Tag Archive: golden items


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 Amaterasu

“Amaterasu” by Hrana Janto

“Amaterasu’s themes are the sun, tradition, unity, blessings, community, and kinship.  Her symbols are a mirror, gold or yellow items.  Amaterasu is unique among Goddesses, being one of the few women to personify the sun. In Japan She rules over cultural unity, kinship and the blessings that someone with the name ‘Illuminating Heaving’ might be expected to bestow. It is Amaterasu’s sun that nudges the greenery to reach toward Her light, just as Her gentle energy prods us toward re-establishing harmony in all our relationships.

 The first week of May in Japan is called Golden Week, and it’s a time when Amaterasu’s solar beauty really shines. The Hakata festival is a national holiday that includes celebrations for children and a special parade depicting Japan’s legendary deities. Take a moment to join the festivities long-distance. Remember Amaterasu by wearing gold-colored items today and opening as many curtains as possible to let in Her glorious light.

Once the curtains are opened, take a hand mirror and reflect the light into every corner of your home. This draws Amaterasu’s unifying energy into your living space and guards against discord among all who dwell therein. Also, to ensure that no malevolence enters from outside the home, put a mirror facing outwards in an eastern window (where Amaterasu rises). This is a Buddhist custom for turning away negativity and evil influences.”

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

“Amaterasu (pronounced AH-mah-tay-RAH-soo) is the Japanese sun Goddess and supreme deity of the Shinto faith. Through Her descendent Ninigi, who married Konohana, or Sengen, She is the ancestress of the Imperial family. Her name means ‘Great Shining Goddess of Heaven’, and She is the daughter of Izanami and Izanagi, the divine couple who created the lands. Her double shrine at Ise is rebuilt every twenty years, using one of the two identical buildings as a model. Thus the form of Her temple has remained consistent for two thousand years.

“Amaterasu” by mirana

Like other solar deities such as Apollo, Amaterasu is an archer, Her quiver holding one thousand arrows. She is also a weaver who makes the garments of the gods.

Amaterasu’s impetuous, loud, and altogether boorish younger brother Susano-o made it a habit to undo all Her good deeds, and in frustration and fear, She shut Herself inside a cave and refused to come out. The other Gods could not bear to be without Her light, and finally enticed Her out by holding a raucous party outside the cave entrance, the highlight of which was the Goddess Uzume performing a divine striptease. Her curiosity piqued by the gods’ roaring laughter, Amaterasu looked out and saw Her own reflection in an octagonal mirror placed there [made by the Goddess Ishikore-dome]. Fascinated by Her own nearly forgotten beauty, She came out of the cave a little, which was shut fast behind Her.

Art by Dawn Mostow

Amaterasu is associated with royal power, and returning life and joy after dark times, as the sun becomes stronger and warmer after winter.

Alternate names: Ama-terasu-o-mi-kami” [1]

According to Patricia Monaghan, “Of all the religions currently practiced by significant numbers of people, the only one whose chief divinity is female is Japanese Shinto, based on the worship of the sun Goddess Amaterasu (‘great shining heaven’).

“Amaterasu” by Cyril Helnwein

In Her simple shrines-notable for their architectural purity and unpretentiousness and for the central mirror that represents the Goddess-Amaterasu is honored as the ruler of all deities, as the guardian of Japan’s people, and as the symbol of Japanese cultural unity. Her emblem, the rising sun, still flies on Japan’s flag. Even the inroads of patriarchal Buddhism have not destroyed the worship of the bejeweled ancestor of all humanity.

There is one central myth of Amaterasu. She quarreled with the storm god Susano-o and brought winter to the world. Two reasons are given for her annoyance with him: one, because of his murder of Amaterasu’s sister, the food-giving Goddess Uke-Mochi; the other, because of his deliberately provocative acts against Amaterasu Herself [and savaged the earth].

The latter version has it that Amaterasu did not trust Her brother Susano-o because of his excesses and his constant shouting. One day he came to heaven to see Her, claiming that he meant no harm. She was wary, but he promised that he would undergo a ritual test to prove his goodwill. He said he would give birth, and that if his intentions were peaceful, the children would all be boys.

“Amaterasu” by Sandra M. Stanton

Amaterasu grabbed Susano-o’s sword and broke it with Her teeth, spitting out three pieces which, striking the ground, became Goddesses. Susano-o asked Amaterasu for some of Her jewels: She gave him five; he cracked them open and made them into gods. But then Susano-o grew wild with excitement at his creative feat and tore through the world destroying everything in his path: he even piled feces under Amaterasu’s throne. As though that were not enough, he stole into Her quarters and threw a flayed horse’s corpse through the roof of Her weaving room, so startling one of Amaterasu’s companions [Wakahirume] that She pricked Herself and died.

This was too much for the sun Goddess. She left this mad world and shut Herself up in a comfortable cave. Without the sun, the entire world was blanketed with unending blackness. The eight million gods and goddesses, desperate for their queen’s light, gathered to call out pleas that She return. But in Her cave the Goddess stayed.

The shaman Uzume, Goddess of merriment, finally took matters into Her hands. She turned over a washtub, climbed on top, and began dancing and singing and screaming bawdy remarks.

Soon the dance became a striptease. When She had shed all Her clothes, Uzume began dancing so wildly and obscenely that the eight million gods and goddesses started to shout with delight.

Inside Her cave, Amaterasu heard the noise. As it grew to a commotion, She called to ask what was going on. Someone paused to answer that they had found a better Goddess than the sun.

Provoked-and curious-Amaterasu opened the door of Her cave just a crack.

The gods and goddesses had, with great foresight, installed a mirror directly outside of the cave. Amaterasu, who had never seen Her own beauty before, was dazzled.

“Amaterasu” by *tattereddreams

While She stood there dazed, the other divinities grabbed the door and pulled it open. Thus the sun returned to warm the winter-weary earth. Mounted again on her heavenly throne, Amaterasu punished Susano-o by having his fingernails and toenails pulled out and by throwing him out of her heaven.” [2]

 

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines, “Amaterasu”.

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

Suggested Links:

A Chapel of Our Mother God, “Amaterasu: The Universal Sun Goddess“.

Etan. Order of the White Moon, “Amaterasu“. (This link includes a guided meditation and rituals to Amaterasu)

Goddessgift.com, “Amaterasu and Uzume, Goddesses of Japan“.

Kazuo, MATSUMURA.  “Alone Among Women: A Comparitive Mythic Analysis of the Development of Amaterasu Theology“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Amaterasu: laughter over lamentation“.

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Amaterasu“.

Stanton, Sandra M. The Goddess in World Mythology, “Amaterasu Omikami“.

Wikipedia, “Amaterasu“.

Goddess Nokomis

“Nokomis’s themes are prosperity, luck and providence.  Her symbols are golden items and corn. In Algonquin tradition, Nokomis is an earth Goddess, the ‘grandmother’ who supplies us with the earth’s riches and gives nourishment to humankind in times of need. When people are hungry, Nokomis provides food. When there is no food to be found, she offers to let us consume her spirit, thereby continuing the cycle of life.

Today marks the anniversary of the discovery of gold in California and the resulting expansion westward in the United States. In keeping with this prosperous, fortunate theme, wear or carry something gold today to bring a little more of Nokomis’s abundance your way.

For financial improvements, especially if you have any pressing bills, eat corn (any type) today. Before consuming it pray to Nokomis, saying something like:

‘Grandmother, see the sincerity of my need
Go to your storehouse and dispense < ….. >
< fill in the minimum amount you need to get by >
So that I might meet my obligations.’

Eating the corn internalizes the energy of the prayer so opportunities to make money start manifesting.

If you are pressed for time, grab a kernel of un-popped popcorn and put it in your wallet or purse to keep Nokomis’s prosperity (and your cash) where it’s needed most.”

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

Nokomis (pronounced “noh-KOO-mis,”) means “grandmother,” This name is used in traditional stories that also feature a character named Nanabozho, and it is believed that Longfellow’s poem “The Song of Hiawatha” is partially inspired by this mythology.

In Ojibwe tradition, Nokomis is an important character in both the poem and the original stories. She is the daughter of the moon and fell down to earth, which is why the meaning of this name is sometimes listed as “daughter of the moon.” Eventually She bears a daughter named Wenonah, who allows herself to be seduced by Mudjekeewis (the spirit of the West Wind) despite her mother’s warnings. Mudjekeewis abandons her, and Wenonah dies while giving birth to Hiawatha. Nokomis raises and educates her grandson. [1][2]

“Nokomis is the Algonquin name for the Goddess called Eithinoha by the Iroquois.  Eithinoha ruled the earth and its produce and she created the food for the people and animals.  She had a daughter, Oniata, the corn maiden.  When Oniata was wandering through the land, looking for dew, an evil spirit abducted her and held her under the earth; but the sun found her and led her back to the surface.  Another legend says that men, attracted by Oniata’s loveliness, fought over her.  When the Iroquois women complained, Oniata explained that she never wished for men’s attentions.  To ensure that the men would return to their families, she left the earth, leaving behind only spring wildflowers.

“Changing Woman” by Susan Seddon Boulet

The Menominee described Nokomis, also known as Masâkamek’okiu, as grandmother of the trickster rabbit, Mánabus.  A number of variants of Her story were told, with the daughter typically dying while birthing twins or triplets, only one of whom survived.  Overwhelmed by grief, Nokomis put the surviving baby under a bowl, later finding a rabbit that She raised as her grandchild.  In one story, Nokomis’s daughter became pregnant by the wind while gathering wild potatoes, after which she gave birth to Mánabus, a wolf named Múhwase, and a sharp flint stone that cut the girl in two. Nokomis punished the flint by throwing it away, but raised the other children.  Another version said the Goddess found under her food dish, Pikâkamik’okiu, who grew into a woman instantly. Impregnated by four invisible beings, Pikâkamik’okiu died, ripped apart by delivery.  Nokomis found no solace from her grief until she laid down her food dish, from which the trickster rabbit was born.

Among the Penobscot, Nok-a-mi was a primal woman, who appeared at time’s beginning, already bowed with age.  The next woman to appear was Nee-gar-oose, who brought love and color to the universe and who became the mother of all people.  After a time, she became downcast because her children were hungry.  So she asked Her husband to kill her and bury her with a certain ritual.  The man did as he was told.  Seven days later, he retuned to find that, from his wife’s body, the first corn and tobacco had sprung up.” (Patricia Monaghan, “Encyclopedia of Goddess and Heroines”)

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