Siberian cosmologies say that a great Tree grows on a mountain at the center of the the Earth. The Waters of Life well up on one side, the healing Waters of Death on the other. Seven planes exist within the Tree, some deep in the Underworld, others reaching into the Heavens. Shamans learn to attain these states through ecstatic chant and dance. Having journeyed through the worlds, a woman dances atop the Tree.
All Art Copyright 2000 Max Dashu
At the very top of the cape, high, facing the
And consorting with black whirlwinds
Onely grew the many-branched Tree of Happiness,
With raised roots, with slightly rubbed bark,
With bare branches and top bent askew.
To the eastern hill from the end of a cone
A foamy moisture flew to Earth with a willow ptarmigan
Like wisps of hair from horses' tails and manes
Gathered in a bunch, trailed far-flung silken needles.
The foam, in drops as large as a ptarmigan, flowed forever.
From the westward point of its branches in an endless stream
Foam oozed on the holy Earth.
This stream, three hand-spans deep, dug deep in Earth Mother
And of pure milk formed a lake.
Nourished with the juices of this tree
Bathed in its enlivening flow, the weak grow strong
They grow, the small filled out, the sickly were made whole.
For the happiness of the living, such was the purpose
Of that created blessed regal Tree.
---Archiv Yakutskovo Filiala: Lenskiye Pensni
from an olonkho (epic poem) of the Yakut people
of the Lena River in eastern Siberia