"In the Spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love," wrote Lord Tennyson. As per traditional Hindu calendar Vasant Panchami is the first day of spring. Vasant Panchami is the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month Magh. Spring is a passage between winter and summer. Around Vasant Panchami, you can still feel the chill in the weather. Winter is not yet over, yet dullness of the winter seems to be dispersing. You can feel those happy romantic vibes in the air. Traditionally, the festival of Holi indicates the end of winter. Holi is the festival of colors representing colorfulness and joy of spring. It also indicates the victory of good over evil. It is the festival of growth, renewal and rejuvenation. The entire season of spring is the time for physical and spiritual revival. Vasant Panchami is also celebrated as the birthday of goddess Saraswati, goddess of speech, sound, universal knowledge, wisdom and all forms of art. Shatrupa Saraswati is beautiful goddess having hundreds of forms. Generally she is portrayed
She is also known as Sandhya, goddess of dawn and dusk. She dispels the darkness of ignorance through wisdom and enlivens universe by playing Veena. She is also known as Brahmi as she emerged from the mouth of Lord Brahma, heralded by a peacock, mounting a swan and holding sacred texts known as Vedas in one hand and Veena in the other. Swan symbolizes pure knowledge and the herald peacock is the symbol of grace and all forms of art.
Vedas are composed of Sanskrit Richas that are sacred hymns to invoke various deities or subtle energy forces. As per Hindu mythology and scriptures, as Brahma began to recite these Richas, the universe was filled with Prana or the life force energy. Earlier the Universe was formless and fluid that was composed of infinite consciousness. Rhythmic recital of Vedic Richas created waves among infinite consciousness. As a result, the Universe acquired a structure. The heavens, earth and abyss took shape. Various life forms emerged in heavens, earth and abyss known as gods, humans and demons respectively. As Brahma continued reciting Vedas, a rhythm was established in the cosmos.
Now, celestial objects move around their orbits in rhythmic manner. As a result season changes, plants, animals and humans follow lifestyle in tune with the seasonal changes. Thus Brahma became the creator of the universe with the help of his wisdom, Vagdevi Saraswati. This confirms the theory that the universe was born out of sound. The sound waves converted into light created a luminous universe.
In tarot, the Empress is associated with the season spring. P D Ouspensky has described the Empress as the ever renewing, recreating forces of nature. A bright and joyful visualization of the Empress in his book ‘The Symbolism of the Tarot’ is enchanting. Here is an excerpt: “I felt the breath of the spring, and accompanying the fragrance of violets and lilies-of-the-valley I heard the tender singing of elves. Rivulets murmured, the treetops rustled, the grasses whispered, innumerable birds sang in choruses and bees hummed; everywhere I felt the breathing of joyful, living Nature. The sun shone tenderly and softly and a little white cloud hung over the woods. In the midst of a green meadow where primroses bloomed, I saw the Empress…” Full description is here.
In Vedic symbolism, the Empress corresponds to Aditi, the infinite mother of the whole universe. She is also considered as the consort of lord Brahama, creator of the universe. Aditi is the infinite space filled with consciousness. Within this cosmic expanse or cosmic womb, continuous birthing, renewal and transformation of the universe is taking place. Here the same infinite consciousness goes through transformation again and again. Aditi is the pristine source of consciousness, mother of all. She is the mother archetype. She nurtures and nourishes. She is the giver of wealth and abundance. Aditi is also known as Prakriti, the cosmic feminine principle. The cosmic masculine principle, known as Purusha, is choiceless awareness. The incessant dance of Purusha and Prakriti is continuously creating and transforming the universe.
Astrologically the Empress is associated with the planet Venus. Venus is a benefic planet. It is considered feminine and having Rajasik properties. Rajas is one of the three attributes of Prakriti. Rajas is associated with passion, excitement, positive changes, creation and regeneration. Venus governs over desire for worldly comfort and luxury, wealth and abundance. It is the planet of all forms of art including fine arts and performing arts. Venus is the planet of romance, beauty, love and sensuality. As Venus governs all the senses, it gives a refined taste in arts and aesthetics. It is associated with the season Spring. Venus rules Taurus and Libra and is exalted in Pisces. Generally Venus transits through Pisces around February or March. Exalted Venus generates positive vibes and optimistic outlook. It encourages us to improve material conditions, so that we can live in comfort. You can observe stock markets going up during exalted Venus. On spiritual level it gives inner peace and generates sense of well being. All these attributes of Venus can be applied to the Empress.
The two signs ruled by Venus are Taurus and Libra. Taurus is an earthy, feminine and fixed sign. Here the movement of spirit is earthbound. It is the sign of creativity, sexuality and materialism. Desire for manifestation and enjoyment of all the sensual pleasures is strong here. In tarot, the hierophant is associated with the astrological sign Taurus. The hierophant reminds me of the story of Shukracharya. As per Hindu mythology, Shukra, the son and disciple of a great seer Bhrigu, is adept in all the scriptures and spiritual sciences. There is tremendous animosity between Shukracharya and Brihaspati. Brihaspati is the Guru of the Gods or Devas, so Shukracharya chose to become preceptor of the Daityas or Asuras. Asuras are simple beings who are still involved in the matters of material world and seek comfort in worldly pleasures. Shukracharya teaches them the lessons in material prosperity and sensual pleasures.
Even today, Shukraniti, a treatise written by Shukracharya is highly respected in the field of economics. In this treatise, Shukracharya has laid clear rules about how to gain wealth through ethical means and use this wealth to get good wife, children and friends. In his teachings Shukracharya is quite clear that without wealth there is no life. He also emphasizes on earning this wealth through ethical means. He describes punishments for unfaithfulness, procrastination, delay or mistakes in conducting one’s work. Shukracharya worshipped lord Shiva to learn the art of Mritsanjivani. Through Mritsanjivani Vidya, dead beings can be brought back to life. This gave him quite an edge over Devas during the fight between Devas and Daityas.
Another meaning of Shukra is clean, clear and pure. Shukracharya is a great teacher who teaches the demons without absorbing demonic qualities. He also holds the secret of immortality. Do the keys depicted in the tarot Hierophant remind you of the secrets taught by Shkracharya? Another sign ruled by the Venus is Libra. Libra is a masculine, airy and movable sign. In this sign the spirit is rooted in matter, but ready to rise towards spiritualization. Being an airy sign, there is a lot of movement and dissatisfaction on mental level. In tarot the Justice card is associated with the astrological sign Libra. The scale and the sword indicate the constant weighing of options on psychological level. On one hand there is tremendous desire to succeed in material world and there is also dissatisfaction towards the success achieved in worldly matters. This feeling of lack draws one to experience spiritual aspects of life.
The lady depicted in this card looks royal, successful and enigmatic. On the surface she looks calm and composed, yet there is some dilemma that keeps her indecisive. She needs to achieve that critical balance between worldly success and inner quest for the divine. As both the forces are equally powerful, she needs to find a balance. Venus as a ruler of Libra encourages the spirit to get fully involved in matter and then rise towards spirituality by experiencing dissatisfaction.
The season of spring ruled by the Empress, intensifies the creative impulse and sensual, passionate urges among mankind and nature equally. The urges inspired by the Empress are refined and sophisticated. Generally the expression of such impulses is poetic in nature and artistic in appearance. The Empress symbolizes creativity, sensitivity, warmth and friendliness. Under the influence of the Empress, an individual craves for the oneness and harmony with the whole universe. By achieving such oneness, one can become the part of the cosmic dance and listen to the song of life.
- Sun And Moon -- Empress & Hierophant
- Rider-Waite -- Justice & Empress
NOTE: Basant Panchami was on Saturday, January 28, 2012.