Many cultures, across the globe traditionally have special homes or places for their helpful spirits, allies, or even souls that have passed to reside. These souls or spirits are highly revered, often fed, sometimes daily, as they watch over the family or the shaman. If they do not perform their duties, they are punished by holding back their food. Spirits are known to live as animals, or humans before going on to the spirit world. These shelters provide a place or home for the spirit to reside while it is still watching over the shaman. Without a home, the spirit may cause problems for people.
Certain Native American tribes carry on the tradition of burying the dead and then building a spirit house over the earth covering. This spirit house would hold items for the soul to take on its journey to the next world. Countless different societies use statues to represent their deity, and house the statue in shrines. Embodiment’s of their spirit as implied spirit houses. For example; spirit protectors, at the entrances to churches, palaces, even cities, gargoyles, Fu Dogs Chinese (guardian lions), and the Sphinx at the pyramids.
Spirit houses, ongons, can be items other than spirit houses. Shamans are often directed by spirit to make their spirit home from some other object, such as a stone, a hand crafted doll, or other item. Crystals are another popular spirit house with today’s shaman, as they are easy to obtain, and spirits are easily transported within them. The shaman can then place the ongon in a sacred place, on an altar, or in a spirit house, and there give it offerings of liquor, milk, food, or blood.
The ongon consist of wood, cloth, feathers, beads, and so forth. Simple carvings with human features, decorated then consecrated by the shaman for the spirit to enters. Men have different ongons than women. They can embody spirits for protection, ancestors, spirit lovers, healing spirits, and spirits of all different natures. It is a traditional practice to wrap the sacred ongon with sky blue cloth. After making, the spirit house a special place of honor is prepared for example on the altar, or in the shamans Mesa.
During healing rituals, a shaman may even let an ongon stay with someone who is need of to help with the process. The ongon can comfort and protect a person who is in the process of healing. When the ongon is no longer needed, the person returns the ongon.
Sidonia Nightsky (c) 2017
June 25, 2012 Heard on Morning Edition In Alaskan Cemetery, Native And Orthodox Rites Mix Corey Flintoff http://www.npr.org/2012/06/25/155431017/in-alaskan-cemetery-native-and-orthodox-rites-mix