Mother Goddess of the Three Realms

hau dong

Summon going on: An Chinh, a medium, in a performance of Hau Dong at the Viet Theatre in Hanoi ( Reuters )

The mother goddess swirled in the clouds above Hanoi. It had been many years since she had been summoned, but for months now, she could hear the calls.

“At last, my children have remembered me.”

For moments, she considered the various mediums who invoked her.

“Yes, she is the one. Her followers give great offerings, and her soul is devoted.”

The mother goddess descended to a modest collection of apartments, and one occupied by 24-year-old Le Dinh Hoang who is in the midst of performing the noisy and possibly even ostentatious Hau Dong ceremony, visions of water, forest, and heaven dancing in her mind and the others present.

Then the medium and garage mechanic sighs, shudders, and then she stands. When she opens her eyes, they are sapphire blue rather than their usual brown, and the rest of them know. Le Dinh Hoang is gone. The mother goddess walks among them.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and/or location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Hanoi, Vietnam. I suppose I could have written about Hanoi Jane, but the celebrity infamous among Vietnam era veterans didn’t pop into my head until I began authoring this afterword.

Hanoi Jane

Actress Jane Fonda sits on an antiaircraft gun during a 1972 trip to North Vietnam (Nihon Denpa News/AP)

However, after looking up Hanoi’s vast history, I settled on the news story Vietnam’s spirit mediums revive once forbidden ritual. Ever since the 16th century, the Hau Dong ritual, which pays homage to the Mother Goddess of the three realms, forest, water, and heaven, has been practiced, but when the Communists came to power, it was banned. Now it is experiencing a revival, and I thought I’d base my wee tale on this bit of news.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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16 thoughts on “Mother Goddess of the Three Realms

  1. Splendidly written story based on diligent research. I love the way you slip in “and garage mechanic” – a great way to tell us about the society in which the action is taking place.

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  2. Very interesting story. The phrase “medium and garage mechanic” made me giggle, it just seemed so improbable! I was not aware mediums were used in Vietnam, or in Asia at all. Now I wonder if the popularity of mediums in the days of Arthur Canon Doyle in England were at all influenced by the popularity of “Oriental” culture and art at about the same time (late 1800’s early 1900s). Not sure how to google that! Great story. Love the blue eyes signifying “possession” by the goddess. Haha about Jane Fonda. You either love her or hate her.

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    • As I mentioned to Penny, in my source article, one of the mediums is a 24-year-old garage worker. As for Jane Fonda, on some level, she seems to regret what she did back then, but you never know with celebrities. In one article I read, she and actor Donald Sutherland (who played “Hawkeye” Pierce in the 1971 film version of M*A*S*H), an “anti-USO” movement to counter Bob Hope’s USO shows for the troops. I think that makes me even madder at them, since the troops, for the most part, were draftees who didn’t ask to participate in the war, and who were not the problem. My uncle served in Vietnam in the late 1960s, and Fonda’s 1972 antics (the year I graduated high school) didn’t make her popular with our family.

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      • I can understand why. Most of my exposure to Jane Fonda has been through movies, aerobics tapes (!) and TV shows. My blood runs neither hot nor cold for her.:) Which I guess disproves my previous comment.

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      • People aren’t stereotypes. They are very complex. I’m sure Fonda has many good qualities, and perhaps she regrets some of the decisions of her youth, but my guess is that also in the present, we might not agree on much.

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  3. Mother goddess is rain goddess I am assuming. Yes we now have to propitiate her. Sometimes she comes late and stays long. Sometimes she forgets us.

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