Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Goddess of the Mountain

Detail, Allegory of Chastity, Hans Memling, Nederlandish, 15th century.

The Hindu goddess Parvati is the wife of Shiva, the personification of the Eternal Self. Parvata is one of the Sanskrit words for "mountain"; "Parvati" translates to "She of the mountains" and refers to Parvati being born the daughter of Himavan, lord of the mountains and the personification of the Himalayas. Shri Parvati is also called Gauri, meaning "of white or golden complexion". Gauri Mata (Mother Gauri) is the goddess of purity and chastity, and a benevolent aspect of Devi (Goddess); the 'brilliant'. Another form taken by Parvati, is the warrior goddess Durga, whose name means "inaccessible", or "fortress'.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Veil of Self

According to Plutarch, the Egyptian temple of the goddess Neith bore the inscription:

I am All That Has Been, That Is, and That Will Be. 
No mortal has yet been able to lift the veil that covers Me.

There was one who arrived there.
He lifted the veil of the goddess.
But what did he see?
Wonder above wonder,
he saw himself.

Hymn to Isis

O Wealth-giver,
Queen of the Gods,
Lady Hermouthis,
Good Fortune,
Greatly Renowned Isis,
Exalted Deity,
Highest Discoverer of all life.

Many are the miracles You have performed so that mankind could exist,
and morality be established for all.
You taught us customs so that justice might in some measure prevail,
You taught us skills so that human life might be comfortable,
And You found the blossoms that produce nourishing fruit.

Because of You heaven and the whole earth have their being,
And the gusts of the winds, and the sun with its sweet light.
By Your power the channels of the Nile are filled, every one,
At the harvest season, and its turbulent water is poured out
On the whole land so that produce may be unfailing.

All mortals who live on the boundless earth:
Thracians, Greeks and Barbarians,
Express Your fair Name, a Name greatly honored among all,
Each speaks in his own language, in his own land.
The Syrians call You: Astarte, Artemis, Nanaia,
The Lycian tribes call You: Leto, the Lady,
The Thracians also name You as Mother of the gods,
And the Greeks (call You) Hera of the Great Throne, Aphrodite,
Hestia the goodly, Rheia and Demeter.
But the Egyptians call You ‘Thiouis’ (because they know) that You, being One, are all the goddesses invoked by the races of men.

Mighty One, I shall not cease to compose hymns to Your great Power,
Deathless Saviour, many-named, mightiest Isis,
Saving from war, cities and all their citizens:
Men, their wives, possessions, and children.
Those who are bound fast in prison, in the power of death,
Those who as are in pain through long, anguished, sleepless nights,
All who are wanderers in a foreign land,
Those who sail on the Ocean in winter,
When men may be destroyed, and their ships wrecked and sunk.
All of these are saved if they pray that You be present to help.

Hear my prayers, O One whose Name has great Power;
Prove Yourself merciful to me, and free me from all distress.

Isidorus, c 100 BCE

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


A 4th century BC depiction of the Iranian goddess Anahita, radiant and mounted on a lion, being worshipped by Artaxerxes II. She was an important deity in the Zoroastrian religion of ancient Persia, responsible for fertility but also skilled in the arts of war. A virgin goddess, Her name means "the immaculate one". 
The Indian goddess, Shri Devi, also rides on a lion or tiger and is indomitable in combat.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

"Creation Delights in the Recognition of Itself"

At the end of Huston Smith's autobiography, Tales of Wonder, he describes an experience his friend Ann Jauregui had as a young girl in Michigan:

In summer she would lie on a wooden raft anchored in the bay, listening to the the waters lapping, drowsy in the warm sunshine. The warm day, the clear northern light, and the water's gentle motion together worked a semi-hypnotic effect.
Then suddenly Ann would snap alert and feel intensely alive, or rather that everything was alive and that she was part of it. The rocks, the water itself - everything seemed pulsating with a kind of energy. She found she put questions to the experience. 'What is my role in all this,' she whispered. 'Show me.'
The rocks, the trees, the water - all in silent chorus 'answered' - not in words, of course - that the wanting to know, just that, was her part in the pulsating landscape.
'Creation delights in the recognition of itself', is how she would later put it.

Inquiry (called vichara in Sanskrit, the language of yoga) is the posing of questions to the Self/Spirit. It is an initial step on the way into Self-realisation or Self-recognition. 
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi recommends asking the simple question: 'am I the Spirit?'
As meditation deepens, there is less need for Self-inquiry (atmavichara) - at least in words - and the thoughtless awareness state of nirvichara (without inquiry) is established.