And we're back to water, aren't we?
This is the first time Ganga, the Hindu Goddess of the sacred Ganges River, has come up. She is the personification of the Ganges River; I say 'personification', because, though She is certainly a Goddess, in the case of the Ganges the river itself is the primary image, the human form secondary.
In the Hindu tradition, rivers are sacred, and said to originate in the heavens; and they are a link between the divine world and this one. They are associated with purity, as running water is believed to have great powers of cleansing, both of the ordinary and the spiritual kind. The Ganges, especially, is revered for Her ability to cleanse even the worst pollution.
Ganga the Goddess can be depicted in both human form, or as half-fish, like a mermaid; or She is shown with rivulets of water flowing to both sides of Her. She was sometimes depicted flanking the doorway to temples with another river Goddess such as Yamuna, Goddess of the river of the same name; They can be seen as ritually purifying all who enter into the temple.
So this week then is about the flow of the divine into this world through the medium of, well, you. How can you open up to it? What is the source? The Ganges River originates ultimately in the melting glaciers of the Himalayas; how are the stored snows of winter, the visions and the time of rest you have come out of recently, now flowing? What do they bring with them?
It is also about purification, both spiritual and physical. What needs to be cleansed? Sadly, though the Ganges is spiritually very pure, in physical reality it is one of the most egregiously polluted rivers in the world. What physical actions can you take to cleanse not just your body, but the environment around you? Earth Day is coming up this week--though we Pagans know that Earth Day is really every day, consider doing something this week to clean your local area, if you can manage. You live there, after all.
What does She say?
I dance. I flow. I am always moving, always cleansing, always sweeping away your pollution. Where do you think it goes? Quite a metaphor, isn't it? That I come from heaven, and connect the worlds, and purify, and am yet filthy. This is not my fault. Look to yourselves. And stop it. Even a loving Mother will lose patience with Her children.
Oh, and drink your water. It's good for you.
Hindu Goddesses, by David R. Kinsley
Hindu Myths, translated by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty