Did you know that incense sends your prayers to heaven?
SPIRIT begins with prayer and what better way to speed up that communication than by lighting incense. SMOKE is the vehicle that dispatches your wishes and dreams to the universe. Incense is a powerful tool dating back 6000 to 8500 years. The trend took off spreading to Greece and Rome when Babylonians wafted incense sticks during prayer. What you need to know is that true pratitioners of magic use only powdered incense for magic – other types just smell good.
Here’s my guide:
- Sandalwood – Real Indian sandalwood is pure magic. It vibrates with Ganesh to remove obstacles, bless new beginnings, and attract prosperity.
- Dragon’s Blood – Dragon’s aren’t real, silly. This plant resin is a powerful remover of negative energy.
- Francinsense – Another plant resin used in churches to create a sacred space.
- Sage – American Indian tool to protect against evil. Use with caution because it clears the energetic slate but then you have to add positive energy back with other incense.
- Nag Champa – A masala incense that makes your home smell hippie dippie.
- Vanilla – The sex bean of a plant that stimulates sensual energy
What’s your favorite type of incense?
Saraswati and her peacock mount
Calling all actors, writers, artists, and musicians. Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of music and poetry and her story is the stuff of Bollywood movies. The first time I saw her was in the blue hut of a Thar Desert home filled with images of deities who played a magical role in their family life. I had just slurped opium juice from a shaman’s hands during the welcome ceremony so I might have been high, but I swear she was smiling at me! Recognized by her pet swan while playing a veena (musical instrument) her message is that each of us is a limitless being. When we take our focus off the material world and raise our vibration through music and creativity we spark new ideas.
I wish I could say I brought back amazing Saraswati statues from India, but they were difficult to locate. Although her image is everywhere – finding ultra cool pieces proved challenging. So, for now I just want you to know about her because she is important.
- She blesses artistic projects
- She focuses your mind on your talents
- Saraswati helps you make better life choices
- She teaches you to overcome fear, indecision, and ficklesness
- Saraswati tunes your mind inward for perfect harmony
- Without Saraswati there is only chaos and confusion
Are you creative and could you benefit from Saraswati inspiration in your life?
New Year. New beginnings. New projects. It’s time to get your new-new on (see Ray J’s video where he talks about new-new) and Ganesh is the elephant-headed Hindu god of prosperity that removes obstacles for success. When in India, all ceremonies and prayers begin with Ganesh. He is a protector and good to take on trips. Also a prankster who needs to be kept happy with his very own shrine. Feel the power when you activate your Ganesh shrine at the beginning of a business day to attract abundance or to bless new ventures. Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Ganesh statue
2. small dish of uncooked rice
3. Ganesh Magical Candle
4. sandalwood incense
5. yellow flowers
recite Ganesh Mantra:
Om gam ganapataye namaha
Om = ohm or aum
Gam = somwhere between “gahm” and “gum”
Ganapataye – gah.nah.paht.ah.yeh
Namaha = nah.mah.hah
What other magical and meaningful items could you add to your Ganesh shrine?
Quan Yin in Vietnam and in our family foyer
I arrived late to the Quan Yin Party. My focus for years had been on all-things Buddha-licious. One night while roaming the Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon “I spied with my little eye” the goddess of compassion and mercy and was intrigued. What magic did she possess? What message was she here to teach? Quan Yin was thought at first as a male god. Introduced to China by Buddhist missionaries traveling from India to Tibet, early statues are flat-chested making it hard to tell the difference between Quan Yin and Buddha. After the 12th century she developed an ample bosom and became the voluptuous vixen we know today.
When you have evil thoughts, a prayer to Quan Yin will drive them away. When you need to be more positive and stop judging yourself and others, she helps you focus on light and love. Having her around helps when trying to get pregnant. She also awakens musical talents, especially if you are a singer. This gal does a lot! What can she do for you?
- Quan Yin is a powerful greeter
- She instills a sense of service to others
- Encourages those with musical abilities
- Protects women and children
- Blesses everything with spiritual and physical peace
- Assists those wanting to conceive
Lucky Charms in Bangkok, Thailand photographed by Anita Rosenberg
Lucky charms are not just a magically delicious breakfast cereal, they are serious talismans worn for protection and good luck. You can hang them on your lucky bamboo or from your rearview mirror. Each amulet reflects a person’s individual beliefs, values, and superstitions. Asia and India are famous for their elaborately decorated vehicles where lucky totems are the focal point. More is more, but they should always be placed in a high position in order to be honored. In Dale Konstanz’s book Thai Taxi Talismans, he explains that cabbies remove amulets from their necks and hang them from their rearview mirror while saying a prayer. They protect the car and passengers during their shift. At the end of the day, the drivers then put the amulets back on as they say another invocation. On the streets of Bangkok men trade amulets, however you cannot own a magical talisman you can only “rent” them. Each person is a temporary custodian of its magic. Traveling is the perfect time to collect your own charms and danglies and of course you can “own” them. After climbing the Giant Buddha during a monsoon storm on Lantau Island to get a photograph (I got an amazing one BTW) I picked up a glass Buddha charm in the gift shop to hang on my rearview mirror. It reminds me of my fantastic adventure. My prayer charm came from Man Mo Temple and not only protects but takes me back to the temple chimes and wafts of steaming dim sum from my first visit to Hong Kong.
Have you brought home a charm for your car and where did you get it?
me in Varanasi, Lakshmi, and a lotus
Let’s eliminate “bag lady” fears. And how do we do this? With Lakshmi (Laxmi), of course. Lakshmi is the moon goddess of good fortune and prosperity and she will bless you with abundance if you ask for it. That is what is so interesting about her – if you don’t ask you don’t receive. She is not a mind-reader. You need to be proactive. She does not provide for dilettantes and lazy folks.
Are you searching for your true path and meaningful work that also draws in money? Lakshmi can be your spiritual career coach. Her name means “goal” or “aim” and she aims to make you rich. Lakshmi teaches us that abundance is available to everyone with faith. So I ask – do you believe in your own destiny and power? Then you need to bring Lakshmi energy into your house. She will bring you more of everything; money, time, knowledge, opportunities. Lakshmi helps you let go of “bag lady” fears!
Money Toad at Man Mo Temple
Money Toads are those lumpy bumpy creatures with three legs. Sort of creepy, super powerful. The key to the Money Toad is the coin he holds in his mouth, an amulet that wards off evil spirits and attracts wealth. I first discovered the Money Toad at the tiny crumbling Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong. Built in 1847 on Hollywood Road it is famous for being located across from Ladder Street where scenes from the 1950s movie “The World of Suzi Wong” were filmed. Totally atmospheric, the ceiling is covered with enormous hanging incense coils. You better duck or ashes will hit you on the head and ruin a perfectly good hair day. The temple gift shop is where I purchased my first brass Money Toad. The sales lady told me to place him by my front door for good luck. She went on to explain I should turn him facing out when I leave home for protection. When I return home turn him inward to bring good luck from outside. Every time I visit Hong Kong I go back to Man Mo Temple to pick up a new Money Toad because I completely believe in them.
Do you have a Money Toad and how did you first discover him?
Fortune Telling at Wong Tai Sin Temple with Mable
Consulting sticks (kau cim) with numbers tipped out of a bamboo cup is a popular way of looking into the future. My friend, Mable, taught me how to consort with the spirits at Wong Tai Sin Temple (1921) in Kowloon. Dedicated to the gods of gamblers, this is where we purchased a handful of yellow incense sticks to light in the burner during a monsoon storm while juggling the umbrella. Next we knelt at the main altar while holding our can of fortune telling sticks. Tossing sticks is tricky. You shake the cup while asking the cosmos your personal questions. The stick that magically pops out (it truly does) holds the answer. On it is a number. This number means nothing until you take it outside to fortune teller row. The soothsayer interprets the fortune. Since you are in China you must hire someone to translate. Entrusting you most important life dilemmas to someone else’s explanation is dicey. I recommend you ask only one question. If you ask three like I did you end up paying a lot.
What is your most memorable fortune telling story and where were you?
My Ganesh dharma began in Cambodia. I booked a room in the Grand Hotel d’Angkor where the service was so impeccable my feet barely touched the ground, and organized day trips to temple relics, to get in touch with a deeper sense of spirituality. It was at the mysterious overgrown jungle temple of Ta Prohm where I received my first Ganesh statue. Ta Prohm (1186) is a truly chaotic and spiritual temple ruin built by Jayavarman VII, dedicated to his mother and his guru. It was here I met the wizened monk who sweeps the steps of the temple to ensure the gods will have a safe passage up the steep narrow stairways. I bought a bamboo cowbell from him and posed for a photo. My father thought at least I was meeting men on my travels! As I left, the monk placed a tiny golden Ganesh in my hand. “He protects travelers and will help you find your way,” he told me as my guide translated. A sort of golden light washed over me in that moment, and then the monk was gone, and I began to wonder… why did he think I was lost?
What is your first Ganesh story?