My first walk in Zheng-feng park, I saw this stunning statue of a woman with a lotus in her hair.
A lotus bloomed where the statue’s gaze was focused. Love it when that happens! So I snapped a few pictures of it. When I got back to campus, I asked the students about the statue of the woman in the pond in the park. They weren’t sure what I was talking about. One night when we all went walking together, I asked again- Monday piped up “Oh yes! Lian Hua Xian Zi! The one who brought all the plants!”
“Do you know the story?” I asked excitedly. Since this region is the birthplace of Chinese civilization, I’d figured that any statue of a woman in such a place would be attached to a very old story. But that its about the woman that brought all the plants? Does it get any better than that?
“Oh yes, I know”, Monday began. But she wasn’t more than a few sentences into it before she was bouncing off somewhere else. “Just a minute, just a minute” she promised, but the path was winding and the evening was lovely and she didn’t end up finishing the story for me.
When I saw her later on campus, she told me she would mail the story to me.
Ever true to her word, she did. There were a lot of technical words that I needed to research to make a bit more to make sense of the story and be able to write it in a way you’d want to read it. That took me to acupuncture and Chinese medicine sites. Herbalist apprentice and lover of healing power of plants that I am, it made me that much happier that I’d asked, and not at all surprised that I was so drawn to the statue.
So here’s the story-
In ancient China, the Dong Ting Lake was a completely desolate place. There were no lily pads on the surface, no reeds at the edges. You never heard the rusty croaking of the frogs or the birds fighting over a seed, for there were no plants or animals there at all. The beautiful and kind-hearted Lian Hua Xian Zi, or Lotus Lady, saw the state of the lake, and the Old Ones say that she stole some seeds from Heaven’s purse and came to Dong Ting Lake. While she was planting the seeds, there was a young man that saw her. He came closer and told her he was Ou Lang, Root Man, and asked if he could help her in her work.
The rhizome nodes are the spongy underground part of the lotus. Associated with the lung, liver and stomach meridians, they are harvested in the autumn and early winter and dried to use for tonics and medicine.
They fell in love and decided to live and work together. They planted flowers. They planted trees. They planted fruits. They planted vegetables. They planted everything they could dream of. Their life and work by the lake was full and happy.
One day, the Jade Emperor noticed that Dong Ting Lake was very green and prosperous. He wondered how this happened, and soon found out that Lian Hua Xian Zi had stolen seeds from Heaven. He became very angry and ordered the soldiers to arrest her.
The animals of Dong Ting Lake caught wind of the soldiers on the move and the Jade Emperor’s orders. They rushed to warn Lian Hua Xian Zi . She decided to hide in the lake. As she was leaving, she gave the pearl of her Essence to Ou Lang.
The soldiers returning without Lian Hua Xian Zi really whipped the Jade Emperor into a fury. “Can you fools do nothing I tell you?” he raged. He grabbed his sword and decided that he would come take care of it himself. When he arrived at Dong Ting Lake, he found Ou Lang on the banks of the lake wondering if he would ever see his lover again. When the Jade Emperor sliced through Ou Lang and threw him in the lake, a wondrous thing happened. Ou Lang turned into a lotus node and began to multiply and grow.
The more the Jade Emperor slashed with his sword, the more the rhizome nodes multiplied. As the long stalks rose up through the water and the lily pads unfurled, Lian Hua Xian Zi joined with the rhizome node and became a lotus flower.
The Jade Emperor could see that the lotus was very special, and knew that the couple was now reunited and never to be separated again- using their joined essences to propagate and help the people with their medicine. He gave up and when back to heaven, and the node and the lotus continue to grow and seed and be used for our health to this day.