Tag Archives: mongolia

Burying Trees Under Beliefs

“Mother Tree” (buried under “offerings”)

Now that we’re in another season of shopping and chopping (trees, birds and animals) I came across two very different stories:

The Scientist Who Climbs Trees (Nalini Nadkarni). . .who brings plants to prison:

“A self-described “HinJew,” Nadkarni was one of five kids raised by a Hindu father and an Orthodox Jewish mother. Whenever she felt overwhelmed and needed refuge from her chaotic household, she’d climb a nearby maple tree.”

“I have to work harder to make new programs, to reach new audiences, and ultimately have every single person in the world connected to nature in a way that they will take better care of it.”

Very inspiring, thoughtful, wise, hopeful, practical, compassionate.

Then, there’s this troubling story (and photo, see above) in National Geographic about Shamans in Mongolia.  I have a great deal of respect for indigenous peoples, first nations folks and their folkways.  There is much wisdom to gain from people who live simply, who live near to the land, the earth.  But when their “spiritual practices” are so mystic-minded that they lose sight of the environmental (or mental) effects of their practices, someone has to speak up, speak out.

For this article the photo above was published in the magazine edition that showed a big pile of colorful cloths and other “offerings.”  It looks like a huge mess on the ground.  Here’s what the caption says:

“Symbol of eternity, this ‘mother tree,’ a pine in northern Mongolia, draws pilgrims from all over.  It gave out under the weight of cloth offerings, the blue ones representing everlasting heaven and peace.”  {emphasis mine}

The huge pile of “trash” in the forest turns out to be a tree, toppled by the offerings to the “Mother Tree!”

Here, in more “sophisticated” American Culture, we watched yesterday as herds of  “Black Friday” shoppers pushed and shoved and poured into stores to spend on “deals” at the beginning of the “holiday season.”  Millions of these folks will be chopping down trees and chopping off the heads of birds and other animals (most will pay someone else to do this killing ritual) to celebrate our own indigenous American Christmas and the birth of a baby god 2000 years ago.

Not a big difference really, East and West, Educated and Uneducated, Shamans and Priests, Holy Books and Sacred Traditions. . .there is a certain madness in the ways of religion.

{what makes the story from Mongolia all the more disturbing is the cover story in the December National Geo with the magnificent ancient sequoias. . .now there are the temples that have outlasted many a religious ritual}

Advertisements