Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mother Goddesses

Video of the Three Mother Goddesses:

Four main mother goddesses control the Four Palaces. They are:

1. Thiên Phủ-Princess Thanh Vân
(Thanh Vân Công Chúa 青雲公主)

2. Địa Phủ-Princess Liễu Hạnh
(Liễu Hạnh Công Chúa 柳杏公主)

3. Thoải Phủ-Princess Bạch Ngọc Thủy Tinh
(Bạch Ngọc Thủy Tinh Công Chúa 白玉水晶公主)

4. Nhạc Phủ-Bodhisattva of Đông Cuông, Great King Lê Mại
(Đông Cuông Bồ Tát, Lê Mại Đại Vương 東光菩薩, 黎邁大王)

However, the four mother goddesses are consolidated into the three most important figures: Tam Tòa Thánh Mẫu 三座聖母. In this group are Mother Goddesses 2 to 4; however, their order is switched to reflect the order that they descend into the medium.

1. 第一聖母 Mẫu Đệ Nhất: Liễu Hạnh Công Chúa
2. 第二聖母 Mẫu Đệ Nhị: Lê Mại Đại Vương
3. 第三聖母 Mẫu Đệ Tam: Bạch Ngọc Thủy Tinh Công Chúa

In this group, Princess Liễu Hạnh is no longer associated with Earth, but with Heaven; hence, she becomes the first Mother Goddess of the group. Lê Mại Đại Vương becomes the second Mother Goddess because her Palace of Mountains jumps in rank. Finally, we have the Mother of Water in the same position as third.

The Cosmology of Đạo Mẫu

Essential to understanding Đạo Mẫu is its cosmological arrangement. Deities are arranged into four worlds, called Tứ Phủ, (The Four Palaces, 四府). They are:
1. Thiên Phủ (天府) -Realm of Heaven, represented by red
2. Địa Phủ (地府) -Realm of Earth, yellow
3. Thoải Phủ (水府) -Realm of Water, white
4. Nhạc Phủ (嶽府) -Realm of Mountains, green

This is the original order as determined by early practitioners in Vietnam; however, during Hầu Thánh, the order is slightly altered. Deities descend in the following order:
1. Thiên Phủ
2. Nhạc Phủ
3. Thoải Phủ
4. Địa Phủ

In addition to the Four Palaces, you and I reside in the Human Realm, called Nhân Gian (人間).

Each realm is overseen by a Mother Goddess (Thánh Mẫu 聖母). We will cover the identities of the Mother Goddesses in the next post.

Welcome to THE BLOG on Đạo Mẫu


This blog will present the cultural treasures of Đạo Mẫu, the Vietnamese Mother Goddess Religion. Đạo Mẫu is a syncretic belief system composed of Buddhism, Daoism and Shamanism. The religious practices of this tradition culminate in annual ceremonies called, Hầu Thánh, which mean "to serve the saints." Other names are "lên đồng," "hầu đồng," and "hầu bóng."

During Hầu Thánh, a medium or several mediums will incarnate different deities while entranced. The deities come one after another, each accompanied by different costumes and musical arrangement. These musical pieces are called "Chầu Văn" and are important highlights of the ceremony.

This blog will delve into the world of Đạo Mẫu to offer its readers greater understanding of this cultural tradition. We will explore the backgrounds of the different spirits by discussing their histories, festivals, chầu văn lyrics, and actions. Come along for the journey!

Information on this blog is not meant to be an authoritative source on Đạo Mẫu. Regional variations exist in Hầu Thánh practices.