I should really be working... That's why I stayed up this late, after all. But I've been wanting to make a brief post about something interesting and unusual that happened this weekend.
We went to Little India on Saturday with friends. More window shopping occurred than actual shopping, due to shortness on cash, but it was still fun. And in one store that we went into, I had a most interesting encounter. There were a lot of Hindu deity statues, from small votive figures to much larger ones. And one that particularly caught my eye was a large bronze statue of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god. It just seemed... for lack of a better word, more there
than the others. Like there was a sense of presence about it that I would have associated more with a statue in a temple that was an active focus of worship than one that was for sale in a store.
I looked at it for a few minutes with interest, then went to turn away... and felt an unmistakable sensation of being pulled back. Not physically, but just a compulsion to go back to it, as though something was gently but firmly making clear that I wasn't finished there yet. I turned back to the statue, a bit confused, and felt a distinct urge to greet it, or pay it my respects somehow. At first I thought oh no, not in the middle of a busy store on a Saturday afternoon...
But I know better than to ignore that sort of impulse. Ain't nobody going to wind up happy when you start ignoring nudges from the gods.
So I tried to just do something subtle... I raised my fingers to my lips as casually as possible, hoping that to any observer it might just look as if I was wiping sweat off my upper lip (it was a very hot day), then lightly kissed my fingertips and did a very slight bow in the statue's direction. Then I turned to move on again, since most of my friends already had, and once again felt like I was being pulled back. Not good enough
was the impression I had. Written out, that looks more demanding than it felt at the time... The feelings all the way through this were more along the lines of gentle-but-firm, not imperious or demanding. I don't even know if it was the god himself saying it, or something within me that was saying that particularly deity needed more acknowledgement from me than that.
Oh, crap, I thought. Please don't make me do something really embarrassing in a store full of people. Especially when I'm one of a small handful of white people in an Indian store in an Indian neighbourhood carrying on some kind of odd silent conversation with a Hindu deity. I'm going to look like some kind of flaky white cultural tourist trying to look enlightened. Like Madonna with her mehndi tattoos. Please, spare me from that fate. I'm usually pretty good about the whole cultural appropriation thing.
But, well... I had to do something. I glanced around, trying to make sure no one was directly watching, then quickly did what was probably a fairly inept version of the Indian namaste greeting with my hands pressed together. That seemed to satisfy him - in fact, I actually got a sense he was somewhat amused by my consternation over it (anyone know if Ganesh has a streak of mischief?). As I finally turned to leave - without being held back this time - I wondered what had prompted all this. I am not usually the united nations of deities like ladyjane
is - the gods I work with have been pretty solidly Celtic for many years now. Why was this one wanting my attention, and why now? And a phrase came into my head: "Destroyer of obstacles". I know that's one of his titles... Maybe he somehow sensed me as someone who had obstacles needing to be removed?
I then slipped away, found Ladyjane, and told her what happened in brief. She made the same comment about removing obstacles that I had thought of, and suggested we see if the store perhaps had a small and affordable statue of Ganesh that we could take home, but we didn't find one - the cheapest statue of him that looked nice was still $30, which we couldn't really do at that point. There were some small and inexpensive elephants of various sorts, but none of them seemed like the right
elephant. Well, maybe another time... And I suppose I have some work to do to figure all this out.
*sigh* Lynxes and seals and elephants, oh my... Never let it be said that I do not have a complex, and unpredictable, spiritual life.
Wow. That wasn't brief at all.