Catholicism, Hinduism, and my Inner Ferengi
Article ID: 14169
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,201
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Author: Deborah Castellano
Posted: January 9th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,792
111) Never sleep with the boss' wife unless you pay him first.
112) Never sleep with the boss' sister.
113) Always sleep with the boss. - The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition
My boyfriend Jow thinks that I'm secretly a Ferengi. (Dark secret: I'm closet geek.) The Star Trek thing, I have my mother to blame for. She’s got Franklin Mint figurines and remembers the words for Klingon cuisine. Jow likes to sometimes try to coax out how deep I am into the dork forest by making seemingly innocuous statements about various parts of the various series which always forces my hand. My frothing retorts show what a complete geek I am.
Now, okay, granted it took a while for women’s rights to really kick in there, but it happened. The Ferengi never got involved in slavery or other imperialistic crap, which does suit my ‘Damn the Man’ sensibilities, but they were always there to make a profit regardless of whatever crap everyone else was fighting about, which I also appreciate. The Ferengi are the corner coffeehouse to the Alliance's Starbucks (and that's all you're getting!) .
I'm an industrious little squirrel. I always have been. I like busting my butt towards a goal, I like getting things done, and I like making money. I think I like making it because I don’t tend to have a lot of it and paying bills still makes me feel like part of The Grown Up Club.
Now, bear with me, it will all come together, I promise. But first: Flashback! I was Catholic, dutifully praying constantly for whatever it was I wanted in the moment: a pony, the love of Scott Reiner, to pass my algebra test, to miraculously be an only child, whatever. I prayed my rosary like a champ. I went to confession on the regular. I went to church. I did what I was supposed to do like a good worker bee. I liked the ritual, the structure of how prayer worked in Catholicism, but I disliked that the output was so capricious, at least in my experience. Constant prayer + the desperate desire for the love of S.R. = canoli after church? That can't be right!
So blahblahblah why can't I be a female deacon/personal general liberal agenda/general unsuccessfulness of personal prayer/need to irritate my mother, and here I am, Pagan.
Except. . . I really need structure, personally. I wasn't too successful in coming up with my own structure, and man, the idea of doing a full ADF Druidic ritual or Wiccan circle just to get some prayer done is enough to make me want to give up all my shoes, even my Manolos. If it works for you, rock out but I have the attention span of a lightning bug.
Which eventually brought me to the Hindu pantheon in a Pagan context. The way I was taught it was as follows:
1. There are mantras you need to be given by teachers, but the basic "seed" mantra is for everyone. I know not everyone agrees with this, but my general feeling is the seed mantra is like calling your deity on the phone. There's only so much you can screw up unless you're actively trying to. Learn the pronunciation of the seed mala, learn the general protocol associated with the deity, and hey don't "call" a deity who is either easily offended or likely to be offended by you particularly if you don't entirely know what you're doing. I don't "call" Lakshmi because she would take one look at my house and look at me and say, "Ugh. Seriously?"
2. How to do puja. I dig puja. It's an (often) mini ritual that can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like and it involves a bell, which I like. When trying to integrate a new pantheon into my current practice, I learn what’s common for laypeople to do and start there. Puja and japa/mala are for everyone, so I feel okay doing both after investigating with local Pagans who practice Hindu and the local shopkeepers who sell puja supplies, books and the Internet. If I want to get deeper in the tradition, I’ll do more research. I’m happy here in layperson land however.
3. The stories, of Shiva's family especially. They just really resonate with me. I can really relate to them. Joseph and Mary according to Catholicism just had baby Jesus . . .immaculately… and that was it. There's nothing wrong with that, and celibacy is sacred too, but it's not my path. Shiva and Parvati's story of a blended family, fighting and making up and making love is a lot closer to what I can relate to.
4. How to japa. This is where things really started to click for me. Mala was explained to me as like a banking account -- which appealed to my inner Ferengi-- and the rosary and japa are very similar which made the transition easy for me. Every time you complete a mala, you get to put a few pennies into your bank account. If you do enough mantras, every boy, every boy in the whole world can be yours! Okay, that would take a lot of time, effort, energy, and austerities.
But! Parvati totally got her man that way. Shiva didn't want to pay her no mind and she was all, that's cool. I WILL JUST MAKE YOU LOVE ME WITH THE STRENGTH OF MY DEVOTIONS TO YOU. And I appreciate that level of drive and motivation, even if I’ve never personally wanted anything badly enough to eat nothing but leaves for.
After reading Eat, Love, Pray, I realized my life was missing a nightly devotion. I had hesitated about any kind of nightly practice because I generally don't remember to even water houseplants, but it felt like it was time. Except . . .I was in the hole to Durga for quite a few mantras I never said to her. I said I would if she brought my friend home safe from Iraq but best intentions and all and see: doesn’t remember to water houseplants or sea monkeys and dropout dilettante mentality.
So like a proper Ferengi, I decided to do the math to figure out how many I owed Her and when I would be finished being indebted to Her. While indebted, I would endeavor not to ask Her for anything, past being grateful that she held up her side of the bargain even if I was lazy/sketchy at best at following up in a timely fashion with my side.
So after Christmas, but before New Years, I started my practice with a rotation between Durga, Shiva, and eventually Parvati when I finally found her seed ohm, heavy on the Durga side. Right before Beltane, I finished my debt to her and it felt really good, like a weight had been lifted off of me. Even though I've said a total of around 270 malas, I haven't yet asked for very much, at least not for myself.
Shiva is known especially for granting requests as long as the work has been done, which is handy. Even without asking for much, it feels more cause and effect than saying rosaries did for me. And should I ever decide that I really want that pony (which Jow would probably prefer to live with instead of SR, who moved away when I was thirteen. Who knows what he became… Meth lab head? Stock broker? Kept man? Doctor?) , I feel like I could get one, which appeals to my squirrelly Ferengi brain.
So far, I've gotten help with a toothache, a blister, a very nice Beltane, got my friend knocked up (by her request! She and her husband were trying for their second) , and so far, my friend’s husband been doing okay with chemo. It calms my brain down so much so I sleep better every night. I can now do a full mala in less than five minutes flat which makes it easy for me to make a nightly devotion.
Copyright: Copyrighted by Deborah Castellano
Location: , New Jersey
Author's Profile: To learn more about Deborah Castellano - Click HERE
Bio: Deborah Castellano has written for NewWitch and Demand Studios on the internet. Her work has appeared in NewWitch, SageWoman and Venus magazines as well as anthologies by Cleis Press and Freyer's Bower.
She blogs regularly about charms, hexes, housewifery, hearth witchery and deportment on her blog, Charmed I'm Sure.
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