Ma Lakshmi. She has been the primary focus of many of my practices over the past several years, and my devotion to this goddess of goddesses has transformed my life in ways that I can not even begin to describe.

Lakshmi is the goddess of the heart, goddess of wealth, prosperity (both material and spiritual), light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. She is said to bring good luck, and is believed to protect her devotees from all kinds of misery and money-related sorrows.

Being the goddess of the heart- of love, of beauty, of abundance- all those things we think of when we think of an open heart, a free spirit, someone who we all love and adore.

She is almost always depicted wearing pink and standing on a pink lotus, hands stretched out, bringing blessings to those who honor her. She is also who one calls on when looking for love or a partner.

What I love so much about Lakshmi is the story of how she came to be in the famous myth of the Churning of the Ocean of Consciousness. So many lessons come from this myth, which I outline below:

Once Indra, the ruler of the gods, lost his kingdom due to the disrespect he showed toward a sage, Durvasa. He approached Lord Vishnu who advised him to seek the help of the demons to churn the ocean of milk so that he and the devas (gods) could partake in the amrita (ambrosia) which would make them immortal and help them regain their lost kingdom. As per his advice, the devas approached the demon (asuras) and they all agreed to churn the ocean of milk. They sought the help of Mount Mandhara and the great snake Vasuki (who sits around Shiva’s neck) for this purpose.

Vasuki, the snake god, was used as the rope and Mandhara, the mountain, as the churning stick to churn the ocean. While they were churning this great ocean Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a tortoise and held the mountain from sinking. While the churning was going on, several wonderful objects came out of the ocean. The first to come out was halaha, the deadly poison, which threatened to enjulf the worlds and destroy them. While no one was willing to accept the poison, Lord Shiva came forward to accept it. He swallowed it and Parvati (his wife) pressed his neck as he swallowed it and prevented it from going into his stomach. Thus, the poison remained there suck for eternity in his neck, neither going up into his mind nor going down into his stomach. This is why you sometimes will hear Shiva called “Lord Blue Throat” or Neelakantha.

Then came Kamadhenu (the wish fulfilling cow), Ucchaisrava (the white horse), Airavata (the white elephant), Kaustubhamani (a rare diamond), Kalpavriksha (the wish fulfilling tree), Sure or Varuni (the goddess of wine) and finally Dhanvantari (the divine physician)- with the vessle of Amrita- the elixir of immortality- in his hands.

Lakshmi- the goddess of wealth and beauty that we celebrate in these 3 days of Navaratri- was also among these wonderful beings that were born of the churning of the milk of consciousness. She represents the abundance of wealth in material and non-material aspects that can be born through spiritual sadhana, or practices.

The nectar of immortality was of course finally denied to the demons and was distributed among the gods - which now included Lakshmi- only through an act of trickery by Lord Vishnu.

The wonderful myth represents the spiritual endeavor we go through for gaining immortality through concentration of mind, withdrawal of senses, control of desires and practice of austerities. The gods represent the pleasure principle in ourselves. The demons represent the pain principle and evil/ negative thoughts and impulses. The participation of both signify the fact that when one is seeking immortality through the spiritual practice one has to integrate and harmonize both the positive and negative aspects of ones personality and put both the energies for the common goal. The ocean of milk is the mind or the human consciousness. The mind is always compared to an ocean while the thoughts and emotions to the waves. The mind as an ocean is a universal symbol known to many religions and cultures.

The halahal, or poison, represents suffering and pain that we undergo at the beginning of a spiritual sadhana. When the mind is subjected to intense churning by opposing forces, the first thing that comes out of the process is intense suffering and great inner turmoil. When anyone starts their spiritual sadhana they face a number of difficulties. The problems become intensified because of inner conflicts, where one part yearns to pursue the spiritual path and the other opposes it. In the initial stages of sadhana a seeker’s mind throws all kinds of reactions, negative thoughts, desires, impulses out into the open so that she can deal with them appropriately. These problems are physical & mental suffering which must be addressed to move forward on the spiritual path. But once we get through these times of facing our shadows or negative aspects, many beautiful and wonderful things can be brought to light.

Quite a story, don't you think? So many symbols and more we can dive into here- and I'm sure I will in future posts- but I want to focus now on how we can use this symbolism of working with Lakshmi in our own journey.

The quest for wealth and abundance, love and beauty pervades our culture. We are all seeking something- be it love, wealth, a home, a family. Lakshmi is a great deity to look towards in such a search. Knowing that she came out of the churning shows us that we need to go through a churning of our own in order to get there. We need to do the work, look at our shadows as well as our light, and not only accept them, but LOVE them with all of our heart. LOVE yourself with all of your heart, no matter what aspect of yourself appears at any given time.

You've probably heard it many times, but the only way someone else can love you is if you love yourself- unconditionally. To me, this is the lesson of Lakshmi. To love every bit of yourself, with all of your heart, in order to have the abundance and wealth beyond your wildest dreams. (Which does not mean you will become a millionaire, by the way. But you will be given all that you ever need to live the life you are meant to live).

My favorite way to work with Lakshmi is 3 fold:

1. Dress the part. Dress like a goddess (or god if you are male). This doesn't mean togas like Greek gods. This means dressing however you feel most powerful, beautiful, sexy and full of love. Take the time in the morning to adorn yourself and pick clothing that makes you feel good. Channel beauty in any way that you can and wear it proudly, with love and devotion. And sway those hips and smile a big smile to as many people as you can a day- and notice what starts to happen.

2. Make love to yourself in any way that you can. Take yourself on dates. Seriously. Have you ever taken yourself on your ideal date? Instead of waiting for some future husband or your current love to take you where your heart most wants to go, take yourself. Make the reservation, treat yourself to something relaxing first, go out, do what makes your heart sing. If you know how to romance yourself and give yourself what you need, it will be so much easier for the universe to provide it back to you 10 fold.

3. Chanting. Now, I know chanting may be a stretch for a few of you, but give this one a try. It's so beautiful to sing and makes a great companion in the shower or anytime you feel your day needs to be infused with love and beauty. I personally use this mantra in 40 day cycles whenever I feel I need an infusion of abundance in my life. The first time I did a 40 day cycle to Lakshmi, I was starting my business and it was quite frankly going no where fast. I was working 4 part-time jobs while starting up, had a few hundred dollars to my name and had no idea how I was going to make rent, let alone get a business running.

A teacher recommended this to me and it resonated deeply. I devoted 5-10 minutes a day for 40 days to singing this mantra. Within the 40 days, I was offered 2 scholarships (without applying) to trainings I could not afford but badly wanted to do to improve my skills. I was offered my first HomeRun deal, which skyrocketed my business and brought in hundreds of clients. I was able to not only make rent, but start savings. In my next 40 day cycle, I found an even better apartment to live and work in, and the landlord gave it to me for less than asking because she 'had a feeling'. By business took off, and it hasn't slowed down since. It works, if you let it. Open your heart to try it, and be open to the gifts you may receive.

OM SHRIM HRIM SHRIM

KAMALE KAMALALAYE

PRASIDA PRASIDA SHRIM HRIM SHRIM OM

SHRI MAHALAKSHMYAI DEVYAI NAMAHA

O Lotus! O dweller in the lotus! Be gracious! Be gracious! Reverence to the auspicious goddess Lakshmi, embodiment of prosperity, beauty, elegance and sacredness!

Click Lakshmi mantras for an mp3 version sung by yours truly.

Tap into the flow of beauty and abundance that Lakshmi offers and see what appears in your life- you may be pleasantly surprised!

Be sure to share in the comments how you have worked with Lakshmi, to set your intentions for abundance in your life, or any help you need in tapping into her beauty. Can't wait to hear your story!

 

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Letters to the Divine {Within} will focus on one god or goddess at a time from a variety of traditions: Hindu, Christianity, Jewish tradition, ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Celtic and more. The goal is to begin to tap into the variety of energies out there available to us through these stories, myths and legends to begin to tap into your own healing & transformation. You can use each of these myths as a guiding force for whatever is happening in your own life. This isn’t worship (unless you want it to be) or in any way meant to replace your already established religious views. These stories transcend time and the themes are repeated in every major tradition in their own way. My goal is to make them available to you so you can learn and grow from them.

For each entry, I will give provide the legend and myth, and then pose questions or other activities that may guide you in interacting with this being. Then you write a letter, poem, dance to this legend- anything that helps you in tapping into this energy.

And be sure to share each post in the comments what you did and how it worked for you!