Tag Archive: air


Goddess Iris

"Iris" by Howard David Johnson

“Iris” by Howard David Johnson

“Iris’ themes are winter, peace, protection, air, meditation, promises and beginnings. Her symbols are rainbows and water. This Greek messenger to the gods traverses between the Earth and heavens, appearing as a winged maiden on a shining, hopeful rainbow. In this form She represents the calm after the storm – the end of the year’s activities and the advent of a new beginning. Traditional offerings to Her include figs, cakes, wheat and honey. In some stories it was Iris’ job to gather water from the Underworld for use in taking sacred oaths.

The phrase Halcyon Days comes from the ancient belief that fourteen days of calm weather were to be expected around the winter solstice—usually 21st or 22nd of December in the Northern Hemisphere, as that was when the halcyon calmed the surface of the sea in order to brood her eggs on a floating nest. The Halcyon days are generally regarded as beginning on the 14th or 15th of December. Thus, the week before and after the winter solstice are said to bear both the halcyon’s and Iris’s calm ambiance and hopeful demeanor.

To inspire an improved outlook, find a rainbow sun catcher and put it in a window today so that Iris’s radiance can fill your home. Get an extra one for your car (or maybe a rainbow-colored air freshener), so you can keep that energy with you throughout the day.

For another aromatic approach, open a window briefly today and let Iris fly in on wings of change and refreshment. Burn some violet or lavender incense as you do. These two aromatics accentuate this Goddess’s vibrations.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

"Iris" by Josephine Wall

“Iris” by Josephine Wall

Patricia Monaghan wrote that “the rainbow Goddess Iris was Hera‘s messenger, a winged maiden who – when not delivering messages for Her mistress – slept under Hera’s bed.  It was Iris who, when Her mistress slept with Zeus, prepared their bed with sanctified hands.  She was one of the few Olympians who could journey at will to the underworld, where She fetched water for solemn oaths; for this reason, She was sometimes called a form of the witch Goddess Hecate” (p. 164).

 

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, “Iris”.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Goddess-guide.com, “Iris The Greek Goddess of the Rainbow“.

Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of Spirits, “Iris” (p. 512 – 513).

Lady Zephyr. Orderwhitemoon.org, “Iris“.

Mythagora.com, “Iris“.

Theoi.com, “Iris“.

Hildreth, S.Y. Orderwhitemoon.org, “Iris“.

Wikipedia, “Iris (mythology)“.

“Sunset Kwan Yin” by Christal

Bixia Yuanjin’s themes are air, protection, luck, freedom, birth and movement. Her symbols are wind, clouds, kites and chrysanthemum petals.  A weather Goddess who lives in cloudy high places, Bixia Yuanjin attends each person’s birth to bestow good health and luck upon the child. She is also a wind deity, helping to liberate and motivate us with fall’s gently nudging winds.

During mid-autumn, the Chinese take to nearby hills and fly kites to commemorate a sage, Huan Ching, who saved villagers from disaster by instructing them to take to high places, thereby protecting them from a mysterious plaque.  So, consider doing likewise today, even if it means just climbing a ladder! Move up off the ground, breath deeply of Bixia Yuanjin’s fresh air, and discover renewed wellness.

If you feel adventurous, chrysanthemum wine and cakes are traditional feast fare for longevity and good fortune. An alternative is steeping chrysanthemum petals in water and then adding the strained water to any soups, or other water-based foods and beverages for a similar effect.

Should the winds be with you, fly a kite named after a burden and liberate yourself in the winds. Also, carefully observe the shapes in the clouds today. If you have a pressing question on your heart, Bixia Yuanjin can answer it through these, her messengers.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Bixia Yuanjin (pronounced BEE-cha you-on-JEEN) is the Chinese Taoist Goddess of the dawn, childbirth, and destiny. As Goddess of dawn, She attends the birth of each new day from her home high in the clouds. As Goddess of childbirth, She attends the birth of children, fixing their destiny and bringing good fortune. Bixia Yuanjin is venerated in the Temple of the Purple Dawn at the summit of the holy mountain, Tai Shan, where women wishing to conceive come to ask for Her help. Her father, Tai Shan Wang, is the god of the mountain and judge of the underworld. Her name is also seen as Bixia Yuanjun, Bixia Yuan Jun, Pi Hsia Yuan Chun, and T’ien Hsien Niang Niang, and epithets for her include Princess of the Rosy Clouds, Princess of the Azure Clouds, and the Jade Woman.” [1]

“Bixia Yuanjun (Sovereign of the clouds of dawn) is a Daoist Goddess connected with Mt. Tai in Shandong province.  As the easternmost of the five sacred peaks of China, Mt. Tai was considered the gateway to the afterlife throughout Chinese history.  Bixia and Her main temple located there attained prominence in the early Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644).  Centered in northern China, the Goddess’s popularity extened from the imperial family to common people.  Bixia was granted elevated titles, such as Tianxian shengmu (Heavenly immortal, saintly mother) and Tianxian yünu (Hevenly immortal, jade maiden), but She is commonly known as Taishan niangniang (Our Lady of Mt. Tai) or Lao nainai (Granny) in Chinese popular religion.  She was charged with setting human life spans and judging the dead, but Her ability to facilitate the birth of male children made Her a particularly popular Goddess among women.

Several disparate versions of Bixia’s hagiography outline Her origins.  Elite texts preserved in the Daoist canon declare Her to be the daughter of the god of Mt. Tai whose history as a judge in the courts of hell extends back to the seventh century.  Late Ming popular sectarian scriptures, or baojuan (precious volumes), assert that Bixia was the daughter of a commoner.  According to the accounts, Her prayers to an ancient Daoist Goddess Xiwangmu (Queen of the West), along with Her practice of self-cultivation, helped Her to achieve immortality.

Temples throughout northern China include images of Bixia.  She is most readily identified by Her headdress, which features three or more phoenixes, Bixia usually appears seated with legs pendant and sometimes hold a tablet inscribed with a representiation of the Big Dipper as a symbol of Her authority.  Two Goddesses who often attend Bixia are Zisu niangniang (Goddess of children) and Yanguang niangniang (Goddess of eyesight), but Bixia can also appear with in a group of Goddesses” (Jestice, p. 128 – 129). [2]

 

 

Sources:

Jestice, Phyllis G. Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia, Volume 1, “Bixi Yuanjun (Pi-hsia yuan-chün)“.

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Bixia Yuanjin“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Goddess-guide.com, “Fertility Goddesses and Goddesses of Pregnancy and Childbirth“.

Javewu.multiply.com, “Pictures of Bi Xia Yuan Jun“.

Kohn, Livia. Daoism Handbook, “Women in Daoism” (p. 393).

Little, Stephen. Toaism and the Arts of China, “The Taoist Renaissance” (p. 278).

Naquin, Susan & Chün-Fang Yü. Pilgrims and Sacred Sites in China (Studies on China), “PI-HSIA YUAN-CHÜN” (p. 78).

Pomeranz, Kenneth. Saturn.ihp.sinica.edu.tw, “Up and Down on Mt. Tai: Bixia Yuanjun in the Politics of Chinese Popular Religion, ca. 1500 – 1949“.

Song, Eric. Ericsong.hubpages.com,Bixia Yuanjun’s Palace“.

Tour-beijing.com, “Miao Feng Shan Goddess Temple, Miao Feng Shan Niang Niang Temple“.

Westchinatours.com, “Taishan Attractions“.

Wikipedia, “Mount Tai“.

Mother of All Eagles

“Eagle Woman” by Susan Seddon Boulet

“Mother of All Eagles’ themes are freedom, perspective, overcoming, health, power, destiny, the Air Element and movement. Her symbols are feathers (not Eagle – gathering these is illegal).  On the warm summer winds, Eagle Mother glides into our reality, carries us above our circumstances and stretches our vision. Among Native Americans, the Eagle Mother represents healing, Her feathers often being used by shamans for this purpose. Beyond this, She symbolizes comprehension, finally coming to a place of joyfully accepting our personal power over destiny.

On this day in 1982, President Reagan declared National Bald Eagle Day to honor the American emblem of freedom. In Native American tradition, this emblem and the Eagle Mother reconnect us with sacred powers, teaching us how to balance our temporal and spiritual life on the same platter.

Find a new, large feather for Eagle Mother talismans, one different from those you gathered for Maat, because the two have very different energies (check craft shops). Wrap the pointed end with cloth crisscrossed by leather thonging or a natural-fabric ribbon. Each time you cross the leather strings, say,

‘___________ bound within, when released by wind, let the magic being.’

Fill in the blank with the Eagle Mother attributes you desire, then have the feather present or used it in rituals or spells to disperse incense, thereby releasing its magic on the winds.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Eagle Woman” by Susan Seddon Boulet

Michael Babcock says, “Despite the fact that the life-giving and death-wielding Bird Goddess is one of the oldest representations of the Goddesseagles have usually been linked with the masculine, with a few exceptions (the Sphinx of Egypt had the wings of an eagle, and the Aztec Goddess Cihuacoatl was also called Eagle Woman [as was the Mayan Goddess Ix-Chel]). This Eagle Woman shows a new marriage of the feminine and the eagle. She represents all an eagle stands for: spirit, valor, majesty, renewal, accuracy of sight, spiritual aim, and the ability to soar to the heights. She also holds in Her hands a vessel, the traditional symbol for the feminine, for that which receives, contains, and nourishes. Here both sets of values are joined, emblematic of a different combination of strengths that are part of being woman-born.” [1]

The fearsome skeletal Aztec warrior Goddess, Itzpapalotl with Her wings and long claws also has some eagle attributes. [2]

“The golden eagle is…revered by the Huichol people living along the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains in the Mexican states of Jalisco and Nayarit. The Huichols call themselves Virarica (‘the healing people’) and are believed to have preserved the purest preColombian culture in our hemisphere. The golden eagle, Grandmother Eagle Goddess (Tate Warika Uimari) is guardian of the South (symbolizing the element of air, breath of life and healing). She is one of the guides into the Nierica (or passageway into the ‘other’ World) and connects the earth and sky.” [3]

As a totem, the eagle is associated with spirit, healing and creation.

“The eagle is symbol of the zenith.
A great reminder of your own ability to soar to great heights.
Those with an Eagle totem need to have an involvement with creation;
a willingness to experience extremes;
a willingness to use your ability
even if it means getting ‘scorched’ a little as you fly high;
a willingness to seek out your true emotions.
A demanding totem, but one that offers so much reward at the end of the journey.

Its four-toed feet remind you to stay grounded even went soaring high;
Its talons remind you to grasp the things of the earth;
Its sharp beak shows you when to speak, how much, and how strongly.

This totem will show you opportunities and how to ride the winds to your benefit.
Eagle people can live in the realm of the spirit
yet still remain connected and balanced within the realm of the Earth.

You must become much more than you ever dreamed possible.

Eagles are messengers from heaven and are the embodiment of the spirit of the sun.” [4]

From their Medicine Cards deck, Jamie Sams and David Carlson tell us that “Eagle medicine is the power of the Great Spirit, the connection to the Divine. It is the ability to live in the realm of spirit, and yet remain connected and balanced within the realm of Earth. Eagle soars and is quick to observe expansiveness within the overall pattern of life. From the heights of the clouds, Eagle is close to the heavens where the Great Spirit dwells.

The feathers of Eagle are considered to be the most sacred of healing tools. They have been used for centuries by shamans to cleanse the auras of patients coming to them for healing. Within the belief systems of Native American tribes, Eagle represents a state of grace achieved through hard work, understanding, and a completion of the tests of initiation which result in the taking of one’s personal power. It is only through the trial of experiencing the lows in life as well as the highs, and through the trial of trusting one’s connection to the Great Spirit, that the right to use the essence of Eagle medicine is earned.

If you have pulled this symbol, Eagle is reminding you to take heart and gather your courage, for the universe is presenting you with an opportunity to soar above the mundane levels of your life. The power of recognizing this opportunity may come in the form of a spiritual test. In being astute, you may recognize the places within you soul, personality, emotions, or psyche that need bolstering or refinement.

By looking at the overall tapestry, Eagle teaches you to broaden your sense of self beyond the horizon of what is presently visible.

In learning to fiercely attack your personal fear of the unknown, the wings of your soul will be supported by the ever-present breezes, which are the breath of the Great Spirit.

Feed your body, but more importantly feed your soul. Within the realm of Mother Earth and Father Sky, the dance that leads to flight involves the conquering of fear and the willingness to join in the adventure that you are co-creating with the Divine.

If Eagle has majestically soared into your cards, you are being put on notice to reconnect with the element of air. Air is of the mental plane, and in this instance it is of the higher mind. Wisdom comes in many strange and curious forms and is always related to the creative force of the Great Spirit.

“Eagle Spirit” by Christian Riese Lassen

If you have been walking in the shadows of former realities, Eagle brings illumination. Eagle teaches you to look higher and to touch Grandfather Sun with your heart, to love the shadow as well as the light. See the beauty in both, and you will take flight like the Eagle.

Eagle medicine is the gift we give ourselves to remind us of the freedom of the skies. Eagle asks you to give yourself permission to legalize freedom and to follow the joy your heart desires.” [5]

 

 

Sources:

Babcock, Michael. Goddess Knowledge Cards, “Eagle Woman“.

Lin’s Domain, “Eagle“.

Sams, Jamie and David Carlson. Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals, “Eagle Spirit“.

Spiritsong. “Golden Eagle“.

Wikipedia, “Itzpapalotl“.

 

Suggested Links:

Agaliha. Mystic Wicks, “Ix Chel {Goddess of the Week}“.

All Totems, “Eagle Spirit Meaning, Symbols, and Totem“.

Venefica, Avai. Whats-your-sign.com, “Symbolic Eagle Meaning“.


"elemental de aire" by ADES21

“Shina Tsu Hime’s themes are wishes, freedom, playfulness, air element and movement.  Her symbols are the wind and sailing ships.  This Japanese wind Goddess disperses the morning fog. She also keeps away evil, distracting winds, winds that threaten to uproot or blur our spiritual focus. Because of this, Shina Tsu Hime has become the patroness of sailors and farmers, the latter of whom pray to Her for fertile winds bearing seed and rain.

Join our Eastern cousins in Japanese kite-flying festivities known as Tako-Age.  Shine Tsu Hime will be glad to meet with you in a nearby a park and give life to your kite. As it flies, release a wish on the winds. Or cut the kite free and liberate a weight from your shoulders.

While you’re out, gather up nine leaves that Shine Tsu Hime banters about (one for each remaining month). Turn clockwise in a circle, releasing all but one leaf back into Shina Tsu Hime’s care while saying:

 ‘Come May, bring movement in my goals
Come June, playful love makes me whole
Come July, my wishes I will see
Come August, hope grows in me
Come September, all distractions you abate
Come October, my spirit, you liberate
Come November, my health is assured
Come December, in my heart you endure.’

Keep the last leaf with you, releasing it only when you need one of this Goddess’s attributes to manifest quickly.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

While researching Shine Tsu Hime, I didn’t find anything under this name.  I did find Shine-To-Be, “Japanese Goddess, wife of Shine-Tsu-Hiko” [1], but not much else.  “Shine-Tsu-Hiko is the god of the wind. Shine-Tsu-Hiko fills up the empty space between earth and heaven, and with his wife Shina-To-Be, he holds up the earth.” [2]  According to Wikipedia, Shina-To-Be is a Japanese Goddess of the winds.  The name Shina-To-Be panned out a little more information for me as I researched this Shinto Goddess.

Upon further research, I came across the following information on the entry for “Shinatsuhiko” in the online Encyclopedia of Shinto, “Other names: Shinatobe no mikoto (Nihongi)

According to an “alternate writing” transmitted by Nihongi, Shinatsuhiko was a kami produced at the time Izanagi and Izanami gave birth to the land (kuniumi). As he produced the land of Japan, Izanagi used his breath to dispel the mist covering the country, thereby giving birth to Shinatsuhiko.

The name is interpreted variously as meaning ‘man of long breath’ and ‘man of the place where wind arises,’ and both Kojiki and Nihongi view him as a kami of wind.

[Ok, no mention of any Goddess or anything that Patricia Telesco mentions above.  In fact, it just sounds like she took his attributes and gave them to Shina Tsu Hime, or Shina-To-Be.  But wait – here’s where it gets interesting…]

"Aeris: Air" by AkinaSaita

According to Nihongi, Shinatsuhiko was an alternate name for Shinatobe, a female kami, when tobe is considered a variant of the feminine tomeEngishiki‘sNorito for the Festival of the Tatsuta Wind Kami” likewise suggests that the two names originally referred to a single pair of male-female kami.” [3]

To me, this implies that both were considered equal at one time.  According to Jeremy Roberts, author of Japanese Mythology A – Z, “For much of Japan’s recorded history, women were largely confined to subserviant social roles.  However, exceptions to this general rule are noted in both myth and legend.  For example, in the Shinto creation myth, the most important deity in heaven is Amaterasu, the sun Goddess.  Many historians and anthropologists believe that these references indicate that early Japanese culture had matriarchal clan structures and that women played an important role in leading society.” [4]   So, the conclusion I draw is that at one time, She was considered an equal and was later “downgraded” and all attributes given to Shinatsuhiko while She played the subservient supportive wife and he took all the credit.  I ask myself, “Why?”  but deep down I already know the answer.

If Shinatobe and Shinatsuhiko both originally refer to a single pair of male-female kami held in equal status and importance, what lesson is to be learned here?  The air is what they equally preside over and the air is what we breath – all of us sharing the same air; all of us, breathing in the Universe.

Balance.  Equality.  Connection.  We’ve been ripped away and kept from our Mother for far too long.  With the new astrological era, the Age of Aquarius (that some would argue is already upon us while others say is yet to come), a new spiritual awakening has begun.  An evolution of consciousness and healing is on the horizon.  We are shifting back and restoring our Mother to Her rightful place and recognizing Her role in creation as the Creatrix.  We are feeling Her energy stir, rising and growing stronger.  As we wake up and realize that we are Divine, that male and female are equal – none lesser or subservient to the other; we experience a sense of love, connectedness, wholeness and balance.

In the above graphic, the two hands interlocking represent what is called the Vesica Piscis.  To me, this symbol represents balance, wholeness, birth and harmony.  It is essentially the intersection of two, overlapping spheres.  The sphere is a symbol of a being with no beginning and no end, continually existing, perfectly formed and profoundly symmetrical.  The addition of a second sphere represents the expansion of unity into the duality of male and female, God and Goddess. By overlapping, the two spheres, the God and Goddess are united, creating a Yoni.  From their Divine Union and through the Yoni, life emerges.  Both are equal in size – one is not bigger or smaller than the other; the Vesica Piscis is balanced. [5]

Wow, where did I just go off to?  Here we started out discussing and researching the Shinto Goddess Shina Tsu Hime and ended up examining Sacred Geometry.  To get back on point with Shina Tsu Hime, to me, She one half of a Divine Couple.  She plays an equal part in that which She is said to preside over.  Her role is no less important than that of Her husband’s.  Together, they form a complete and complementary union.  If we were to acknowledge and recognize this within ourselves, I truly believe that we’d be in a better place.

 

 

Sources:

Chinaroad Löwchen, “Japanese Goddess Names.”

Encyclopedia of Shinto, “Shinatsuhiko“.

Everything2.com, “The Shinto Kami of Japan“.

Ward, Dan Sewell. Library of Halexandria, “Vesica Pisces“.

Wikipedia, “Shina-To-Be“.

Suggested Links:

Paralumun New Age Village, “Japanese Mythology“.

Roberts, Jeremy. Japanese Mythology A-Z, “Wind Gods“.

Goddess Tamra

“Tamra’s themes are air, earth, nature, health, longevity, devotion, wishes and relationships.  Her symbols are feathers and birdseed.  In Hindu tradition, this Goddess was the ancestor of all birds, She can teach us their special language, which often bears communications from the divine. As the consort of the turtle god, Kashyapa, She also represents a potent union between earth and air elements.

People in Nebraska spend six weeks watching the cranes who rest and feed here during the migratory season. This region of the United States boats the largest group of sand hill cranes, about fifty thousand birds.

Magically speaking, these creatures represent health, longevity and devotion. Visualise a crane residing in your heart chakra anytime you need improved well-being.

Birds offer numerous magical applications. For warmth in a relationship, scatter feathers to the winds with your wish. The birds will use the feathers in their nests, symbolically keeping your nest intact and affectionate.

Or, disperse birdseed while thinking of a question. As the birds fly away, watch their movement. Flight to the right indicates a positive response; to the left is negative. If the birds scatter, things are iffy. If they fly straight up overhead, a heartfelt wish is being taken to Tamra.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Yet, another Goddess that proved to be elusive.  Apparently, She was one of the 13 daughters of the Prajapati Daksha (AditiDitiKadruDanu, Arishta, Surasa, SurabhiVinata, Tamra, Krodhavaśā, Ida, Khasa and Muni) all of whom were given in marriage to Kashyapa.[1]  The only real mention I found of Her was in the Agni Purāṇa (a genre of Hindu religious texts, containing the descriptions and details of various incarnations (avatars) of Vishnu).  It states, “Kasyapa was the son of Marici, who was the son of Brahma. Kasyapa’s wife Tamra had many daughters like Kaki, Syeni, Bhasi, Grdhrka, Suki and Griva. From Kaki were born the crows in the world.” [2]

“Tamra had six daughters. These were the mothers of the birds and of goats, horse, sheep, camels and donkeys.” [3]

Sources:

Bharatadesam: everything about india, “Matsya Purana” (down to subheading “Daksha’s Descendants“).

Parmeshwaranand, Swami. Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Purāṇas: S-Z, “Kaka (Crow)” at p. 717.

Wikipedia, “Kashyap“.

Suggested Links:

Hamilton, Francis. Genealogies of the Hindus: Extracted From Their Sacred Writings… 

International Gita Society, “1. Brahma Purana

Yahoo! Answers: India, “Hinduism – Why the Crows are referred our ancestors? What about other birds?

Breath

“Your life may change every day and in each moment, but the breath is a tool to anchor you.  Allow it to be the constant thread around which you weave your life.” ~ Gaye Abbott, RYT, CMT

Here is some music to listen to while reading this post…it’ll add to the “experience” I’m sure

How often do we think about our breath, the sacred act of breathing?  It’s the first thing we did when we were born and its the last thing we’ll do before we die. “Breathing is one of those few acts which, within limits, can be controlled both consciously and unconsciously. Unconsciously, breathing is controlled by specialized centers in the brainstem, which automatically regulate the rate and depth of breathing depending on the body’s needs at any time. Conscious control of breathing is common in many forms of meditation, specifically forms of yoga forexample pranayama unlike anapana which is only awareness of breath. In swimming, cardio fitness, speech or vocal training, one learns to discipline one’s breathing, initially consciously but later sub-consciously, for purposes other than life support. Human speech is also dependent on conscious breath control. Also breathing control is used in Buteyko method.” (Wikipedia, Breathing)

"Luna" by Amy Swagman

“Look at the Lamaze and Natural Birthing Techniques.  When allowed and encouraged to, a woman will naturally move, moan, sway, change her breathing pattern, and rock to cope with contractions, eventually finding the right rhythm for her unique needs. As her contractions get stronger, her body releases endorphins—nature’s narcotic—to ease her pain.  Breathing plays a key role in this process.  Conscious breathing (especially slow breathing) reduces heart rate, anxiety, and pain perception. It works in part because when breathing becomes a focus, other sensations (such as labor pain) move to the edge of your awareness. Conscious breathing is an especially useful labor tool because it  keeps the woman and her baby well oxygenated.  It’s naturally rhythmic and easy to incorporate into a ritual.

And best of all, breathing is the one coping strategy that can’t be taken away from you—even if you’re stuck in bed attached to an electronic fetal monitor and intravenous fluids.  Movements become rhythmic as she “finds her rhythm” or “gets into the groove.”  She’s living in the moment, doing without thinking.  To others, she appears to be in another world.  She relaxes between contractions; she responds to contractions in the same way over and over again, rolling her head, breathing slowly, chanting, or praying.” (Lamaze International, Lamaze Breathing – What You Need To Know) I know I did – oh boy did I….

“We take our breathing for granted, usually breathing 12-16 times every minute without being aware of it. This is because whether it is fast or slow, whether we hold it or not, whether it is shallow or deep, the breath keeps going. Most of us don’t pay attention to the breath – the in-breath, the out-breath, how shallow or deep it is, it’s rhythm, how and when we hold our breath, the connection between our emotional state and breathing patterns, and interestingly how hard it is just to pay attention to such a simple thing. The only two times we usually start noticing it are when something happens to prevent us from breathing normally or when we start meditating or being mindful.” (Limpman, Franklin, Ph.D., Becoming Aware of Your Breath)

"Deep Breath" by Melanie Weidner

Think about the way you breathe.  Do you breathe fully and freely?  Does it come effortlessly? Do you fill your belly like a balloon, letting your chest rise and fall?  With each breath you take in, you’re receiving from the universe and giving back to it.  The common air we all breathe; that those before us have breathed and those after us will breathe, contain prana/energy/Chi.  We absorb that into our bodies when we inhale in. “When you breathe deeply and fully, you are breathing the breath that feeds the Soul.  This energy is part of the spiritual force of the universal energy, and it enters your body with every breath.  The breath contains the vital energy of who you are.” (King, Jennifer Grace, Awaken Breath and Nurture You)

“We touch the sacred with each breath.  With each breath, we just keep dipping into the sacred…Breath is the vehicle to return to God (the Sacred).  This is the ground of all being.  Breath is the vehicle that takes us beyond thought, form and into direct experience.  The breath takes us beyond words, beyond our ideas, into our deepest truest nature.” (Frank Ostaseski, Founder of Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco and Metta Institute)

“As we grow older, unfortunately, we lose the freedom and expansiveness that were ours at birth. We become institutionalized, afraid of disapproval, punishment or abandonment. We experience unpleasant feelings that we don’t know how to handle. As a result, we begin to shut down. We learn to “control” ourselves, to “be good.” We sacrifice our desires for the approval of others. To control ourselves in this way, we unconsciously tighten our muscles and restrict our breathing. We discover that the less we breathe, the less we feel — and the easier it is to get along and ‘do the right thing.’

As adults, we tend to breathe small and shallow, mostly in the chest, with little visible movement. To make matters worse, most of us literally stop breathing for short periods 50 to 100 times a day. When we constrict or stop our breath, we lose touch with what is happening in the present moment — with how magical and wonderful it is just to be alive. Instead, we focus on the past and the future. Our minds race with thoughts — worrying, figuring and planning. We lose the freedom, joy and expansiveness that was ours at birth.

"Being" by Mario Duguay

Miraculously, by directing your consciousness back to your breathing and learning to work with it, you can regain what has been lost. You can learn to let go of patterns of worry and tension which hold you back and return to natural, oceanic, full-body breathing. Like a baby, you experience the full feeling, possibility and connection of each moment. As you become aware of your breath and work with it consciously, you make a direct link into your autonomic nervous system, gaining access to a part of yourself that usually functions outside of conscious awareness. It is no accident that all meditation techniques in all religions are based on breathing. (Chanting, of course, is breathing with sound.) As our breathing gets fuller and deeper, we can feel ourselves softening, opening, getting more spacious inside. The breath takes us into our very core. It is no coincidence that in many languages and many sacred texts, the word for breath also means soul or spirit — psyche in Greek, anima in Latin, Ruach in Hebrew.”  (Lyon, Bret, Ph.D., The Power of Breathing)

“Indigenous people globally accept the sacredness of the breath and the interconnection with the natural world. Some traditions, such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong have studied it for thousands of years, and in fact have created a science of breath.  In the Native American Medicine tradition ‘Divine Breath’ is a noun. It means the manifestation of the divine spirit in all living beings.  It is also called ‘life breath'”. (Abbott, Gaye, RYT, Sacred Breath)

“As the breath goes in and out, we feel a connection between the inside and the outside. Through breath, we are connected with all living beings. Breathing is restorative. It can cleanse us of toxins that have built up in the body and the mind. It can help rid us of worries and tensions and bring us back to our true nature and our true place in the timeless universe. This most basic and essential of all our activities can also be the most transformative.” (Lyon, Bret, Ph.D., The Power of Breathing)

I leave you with this wonderful guided meditation, entitled “The Full Awareness of Breathing”.  Anne Naylor instructs us how to prepare for meditation in an article from the Huffington Post entitled 12 Simples Steps To Meditate for Relaxation. Go get into something comfy, find a nice cozy place and turn on some relaxing music.  Place a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside the door.  Light a candle and pay attention to your breathing. Watch your breath as it enters your body, and again as it leaves. Experiment with this technique. Breathe in to a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Breathe out to a count of 4. Hold for a count of 4. Repeat this at your own rhythm. After doing the counting, you might watch your breathing, allowing yourself to breathe more deeply than perhaps you do normally. Slow deep breaths will help you to relax and let go; to become more peaceful.  And off you go…

“1) Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breath.

Breathing out a long breath, I know I am breathing out a long breath.

2) Breathing in a short breath, I know I am breathing in a short breath.

Breathing out a short breath, I know I am breathing out a short breath.

3) Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body.

Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body.

4) Breathing in, I am making my whole body calm and at peace.

Breathing out, I am making my whole body calm and at peace.

5) I am breathing in and feeling joyful.

I am breathing out and feeling joyful.

6) I am breathing in and feeling happy.

I am breathing out and feeling happy.

7) I am breathing in and am aware of my feelings.

I am breathing out and am aware of my feelings.

8) I am breathing in and making my feelings calm and at peace.

I am breathing out and making my feelings calm and at peace.

9) I am breathing in and am aware of my mind.

I am breathing out and am aware of my mind.

10) I am breathing in and making my mind happy and at peace.

I am breathing out and making my mind happy and at peace.

11) I am breathing in and concentrating my mind.

I am breathing out and concentrating my mind.

12) I am breathing in and liberating my mind.

I am breathing out and liberating my mind.

13) Breathing in, I am observing the impermanent nature of all things.

Breathing out, I am observing the impermanent nature of all things.

14) Breathing in, I am observing the fading of the notion of the separateness of all things.

Breathing out, I am observing the fading of the notion of the separateness of all things.

15) Breathing in, I am contemplating letting go. (of the concepts of permanence and separate self.)

Breathing out, I am contemplating letting go. (of the concepts of permanence and separate self.)

16) Breathing in, I am contemplating liberation. (from the concepts of permanence and separate self.)

Breathing out, I am contemplating liberation. (from the concepts of permanence and separate self.)”  (Louisville Community of Mindful Living, The Awareness of Breathing.)

Again, this is a guided meditation.  I would find it more practical to record this a device and play it back for full effect.  Or, you could incorporate this into a group meditation with someone reading it aloud.

At the end of your meditation, make sure to ground and center.  Stretch and drink water.  This will help you re-enter into the everyday mundane life.

Goddess Benten

“Benten’s themes are luck, wealth and beauty. Her symbols are boats, dragons, guitars, snakes and saltwater.

As the Japanese Goddess steering the New Year’s Treasure Ship, Benten is a perfect figure to call on for financial improvements this year. She is the only Goddess of luck in Japan – the sole female among the Seven Gods of Fortune, and is referred to as queen of the seas and patroness of gamblers. Japanese woman invoke her to bring beauty and fortune into their lives; for she resides over love, eloquence, wisdom and the fine arts.  She is the patroness of geisha and those who take joy in the arts. Benten is depicted as riding a gold dragon, playing a biwa (guitar), and sending out white snakes with her missives. Her robe bears a jewel that grants wishes.

To welcome Benten’s prosperity into your home, sprinkle a little saltwater on the threshold today. Or, to generate beauty within and without, soak in a bath of Epsom salts while listening to guitar music.

The Shigoto Hajime festival honors the beginning of the work week in Japan, where it is believed that good omens for work begin today. If you want to get a peek at how your employment will fare this year, try divination by dice (a traditional gambler’s tool). Hold one die in your hand, ask for Benten to provide a sign, then roll it. The results can be interpreted as follows:

(1) a negative omen;
(2) feeling torn between two good options;
(3) a good omen;
(4) financial security;
(5) not much material change, but improvements in interoffice relationships;
(6) an excellent omen; roll again If you get two more sixes, Benten’s treasures will be yours!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Patricia Monaghan tells us that “among the seven Japanese divinities of good luck, only one was a goddess: Benten, who brought inspiration and talent, wealth, and romance to those who honored her.  Benten was also queen of the sea, a dragon woman who swam in state through her domain with a retinue of white snakes.  In her dragon body she protected her devotees from earthquakes by mating with the monstrous snakes who thrashed under the Japanese islands.  But she could also wear the form of a lovely human woman, and in this form she was usually portrayed, mounted on a dragon who was both her steed and her paramour” (p. 69).

saraswati benzaiten_saraswati

Benten, also called Benzaiten “is the Japanese name for the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Worship of Benzaiten arrived in Japan during the 6th through 8th centuries, mainly via the Chinese translations of the Sutra of Golden Light, which has a section devoted to her. She is also mentioned in the Lotus Sutra and often depicted holding a biwa, a traditional Japanese lute, in contrast to Saraswati who holds a stringed instrument known as a veena. Benzaiten is a highly syncretic entity with both a Buddhist and a Shinto side.

Benzaiten as a female kami is known as Ichikishima-hime-no-mikoto.  Also, she is believed by Tendai Buddhism to be the essence of kami Ugajin, whose effigy she sometimes carries on her head together with a torii. As a consequence, she is sometimes also known as Uga Benzaiten or Uga Benten. Shrine pavilions called either Benten-dō or Benten-sha, or even entire Shinto shrines can be dedicated to her, as in the case of Kamakura’s Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine or Nagoya’s Kawahara Shrine.” [1]

il_fullxfull.361170508_aluv

“Japanese Goddess of Sea” by KatyDidsCards

In Japanese mythology “…Benten was said to have descended to earth where she met and married a dragon in order to stop him eating young children. Because of this, she is sometimes depicted as riding a dragon in art.

Another legend tells of how the goddess helped the young poet Baishu. He had found a poem written by a maiden and had fallen in love with her, despite never having seen what she looked like. Praying to the goddess for help, Benten arranged for the young poet and the girl to meet outside the shrine. Later, it turned out that the young girl Baishu had fallen in love with was actually the soul of the women he later met and married.

chineese-goddess

8-Armed Benzaiten (Jp. = Happi Benzaiten 八臂弁財天)
At Hoan-den (Enoshima Island in Japan)
Kanagawa Pretectural Asset, Kamakura Period

In art, Benten is sometimes shown with snakes. Some statues of her reveal eight arms, six of these which are raised and the hands holding different objects. These include a bow and arrow and two hands are folded in prayer” [2] as well as a sword, a jewel, a wheel, and a key.

From The White GoddessArea of Influence:

Water, Words, Speech, Eloquence, Music, Knowledge, Fortune, Beauty

il_570xN.365169550_j2cu

“Benzaiten (Benten) Shinto Goddess of Music & Luck” by LaPetiteMascarade

Pantheon: Japanese

Abode: Caverns

Animals: Dragons, Sea Serpents

Colours: Bue, Silver, White, Yellow

Crystal: Conch, Mother of pearl, Iron, Gold

Direction: East, West

Element: Air, Water

Musical Instrument: Lute

Offerings: Honey, Yellow flowers, Wild berries

Planet: Venus

Plant/Tree: Lotus, Waterlillies, Yellow flowers

Symbols: Sword, Bow and arrow, Wheel, Key, Axe, Spear, Pestle

Tarot Card: Cups

Time: Summer Solstice

 

 

 

Also known as: Benjaiten, Bensai-Ten, Benzai-Ten, Benzai-Tennyo, Benzaiten, Ichiki-Shima-Hime, Sarasvati, Zeniari, [3]; and according to Thalia Took, “Benzaiten is also linked to Kwannon or Kwan Yin, the sometimes female, sometimes male Bodhisattva of compassion in Buddhism.” [4]

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, “Benten“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Benten”.

Slayford-Wei, Lian. Humanities360.com, “The History and Significance of the Goddedss Benten“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Benzaiten“.

The White Goddess, “Benten – Goddess of everything that flows“.

Wikipedia, “Benzaiten“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

A-to-Z Photo Dictionary: Japanese Buddhist Statuary, “BENZAITEN, BENTEN“.

The Broom Closet, “Benten: Japanese Goddess of Eloquence“.

Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, “Benten“.

Encyclopedia Britannica, “Benten“.

Lindemans, Micha. Encyclopedia Mythica, “Benten“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Benzaiten“.

 

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