Friday, 22 December 2017

22nd Lexember Word

ussáp ortáse [uˈsːäˑp o̞ɾˈtäˑʑə̆], noun phrase: “nameless god(s)/spirit(s)“

These last few days, I’ve kept mentioning these “malevolent spirits” that could discover and attack children if they were given a name too early. As it happens, the Mountain Folk have a generic name for these spirits, so I might as well mention it. In Haotyétpi, these spirits are called ussáp ortáse, i.e. “nameless spirits” or “nameless gods” (the traditional Mountain Folk animist religion does not really make a distinction between spirits and gods).

According to tradition, these “nameless gods” are spirits that for some reason lost their names. Either they got their names stolen by other spirits, or they lost them to an unnaming ceremony performed by human beings (according to Mountain Folk beliefs, the spirits must be respected and honoured to maintain balance in the world, but that respect must go both ways, and humans are entitled to punish spirits for not doing their part of the bargain), or they simply lost them to carelessness or wickedness. As I mentioned before, names have power in Mountain Folk beliefs, and for a spirit losing one’s name is equivalent to losing most of one’s identity. The god loses form, purpose and even most of its capacity to reason (if it had any) and becomes a formless, wandering spirit that yearns only one thing: to fill in the gap left by its lost name. Such spirits tend then to aggregate and will try to attack other spirits or even humans to steal them their strength, their health, their turá, even their name if they can.

The effect on people, according to traditional Mountain Folk beliefs, is diseases, i.e. the ussáp ortáse were traditionally considered to be the main cause of diseases, hence the need to ward people, especially young children and babies, against such spirits.

from Tumblr

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