I was born with the moon at zero degrees in Cancer, and I celebrate my lunar return every month during the transit from Gemini. It’s a pleasant time for me, as my intuition is heightened and I can feel My Lady’s presence that much better.
Though Lady Saraswati is not a “moon goddess”, her iconography is rich with lunar imagery. She wears a crescent moon as her crown, and her praise invariably includes references to the beauty and splendor of the full moon. Incorporating lunar observances into my practice helps me connect with that aspect of her.
My Lady knows that I fall asleep most easily in the early morning, beneath the grey glow cast by a cloudy sky. I rest my head upon the pillow, beneath my bedroom window, and my mind soon wanders away.
Not long after, my heart takes flight through the glassy panes, without leaving so much as a trace of the silver wings that were granted by Her grace. It joins the dawn choir to sing with the birds She taught so well.
Worship of Saraswati Devi dates back to the early Vedic period in India (1500 BCE), where she was the presiding spirit of a sacred and possibly mythical river. The name of the river is believed to be derived from the proto-Indo-Iranian *sáras-vat-ī, which supposedly means “marshy” or “full of pools”. Another proposed etymology derives her name from the root *sar, which means “flow”. Though this latter theory has been widely repeated, it was apparently not favored by Manfred Mayrhofer, a linguist specializing in Sanskrit and Indo-Iranian languages.(1)
In modern worship, Saraswati’s origins as a river deity have been obscured. She is a deity of wisdom, and a patroness of learning and the arts. Modern commenters sometimes derive her name from Sanskrit Sāra and Sva, meaning of “essence of self-knowledge”. While not a historically valid etymology, it certainly captures Lady Saraswati’s character.
(1) Information taken from Wikipedia entry “Sarasvati River“
I put my favorite deck (the Shadowscapes) aside some time ago, with no intention of picking it up again. My readings with it had become frustrating and stressful, to the point where I would have a visceral reaction of displeasure to most of the images. As much as I loved the artwork, I didn’t think I should use it any longer.
After that, I switched deck styles completely, using various “historical” decks, like the LoScarabeo reproduction of the Visconti-Sforza. (It’s very shiny). Learning to read the simple pips is a fun and ongoing adventure. Recently though, I felt drawn back to my Shadowscapes. It was strong enough that I actually did take the deck out despite my misgivings, and pull a few cards. I felt the old connection with it come sparkling back.
Later, I messaged a friend wondering why I felt so strongly drawn to this old deck again. She simply replied that it probably had something to teach me. I wondered what on earth that could be, so I took the cards out one more time and shuffled them. Then I pulled one; It was the Heirophant.
Not very subtle.
Saraswati Devi’s worship can be traced back to the early Vedic era in India (ca.1500 BCE), when she was honored in the form of a sacred river of the same name. Long ago, the Vedic sages performed their rituals on Her banks. Hymns in the Rig Veda extol Her might, as Her waters could break the backs of mountains (1). The river itself may be long gone, and the facts of its existence have become the source of much controversy,* but Saraswati remains.
(1.) Rig Veda. Book 6, Hymn 61
*Yes, it’s Wikipedia, but it’s a good overview of the scholarly debates on the subject. So bite me.
One of the founders of the Western Buddhist Order (now rebranded as Triratna) wrote a book called Meeting the Buddhas. In it he described the familiar Buddhist icons known as mandalas as maps of one’s inner life and priorities. He asked us, his readers, what would be at the center if we made our own mandala.
I wrote in a previous post here, that I would put My Lady at the center of my own mandala. It was a reflexive answer, unprompted by any thought. Of course she goes there! Where else would she go?
The answer of course, is that there is more than one Saraswati in my mandala. She has ended up in every quarter and corner of my mandala and my life. She is the mandala just as she is my life.
I give myself to you in perfect trust, as an offering with perfect love.