God of Fire: South Great Mountain, Nányuè
In April we set off to visit China for a long awaited trip. Spending our first days in Hong Kong was extremely pleasurable, but was a world away from the rural China we set out for. That said we travelled most of the way on a bullet train, which has speeds of 305KPH - Great Britain will possibly have one in 2024!
Here are some images of our trip to South Great Mountain, known as both Nányuè and Héng Shān (Hunan).
Nányuè is one of the five great mountains of China and is known as the place for the god of fire in Daoism. It is also the birthplace of Southern Chan (Zen) Buddhism, which began in the 8th century, although apparently Buddhist worship began here as far back as the 6th. We began our exploration by hiking up, then cheating and getting the cable car, to the mist shrouded Zhurong Peak, visiting many beautiful Daoist and Buddhist temples along the way.
For Daoists, mountains are where the cosmic 'Chi' energy is at its strongest - and I can confirm the energy one of the Daoist temples we found was particularly strong! Being inside this ornate temple was a very powerful experience.
Many devout worshipers come to the mountain to give offerings of incense and to burn prayer books and fire crackers in the fire. Lots of different rituals were going on, many seemed to be asking for, or receiving, blessings. As with incense, the Chinese believe that the smoke created when burning something, will reach up to the heavens, carrying their messages to deities or ancestors in other realms.
... more soon