Buddhist goddesses of the Wolf Moon - International Moon Circle 7

This waxing moon has been particularly difficult for me on many levels. My daughter's health problems and emotional struggles as well as my own have taken over our daily lives.

I have felt a lot of despair. I've joined in with others to help a friend with her troubles and then returned to my struggle alone, feeling blamed for my geographic isolation and judged for my fears. I have a small circle locally in which I am expected to be stoic and independent. At the same time, I feel uncomfortable asking for moral support in the online world.

This is part of why my post on the goddesses of the Wolf Moon is late this month. As I reviewed my notes, I found a flicker of inspiration. It is not a solution. Perhaps just a sign... I'm not even sure what it is a sign of, except perhaps that spirituality isn't just "all made up and a waste of time" as I've been told by some. 

The sign came in the notes on Guanyin, goddess of mercy and compassion. I have tried to connect with her this waxing moon but I have felt blocked in my own head. I know she is endlessly compassionate and open. But she does not force herself or her compassion on others. She won't come to me. I must come to her. And that has been hard.

Image by Arie Farnam

Image by Arie Farnam

But then I found that she has reached out to me after all. I had forgotten that one of Guanyin's main symbols is rose water. I had no rose water this year, until I went to the distant and chaotic home of family friends over New Years, when the moon was new. The harried and overworked woman of the house quietly gave me a bottle of rose water as a gift, when I gave her some of my herbal salve. We don't know each other well and wish we lived closer than a few hours distant, so that we could really come to know one another. 

Throughout these struggles I have absentmindedly dabbed the rose water on to my face, unaware of the embrace of Guanyin each time I did it. Now I am sure that Guanyin has been with me, even though I couldn't feel her. She has been here all along.

The Wolf Moon is the time to turn my attention to Buddhist goddesses. Their symbols and areas of expertise are potent and unmistakable, even to those who are not Buddhist. Guanyin, the maiden goddess for the waxing moon, is the lady of compassion and mercy. Marici, the mother goddess, is the unconquerable. And the Dark Goddess Izanami forces questions around popular beauty standards, age and disability, eventually coming full circle to acceptance and universal compassion.

The Waxing Moon

Guanyin brings with her an enduring quality of caring and comfort. She can be honored during the waxing moon with rose water and prayers of compassion for those we see in need of it, including those who may have harmed others. She is the goddess who tells us that each person is loved, even those who have done wrong, the outcast and those who have lost their way.

Guanyin is the unending source of compassion, meeting all with caring and particularly comforting those who who suffer under patriarchal oppression, whether they be men or women. She represents the nurturing female force and the earth which abides through all suppression. (Leeming & Page 1994) 

The myth of Guanyin tells of her mistreatment at the hands of her controlling father and her refusal to let hardship and pain take her heart away from compassion. One way to come to know the culture of Guanyin better is to use the i-Ching as a divination tool and read the philosophy behind it.

The Full Moon

The Mother Goddess Marici is an Indic and esoteric Buddhist goddess of sun and moon. In India and Tibet, she is called “the woman endowed with rays of light.” In China, she is known as “Big Dipper woman.” She is depicted in stillness, sitting demurely on a lotus flower but also as a fierce, warrior woman riding a wild boar or sometimes a chariot pulled by wild boars and wielding many weapons. (Shaw 2006) This gives us ready symbols for ritual—the big dipper, lotus flowers or images of them, wild boar and chariots, possibly the Chariot Tarot card. 

Another symbol of Marici is the Maricinama chant, which contains the words: “She is invisible, indestructible, unbindable, unstoppable, inescapable, unerring, unpunishable, unburnable, and unassailable by weapons.” Marici exudes the energy of the intensely creative woman. She gathers great potential as well as protecting her children from harm and injustice. She sometimes has three faces, one silver, one gold and one dark. There is no reference to this corresponding to the phases of the moon, yet the symbolism is similar, the silver or white face being youth, the golden face being her fullness as Queen of Heaven and her dark face as overseeing death and mystery. (Chaudhuri 2003)

A celebration of this full moon should include playing the Maricimama Dharani which can be found on YouTube and learning the words if possible. Images of a wild boar and a lotus flower can be juxtaposed on the altar—the gentleness and intensity that we balance in creativity. The Chariot and Strength Tarot cards are useful meditations at this time. The Chariot is a symbol of Marici and the Strength card in the Druid Craft Tarot includes the image of a gentle woman with a wild boar. A cup of green tea is a good offering.

The Waning Moon

Izanami is a goddess of life and death in Japanese Buddhism. Her legend says that after she gave birth to the god of fire, he burned her. She became a disfigured old woman “unfit” for the living world and had to go away and rule over the dead. (Auset 2009) She can be recognized at the time of the dark moon by extinguishing candles (the burning fire) and experiencing the deep darkness of winter and the dark phase of the moon. It is also a time to recognize beauty within and to look past outer appearances.

We can remythologize this story also as a symbol of the wrong-headed social rejection of disability, age, injury and those who don’t fulfill the popular beauty standards. Izanami may have been banished to rule the dead, but she brought with her the light and inner beauty that she bestows upon souls.


Auset, B. (2009). The Goddess Guide: Exploring the Attributes and Correspondences of the Divine Feminine. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
Caputi, J. (2004). Goddesses and Monsters. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Hunt, L. (2001). An Illustrated Meditation Guide: Celestial Goddesses. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
Jordan, M. (2004). Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses. New York, NY: Facts On File, Inc.
Leeming, D. and Page, J. (1994). Goddess: Myths of the Female Divine. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Littleton, C. S. Ed, (2005). Gods, Goddesses and Mythology, Volume 4. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corporation.
Loar, J. (2008). Goddesses for Every Day. Navato, CA: New World Library.
Lurker, M. (1987). A Dictionary of Gods, Goddesses, Devils and Demons. New York, NY: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.
Monagham, P. (1997). The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
Monagham, P. (1999). The Goddess Companion. Woodbury, MN. Llewellyn Publications.
Monagham, P. (2014). Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Moss, V. (2014). Cailleach. In Greenfield, T. (Ed.) Naming the Goddess (pp. 133-136). Washington, DC: Moon Books.
Motz, L. (1997). The Faces of the Goddess. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Reid-Bowen, P. (2007). Goddess As Nature. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.
Shaw, M (2006). Buddhist Goddesses of India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Skye, M. (2007). Goddess Alive! Woodbury, MN, Llewellyn Publications.
Sykes, E. (2002). Who’s Who in Non-Classical Mythology. New York, NY: Routledge.


Arie Farnam

Arie Farnam is a war correspondent turned peace organizer, a tree-hugging herbalist, a legally blind bike rider, the off-road mama of two awesome kids, an idealist with a practical streak and author of the Kyrennei Series. She grew up outside La Grande, Oregon and now lives in a small town near Prague in the Czech Republic.