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Goddess Hecate and the God Ganesha

Introducing Ganesha

Ganesha (also known as Ganesh, or Ganapati) is a popular Hindu deity who is a joyful, happy and benevolent god portrayed with an elephant head. He is the God of Wisdom and Success, and is celebrated around August/September, and his parents are the God Shiva and the Goddess Parvati.

Parvati created the little boy Ganesha from clay to stand guard as she bathed. But Shiva was enraged when Ganesha would not let him in to see his wife, and in anger beheaded Ganesha. Shocked at this, Parvati told Shiva that the young boy was his son, and in shame Shiva retrieved another head for the boy which was that of an elephant (Choate, 2014).

Ganesha is a god with a voracious appetite especially for sweet things. He loves coconut and bananas, and he particularly likes sweet dumplings, all of which are commonly offered to him (Astroved [2015]; Temples of India [2021]). His pot belly signifies his appetite, but it is also said to contain all the universes. He has one tusk, a snake tied around his waist, and is often portrayed with a bandicoot mouse at his feet which is his ride, so to speak (Temple Purohit).

 

The question here is what similarities do Hecate and Ganesha have?

If you start to look into the myths behind Ganesha, you begin to realise that the answer is a fair bit!
















Ganesha statue


When Ganesha came to me

We all know that other deities can come to a Hecate devotee, and it is quite common to worship deities from other pantheons. But the first time this happened to me, I was pleasantly surprised. Ganesha came to me in a dream in July 2017 at a time when I was desperate to get out of an unemployment situation. I was doing all that I can: undertaking all the mundane tasks. But I was also getting Tarot readings and trying to unblock any negative thought patterns and mental obstacles. I kept asking myself: What do I need to do to get a job? For me, each rejection made me feel like I was missing something, as if there was an insurmountable obstacle to overcome. Then I had the most incredible dream featuring both Hecate and Ganesha:

 

I was on a huge bridge and with a crowd of people. On the other side of the bridge, there was a large archway and we were all trying through. We couldn’t, and a “dark” form of Ganesha prevented us from doing so. This Ganesha came across as serious, stern, and a deity not to be messed, quite unlike how Ganesha is known. Hecate then appears larger than life. She went to him and asked him what everyone must do to pass through. She gets an answer, and then tells the front of the crowd. The people at the front then turn around and whisper to the next people, and they do the same. The idea was that this message ripples through the crowd so that the people at the back can start doing what they need to so when they reach the front, they are ready to pass through. I never found out what the message was! I interpreted the crowd as my sub-conscious as though somewhere deep inside I was given the answer, but it had yet to come into my awareness. Nevertheless, the dream inspired me to look to Ganesha to un-do negative thought patterns.


After this I started doing some basic research, and the few things that I discovered revealed his similarities with Hecate.

 

Gate-keeper and Removal of Obstacles

Ganesha is commonly known as the Gate-Keeper and because he is the god of success, he is famously worshipped at the start of new ventures, and at the beginning of prayers. He is also known as the Lord of Beginnings and Remover of Obstacles. The mouse at his feet symbolises his ability to overcome any obstacle. This is highly reminiscent of Hecate as a Gate-Keeper herself, and it calls to mind Hecate’s traits as Keybearer and Propylaia. This common feature makes Hecate and Ganesha a powerful combination if someone wanted to break down obstacles and pave the way forwards.

 

The Moon

One of the most popular Ganesha myths involves his relationship to the moon (Choate, 2014). He was returning from a feast riding the bandicoot mouse when a snake startled the mouse throwing Ganesha off. Finding this extremely funny, the moon laughed. Furious at the moon for laughing at his predicament, Ganesha broke off one of his tusks and hurled it at the moon creating a dent in it. He cursed the moon to slowly disappear so that no one would ever see it. After tying the snake around his waist, he felt ashamed and modified his curse so that after waning, the moon slowly re-appears giving rise to the lunar cycle. To honour this incident, Ganesha devotees are forbidden to look at the moon on the night of day 4 after the new moon. Hecate is famously associated with the moon, and this story can be used as a way to incorporate him into lunar rituals for Hecate. I personally honour him at the Dark Moon because Day 4 for me happens to be when I worship Hermes. To honour his animosity to the moon, I honour Ganesha on the Dark Moon alongside Medusa and Hecate. By asking Medusa and Hecate to dispel negativity, I then follow that up by asking Ganesha to bring joy and blessings.


Ganesha’s Darker Side

When I first started researching Ganesha all I found was his joyful happy side so I was a little confused at seeing his darker side in my dream. It was only recently when I discovered Aghora Ganapati (Borbande, 2004). While this aspect of Ganesha shares some of the attributes of the Ganesha that we know (protective, compassionate and nurturing), Aghora Ganapati is known to be a lot more ferocious. It is said that he is so “dark” that honouring and worshipping him can’t be done at home: It can only be done at a cemetery and with someone of the Tantric tradition. Aghora Ganapati appears with a necklace of skulls, a trident, and he is draped in tiger skin. Those that honour him do so to conquer their fears and attain spiritual libation. He is ultimately a powerful deity who is unafraid to dismantle obstacles and challenge people for personal growth. Hecate shares these aspects; she is highly transformative, compassionate and she enables people to face their fears. In this way, she is linked to personal growth (which I write about). You can learn more about Aghora Ganapati in this YouTube video.

 

Summary

Overall, the few similarities that Ganesha and Hecate share lead to a powerful combination that can inspire someone to overcome obstacles and fears. This deity pairing harmonises perfectly for personal growth and transformation. It was one of Ganesha’s mantras that prompted me to face my fears, negative thought patterns, and embrace positivity. It took me a long time, but in the end, once I had reached a level of balance and stability emotionally and mentally, I finally found employment.

 

References

 

Astroved. 2015. 6 Things That Take You Close to Lord Ganesha. Available online: https://www.astroved.com/articles/what-does-ganesha-like      

 

Borbande, B. 2004. Aghora Ganapati. Ganeshastotram. Available online: https://ganeshastotram.com/about-ganesh/aghora-ganapati/

 

Choate, A. 2014. Ganesha: Everything You Need To Know. Patheos. Available online: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu/2014/09/ganesha-everything-you-need-to-know/ 

 

Temples of India 2021. Significance of Coconut in Hinduism-A must ritual for every new beginning. Available from: https://blog.templesofindia.org/post/significance-of-coconut-in-hinduism-a-must-ritual-for-every-new-beginning/ 

 

Temple Purohit (Unknown publishing date) Powerful Ganesh Mantra. Available online:

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This is beautiful. I've been a Ganesha devotee for a long time and He will always have a speacial place in my heart. I love to see him represented here. <3

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