love languages. motherhood. Self-care.
Physical touch is decidedly near the top of my "Love Language" list.
My daughter, on the other hand...not as much. Especially now that she has reached the ripe old age of 8.
She's been places. She knows things. She is definitely not a baby anymore. And she likes to remind me that she is the "boss of her body" –something that we taught her as a mantra of Self-care and empowerment. I did not anticipate that it would also come to mean:
"You have to ask first, when you want to hug me, Mom."
This rule goes completely against my "you were once actually INSIDE my belly" impulse to envelope her little body in a lioness embrace, triggered by her countless acts of cuteness. 😩
So when she came home from school, yesterday, and immediately buried her wet face into the belly of my shirt, my heart changed quickly from elation into empathy.
"Mama," she sniffled and croaked: "I don't feel so good."
Her nose is red, her eyes swollen. Clear liquid oozes from her face in a mess of mucus and tears. Her voice is hoarse and her skin clammy. All the signs and symptoms: my little girl is sick. Cue the mom-servant instinct: How can I best love you?
medicine soup ✓
essential oils ✓
a warm "blankie" ✓
box of tissues ✓
Harry Potter ✓
and a ridiculously large pile of stuffed animals ✓
But what she really REALLY wants is to snuggle–face to face–nuzzle & hug her mommy.
That's me!! OH JOY! This is my big moment. 🎉 💗 🧸
Except...now, we're both sick.
That's how it is.
My heart longs to give...to support...to SERVE. In fact, "Acts of Service" is probably my Love Language #1. And if you are into that sort of thing (Love Languages, I mean) you probably know that what you provide for another person is often what you crave most for yourself.
So this has become my mission: SUSTAINABLE SERVICE.
How can I best love myself, so that I can best love you?
Let's do it together. Let's care for our sweet souls, so that we can be of real service to the world–with all of our creative genius and courageous hearts.
As I curl up with my little lion cub, atop this mound of stuffed animals, holding our cups of medicine soup; I'd love to hear from you...
Soul Artists: What is your one, most favorite, Self-care secret for creative sustainability?
Archetypes. Creativity. God/dess.
The God/dess archetype of Saraswatī represents creativity, refined beauty, applied knowledge, and wisdom.
Invoke her creative power in the form of speech, sacred word, music, art, and learning.
Sitting in meditation, along the banks of the Saraswatī River, the great Vedic rṣis (seers) mysteriously gleaned the wisdom of the universe, realized as sound vibration and compiled as the Veda (knowledge). Along the river's winding corridors the sages shared this wisdom in mantra, verse, and song. Thus the river became associated with sacred sound and the Vedic texts.
In the Vedas, the Saraswatī River offers healing and purification. Although the actual river dried up by the second millennium, BCE, it remained iconic in the Hindu texts and survived to assume an anthropomorphic character in the Purāna texts (compilations of Hindu Mythology).
A Vedic origin story tells of a creator deity, Prajāpati, who speaks the three realms into being. His manifesting energy is called Vāc, the creative power of the expressed word.
Throughout the Vedic texts, particularly the Brāhmanas, Vāc is associated with the primordial waters. Her all-encompassing powers forever flow with energy, nourishment and creativity. Together with the image of the river goddess, Vāc and Saraswatī crystalize into a vision of the creative power of sound vibration and speech which confirms and animates life. She is the Word of God in radiant form, akin to what John envisioned in his New Testament writing:
In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was God and the Word was with God.
I John 1:1
THE MANIFESTING POWER
According to the Upanishads, the manifesting sound of the goddess is the primordial vibration: Om.
In later texts, the creator deity is called Brahma and Saraswatī is his consort.The following creation story, from the Matsya Purāna, depicts the creative dynamic between Brahma and Sarāswatī.
In the beginning there was formless, fluid, chaos. Brahma sought to bring order to the disorder. Out of his mouth the God/dess emerged as Saraswatī Vāc. Riding a swan and carrying her vīna (musical instrument), she came forth as the wisdom of the ages and the Veda (knowledge) of all things. She taught Brahma to think, imagine, and communicate. She showed him the creative potential that lay within the chaos.
Her song was the patterned pulsation that brought dynamic rhythm and harmony to the universe. At the sound of her mantras, the entire cosmos was filled with prāṇa (life force). All things became manifest from that cosmic sound: the earth and sky, sea and stars. Plants, animals, and humanity were born. Gods and demons expanded from the psyche. Days turned into night as the sun rose and set across the horizon. Seasons came and went under the waxing and waning moon. Brahma was the ever-unfolding creator. Saraswatī was his creative power.
Beautiful in her robes of white, God/dess was pure and radiant. Brahma wanted to make her his lover, but she turned him away. “Wisdom serves the spirit. It does not indulge the senses,” she reminded him.
But Brahma’s infatuation for the lovely goddess grew. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. As she moved through the four directions, Brahma acquired four heads so he could gaze upon her beauty uninterrupted. Sarāswati tried to hide from him, taking the form of a cow. Brahma became a bull so he could make love to her. She then changed into a mare to escape his pursuit, but Brahma simply became a stallion. She turned herself into a bird in attempt to take flight and flee. Then she became a snake to slink into the grass. She shrunk into the form of a bee, so that she could slip into the bud of a flower. Each time she transformed, he followed her and became her male lover. Together, they gave birth to all living things, one by one.
THE ULTIMATE REALITY
Saraswatī is the originating shakti (creating power) for all names and forms of the manifest world. The entire universe unfolds through three successive stages of vāc.
The God/dess Saraswatī has been associated with the swan and the lotus, both emblems of purity and spiritual transcendence. She is the symbol of wisdom achieved through art, music and texts. Root syllables in her name sāra (essence) and sva (of the self) evince her persona as one who bestows knowledge of the essential nature of the Self. She is generally depicted with four arms, wearing a white sari, which is the color of pure knowledge. Carrying a mālā of pearls and the ancient Vedas, she presents the idea of life’s refined beauty as a means for Self-awareness.
Invoking the Creative Spirit of Saraswatī
I invoke the Creative Power through Sound: Vāc the shachi of Prajapati, who ignited the originating fires of manifestation...who caused light to spark out of darkness and catalyzed the first pulsation of spanda (vibration). I invoke the Creative Clarity of Saraswatī, who became embodied as all things in the manifest universe through the power of sacred sound.
I invoke the God/dess in all her forms as Shakti (the Infinite and Eternal Source of Creative Energy within me). May I know that manifesting power as an abundant wellspring, overflowing from my heart. May I allow my throat to be clear, free from all ego-limitations so that I can speak my soul’s quest into activation. May I awaken the deepest desires of my visionary heart through the energy of sound vibration and the creative power of my words.
Your thoughts and words have power.
God/dess Saraswatī invites you to awaken your creative power through sound activation.
Om Aim Saraswatyei Swaha
Soul Questions & Action Steps
Archetypes. Abundance. Ritual
The God/dess archetype of Shrī Lakshmi bestows the gifts of abundance, beauty, and deep Self-love.
Invoke her regal grace in the form of integrity, patience, and loving-kindness.
In the ancient Vedic hymns, the term shrī suggests beauty, luster, power, glory, riches, fertility, abundance, advantageous skills, and high rank. The term is especially used in later Vedic literature to refer to the wealth, ruling power, and majesty of kings (Kinsley, Hindu Goddesses 19). Shrī is the splendor that gives a king magnificence and authority to rule.
The personified form of Shrī, Lakshmī, is described and worshiped in the Shrī Shukta, a supplement to the Rig Veda (the earliest Indian literature). In that hymn, Shrī Lakshmī is associated with symbols of prosperity. She represents agricultural abundance. As an “earth-bound” goddess she is united with the “sky-god” Vishnu for creative power and the sustaining balance of the universe. In some texts, Lakshmi is the consort of Indra (the king of the gods) (Kinsley, Hindu 23). At other times she brings ruling power to demons, such as the demon King, Bali, who is both victorious and virtuous under her influence (23-25). When she moves from one ruler to another, she brings righteousness and fertility with her to the next kingdom.
By the Gupta period (300-700 CE), when the Vedic and folk goddesses become full-fledged Puranic (mythic) images, Lakshmī finally settles down as the consistent and faithful consort of Vishnu (the deity of sustenance and fruition). In the Bhāgavata Purāna and Kūrma Purāna for instance, Mahālaksmī (great Lakshmī) is equated with Vishnu’s supreme shakti (power).
In the “Devī Māhātmya,” an epic poem within the Markandeya Purāna Lakshmi is honored as the ultimate creative power. She is also recognized as the supreme universal grace in the Lakshmī Tantra (the main text of the Pāncharātra school of Vaishnavism),
Lakshmi has four arms. Her two front arms represent worldly reality. Often they offer material abundance in the form of gold spilling onto the earth. She may be imagined showing hand mudras (signs): varada-mudra with her left hand is a sign of bestowing blessings and boons. The abhya-mudra, in her right hand offers protection and prompts courage.. Her back arms represent the subtle dimension spiritual reality. Holding fully open pink lotuses, Lakshmi promising the knowledge of self-realization. She is seated on a pink lotus that rises up from the water, wearing a red and green sari. She embodies the activation of awakening from the dark waters of unconsciousness.
Meditating on the principles of beauty and abundance, you can become awakened to new layers of gratitude and realize the sacredness of life. You are invited to care for your Self with nourishing and nurturing practices. You are invited to attune with Nature's rhythms and honor the divinity within this earthly experience. You may create of your life a masterpiece of sensation, relationship, and joy.
Learning to LOVE your life unconditionally—is an ongoing process. Use the following soul questions and action steps to cultivate the archetypal qualities of Lakshmi in your real-world, human experience.
Soul Questions & Action Steps
Write down all the things you tend to lament about your life. Use a grain of rice to represent each complaint. Throw each grain of rice into a safely controlled fire one by one to be burned up and destroyed. Commit to turning your attention toward creating beauty, embracing grace, and cultivating gratitude every day.
Lakshmi's Bija Mantra is Shrīm.
"Just as "Om" is the mantra for spiritual liberation, "shreem" is the mantra for material well-being."
*Chant the mantra: Om Shrīm Mahalakshmiyei Namaha to invoke the generous compassion, unlimited abundance, and creative powers of Srī Lakshmi.
May you realize the glorious beauty and sacred sweetness of this human experience and delight in every single moment with creative freedom.
lakshmi. abundance. ritual.
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About The Author
R.R. Shakti, PhD
Founding teacher of Inner Power Yoga®, Shakti is a Contemplative Mythologist, ritual facilitator, and writer who presents a Tantrik approach to personal empowerment and social action. Through contemplative story-telling and mind/body practices, she offers a vision of deep peace and radical freedom.
PSYCHE + SOUL