan) is the chinese/uigur/kirgiz word for “sky”. Ra is, despite egyptian roots, also an indoiranian word for “god”. Nak was the common word for “human” of the different tribes from turk, aryan, altaic and uralic, but also from more ancient heritage like sumerian – of course this term differed etymologically due to ethnological facts – living in the wide regions and valleys between the Altai and Pamir mountains in middle asia known as Kirgizstan and Tadjikistan today.
So we can concluse that Tangra is actually the abroveTanNakRa and its other terminology differs from tribe to tribe: Dengir (sumerian), Danguz (baltic), Tengri, Dingir, Tingir, Dangar (turkic, altaic) and Tangra (bulgarian). We will look only onto the last, the bulgarians as their heritage and form of cult and paganism differs from that of the turkic and altaic tribes because we have to look at the bulgarian heritage as an irano-aryan tribe which is an etymological (the nomenclatura of the words “bolg”, “balhara”, “balhash” and “bulkar” as well as many other words, which are in use today) and spiritual evidence (many bulgar tribes also practicated the irano-aryan zoroastric cult by summoning both cults, tangric and zoroastric, as the main element of Tangra is the fire.)
We see a lot of cults based on sun worship. In that case, the sun (life – death – harvest) often rivals with the sky (drought – rain – harvest – grandeur).
Tangra is the power sky, a non-personificated and non-anthropoligic cosmic power. But the “trinity”sky-man-god could be interpreted as the divine connection between man and nature, between sky and sun, so man can be seen as a part of this dignity, even as a small one.
The celestial believe strongly includes the meaning of the balance of powers. There is no manifastated dualism. By becoming a part of the cosmic balance, man is no longer a subject of creation, he becomes divine himself.
The cult of Tangra was also essential for the dynasty of Khans (Kings), on several clay plates there could be defined the following religious sentence:
“Who is speaking the truth, is seen by god – who is speaking lies, is seen by god, too.”
Main characters of Tangra are: male sky deity, unvisible, untouchable –its symbols are the sun, eagle and horse (the Windhorse, which is nowadays the coat of arms of Mongolia).
The monotheistic cult of Tangra was widely practicated by ancient bulgarian tribes during their moving towards the western lands from the 4th until the 6th century and even after settling down on the Balkans in the 7th century up to the byzanthenean christianisation in the 9th century. In some of the Balkan and the Black Sea coast the cult was further developed with new creations combining the cults of the already settled souther slavs.
But despite the monotheistic system, we can distinct between five structures within the religious-mythological construction – the main elements that are a sacred pantheon themselves:Tangra (Sky, Creator, God - the mighty sky) Yer Su (the holy earth-water)
These both main spirits are followed by:
- Umay (Mother Earth, Womb of Earth, fertility)
- Erlik (the level of the underworld)
- Ancestor cult and demonology as well as totemism-shamanism
The ancestor cult takes the main part in the common people´s life. As their duty is to take care of the living and to be the positive transcendent power while the living humans are themselves the power who are taking care of the balance between the worlds. Some of the deceased and forgotten ancestors are not able to reach the world of Erlik, they become holy spirits of Yer Su, inhabitating cliffs, rivers, shores, wells, lakes and meadows. Sacrifices were brought directly as gifts like food or crafts, buried superficiously in the earth (Umay) or layed on lake and river shores (Yer Su), as well as brought indirectly by sacrificing mainly dogs or hen by the shamans.
Totemistic beliefs were widely practicated with a high affinity to northern american native animism as this has asian roots (totem = tuteng). Every entity in nature contains a spirit. The personal totem of every balance-keeping human (Nak) was the Windhorse (bulg. Vihrogon), which is located right in the breast . The windhorse is crucial for the spiritual feeling of every human. Another important totems are bear, wolve, goose (as sometimes Tangra himself appears as a white, flying goose) or eagle. However, the main Tangra symbol is the horse, it is the zoomorphic incarnation of the Khan (King).
Every ritual begins with honouring Tangra, the mother Earth and the ancestor spirits. The shaman is drinking milk and deploys it among the temple/house at all four cardinal points, a fire is illuminated in the center of the cult place, it symbolizes the eternal life and the healing power, the breath of fire, the breath of the sun (this might be compared to zoroastric cults and slavic traditions, especially when the tangric people clashed with slavic culture and slavic regions that led to further cultural and ethnical assimilation, but it stands alone as an important part the Tangra rites).
Due to several stone carvings in Ukraine (where the bulgarians moved through during the 5th century) and Northern Bulgaria, two main runes could be depicted – the actual sky rune could not be appointed until today. The rune on the left is the spirit symbol of Yer Su.
IYI in the middle – the main rune of Tangrism – is the symbol of the unnamed sun god (some bulgarian sources determinate the sun god, who is a very special form of life bringer and guardian and the son of the cosmic father-sky). In this case the sun is no more the concurrent of the sky, it becames a part of the cosmic pantheon. Other sources also assign the ancient svastika as the main tangric sun symbol. The third rune is a symbol, similar to Odal rune, but turned upside down. Its meaning is the holy heritage “Sarakt”, the state itself – most of the tangric tribes defined their organization, consolidation or merge, already as a ‘state’ in its modern administrative meaning.
Time and its streaming, as well as the fluction of the epochs and eras was an issue of high matter to the spiritual elite and shamans of Tangrism, not only in far asian regions, but still in Europe, on the balkans – this evidence was manifested by the discovery of several stone and wood carvings in the former bulgarian capitols Pliska and the ruins on the Crymean Peninsula and several Regions of the Volga river (during the bulgarian movement towards Europe). Although the deliverance is absolutely inadequate, scientists like Bojidar Dimitrov and Peter Dobrev could determine the exact creation date of the Tangra calendar at 5808 B.C. and due to this computation of time, the year of 2008 is actually 7816.
One circle of the Tangra period is 25920 years, beginning with the birth year of the first predecessors, the Alps, which can be compared easily with the Hyperboreans.
One day of the cosmic year is 72 years – the human pulse is 72 times per minute. The number of daily breaths is 25920.
The Alps are personificated sources of energy – each alp generation with a strong hierarchy rules over the three worlds (Ustyugu Uren, upper world – Urta Uren, middle world – Adak Uren, underworld).
The number 7 is essential for the tangric doctrines, which stand with eachother in a coherent context:
7 are the main symbols on the tangric rosette and so are the planets of the tangric cosmic system with the polar star as its center - a symbol of completed, fulfilled harmony and balance.
We also cannot disregard and ignore the big influence of the western chinese and altaic calendar when we look at its arrangement and zodiacs:
Dox – Pig, Somor – Rat, Shegor – Ox, Bars – Tiger, Dvansh – Rabbit
Ver – Dragon, Dissom – Snake, Tech – Horse, Pesinu – Monkey
Toch – Rooster, Eth – Dog
After re-arranging this calendar structure, bulgarian and russian scientists determined the age of Pisces to Dvansh, the age of the rabbit and the current age of Aquarius to Pesinu.
Can Tangra be compared to any other prechristian monotheistic cult? Not really, but the cult itself can be compared to single deistic phaenomena like Indra or Mithra, although their ocularly sun referrence deeply clashes with the sky referred Tangra cult. By contrast to Tengrism, which is widely practicated today in many turkic-asian regions, the Chuvash people in western Russia are the ones, who continue the cult of Tangra (Tangrism) even in the 21th century.