This is my second post (here’s the first) since returning home. Still haven’t been able to sleep. Feel moved to put out at least this one post on our other destination, Mongolia, a land of drought-stricken grasslands, hills, mountains — and yurts, everywhere yurts! As a yurt dweller for nearly two decades in the mountains of Wyoming, I was interested to see that they used them in a very nomadic manner, setting up five for our three-hour journey and overnight from Ulan Bator to Deep Goose Lake, so that we might witness the annual Ceremony of Mare’s Milk that brings together shamen and shawomen from all over Mongolia, chanting and drumming in costume with eagle feather headdresses.
We were all baking. In the intense heat, without shade, for hours, enchanted by ancient ceremonial rhythms.
We hardly noticed. Time had slowed, stopped. We were immersed in the eternal now, in this extraordinary land where the vast earth mingles with the infinite sky.
More on this ceremony, sacred to a culture that lives with the horse, later.
Here’s the head honcho shaman, himself son of another, well known, very revered shaman who is no longer alive. His son is a beautiful being, gracious, generous, lively, and with a wicked sense of humor. He runs “The Association of Magistic Heavens of Shamanism of Mongolia” in “Cooperation with foreign and domestic associations” (from his brochure) that brings together and enlivens shamans and their practices from all over Mongolia.
Meanwhile, here’s our sleeping yurt, inside and out, set up especially for us, on this great ceremonial occasion.
And our dining yurt, where we were served three large, meat-filled meals.
All from (and I presume, cooked in) the solar-powered yurt next door by two sweet Mongolian maidens who, the shaman told us, had volunteered for this service to the gringos and their guides.
That night, after the ceremony and bonfire, a magnificent thunderstorm crashed down upon the camp for several hours. Exactly what was needed and prayed for. Coincidence? The head shaman doesn’t think so, and credits us, the gringos! with helping to bring the rain.
On the day of the ceremony, they had driven the horses into the drought-shrunken, increasingly salty lake, to cool off and drink.
Hours later, the horses had moved in deeper.
Later, they drove the sheep and goats into the water too.
By the morning after the storm, all was serene, in this land where we are informed, there are “99 levels of sky, 77 levels of earth.”
This overnight excursion to witness the Ceremony of Mare’s Milk was our initiation to Mongolia. Our gratitude to its indigenous people and their nomadic culture on this beautiful Earth knows no bounds.