Hiking on Merapi – the most active volcano in Indonesia

Mount Merapi (2913m), the Fire Mountain in Indonesian, is the most active volcano in Indonesia.

The Javanese believe that the Earth is not only populated by human beings, but also by spirits (makhluk halus). Villages near Merapi believe that one of the palaces used by the rulers of the spirit kingdom lies inside Merapi. This palace is said to be a spiritual counterpart to the Yogyakarta Sultanate, complete with roads, soldiers, princes, vehicles, and domesticated animals. Besides the rulers, the palace is said to also be populated by the spirits of ancestors who died as righteous people.

To keep the volcano quiet and to appease the spirits of the mountain, the Javanese regularly bring offerings on the anniversary of the sultan of Yogyakarta’s coronation.

For Yogyakarta Sultanate, Merapi holds significant cosmological symbolism, because it is forming a sacred north-south axis line between Merapi peak and Indian Ocean. The sacred axis connected the hyangs or spirits of mountain revered since ancient times—often identified as “Mbah Petruk” by Javanese people—The Sultan of Yogyakarta as the leader of the Javanese kingdom, and Nyi Roro Kidul as the queen of the Southern Ocean, the female ocean deity revered by Javanese people and also mythical consort of Javanese kings.

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Categories: Java, Nature

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