The ger (in Mongolian), or the yurt (in Russian), is the traditional dwelling of the Mongol peoples and, in general, of the nomadic peoples of Central Asia. Yurts and tipis are designed to be easily assembled and dismantled so that the owner can continue their journey. The herder is constantly moving, looking for new pastureland for their animals.
The orientation and the symbolism of the yurt are valid for all of the ethnic groups of Mongolia. The yurt is not only the center of the universe, but also a microcosm itself. It is a map of the universe, and the veil of the sky is reflected in the arched form of the interior of the yurt’s roof. The entrance is always facing south. The north side, also called the hoimor, is located behind the fire, opposite the door. This is the most honored place in the yurt, where sanctuaries and altars are placed. It is here that sacred objects and other religious images are placed on a table or chest.
The center of the yurt is the most sacred place of the yurt; it is where the fire is located. The fire is the dwelling place of Golomto, the daughter of Father Sky. It must therefore be treated with respect. Just as the yurt is the center of the universe, the fire is the center of the world represented by the yurt. The vertical axis represented by the chimney rising from the fire symbolizes the tree of the world where shamans ascend to the higher world. The crown of the yurt symbolizes the gateway to the upper world. In some shamanic rituals, such as the initiation of shamans, a tree will actually be erected from the fire through the crown of the yurt, thus portraying the journey of the shaman to the higher world.
The yurt can also be compared to the native people’s medicine wheel in North America. It is a physical representation of the sacred circle with its marked orientation towards the four directions of the universe. The circular pattern and alignment to the four directions are also preserved in outdoor shamanic ceremonies, such as walking and dancing around the sacred ovoo erected for mountain spirits. Ovoos are piles of stones and other symbolic items located on the tops of hills.
Movement inside the yurt is conducted “sunwise,” in the sense of a clock. By observing the crescent of light created by the sun entering the yurt through its crown, we understand very quickly why the yurt represents the race of the sun. For this fact, each person moving inside the yurt must do so in the direction of the movement of the sun: going from the south to the north of the yurt, passing on the west side of the yurt, and going from the north to the south of the yurt, passing through on east side of the yurt. This same movement is also applicable in shamanic dances and other ritual dances.
Seating also respects a tradition still ingrained today. The west side of the yurt, on the left hand when entereing the front door, is the side reserved for men. It is also the storage place for tools, saddles, bows, and rifles. The east side of the yurt, on the right hand when entering the front door, is the side reserved for women. On this side are stored kitchen tools, food, and other female objects. Finally, the places north of the yurt, those near the altar, are the most honored. Here elders, chiefs, shamans, and honored visitors sit. Children and young adults sit in the southern part of the yurt.
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1. Connection with the Earth. As the yurt is placed directly upon the earth, you are closer to Mother Earth for grounding your root chakra.
2. Meditation. As the entire structure of the yurt is symbolic (like a pyramid, pagoda, or temple), pointing into the universe, it drives a large amount of universal energy for your meditation in the yurt.
3. Release of Negative Energy. The round shape of the yurt has no corners, so negative energy does not remain in the yurt.
4. Cleaning and Energizing. Making a fire in the middle of the yurt allows you to clean and neutralize any negativity that might come into the yurt.
5. Balance. The two poles in the middle of the yurt represent masculine and feminine energies for balancing.
6. The Noble Eightfold Path. The crown at the top of the yurt has eight parts or petals representing the practices of the Noble Eightfold Path: View, Intention, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Concentration, and Mindfulness.
7. Connection to the Sun. The yurt is traditionally set up facing to the south. In that way, you will enjoy the natural sun and its warmth for the whole day. Our yurts have optional big glass windows to face south.
8. Optimization of Spiritual Guidance. With the yurt facing south, your altar can be placed in the north of the yurt, in the direction of Polaris, where you can manifest the most benefit from your spiritual guides and teachers. Monasteries place their altars in the north.
9. Model of the Universe on Earth. With the yurt facing south, you will live according to the universal spinning time and the twelve animal signs of the zodiac.
10. Healthy and Creative Living. Every part of our yurts are constructed of eco material, allowing you to bring the most prana (ch’i energy) into you for a healthy body and mind. Living in a 25-square-meter space, you can be minimalist and organize your day-to-day life for a constantly creative and joyful lifestyle. Best of all, you can move to a new spot for new experiences and take your yurt with you.