The Wild Gods of Te

Charles Ramble

in The Navel of the Demoness

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780195154146
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199868513 | DOI:
  The Wild Gods of Te

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According to a local variant of a well‐known Tibetan myth, Buddhism was introduced to Mustang by the 8th‐century magus Padmasambhava, who slew and dismembered a hostile demoness that blocked his way. Among the natural sites that are recognised as her body‐parts is Te, which means “navel” in Tibetan. An important facet of Te's religious life is the cult of its territorial gods, who were never tamed and converted to Buddhism. This chapter examines the territorial rituals performed by the Nyingmapa lamas and also by the village's pagan priest, the lhabön, who propitiates the gods with blood sacrifices. An examination of these rituals, as well as the dynamics of possession and the swearing of civil oaths, all point to the crucial importance of the creation and manipulation of “affective space” in the production of a sacred realm.

Keywords: wild gods; myth; Buddhism; Padmasambhava; demoness; navel; pagan priest; possession; oaths; affective space; sacred

Chapter.  11054 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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