Tag Archive: cows


Goddess Vasudhara

“Vasudhara” by Sundar Sinkhwal

“Vasudhara’s themes are religious devotion, charity, thankfulness and abundance. Her symbols are cows and golden items. In India, this golden-breasted earth Goddess provides us with enough abundance to be able to give back freely of what we receive. Vasushara’s golden color alludes to some solar attributes, including manifesting financial prosperity for those who call upon Her. In Her wealth-giving aspect, Vasudhara sometimes appears as a cow.

Around this date, many churches in the United States and Canada begin their annual fund-raising campaign by asking parishioners to give back a little of what the divine has given them.  While many New Age practitioners don’t belong to a church, this idea still holds merit and would please Vasudhara greatly. Donate a little money to a pagan defense fund, for example.  Put on something gold to draw the Goddess’s prosperity back to you, then buy some good magic books for your library. The proceeds indirectly ‘give back’ to the teachers whom you admire through royalties!

If your schedule allows, stop in at your favorite New Age store and volunteer an hour of your time to give back to the community. Write thank-you letters to people who have somehow touched your life deeply. Should any of these people live nearby, help them with chores or bring them a special dish for dinner.  These acts of kindness are a type of stewardship that reflects Vasushara’s spirit by blessing others.”

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

A Newari Representation of Vasudhara

From Wikipedia: “Vasudhārā whose name means ‘stream of gems’ in Sanskrit, is the Buddhist bodhisattva of wealth, prosperity, and abundance. She is popular in many Buddhist countries and is a subject in Buddhist legends and art. Originally an Indian bodhisattva, Her popularity has spread to southern Buddhist countries. Her popularity, however, peaks in Nepal where She has a strong following among the Buddhist Newars of the Kathmandu Valley and is thus a central figure in Newar Buddhism.  She is named Shiskar Apa in Lahul and Spiti.

The origin of Vasudhārā in Buddhism appears in the Buddhist text The Vasudhara Dharani.  According to a legend in the text known as ‘The Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra,’ an impoverished layman named Sucandra approaches the Buddha Shakyamuni requesting a way to obtain large amounts gold, grain, silver, and gems in order to feed his large family and engage in acts of charity with the surplus fortune. Shakyamuni, aware of a mantra about the bodhisattva Vasudhara that would suit his purposes, bestows Sucandra with an incantation and religious ritual that when followed would result in good fortune and prosperity brought on by Vasudhara Herself. Upon commencing the rituals and teaching them to others, Sucandra begins to prosper. Noticing his success, the monk Ananda asked Shakyamuni how he had obtained this fortune so quickly. Shakyamuni instructs Ananda to also practice the Vasudhara Dharani and ‘impart it to others ‘for the good of many’.’

Although ‘The Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra’ seems to contradict the Buddha’s renunciation of material possessions and earthly pleasures, Shakyamuni does not instruct the monk to recite the mantra for material benefit but instead he stresses that the mantra is for ‘the good of many’ and for ‘the happiness of many’.  Thus the mantra is meant more as means of alleviating suffering rather than obtaining wealth through Vasudhara, who not only grants physical wealth and abundance but also spiritual wealth and abundance. Click here to continue reading about Her legends from Taranatha.

Like the legend of the ‘Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra’ these legends are significant because they encourage both the lay and monastic worship of Vasudhara.  In addition, they stress the importance of charity, teaching worshippers to share in their good fortune rather than amassing it for themselves.

Vasudhara [Tib. Norgyun(ma)]

In Buddhist art, Vasudhara has a consistent iconography. She can easily be identified as a bodhisattva by the elaborate headdress and the extensive amount of jewelry she wears.  Her skin has a golden hue in bronze and painted images. This color is associated with precious metals and symbolizes opulence, fertility, and generosity in Buddhist iconography. Vasudhara is typically seated on a lotus flower base in the lalitasana, or royal pose, with one foot tucked in towards her and the other hanging of the flower base but resting on a small treasure.  She can, however, also be represented in a standing position.  When standing, Vasudhara has a full vase representing abundance underneath each foot.

Despite this consistency in Her representations, the number of Her arms may differ from image to image. In visual representations, Vasudhara can have as few as two arms and as many as six. The two-armed representations are more common in Tibetan art and Indian art, while six-armed representations are almost exclusive to Nepalese art.  Although the six-armed image originates in India, they are rare and only few examples have been found.

In Her hands, Vasudhara holds a variety of objects attributed to Her. Most representations show Her holding a sheaf of corn in Her left hand, symbolizing an abundant harvest.  She may also be holding a gem or small treasure, a symbol of wealth. Representations with more arms, such as the six-armed Nepali representation, also depict Her holding a full vase and the Book of Wisdom. With Her free hands, Vasudhara performs mudras. A commonly seen mudra in paintings and figurines featuring Vasudhara is the varada mudra, also known as the charity mudra, which symbolizes the ‘pouring forth of divine blessings.’ Vasudhara is the subject of numerous bronzes and paintings. She is predominantly the central figure of bronze sculptures or painted mandalas. She may also, however, appear alongside Her consort, Vaiśravaṇa (Jambhala) the Buddhist God of Riches. Despite his status, She surpasses him in popularity and is more commonly the central figure of Her own mandalas.

Vasudhara is particularly popular in Nepali Buddhism among the Buddhist Newars of the Kathmandu Valley. In this region she is a common household deity. This is known from the countless number of bronzes and paintings found representing Her. These images are small in size, typically 18 cm or smaller.  Because of their small size it is known that these images were primarily for private use, namely household veneration of the Goddess. Additionally, there is a cult dedicated to Her worship followed by the Buddhist Newars.  Followers of this cult believe that Her worship brings wealth and stability. Despite the strong following of this cult by the Buddhist Newars, unfortunately, it is now in decline.

As the Bodhisattva of abundance and prosperity, Her popularity in this region is due to the predominance of agriculture and trade essential to the economy of the Kathmandu Valley.  The Newars believe that Her veneration will generally result in good fortune.

One of the earliest Nepalese representations of Vasudhara is a pauhba (textile art depicting Hindu and Buddhist images on course cotton), dating back to 1015 C.E.  This pauhba is known as the Mandala of Vasudhara. The Goddess is the central image of this mandala, which depicts scenes of dedication, ritual initiation, festive music, and dance associated with Her worship. Its purpose is didactic (to teach). The mandala teaches the importance of worshipping Vasudhara primarily through the narrative of a non-believer whom She converted to belief.

In addition to Her popularity in Nepal, Vasudhara is also an important ‘wealth deity’ in Tibetan Buddhism.  Although popular in Tibet, Vasudhara does not assume as important of a role as She does in Nepalese Buddhism. In Tibet, the worship of Vasudhara is limited to mostly lay people as opposed to worship by both lay and monastic life. This is because Tibetan monastic life regards Vasudhara as a ‘benefactor of the laity’ and instead primarily engages in the worship of the Goddess Tara for all their needs.  This, however, does not mean that monastic life disregards Her completely. They do perform rites and rituals to the Goddess habitually but it is usually at the request of a patron.

The iconography of Vasudhara varies slightly in this region. In Tibetan art She appears more commonly with two arms. The six-armed representations, however, also exist and it is believed they filtered into Tibet through Nepal because of the late appearance of these images in manuscripts and art.  Unlike Nepalese art, Vasudhara rarely appears alone in Tibetan art. Instead She is paired with Jambhala or appears alongside other deities.  Despite these slight differences, most of Her iconography remains unchanged and Vasudhara can be easily recognized by Her attributes in most Buddhist art.

Vasudhara is often compared to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. As Goddesses of wealth, both deities have a similar iconography and are worshipped for their role in an abundant harvest.  Both assume a golden hue in artistic representations, perform the same mudra, and hold similar objects. For example, Vasudhara and Lakshmi are often depicted holding gems or having pots of treasure under their feet. It is believed that the convention of depicting Vasudhara standing on vases originated from earlier representations of Lakshmi.  Furthermore, both Goddesses are often depicted paired with their respective consorts, Lakshmi alongside Vishnu and Vasudhara alongside Jambhala.” [1]

“Invite Vasudhara into your home, offer Her flowers and water, and recite Her mantra daily to invite wealth and abundance into your life. Her mantra is: OM SHRI VASUDHARA RATNA NIDHANA KASHETRI SOHA.” [2]

Sources:

Fsmegamall.com, “Bejeweled Vasudhara – Goddess of Wealth and Abundance“.

Wikipedia, “Vasudhara“.

 

Suggested Links:

Huntington, John C. & Dina Bangdel. The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art, “125| Vasundhara“.

Isley, A. Krishna. Krishna76.deviantart.com, “Vasundhara in Vajrayana Buddhi“. (An excellent academic essay!)

News.richmond.edu, “Religion professor researches Buddhist goddesses of Tibet“.

Shaw, Miranda Eberle. Buddhist Goddesses of India.

Smithsonian Institution. Asia.si.edu, “Devi: The Great Goddess“.

Goddess Hathor

“Hathor ‘s themes are joy, love, femininity, beauty, sexuality and the sky. Her symbols are mirrors, cows, sandalwood and rose incense and rattles.  One of the most beloved sky Goddesses in Egypt, Hathor brings happiness, romance and an appreciation for musical arts into our lives. Sacred or erotic dances are a welcome offering for Hathor, as is any effort to beautify the body. As the patroness of the toilette, She also protects women and embodies the pinnacle of feminine qualities. Her favorite musical instrument, the sistrum (a kind of rattle), was said to banish evil wherever it was played.

[Known as the Month of Hathor] from September 17 until October 16, Hathor reigned in Egypt. To honor this Goddess, make an effort to make yourself as physically appealing as possible, then spend some time with a significant other or in a social setting. In the first case, Hathor’s favor will increase love and passion; in the second, She’ll improve your chances of finding a bed partner.

To fill your living space with Hathor’s energy, take rice or beans and put them in a plastic container (this creates a makeshift rattle). Play some lusty music and dance clockwise around every room of the home shaking the rattle. Perhaps add a verbal charm like this one:

‘Love, passion and bliss
By Hathor’s power kissed!’

This drives away negativity, generates joyful vibrations, promotes artistic awareness, and increases love each time you kiss someone in your home.”

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

“One of the world’s greatest Goddesses, Hathor was worshiped for more than a millennium longer than the life, to date, of Christianity. For more than 3,000 years Her joyful religion held sway over Egypt.

Small wonder, then, that a profusion of legends surrounded Her, or that She was depicted in so many different guises: at once mother and daughter of the sun, both a lioness and a cow, sometimes a woman, and sometimes a tree.  Goddess of the underworld, She was also ruler of the sky. Patron of foreigners, She was mother of the Egyptians. Like Ishtar to the east, She was a complex embodiment of feminine possibilities.

“Hathor” by Hrana Janto

One of Hathor’s most familiar forms was the winged cow of creation who gavebirth to the universe. Because She bore them, She owned the bodies of the dead; thus She was queen of the underworld. Again, She appeared as the seven (or nine) Hathors who materialized at a child’s birth and foretold its inescapable destiny. Then too, She was the special guardian spirit of all women and all female animals.

‘Habitation of the hawk and birdcage of the soul,’ Hathor was essentially the body in which the soul resides. As such, She was patron of bodily pleasures: the pleasures of sound, in music and song; the joys of the eye, in art, cosmetics, the weaving of garlands; the delight of motion in dance and in love; and all the pleasures of touch. In Her temples, priestesses danced and played their tinkling tambourines, probably enjoying other sensual pleasures with the worshipers as well. (Not without cause did the Greeks compare Her to Aphrodite.)

Her festivals were carnivals of intoxication, especially that held at Dendera on New Year’s Day, when Hathor’s image was brought forth from Her temple to catch the rays of the newborn sun, whereupon revels broke out and throbbed through the streets. (In this capacity She was called Tanetu.) She was a most beloved Goddess to Her people, and they held fast to Her pleasureful rites long into historical times” (p. 145 -146).

J. Hill tells us that “She was known as ‘the Great One of Many Names’ and Her titles and attributes are so numerous that She was important in every area of the life and death of the ancient Egyptians. It is thought that Her worship was widespread even in the Predynastic period because She appears on the Narmer palette. However, some scholars suggest that the cow-headed Goddess depicted on the palette is in fact Bat (an ancient cow Goddess who was largely absorbed by Hathor) or even Narmer himself. However, She was certainly popular by the Old Kingdom as She appears with Bast in the valley temple of Khafre at Giza. Hathor represents Upper Egypt and Bast represents Lower Egypt.

She was originally a personification of the Milky Way, which was considered to be the milk that flowed from the udders of a heavenly cow (linking her with NutBat and Mehet-Weret). As time passed She absorbed the attributes of many other Goddesses but also became more closely associated with Isis, who to some degree usurped Her position as the most popular and powerful Goddess. Yet She remained popular throughout Egyptian history. More festivals were dedicated to Her and more children were named after Her than any other god or goddess of Ancient Egypt. Her worship was not confined to Egypt and Nubia. She was worshipped throughout Semitic West Asia, Ethiopian, Somlia and Libya, but was particularly venerated in the city of Byblos.

She was a sky Goddess, known as ‘Lady of Stars’ and ‘Sovereign of Stars’ and linked to Sirius (and so the Goddesses Sopdet and Isis). Her birthday was celebrated on the day that Sirius first rose in the sky (heralding the coming innundation). By the Ptolemaic period, She was known as the Goddess of Hethara, the third month of the Egyptian calendar.

As ‘the Mistress of Heaven’ She was associated with NutMut and the Queen. While as ‘the Celestial Nurse’ She nursed the Pharaoh in the guise of a cow or as a sycamore fig (because it exudes a white milky substance). As ‘the Mother of Mothers’ She was the Goddess of women, fertility, children and childbirth. She had power over anything having to do with women from problems with conception or childbirth, to health and beauty and matters of the heart. However, She was not exclusively worshipped by women and unlike the other gods and Goddesses She had both male and female priests.

Hathor was also the Goddess of beauty and patron of the cosmetic arts. Her traditional votive offering was two mirrors and She was often depicted on mirrors and cosmetic palettes. Yet She was not considered to be vain or shallow, rather She was assured of Her own beauty and goodness and loved beautiful and good things. She was known as ‘the mistress of life’ and was seen as the embodiment of joy, love, romance, perfume, dance, music and alcohol. Hathor was especially connected with the fragrance of myrrh incense, which was considered to be very precious and to embody all of the finer qualities of the female sex. Hathor was associated with turquoise, malachite, gold and copper. As ‘the Mistress of Turquoise’ and the ‘lady of Malachite’ She was the patron of miners and the Goddess of the Sinai Peninsula (the location of the famous mines). The Egyptians used eye makeup made from ground malachite which had a protective function (in fighting eye infections) which was attributed to Hathor.

She was the patron of dancers and was associated with percussive music, particularly the sistrum (which was also a fertility fetish). She was also associated with the Menit necklace (which may also have been a percussion instrument) and was often known as ‘the Great Menit’. Many of Her priests were artisans, musicians, and dancers who added to the quality of life of the Egyptians and worshipped Her by expressing their artistic natures. Hathor was the incarnation of dance and sexuality and was given the epithet ‘Hand of God’ (refering to the act of masturbation) and ‘Lady of the Vulva’. One myth tells that Ra had become so despondent that he refused to speak to anyone. Hathor (who never suffered depression or doubt) danced before him exposing Her private parts, which caused him to laugh out loud and return to good spirits.

As the ‘lady of the west’ and the ‘lady of the southern sycamore’ She protected and assisted the dead on their final journey. Trees were not commonplace in ancient Egypt, and their shade was welcomed by the living and the dead alike. She was sometimes depicted as handing out water to the deceased from a sycamore tree (a role formerly associated with Amentet who was often described as the daughter of Hathor) and according to myth, She (or Isis) used the milk from the Sycamore tree to restore sight to Horus who had been blinded by Set. Because of Her role in helping the dead, She often appears on sarcophagi with Nut (the former on top of the lid, the later under the lid). She occassionally took the form of the ‘Seven Hathors’ who were associated with fate and fortune telling. It was thought that the ‘Seven Hathors’ knew the length of every childs life from the day it was born and questioned the dead souls as they travelled to the land of the dead. Her priests could read the fortune of a newborn child, and act as oracles to explain the dreams of the people. People would travel for miles to beseech the Goddess for protection, assistance and inspiration. The ‘Seven Hathors’ were worshiped in seven cities: Waset (Thebes), Iunu (On, Heliopolis), Aphroditopolis, Sinai, Momemphis, Herakleopolis, and Keset. They may have been linked to the constellations Pleiades.

However, She was also a Goddess of destruction in Her role as the Eye of Ra – defender of the sun god. According to legend, people started to criticise Ra when he ruled as Pharaoh. Ra decided to send his ‘eye’ against them (in the form of Sekhmet). She began to slaughter people by the hundred. When Ra relented and asked Her to stop She refused as She was in a blood lust. The only way to stop the slaughter was to colour beer red (to resemble blood) and pour the mixture over the killing fields. When She drank the beer, She became drunk and drowsy, and slept for three days. When She awoke with a hangover She had no taste for human flesh and mankind was saved. Ra renamed Her Hathor and She became a Goddess of love and happiness. As a result, soldiers also prayed to Hathor/Sekhmet to give them Her strength and focus in battle.

“O Gold, Hathor” by ~MysticalMike

Her husband Horus the elder was associated with the pharaoh, so Hathor was associated with the Queen. Her name is translated as ‘The House of Horus’, which refers both to the sky (where Horus lived as a Hawk) and to the royal family. She had a son named Ihy (who was a god of music and dancing) with Horus-Behdety and the three were worshipped at Denderah (Iunet). However, Her family relationships became increasingly confusing as time passed. She was probably first considered to be the wife of Horus the elder and the daughter of Ra, but when Ra and Horus were linked as the composite deity Re-Horakty She became both the wife and the daughter of Ra.

This strengthened Her association with Isis, who was the mother of Horus the child by Osiris. In Hermopolis (Khmunu) Thoth was the foremost god, and Hathor was considered to be his wife and the mother of Re-Horakhty (a composite deity which merged Ra with Hor-akhty).

Of course, Thoth already had a wife, Seshat (the Goddess of reading, writing, architecture and arithmetic), so Hathor absorbed Her role including acting as a witness at the judgement of the dead. Her role in welcoming the dead gained Her a further husband – Nehebkau (the guardian of the entrance of the underworld). Then when Ra and Amun merged, Hathor became seen as the wife of Sobek who was considered to be an aspect of Amen-Ra. Yet Sobek was also associated with Seth, the enemy of Horus!

“Hathor” by Deborah Bell

She took the form of a woman, goose, cat, lion, malachite, sycamore fig, to name but a few. However, Hathor’s most famous manifestation is as a cow and even when She appears as a woman She has either the ears of a cow, or a pair of elegant horns. When She is depicted as entirely a cow, She always has beautifully painted eyes. She was often depicted in red (the color of passion) though Her sacred color is turquoise. It is also interesting to note that only She and the dwarf god Bes (who also had a role in childbirth) were ever depicted in portrait (rather than in profile). Isis borrowed many of Her functions and adapted Her iconography to the extent that it is often difficult to be sure which of the two Goddesses is depicted. However, the two deities were not the same. Isis was in many ways a more complex deity who suffered the death of Her husband and had to fight to protect Her infant son, so She understood the trials and tribulations of the people and could relate to them.  Hathor, on the other hand, was the embodiment of power and success and did not experience doubts. While Isis was merciful, Hathor was single minded in pursuit of Her goals. When She took the form of Sekhmet, She did not take pity on the people and even refused to stop killing when ordered to do so.” [1]

 

 

 

Sources:

Hill, J. Ancientegyptonline.co.uk, “Hathor“.

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

 

 

Suggested Links:

Altunay, Erhan. Thewisemag.com, “Hathor and Isis: The Great Goddesses of Ancient Egypt“.

Barkemeijer de Wit, Rhiannon. Pyramidcompany.com, “Who Is Goddess Hathor…“.

Goddess-guide.com, “Hathor the Egyptian Goddess“.

Houser, Kelly. Order of the White Moon, “Hathor, Queen of Heaven“.

Journal of a Poet, “Hathor“.

Mydailygoddess.blogspot.com, “Hathor: Pleasure“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Hathor: shape-shift & shine“.

Seawright, Caroline. Thekeep.org, “Hathor, Goddess of Love, Music and Beauty…“.

Starlight. Goddessschool.com, “Hathor“.

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

Thewhitegoddess.co.uk, “Hathor – Eye of Ra“.

Wikipedia, “Hathor“.

Goddess Damona

“Coventina” by `cosmosue

“Damona’s themes are animals and health. Her symbols are sheep and hot water.  A Gaulish Goddess who cares for all domestic animals, especially sheep and cows, Damona is sometimes portrayed as a hot spring, alluding to a healthful, warm quality. As fall nears, we can call on Damona to protect our pets, or to maintain the health of animals who provide us with food.

As one might expect, the historic Shepherd’s Fair in Luxembourg brought together sheep merchants to show their goods to interested parties, including a special parade of the animals bedecked in ribbons. The parade probably goes back to much earlier times when animals were taken into magic rituals that maintained health. One way to continue this tradition is by sprinkling a little warm water on your pet to invite Damona’s protection (or brush it into the creature’s fur – this works better with cats).

Wear wool clothing (or wool blends) to don Damona’s healthy aspect for your day. Or, simply enjoy a cup of tea before the day gets busy; Damona abides in warm water.

To ensure a healthful night’s sleep and pleasant dreams, count sheep as you go to bed. Visualize each one jumping over Damona’s waters and walking toward you. This brings Damona into your sleep cycle, where Her energy can flow more easily to renew well-being.”

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

“Tauro” by palomi

Damona is a “Goddess of fertility and healing; Her name means ‘divine cow’. Cow Goddesses were linked to fertility and abundance. Little information exists about Her now.” [1]

According to Mary Jones, “‘Divine Cow’ would make Her similar to the Irish Goddess Boann, whose name also means ‘Divine Cow’. Damona was usually the consort of the god Borvo, usually identified with Apollo. However, at the temple at Alesia, Her consort is Apollo Moritsages, and they are associated with a healing spring nearby. As ‘Borvo’ means ‘to boil’, they are likely the same god under different apellations. At any rate, She was associated not only with the cow, but, like Boann, with springs and water.

If She is identified with Boann, Apollo Moritsages may not be Her consort but Her son, as Oengus mac ind-Og was the son of Boann, and is often identified with Apollo. This would also make Damona similar to Matrona, Goddess of the Marne River, and mother of the god Apollo Maponos.

“The Goddess Boan ‘Dance of Delight'” by Helen O’Sullivan

She was mainly worshipped in Burgundy, France, and inscriptions attribute to Her the ability of prophecy in dreams.” [2]

Based on Her description, to me, this Goddess bears a striking similarity to the Norse primeval cow Audhumla and the Welsh Goddess Fuwch-Gyfeilioru,”a pure white Cosmic Elfin Cow; She Who produces endless streams of milk; She Who has the power to heal, to make fools wise and everyone in the world happy.” [3]

 

 

 

Sources:

Her Cyclopedia, “Fuwch-Gyfeilioru“.

Joellessacredgrove.com, Celtic Gods and Goddesses: D,E,F“.

Jones, Mary.  Maryjones.us, “Damona“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Billington, S. The Concept of the Goddess, “Ancamna and Damona” (p. 30 – 33).

Celtnet.org.uk, “The Gaulish Goddess, Damona: The Divine Cow“.

Her Cyclopedia, “Damona, Divine Cow“.

O’Keeffe, Christine. Tartanplace.com, “Damona“.

Wikipedia, “Damona“.

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