The Világfa (Életfa) Tree : Hungarian


The Religion in Brief

The world is divided into three spheres: the first is the Upper World (Felső világ), the home of the gods; the second is the Middle World (Középső világ) where is the world we know, and finally the underworld (Alsó világ). In the center of the world, a tall tree is standing: the World Tree / Tree of Life / Life Tree (Világfa/Életfa). Its foliage is the Upper World. The Middle World is located at its trunk and the underworld is around its roots. In some stories, the tree has fruits: these are the golden apples.

[edit]Upper World

The gods and the good souls live in the Upper World. Gods have the same rank, although the most important figure of them is Isten (meaning ‘God’ in Hungarian). He controls the world, shapes the fate of humans, observes the Middle World from the sky, and sometimes gives warning bylightning (mennykő). Isten created the world with the help of Ördög (“the devil” Evil). Other gods include: Istenanya (‘Mother God’), also known as Boldogasszony (‘Blessed Lady’; later identified with the Virgin Mary), and Hadúr (War Lord or Army Lord).

The major celestial bodies, (the Sun and the Moon), are also located in the Upper World. The sky was thought to be a big tent held up by the Tree of Life. There are several holes on it: those are the stars.

[edit]Middle World

The Middle World is shared among humans and many mythological creatures, the latter are often supernatural. There are ghosts of the forests and waters, who are ordered to scare humans. They have different names in different places. There are females, for example, the sellő (mermaid), which lives in waters and has a human torso with the tail of a fish. The wind is controlled by an old lady called Szélanya (Wind Mother) or Szélkirály (Wind King). The Sárkány (dragon) is a frightening beast: he is the enemy of many heroes in fairy tales, symbolising the psychical inner struggle of the hero. The lidérc is a ghostly, mysterious creature with several different appearances, its works are always malicious. The manók (elves / goblins) and the törpék (dwarfs) are foxy beings living in woods or under the ground. Óriások (giants) live in the mountains. They have both good and bad qualities. The most favourite creatures are thetündérek (fairies), who are beautiful and young virgins or female creatures. They aid humans, who sometimes can ask three wishes from them. Their opposites are the bábák, who are equated with catty, old witches. (Bába means ‘midwife’ in Hungarian, and originally they were wise old women, later equated with witches as Christianity became widespread.)


The Underworld is the place of bad souls (this includes evil spirits and the souls of dead people who were cruel and evil in their lives) and the home of Ördög. He is the creator of everything that is bad for humans: for example, the creator of the annoying animals (such as fleaslice, and flies).

One of the theory of the ancient Hungarian religion is that it was a form of Tengriism, a shamanistic religion common among the early Turkic, Uralic and Mongol people, that was influenced by Zoroastrianism from the Persians whom the Magyars had encountered during their westward migration.


The shaman role was filled by the táltos. Their souls were thought to be able to travel between the three spheres (révülés). Táltos’ were also doctors. They were selected by fate; their slight abnormalities at birth (neonatal teeth, caulbearer, additional fingers, etc.) were believed to be the sign of a divine order. The steps of their introduction:

  1. Climbing up on the “shaman ladder/shaman tree” symbolized the World Tree;
  2. Drenching the ghosts: drinking the blood of the sacrificed animal.

According to general consensus, the táltos were considered as part of pagan religion, and were persecuted in a witch-hunt during the reign of King Stephen I of Hungary. There is evidence, though, that the táltos were still existing until the Habsburg era, when this tradition was terminated. Maria Theresa made a law requiring that all babies born with teeth or with six fingers be reported and killed, a deliberate act against surviving táltos.[1] The painted ceiling of the church of Székelyderzsi had a figure with six fingers, it was renovated, “correcting” the picture to five fingers.[2]

According to folklore tradition, the égi táltos (or heavenly táltos) is Jesus Christ[3].


The two dragon világfán; Irish or imperial representation. The wood (világtengelynek appropriate) strain visible szvasztikák the sky designated by movement. Both dragon twelve days or is upon, which include the twelve month. A century miniature VIII on the basis of leaves from Northumberlandból subject entitled, in which the Würzburgi University directory is located.

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