Celebrating Navratri: Nourished by Divine Mother
This Late Summer morning I was hanging out in our bountiful, Ayurveda inspired garden. It was still early, the world was just beginning to awaken from the nourishing night slumber. Even the bees who always buzz around dawn till dusk were still cozily tucked in the flowers, resting. They seem to really love sleeping atop marigolds and zinnias, plentiful in our garden.
This time of year is so lovely, so enchanting! Even though the change is near, which means the end to beloved hot days, this season is my favorite. Our garden is bursting with vibrant flowers and delicious healing herbs! Most vegetables are generously bearing fruit, continuing into late fall. The sun rays are so soft and so inviting. Fall is such a generously giving season, every year I greet it with childlike joy and a grateful heart.
To compliment all the abundance of the season, it is also the time for a rich Vedic festival Navaratri - the honoring celebration of the Divine Feminine, manifesting as 9 goddess archetypes. The festival continues for 9 days and each day is devoted to revering one goddess.
I came across Navaratri and goddess teachings several years ago on Acharya Shunya’s Vedic Contemplations Facebook page. As someone who didn’t grow up with a concept of God/Goddess I have always had a hard time connecting with this word/idea. The image it inextricably created just didn’t resonate with me. The realm of the sacred which goes beyond that word is what I always longed to see. Still, curious, I decided to give the teachings a try. I was already a student of Acharya Shunya’s Alchemy Through Ayurveda Course which I genuinely enjoyed and connected with, so If nothing else, I thought, it would be very interesting to learn about mythology.
For 9 consecutive days I followed the teachings and found that I appreciated the goddess archetypes with their very human, easily relatable characteristics. I thought of exploring those qualities within myself, so decided to dedicate several days to each archetype by inquiring within, observing and journaling what came up. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and months went beyond a year. An exploration that was supposed to last couple of weeks turned into 1.5 years of daily self-inquiry and 2 thick journals of written reflections. It was the most challenging, most revealing and truly transforming experience for me! I went in looking for the goddess qualities, but instead found a vast world of complex, difficult, truly astounding emotions I never knew existed. I discovered a part of me I never really knew about, a part of me that was locked behind the bars of all the familial, cultural, societal and self-imposed conditioning about myself. It was quite overwhelming, scary even. I had no idea how to feel those locked up emotions. All I wanted was to run away. What helped me to anchor and face it were the teachings about the Divine Feminine who is always there to hold me no matter what’s going on, as a Mother would hold and protect her child, gently wipe tears away and love absolutely unconditionally. Discovering that Mother within myself gave me courage to face that which I was frightened by, to feel and experience it fully, knowing that I was safe to do so. I uncovered the infinite ability to love and accept myself as I am in any circumstances!
Durga is the goddess I spent most of my time with. Out of all archetypes she and her qualities attracted and affected me most profoundly. She embodied the might I admired and desired the most - the might to speak her truth and to live it, the power I thought I didn’t have. What I see today is that this power has always been there, within reach. I was born with it, just was never taught to use it. Durga’s archetypes became my guide!
For me Navaratri is a very special time to go inward, to connect with and honor my emotions whatever they might be. Only now I am no longer afraid to look inside. Whatever I find there I know I am able to feel it, fully accept it and love myself unconditionally. Today I am my own Divine Mother.