I often need a little help in my life, and the deity archetype, Ganesha, has come to my aid many times. As an archetype Ganesha represents beneficence, new beginnings and the removal of obstacles. I love the two images above, one shows Ganesha, as a Hindu god, the son of Shiva, the destroyer, and one shows the beautiful animal, our fellow mammal. I think life is like this, both spiritual and visceral, spirit in matter. When I went to India for my Fulbright in 1993, I read many traveler guides and a cultural competence book from the Department of State. These books contained great clues, like suggesting one learn to drink tea with sugar, or being careful of cars during Ramadan, when the rickshaw drivers are fasting. And a very important clue was to watch for pickpockets. Following that advice, I put a postcard of Ganesha in my wallet to help me get through the throngs of people at the rail road stations. Ganesha became increasingly important to my trip as I saw visions of Ganesha floating in my bedroom, and when my family didn’t have food, I’d ask Ganesha for help, and immediately our neighbors would invite us to dinner.
When visualizing archetypes for help with day to day life, it is good to find out their stories. Ganesha was the son of Parvati and Shiva. Shiva being one of the Hindu triumvirate which includes Brahma, the unknowable, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer. In Hindu thought, the destroyer is not negative, although he can be a bit scary. It is rather one of the major forces in the cosmos that sustains life. Think about how rich the earth becomes from volcanic flow. But back to the story, Parvati was taking a bath, and asked Ganesha to guard the entry, since she was not in the mood for Shiva’s amorous advances. Shiva, angry at the impediment, took off Ganesha’s head. Screaming, as she came from her bath , Parvati implored Shiva to get their son a new head. A servant was dispatched to get the nearest head, which turned out to be an elephant’s. Hence, the beloved Ganesha was created. By losing his head, Ganesha became the symbol of giving.
Next time, your thoughts are spinning, spinning. Or your stomach is cramped in anxiety or your heart is racing from worry or pain, visualize Ganesha and see what help he might have for you.