Ganesha, also known as Ganesh, the elephant Deity and one of my favorite Deities to work with, was introduced to me eight years ago.
Known as the Lord of Success, as well as the destroyer of evil and obstacles, my first Ganesha figurine was given to me in a small, red velvet bag by three witch sisters who owned a shop in Connecticut. I was instructed to carry it around after chatting with them and revealing at some point in the conversation, that I had a court appearance with my ex approaching…. so I graciously accepted their gift and carried it around, but I didn’t really understand why.
In fact, the whole idea of worshiping or paying homage to any other God except for the one I was raised with (which was the Catholic one… which is also why I think I am so sympathetic to Christian Witches because in some ways, I was one on some level once– having been raised primarily by Santeras) never really resonated with me, the energy and power of spirit and place was what I found most familiar, but the rest was not only foreign to me, it just felt off. (My mind was quickly changed by an incredibly vivid dream by the way, but that’s another topic for another time). Though I have been a practicing witch nearly my entire life, my involvement with the various Deities in other traditions and cultures had been non-existent until this dance with Ganesha. (I was also trying like hell (puns, puns!) to “Blend” with my then staunch Catholic in-laws-to-be….. I’m sure, by now, you can surmise how that story ended! And if you can’t figure it out and are still wondering, let’s just say my little fairy-tale to be went something like this….
No worries, I was over it long before they were 😉 Clicking my heels and moving along…..
Mind you, most witches are nearly always beyond delighted to be in the company of another witch, because the fact is, unless you were in a coven (which were just as harder to find) or kept up on Pagan festivals, which were also still sort of hard to find because everything was mail order in those days and the internet didn’t make itself available to all until about 1997, (and was virtually useless unless you were a business)…oh, and take into account that there certainly was no My Space, Facebook or Linkd In…. so bumping into another witch at the time could probably be best compared to winning a lottery…. unlikely and rare, but thrilled beyond belief….I was ecstatic!
And how lucky was I? I had THREE standing in front of me! I was almost compelled to do a happy dance!
Ok, so when they weren’t looking I may have done one…
I carried this little elephant man in my purse, everywhere I went. It wasn’t until the not-so-fairy tale ex discovered it that I had any clue why I should be carrying it around or what to do with it. To my complete shock, (Because he had been such a good Catholic boy) he looked in the bag and said, “It’s empty. You haven’t put any offerings in it.”
He told me to put coins or candies in the bag regularly for Ganesh, and then I would start to see things happen (and all in the same breath added, “But that’s what they say, I personally don’t believe any of it”).
Uh huh. Rigggght.
And exactly who are “they”? But he was right. My situation at the time was nearly a dire one. I had been a single parent, was trying to start a business that seemed more like I was peeing in the wind (just to give you an idea of how good a start it was getting off to—sorry for the visual–), I had a run-down mini van that even the drive thru cleark at a Wendy’s called a “Hoopty”…. I mean, the paint was peeling off it (affectionately called a Monday-Friday job becaue they get their paychecks and say to hell with doing the job right, let’s clock out and get our cash!)…you get the idea. I wanted things to change. I was willing to work for the change, but it seemed as though I was working up hill through a mud slide. My Catholic God, whose only requirement was love and complete acceptance into my heart, seemed like He went on hearing strike. So I said, “What the hell?”, and tossed some coins into the bag, whispered my desire and waited.
I didn’t have to wait long…
**….oh, and let me just state, before anyone gets their nickers in a twist, that just because the Christian/Catholic God didn’t work out for me, it doesn’t mean he won’t for others. There. That was my public service announcement for the month.**
Two days later I landed a contract for my new company that took care of my then financial crises plus a new vehicle. I tossed some candy in the bag, whispered sweet nothings to my little elephant man again and got the apartment I wanted at a good price.
Hot damn, I was on to something!
So, being the book nerd that I am, I went to the library and researched Ganesha. I was determined to become a student of this Deity, learn everything I could about him (Which is what I recommend you do prior to working with ANY Deity)….
As the son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha, is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the God of education, knowledge, wisdom (the elephant head denotes wisdom; Ganesha’s head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings, and his trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality.) and wealth. In most depictions of Ganesha, in his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from thier way. The noose in Ganesha’s left hand is a tool to capture all difficulties. The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk suggests that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. You might be wondering what is up with the mouse he rides. It simply implies that he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.
It is important to note that Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four) whose idolatry is glorified as the panchayatana puja. Each Diety, especially in the Hindu traditions, have a story behind their story, and Ganesha’s is no different. But I’m not here to give you a cosmic history lesson, in fact, I believe that every serious practitioner should do their own research on the Deities they’re thinking about working with. I’m simply here to get the ball of inspiration rolling in that direction by pointing you in the direction of a God that I have developed a wonderful relationship with, because I took the time to get to know him. Ganesh is considered the master of intellect and wisdom, so why wouldn’t I want to hang out with a guy like that? 😉
Before my own dance with Ganesha, I was taught to cast when I needed to. To attend church regularly, and not ask questions. Nothing more, nothing less. It was Ganesha who taught me the importance of worship. And I mean, daily worship.
Now, I’m not saying run out and find yourself a dictionary of Deities and pick one willy- nilly. I’m not even saying you must choose a Deity to understand how worship really works. Most think worship is external. It isn’t. It’s internal, so it makes no never mind to me or anyone else whether you are worshiping a statue or the tree out in your front yard. It does however, make all the difference in the world to your self-growth and spiritual development.
It begins with you.
Rarely have I found that worship as a means to an end or as a last act of desperation prove successful. When it is, however, the Catholics call those miracles. I’m not even going to begin to try to explain or understand why those happen for some and not for others. Maybe the ones that are helped have a better relationship with their God than they realize. Maybe they pray so hard, so passionately that someone, somewhere hears them. I just don’t know. I can only speak of what I know from experience and study, and I know this:
Regular worship works.
Beginning with Ganesha, he taught me to look within. Why was I asking Him for certain things and not for others? Ganesha symbolizes the discriminative capacities that provide the ability to perceive distinctions between truth and illusion, the real and the unreal. What worship taught me was that in order to achieve something, I first had to look within as the means to achieving what I wanted. I needed a new vehicle. In order to get a new vehicle, I needed money to get it, so that meant I needed money too. How was I going to get that money? Clicking my heels together and demanding it certainly wasn’t working. It was going to happen by making the business I had started a success. How was I going to do that? By projecting my intent, and by working as hard as I possibly could by first doing an inventory of my own assets. What were my strengths, my weaknesses? What did I need to improve upon and more importantly, what habits did I have that did not serve me in achieving my goals? Ganesha is associated with the first chakra (energy wheel), which represents the instinct of conservation and survival, of procreation and material well-being. That was the greatest gift Ganesha could have ever given me, because Ganesha will absolutely help those who have the ability to first look within and then help themselves. His assistance may come in the form of inspiration or an opportunity that seems to come from literally nowhere. It may also come in the way of removing an obstacle from your path so that you can move forward.
Worship begins with self because when we find ourselves in the moment, still and centered, whether we realize it or not we are also meditating and sending our intentions out into the universe to be manifested. If you by nature have negative thought patterns, keep in mind that the Gods are listening! So is the Universe, so be very, very careful about what you allow to worm its way into your thoughts, especially while worshiping or meditating.
If you are so inclined, do your research of Ganesha. It is important to note that if you have or plan on acquiring a figuring of this God, to not place it near the foot of the bed or on the ground. He should be elevated (especially on an altar where other deities are worshiped or acknowledged) or even better, above the front door of your home.
The mantra, “Aum Vakratundaya Hum” – Considered as one of the most powerful Ganesh mantras, is traced to Ganesh Puranas. This mantra is referenced several times in the Ganesha Purana to curb the atrocities of cruel demons. The chanting of this mantra is recommended when something is not working properly or while feeling depressed or discouraged, which I feel makes a good starting mantra when you first begin working with Ganesha. After all, if you have found yourself in need of a God such as Ganesha, chances are, you have some things in your life not going quite right. In a nutshell the mantra invokes Ganesha (Aum) to straighten & ward off evil and difficulty (Vakratundaya) with no delays (Hum).
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