Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Visiting Lugu Lake, the "Country of Daughters" - One of the Last Matriarchal Societies & the Medicine of Goddess Mountain

Greetings Friends!

Like many of you, I am struggling with many feelings, including grief, anger, fear, devastation and great loss after the result of our election. I feel we have missed a most wonderful and powerful opportunity to have Hillary as our chief leader in our country. And instead, I am struggling to come to terms with so much darkness coming into power. And this election is revealing what has already been growing in our country. A division and hatred that is showing its face in a way that I feel will call us all into action. 

While I’m still in the midst of grief, anger, fear and reflection, recently during my sit spot among the red rocks of Lao Jun Shan park in Liming, Yunnan Province, China, I sat and listened and was just being with the land. The sun was setting and I watched as the shadows grew, the cold crept in and the brilliantly red stones were slowly swallowed in dusk. While we may be seeing and feeling much darkness creeping in like these shadows of night, I remembered that the sun is always shining regardless of the night, AND it will rise tomorrow and this valley I’m sitting in will be blazing with warmth and the orange-red glow of the sandstones once again. I know from my own personal experience that for healing, sometimes things get worse before they get better and truly heal from the core. With so much at stake, …with everything at stake…may we all come together and truly be stronger and brighter together, standing for what is right, just, and Good. 

And right now I am in China with my friend and colleage, Szu-ting, her husband Dave and our great group of participants on our Yunnan Qigong & Wilderness trip. And, I offer my travel stories and experiences below as an offering of Love and Bright Light in this time of challenge and change. (I’ve had some trouble getting on the internet so I wrote this last week :) – more will come :))

Visiting the “Country of Daughters” ~ Lugu Lake – the Land of the Last Matriarch
During this trip, Szu-ting and I are taking our group to one of our last Matriarchal societies, Lugu Lake with the Mosuo people of Yunnan Province. There is a reason I am here, all of us on our trip our here. I had thought it was because it would be such a blessed place to celebrate the election of our first woman President of the United States. But there is another reason. This place is powerful and I arrived knowing the importance of being fully present, to listen to and receive from the land and water here and to give back through my awareness, love and appreciation. The earth is constantly teaching and She has different medicine, lessons, guidance in different places. My intent is to bring back the medicine I’m receiving here to plant seeds of strength, knowing and wisdom in our/my own country.

We arrived here at Lugu Lake the day of the election and received the news en route. That night, in the privacy of my own room (we’re staying with some wonderful Mosuo people in their village), I cried and cried and cried. I cried so hard and felt a strong ache and pain in my left kidney – the left side being my feminine side and kidney representing Fear. It was late and I knew it was important to rest and help my shaking body and spirit come to calm and get some rest. I had a mind’s eye flash of Lugu Lake and began to meditate upon this great water Being. 

This lake is huge and supremely beautiful! She is surrounded by mountains – the largest towering mountain over 10,000ft, Ge Mo Nu Shen – is called the Goddess Mountain.  Around her are other mountains that roll and tumble into the lake like sleeping dragons, laying down their giant bodies and finally laying their heads down as “dragon” peninsulas into the lake’s welcoming, magnificently blue and calm waters.

As soon as I focused my attention on Lugu Lake, my whole being slowly relaxed and was filled with a vast peace. I was filled with gratitude and awe and fell asleep knowing I would go to her waters at morning’s first light. 

Upon waking the next morning, tears soon rolling down my cheeks again, I got up, put on my warmest clothes (as it gets into the 30s at night here but warm 60s during the day), and walked through the village to find a place to reach the water’s edge before meeting up with our group. 

As I walked, I passed many local school kids, Moms and Uncles escorting their children. --Note in this matriarchal society, people don’t marry as we do in our culture. They have “zou hun 走婚” – translated as “walking marriage” or “visiting marriages”.  When a girl comes of age, she can start to have lovers. Often times she is given a room on the outer edge of their family compound with a door to the outside, so that men from neighboring villages can come visit. The woman can accept or refuse these lovers. When a man and a woman have been together a while, they may choose to have a child. Yet it is rude for anyone in the village to ask the woman who the father is. 

One hundred days after the child is born, there is a public celebration where the mother and father of the child together celebrate the birth of their baby with their village. Then the news is out. :) Yet, unlike our culture, the mother then raises the child with her family and her brothers, the baby’s uncle(s). The father helps raise his sister’s children. Yet the father, if he wants can also be involved in his children’s lives. 

For example, in the family we stayed with, the woman has her own home and we actually stayed in the man’s home (which he had build out with extra rooms to make an inn :)). (I’ll call this couple husband and wife for ease in writing – though they aren’t married in that way). The wife was helping out to cook for us and sometimes stayed over with her husband, and sometimes went back to her home. They had 2 sons together and because the husband only has brothers and no sisters (therefore no sisters with children), he was/is very involved in his own kids’ lives and helping raising them. :-)

So back to my walk to the lake :)….It is a healthy and peaceful village – each home with it’s own flourishing gardens of cabbages, mustard greens, potatoes, corn, radishes, peas, apple and Asian pear trees and much more. There are also many wandering pigs and piglets with small curly and wagging tails, some water buffalo, horses, geese, goats, chickens and ducks! :-) And in the morning you can hear some village men or women come through the village streets with a motorized cart and speaker repeating “baozi, mantou, baozi” “steamed buns, steamed bread, steamed buns”. :-) Yummy!

I wandered through town soaking in all this life and found my way to the lake’s edge. The nights are quite cold but as soon as the sun rises, the frost and coldness evaporates, making a beautiful rising mist off the water. The local fisherman set out at dawn in their silent wooden canoes (and now metal too –but built in the same shape and size) to fish. The scene is breath-takingly beautiful. I stood and watched as the morning puffy clouds turned pink in the sunrise glow while the ducks and coots swam through the grasses, dipping down to eat from the underwater plants. I stood, watched and soaked in the beauty as I prayed and did some early morning qigong practice – filling with the peace and immense beauty of this lake, mountains and sky.

Meeting the Goddess Mountain…and Wild Monkeys!!
This same day, we also met another extraordinary Being, Ge Mo Nu Shen Shan 格摩女神山Goddess Mountain, and an important deity for the Mosuo people.  This mountain is the tallest among all the beautiful mountains surrounding the peace-filled Lugu Lake.  I remember this mountain well from my first time to this place 11 years ago. With it being well over 10,000 feet tall, we took a gondola up to the upper regions of the mountain – so peaceful to swing above the tree canopy as our view of the dark blue waters of Lugu Lake grew more and more expansive. 

Once off the gondola, we started climbing stairs leading up and up. And….to our immense surprise and delight, we realized we also landed in the home of a very large tribe of wild monkeys!!! Oh my goodness! They were so adorable! The first two I saw were cuddling together on the steps going upward. Yet then as I continued climbing, I looked out in the surrounding trees and saw 30-40+ monkeys – some in family groups grooming and cuddling together, some adults and baby monkeys tumbling and galloping across the rocky terrain and then with one grab to a low-hanging branch, swinging themselves up into a trees and moving with such playfulness, speed, grace and agility!

It was also cool to see that those who built this staircase built it in a win-win way for both people and monkeys! It was really us visiting their territory, so the staircase had a metal roof-covering with these rebar handles up and down the roof for hand-holds for the climbing/playing monkeys! Then about 6 inches above the metal roofing, people also put in a taut but bouncy netting that the monkeys could jump down upon from neighboring trees and rocks and then easily swing upside down and plop onto the metal roof top and then again swing down to land on the stairs to sun themselves or look at us curiously. :)

The Hidden Temple Within
We climbed the steps, stopping often wide-eyed to watch the monkeys in awe and laughter and came to what I first thought was the main outlook to admire and soak in the grandness of Lugu Lake and surrounding landscape. There were Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the wind (as Tibetan Buddhism, along with the local DaBa religion, is one of the main religions of the area and Mosuo people). Yet, as I turned around, I saw a cave with steps going into the Goddess Mountain herself! Wow! It was amazing! These steps were here to lead people directly into this cave. As the local people regard this mountain as a Goddess, going into the heart/womb of the Goddess Mountain is a sacred, adored and adorned temple.  

I had not yet been in such a large cave with multiple “temple” rooms and levels! The ceilings were high and many intricate stalactites came down from the ceiling – many were so big  - spanning from the ceiling to the floor – and many were naturally formed into the shape of a Goddess. There were so many beautiful goddess figures all through out these cave temples. The local people have put in strings of soft lights to light up the stone pathway and have adorned the Goddess stones with prayer shawls and flags. 

After slowly making my way through the temple rooms, winding my way up and down stone steps, I came into the main temple space. It holds the largest natural stone goddess statue of all the caves and a fresh well spring of water coming from the inside of the Goddess Mountain herself. Here the local people have set up a shrine with candles for people to pray and a ladle for people to drink of her water and be blessed. 

There were just a few other people up on the mountain the same time we were there, yet as I came into this main temple, it was only a local temple caretaker and me. I took this opportunity to pray, feel and offer my love and gratitude to this mountain, to the Goddess Spirit. I stood and let her energy enter my body through my pours and enter my womb. I gave thanks for this land, for the opportunity to be in and experience with my breathing body and living spirit, the land, water, people and qi of this peaceful, beautiful Matriarchal Land. This is a place that holds great love and medicine for all of us, for our world and for our country. 

Life works in such mysterious ways. And I don’t need to understand how it all works – I just know to follow my heart’s calling, listen, learn, experience, receive and share, share, share. I receive so many stories from the people, from the land, from the mountains, rivers, trees and creatures. And through my writing and living my Life’s service, I aim to share these gifts with all of you – spreading Beauty, Love, Understanding and Wisdom. 

There are so many stories to share! :) I will send another update soon with more pics and stories of the other villages and terrains we’re visiting. It is such a blessing to be here! 

I LOVE being in China, and Yunnan is truly a gem of wilderness, blue skies, mountains and beautiful people, villages, culture… and have I mentioned the food?! :-D It’s so Delicious! And I get to eat and enjoy it 3 meals a day here! :)

Below are some pics of the village and family we stayed with at Lugu Lake, some pics of a local family with a rose farm and bees for honey, food we're enjoying, happy little pigs :), a local Tibetan monastery (it's actually the largest in Lijiang county that holds 6 major gatherings/year with 200+ monks :)), and more beautiful pics of the lake as a way to share the beautiful energy, qi and peace of this place. :)

So Much Love to you all! I'll send my next update soon :)

Much Love and Great Light and Gratitude to each of you!
Karen ~ Kailun 凱倫

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