The Skneli

In the mythology Georgian pre-Christian, the universe is perceived as a sphere. It comprises three worlds or levels, called skneli (სკნელი)


The Skneli

  • Zeskneli (ზესკნელი) - the highest world and the house of the gods. White is Zeskneli's color.
  • Earth - the middle world, the home of mortals. Its center is divided into two regions, anterior ( tsina samkaro , წინა სამყარო; Where tsinaskneli , წინასკნელი) and posterior ( ukana samkaro , უკანა სამყარო; Where ukana skneli , უკანასკნელი); - beyond which the lands of Earth are divided by seven or nine mountains (or seas), which a hero can only cross by first undergoing a spiritual transformation (known as gardatsvaleba (გარდაცვალება) - which is also the word for "death") and seeking help from magical animals, such as Paskunji, Rashi and others. Red is the color of this world.
  • Kveskneli (ქვესკნელი) - the lowest world or the underworld, inhabited by ogres, snakes and demons. Black is the color of Kveskneli.

These three worlds are connected by a world tree growing at the edge of the universe (or in other accounts a tower, chain or pillar) – a common theme in the mythologies many other cultures (compare, for example, Yggdrasil, Égig érő fa and Iroko). Beyond them and the universe lies Gareskneli (გარესკნელი), “the world of oblivion”, an endless void of darkness and eternity.

There are also two bodies of water and two planes of fire (each "element" having both a subterranean and a celestial form) with unique influences on human life. The moon (considered a brother) and the sun (considered a sister) pass through these two realms regularly, but in opposite directions.

After Christianization, Zeskneli became associated with heaven, Kveskneli with hell and the spiritual journeys between these worlds associated with death alone, to the exclusion of older and more shamanic conceptions of the otherworldly journey.