Springtime is here (well, at least in some places)! Have you noticed it? Can you see all the little sprouts pushing through the dark earth, and through the thick barks of trees? And the sounds and displays of all the creatures searching for their mates?
All around, life is flowing forth, reclaiming the earth as its own. There’s such a sense of will everywhere you look! We’re able to finally start – and finish – long-standing projects and dreams. Whether it’s spring cleaning or starting a new relationship or sticking to a habit… you have the energy to do it!
Today’s full moon – Māgha Purṇimā – is all about pursuing what you really, truly want.
The first traditional practice for the day is to get the ancestors to help you with this. For those of you that took our Pitṛ Pakṣa course, you’ll remember the range of practices that we performed on behalf of our ancestors.
Similar to Pitṛ Pakṣa, the veil between our realm and theirs is fairly thin today. However, during Pitṛ Pakṣa, we’re mostly doing things for them out of respect and gratitude. (And yes of course, this ultimately benefits us because of the circle of life). The main difference is that today we’re trying to get our needs and wants fulfilled, and actively recruiting their help!
Ancestor energies are responsible for protecting the flow of life. This covers pretty much everything we depend on on a daily basis: relationships, family, children, health, home, career, money, abundance, and safety. So we’ll be asking for their help with these things today.
The second traditional practice for today – in particular for Shaivites and yogis – is to invoke and honor the Goddess Gaurī.
Original illustration by Living Sanskrit Core Teacher Ekabhumi Ellik
Gaurīdevī, also known as Pārvatī, is Lord Śiva’s beloved wife and consort. She is the power of deep, deep bliss and profound contentment. You may have experienced her after a particularly deep meditation experience, and/or an experience of real love. She’s that place of deep rapture, where the most exquisite fullness quietly swirls through your being.
She is also the power of fertility and life force energy, so all life falls under her protection and care. We honor Her as the Divine Mother. She also governs the practical areas of life listed above (marriage, family, etc), and fulfills all our true desires.
Now, before we continue, keep this in mind: benevolent deities generally only respond to truth, because that’s who they are. So for example if you want something – let’s call it A – because deep down you believe it’s how you’ll get what you actually want – which is B – the divine energies most likely won’t give you A.
This might lead to deep upset or a loss of faith, especially if you were really begging and pleading for A. With some time – and hopefully maturity – you might come to see that your being actually wanted B all along. And, that’s most likely what you have received, already.
Gaurī is an iconic example in this tradition of the process of fulfilling your dreams. Before marriage, She was known as Pārvatī, and fell in love with Lord Śiva at a young age. He wasn’t interested in worldly life, and She couldn’t imagine a life without Him. (This is BTW all an allegory for the spiritual journey, not just a romantic tale).
There’s a long story of Her austerity and sacrifice to finally win His heart, and we’ll get into that at another time. For now, just know that as Tapasvinī (the one who performs austerities) She embodies longing and perseverance, and as Gaurī, the blissful satisfaction of total fulfillment. Gaurī’s blessing bestows on others her own state of joy and contentment.
There’s another special reason we honor Gaurīdevi on this day. On March 7, we’ll be celebrating Mahāśivarātri, the holy night in honor of Lord Śiva. Besides being one of the most sacred and powerful days for meditation and spiritual practice, it’s also Gaurī and Śiva’s wedding anniversary (the union of divine presence and living power).
So Shaivites and most yogis begin their internal preparation, meditation, mantra-japa, and other austerities for Mahāśivarātri today, on the full moon. This gives you almost a whole fortnight to keep going deeper inside, culminating in a full celebration on the night of March 7th.
Practice: Ask For What You Really Want
For today’s practice, start by taking some time for quiet reflection, journaling, or self-inquiry to get really clear about what you actually want. You will know that you’re on the right track because you will feel quieter and fuller in the presence of what’s true.
You can choose to practice with the ancestors and/or the Goddess. If you are invoking both, start with the Goddess and then invoke the ancestors. You can make your requests through formal ritual practice, chanting, hymns, worship, etc.
You can also just sit near your altar or a quiet, clean, natural location, and visualize your ancestors or the Goddess. From a place of sincerity, vulnerability, and openheartedness, ask for guidance, support, or energetic flow around whatever it is that you are needing or wanting. Speak as a child would – without strategy or guile.
In case you’re feeling shy, just know that it’s ok to ask for what you really want, including help with the practical life stuff. Some of us only feel comfortable asking for things like virtue, wisdom, or grace. This tradition embraces life and everything that it entails, so it’s fine to ask for example for the right career, enough money, or a loving relationship.
When you’ve made your prayers, remember to offer your gratitude and bows. Take a few moments to sit in silence and trust that the seeds for the fulfillment of your prayers have been successfully planted.