Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hajj to the Khad

Domestic Goddess lent me the first in a series of books - JV Jones' Sword of Shadows series - earlier this year, but it wasn't until I left for spring break that I got to start reading it.  I am STILL working on the third book in the series, but I've decided today that this is a good thing.  Some of the parts of these books - her descriptions of the Want (a barren sort of landscape you can't necessarily navigate your way out of), the clans' Stone Gods - suddenly reminded me of Mongolia.  Particularly today.
It's Mother's Day, and what better day to make a pilgrimage (hajj in Arabic) to Mother Rock, or Eej Khad, in Mongolian.  Mongolians have been visiting this site for a really long time, bringing her gifts and asking her to grant their wishes.  There's a method to this ritual.  You're supposed to walk clockwise around the rock three times, for starters, which is what this family is doing.  Along the way, you scatter rice and fling milk or vodka against the enclosure wall.  Apparently these are her favorites, but I was also told that you're supposed to bring something that you value, so I opted for a coke, which I didn't fling at the wall...partly because it's sugary and if she's anything like my mom, Mother Rock would not appreciate me making a big sticky mess.  But mostly because I didn't realize you were supposed to do that first.

Mother Rock, like all Mongolians, also likes sweets.  There was a huge assortment of them on her table - I added a Twix, because I didn't have the chance to buy my favorite Russian creamy caramel bon-bon thingies before leaving town (stupid high school activity!)  At this point in this post, you may be wondering what a good little Mormon girl like me is doing making sacrifices on a "pagan" altar.  Actually, I'm glad you asked.  I believe that most aspects of religion come from the same source, even when over time their roots have been obscured, so it was in this spirit that I approached Mother Rock.  Today was the day I was baptized sixteen years ago, much younger and slightly more innocent.  One of the doctrines I loved about the church was that we have both a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother, who is so special and sacred that not much has been revealed about her. 
You are supposed to whisper your wish into Mother Rock's ear - women into the right ear, men into the left.  After standing in line for five minutes without taking a step forward, I decided not to stand on ceremony (why should I?  I hadn't managed it yet!)  I walked around, and when there was a moment of people shuffling, I walked up and added my bright blue khadag to the many already placed on Mother Rock, before stepping back to speak my wish in a silent prayer.  Enkhe warned us that we had to be careful with Mother Rock, that it was bad luck to anger her; I hope that she (and who I believe she represents) could feel the reverence behind my actions, even if they didn't quite fit the prescribed course.
Mother Rock isn't the only special stone at the site.  This is Dog Rock.  Apparently you are supposed to rub whatever part of your body ails you on the rock, and it will heal you.
And this is Money Rock.  By rubbing your wallet or some money on it, you're supposed to become a very rich person.  There are even people trying to pick grains off Money Rock to take with them.  For me, I'm very healthy, and I have money sufficient for my needs - the thing for which I asked Mother Rock was all I really need, and for that I'm truly grateful. 

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