The táltos (also "tátos") (Pron: 'tal-tosh) is a figure in ancient Hungarian mythology similar to a shaman.

According to Roman Catholic priest Arnold Ipolyi, in his book "Magyar mitológia" (Hungarian Mythology) from 1854, a "táltos" was in direct contact with God during the prenatal period. Once born, the "táltos" had a special mission in life to cure both body and soul of other members of society. The "táltos" could be either male or female, and should be born with unusual features, like six fingers (altogether 11 or 12 fingers) or already-grown-in teeth.

During their childhood, they had to be brought up in secret to learn everything to be some kind of shaman.

The "táltos" was able to go into a deep meditation called "révülés", and in such a state could cure sickness of any kind. The táltos also had a mission to communicate with the entire Hungarian nation in a time of danger, to warn against invading armies or an impending cultural collapse.

The main difference between shaman and "táltos":
* The shamans learn to be shamans, while táltos get their power during prenatal period, they "know" everything once born.
* The shamans use external materials to go into mediation, táltos can do "révülés" without anything. In fact táltos look like ordinary people.
* The shamans usually do some kind of acting (dancing, mumbling, etc) when they are in "operation", while táltos are always without any movement or sound.
* The shaman tradition is without horse, while táltos tradition is tied to "táltos horse".
* The táltos has a personalised mission in life from God.

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 St. Stephen. 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". [Collected by Dezső Dümmerth] The painted ceiling of the church of Székelyderzsi had a figure with six fingers, it was renovated, "correcting" the picture to five fingers. [Diószeghy: Élő hagyomány]

According to folklore tradition, the "égi táltos" (or heavenly táltos) is Jesus Christ [Collection from Sándor Bosnyák] .

Their view on the world

The legends of the táltos include the belief that everything has a soul, not only people but animals, flowers, rocks, the wind, the stars, even places. This soul can be reverted to energy. The táltos were able to feel this energy and get in contact with it.

The so-called "révülés" ("rév"=harbor, where you get across) was the state where their soul "got across" to link with this energy, to get answers how to cure sicknesses, how to see into the past, and foretell the future. The "révülés" could be accomplished by praying to God.

The main mission of táltos is always positive, the táltos cannot damage or do harm. All táltos could cure any sickness but this meant that the táltos have taken the sickness to him/herself, but in a different "mode". With this method they could "take out" the sickness and "destroy" it.

Next to curing, they had other missions, mostly foretelling, warning people of something harmful. These missions can almost all the cases be associated with Christianity: either to preserve the religion or to strengthen it.

The two most famous "táltos": Göncöl and Kampó

According to legends, the two most famous táltos were called Göncöl and Kampó.

Kampó had "iced body" ("jégtestű"), he was short and had thick legs, he lived in Temesvár (present-day Timişoara). He ate lunch in Buda at the same table as King Matthias, he was always poorly dressed so the king was asked several times why he is eating in the same table as the king, but King Matthias insisted on this tradition. When the Turkish army attacked the Kingdom of Hungary, he spilled fire from his mouth and he "fought with his iced body against metal Turkish", and he redeemed the "moonly" ("holdas") horse of King Matthias from the Turkish.

Göncöl, (also Döncöl, Güncü) on the other hand, had tremendous knowledge. He spoke with animals, and he understood the meanings of the stars, he invented the coach, and he had a coach which was driven by not one horse, and had its perch broken and bended. His death was not seen, but thought that he disappeared into the stars. All Hungarians see the "coach of Göncöl" at the sky which is commonly known in astronomy as "Ursa Maior" (Great Bear), where the tail of the bear is the perch of the coach.

Origin of the word "Táltos"

The name "Táltos" is of unknown origin, but most probably correlating to "tát", which is to "open wide"; i.e. they "opened themselves to the world." Other theories state it comes from Finno-Ugrian "taitaa" meaning "to know, understand", or from the derivative of Turkish "talt" meaning "unconsciousness".

References in History of Hungary

In Chronicle of the Hungarians by Johannes de Thurocz, Attila of the Huns asked several "táltos" to foresee the outcome of Battle of Chalons, where they predicted that the war would be lost. They based their predictions on the intestines of animals, but how the actual prediction is done is not known.

The heritage of "táltos kings" can be found in several locations of Hungary and are linked mainly to kings of the Árpád dynasty. The most important is the chivalrous Ladislaus I of Hungary; the name of his horse was Szög.One legend says, that Stephen I of Hungary went hunting, but grew tired and took a nap under a tree. He had a dream (or "révülés"/meditation) of speaking with the head of the Besermian army. When he woke up, he knew they are preparing to attack, and he could take action to protect the country. According to this legend, St Stephen himself was a táltos.

From the times of Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, Galeotto Marzio writes: "you had a man of six fingers in your father's court". The horse of Matthias was "moonly" ("holdas"), referring to it as "táltos horse".

There was a law suit in 1725, in Debrecen, where Erzsébet Balázsi, a well-known táltos at that time, was accused of being a witch. The court have asked her to explain the role of táltos. She replied: the táltos cures, sees buried treasures with the naked eye, and "the táltos are fighting for Hungary in heaven".

There is a common belief that King Stephen I of Hungary have persecuted the táltos during Christianisation of Hungary, but this is not linked to any fact.

The "Táltos Horse"

The "táltos" always had a horse, frequently appearing in Hungarian folk tales as a white stallion with wings. However, the "Táltos Horse" were always jade, skin horses, which were mocked by everybody. It is said in myths, that only the Táltos could see the real powers hidden in the horse. When they met, only the Táltos could ride the horse, and it was always "flying like thought", yet in Hungarian mythology, it rarely had wings and never a unicorn.

ee also

* Hungarian mythology



External links

* A Nagy- és Kis Göncöl és a Sarkcsillag ( [http://csillagaszattortenet.csillagaszat.hu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=42&Itemid=293 html] and [http://csillagaszattortenet.csillagaszat.hu/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=42 pdf] ) by Várhegyi Péter, part of MCSE's pages about history of astronomy

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