The Selfcleaning World

stories & images from a world on the edge..

Tag: Laos

Elephant Riders

Temple elephant

Elephant domestication has a long history in southeast asia.  We tried out elephant transport on a trek in northern Thailand.  Not the fastest or most comfortable way to get around, but it was cool to get up close to the giant beasts.  I felt bad for our mount though, with the two of us on a seat and our guide sitting on her head.  Better than a poaching I suppose.  Momma elephant had her baby walking beside her the whole time.

Elephnat trek Thailand

Serpent Gods from Southeast Asia to the Amazon

Naga - Chang Mai

Nāgas are a class of serpent beings or minor deities in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology.  They take the form of massive, often multi-headed snakes with human features.  Nāgas are said to reside in Pātāla, the seventh of the nether-dimensions, and are associated with the underworld, caverns, rivers and other water bodies.  They are believed to possess the ability to change into human form.

In many temples they are architecturally rendered slithering down the front steps of the main entrance, providing protection.  These photos are from temples in Thailand and Laos.

Naga - Laos

Nāgas are part of a shared serpent mythology that extends to the dragons of both Chinese and European lore.  There also appears to be a parallel with the cosmic serpents described in the shamanic ecology of the Amazon river basin.  Visions of serpent deities are enabled by the shaman’s use of ayahuasca, and depicted in art and religious iconography.

The Snake Gods by Pablo Amaringo

Amazonian serpent entities include the Yakumama, mother of the water, Sachamama, mother of the jungle, and Huairamama, mother of the sky.  These entities are illustrated in the paintings above and below by the artist and shaman Pablo Amaringo (in Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman, 1999, North Atlantic Books).

Jungle Mother by Pablo Amaringo

Yet another connection can be drawn with the reptiloids of recent UFOlogy and conspiracy lore.  In Cambodian legend, the nāga were thought to be a reptilian race of beings who had a large empire in or near the Pacific Ocean.  Could this belief be related to stories of shape-shifting reptilian aliens from the Alpha Draconis star system?

Type C Male Reptiloid, from Blue Planet Project - Alien Technical Research 25  http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vida_alien/blueplanetproject/blueplanetproject06.htm

Type C Male Reptiloid, from Blue Planet Project – Alien Technical Research 25

Serpent deities appear to be metaphysical creatures conserved across cultures, beings of influence and portent that, it can be imagined, have made their presence known among many peoples.

Temple stories

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I’m fascinated by the murals found in Buddhist temples. These are from Wat Phon Xay in Luang Prabang, Laos. Epic stories that I would like to read or learn more about.. The murals in this temple appear to be about Phra Malaya, a monk who through meditation visited the numerous heavens and hells in Buddhist cosmology. The Lao version of the Ramayana epic may also be depicted here.

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Laos

A boat down the Mekong brought us to the Pak Ou caves, a shrine filled with hundreds of Buddha figures. Back in the night food market of Luang Prabang, you can fill a platter from dozens of delectable noodle and vegetable selections for about a buck fifty.

Luang Prabang

WP_20130507_030.jpgWP_20130507_071.jpgLuang Prabang in Laos is a peaceful, picturesque town on the Mekong River. The alluring wats (temples) with distinct sloping roofs are home to orders of orange-robed monks. Strolling markets, listening to monks chant and drum, delicious food – a perfect place to mellow out.