hindu

Review: 2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary (Northern Hemisphere) by Stacey DeMarco

December, 2018

Review:

2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary (Northern Hemisphere) by Stacey DeMarco

Rockpool Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-925682-13-7

List Price: $21.95 USD / £16.99 GBP

The 2019 Lunar and Seasonal Diary is a beautiful, spiral-bound calendar, richly illustrated with pleasing sepia color pages. As one would expect, it tracks the waxing and waning of the moon and the lunar eclipses of the coming year. It also provides the astrological house of each new and full moon and features the eight annual festivals of the wheel of the year.

I reviewed the Northern Hemisphere edition of the Seasonal Diary. Both Stacey DeMarco and Rockpool Publishing are based in Australia, which is why special care is made to tie the festivals to the seasons themselves instead of calendar dates. After all, our calendars follow the reality of the Earth and her seasons, not the other way around.

Especially well fitted to the new pagan, the diary has a well written introduction the hows and whys of spellcraft and the basics of working with crystals. The moon phases are introduced, as well as the elements, directions and the wheel of the year – not enough to complicate things, but enough guidance to use the daily and monthly prompts that follow. Each month features a specific deity, as well as an appropriate ritual or spell, drawing inspiration from traditions as varied as Slavic, Celtic, Hindu, Norse, Egyptian, Greek, and Shinto. I think the selection is broad enough to be interesting for almost any pagan.

I found the Lunar & Seasonal Diary a beautiful resource to keep me connected to the monthly rhythms of the earth. Each month begins with a page questioning “What am I devoted to?” – asking us to simultaneously reflect on what we have been wrapped up in the month just past as well as what we would aspire towards in the month ahead. Prompts are given for important dates and goals to focus on and manifest in the month ahead.

This monthly return to focus seems a positively recharging reset to our frame of reference, especially during those stressful times when we’re just happy to it through one calendar page to the next. It reminds us to recall what we are working for in the first place, reminding us that the daily grind is a process and not an end in itself. This monthly taking-stock can allow you to stay open to the living world around you, to stay fast with what is truly important to you, or to shift your focus and goals each month, working on different aspects of your life just as the energy of the earth changes through different phases around you.

With the space for taking notes, prompts for both reflective and aspirational record keeping, I think this is a great notebook for any pagan who sees the value of the occasional ritual to keep one in tune with the seasons, and it especially shines for those new to the pagan path.

2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary: Northern Hemisphere on Amazon

GoodGod!

November, 2017

Meet the Gods: Vishnu

 

(art by Samantha Sullivan)

 

Merry meet.

Vishnu (pronounced Vish-nuu) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is one of the Hindu trinity along with Brahma and Shiva. Brahma is the creator of the universe; Vishnu is the preserver, protector and keeper of the universe; Shiva is the destroyer.

It is said that during troubled times when the world is threatened by evil and chaos, Vishnu returns to restore righteousness. So far, he has reincarnated nine times: Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parasurama (fierce man/hunter), Rama (greatest warrior/perfect man), Krishna (mentally advanced man) and Balarama (Lord Buddha).

Each incarnation Vishnu’s avatar – as a person, an animal or a combination of both – was what was most needed at the time. Myths, legends and stories are associated with each. He rids the earth of irreligious and sinful monarchs, kills a demon, raised the earth up out of the sea, sent a ship to save a sage and his collection of animals from a giant flood so they could repopulate the earth, and held a mountain on his back for 1,000 years while the gods and the demons used a serpent to churn up the ocean of milk to create the nectar of eternal life.

It is believed Vishnu will come one more time as Kalki (eternity or mighty warrior) near the end of the present age of decline in which we are currently living, a time thought to be near the end of this world. He will come – riding a white horse and carrying a fiery sword – to rid the world of oppression by unrighteous rulers and heralding the start of a new golden age.

Vishnu is portrayed with a human body, often with blue skin, and four arms. In his hands he carries four objects representing the things for which he is responsible.

The conch shell in his upper left hand produces Om, the primeval sound of creation. His blows call beings of conscienceless to listen to their inner voice nudging them to seek the truth, and leave the darkness of a material life for a higher reality.

In his upper right hand is the chakra or discus, symbolizing awareness and the universal mind. Called Sudarshan, the disc shows the path to a higher awareness. It destroys ignorance.

A lotus flower in his lower left hand represents a glorious existence and liberation.

The mace, a symbol of mental and physical strength and cosmic knowledge, is held in his lower right hand. It is called Kaumodaki, meaning that which captivates the mind, and is associated with time, which is the destroyer of all things; thus it also related to Kali. When pictured as a deity, it is viewed as a female with two hands, held together in a position of prayer or respect.

The garland of victory Vishnu wears has five rows of flowers that represent the five senses and his mastery of them in the whole universe.

The god is typically seen in two positions. The first is with him standing on a lotus flower with his consort, Lakshmi, close by. He is also portrayed reclining on a serpent, surrounded by the Milky Ocean with Lakshmi massaging his feet.

Vishnu rides on the king of birds, Garuda, an eagle. He is particularly associated with light and especially with the Sun.

Vishnu is identical to the formless metaphysical concept called Brahman, the supreme, the Svayam Bhagavan, who takes various avatars as ‘the preserver, protector’ whenever the world is threatened with evil, chaos, and destructive forces,” according to Wikipedia.

He is said to expand into everything, permeating all objects and life forms. He maintains the cosmos and he overcomes all. Vishnu represents the goodness that sustains everything, giving shelter and a place to rest, and reaching that is the goal of all living creatures.

According to “Vishnu: Everything You Need To Know,” written by Ambaa Choate for Patheos.com in 2014, “He maintains the world and so he is very popular for worship. A branch of Hinduism views Vishnu as the ultimate Lord of all. That branch is called Vaishnava. Many people who follow Vishnu in particular are highly devotional, hence … lose themselves in singing Hare Krishna; Hare Rama! Those are manifestations of Vishnu, the God who comes to earth and takes physical bodies to help the world. Because of his avatars (human forms) he is someone that you can really personally relate to more than a distant view of God.”

Because he cares for all life on earth, worshiping him – as himself or any of his avatars – helps with protection, prosperity and wisdom.

Vishnu’s day is Thursday. On that day, people wear yellow, offer yellow flowers to Vishnu, and often fast or eat only one meal consisting of only yellow foods,

His birthday, typically in late August, is Krishna Janmashtami, the largest Vishnu holiday.

Krishna “accepts any offering given in devotion to him, whether it be a leaf, a flower, or a single drop of water. He cares more about the intention of a prayer than getting it ‘right,’” Choate wrote.

A ritual presented in the article for invisible protection against enemies or evil instructs that it be done on a Friday night after 11 p.m. and repeated the next 10 nights while remaining celibate the whole time.

Each time, you are to begin by bathing and putting on clean white clothing. Place a white cloth over a wooden bench and on it put a small mound of uncooked white rice on which is placed a Sudrashan Yantra, which is a protection talisman. Sit facing east on a white mat in front of the bench. Look at the yantra and imagine yourself in its center, protected from all evil. Chant “Om Namo Narayanaya Namah,” which means, “I bow to the name of Narayana.”

Offer the yantra white flowers, grains of rice, incense and a ghee lamp.

End by chanting eleven rounds of “Aum Sudarshan Chakraay Mam Sarv Kaarya Vijayam Dehi Dehi Aum Hum Phat.”

An article on the astri-vani,com blog notes you can pray to Vishnu: or any of his avatars

People whose Moon and Venus are strong will be attracted to Krishna. People whose Jupiter is strong will be attracted to Ram.

The article instructs you to pray only after taking shower and cleaning your teeth. Your clothes should ideally be yellow and clean. Always apply a tilak (a mark worn by a Hindu on the forehead) of yellow sandalwood or a mixture of turmeric and sandalwood.

Don’t touch or be near the Vishnu idol when you’re angry, have ego, are greedy, or full of lust.

To get a wallpaper of Vishnu, visit http://www.bhmpics.com/lord_vishnu-desktop-wallpapers.html.

I also found a 32-minute YouTube devotional video of the 1,008 Names of Lord Vishnu:

 

 

It might provide some mood music, or frame your own practice to honor Vishnu. My thought was to listen to it while envisioning myself safe in the center of this Sudarshan Yantra.

 

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

**

 

About the Author:


Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

November, 2016

Vinayaki

This Goddess makes me so very happy. Finding her started last Yule when my husband gave me a statue of Ganesha. I was surprised because my spirituality is Goddess-based only. I placed him amongst my Hindu Goddesses. A couple of months later, looking at Him, it occurred to me that there just HAD to be an elephant-headed Hindu Goddess. Frantic research ensued, and voila……I give you Vinayaki.

goddess1

(Photo Credit: exoticindiaart.com)

Little is found in Hindu scriptures about Vinayaki and just a few images exist of Her. She is most generally associated, of course, with Ganesha and is assumed to be his Shakti. She is also said to be the 5th of Ganesha’s 32 forms. In this form, She would be the protector of the householder, vanquishing evil and bringing peace to the home.

She is known by various names, such as Sri Ganesha, meaning female Ganesha; Vainayaki; Gajanana, meaning elephant faced; Vighneshvari, meaning Mistress of Obstacles and, in Tibet, Ganeshani.

She is very often seen as part of the 64 Yoginis. The 64 Yoginis was a cult of mystical, female dakinis, now usually called yoginis, between the 9th-13th centuries. It is thought that their worship was a blending of Shaktism and Tantric. A yogini is used to refer to the forms of Devi, the Great, Supreme Goddess, and/or different parts of Her body. A dakini is most often thought to be a messenger or attendant to Devi. Devotees of Devi were also called Shaktas. There are believed to be nine 64 Yoginis Temples located in India.

goddess2

(Photo Credit: travelblog.org)

goddess3

(Photo Credit: kkyatri.blogspot.com)

At the 64 Yoginis Temple in Chausath, She is the 41st of the 64 Yoginis and is named here as Sri Aingini. She is slender, with full breasts. She is also depicted in Chitrapur Math Shirali, holding a sword and a noose.

In Satna, there is an image of five Goddesses, one of which is the cow-headed Vrishabha, who is holding the infant, Ganesha. Vinayaki is portrayed holding an elephant goad, or bullhook, much like the adult Ganesha. This could indicate that Vinayaki and Ganesha are siblings.

One myth tells us that the demon Andhaka wanted the Goddess Parvati for his wife. Shiva fought Andhaka, but each drop of his blood made another demon. Parvati called on all of the Shaktis, which included Vinayaki, to drink the demon’s blood before it hit the ground and Andhaka was destroyed. At this time, Vinayaki became a handmaiden to Parvati.

Some see Her as part of the Matrika or Divine Mother Goddesses, a group of Hindu Goddesses always depicted together, which may or may not be the same group of Shaktis called upon by Parvati in the above story. In this stone tableau of the Matrikas, you can see Vinayaki on the far right.

goddess4

(Photo Credit: thevedicage.wordpress.com)

The fourth day after a new moon is called Vinayaki Chaturi. Even though this day is sacred to Ganesha, it is named after Vinayaki.

In Buddhist traditions, She is an independent Goddess and is called Ganapatihrdaya, which means “heart of Ganesh”.

Whatever Vinayaki may be – Yogini, Dakini, Matrika, or independent Goddess, She is more than welcome into the pantheon of Hindu deities.

goddess5

(Photo Credit: drikpanchang.com)

Goddess Blessings to All!

)O(

Girl Talk: Getting to Know the Goddesses

September, 2013

 

Lakshmi

Hindu Goddess of Good Fortune and Beauty

Since I began writing girl talk the thing I’ve enjoyed the most has been researching different information to include, with Lakshmi, the amount was overwhelming and incredibly interesting.

Lakshmi was born , fully-grown, on a pink lotus that rose from the sea.  She appeared bearing gifts and was so strikingly beautiful that all of the Gods wanted her as their wife.  She chose to be with the sun god, Vishnu, and it is said that she was thereafter reborn to remain his companion in each of his lives.  In addition to wanting Lakshmi as a wife, she was also immediately given offerings, and jewels and the gods and sages prayed for her to come to their homes, and worlds, because it was believed that where Lakshmi is you will find riches and fulfillment.

Lakshmi’s name is derived from the Sanskrit word Laksya, I also found it spelled as Laksme, but the translation meaning goal or aim is the same for either spelling.  In researching her I also found that there are 108 other names she is also known by and on her holy days all 108 names are recited to honor her.

Lakshmi is always pictured, with four arms and hands.  She wears red clothes with a gold lining, and is standing or sitting on a lotus.  She has golden coins and lotuses in her hands.  In addition elephants, most often two but sometimes as many as four, are always pictured with her.  These specific symbols actually convey a specific spiritual theme, as follows:

The four arms represent the four directions in space and symbolize the omnipresence and omnipotence of the Goddess.  The color red symbolizes activity.  The golden lining, or embroidery, represent prosperity.  This is meant to convey that she is always busy distributing wealth and prosperity to her devotees.  The lotus upon which she sits or stands, signifies that while living in this world, one should enjoy its wealth, but not become obsessed by it.  To live this way is like a lotus that grows in the water, but is never wetted by it.

The four hands represent the four ends of human life:  dharma (righteousness), kama (genuine desires), artha (wealth), and moksha (liberation from birth and death).  The front hands represent the activity in the physical world and the back hands indicate the spiritual activities that lead to spiritual perfection.

A lotus in the back right hand conveys the idea that one must perform all duties in the world in accordance with dharma, which leads to moksha, or liberation, symbolized by the lotus in the rear left hand.  The golden coins from the front left hand shows she provides wealth and prosperity to her devotees and the front right is bestowing blessings.

With regard to the number of elephants pictured, two symbolize the name and fame associated with wealth although the idea is that one should not require wealth merely to acquire name and fame, or for material reasons it should be shared with others in order to bring happiness to them as well as himself.  When there are four elephants spraying water from golden vessels onto Lakshmi, the four elephants again represent the four ends of human life.  The spraying water indicates activity and the golden vessels indicate wisdom and purity.  The message it is meant to convey is that with continuous self effort in accordance with dharma, and governed by wisdom and purity, leads to material and spiritual prosperity.

Another interesting finding is that Lakshmi and Ganesh are cohorts, who often work together.   Ganesh is known as a remover of obstacles so ideally one would invoke them together, Ganesh to clear the path for Lakshmi to assist.  Although he is not her mate, Ganesh adores Lakshmi, and is always happy to assist her.

It is believed if a person honors Lakshmi daily you can develop a channel of communication with her.  I also found reference made to the fact that she loves singing, chanting, bells and so on.

In India there are multiple holidays devoted to Lakshmi.  The special annual day of worship for her is known as Diwali which is marked with religious rituals, as well as colorful ceremonies dedicated to her.

Friday is the best day to work with Lakshmi.  Unlike other Goddesses that have items associated with them, or that represent them, my research found that for Lakshmi there are offerings which are given, among these are fruit, flowers, any type of sweets, money, yogurt and honey.  Sandalwood incense is also used.  In spite of her association with elephants her animal representation is the owl.

When a request of prosperity or abundance is made of Lakshmi, it is her way to not only provide abundance or prosperity of material things, but provide them in a way that brings abundance to the soul as well.  She is also most helpful to work with in bringing improvement or enlightenment to ones spirit as well.

If you are interested in learning more about Lakshmi the amount of information that can be found about her is truly amazing, there are so many more things that I found interesting they could never be contained in a format of this type.

Let it just be said that where abundance, prosperity and beauty are needed the sweet natured Lakshmi will surely answer.  Give her thanks, and hold her dear and she will not leave you in need.