Have you ever heard of Navratri? It’s a fabulous Hindu festivals celebrated twice every year, once in spring and once in the fall, in honor of the Divine Mother. (That’s us, mamas!)
There are three main personalities She incarnates as, and three nights are devoted to each one. They are worshipped in a specific order: Durga first, then Lakshmi, and Saraswati last. The reason for the order is symbolic of moving from gross to subtle, a recurring approach in yoga and ayurveda practices. The eight-limbed path of raja yoga/ashtanga yoga graduates from healing the body to harnessing the power of breath to stilling the mind mind and ultimately, transcending all three to connect with the Creative Source/God/Divinity. Ayurveda promotes a similar integration of body, mind, and spirit, emphasizing digestive health, self-love, and treating the self as spirit, to create a state of balance unique to each individual. As such, stories characterize Durga as the goddess of destruction, specifically destroying our fears and negative thoughts and habits that hold us back from living in our full glory; Lakshmi is portrayed as the compassionate goddess, her outer form a reflection of inner beauty, and the one who resides in the secure knowledge of abundance, giving and receiving freely with no expectation; the goddess Saraswati is often shown carrying a sitar or a book or scroll, nodding to her infinite wisdom and creative ability. The energy of each of them is within us along our journeys, moment to moment and on the grand scale. I must say I’ve noticed the presence of all three very close during my pregnancy.
Of course it’s perfect that there are 9 months, divided into three trimesters. I don’t know about you but I felt a clear transition from each trimester to the next. My experience of the first trimester was a beat down! Grounding is a nice way to say it, but destructive is spot-on. I learned quick and hard that my body, which I’d used so freely up until this point, was no longer mine alone and that loss of control brought me to my knees. I was sick and exhausted like many other woman. My mind, too, became flooded with a whole new world of “what if?’s” that had never occurred to me before. What if I miscarry? What if I’m not qualified for this role? What if my partner isn’t committed to being a parent? Changes were occurring rapidly; I scarcely knew who I was anymore. And honestly, the doubts and confusion haven’t stopped! At least not completely. But my greatest battle with these adjustments came during those first months. For me, it helped to process everything by looking at the changes as a necessary purging (literally!) to leave the space clear for this new being to enter, unfettered by my own junk. I see that clearing out as Durga’s power, slaying demons, providing an opening for Divine intervention.
And it came! Queue the songbirds, part the clouds! Lakshmi bloomed out of the lotus flower that was my second trimester. I felt recharged with energy and excitement. I flaunted my cute belly as it started to poke out further and adored my baby more and more with every twist and stretch I felt inside. My friends and family showered us with love, encouragement, praise, and gifts. Everything was so special! It was a delightful change of pace to be able to enjoy the miracle that was happening to us.
Now, I’m two weeks away from my due date and these past few months have taken a much more serious and contemplative tone. I think often of how I will be as a parent to my child, what wisdom I want to pass on to him and how to best deliver it. I seek out advice from women who have done this before and respect their experience. Labor and delivery are close, I am aware of the physical and mental shifts taking place to prepare us for the task ahead. This is Saraswati’s blessing, to offer an opportunity of this magnitude to grow and learn from.
Spring Navratri begins on Monday. I am welcoming the exalted presence of each of theses goddesses in the last weeks of my pregnancy! What metaphors for the nine months resonate with you?