Garuda

Garuda is the king of the birds in the Hindu Parthenon. He is half bird, half man, usually depicted with the body

garuda2.25134301_std

Garuda has an interesting relationship with snakes, as this picture highlights. Obviously I am not discussing that in this post, but it’s a great story you can find on the internet of you’re curious.

, arms, and legs of a human and the wings, beak, and talons of a bird.

Garuda is probably best known as being the carrier of Vishnu, and he can move between the world of the mortals and the world of the gods with ease. As with most religious figures, there are many stories involving Garuda. I’ll limit myself to sharing only the tale of how Garuda comes to be the winged mount of Vishnu.

When Garuda first hatched from his shell he was ravenous. His father sent him to a village to find food, the food being the villagers. His father told Garuda he could eat all he wanted, but warned him not to eat the Brahman. Garuda flew down to the village and began to feast, but in his gobbling up of the people he accidently ate the Brahman, who became lodged in his throat. Now Garuda found himself with a few problems. One, he was going to anger his father for eating the Brahman, two, he ate a Brahman, and three, he was in danger of choking to death. So he coughed the Brahman out, and along with him came all the villagers.

pyreaus_inspired_manifestation_garuda_sea_salvation_fullNow Garuda was really starving and frustrated, but little did he know Vishnu had been watching the whole scene. Vishnu went to Garuda and offered to let him perch on his arm and eat of his flesh. Garuda jumped at the chance for a meal and immediately bit into Vishnu’s arm, and was shocked to discover that his bite left no marks. This let Garuda know he was in the presence of a god and he pledged himself to him right then and there. And thus their relationship was born, and Garuda became the mount of Vishnu, allowing Vishnu to fly across the sky on his back.

So there you have a little tale of Garuda, and how he met Vishnu, one of the Trimurti, or holy trinity of Hindu gods. As with all gods and goddesses, the stories involving Garuda are numerous, and have some adaptations between tellings. The story I shared is a watered down snipppet of an age old tale.

I’ll leave you with this final thought….consider yourself very lucky if you ever find one of Garuda’s feathers lying on the ground.

Advertisements

Blue Things- A Collection

Awhile back I read somewhere that people most commonly state that blue is their favorite color. It comes in so many shades and hues that it’s easy to imagine how people are drawn to it. I am no exception, although if pushed to name a favorite color I usually say orange. But I do love blue, especially shades of turquoise, and I can never resist the eye-popping electric blue.

Blue is associated with the sky and the sea, and is the color of stability and depth. It symbolizes loyalty, trust, faith, truth, wisdom, intelligence, and confidence. It also represents calmness and tranquility.

I love working with color and it’s symbolism, so this week I decided to pay homage to the color blue. But rather than discuss it’s attributes in full detail I wish to approach it a different way and instead take a look at some blue things.

Blue Mood: Even though blue is associated with many positive attributes, when it comes to emotion blue can take on a different quality. We are probably all familiar with the blue mood wherein we feel depressed and bummed out. I’m not sure how this expression came to be since blue generally has such positive qualities. Perhaps the blue mood is the extreme depths of the tranquil nature of blue.

Krishna

Krishna

Blue Blood: For some reason the notion of blue blood has always intrigued me. Most commonly a blue blood is someone of royal lineage. There are a number of Hindu deities that are depicted as having blue skin due to their blue blood. This blue blood concept even has a name, ichor, and I wrote a little about it in a post for the 2012 PBP. Here is what I had to say:

Ichor– Originally this was Homer’s word for the “blue blood” of the gods, which made these gods both blue and immortal. We commonly see these blue gods in the sacred art of India. In the European Middle Ages, these gods became reviled, as did their mystical blood. Now, instead of meaning magical blue gods blood, ichor means watery purulent discharge. Medieval churchmen claimed this was the blood of devils and the word has also been used to describe the blood of insects.

Aquamarine: I love stones and crystals and work with them a lot. One of my favorites is the crystal blue aquamarine (it can take on a green hue as well, but never mind that right now). I could write a whole post about aquamarine (should’ve thought about that one when we were still in A) but instead I will only share a few of the attributes of aquamarine.

Taken from “Crystal Power, Crystal Healing” by Michael Gienger:

Aquamarine

Aquamarine

Aquamarine encourages spiritual growth, foresight, farsightedness, mediumistic qualities and clairvoyance. It makes us upright and honest, goal-oriented, dynamic, persistent and successful.

 Aquamarine bestows light-heartedness and a happy, relaxed disposition that is due to all things undertaken developing quickly and smoothly.

 Aquamarine clears up confusion and stimulates orderliness, bringing unfinished business to a conclusion.

 In my work with aquamarine I have found it to be great for spiritual work, particularly things like scrying or divination. It has also been a great stone to carry in my pocket when I need a lift, or a little luck.

The seven chakras and their locations along the spine.

The seven chakras and their locations along the spine.

Blue Chakra: I almost made this my B post, but obviously I did not go that route. Instead I will simply summarize.

For those unfamiliar with the chakras, in short they are the energy centers of the body. I am most familiar with the seven chakras, but different schools of thought will have different numbers. The chakras start at the root, or base of the spine, and go up to the top of the head, or crown. C.G. Jung referred to the chakras as the “gateways of consciousness”. Each one is associated with different attributes in regards to its location in the body, and each one is also associated with a different color.

The blue chakra is found at the base of the neck and is also called the throat chakra and the fifth chakra. Because of its location it deals with everything related to sound on both the physical and metaphysical level. It is this chakra where feelings and emotions are transformed into expressions like laughing or crying.

Blue Chakra

Blue Chakra

In working with the chakras one would strive for balance between the seven. Recognizing which chakras are low energy and which ones are overactive helps a person identify areas of physical, emotional, and spiritual growth they can work on. I find it to be a great practice to attempt to balance the chakras, although I have only experienced fleeting moments of total chakra harmony.

There are two other blue things I discussed in other posts, the good old blue jay, and the stone larimar. Please check those out if I peaked your curiosity in any way.

So there are some blue things to think about. My Gemini, magpie nature loves to do that, collect little tidbits and put them together. Hopefully you enjoyed this collection of blue things!

Apsaras- Indian cousin of the Muse?

Over the last couple years I have been incredibly drawn to Hinduism and have been studying it closely. I’m sure many of my PBP posts will discuss Hindu things as I am learning more everyday. I am very new to the religion and do not wish to offend any Hindus out there. Please accept my nuggets of information as coming from the purest place, and accept them as words of a new student to a very old religion. And I would love advice/help/knowledge from any Hindus out there! Please feel free to comment, Hindu or otherwise.

three-apsaras-on-lotus

Three Apsaras on a lotus.

As I learn more about Hinduism I find there to be many, many links to Paganism, which is why I feel it is relevant to a Pagan blog. But I will surely go into that later with the letter “H”, when you can bet I’ll be discussing Hinduism.

In the meantime, let me take a moment to introduce the Apsaras….

In extremely succinct terms, the Apsaras are female spirits found in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, and are usually associated with the clouds or water (something I read also associated them with the woods, but they are born of air and liquid so I’m not sure where the woods fit it). They are beautiful, young and supernatural, and they can shape shift. The Apsaras are also dancers, and have been equated to the Greek muses with different Apsaras representing different performing art forms. But regardless of what performing art they represent, they are always dancers.

To the best of my knowledge, the Apsaras came from a Hindu creation myth that centers on the search for amrita (hey hey, another “A” word), the elixir of immortality, and is essentially about creating order out of chaos. The myth tells of a struggle between the gods and demons, which ends up in a tug of war using the serpent Vasuki, with Vishnu in the center orchestrating the action. This struggle, or tug-of-war, stirs up, or churns, the ocean of milk, which creates foam at the top. It is from this milky foam that the Apsaras first emerge.

 A relief at Angkor Wat depicting the tug-of-war with the Apsaras emerging from the foam.

A relief at Angkor Wat depicting the tug-of-war, with the Apsaras emerging from the foam.

Please keep in mind, the above is an extremely watered down summary of a myth that is in actuality many pages long. It can be found in the epic Bhagavata Purana, a very ancient Indian text, if anyone is interested in the entire story.

I just love the idea of the beautiful Apsaras emerging dancing from the milk foam. There’s so much imagery and symbolism I don’t even know where to begin!

So that is where I will leave you…. thinking about the Apsaras, dancing in sublime beauty in the milk foam, perhaps a cousin to the muse…

Hanuman

Alright, I’m gonna’ keep this one short and sweet. It’s been a very long morning, but if I put off writing my post it will never get done. And my Capricorn moon will not allow for a late or missed post. So here goes…

I have a special relationship to many of the Hindu gods, goddesses, and hero figures. I did not realize just how familiar I am with the Hindu tales until recently. These stories have actually become more familiar to me than those of the bible from my childhood. There’s something about the vivid retellings and bright imagery that draw me to the Hindu tales. I am not Hindu, but that religion is very interesting to me, and over the years I have developed special connections to many of the characters.

A couple weeks ago I discussed one particular favorite, the Green Tara, and this week I would like to share a little bit about Hanuman.

Hanuman is a Monkey god and king. He is the attendant of Rama, an incarnation of Visnu. In this position Hanuman represents the ideals of servitude, those being devotion and faithfulness. He is the son of the wind god Pavana, and is noted for his speed and agility. Due to this young men and athletes often worship him. Perhaps this is why, as a dancer, I am drawn to Hanuman.

Hanuman is also a monkey general and he leads a powerful army of monkeys. Hanuman and his army play a major role in the Hindu epic, Ramayana, by searching for and finding the goddess Sita who has been captured by the demon Ravana.

While writing this post I did learn a little something new about Hanuman. My colleague, a dance and yoga instructor (I myself am not a yoga girl…I’ve tried, but it’s just not my thing) told me Hanuman has his own asana, or pose. She said it looks like a dance split with one’s arms lifted off the floor. She told me it’s a split because it represents Hanuman leaping over something, and then handed me a book about it (referenced below). As it turns out, this leap occurs in the great rescue of Sita.

Rama (remember him…the one Hanuman serves) has a brother, Laksmana, who is struck by an arrow in battle. The only way to save Laksmana was with the juice of an herb that only grows in the Himalayas. Hanuman is able to reach the mountains in one great leap and retrieve the herb, thus saving Laksmana’s life. Therefore the Hanumanasana represents this noble lifesaving leap.

So there’s my two cents about Hanuman, the monkey god. I’ve actually read the entire story of Hanuman’s part in the battle for Sita, and I would recommend the tale to all who are interested. The Ramayana itself is a fairly dense, difficult read, but there are various condensed versions that focus more on Hanuman and the role he plays.

Long story short, if you need some agility, speed, or devotion in your life then Hanuman is a great god to turn to.

 

References:

Encyclopedia of the Gods, Michael Jordan, Facts on File, Inc.

Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar, Schocken Books