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The Vainakh people of the North Caucasus include the modern Chechens and Ingush, who today predominantly practice Islam. Nevertheless, their folklore has preserved a substantial information about their pre-Islamic pagan beliefs. The Vainakh practiced a religion, a mixture of animism, polytheism, familial-ancestral (see Veneration of the dead), agrarian and funerary cults. Nakh peoples[who?] practised tree worship, believing that trees were the abodes of invisible spirits. Vainakhs developed many rituals to serve particular kinds of trees. The pear tree held a special place in the faith of Vainakhs.
Connections to the mythologies of other peoples
K. Sikhuralidze proposed that the peoples of the Caucasus region shared a single, regional culture in ancient times. Careful study of the Nakhian and Kartvelian mythologies reveals many similarities and supports this thesis.
Circassians and certain Indo-European groups
There were also many similarities that Vainakh mythologies shared with those of the Circassians, the Circassian historian Amjad Jaimoukha notes frequently, but also those of the Greeks, the Italic, the Celtic (see respective subsection) and the Germanic peoples. There are many shared myths that all these peoples have.
Among them, Amjad Jaimoukha argues in his book that Chechen traditions were especially similar to Celtic traditions, despite the difference in language and location. Both shared a number of elements, including veneration of certain tree types (including, notoriously, a pine tree on the Winter Solstice; which later became adopted by the Catholic Church for Christmas) and lakes, festivals (Jaimoukha notes Halloween and Beltane), veneration of fire, and certain ghost related superstitions. Jaimoukha went further to state that there might (or might not) have even been a relationship between the Celts and the Vainakh, due to similarity of ancient mythology and ancient traditions. However, this latter hypothesis is not widely discussed.
- Deela or Dela - The supreme god, brother of Odin.
- Hela - God of darkness.
- Mel-Deela -. The supreme goddess.
- Seela or Sela - God of stars, thunder and lightning. Sela has night, storm and cold tied in his skeins[clarification needed]. He lives on the top of Mount Kazbek. Rainbow conceived as hunting bow of Seela.
- Sata or Sela Sata - either wife or daughter of Seela, according to different versions; a goddess of artisanship and especially female crafts, corresponding to Northwest Caucasian Satanaya. Her face is described as shining like the sun with beauty. She helps Pkharmat[who?] steal Sela's[who?] fire for the Earth's inhabitants by guiding him to hell on the peak of Mount Kazbek.
- Maetsill - God of agriculture and the harvest and protector of the weak.
- Ishtar-Deela - Lord of life and death and ruler of the underworld ("Deeli-Malkhi"), responsible for punishing the wicked.
- Molyz-Yerdi - The war god who brought the Vainakh victory.
- Elta - God of the hunt and animals and - before Maetsill took over his role - the harvest. He was blinded in one eye for disobedience by his father, Deela.
- Amgali(-Yerdi) - A minor deity.
- Taamash(-Yerdi) - ("lord of wonder") Lord of fate. Usually tiny in size but becomes gigantic when angered.
- Tusholi - Goddess of fertility, protector of the people in front of his father Deela. She lives in sacred Lake Galain-Am. According to scholars, in the earlier beliefs Tusholi was the dominant deity. People asked from her for a healthy offspring of a rich harvest and growth of cattle. Later Tusholi was mainly the object of worship of childless women.
- Dartsa-Naana ("Blizzard mother") - Goddess of blizzards and avalanches. She lives on the top of Mount Kazbek. Dartsa-Naana inscribed on a snow cone a Kazbek magic circle, through which no mortal dares to cross. The ones who stepped this circle Dartsa-Naana drops into the abyss or floods the ice mountain. It scares people with a cock[clarification needed].
- Mokha-Naana - Goddess of the winds.
- Seelasat ("Oriole"). Protectress of virgins (possibly identical to Sata / Sela Sata, see above).
- Meler Yerdi - God of plants and cereal beverages.
- Gal-Yerdi - Patron of cattle breeders.
- Aira - Patron of eternal timeline.
- Mozh - Evil sister of the sun and moon. Mozh ate all their relatives in the sky, and now constantly chases the sun and the moon. When she catches up with them and obscured, the eclipse occurs. Mozh releases the sun and the moon only after it has been so requested by the innocent first-born girl.
- Bolam-Deela - Not much is known about him/her. He/she may or may not have been equivalent to Deela-Malkh.
- Khagya-Yerdi or Maetskhali - Lord of the rocks.
- Mattir-Deela - Another little known deity.
- P'eerska - (Friday) The keeper of time.
- Baini - Ancient god of agriculture. Later replased by Maetsill.
- Unu - Goddess of contagious diseases.
- Higiz or Hegiz - The goddess of smallpox.
- Falkhan - Ancient god of magic and wisdom.
- Susan - Protectress of woman and of maternity.
- Agoi - The protector of girls.
Supernatural creatures and heroes
- Pkharmat, demi-god Nart have stolen fire from cruel god Sela. Equivalent of Greek Prometheus, and Georgian Amirani. He is also equivalent to the Circassian Pataraz.
- Pkhagalberi tribe. Mythological dwarf race, Pkhagalberi translated as Haareriders. They were invulnerable for any kind of weapons their enemies the Narts had.
- Turpal, a free-roaming horse came to help Pkharmat in his journey when he called him. "Turpal always roamed free, grazing among seven mountains, and drinking sea-water."
- Uja. A cyclops, faithful servant of Sela. He chained Pkharmat to summit of Mount Kazbek.
- Ida. Falcon coming every morning to tear Pkharmat's liver.
- Spirit of Galayn-Am Lake is a mythologic bull protecting sacred Galayn-Am Lake from being polluted and unfaithful acts.
- Melhun, the fallen angel.
- Nart, a mythical race of giants. Separately from the mythology of other peoples of the Caucasus, in Vainakh mythology Narts can be both good and evil.
- Almas, evil forest spirits. They can be both male and female almases. Almas-men covered with hair, a terrible kind, fierce and insidious; on the chest of them is a sharp axe. Female almases have an extraordinary beauty, but also evil, insidious and dangerous. Sometimes they seem terrifying creatures of enormous growth with huge breasts, thrown over his shoulders behind his back. Favorite theirs occupation - dance: throwing his chest behind his back, raising his hands up, they dance in the moonlight. Almases live in the woods, on the highlands. They are patronized by wild animals and sometimes come with a hunter in a love affair. Luck on hunting, according to legends, depends on the benevolence of an almas.
- Ghamsilg (or Gham-stag) is witch in Vainakh mythology. Ghamsilg may leave her body and enter into an animal. If in her absence to turn the body, then, on his return from travels, it will not be able to return to his body and dies.
- Djinim (Genie). In perceptions of Chechens and Ingush good and evil spirits are between angels and devils. Good and evil djinim together are in the same hostility as angels with devils. Through deceit or eavesdropping, they steal the innermost secrets of the future of man and tell their friends of the earth. Falling star - a star angels cast during eavesdropping. Contact with a djinim leads to insanity.
- Taram, invisible guardian spirits that protect his master from all sorts of disasters. On representations of the Nakhs, every person, every household (family), all natural objects had a Taram.
- Uburs, the evil, bloodthirsty spirits, entered into any animal. Close to the vampire in Slavic mythology (cf. Polish: upiór, Ukrainian: upir).
- Hunsag (or Hunstag), the patron spirit of the forest and forest animals. Hunsag seek to destroy every hunter, who met with him in the woods. From his breast sticks out the bone axe. The forest animals, birds, trees, grass rise to defend Hunsag.
- Amjad Jaimoukha The Chechens: a Handbook (Routledge/Curzon, 2005) pp. 109–111 and appendix pp. 252–253
- Jaimoukha, Amjad M. (2005-03-01). The Chechens: a handbook (1st ed.). Routledge. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-415-32328-4. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
- Jaimoukha, Amjad. The Chechens. Pages 8; 112; 280
- Jaimoukha, Amjad. The Chechens. Page 8
- Anciennes Croyances des Ingouches et des Tchétchènes.Mariel Tsaroïeva ISBN 2-7068-1792-5. P.197
- Мифологический словарь/Гл. ред. Мелетинский Е.М. - М.: Советская энциклопедия, 1990- pp.672
- Мифы народов мира/под ред. Токарева С. А. - М., Советская энциклопедия, 1992-Tome 2 - pp.719
- Первобытная религия чеченцев. Далгат Б.
- Lecha Ilyasov. The Diversity of the Chechen Culture: From Historical Roots to the Present. ISBN 978-5-904549-02-2
- Anciennes Croyances des Ingouches et des Tchétchènes.Mariel Tsaroïeva ISBN 2-7068-1792-5