I ‘ve been neglecting this space a bit recently, opting instead for quicker and shorter missives on Instagram. Having recently relocated from our home in the New York Hudson Valley to a city about 1 hour outside of Toronto, we’re still watching the dust settle and figuring out where everything will land.
This kind of resettling requires a container. This is usually literal–for example, a new house or community–but it can also be energetic or even metaphorical.
So, about 3 weeks ago, a friend made an off-hand comment on a post of mine which lit a little jyotir (altar lamp) in my heart. And following that flame, I started organizing my energy around the celebration of Navratri, the Hindu festival in honor of the Mother Goddess, Durga, and all of her many forms.
I set myself the task of creating a piece of jewelry as a form of worship on each of the 10 days of the festival and, while doing so, retelling the myth (the Devi Mahatmya) upon which the holiday was founded. Still sitting in the swirl of resettling, I found it easier to tell this story in small chapters each day of the festival. Below you will find the story all strung together, illustrated with a few of the 10 pieces I made. You can find the pieces which haven’t sold in my Etsy Shop.
The Story of Durga and Mahishasura
The Devas (or gods), embodied forms of Universal Love, Courage and Selfless Service, find themselves, once again, in battle with the dreaded Asuras (or demons). This time, their attacker is the terrifying Mahishasura; the very epitome of Egotism. Pushed to the brink, and nearing demolition, the divine beings run to their head honchos–Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva–pleading for their aid.
B, V and S, realizing they are up against a foe like none they had ever encountered, sit together in meditation, praying for assistance from the cosmos. The Supreme Goddess answers their call.
As Mahishasura rampages around, spreading his Greed and Ignorance in all directions, a stunningly beautiful woman appears, quietly sitting nearing a mountaintop.
“Be Mine!” demands Mahishasura, in what was probably the least romantic Valentine ever. Coyly turning her gaze, the beautiful woman demurs “As much as I would love to take you up on your kind offer, I took a silly little vow as a young girl that I would only marry the one who could defeat me in battle.”
Furious at her response, the Demon engages his most fearsome soldiers to capture the beautiful maiden and imprison her. However, as the legions of demons approach to seize her, the delicate beauty begins to grow.
A third eye sprouts in the center of her forehead, fangs erupt from her howling mouth, and weapons of mass destruction spin and sparkle from her numerous fists. The boulder upon which she so sweetly and recently sat, transforms into a gigantic, voracious golden lion.
The demon general, Fear, trembles and gulps as he led his battalion into battle.
And, in fact, Fear and his cronies have been sent into battle with Chit Shakti, the great purifying power of Supreme Consciousness. Ego has attacked the Higher Self with his guns blazing, and she is not in the mood to suffer his childish ways.
Brandishing her powerful Mantras, her Sword of Discrimination, her Bow of Determination and her cudgel of Devotion to Waking Up, the Goddess deflects every blow and demolishes her attackers.
In one particularly gruesome battle, the Divine Mother engages with Rakta Bija; a terrifying demon who has the power of regeneration. Each drop of his blood that hits the ground sprouts another warrior, who leaps up to join to charge against the Mother.
Chuckling to herself, Durga transforms herself into the Goddess Kali, who’s lolling tongue and gaping mouth lap up every drop before it reaches the earth and devour all of the remaining demon sprouts.
With all his troops defeated, Mahishasura, the embodiment of Self-Delusion, realizes he must face the Universal Mother himself. Marching into battle, he attempts to distract and confuse the Supreme Goddess by shifting rapidly from one form to another. Ego becomes Superiority and Condescension, and then False Modesty and even Self-Obsessed Self Hatred.
In response, the Mother manifests millions of forms of the Goddess from Herself to deal with each of his minions. Among these arise Brahmani (the Goddess of Prudently Applied Intelligence) and Vaishnavi (Goddess of Wisely Used Material Resources).
Having taken the form of Half Man/Half WaterBuffalo, and whining petulantly, Ego shouts, “No fair!” as he stomps his hoof, causing the ground to tremble.
Mahishasura was becoming desperate. You see, many thousands of years before, he had been granted a boon by the god Brahma. After eons of prayer and penance, Mahishasura had plead with Lord Brahma to gift him with immortality. Brahma had refused this request, granted instead that he could only die at the hands of a woman. Mahishasura had bowed, satisfied that this boon was tantamount to immortality, as no woman could ever have the strength to defeat him.
And now, here his was, on the brink of total annihilation at the hands of the very essence of Woman herself, the Great Goddess.
In his natural form, as Half Man/Half Water Buffalo, the Demon attempts to gore the Supreme Goddess to death. She handily deflects him with her trident. With a desperate burst of energy, he kicks at her and roars deafeningly, in an attempt to intimidate her.
Deciding that enough is enough, the Goddess calls forth her discus, launching it at Mahishasura and beheading him. And thus, the Supreme Goddess, the Mother of All, The Divine Feminine, vanquishes Ego and brings peace and balance back to the land.
I can’t even begin to explain how much fun and how meaningful this 10 day practice was for me. Thank you for letting me share some of it with you. So, if you’ve read this far, here is my request: Please, please, please, do not hesitate to comment upon one of my posts, here or on social media. You never know what you might inspire for me or for yourself. 🙂