She rolls in over the clear night sky, clouds gathering silently overhead. The darkness of the night camouflage for her thick dark blanket now covering the mountain top. Unnoticed she has crept up and now has us completely shrouded in her cloak.
She begins by humming gently, sweeping in circles around the peak. In ever decreasing spirals her hum becomes a rumble and all too soon she starts to roar. Under her cloak of clouds she lights up her temple throwing fire through the air. The giant, angular form of the trees tower above, silhouetted momentarily against the backlit sky then lit up again, flickering, then, for a while they disappear into the darkness. The time between her fiery throws and her roar ever decreasing as she encompasses the mountain top in tighter and tighter circles. Finally she has closed in, the thunder and lightening play unceasingly like a giant rave party for one, for the Iron Goddess on the top of Baloo Temple mountain.
I lie curled up in my dome tent, just a thin blue material as protection between me and this great display of power; the silence of the evening when I had fallen asleep long gone. My small tent lights up like a disco, flashing in a random patterns, the beat of the thunder so close I can feel it in my heart. Despite the noise I marvel at the stillness of the night around me, there is no wind, and just the smallest patter of rain falling on the tent roof. It feels like the whole mountain is holding its breath, not daring to move lest it disturbs her storm.
Electric storms excite me, I feel a surge of energy pulsing through me from its immense power. But tonight what I feel is much stronger, so high up on a peak it feels like I have unwittingly pushed into and penetrated her domain; the feeling in my heart is fear; an awe inspired fear, respect for the greatness of mother nature. I am well and truly in her territory; I wonder though if I am a guest or an intruder.
As I lay alone, just a small form curled in a sleeping bag, I embark on a special time observing my reactions. With no one beside me to verbalise the usual ‘Wow!’, ‘Did you hear that?’ ‘Whoa!’, along with other possible expletives, I spend the time instead feeling. Overwhelmingly the sensations reside in my heart and solar plexus, like a clamp squeezing, the pressure exciting until the excitement becomes too intense and tips over the edge into fear, or awe. Noticing that I am feeling fear but I am not scared, I am observing the feeling without getting caught up in it.
My thoughts reason in logical terms: “I am actually quite safe” says the voice in my head, “lightening, if it were to strike, would strike one of the many trees around me; I and my tiny tent am so insignificant I wouldn’t warrant any attention at all.” So I choose to lie still and quiet.
I remember the words of warning from the local man not to disrespect the The Iron Goddess while we camp by her temple; I am very pleased to have headed those words, no alcohol did we drink, no disrespect in our behaviour. I find a new deep understanding how village people can believe so strongly in the local gods and goddesses when they show their power so fiercely; mother nature so powerful in her ways it is impossible not to pray quietly to the Iron Goddess for her guidance and protection.
The Iron Goddess is a local Goddess of the village Bahu near Jibhi town.
Baloo Temple, Himarchal Pradesh, India.
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