The Divine Mother. She is my mother; she is my father; she is my brother; she is… me. When Maharajji started giving the Westerners new names, I became Parvati. The fairy godmother of all fairy godmothers had waved his magic wand and I went from being Barbara, the barbarian or stranger, to suddenly being the wife of Shiva, the wife of God. Not bad, I thought.
I had never really related to Barbara, or Bobbi as I was called in college, or Bobbi Sue as one branch of the family insisted on calling me. Or Bob, as my mother tended to call me. Bob, now really.
Maharajji would periodically look at me and ask, “Who is Parvati?” My stock reply would be, “Shiva’s Shakti.” Merely the energy of the entire universe. Uh-huh. Sometimes I’d say, “The wife of Shiva.” Maharajji proceeded to get me married. Maharajji asked me if Parvati had a son. Yes, Ganesh. Did she have another son? Yes, Skanda. He laughed and clapped his hands. Sure enough, years later I had two sons (although I had foolishly picked out girls’ names the second time around).
Throughout the years, I keep coming back to the question, “Who is Parvati?” I’ve been through all the relationship roles—daughter, sister, lover, wife, mother, grandmother. I failed at a number of them. Nope, as hard as I tried, none of those defined me. And being the goddess in the west is hard. I introduce myself as Parvati and people look at me quizzically, “Poverty?” Hopefully not.
I studied the goddesses, researched the divine feminine. I spent years doing Tibetan Buddhist dakini practice. I did mantra and puja. I pondered the significance of having King Himavan, the Himalayas, as my father (Parvati literally means “daughter of the mountain”). I read the mythology, searching for clues. I sought to find the courage to be the goddess.
Worshipping the Divine Mother is one thing; becoming her is something else again. It’s a journey of many lifetimes, a stumbling into grace . . . a pendant in the ear of the Divine Mother.