My university’s patroness is Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom who was syncretized with the Greek Athena. Her statue guards the main campus from behind the library, and students (including me) offer apples and coins to gain her favor.
Since I’ve made a point of performing this ritual every time I am on campus, my academic life has become far less stressful. Scheduling tangles just seem to work themselves out somehow. Grades come back higher than anticipated, and my coursework is for some reason not the burden it used to be.
I will be honest and say that I still fear reaching out to deities other than My Lady Saraswati Devi. It’s not the rejection I fear, but frankly acceptance. I worry that I will become one of those people who sort of hops around from deity to deity, chasing shiny things and new experiences without ever putting down strong roots.
Yet my experiences with Minerva have helped to calm this fear. I honor her and respect her, but my heart remains with My Lady.
When I kneel before Saraswati Devi, I pray for Her to send the waters down from heaven to break the mountain my ego built, which has hidden Her light from me.
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.
So. You’re godbothered. What do you do?
- Are you godbothered? I mean, really. Use your discernment and common sense. Is it a god who’s come to call, or is something else going on? These are the main possibilities to consider:
- It is a god. More on this below.
- It’s not a god, but it is some sort of entity that is not-you
- Gods are not the only thing out there, and one can have very intense encounters with entities as seemingly humble as a tree spirit. (I have)
- It’s not not-you
- This one is very tricky. Only you know the inside of your head well enough to make this call. Is that numinous feeling a god’s presence, or is it the side effect of a new medication? (I’ve been there). Keep in mind the Delphic maxim and know thyself.
- So, it is a god. What next?
- Did you ask for this?
- No, I mean literally. Did you ask for a god in your life? If you didn’t and one drops on you like a ton of bricks, you’ve already had your boundaries disrespected.
- Do you want this?
- If you didn’t ask for a divine presence in your life and suddenly find yourself with one, that is an even bigger red flag that the entity in question (god or not) has boundary issues, and possibly other issues as well.
- Are you enjoying this?
- This last question is actually pretty important. It’s not wrong or impious to end a relationship with a deity if it’s making you miserable.
Saraswati is associated in Hindu lore with the a bird called a hamsa, hence the name of this blog. The identity of the hamsa is somewhat debated. Is it a goose or a swan? Personally I don’t really care. Geese and swans, as well as the other bird Saraswati is associated with – the peacock – are all quite lovely creatures.
Geese get a bad reputation as dimwitted and ill-natured, but this isn’t really correct. They are actually quite intelligent birds, and also very brave. The problem is they are often both too clever and too brave for their own good.
Swans are aesthetically more pleasing than geese, according to popular conception. In fact, I’ve seen this put forward as an argument for the hamsa being a swan and not a goose, rather than anything really solid such as linguistics or biology. Of course, swans (and peacocks too, actually) share a reputation with the geese for being mean and stupid despite their beauty.
I’ve always felt that both swans and geese are suitable to be the hamsa, and along with the peacock they are truly worthy companions for My Lady. They are graceful in flight and on water, and proud when they show their true colors. It is not simply their beauty but their boldness that makes them hers.
This is the image I have hanging over my shrine, a rather nice silkscreen print I got from EBay for about $25USD. It’s Sino-Tibetan, and incorporates pretty much all the imagery I associate with My Lady. She’s my personal Saraswati, and I think she’s perfect.