The purpose of Saraswati Muse is to showcase and honour the many ways that the creative feminine force can manifest, as well as to provide content that is thoughtful and uplifting. Through this platform we aim to encourage members of our community to explore their own creativity and support them in having a voice.
Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge, music, art and wisdom. The name Saraswati translates to “One Who Flows” in acknowledgement of the original form she took as a river in India. It is said that she transformed to that which is formless to inspire human beings in bringing forth their most creative expressions.Yasodhara Ashram is part of the Saraswati yoga lineage.
Ardhanarishvara by Darishma Alphonse This piece of Ardhanarishvara was created during my visit to the ashram in August 2021. It is an image that has often come to my mind, and i wanted to gift this first completed depiction to the Ashram where it was created. Shiva the Maha Yogi, or original yogi and the creator of dance is very dear to me, symbolizes in this direction that opposites essentially exist as one. For example, life and death, the sun and the moon, light and dark, male and female, the interplay between these polarities are what creation is made of. I am attracted to the idea of the joint manifestation of divine masculine and feminine in Ardhanarishvara as it mirrors these themes in every human. This form represents deep questions for me on the social constructs of male and female roles in society. This genderless shiva/shakti symbolically is known to guide humanity, one part creating the safe space, and the other holding the creation. Darishma Alphonse (D33Light) is an Indo British and Canadian mixed media and mural artist, dancer, and yoga practitioner working toward creating space for community art, and sacred gatherings.
I am particularly inspired by the ‘happenings’ movement, conceived by Allan Kaprow that grew out of the 1950’s and often described as performance, event or situation art. ‘Happenings’ always have a social message, cause or call to action and in my case I will be adding a video element to compliment the pieces. This Happening focuses on pandemic related mental health deterioration due to isolation, loneliness and lack of physical touch. The piece is intended as a Digital Hug’ antidote to this universally felt ‘distancing’ by offering a vicarious experience of human physical contact, yet achieved through the medium of video. It poses the questions; Can we live vicariously through art? Can a piece of art heal the mind and if so can it act as a wellbeing resource to return back to time and time again? For the piece I created a specially designed weighted blanket, but instead of the tiny pellets that make them heavier, which create a sense of security and stability that has been shown to reduce anxiety and unbeknownst to our participants, was actually made up of human platonic touch therapists. These included somatic body workers, professional massagers and professional cuddlers. On Sunday Oct 10, 2021 World Mental Health Day, Red Jay’s project was just one of several installations in Montreal calling attention to mental wellbeing. See coverage of his event. Red Jay (real name Josh Oliver) An international mongrel of English / Canadian breed… A self described ‘Artivist’ focusing on activism, humanism and political & social injustice. See website.
we, this people, on a small and lonely planet * with not much to do but wake each morning and feed our earth based bodies with telling lies that someday we won’t live with suffering, that our loneliness will one day subdue like the penguins who find their lovers and stay forever as one, ‘till death do them part and death will part us only thing i know about what i’m doing is one day dying maybe then i’ll hear the tone of the moon speaking to the tide, her soft voice which is soft only because i want it to be speaking of my rising, sun, and moon as if we are not just atoms floating in space into some other dimension in which we might be freed might be trees, or might be even more hungry as if we are not tiny gods sifting through worldly experience for my part, i’m going to pick out marshmallow charms out of my cereal and keep them for sadness i’m going to listen to aged music about living in the woods in a tree and happiness as a warm gun that hangs between my brows, teasing me like the moths teasing the cat next door next, i feel disappointed about all the books i’m never going to read and then delighted by the the earth that holds me but what do any of us know about compassion? what do any of us know about anything other than happy hour and poutine? other than bureaucracy and netflix? and what if happy hours spent on this small lonely planet have nothing to do with sandals on a patio with sangria but everything to do with your bare feet your mortal toes hugging star moss your eyes wide open to roots of our cosmic illusion? * the first line of this poem is from Maya Angelou’s poem “A Brave and Startling Truth” “All throughout my life I have found magic and intimacy in poetry, from my Persian family’s pride of Rumi and Hafiz, all the way to my fascination with contemporary poetry cultivated in poetry workshops led by my wonderful mentor Sheryda Warrener. During my undergraduate degree I published two small chapbooks, but creating this book, “memory is my name” felt much different… There’s something about the materiality of this book that feels more absolute and grounded. To have professional copies printed, and the possibility of people from all around the world having a copy has made it much more exciting! The whimsical cover is a big part of this “absolute” feel. Abi Taylor and I, friends since our early teens, always played with the idea of creating a book together; her art, my writing. And so, when I began seriously working on this book, I knew the cover had to be her creation. It took us a while to get to the final version of the cover, and her patience and radical alterations are forever inspiring. The cover mimics an image that stays with me a lot, and is captured in many of the poems – our bodies floating on this planet, bodies in water, bodies in Light. I’ve been living at Yasodhara Ashram for 13 months now – a community that celebrates the Divine Feminine, so the creative force of Goddess Saraswati has been a compelling influence on the artistic process! Many of the poems, and all the planning, editing, and finalizing of the book, was done at the Ashram, on the unceded territory of the Ktunaxa peoples. I feel so grateful, so lucky, so thrilled to have had the space and enthusiasm of everyone here. Many even joined me in writing poems at a weekly “poetry club”! I feel so much gratitude for all the Yasodhara Swamis, residents, and karma yogis for their continued support. The poem “accepting maya” was written here at the Ashram and it so perfectly conveys many of the ponderings I have had inside the charm that is the Saraswati lineage. There’s a lot that has been unveiled for me while being at Yasodhara, both within myself and my aspirations, but also a newly found understanding of what it means to be human. I have frequently referred to this book as an offering of reflections on my position as an immigrant, artist, and spiritual seeker living in the material world—I think “accepting maya” carries that purpose.” — Katie Taher is an Iranian-Canadian poet living at Yasodhara Ashram for the last year. She loves mangoes, watercolours, and willow trees. She also can’t get enough of Swami Radha’s teachings & will be participating in the 2022 Yoga Development Course.
Afterlife Bistro I write for nobody but God, precious one who listens. Maybe after I die I’ll finally get to sit down with Her at a little French bistro somewhere; tell her all my truths, unravel like a daisy in which each and every petal says She loves me– tell her my story, as I feel it. Maybe we’d just sit there and cry. “This poem was written in a burst of inspiration when I was thinking about how amazing it would be to sit down with Divine Mother–at a Paris bistro, of course (city of my dreams)–and have a long talk about everything that’s happened in my life: the traumas, the heartbreak, the little moments that cracked and shattered everything, and the big ones that fell flat. I envision sitting there with Her for, well, something beyond time and space, and get to talk about it all–with the only one who understands, truly, what it means to be me. To share that with Her. This poem is simple and short, and I like that about it. Some of the truer ones are that way.” Artwork by Ashley LaFramboise —Ashley is a teacher: both of the BC English curriculum in Creston, BC, and of Kundalini and Dreams. She has been involved with the Ashram for the last decade, and has enjoyed three year-long stints as a grateful and energetic karma yogi. These days she spends her time drenching herself in the Arts and Humanities (there is much to learn in this life), keeping inspiration flowering and flowing, and building community through board games and food.