Remover of Poison
Manasa is a Cobra Goddess and thus connected to the animal kingdom of snakes, especially to Cobras. She was first mentioned in the Ancient Hindu scriptures, especially in the Rig Veda. She was first accepted as a tribal Goddess who was very generous towards her devotees, but also very harsh against those who do not worship her. She is the Goddess of poison and venom, the healer, as well as the killer.
There are many depictions of her that have been found in the Bengali area from where she originates that date as far back as the fourth century of our common era. These stone reliefs are as beautiful as the Goddess is described to be herself. She is depicted as a beautiful woman standing on a snake or sitting on a lotus. She is adorned with snakes (nagas).
Manasa is she who is the Remover of Poison. Her parentage is uncertain. In some texts, she is the daughter of sage Kashyapa and Kadru, the mother of all Nāgas, in others, she is the daughter of Shiva and his wife Parvati is jealous of her, thus Manasa was adopted into the mainstream Hindu Brahmanical tradition. She is sometimes called the one-eyed and sometimes called the blind Goddess. Superstitious folklore belief is that a one-eyed person or creature has the evil eye and is a bad omen. However, in spiritual and mythical tradition, Manasa is much more than a healer of snake bites and a volatile, moody demi-Goddess who is never happy with her lot.
Manasa is identified with marriage rites and fertility as well, the reason why my female protagonist in my romance novel Snake Goddess Rising travels from Europe to India to petition to her. Her own mother prayed at the Goddess’ shrine for a child and nine months later, Shanti was born. She has children of her own now, but no husband to love and be loved by, so she worships at the shrine of the Goddess, knowing the serpent deity had so promptly answered her mother’s prayers and hopeful that she would receive the same benevolence as a child conceived through Manasa’s grace.
However, not only does it seem the Goddess has granted her desire but has also chosen her daughter as a special favourite on whom she bestows her healing powers. Thus, Shanti is torn between walking the path of a spiritual healer and the one of a mundane woman. It seems that those two different directions are pulling her apart and she might lose everything in the end that she has worked for so hard to attain. The path of the Goddess and that as a human is not always easy and seems to be at odds, but ultimately, Shanti learns how to combine both roles in a complementary, rather than a mutually exclusive way, which is when she truly steps into her own power.
The Marriage of the Upper & Lower Worlds
The Sanskrit root from which the Goddess’s name is derived is manas, which means of the mind. It also means spiritual and intention, which gives us a beautiful view into the esoteric traditions in Indian religious mythology. The mind is that which forms energy in such a way that it manifests in physical reality. This is spiritual and physical at once, the ultimate form of empowerment, where nothing is separate and everything is connected on every level.
Manasa is a serpent, an animal which teaches us about the power of the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Snakes are creatures moving on their bellies on the earth and are connected to her from head to tail. At the same time, snakes also symbolise the DNA helix, the kundalini and thus the powers of connecting the divine, celestial energies with the mundane, earthen.
Manasa teaches us to step fully into our power on all levels, connect to our root chakra as much as to our crown and allow this energy to flow through us unhindered in order to embrace all that we are as multi-dimensional spiritual beings.
This Goddess also teaches of the healing arts and how to use venom and poison to heal and protect yourself and those who are not in a position to protect and heal themselves. At the same time, the Goddess will destroy all who are not her devotees. This doesn’t mean, she kills everyone who doesn’t pray to her, but it means that those who are not in alignment with divine powers are destroying themselves by not embracing their own innate power and having to suffer the consequences of this. This is not meant as reward and punishment, but simply as laws of physics and energy. What you send out, you attract, regardless of right or wrong, good or bad. It is a matter of the same vibrancies being in harmony and thus attracting each other, whereas those who are in discord are repelling each other.
Manasa’s mythological struggle of only being half a Goddess because of her mixed parentage is a personification of our own human multi-dimensional existence. It is the struggle between the needs of the ego and the desires of the soul, the power of the divine within us and the existentialist fears of the flesh. Her rise over the mundane to godhead through her rising mythological connection to Shiva over the centuries is a parallel of the embracing of divine power within in order to overcome baser instincts whilst still retaining a balanced connection to the divine that is not severed by dissonant limiting belies or energies.
Manasa teaches us to embrace all that we are, divine spiritual beings who possess a body to experience physical reality in which is shaped by our own minds, rather than denying either the spiritual realm in favour of our rooting and connection to the earthly plane or vice versa. This beautiful Goddess shows us the path to combining spiritual alignment with earthly grounding, joy, pleasure, fertility and prosperity.