My patron deities- Lakshmi (Earth)

Lakshmi came to me at the same time that her sister, Sarasvati, did.  She is the Hindu Goddess of wealth, luck, and family.  To me, she has always been the Queen of Pentacles, and all the groundedness and abundance that embodies.

She’s often portrayed seated or standing in a lotus, hovering over a river which flows as wealth flows, with coins dripping from one hand while the other hand is raised.  She is usually surrounded by elephants, (her son is Ganesha), though she is also associated with owls.

Goddess Lakshmi

Goddess Lakshmi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, I can’t find the legend anywhere now, but I read at one point that the sisters Lakshmi and Sarasvati were bitter rivals for the attention of the god Vishnu.  Lakshmi won him in the end, and Sarasvati was married to Brahma.  The legend then went on to say that because of their rivalry, and continued jealousy of each other, they cannot be in the same place at the same time.

Sarasvati is the Goddess of knowledge, music, poetry, and she’s always represented creativity in general to me.  So, for that reason, we have the starving artist/scholar model.  You can have wealth with no creativity or deep knowledge, or you can be a creative person or a scholar, but wealth will always flee you.

That legend spoke to me, and still speaks to me, and so I try to honor both Goddesses.  It’s always been my dream to be able to make a living as an artist, writer, or other creative type, but I always end up settling for a boring, mundane job to pay the bills.  I’m a practical goat.  But the hope is still there.  Perhaps my work on Ravenson Reagents will help me to achieve that balance.

I’ve always had a strange relationship with money.  In my family, money either came with strings or judgment or control attached.  When I was a kid, and then later in college, I learned not to rely on anyone else for money as I worked 2 or 3 jobs to get myself through school.  Then, when I graduated, I felt like it was all worth it when I got my first serious job.  I made a lot of money.  5X what I make now.  But I was also miserable.  My creativity was dying, I was angry all the time, and the stress was overwhelming.   The things I had to do for that money, and the compromises to my personal ethics just ate away at me until I couldnt’ stand it anymore.

After a series of layoffs, I have taken less and less pay, but each time I do, I end up with more personal freedom and feeling more myself.  Right now, at age 39, I’m in a job that hurts me physically, but otherwise isn’t that terrible.  I have ‘regulars’ that I genuinely care about, and I also like the people I work with.  However, again, it’s crushing me physically and financially.  So this obviously isn’t the answer either.

In the back of my mind, I know that there’s a way to make a living that doesn’t require so much compromise on either side, but I feel like I just keep missing it.  Other people seem to get it.  They seem to understand how to survive while staying true to themselves in a way that I’ve never really figured out.

That’s why one of my most common spells/rituals is the ubiquitous abundance/prosperity spell.  I have so many green satin bags filled with stones, herbs, parchment, and oils stashed around this house that I shudder to think what someone would say if they excavated the ruins in a thousand years.  In fact, I often wonder how much money I’ve spend on prosperity spells.

As with other spellwork, your outcome depends heavily on your willingness to put the work in as and after you’ve sent the energy out into the universe.  And I do work.  I work and work and work, but it seems like there’s an essential tidbit that I’m missing.  Some important piece of knowledge that would make it all work out for me and for my family.

The important thing is that I keep trying.  And I keep honoring Lakshmi.

India, Princely States. Arcot (Arkat). Muhamma...

India, Princely States. Arcot (Arkat). Muhammad Ali. 1751-1795. ::AV Pagoda (11mm, 3.38 g, 3h). Arkat mint. :Three Swamis standing :Arabic ‘ain in granulated field :::KM 14; MWI -; Mitchiner, South India II, 988 (under Umdatu al-Umara, 1795-1801). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She’s also the Goddess of spiritual wealth and of family wealth.  Those I have in abundance, and I’m incredibly grateful.

I enjoyed putting together a Lakshmi playlist on Spotify, but a lot of the hymns began sounding alike after a while.  So I also added in some abundance meditations.   I also have a Lakshmi Pinterest board where I’ve collected images that remind me of her.

Her holy festival is Diwali (aka Deepavali), which is celebrated in the New Moon between mid October and mid November.  It’s a festival of lights, reminiscent of Yule or Imbolc, where candles are prominent, and are displayed in windows during the long, dark night.

Diwali, Trafalgar Square

Diwali, Trafalgar Square (Photo credit: Paul Carvill)

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Concocting- What to do when your sources disagree?

Meanwhile, over on Ravenson Reagents…

Ravenson Reagents

I’ve mentioned before that research is one of the most important parts of how I create an incense blend.  But to be honest, sometimes I get stuck.  Like, really stuck.

Let’s take myrrh for example.  I’ve always used it to represent the feminine principle, as opposed to the sharp masculinity of frankincense.  I wanted to use it as a base for my full moon incense for that reason, but I decided to go through some books and websites to see if I could confirm that that would be appropriate.

Handful o' myrrh Handful o’ myrrh

Basically, I opened a research wormhole for myself.  For example, in Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise (Llewellyn’s Practical Magick Series), Scott Cunningham attributes myrrh to the very male Sun energies, but also to (traditionally feminine) water.  In Wylundt’s Book of Incense by Steven Smith, it is attributed to Sun and fire, both male.  These…

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My patron deities- Yemaya (water)

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing about my patron deities.  I have a few, you see.  5 to be exact.  Actually, 6, but one is a special case, and I’ll talk about him last.  They’ve all revealed themselves to me at different times, and I intend to talk about them in that order.

My first spiritual experiences as a budding witch were by the ocean.  I have always felt deeply connected when at the beach, and that’s where I first practiced drawing circles in the sand in which to connect with deity, and also meditation.  I also learned to appreciate the gifts of nature picking up seashells, listening to the roar of the oceans as a soundtrack for my exploration, and feeling how the wind caked salt into my hair and onto my lips.

The ocean has always represented all the typical traits of water to me: emotion, ebb and flow, being pulled by tides and learning to surrender to deeper currents.  But I always felt like there was more to it than that.  There was the deep nurture/destroy dichotomy that reminded me so much of motherhood. Not the connected, personal experience of motherhood between one mother and child, but on a larger, global scale.  She truly is the mother of us all.  From the earliest beginnings of life, the ocean has birthed us, fed us, and her salty waters even flow through our veins in the form of blood.  She is also scary as fuck when she wants to be.

I felt this all one day as I was at the beach with a friend’s family.  We were there for 2 weeks, which was long enough for us to realize that we liked each other, but we didn’t have to spend 24/7 together either.  My friend and I had seen some enormous mantarays from the overlook in the backyard of the house we were renting, and we rushed to the beach to see if we could see them.  She soon got bored and went back to the house to watch TV.  (Who watches TV when by the ocean?  Such a waste.)

I spent time at the place where the water meets sand, watching the ocean, meditating.  (I had read books on meditation and hypnosis before I became interested in Paganism, and that was where I learned how easy it is to slip into alpha with the sound of ocean waves to ride along with.)  I was deep in trance, feeling the water as it washed over my legs, and I got the sense that there was some consciousness at work there.  It wasn’t just water anymore, it was a container for so many consciousnesses.  There were things out there that lived and died and they were held in her salty embrace, just as I was just then.  She was truly my mother then.

Back then, there was no Internet.  I’m very old, you see.  So I spent time when I got back home at the library, and researched as much as possible until I found Yemaya.

Virgin of Regla is the syncretic form of Yemaja

Virgin of Regla is the syncretic form of Yemaja (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It felt really right to me that she originated in Africa, where we did.  She is connected to the earliest primordial mother of the earliest people.  She is our source, and even the most landlocked of us sometimes still hear her siren’s call.

She is one of the Orishas (deities) in the Yoruban religion.  She has evolved into Yemaja, Yemanja, La Sirene, Watra Mama, and Diosa del Mar.  The Yoruban religion has spread and been incorporated all over the world, most specifically African, Caribbean, and Latin American areas, and the Orishas show up in altered forms in Vodun, HooDoo, and Santeria.

So I set out to make a playlist for Yemaya, and it wasn’t at all difficult.  I typed ‘Yemaya’ into the search function of Spotify, and was rewarded with HUNDREDS of songs.  I’m not kidding.  I gave up about half way through, but it just goes to show how she’s inspired so many.  The music is mostly Cuban, African, or a mixture thereof, (with some new age ocean sounds mixed in) and this is now easily one of my favorite playlists.  Enjoy it!

Cowrie shell

Cowrie shell (Photo credit: Gerry & Bonni)

 

EDIT 2/25/2014: I forgot to mention my Yemaya Pinterest board, my Water Pinterest board, and that Yemaya’s feast days are February 2nd, December 8th, and New Year’s Eve.

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