173 – Sympathetic Magic

During ceremonial functions we use sacred symbols and objects as offerings and to decorate our homes. The principle underlying this custom is called sympathetic or imitative magic. It is based on the assumption that a desired result can be achieved by mimicking it.

Symbols of affluence used by us:

  • Gold jewels – because gold cannot be destroyed, and ornaments represent celebration of life.
  • Heap of sweets – they represent plenty of all desirable things.
  • Banana plant – because it regenerates itself and does not require cultivation.
  • Coconut – because every part of the plant has an economic value.
  • Stalks of rice grain – because they represent food and a place where there is plenty of water.
  • Betel nut and leaves – because they are chewed after a delicious meal to help us to digest our food and be relaxed.
  • Mango leaves – because the succulent fruit makes the heat of the summer bearable.
  • Marigold flowers – because each petal has a seed that can give rise to a marigold plant.
  • Butter – because it is churned from milk and cream.
  • Sugar cane – because its juice is sweet.
  • Flowers – because they are colourful and fragrant and they awaken the senses.
  • Sandal paste – because it is cool and fragrant.
  • Lamps – because they take away the darkness.
  • Incense – because they make the surroundings fragrant.

Offering and decorating our altar and home with these symbols we are ensuring that our awareness is heightened, and we remain centred. Our focus is on the puja and these objects ascertain that we are present. However it is also possible to visualize these symbols of wealth. In all our auspicious prayers, no matter what faith we are, we offer flowers, incense, and light. When we are placing the symbols, it gives us immense joy as we have had a bath, and many of us are wearing new clothes and jewellery.

Durga welcomes pure hearts

I visit the temple of Durga Ma regularly and here the worshippers come simply dressed. When I visit the temple of Lakshmi, she is resplendent in gold and silk and the worshippers are clad in finery. Lakshmi is intolerant of simplicity and poverty. She is whimsical and embodies pleasure, prosperity and power. Holding on to her is a battle. Durga Ma has always said that she welcomes a devotee who is genuine and has a pure heart. The same applies to Shiva. He also asks for a pure heart. Vishnu’s temples like Lakshmi’s have wealthy patrons, and golden domes. Vishnu grants boons regularly and so does Lakshmi.

It is interesting to note the differences. Because the Gods only want us to be genuine. It is our perception and understanding and what our heart desires. When I was giving Yoga classes to groups in homes, I had many students who were millionaires. I was very naive, and I said to one of my students (who was a millionaire married to a millionaire) that I could not understand why anyone worshipped Lakshmi for acquisition of wealth. We should pray only to the Cosmic Couple (Shiva and Parvati). She was so mad at me and said that I had no idea what I was talking about. She added that to keep all their wealth and prosperity they prayed to Lakshmi.

In Lakshmi Tantra, Lakshmi says that truth and devotion is Vishnu, and she is Vishnu and therefore truth and devotion offered to her, grants us salvation. It is our offerings and our desires which influence what we wish for.

Aim Hrim Klim


Photo by Luz Mendoza on Unsplash

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