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East Asia

Literally, ‘birthgiver’. The mother goddess of the Yakuts, a Turkic people living near the Lena River in Siberia. ‘The mother of the cradles’ was believed to be present whenever one of her devotees gave birth. She was Ajysyt-ijaksit-khotan, ‘birthgiving nourishing mother’. From heaven she brought the soul of the baby so that a complete human being could come into existence. Other Siberian tribesmen thought that the mother goddess dwelt in heaven on a mountain with seven storeys, where she determined the fate of all, by writing at the birth of each child in a golden book.

The Altai Tartars acknowledged a goddess called the ‘milk lake mother,’ but the Yakuts themselves possess a strange myth about the white youth who encountered a calm ‘lake of milk’ near the cosmic tree, the world pillar of Yryn-al-tojon, the ‘white creator lord.’ Having besought the blessing of the tree, the white youth felt a warm breeze, heard the tree creak, and observed a female divinity arise from the roots. She proffered him milk from her full breasts, and having satisfied his thirst, he felt how his strength had increased a hundredfold. The milk-breasted mother goddess and the tree of life are thus combined. The importance of the cosmic tree, whether conceived as a sky-pillar or a source of fecundity, can be seen in the notion of its other job–the tethering-post of the stars wandering in the heavens.

Subjects: Religion

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