Ganesha is the child of the god Shiva and the goddess Parvati (a manifestation of Shakti, the eternal partner of Shiva). In some myths Ganesha was born with an elephant head. In others his mother created him from clay (representing earth and the physical plane) to protect her while Shiva was off on his many wanderings. Others have it that Ganesha was created from the dirt from Parvati’s body. Upon Shiva’s return, not knowing each other, Ganesha barred his way and his father beheaded him. After Parvati was heart-broken and enraged, Shiva restored Ganesha’s head using the first thing he could find - an elephant!
Ganesha is associated with intelligence and wisdom and, especially, his ability to overcome all obstacles. As “remover of obstacles” on our life path, he is revered as the god of beginnings, new projects and learning. He is also the patron of students, writers, travelers, commerce, arts and science. On his shadow side, he is known for his greediness in devouring more than he can digest as manifested by his fondness for sweet foods and his large belly.
Ganesha’s elephant head symbolizes wholeness as represented by the Atman (the True Self or immortal soul) or Jung’s archetype of the Self, which is the source of wisdom. This state of wholeness is beyond the grasp of our limited consciousness and we can only aspire to an approximate state of wholeness in our journey of individuation. “Wholeness is never comprised within the compass of the conscious mind-it includes the indefinite and indefinable extent of the unconscious as well. Wholeness, empirically speaking, is therefore of immeasurable extent, older and younger than consciousness and enfolding it in time and space.” (Jung, CW 9i)
Image source: http://www.clearandconnect.com
A post I wrote for @jungsouthernafrica
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