Navratri – 9 nights of the goddess. How does it feel to you? Traditionally, it is one of the most important festivals in Hinduism and follows the story of how the supreme shakti, Goddess Durga, defeats demons and uses her goodness to overcome evil.
Astrologically, there’s been a lot going on too – a Libra New Moon emphasising the polarities of light and dark, a tough Scorpio Moon-Uranus opposition triggering emotional changes and intensifying our need for stability, and a bunch of planets ending their retrograde, including our Granddaddy of Karmic lessons, Saturn, and the Lord of the Underworld himself, Pluto.
Phew! No wonder it’s been intense!
So all these themes fit together, to guide us into something deeper, darker at times, towards something that we have to defeat within.
Have you felt this?
All of us have inner demons, even those of us that seem all love and light – we’re human, and we’re all on a path of self-knowledge.
Sometimes we encounter feelings or beliefs that we didn’t know we were carrying. A need to be seen, a lack of trust in unknown, a fear of darkness, or a deep and never satisfied longing for love. Everyone has something.
During Navratri, we are meant to release some of these old patterns, each day tackling some negative habit that we didn’t manage to shift last year.
The Nine Days of the Goddess
Day 1 – Maa Shailputri
On day one, we meet Shailputri. Her name means “daughter of the mountains” and she is one version of Parvati. She is Shakti to Shiva, and in her previous life as Sati, she sacrificed herself to defend the honour of her beloved, choosing her husband over her father.
She is associated with the Moon, the Earth and the colour red. She rules the Root Chakra. Shailputri represents a journey from old to new, familiar to unfamiliar. On this day, you may have found yourself starting to question old structures and authorities, threatening what is stable for something that you believe in.
Day 2 – Maa Brahmacharini
On day two, its Brahmacharini, the goddess of penance. She is a seeker of sacred knowledge and encourages us to remember how Parvati spent 5000 hungry years in the mountains, meditating and doing tapasya (penance for sins) for her love.
She is motivated to achieve her heart’s desires and ruled by Mars and the colour white. Perhaps you resolved to go after something on this day, no matter the cost?
Day 3 – Maa Chandraghanta
Day three saw us prepare for war with the goddess, Chandraghanta, who carries weapons and rides a tiger. Parvati became Chandraghanta when Shiva and his crew started frightening guests at their wedding – he quickly learnt she wasn’t just a sweet little thing, did as she asked and smartened himself up!
Chandraghanta rules Venus and rewards bravery. For many women, we are sweet until we are pushed too far, then we want blood! On this day, mood swings or feelings of low self-worth can materialise in order to teach us how to look after our needs – can it be found without waging war?
Day 5 – Maa Kushmanda
Day four we have Kushmanda, who created the world with a smile. Her story is of creation, how the eternal void of darkness was cracked with light, which grew and grew, taking shape until the world looked just as it does now – all from a smile!
To me, this means that there is always a little light in the dark. It represents hope, and how, if we smile, everything gets a little better. Of course, Kushmanda’s planet is the Sun.
Day 5 – Maa Skandamata
Day five is the day of Skandamata. She is Parvati as the mother of Kartikeya, the god of war. Skandamata grants power and abundance to those who can worship her with great control over themselves: mind, body and soul.
She is connected with the planet Mercury, which rules thought and communication. Today you may have noticed that if you don’t control negative thoughts, they control you, but if you can learn to remain composed, life gets a lot easier.
Day 6 – Maa Katyayani
Day six we meet Katyayani, another fierce warrior goddess. Katyayani is said to have manifested out of the anger of the gods – an awesome symbol of how thoughts and emotions can become things.
At this point, we’re at the Third Eye Chakra (Ajna), and her planet is Jupiter. Today, we learn that reality is not quite as it seems. We must be careful what we wish for, and what we spend our time focussing on – we must be selective in what we choose to manifest.
Day 7 – Maa Kalaratri
Day seven is ruled by the goddess Kalaratri. She is the dark one, the fiercest form of Maa Durga and the one associated as Kali. Her name means “night of death” (which says it all really). She defeated demons because she was more terrifying than they were!
Kalaratri is associated with time and with cause and effect (or karma). Her planet is Saturn (of course!) and rules the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara). She can defeat any negativities and makes those who worship her fearless, simply because if they aren’t afraid of her, there’s not much else to be frightened of! What fears did you face in your own life recently? And how did you become fearless?
Day 8 – Maa Mahagauri
Day eight is all about Mahagauri, the pale one, and the yin to Kalaratri’s yang. Mahagauri is a gentle, sensitive soul who washed away her sins and dirt in a holy river to become pure. Her planetary correspondence is Rahu, for this is our destiny, the path of goodness that we must follow towards enlightenment.
Of course, the colour today is white, and we can reflect on the ways in which we “wash” our darkness off. This symbolism teaches us that no matter how much “dirt” we gather, if we surrender to divine and work to become better, we can become happy and bright.
Day 9 – Maa Siddhidhatri
The last day, day nine, is Siddhidhatri, the goddess of supernatural powers (siddhis). Lord Shiva attained all 8 siddhis by worshipping the goddess, Siddhidhatri – these divine gifts are the ability to transform tiny or gigantic, weightless or heavy, to attain omnipresence, Jedi-like mind control, divine rulership, and to have all your desires come true – not bad right?
Siddhidhatri works with Ketu, the tail of the dragon, and the reality we must leave behind. She tells us that all is not what it seems – things are greatly different than society, tradition and our minds (most of all!) would have us believe.
On the last day of Navratri, we must remember to let go of any rigid ways of thinking. Even when we think we know something we could be wrong. Magic really does exist.
The day after Navratri ends is called Dashain. It is the celebration of the triumph of good over evil. The 9 forms of Goddess Durga defeated the demons and we can all rest easy again! The 9 nights of the goddess took us through many feelings, and now Dashain symbolises the joy we feel when we overcome negativity, fear and evil, instead, choosing the path of light.
Journey to the centre of self
This nine-day festival has taken us on a deep and fascinating journey to self-knowledge. We’ve prayed and meditated on the qualities each goddess represents. They also represent something within us. Every day we learnt something magical that can help us to improve.
The most mystical thing about Navratri is that it is also one giant metaphor for our journey to the darker depths of our psyche.
If you know about the practice of Shadow Work, it’s basically this but way more colourful and fun. We get to personify and love every aspect of ourselves. Worship the many facets of our being and transform any negativity in the process.
It’s not about denying or ignoring the darkness, it’s about respecting it and accepting it until it no longer feels the need to destroy.
This is what I love about Navratri, goddess Durga, and Hinduism in general: it doesn’t deny the darkness.
Look at Kaliratri, she’s terrifying, yet she’s also worshipped. Even Durga herself is a force to be reckoned with, just look at her many weapons, she’s a badass warrior goddess if ever I saw one!
In the West, we struggle so much with our darkness because we are taught to deny it, this just pushes it further down. It never goes away, but it seeks power in unconscious ways.
But here, in India, we can allow every part of ourselves to come to the light. We must, if we are to overcome the demons within, we have to first acknowledge them, second love them, and only then can they finally be defeated.
Jai Mata Di, may your darkness be loved by your light.
Ps. If you’re interested in learning more about Shakti and Goddess Durga, you’re welcome to join our pilgrimage to some of India’s most sacred goddess temples where we’ll practice “shakti sadhana” through yoga, meditation, sound healing, astrology, tarot and exploring nature.
Find out more here >>> Shakti Sadhana Goddess Tour <<<<