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Thread: Shamanic Influences in West Eurasian Religions

  1. #21
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    Post Re: Can anybody also classify me please!

    Quote Originally Posted by ATHELF
    I believe in pre_islamic Turkish gods called Shamanism or Gok_Tanri which means Sky_God...I know a lot of people who are also sharing the same religious views in Turkey and also outside of Turkey. 2 years ago they tryed to establish a political party based on pre_islamic Turkish culture and the members were also Shamanist but unfortunately they couldnt establish it because they made a referendum around Turkey and only 20% of Turkey supported them.


    Quote Originally Posted by ATLANTO-MED
    Can you tell me more about Gok-Tanri, because I can't find much about Altaic religion except propaganda. I know it isn't related to Alawism, despite that misleading article, and I doubt any Central Asian religion was truly shamanic because by then the Altaics would have been assimilated into the natives, so because of this I suspect that most Altaic beliefs had been assimilated into Indo-European beliefs before the Turks arrived in Asia Minor


    This is the quote from Turkishdailynews.com again:

    "Alawiism is a composite, yet original religion which has its roots in the two major religions of pre-Islamic times: The Gok-Tanri (Sky-God) of the Oguzs in Central Asia and the Zaharadustran religion… Contrary to what some people maintain, Alawiism is not a continuation of a dispute over who would emerge as the caliphate after the death of Prophet Mohammed…And, nearly 20 million Turkish Alawis, constituting at least one-third of the overall population in this country, are now engaged in a quest for an identity. A quest which has been continuing for many years"


    The only way that I can see that Athelf’s claim [20% of the Turkish population support Shamanist pre-islamic culture] can possibly be true is if the quote from Turkishdailynews.con is accurate. This seems to be corroborated by KARTAL:

    Quote Originally Posted by KARTAL
    No! [Alevism] is central-asian-shaman. I would like to explain why, but my english is so bad


    So, Kartal, do you agree with that quote? And if so, could you expand on the connection between Gok-Tanri and Alevism? Trust me, your English will do.

    According to alevism.net, Alevism is characterised by shamanism and Zarathustranism and is only peripherally islamic. I couldn’t find any explicit reference to Gök Tanri, but here is some relevant information:

    http://www.alevism.net/welcome.html
    This site tries to describe Alevism from an objective view. This is a descriptive website, not a normative one. Most of the other websites, (scientific) books, and other media only stress the Islamic aspects of Alevism or start from a personal confession, thus giving a very biased and concrete viewpointed presentation about Alevism and related issues. Alevism can never be understood if it is snapped into an islamic frame and the social-historical processes of the Turkish and related tribes isn't studied in his institutionalised context.

    To understand alevism we must start unfolding historic-anthropological settings.


    Confirmation that Alevism is a native Turkish religion with shaman elements and influenced by Zarathustranism:

    In its initial form Alevism can be seen as a native religion belonging to specific Turkish tribes with strong shaman, mystic and humanistic elements. Alevism is still characterized by these principles. Through the centuries however also some islamic elements where adapted by the alevis. This has made lots of people looking at Alevism as an islamic movement. Especially in Turkey Alevism is looked on as an islamic movement. The underlying motives of this are the assimilation of the alevi-minorities. However, to what extent islamic elements are incorporated by the alevis in their way of live, differs per alevi-population and per region.

    Alevism is mainly adhered by people with a Turkish ethnicity (Turks).

    Beside that it is adhered by a considerable number of people with a Kurdish ethnicity (Kurds).

    Also it is adhered by a small number of people with an Arabic ethnicity (Arabs).

    o Turks mainly adhere Islam (about 80% to 70% are Muslims), the other part adheres Alevism (about 20% to 30% are also Alevis).

    o Kurds mainly adhere Islam (about 90% are Muslim), the other part adheres Alevism (about 10% are Alevis).

    o Arabs mainly adhere Islam. But there are also Arabs that incorporated some alevi-elements in their faith. These (Arabic) people are called 'alawis' (Alawism). Do not confuse them with the (Turkish) alevis (Alevism).


    The word alevis/alevism etymologically derives from the Turkish 'alev' (flame, fire), which refers to the shamanic way of life of these Turks and consequently led to that name. During the so called cems the fire fullfils still an important role. Also think of the Persian Zarathustranism where the fire played an important role. The Turkish tribes who migrated from Central-Asia through Persia to the west during the centuries, have probably adopted many cultural elements of it.

    The word alawis/alawism on the other hand etymologically derives from 'Ali follower' (Shi'at Ali: the party of Ali), which is a result of the great islamic schism between the Sunnites (or Sunnis) and the Shiites (or Shia).


    “Kurdish” alevites are mainly Kurdish speaking Turks

    The Turkish people originate from Central-Asia. Through the ages many of them migrated westwards. The first migration was made by the so called Oguz-Turks, after them the so called Seljoek-turks. Many scientists categorize the Oguz-Turks and Seljoek-Turks as the same….many alevi populations adjusted themselves easily to already existing people from the Middle-East/ Anatolia (Kurds, Armenians). The reason why the alevis adopted the Kurdish languages and not the Kurds the Turkish languages, is also a question of institutionalisation: the Kurds already resisted here, whereas the alevis were nomads. The acculturation of some alevi-groups into Kurdish culture resulted in many Kurdish based-languages. The so called Kurd-Alevis are Turkish-alevi populations who therefore also speak Kurdish (linguistic designation). The interaction over the centuries between alevis and Kurds led to ca. 30 new Kurdish based-languages (be it dialects) (Dmili, Kockiri, zaza-based languages etc.)… Beside this Kurds (Kurdish ethnicity and kurdish speaking) can also adhere Alevism

    http://www.alevism.net/alevism.html

    Tanri is referred to in a discussion of the Alevi belief system, although no mention of the Turkish pantheon is made.

    Although the terms belief and religion are often used to indicate the same, there is in fact a difference. Religion is based on a system of thoughts about reality, which are further concreted into views or religious regulations. The islamization of the Turks implicated the acceptance of dogmatic thoughts in their life. Particular thoughts about heaven and hell, specific commandment's, a specific Almight (Allah) etc., things that weren't before, entered their life. In fact these are all cultural values of the Arabic tribes, which are partially based on Jewish and Christian values.

    Before that however the Turkmenic-Turks had a profane beliefsystem. They had no concrete gods, but 'everything' was a part of the 'divine Nature'. The term Tanrı is the abstract Turkish word for god or gods (outspoken as T-A-N-r-i-h). It has the indication of 'Great Spirit', 'Holy Spirit', 'divine Nature', 'Oneness' etc. (see below). Everything is sacred, cause everything is a part of it. Tanri sounds like the Native Indian (Waka) Tanga (The Great Mystery) or the Creator Tangaroa (Polynesia)

    http://www.alevism.net/spiritualism.html

    The term Alevi denotes primarily the rural population embracing this creed or outlook on life. Since the establishment of the Republic they are migrating to the towns. Affiliation is inherited and the children are automatically initiated in their teens through special rites, whereby they are promoted from Sharia (the Law) to Tarikat (the Way). The tradition used to be mainly oral. Bektashi denotes laymen or dervishes who after studies and trial have been admitted to the Order or Brotherhood. Mystics can be initiated in two higher degrees, Marifet (Insight) and Hakikat (Truth) which lead to union with God.

    Insufficient sources

    Because of persecution, the rites, articles of faith and creed have been kept secret and it is still difficult to get a grasp of Alevism. The oral character of the tradition has led to a scarcity of written sources. …As already said the literature on the topic is scanty. Turkish press contained sporadic articles which were difficult to trace and had to be translated. Generally speaking they only treated the role of the Alevis in society. On their creed there was virtually nothing, probaly because of taqiya, the right to hide one's real beliefs in a hostile environment - which consequently are totally unknown or misjudged by other Turks.

    http://www.cornellcaspian.com/pub/17_0105Bektashism.htm

  2. #22
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    Post Re: Can anybody also classify me please!

    Quote Originally Posted by WestPrussian
    [/color]




    “Kurdish” alevites are mainly Kurdish speaking Turks
    If I'm not mistaken, the most common reason when the Turkish state banned the Kurdish language, was that there were no Kurds, only "mountain Turks". Most sources on the internet should be read with some caution

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    Post Re: Can anybody also classify me please!

    Quote Originally Posted by WestPrussian
    [font=Times New Roman]The only way that I can see that Athelf’s claim [20% of the Turkish population support Shamanist pre-islamic culture] can possibly be true is if the quote from Turkishdailynews.con is accurate. This seems to be corroborated by KARTAL:

    [size=3]


    So, Kartal, do you agree with that quote? And if so, could you expand on the connection between Gok-Tanri and Alevism? Trust me, your English will do.

    According to alevism.net, Alevism is characterised by shamanism and Zarathustranism and is only peripherally islamic. I couldn’t find any explicit reference to Gök Tanri, but here is some relevant information:

    http://www.alevism.net/welcome.html


    Confirmation that Alevism is a native Turkish religion with shaman elements and influenced by Zarathustranism:



    “Kurdish” alevites are mainly Kurdish speaking Turks


    http://www.alevism.net/alevism.html

    Tanri is referred to in a discussion of the Alevi belief system, although no mention of the Turkish pantheon is made.


    http://www.alevism.net/spiritualism.html


    http://www.cornellcaspian.com/pub/17_0105Bektashism.htm
    Light, Fire, Sun, Enlightment: they are the symbols of Spirit and can (being). Groups who engaged with these (shamanic) elements, went on carrying the name Alevi. Alevi comes from the Turkish word 'alev', meaning 'flame'. It's not sure yet if this is derived from their shamanic existence as nomads from Cenral-Asia (in which elements like light, fire, sun and enlightment played a role) or that it developed later when they came with their westward migration in touch with Mazdeism. Later Turkmen-Alevi's are also referred as 'kizilbas' ('kizil' means 'flame-coloured/crimson' and 'bas' means head, person), whereas 'kizildereli' means native Indian ('kizil' means 'crimson' and 'dere' means skin). When we talk in terms of 'engaging' this does not mean a form of 'worshipping': there are no 'concrete gods' to worship, there is only the divine Whole (see above). Engagement is rather the attempt to influence the outcome of reality, to influence all the things from it, and shape it to a desired outcome. The shamanic alevi dance sema, in where there are specific movements of the hands, is partly an upshot of this. There are however more functions of the sema [see rural traditions] ). Dances in which the outcome of reality is influenced, can be seen in (native) cultures all over the world. Circles play an important role in such dances, which is also seen in the alevi-sema.
    Beside that Alevi's speak of 'erenler', the enlightend ones (self-realizationd mankind, although this word has become more meanings). In some alevi rituals, the cems, the fire still plays an important role.
    Not only the 'the people of fire' or 'the flame-ones', but also Kurdish and Persian tribes engaged with these elements before the islamization. The culture of these latter one are also adopted in Alevism, but their shamanic elements (Zarathustranism and the Cult of Angels) must not be mistaken with spiritual elements described above. Different cultural adaptations refer to different Alevi-adoptations.
    Other Turkish tribes however switched over completely to the (Arab) Islam in their new religious perception.

    “Kurdish” alevites are mainly Kurdish speaking Turks!There you are! I said it

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    Post Re: Can anybody also classify me please!

    Quote Originally Posted by WestPrussian
    According to alevism.net, Alevism is characterised by shamanism and Zarathustranism and is only peripherally islamic. I couldn’t find any explicit reference to Gök Tanri, but here is some relevant information:
    To me it doesn't look like theres evidence for a shamanic element as Im asking for, because in the proper usage it refers specifically to northern religion but the site doesn't give any evidence for Altaic beliefs and rituals among the Alevites. But I'd be surprised if they were completely absent from Alevism because Zoroastrianism and even Hinduism seem to have certain elements of shamanic origin, which are probably from the Aryans.

    Tanri is referred to in a discussion of the Alevi belief system, although no mention of the Turkish pantheon is made.
    Indeed it states that Tanri is the Turkish word for God rather than of a particular deity, so it probably doesnt point to an Altaic origin for Alevism. ("The term Tanrı is the abstract Turkish word for god or gods. It has the indication of 'Great Spirit', 'Holy Spirit', 'divine Nature', 'Oneness' etc.")
    Last edited by morfrain_encilgar; Thursday, October 21st, 2004 at 11:56 PM.

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    Post Re: Can anybody also classify me please!

    Quote Originally Posted by atlanto-med
    To me it doesn't look like theres evidence for a shamanic element as Im asking for, because in the proper usage it refers specifically to northern religion but the site doesn't give any evidence for Altaic beliefs and rituals among the Alevites. But I'd be surprised if they were completely absent from Alevism because Zoroastrianism and even Hinduism seem to have certain elements of shamanic origin, which are probably from the Aryans.



    Indeed it states that Tanri is the Turkish word for God rather than of a particular deity, so it probably doesnt point to an Altaic origin for Alevism. ("The term Tanrı is the abstract Turkish word for god or gods. It has the indication of 'Great Spirit', 'Holy Spirit', 'divine Nature', 'Oneness' etc.")
    Oh man! Belive what you want to belive

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    Post Re: Can anybody also classify me please!

    Quote Originally Posted by atlanto-med
    The cult of angels is intimately linked with native West Asian religion, and in Iran and the Caucasus it seems to have absorbed the nomadic religion into itself, rather than having been imported from the nomads which is why I'm sceptical about using the Nart sagas of the Caucasus to reconstruct Indo-Iranian mythology.
    I didn't understand that bit very well, about the Nart Sagas. Nart Sagas are shared by Ossetes (who are an Iranian people) and Adyghe-Abkhazians alike (who are indigenous Northwestern Caucasian people, neither IE, nor Turkic or Slavic). It is assumed that (looking at practises and beliefs) that the Nart Sagas are native to the region but have been heavily influenced by Indo-Iranian warrior peoples, namely the Sarmatians and Alans who settled along the region. There are considerable similarities between the Scythian and Northwestern Caucasian mythologies, traditions and general life style. The Circassians and Abkhaz have been in the area long before the Scytho-Sarmatians arrived and have pretty much kept their own culture which can be traced in religious beliefs and folk traditions, although they surely absorbed certain elements as well. However I think (and so do others) the exchange has been more or less mutual and the IE steppe people also borrowed from the indigenuous population as well.

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    Post Re: Can anybody also classify me please!

    Quote Originally Posted by rusalka
    I didn't understand that bit very well, about the Nart Sagas. Nart Sagas are shared by Ossetes (who are an Iranian people) and Adyghe-Abkhazians alike (who are indigenous Northwestern Caucasian people, neither IE, nor Turkic or Slavic). It is assumed that (looking at practises and beliefs) that the Nart Sagas are native to the region but have been heavily influenced by Indo-Iranian warrior peoples, namely the Sarmatians and Alans who settled along the region. There are considerable similarities between the Scythian and Northwestern Caucasian mythologies, traditions and general life style. The Circassians and Abkhaz have been in the area long before the Scytho-Sarmatians arrived and have pretty much kept their own culture which can be traced in religious beliefs and folk traditions, although they surely absorbed certain elements as well. However I think (and so do others) the exchange has been more or less mutual and the IE steppe people also borrowed from the indigenuous population as well.
    The problem which I have isn't that there are northern elements in the folk religion of the Caucasus because there are, but that nobody knows the religion of the nomadic Indo-Iranians.

    Do you feel that there's a reason why the Ossetians in particular can be considered as representative of the ancient Scythians, other than because of their language? I interpret them as culturally close to other Caucasians, and as having adopted the language and if this is right then their religion cant be used to accurately reconstruct the Sarmatian religion. But I don't pretend to know a lot about the ethnic groups in the Caucasus, so I mignt be wrong.

    Im also critical of the mutual borrowing idea because religions serve social functions, and I expect that the borrowings would have been limited because a nomadic society has different requirements to a more settled one.

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    Post Re: Can anybody also classify me please!

    Quote Originally Posted by atlanto-med
    Do you feel that there's a reason why the Ossetians in particular can be considered as representative of the ancient Scythians, other than because of their language? I interpret them as culturally close to other Caucasians, and as having adopted the language and if this is right then their religion cant be used to accurately reconstruct the Sarmatian religion. But I don't pretend to know a lot about the ethnic groups in the Caucasus, so I mignt be wrong.
    No, I agree with you on that; Ossetes, culturally and traditions wise, are very close to other Caucasus peoples. Ossetes are the descendants of the Alans, linguistically, but after about 2000 years it would be unrealistic to assume they kept their own ethnic and cultural core exclusively.

    Im also critical of the mutual borrowing idea because religions serve social functions, and I expect that the borrowings would have been limited because a nomadic society has different requirements to a more settled one.
    The Caucasians were not that settled, though. They didn't do much agriculture, for obvious geographical reasons, and their settlements relied more on animal herding. They also had a raiding culture, constantly at war with their neighbouring clans but they also had a surprisingly strict chivalric code. Some clans were strictly caste based (princely class, noble class, warrior class, regular people, slaves) and some were not, but I think originally the caste system prevailed.

  9. #29
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    Post Re: Can anybody also classify me please!

    Quote Originally Posted by rusalka
    No, I agree with you on that; Ossetes, culturally and traditions wise, are very close to other Caucasus peoples. Ossetes are the descendants of the Alans, linguistically, but after about 2000 years it would be unrealistic to assume they kept their own ethnic and cultural core exclusively.
    And the same thing happened in Iran, where there are shamanic elements in a non-shamanic West Asian mythology, so the tradition of Iran probably isnt very close to Alanic mythology either, except for the shared shamanic elements. So again the reason why Im sceptical, is because Indo-Iranian mythology is mostly reconstructed using the evidence from West Asian sources.

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    Post Re: Can anybody also classify me please!

    Quote Originally Posted by rusalka
    The Caucasians were not that settled, though. They didn't do much agriculture, for obvious geographical reasons, and their settlements relied more on animal herding.
    This is still more settled than the nomadic steppe societies were.

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