The Season of Saraswati


The Season of Saraswati

Well, we’ve finally made it to March. Here in Vancouver, that means it’s still kind of cold and raining, but there are little shoots coming up under still-bare trees, and there are actually some blossoms appearing here and there.

Spring has always been emotional for me. I lived in Montreal, Que. for six years, and every spring, I would wake up astonished that I had actually survived the winter. I remember the moment when you would see the huge banks of snow on the university campus beginning to melt from somewhere deep inside the ice, and you’d get these little rivers flowing out from underneath the ice banks. When you saw those little rivers, you knew things were melting, and you’d made it out alive. That was usually when Montrealers took off all their clothes, lit a cigarette, and headed to the nearest patio to smoke and drink in celebration.

Vancouver’s got slower seasons. It’s temperate here year round and rarely snows, but folks are just as desperate to take their clothes off and get to a patio (after yoga, no cigarettes, FYI).

This is the season of the goddess Saraswati, Hindu goddess of the river, goddess of the flow. Hers is a gentle but powerful energy, deeply creative and full of possibility, but it doesn’t quite exist yet–it hasn’t manifested into anything real.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about cycles and the way things move in our worlds. We are always travelling through ebbs and flows, and when we get stuck in an ebb–a place that feels strange or hard or uncomfortable, we really really want to move out of it and feel better (get me to a glass of wine and that patio!).

Saraswati, though, teaches us that it’s okay to not quite know yet what’s going to happen. She is also a goddess of music and arts, and I think when it comes to creative endeavors, one of the things that can hold us back is our idea of what we think something should be. I heard a great quote the other day:

Change is the only constant. Hanging on is the only sin. ~Denise McCluggage (race car driver)

I’ve just today started posting up some of the works of art my students have been offering me recently. All it took for many of them to write something for the first time and even read it out loud to the group was being asked. They let go of what they thought a piece of art was supposed to look like and just let it flow from their hearts. And when you let go like that, the most beautiful, original, and goosebumpy things can happen. See them here:

Some days, especially towards the end of winter when our batteries are dying and we are desperate for that recharge of sun, are bad. Some weeks are bad, and some winters are bad. Sometimes we just see it that way because we are stuck at the bottom of a cycle and we reframe everything as if we have become the world’s only true victim.

Some days, I don’t feel very yogic. I feel frustrated and angry and sad and unwilling to go with the flow. Some days I get annoyed with my heart–I want it to shut up and let my brain drive for a while. I’m glad, in these moments that there is always a story or a poem to turn to that reminds me that it’s okay to not always feel like a yoga superhero. That the subtle movements of Saraswati’s season don’t have to mean anything specific yet, the point is that they are moving, and there’s a wellspring of possibility waiting to melt under that snow.

So till I crawl out of my bad-winter hole, I’ll read this poem to soothe my heart and promise it I’ll listen in again soon:

There Could Be Holy Fallout

We are often in battle.
So often defending every side of the fort,
It may seem, all alone.
Sit down, my dear,
Take a few deep breaths,
Think about a loyal friend.
Where is your music,
Your pet, a brush ?

Surely one who has lasted as long as you
Knows some avenue or place inside
That can give a sweet respite.

If you cannot slay your panic,
Then say within
As convincingly as you can,
“It is all God’s will !”

Now pick up your life again.
Let whatever is out there
Come charging in,

Laugh and spit into the air,
There could be holy fallout.

Throw those ladders like tiny match sticks
With “just” phantoms upon them
Who might be trying to scale your heart.
Your love has an eloquent tone.
The sky and I want to hear it !
If you still feel helpless
Give our battle cry again,

Has shouted it a myriad times,

“It is all,
It is all the Beloved’s will !”

What is that luminous rain I see
All around you in the future

Sweeping in from the east plain ?

It looks like, O it looks like
Holy fallout

Filling your mouth and palms
With Joy!


Translated by Daniel Ladinsky


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