Sunday, 21 February 2016

Datura and Ganesha

"Mandala Datura with Lotus Blossoms", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Today's posting contains a rather unusual component -- which may be obvious from the title:  Datura and Ganesha

'Datura stramonium bud", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

The first component is a flowering plant I have featured previously: Datura. This wildflower is known by the common names Jimson Weed or Devil's Snare and is a member of the nightshade family (think poisonous plants). It is now found growing, in one form or another, over most of the temperate zones of the earth, including India. 

The second component, Ganesha, refers to Lord Ganesha, one of the Hindu deities.  Although Hindu deities (Devas and Devis) are represented by separate icons and images, they are, in fact, ultimately aspects of the One Divine Unity.  Lord Ganesha, for example, is known as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. 

When seeking the aid of Lord Ganesha, many worshipers bring Datura blossoms to the altar.  Here, then, is the connection of the these two parts of the title.

The other influence in today's posting is the fact that Joycelyn is a Hindu and recently gave me a small image of Lord Ganesha as a gift "because you're so smart, Sallie"!  This led me to do some research which eventually brought me back to a Datura drawing of mine from 2014 which gave me the idea of today's mandala (these also originated in Hinduism).

Below is a drawing I did of a statue of Lord Ganesha sitting under a quickly-sketched spray of Datura blossoms.  I need to go back and do more detail work on the flowers, but I wanted to go ahead and include it in today's posting as an example of these components combined.

"Lord Ganesha and Indian Datura Blossoms"
 drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Below, you will see a revised version of the drawing I did of Datura back in 2014.  In the revision, I added a few more buds as well as a half-opened blossom in the centre.

Datura has been used in traditional medicine to relieve asthma symptoms and as an analgesic during surgery or bone setting. It is also a powerful hallucinogen, which is used spiritually for the intense visions it produces. However, the tropane alkaloids responsible for both the medicinal and hallucinogenic properties are fatally toxic in only slightly higher amounts than the medicinal dosage. Careless use often results in hospitalizations and deaths.

"Datura Explosion, 2016 Version", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Of course, no one should be surprised that I "played around" with the Datura Mandala.  Using my new enhancement software, I tried to create some new constellations in the night sky! 

I showed this "enhanced" image to a dear friend who suggested it might be even more effective if the stylized Lotus blossoms were removed from the corners "for an expansive feeling".  I decided to try her suggestion. You can see both versions below.

"Mandala Datura Enhanced", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

"Mandala Datura Constellations", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Finally, I want to show you the drawing I prepared especially for Joycelyn.  I drew the image of Lord Ganesha holding various symbolic items sitting in an explosion of golden light.  Then I asked Joycelyn whether the image was correct as this was my first time trying to draw something of this sort.  After getting Joycelyn's approval of the drawing, I printed a copy for her as a gift. She said she plans to frame the drawing and put it in the prayer corner she has in her apartment.

"Lord Ganesha, Hindu Deva of Intellect and Wisdom"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

If you are interested, below is the mythical tale of how Lord Ganesha came into being plus some comments about why the image has one broken tusk.  First, the story:

One day Goddess Parvati was at home on Mt.Kailash preparing for a bath. As she didn’t want to be disturbed, she told Nandi, the Bull belonging to her husband, Shiva, to guard the door and let no one pass. Nandi faithfully took his post, intending to carry out Parvati’s wishes. But, when Shiva came home and naturally wanted to come inside, Nandi had to let him pass, being loyal first to Shiva. Parvati was angry at this slight, but even more than this, at the fact that she had no one as loyal to Herself as Nandi was to Shiva. So, taking the turmeric paste (for bathing) from her body and breathing life into it, she created Ganesha, declaring him to be her own loyal son.
The next time Parvati wished to bathe, she posted Ganesha on guard duty at the door. In due course, Shiva came home, only to find this strange boy telling him he couldn’t enter his own house! Furious, Shiva ordered his army to destroy the boy, but they all failed. This surprised Shiva. Seeing that this was no ordinary boy, the usually peaceful Shiva decided he would have to fight him, and in his divine fury severed Ganesha’s head, killing him instantly.
When Parvati learned of this, she was so enraged and insulted that she decided to destroy the entire Creation. At her call, she summoned all of her ferocious multi-armed forms, the Yoginis arose from her body and threatened to destroy all. Lord Brahma, being the Creator, naturally had his issues with this, and pleaded that she reconsider her drastic plan. She said she would, but only if two conditions were met: one, that Ganesha be brought back to life, and two, that he be forever worshipped before all the other gods. Shiva, having cooled down by this time, agreed to Parvati’s conditions.
He sent Brahma out with orders to bring back the head of the first creature he came across that was lying with its head facing North. Brahma soon returned with the head of a strong and powerful elephant, which Shiva placed onto Ganesha’s body. Breathing new life into him, he declared Ganesha to be his own son as well, and gave him the status of being foremost among the gods, and leader of all the classes of beings.

As for the broken tusk, there are various anecdotes which explain how Ganesha broke off one of his tusks. Devotees sometimes say that his single tusk indicates his ability to overcome all forms of dualism. In India, an elephant with one tusk is sometimes called a "Ganesh". 

Certain paragraphs above were taken from Wikipedia


New photos of my two favourite boys:

The two brothers playing their parts in their own re-enactment of the "Jaws" movie.

While Braden imagines flying a helicopter, Ro' is stacking blocks.

These firemen seem to be rescuing butterflies and spiders as well as people.
Good for them!

While visiting the reptile exhibit in the Botanical Gardens, the lizard container
was an obvious point of interest for the boys.

Braden telling the story of the dangerous rescue of Ms. Spider and Madam Butterfly!

Tiredness brought Ro' to the point of needing a nap.

Here is a boy who already really loves cars.



As I have said previously, Suki can sometimes do amazing things. On the other hand, she can sometimes appear to be pretty dense!
Suki resting her hip after an intense
15-minute encounter with the "red dot"! 

Yes, I am still talking about this blessed laser light, but, please, bear with me. I know that I have already covered this topic quite thoroughly, but, believe me, there has been a new development.

This past holiday Monday (Family Day) even though I had told Suki repeatedly that Joycelyn would not be coming, she did just what she had done the previous Monday:  she stayed awake waiting for Joycelyn until she got so sleepy around 10 a.m. that she finally fell asleep.  Then on Tuesday morning, just as Suki was settling down for her morning siesta, she "heard" Joycelyn in the building and was waiting by the front door even before the elevator stopped on my floor (how do dogs and cats do that?).

All of this is pretty much the same as I reported in last week's posting.  However, this time, Suki suddenly became quite "dog-like" in her behaviour, surprising both Joycelyn and myself. 

No, sooner had Joycelyn arrived, even before she could remove her scarf, hat, gloves, coat and snow boots, Suki began meowing and looking towards the living room where the laser pointer is kept. When this didn't get her what she wanted, she began to butt Joycelyn on the leg with her head and then turn and take a few steps in the direction of the living room.  She would then meow loudly and take a few more steps towards the living room.  Then, when she saw that Joycelyn was still near the coat rack, removing the rest of her winter weather gear, Suki would return to Joycelyn and begin the process all over again.

After about 5 minutes of this dog-like behaviour, Joycelyn, who was now free of all the snowy-day paraphernalia, turned and followed Suki into the living room.  At this point, Suki was practically walking on air and glowing with excitement. She began moving her head from side to side as she watched the floor, waiting for the "red dot" to appear.  Joycelyn picked up the laser pointer, turned it on, and the game was afoot -- as Sherlock Holmes was supposed to have said in a totally different context.

It took between 10 to 15 minutes for the battery to wear down, but for that period of time, Suki was in laser-light-heaven.  She was even running back and forth along the hallway although it was soon obvious that her hip joint was causing her pain.

Once the battery died, Suki sat in the middle of the living room waiting for it to re-appear.  When nothing happened, she began to meow plaintively.  At this point, I started saying "No" in that voice that really means no.  This is one word that Suki appears to understand and so, after a few more minutes, she turned, sadly, and jumped up into her chair.  Sometimes she doesn't give up so easily, but I think her hip was probably really bothering her.  

It will be interesting to observe Suki's behaviour when Joycelyn comes to see us this week on her usual day -- Monday.  Of course, before long, on one of these Mondays or Thursdays, the laser pointer battery will be completely dead ... I do wonder what Suki will do then. 

Actually, I have a suspicion that Suki might end up acting "child-like" in order to get what she wants.  In other words, she just might pester me so much that I will finally reach the point of giving in and purchasing a new laser pointer just to get a bit of peace and quiet for myself. 

As for me...
I am doing better than I was this time last week as my blood pressure is completely back to normal.  As I mentioned last Sunday, a routine doctor's visit revealed that my blood pressure was dangerously high and there was increased swelling in my feet and hands.  My doctor immediately started me on a diuretic, told me to go to emergency if things seemed to be getting worse and gave me an appointment to return to see her the following week.

When I was ushered into my doctor's office this past Thursday, it was obvious that the first thing on the agenda was the taking of my blood pressure.  The cuff was placed securely on my arm and the machine turned on.  I was watching the faces of my doctor and her nurse as we waited for the B/P machine to finish its dastardly procedure.  They could see the readout on the machine which was hidden from me.  When I saw the huge smiles suddenly appear on their faces, I knew immediately that the diuretic had worked.  In fact, the average of all those B/P readings was exactly 120/80! 

I have another medical test scheduled for this coming week. Hopefully, I will receive good news then as well. 



"Icon -- The Transfiguration", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2015

Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a Voice that said, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” After the Voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.  Luke 9:28b-36 

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