After 100 episodes of Spirits, we wanted to welcome in a new age. And what better way than with the Hindu god of beginnings, Ganesha! We dive into the stories of how Ganesha was born, how he got his elephant head, and how he became the remover of obstacles.
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Amanda: Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends, and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda-
Julia: And I'm Julia.
Amanda: ... and this is episode 103, Ganesha.
Julia: I am very excited about this episode. Like I mentioned it five minutes from now in the actual episode. I felt like this was like a great topic for like a new beginning. We've reached 100 episodes. This is our first normal episode since then and I just ... I really like the conversation that we had in it.
Amanda: Me too. I also really like having mental conversations with the people who support us on Patreon, who are kind of like our family, and also our classmates at school, but the classmates that you think are really chill and you kind of want to dress like. Surprisingly, they're very nice to you. Maybe that was just my experience in high school.
Julia: That might've just been your bi showing a little bit in high school.
Amanda: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. Well, anyway. Welcome to our newest Patreon's Marie, Noel, Cathleen, Jess, and Rebecca and a resounding thank you. Hi, your hair looks great today to our supporting, producer level Patreons: Phillip, Julie, Christina, Eeyore, Josie, Amara, Neil, Jessica, Phil Fresh, and Deborah. Finally, our fabulous, fashionable, legend-level Patreons: Steama, Jordan, Jess, Sarah, Zoe, Sandra, Andra, Mercedes, Jack Marie, and Liam.
Julia: You always have the best. Like, you're always having a good hair day.
Amanda: Amazing. I would buy that product if there was something in CVS that just said, "Always having a good hair day," I'd be like, "Take my money."
Julia: I would just give all my money for that. Oh my God. Can you just imagine, sorry. I'm going to get off track.
Julia: Can you just imagine how good it would be if you could just wake up with perfect, flawless hair every single day? I would just ... I-
Amanda: I would be a different person.
Julia: I would. I think I would just have so much more self confidence.
Amanda: Well, I know that I have a little more self confidence when I'm carrying around a drink that looks gorgeous like this drink did for this episode. Julia, what were we drinking?
Julia: We were drinking a cocktail called New Bejinnings which-
Julia: ... it's such a good pun. I can't even. Basically, it kind of goes with the themes of the episode, so I really, really thought it was a good choice, but it also features leech-y, simple syrup and lavender and it's just a really nice cocktail.
Amanda: I love anything with an herbal garnish.
Julia: Me too.
Amanda: Also, want to thank the herbal garnishes of this episode: our two sponsors. We got Skillshare, an online learning community where skillshare.com/spirits gets you two months of premium membership for just 99 cents, and Shaker & Spoon. Our BFF cocktail-buds go to shakerandspoon.com/spirits for $20 off your first box.
Julia: Amanda, do you know what I've been listening to a lot lately that I think you and our listeners would enjoy?
Amanda: Is it a version of Hosier's first album pitched up to sound like a woman that I found on Tumblr?
Julia: No, but that does sound amazing.
Amanda: It's so good. Oh my God, guys.
Julia: No, it is a new fiction podcast called Arden. It's basically a true crime podcast parody and it's hilarious but it's also a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet.
Amanda: Love it.
Julia: And it's just outstanding. It is so very good. I highly recommend checking it out. It's Arden Podcast. You just search for it in your pod catcher and you'll find it. It also features ... it also features our real good friend Michelle Augusty.
Julia: Speaking of recommendations, there is nothing quite like recommending spirits to friends and family, but the best way of doing that, I think, is wearing us on your body.
Amanda: Yeah, you can buy people Spirits merch for the holidays and be like, "Surprise!" I didn't just get you a gift, I got you a brand new podcast that you can bench over 100 episodes of. So, head on over to spiritspodcast.com/merch to check out our flask, our Spagghost stickers, our shirts, our enamel pins. Ugh, so good.
Julia: I wish people gave me that holiday gift. Like, "Here's a special podcast just for you, and also all of their merch."
Amanda: You got to listen to it or else you don't understand what you're wearing on your body or why that-
Amanda: ... or why that ghost is made of spaghetti.
Julia: I mean, those are very important questions.
Amanda: It's the spirit's way. So, without further ado, enjoy.
Episode 103: Ganesha.
Julia: We've officially passed 100 episodes. Congrats to us.
Julia: We did great.
Amanda: Isn't that wild? Like imagine ... imagine a bookshelf. I don't know why I had that little pause between those words. A bookshelf lined with like, you know, Deathly Hallows sized books.
Julia: That'd be about 100 books.
Amanda: And that's how many episodes we've done.
Julia: It's crazy. I don't know-
Amanda: This many.
Julia: I don't know how we've spent so much time on this, but we have.
Amanda: Eating 100 gumballs would be too many gumballs.
Julia: Too many gumballs, but 100 episodes of spirits ... just enough. Well, 103. This is 103.
Julia: So, I've been looking at this as kind of like a new chapter in the shower. You know what I mean?
Amanda: Yeah, got to keep it fresh. Like a marriage.
Julia: Yeah, I mean it's a pretty significant milestone and in a lot of mythologies and cultures that we've studied, there are several different deities that one can turn to in moments when you're starting a journey or a new chapter in your life.
Amanda: Right. Look good at that segue, girl. You're a professional.
Julia: That's what I ... after 103 episodes, I got to get somewhat good at transitions.
So, for instance there's the Roman God Janus, who's known as the God of beginnings, transitions, time, doorways, and endings or there's Ikenga who is an evil Alusi, which is a deity or symbol who is a personal god of human achievement and is said to bring wealth, fortune, and protection.
Amanda: Sounds like a good one to have on your side.
Julia: Yeah, for sure. Or there's Siming who is the director of destinies. The master of fate. A Chinese deity who makes fine adjustments to human fate.
Amanda: I picture like a cruise ship director and I love it. I need one of those.
Julia: Okay. I dig it. I dig the imagery.
Amanda: You know that I love the afterlife as a bureaucracy.
Julia: I know you do.
Amanda: It's why The Good Place is the best show on TV. Come at me.
Julia: Oh, God. Jake and I were halfway through the second season. I've watched all the episodes, but he is watching it for the first time. We just finished the trolley episode. Oof. So good.
Amanda: I re-watched it when the podcast came out, which by the way y'all there is a Good Place podcast. It is a very good podcast.
Julia: It is.
Amanda: Which is surprising for something produced by like a TV network, but also it's a great excuse to watch along. I watched with that and then I watched again with my partner, so I've seen the whole show three times.
Julia: That's amazing. But my favorite, Amanda, perhaps one of my favorites of this category is the Hindu deity Ganesha, the remover of obstacles.
Julia: So, shout out first to T.H. Ponders and the podcast Accession, which is a podcast that explores exhibits and art museums. They do this really incredible job just kind of walking you through different exhibits and experiencing art through an audio medium. It is shockingly amazing to experience art by someone just telling you about it, but it's really ... it's absolutely gorgeous.
Anyway, they did an incredible episode on the Denver Art Museum's exhibit, which was called Ganesha, The Playful Protector, which I highly recommend people check out.
Amanda: Right on. We'll include the link in the show notes.
Julia: So, like most good gods, there are many origin stories of how Ganesha was first born. The most common story comes from the Hindu scripture the Shiva Purana, in which the goddess Parvati desired a child but her husband Shiva was not interested in having a child. He was spending his days meditating despite Parvati's pleas.
So, Parvati decided to take matters into her own hands. Like ya do.
Amanda: The story of women from the beginning of time to now.
Julia: Yes, so using the dirt and oils that washed off her body, she created her own child and named him Vinayaka, which meant a child born without a man.
Julia: I love good literal names like that.
Amanda: Yeah, and also that's such a wonderful co-option of the Eve from Adam's ribs situation. Like I realize this is a different kind of cosmology, but I always found that to be like a particular kind of bullshit, so this is like a great version of that shitty idea.
Julia: I agree 100%.
So, she told her new son that no one, especially no man, was allowed to enter the river while she finished bathing.
Julia: So, her new son was to be her protector and she gave Vinayaka a stick in order for him to defend himself should anyone come along.
Amanda: Cool, good.
Julia: So, this would've gone pretty well in any other circumstance. Vinayaka was born full formed after all, but the first person to come across the river is Shiva, who obviously wants to bathe with his wife.
Amanda: Okay, Shiva.
Julia: But Vinayaka doesn't know Shiva, since he was literally born a couple of minutes ago and doesn't want to let Shiva past.
Amanda: And Shiva isn't his dad.
Julia: That's true. So Shiva tries to push past him and Vinayaka hits the god with a stick, enraging Shiva, because you just don't go around hitting Shiva, who is quote "the destroyer and transformer." You don't do that.
Amanda: This is true.
Julia: That's a bad choice. So, Shiva calls upon and sends a whole swarm of gods and goddesses in order to attempt to defeat Vinayaka, but none of them could defeat him in battle, which likely was because he was the child of Parvati, like quite literally made from her body.
Shiva decides to do the dirty work himself and steps in managing to cut off Vinayaka's head.
Amanda: Oh, my. That was a ... that was like a short reboot.
Julia: Yes, but Parvati was absolutely, obviously extremely distraught over this. This child that she just gave birth to after wanting a child for so long-
Julia: ... just dead. Just dead, now.
Amanda: Ugh, no.
Julia: And she becomes enraged with her husband, demanding that he restore Vinayaka back to life and allowing him to be worshiped as a child of hers should be. So, Vinayaka's original head was lost, after Shiva cut it off, but Shiva found the head of an elephant instead and merged it with Vinayaka's body, thus giving birth to Ganesha.
Julia: So, he could no longer go by Vinayaka, because Shiva had made himself the father and helped create the child with Parvati. So, the child born without a man really no longer applied to this case.
Amanda: Interesting, and that explains why we see the elephant headed depiction.
Julia: Exactly. After this transformation, Shiva makes Ganesha the leader of his troops and declares that people worship Ganesha as Parvati demanded and invoke his name before undertaking any venture.
Amanda: Pretty good. Pretty good. Not bad.
Julia: And the idea being like, "I hope it goes better than my birth did."
Amanda: Yeah, one would hope.
Julia: So, there is another version of this story that starts with Shiva asking Parvati to observe for a year the teachings of Punup Varti, which is a holy fast done in preparation for having a son. So, she's going to do this fast for an entire year because Shiva says it will appease Vishnu, who is the god of protection and the preservation of good. In that, she will be granted a son.
Amanda: I am not sure if there is significance to the ... you only do this for sons and not daughters, you know? Like there could be some kind of gender valuation situation going on, but I think that the idea of purifying and readying yourself for having a family or having a new child is really meaningful.
Julia: Yeah, no it makes total sense if you think about it. A lot of stuff changes when you have a child.
Julia: So, your life has to kind of go through this transition. So, I think observing for an entire year this holy fast makes a lot of sense in just like a cultural understanding of it.
Julia: Parvati does this and manages to manifest a child from her body and infuse life within him. Again, without Shiva being present. Shiva's out doing meditation stuff.
Amanda: Parvati sounds amazing.
Julia: So, the gods and goddesses assemble to rejoice in the birth of this child named Ganesha, but the god Shani, who is the god of justice refuses to look at the child, which is kind of an insult, one would assume.
Julia: So when Parvati asks him why, he says it's because if he looked at the child, his glance would be fatal.
Julia: I mean, that's a good reason, but also ... what?
Amanda: Yeah. Very I have more questions than answers.
Julia: So, Parvati insists because that seems like an excuse, at least to me. I would insist upon that, too. Be like, "Stop bullshitting me and just look at my child. It's so beautiful."
Amanda: Uh oh.
Julia: However, when Shani looks at Ganesha, the look severs the child's head from his body.
Julia: No explanation why. It just happens.
Amanda: Poor guy. Heads are rolling. The knives are out. Would-be presidents are all around.
Now, for those who are not esoteric Musical Theater nerds-
Julia: Oh my God.
Amanda: ... that would be a reference to Evita, which Julie and I did in high school. They recording with Mandy Patinkin sounds like he's saying, "Rice-a-Roni. Let's get some out." And so we yell that all the time.
Julia: Yes we do. It's been a minute, though, and now I'm crying.
Amanda: It's my greatest dream, that before we go on stage at a live show, the crowd starts chanting, "Rice-a-Roni. Rice-a-Roni."
Julia: We should've established this like years ago so that people would know.
Amanda: I know. We can't like start our founding mythology in episode 103.
Julia: Nope, can't do it. I'm sorry.
Amanda: They can chant Spagghost instead.
Julia: That's fine. We can ... we can deal with that.
Amanda: There must be chanting is the point.
Julia: Completely distressed, Vishnu takes it upon himself to find a new head for the child. Returning with a young elephant's head and attaching it to the body, thus reviving Ganesha.
Amanda: What about these poor elephants? They die for the cause?
Julia: Yeah. Now they get to be part of a god.
Amanda: That's true.
Julia: That's pretty neat.
Amanda: That's true.
Julia: Now, the first story really emphasizes what Ganesha embodies. A balance between the material world and the spiritual one. His mother Parvati is constantly engaged with the world and the physical delights of it. She's bathing. She's oiling up her body. She is kind of just a very physical being, while Shiva is concerned with spiritual matters rather than the rest of the world around him.
So, we see this reflected in Ganesha's appearance. The elephant head represents the physical world. The attachment to the pleasures of the material world, but also the attachment represents the animalistic fear that lives inside most humans.
Julia: Yeah. Meanwhile, his human body's supposed to represent the spiritual aspect: human's ability to see beyond the physical world to understand that they have a future and to make plans for it.
Amanda: That's awesome. I guess I would have assumed that the animal is the more de-ified side and the human is the more physical, but I like that the meanings are reversed.
Julia: If you look at representations in Hinduism, especially in representations of the gods, they're always in human form, with the exception of Ganesha and they tend to have, and we'll talk about it a little, they tend to ride animals into battle. A lot of times, the human representations of the gods or the deities, they're more than human. So, they have multiple arms, they are like beyond human but like to a level ... they're more human than us. If that makes sense.
Amanda: Yeah, it does. Right on.
Julia: The animal is the material part. The human part is the spiritual understanding of the world because humans are the only level of being that can reach that spiritual understanding.
Amanda: Got you. That's a bit more optimistic of a viewing than my go-to description of the human body as a flesh person.
Julia: That's fair. Totally fair.
Okay, so Ganesha is a reflection of the duality inside of us. He allows us to consider what we come from and we can be.
Amanda: I like it. I like it.
Julia: So, like with that very philosophical pause in our conversation, let's go get a quick refill.
Amanda: I need one.
Ghouls, our first sponsor this week is Skillshare. As we know, it is our favorite online learning community. You can learn a whole lot of stuff about being an Instagram influencer. Lots of classes about that. You can learn about being a freelancer. You can learn graphic design or different computer skills that I don't know like coding or like me. You can be watching too much Great British Bake Off and be like, "Damn. I need to level up my life skills."
So, that's what I did this weekend, where I checked out a great class on Skillshare called Think Like a Chef: A Beginner's Guide to Cooking with Confidence. They really specialize ... it's like a chef and a butcher from Brooklyn.
Amanda: They teach you how to cook instinctually, so less following a recipe like they do on Bake Off and more like ... Oh, okay. Well let me think about what kinds of tastes pair well with this kind of meat or how to cook potatoes in a way that compliments this dish and it's stuff that I never really thought I knew, but it puts words to instincts that I found myself developing.
So, it was really useful, and they have a video about knife skills.
Julia: That is amazing and as someone who has never followed a recipe to the word in her entire life, I totally feel you there. Being able to hone those instincts in is such a great skill. Thank you, Skillshare.
Amanda: Thank you, Skillshare, and y'all you can go to skillshare.com/spirits to look up this class and to get two months of premium membership for just 99 cents. That is a really good investment in yourself, I think, and in your skills. That's skillshare.com/spirits.
Julia: You know what's great if you're learning all these cool knife skills and cool cooking skills, Amanda? I think it's the perfect time to throw a holiday party. Invite everyone over; make a meal for them.
You know what the best way of making sure that everyone is happy at your holiday party is?
Amanda: Make sure it's not too warm but also not too cold?
Julia: That is very important, but also having good cocktails. Which is why our next sponsor Shaker & Spoon is the perfect sponsor, especially for the holidays. Shaker & Spoon is a monthly cocktail subscription box that delivers the craft cocktail experience to your home. Think of it as Blue Apron, but for cocktails.
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Julia: Yeah, and the best part is each box is designed to use an entire bottle of liquor. So, if your friends are like, "Hey, what can I bring?" You're like, "Well, I got this gin box from Shaker & Spoon. Just bring a bottle of gin and I'll take care of the cocktails." It's perfect. It's such a community building experience for your party going experience. I really, really love it.
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Amanda: Every time I shake a cocktail shaker, I feel like I am like suddenly a sexy bearded hipster chef man wearing a leather apron.
Julia: Fair enough.
Amanda: So, that's just me. Anyway, let's get back to the episode.
Julia: Ganesha is typically depicted with one of his tusks broken off.
Amanda: I wonder why, and I bet you're going to tell me.
Julia: I'm going to tell you a couple reasons why.
Julia: In a story, a sage named Vyasa asks Ganesha to transcribe a poem for him as he dictated it to the god. This makes sense when you know that Ganesha is known as the patron of arts and sciences as well as the god of intellect and wisdom.
Amanda: Hell yeah. Also elephants.
Julia: Elephants. Ganesha agrees to the task but only if Vyasa recites the poem without pausing and completely uninterrupted.
Amanda: Eh, okay. That's a tall order, but fine.
Julia: So, Vyasa agrees to this, but tells Ganesha that he needs to both write down and understand everything that Vyasa is saying. Vyasa's hope being that if he needs to pause, he can just recite a very difficult verse in the hopes that Ganesha will not understand it.
Amanda: This is very good.
Julia: So, they begin but Ganesha is writing so furiously to keep up with Vyasa's poem that the feather quill he is using breaks.
Amanda: Oh. I see.
Julia: But Ganesha, instead, breaks off his own tusk, uses it as a pen, without interrupting the transcription, thus keeping his word to Vyasa.
Amanda: What a great combination of bad assery and devotion to intellectualism.
Julia: Yeah, I know. It's really-
Amanda: You know?
Julia: ... it's really impressive.
So, another story of how he lost his tusk features Parashurama, which is the avatar of Vishnu. So, Parashurama was going to visit Shiva, but Ganesha blocked his way and would not allow him to pass in order to enter the house. Parashurama understandably grew super angry about this and hurls himself at Ganesha wielding an ax that Shiva had given to Parashurama.
Ganesha recognized that the ax and knowing that his father had given it to the avatar of Vishnu, yielded and allowed himself out of respect to his father to be struck by the ax and lose his tusk as a result.
Amanda: I thought you were going to say his head and I was going to be like-
Julia: Not again!
Amanda: Again! Also, though if you know that you can be revived from that, that like the ultimate power move. To be like, "Want to chop off my head? Go for it. Go for it. I dare you."
Julia: Fine, do it.
Amanda: Yes. It's probably disrespectful to the gods, though. I apologize.
Julia: So, it's an important aspect to what Ganesha represents: the single tusk. It is said that his single tusk represents his ability to overcome all forms of dualism, as we kind of talked before. It's about taming the more base and animalistic nature that is within all of us.
So, it allows us to reflect on ourselves and analyze our own experiences in life. How to retain the good aspects of ourselves and how to throw away the bad. So, introspection is a really key part to Ganesha's story because it allows us strike down the obstacles within ourselves.
Amanda: That's awesome and it is sort of the beginning of his origin story, too, of Parvati looking within herself and being like, "I want a child. My husband is not playing ball. Let's figure out how to do it."
Julia: Yeah. No, absolutely. One of the key aspects of Ganesha is vahana, which is the Sanskirt word for vehicle, which is a reference to, as I mentioned before, the fact that all Hindu deities are usually associated with a particular animal or bird that they're seen riding.
So, all creatures in Hinduism have a certain amount of divinity because we are all part of one infinite divine consciousness known as Brahman.
Amanda: Love it.
Julia: Ganesha's vahana is a mouse which he rides and is an extension of his powers. Do you want to take a guess why a mouse?
Amanda: Is it because mice are humble but resilient?
Julia: That's a good guess. It's not quite right.
Amanda: What's the answer?
Julia: So, the mouse can gnaw through all barriers. It can slide into crevices too small for Ganesha to enter and between the two of them, they can ensure that all obstacles of all sizes can be removed.
Amanda: Yeah, love it. Hinduism is so good at metaphors.
Julia: I know. So, this is one of the primary functions of Ganesha. As I said before, he is the remover of obstacles. He's not just the remover of obstacles. Traditionally, he is known to place obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked.
Amanda: Oh. Like a good DM. Taking down that tank in their party that thinks they can overcome anything.
Julia: That's true. So, according to Paul Courtwright, who is a professor of religion at Emory College, Ganesha, quote, task is in the divine scheme of things. His dharma is to replace and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, his reason for creation, which makes sense if we examine the main origin story of Ganesha.
He stands between his parents because he creats that obstacle. It becomes who he is.
Amanda: Yeah. That checks out. That's really resonant. Like that's just such a sort of meaningful way to approach problems. You know, to see as an opportunity to learn and prove yourself and test your resilience instead of thinking the rest are conspiring against you.
Julia: Yeah, absolutely. Let's talk about the worship of Ganesha. We've talked about this a little bit, but this is a living tradition. Hinduism is a living tradition and Ganesha has been actively worshiped since probably as early as the second century, up until modern times.
Julia: So he is probably the most popular deity in India and is worshiped in all parts of the country. It is probably because he's a non-sectarian deity. He is worshiped across all sex of Hinduism and all denominations. Invoke him in the beginning of prayers, important undertakings, and religious ceremonies.
Julia: It is believed that when Ganesha is given devotion, he will grant success, prosperity and protection against adversaries.
Amanda: Listen, I would choose him, too. That's a great choice.
Julia: Yeah. He's also invoked the beginning of art performances, which I really like. Especially, in southern India. Usually, specifically, in the form of like prayer dance.
Amanda: And if any listeners have first hand experience with their, you know, family tradition, worshiping Ganesha. We'd love to hear about it ... things that you want to share.
Julia: Yeah, for sure. So the idea that Ganesha must be honored before anything begins becomes an important part in the following story that I'm about to tell you.
The gods were, at one point, cursed by demons. Like you do. It's fine.
In order to save themselves from the curse, they needed to churn the cosmic oceans of milk in order to create Amrita, which is the god's elixir of immortality, similar to ambrosia in Greek mythology.
Julia: But before they began, they didn't honor Ganesha first. So, Ganesha is pissed and decides to curse Vasuki, who is the king of the Naga, which are like snake beings and they were going to use Vasuki in order to churn the water. Ganesha causes him to vomit up poison that the gods cannot breathe, and it kind of infects the waters that they were going to be drinking anyway.
Amanda: Oh, damn.
Julia: So, the gods do the smart thing and they pray to Ganesha for this obstacle to be removed, not knowing that Ganesha was the one that put it there in the first place.
Amanda: I am a creator and a destroyer, but you're also your savior!
Julia: So, Ganesha removes it for them by having his father Shiva drink all of the poison so that they can get the amarita.
Julia: So, if you forget to prey to Genesha, before starting a task he ill inevitably put more obstacles in your way until the disservice is rated.
Amanda: Right on.
Julia: Traditionally, festivals with Ganesha are on the fourth day of the waxing moon in August or September, depending on when it falls. Ganesha's birthday, which is celebrated on the fourth day of the waxing moon in January or February, again depending on when the moon falls.
Usually, Ganesha is offered sweets such as Modaka, which is kind of like a sweet dumpling that's filled with freshly created coconut. It sounds amazing and they look really taste-y.
Amanda: I want it. I want it. H
Julia: These are supposed to appease Ganesha and ask him to help you realize the sweetness of the realized inner self.
Amanda: That is very lovely.
Julia: I know, it's very cute. He has also indemnified with the color red and is worshiped with red sandalwood paste or red flowers. Adorable.
Amanda: Yeah. Ganesha. I love you.
Julia: I know. I think that this conversation will be relevant to you, Amanda, but I want to talk about how Ganesha's story can be applied to starting new projects, starting new things, starting new chapters in your life and I know you have a lot to talk about when it comes to that since you, as of this recording, just quit your job.
I mean, not just quit, but -
Amanda: It's my first full week working for myself.
Julia: Ah, I'm so proud of you.
Amanda: Thanks babe.
Julia: So, I think that when we start new things, having a certain level of introspection before we go into them helps us foresee the complications that we might have. Makes it easier for us to face them when we finally do come face to face with obstacles that we're inevitably going to face.
Amanda: Hell yeah. Do you have an example that's particularly resonant for yoU in recent memory?
Julia: So I think that I'm currently doing a lot of wedding planning and I found a woman that I absolutely adored for our photography. Went back and forth with her a couple times and then found out she wasn't available the day that we'd booked our wedding. I think that if I had had a little more introspection and I had thought a little bit more about ... okay, not everything I fall in love with immediately is going to be able to work for this wedding and I have to kind of like roll with the punches.
It would've made me much less upset with this woman. Was like, "Oh, I'm not available that day." So I think that when it comes to it, kind of anticipating your obstacles makes them easier to face.
Amanda: Yeah. I hear you and it's ... it's hard and like in this instance, too, you're doing so much of the wedding stuff yourself. You're having a very, kind of, DIY wedding and so the one of the very few people you're hiring is this photographer so I completely understand why you would be like, "Oh man, this is the version of the future that works. This is the one." And then when that door is closed, it can be devastating.
Julia: Yeah, absolutely.
Amanda: I was actually, again, at the time of recording, I am doing a project where I make a video every day in October. So, this morning, I recorded one about deciding what to do with my life. Which someone asked me in the comments to make a video on and so I was like sure.
I realized that the advice I had was like I don't know what I'm doing with my life. I didn't know. There wasn't anything in particular that stood out to me. I'm not blessed with like a one, true vocation or a one, true skill. I'm not like a musician through and through til I die, you know?
I identified as a writer early on, sure, but then I got really into video blogging and then I got really into podcasting. The fact that this is the one that worked out is not like indicative of my inner purpose. That's not in my personal cosmology, you know. What came to mind, as I was kind of scripting out that video, was you know that Pinterest aphorism grow where you're planted?
What does that mean to you?
Julia: It means when it comes down to it, you are where you are. If you can learn to thrive in that space no matter what, you're going to make your life easier.
Amanda: I think you're right, and that is a way more valuable thing to like have in your mind than the find your one true path and run after it. It's like looking around you. Like, you're lost in the forest, right? And the grow where you're planted idea and advice means you kind of look around you, and you say okay what is here? What can I eat? Where can I sleep? Where is clean water? Figure out how to make it work where you are versus finding a path where you just walk aimlessly trying to peer through the forest at the one perfect solution.
For me, podcasting is the thing that worked out and it's the one we put a lot of energy into because we had each other. We found community. It was not like this was the one thing that we were both destined to do, but we had the support and we found more. We came into this industry at a time that we were pretty well set up to take part in the growth of the medium.
So, the point being ... it's not divinely inspired and it's not destined, but it's us looking around knowing we wanted to do our project together. Looking for the thing that was like the closest and the most doable at the time. Paying attention and making good choices and working hard and learning new stuff from there.
Julia: Yeah. Knowing that Ganesha is the placer of obstacles as well as the remover, do we think that he helps lead us down the right path for us? Like even if the path we want to pursue has the obstacles, is that Ganesha putting obstacles there so he's diverting us down another path that is the right one for us. What do you think about that?
Amanda: So, I think one way to view would be like a test of your devotion. You know? If you really want the thing that you're after and there are obstacles in your way, you'll figure out how to solve them. Kind of proceed like Parvati did in having a child.
Julia: That's funny, 'cause when we found out ... tying it back to my wedding stuff. When we found out the photographer wasn't available, Jake's first response was, "Well, can we offer her more money and see if she'll quit the other job to come to ours?" I'm like we can't do that. That's not right. We can't ruin someone else's wedding just 'cause we want a thing.
So, I'm thinking of it like okay, Ganesha couldn't remove that obstacle for me but maybe he placed that obstacle there for me to divert me down the right path for me.
Amanda: Yeah, and it's also ... it's like the teach a man to fish thing.
Amanda: You know? Like, for those that don't know this varies for your typical thing. You can give a person a fish, whatever, but if you teach them to fish then they'll feed themselves for a lifetime which is an oversimplification of the capitalism.
Julia: I was going to say capitalism.
Amanda: Yeah. We're on the same page. That definitely has to be in our next round of merch. Some capitalism laden idea.
Amanda: The true ghost is capitalism. Yeah.
Julia: The tree ghost is capitalism. That's so bad.
Amanda: I don't make Julia laugh at how stupid I am very often, but here we are.
Julia: It's 'cause you're too smart.
Amanda: Anyway. Thanks babe. Getting what you want is great, but developing the skills to understand what you truly want and to parse situations and not to panic in the face adversity, like that is the real stuff. That's what when talk about the psychological concept of resilience. That's what really matters in raising kids that can fend for themselves or in being set up for a happy life.
Julia: Yeah, and I mean when we talked about it. Ganesha, he's the remover of obstacles, but it's said that when you give him devotion, he'll grant success, prosperity, and protection against adversity. Not necessarily that there will be no adversity, but like you'll be able to go up against it and still come out okay.
So, I feel like that really applies to what you're saying. You're going to face adversity no matter what, but learning how to deal with it under pressure and stuff like that, I think that is real goal of what Ganesha is trying to teach us.
Amanda: And, truly, this is a thing that I really think about in low moments is the concept of Dungeons and Dragons of experience or in Monster of the Week which is played on several DnD podcasts or our PG podcasts.
Amanda: But the idea is that when something goes badly, you, obviously, might lose some health points or you might not succeed at your task or you might have to find a new solution. But you do gain experience and that builds up to give you more skills and give you more powers, you know. Level up your spells and your health and whatever.
Really, genuinely, in my life when I'm disappointed in stuff, I'm like, "I can mark experience," and that's a little shortcut for my brain to not dwell on what was lost, but instead to think about the fact that every time this happens, I get a little bit better at dealing with it. That's what I hear people talk about in terms of aging, too. Which is like as you go through life's stuff, it sucks, but the next time it's going to suck a little less.
Amanda: Your capacity to, you know, internalize it, work through it, to support a partner through it, a family, or whatever it may be, that builds. Even if you are suffering, you do get to walk away with something that makes you a little bit more equipped to be less devastated the next time.
Julia: I mean, you and I are, I guess as of this recording, we'll probably already have done this talk, but we're going to be speaking at Patrecon. How to learn from your failures.
Julia: And I think like ... Mark experience was our original ... our original-
Amanda: Session title.
Julia: ... session title for it but it changed. I think that has a lot to do with the stories that we learned from Ganesha. His entire existence is based on the idea that he failed and then he got better from it and he got better at removing the obstacles in front of him or getting past them. I think ... I just I really appreciate that especially knowing like ... you are just. You're going through a new experience with a new job that you are hopefully doing really well with. I know you are, but at this point.
Julia: I mean, I went through a similar but not exactly the same experience where I was let go from my job and just kind of had to get all my shit together. It did get easier over time. I learned how to deal with one, the depression from getting let go from my job and then two, the stress of having to create work for myself to the point where now I can do that and I don't feel super stressed about it. I feel like for the first time in over a year and a half I finally have my life in order.
I think that getting better at removing your obstacles in your life is a great way to look at life in general.
Amanda: Yeah, and A. You completely deserve it. You've worked so hard and I'm so glad that you're feeling more rooted in your life. It's hard, like this feeling is valuable and it makes life feel so much more stable and for me, it's the first thing to go when I am in bad depression times because that is the perspective that I lose. Which is like I'm feeling badly and my brain is like, "Welp, this is how it is forever. This is how it's always going to be. This is the true form. This is your true form. This most cynical voice in your head is the voice of reason and everything else is not."
And so, in those moments I have to remind myself ... okay, let's like reality check this. If Julia said this to me, how would that sound?
Amanda: I'll be like nah, girl. You know.
Julia: 'Cause depression and anxiety they're fucking liars.
Amanda: They are ... they are bad, bad, bad liar boys. They're not very good.
Julia: Bad liar boys.
Amanda: And so I have to remind myself, okay let's look over the past and make a reasonable prediction. So like every time I have sent an email to a client, right. People either say, "Sounds great," or "no thank you." They don't say like, "You are a fucking idiot. You're not worth my money. You don't know what you're doing," blah blah blah. Every time I take a professional risk, it pretty much works out or I learn something valuable and move onto the next thing. I don't like lose my home and become destitute.
I try to reality check the cynicism with the examples of what has actually happened. I've been like so far my trend line is upward. So far, I have learned more. So far, I have made better choices. You know? It makes complete sense that this deity is so important and that his purview and his domain is so useful to people and making your life more than just survival. This is the stuff you really need.
Julia: Yeah, absolutely. This is such a good discussion. I'm so happy that we talk to about this.
Amanda: This reminds me of the times that we would have and do have just hanging out before we started spirits. Like this is the kind of stuff we were talking about.
Julia: Absolutely, I mean this is why we made the show. To kind of have these discussions and tie them into stories that were important to us. Whether it was YA, mythology, stuff I heard on the History Channel. That kind of stuff.
Amanda: It's all an opportunity, an invitation, to self reflection and if you're lucky to have a friend that you can do that with, all the better.
Julia: Absolutely. I think when it comes down to it, you have to remember those obstacles in your way, you'll get past them or you'll go around them. Whatever you need to do.
Amanda: As long as you remember to stay creepy and stay cool.