In my latest blog on the wisdom goddesses of yoga I introduce Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance. If you would like to read about the background on invoking wisdom goddesses in yoga, please go to my blog on Kali.
In this blog, I introduce Lakshmi:
- describe her qualities; where we can see her in our lives, her boons and why we invoke her.
- unpack the mythology in her imagery, including the symbology of her 4 arms (Dharma, Artha, Kama Moksha) as a model of human and spiritual evolution.
- share some personal stories of how she has been a nourishing medicine for me and for one of my students.
- give you 7-practices to awaken and embody Lakshmi’s qualities in your life.
Lakshmi’s qualities and how to invoke them
Lakshmi represents abundance in all forms – abundant beauty in the inner and the outer world. In mythology Lakshmi incarnates all of the qualities of the auspicious feminine. One of her names Shri (pronounced Shree) which means auspiciousness and signifies good fortune, loving kindness, purity of motive, material prosperity, physical health, wellbeing, energy, vitality and every kind of radiance and beauty (Kempton, 2013).
We see Lakshmi in our lives in all forms of wealth including material and spiritual wealth. As material wealth, when Lakshmi’s energy is flowing in your life, money comes easily as well as it flows out generously to others. Lakshmi can be seen in precious jewels, in beautifully crafted objects, art and elegant fashion and delicious food as well as sweet music.
Lakshmi can be found in the abundance of the natural world. The abundance of mother earth: the land the water, the plants and animals. She is the benevolent force that causes the seed to grow into a tree, the sperm to fertilise the egg and flowers to fruit. Her power nourishes life on earth. She is a goddess of sustainability. It is said that Lakshmi shows up for those who are stewards of the land, cultivators of the earth. If we provide and care for all the Life around us, then Lakshmi will bless us with abundance
When we embody Lakshmi, we have everything, both inner and outer, for a beautiful life. Lakshmi is invoked for peace and prosperity, sweetness and harmony. When you call her into your life, you invite every form of blessing. Good fortune, fertility and beauty.
Lakshmi gives the gifts of worldly abundance, wealth, food, high social position, spiritual luster, beauty in all its form (Kempton, 2013)
You can invoke Lakshmi to cultivate all forms of abundance in life including:
- support in the worldly life, including money and material wealth
- bridging the mundane and spiritual worlds
- greater health, wellbeing and vitality
- gratitude and being content with what you have
- allowing yourself to receive and also to give generously
- beauty and pleasure in life
- opening your heart.
Lakshmi’s Shakti is cooling and nourishing, infinitely sweet. I find that Lakshmi, along with her sister goddess Tripuri Sundari, can be a beautiful balance to the more fiery energy of Kali and Durga.
Lakshmi can put an end to outer seeking, instead spend our precious energy on the evolution and unfolding of ourselves and the universe. Lakshmi (and Kalamalitka in particular) offers us a bridge between the material and spiritual worlds. She nourishes and supports whatever we aspire to. She is Divine grace for our spiritual and worldly goals.
The Mythology of Lakshmi
Mythology, and the stories of these goddesses, can be a powerful map of understanding ourselves as well as universal patterns. One tool is to understand the symbology of the icon/image. One powerful Tantric embodiment practice is visualise ourselves as the god or goddess and so we can examine in detail and attempt to get a ‘felt sense’ of the image and the symbols commonly associated with Lakshmi we can embody her abundance.
When we look at a mythological image we look to everything in image including the character and the objects are aspects of our Self. Chameli Ardah points out it is important to remember that mythology is not a fixed theory, rather it is a the map that is alive in you as you, around you and right now in every moment.
Below is a summary of some of the more common interpretations of Lakshmi’s image.
Lakshmi is depicted as a beautiful woman of golden complexion, standing gracefully on a lotus flower. She is dressed in red, which represents continuous creative activity. She is adorned with gold ornaments and jewels, indicating prosperity and fulfilment.
Her animal consort is the elephant or sometimes she is pictured with an owl. Elephants and owls both represent wisdom.
Two elephants are often shown standing next to the goddess and spraying water. A symbol that ceaseless effort, in accordance with one’s dharma and governed by wisdom and purity, leads to material and spiritual prosperity.
An owl, as a night bird represents darkness, which can represent Lakshmi’s ability to remove darkness from our lives, including poverty and stagnation. The owl can also point to the shadow aspects of material wealth. At a personal level greed and ignorance and at a societal, humanity level, how the current imbalances in the larger financial/economic system are not sustainable.
She has 4 arms. In two of them she holds lotus flowers. Her third hand is lowered, palm down, with cascading gold coins. Her fourth hand is held upright, in abhaya mudra, an ancient gesture that dispels fear.
The continuous stream of gold coins pouring out from Lakshmi’s hand representing the unending flow of abundant prosperity and wealth in all forms, including material wealth and money.
The Lotus flower is also a prominent and powerful symbol for Lakshmi. The Tantric equivalent of Lakshmi’s is called Kamalatmika, (kamala = lotus).
Lakshmi sits on a lotus flower that emerges out of the lake, as well as holds two in her hands, sometimes one closed and one open. The lotus flower can represent purity, fertility and inner unfolding. The lotus is also a symbol of growth and spiritual transformation. The lotus flower grows from the shadow, muddy water. It roots itself in the mud and then grows up, through the murky, stagnant waters toward the light and blossoms into perfection.
Four Arms as a Map of Human Evolution
Lakshmi’s four arms symbolise different aspects of manifestation. They can offer us a framework to understand spiritual development and human embodiment.
- Dharma: ‘righteous’ living your unique vibration
- Artha: worldy and spiritual wealth
- Kama: pleasure as a spiritual portal
- Moksha – liberation and freedom.
The 4 arms are a part of her body, they are not separate. Each ‘arm’ is equally important and a part of the whole. In our practice we can tune into these 4 arms and identify which aspect of our life is needing more conscious awareness and practice, at any point in our evolutionary growth.
Below I provide a brief overview of each of these arms. I share more on these arms and specific yoga practices, in my Tantra Flow Yoga workshops and transition coaching programs.
Dharma: ‘righteous’ living your unique vibration
Dharma is the law of the universe. It is the righteous order of ALL things. In the personal realm, righteous living can be seen as the alignment to our unique vibration, our unique dharma, and the alignment of this vibration with the larger vibration of the universe.
We each have a unique place in the world: a unique thread in the grand scheme of life. It shows that we are each unique, but not separate.
The practice is to align ourselves with our unique vibration – your unique Shri. The closer we can come to this vibration the more fulfilled we will be. We experience genuine fulfilment when living true to our dharma. When our unique gifts are aligned with the bigger cosmic intelligence we not only find our unique place in the whole, but you also receive great support from the universe (see Artha below).
This does not mean your life is wholly pre-destined or pre-determined. Instead, we are born with an imprint, and then our life experiences and circumstances influence and mould us. We are continuously moving and evolving.
Recently, I have noticed that dharma is increasingly used by yoga teacher career coaches in their branding and marketing of coaching offerings. dharma can offer us a meaningful way to make decisions about our work and career. It is important to remember that dharma is more than a job, as dharma is expressed in all areas of our lives.
I see so much suffering in the world when people are not aware or are misaligned with their dharma. Many are caught up in a material world of consumerism. I know I was for many years working in the city in corporate role that felt like it often clashed with my deeper values and beliefs.
“It is better to strive in one’s own dharma than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s own dharma. But competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity.” Krishna from The Bhagavad Gita
The more aware of, and the more aligned I am, and the more conscious and connected I am to my dharma, the happier and easier life becomes. It is one of my deepest passions, that more people (including myself!) live life according to their dharma.
Artha: worldly and spiritual wealth
Artha is the resources we need to fulfill our dharma. Artha is most commonly associated with wealth. Currently in our western and ever developing world, Artha is most visible as money. Artha is far more than just money. It includes all aspects of physical, emotional and spiritual wealth, health and wellbeing. It includes the skills, physical well-being and circumstances that will support you to live your dharma.
Most, if not all of us, are bound to a large extent to live and operate in the current systems and processes that require us to have money to live a good life. For example we need a home to live in, we need to pay rent or a mortgage. We need nourishing food for a healthy functioning body. More and more of us are now choosing to buy organic food, which is often more expensive. Increasingly we need money to pay for good health care, particularly so here in Australia if you choose preventative or natural medicine. It costs money to live a good healthy life.
Many of us have a shadowy relationship with money. Money can reflect beliefs about our inherent value; our self-worth. For many of us these can be Self-limiting beliefs. It is important that we become conscious of these beliefs and to clear up issues we have with money, so that we can have a freer and more creative relationship with ‘wealth’.
I know so many women and men who feel trapped in work and lifestyles that are not fulfilling and that it is because of money that they do not feel free to be doing more of what they love to do.
Through working with Lakshmi’s dharma and artha arms, we can be guide and supported to find greater alignment to our true Self and to open to universal abundance, in all its forms.
Kama: pleasure as spiritual portal
Kama is pleasure, love, sensuality, desire, beauty. Kama is very much alive, particularly in recent years with the upsurge in divine feminine embodiment practices and teachers that are available to us now.
In the recent past, patriarchal religions including many eastern yoga schools, have created systems and practices to suppress and repress kama, so that we can be free (see moksha below). Many of these approaches see pleasure and sensuality as a distraction, and that we need to cultivate detachment from the ‘material’ to cultivate spirituality. I love it how Chameli Ardagh reminds us that “You are never free if you have to continually push something away!”
The kama arm shows us that a spiritual path does not have to be dry and that in fact pleasure, desire and beauty can be a powerful spiritual portal to Shri. Lakshmi shows us that not only do we not have to reject ordinary experience, including a sensuous pleasurable life, but that the material life can offer us a portal to the inside offering worldly enjoyment and spiritual freedom.
Lakshmi is the keeper and beautifier of mundane life. She shows us that cultivating an aesthetic life is a spiritual practice. She can awaken pleasure and desire. Chameli Ardagh describes desire as spiritual heat, that with conscious practice, becomes a portal of awakening. Pleasure can be a doorway to Presence. Our senses open us…they feed us… they nourish us.
Moksha: Liberation and Freedom
Moksha is the freedom from the small ‘I’ to the greater scheme of things. It is the ability to see all experiences as a part of the bigger tapestry of life. To do this we need to let go of control. We need to slip into the slip-stream of life. When we do this, we can align ourselves with the collective evolution. This can provide tremendous support and creativity.
We can sometimes fear to let go – to trust. We can be afraid of the void. Lakshmi helps us relax the grip on trying to control everything and instead offers faith so we can surrender into infinite abundance. Chameli Ardagh describes when we align with the evolution of dharma, and slip into the outpouring of creativity and resources, we can manifest anything we dream of!
Lakshmi’s shadow can often arise when we get tastes of how good it can be, and we get attached to these moments of Artha.
“Moksha is not a process in time, nor is it an experience you once had, or a goal for your to reach later. We live Moksha in moment-to-moment surrender”. Chameli Ardagh.
Personal Stories and Experiences of Lakshmi’s energy
Below are some personal experiences of how Lakshmi has shown up in my life over the recent years as well Laura, one of my students.
My first experience with Lakshmi
I first met and experienced Lakshmi energy at my yoga teacher training in Bali in 2014. I experienced the most heart opening experience (so far!) in my life. In our last Puja (ritual) for the month-long training, we invoked Goddess Kamalamika/Lakshmi. Together the 20 women on the course brought gifts of abundance to the alter (money, food and presents), with the intention that we would take these to the local primary school children who we had become fondly familiar with over the course of our training as their playground overlooked the yoga studio. We climbed the rocky slope adjacent to the studio to reach the school children whilst singing the Gayatri Mantra. The children sang along with us. We gave the gifts to the children, and they received them with joy and gratitude. One little girl came to me and gave me a big hug. She asked me my name, and I her. She responded Lakshmi… my heart cracked so wide open!
Since then, in my personal practice and through teaching yoga with the wisdom goddesses, I continue to learn, grow and experience the power of these amazing wisdom goddesses. I recently joined a 21-day Lakshmi Sadhana with Chameli Ardagh which opened my life even further to her boons.
I have found that practicing with Lakshmi has helped me transition from my corporate career in the city, to yoga teacher. Her medicine has helped me transition from the secure, and relatively high income, to being self-employed, living in the county on a very low income as a yoga teacher and as a steward of the land.
Financial insecurities and unexpected gifts
There have been times when deep fears arise around my, and my families, financial security. I as many of us do, hold deep fears around money, particularly in relation to self-worth, which are intergenerational, in my case from my mothers blood line. These fears particularly arise when I step forward or take a risk in growing my business or aligning more to my dharma path of teaching yoga and growing a small farmlet. I have experienced Lakshmi many times in unexpected financial windfalls affirming and confirming my dharma.
For example, when I made the bold step to end my contractual tie to my corporate role to fully commit to being a yoga teacher, an unexpected deposit of $7,000 arrived in my bank account from my employer, which helped me pay for training and set up my business.
More recently I was doing a 21-day Lakshmi Sadhana. I experiencing great fears arising as my partner and I embark on the development of our property into the TARA Healing and Education centre. It was feeling like the more we were committing to this large investment there were tests from the universe, including the breaking down of our car, large dentist bill which were testing my confidence in our plans and vision. Daily I was practicing gratitude, asking and letting go (see practice No. 4 below) where I asked for money to support our vision.
Over the next few days I experienced a series financial gifts, including my dentist wavered a $150 bill for my son’s dentistry, and the local bank wavered a $15 fee for issuing a check to buy our new second hand car. Whilst these might seem small, it felt like Lakshmi was present whereby I received powerfully supportive messages assuring me that everything is going to be ok, and that the world will provide for me on my dharmic path.
Daily I experience Lakshmi in my garden in the abundant fruit and vegetables, herbs and flowers. The garden nourishes me and my dharma to continue moving forward to our investment into developing TARA. I will share more stories over the coming year of Lakshmi and the garden.
Laura’s Fertility story
In my Tantra Flow classes and workshops I so love observing women awakening to the different goddess energies and receiving her boons. Laura has been attending Tantra Flow Yoga classes for several years now and has found Lakshmi to be particularly healing through her fertility journey. Lakshmi spoke to Laura in many ways and has been a powerful medicine for her.
In one class, Laura felt the Lakshmi energy strongly in her heart which she felt awoke her awareness of the ability to manifest abundance in her life. At the end of the class she drew the Lakshmi goddess card from the Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards (Doreen Virtue, 2004) which was an external reinforcement and reminder of her presence.
After this experience, Laura consciously brought Lakshmi into her life, particularly as the goddess of fertility, as Laura had experienced many difficult years of fertility challenges.
Laura felt that Lakshmi was with her during the IVF process. In the hormonal stimulation process Laura created more eggs than were expected at her age. She felt the abundant life within.
When Laura learnt of Lakshmi’s other name Kamalatmika, she realised she had for years had the image of her tattooed on her back. Previously she had thought of the tattoo as a Thai angel having got the tattoo in Thailand years ago. The Thai script written under her image is ‘Kamla’, the nickname that Laura’s friends gave her. The angel goddess is holding a lotus flower.
It was so incredible to realise that I had Lakshmi tattooed on my back, and that she had been with me for so many years already. She literally has ‘had my back’! Laura
Lakshmi has been there to support Laura in times where she needed to believe in her fertility to create a child. She surrounded herself with beautiful, loving wise women to be held and supported through the journey. When she and her partner where offered the donor embryo option, she knew this could be another arduous journey, with stress, difficulties and long waiting periods. Miraculously out of the blue, an old friend contacted her to offer them an embryo. She was so moved by the hope of new genetics and the loving kind generosity from her friend. It felt like an unexpected abundant gift, that came with grace and ease from the universe.
“It felt like a precious gift – a chance of bearing a child” Laura
Although it has unfolded that Laura has not had children, she feels the journey has been so much smoother to feel guided and supported by Lakshmi. Laura describes that even without her ultimate dream coming true, her life is filled with abundance in so many other ways.
7 Practices to invoke Lakshmi in your life
I would encourage you, if you are feeling drawn to Lakshmi energy, to practice with 1 or more of the practices I share below. I also include a few tips on how to establish a devotional home yoga practice.
Decide on how much time you have in a week or in a day to dedicate yourself for a set period of time e.g. 5 minutes a day every day for the next month or choose the time and length that suits your schedule and life.
One tip is that practicing with the goddesses, as it is with any yoga or health practice, a little + often = a lot
Even if you only have 5-10 minutes a day, choose one practice, and then show up for your set period of time.
In my experience I have found that having a devotional feminine yoga practice it has been easy and a delight and that rather than being drudgery or a chore, you will probably find you want to spend more time with your practice. Especially with Lakshmi!
1. Flowing vinyasa asana practice
Practice a flowing vinyasa, with the intention to opening to the flow of bliss and receiving and gifting abundance. Include heart opening postures as well as any feminine practices that awaken pleasure. Play music you love to inspire your flowing movement, and music that opens your heart to joy. Here is a playlist with some Lakshmi music including Kirtan chants to awaken Lakshmi in your practice.
2. Clear, clean and create an alter in the home
Lakshmi is seen in the cleanliness and order of a home. Spend some time clearing out old or unused items. Ask your Self does this give me Joy? If not, give it away to a charity/good will shop for someone else to choose and enjoy.
Once the space is clear and clean, bring in fresh flowers and light a candle. You can also set an intention of inviting Lakshmi into your house.
Create an Alter. It could be small, or more elaborate. Make it a space that you are drawn to daily, spending some quiet time connecting to your Self. Make offerings (flowers, gifts etc) and do some of the other practices listed here, yoga, meditation, poetry etc.
3. Meditation: cultivating receiving and giving
This meditation is adapted from Meditation secrets for women (Camille Maurine and Lorin Roche, 2001).
Begin by bringing your awareness to your breath.
- Breath in – cultivate the feeling of receiving.
- Breath out – cultivate the feeling of giving
Continue for a few moments. Once you have established a connection to the breath, and the feelings associated with receiving and giving, repeat the following quietly to yourself:
- On the first breath: breath in, I receive breath, exhale:,I give breath.
- On the second breath: breath in, I receive life, exhale, I give life
- On the third breath: breath in, I receive love, exhale, I give love
4. Practice of gratitude, asking and letting go
Adapted from Chameli Ardagh’s 21-day Lakshmi Sadhana.
- Bring your awareness to all that you are grateful for
- Open your heart in gratitude and say your thanks either aloud, or speak quietly within.
- Ask for what you desire – that which your heart longs for. Ask with innocence, like a child
- Put your desire and longing into words. Speak out loud or within, or whisper softly to yourself
- Release your prayers
- Open your hands as if you are letting them go. You can make a hand gesture, of opening your hands and releasing your request into space around you
- Whisper, or gently speak out loud: “I surrender, I give it to you”
- And then imagine handing it all over to the universe, letting go of any expectation!
5: The practice of giving generously
When we fear or feel a lack of anything in our lives (e.g. money, friends, love) we can go into contraction which cuts us off from the flow of abundance from the universe.
One of the simplest ways to shift his energy is to share and be generous with what you have. For example, to share with those less fortunate than us, particularly those who are suffering in the material world. Also share your unique gifts to the world and observe the abundance that can come in response.
“In order to attract Lakshmi, to bring her grace into our life, we need to become Lakshmi” (Kempton, 2013)
6: Cultivating beauty in your life – a garden sense meditation
Notice beauty in your life. Seek out and cultivate beauty through nature, arts and music etc. Remind yourself as you open to the external beauty, that the outer is a reflection of the inner beauty that resides in the heart.
A garden is a wonderful place to invoke Lakshmi. Visit a garden, maybe your own garden, at the peak of its production. Spend some time opening your senses to the abundance in the garden: the fruit, the vegetables, the flowers, the birds and insects etc. Start with the following:
- Smell the intoxicating fragrance of the flowers
- See the vibrant colours in the flowers, the leaves. Notice the changes over the seasons
- Taste the fresh fruits or vegetables, the bitterness of leafy greens, the sweetness of the berries etc
- Listen to the sounds, the birds, to the wind rustling through trees.
- Feel the warmth of the sun, or the gentle breeze
- As you practice with the 5 senses, begin to notice and sense the subtle vibration of Shri and the pure abundance which is everywhere
Spend some time reading your favourite poetry, or find some new inspiring and beautiful poetry.
Rumi’s poetry can be wonderful for awakening Lakshmi:
“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground” (Rumi, Spring Giddiness, 13th Century)
Another favourite of mine is Lorin Roche’s Radiance Sutra poetry, which I find to be so nourishing and awakening of the senses.
Radiance Sutra 42,
With one sweep of attention, gather in the whole universe, and remember it as the body of bliss.
The deep rhythms of life, pulsating. Stir an ambrosia. Flowing and overflowing everywhere.
Drink the Nectar of all-pervading joy from the radiant cup that is this very body
(Lorin Roche, 2014)
Agrawal, P (2017) Shocking facts about goddess Lakshmi no on knows.
Ardagh, Chameli. 21 day Lakshmi Sadhana. Awakening Women.
Frawley, D. (1994) Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses. Lotus Press.
Kempton, S. (2013) Awakening Shakti: the Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga. Sounds True.
Maurine, C and Roche, L (2001) Meditation secrets for women, discovering your passion, pleasure and inner peace, Harper: San Fransisco.
Rajhans, G (2009) Ma Lakshmi’s symbols explained
Roche, L (2014) The Radiance Sutras: 112 gateways to the yoga of wonder and delight. Sounds True: Bolder Colorado.
Taylor, L (2014) Notes from Sacred Journey into Yoga Teacher Training. For More information go to Lorraine Taylor Yoga for her 200 hour Sacred Journey into Yoga for Women, a month long ashtanga vinyasa yoga teacher training journeying with the Ten Mahavidya Goddesses.