Goddess of the Week: Quan Yin

Guan Yin and child, similar to a Madonna and C...Image via Wikipedia

It pains me to say this, but there are some things that not even a goddess can do. Goddesses are not saints. If you light a candle they will not bring back the dead, they will not cure a disease, they will not cough up the mortgage payment that you just can't make. I wish they could. I think we all wish they could.

Still, goddesses know about suffering. They've seen it all, and on a much bigger scale. They've lost seemingly immortal children. They've suffered marriages so bad that they've had their own children cut off their husbands' balls (for details, see last post). They feel your pain.

That being said, in your time of need, when things look really bleak, the goddess you want on your side is Quan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy and compassion. Some say Quan Yin started out as a man, a Buddhist monk, some say she was a wealthy young woman who refused to marry and was thrown into a Buddhist convent. Some say she has an abundance of arms, some say she is beauty personfied. Bottom line: Quan Yin is what you need your image -- your story -- of mercy and compassion to be -- even if that means she has to look an awful lot like an eastern version of an Italian Madonna con Bambino, like in the picture.

Here's what everyone agrees on: she waits for you -- for all of us -- at the gates of Nirvana. She could enter there herself at anytime, but she, alone among the few souls who have made it there, will not enter until all of us have made it there, which is likely to be a long while. But she's waiting, and she's with us in our suffering, and she's comforting us. So, while we all suffer (sorry, no getting around that), we do not suffer alone.

Bonnie: This goddess is for you and your daughter.

Need a goddess: Tell me what you need her for and I'll see what I can do.

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Shell Sherree said...

She sounds like a good sort to have around. I wonder if Quan Yin brought comfort to Ouranus after the infamous 'balls' incident ...

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Margaret, you are a dear. I had forgotten about my request to you, so what a delightful surprise to receive a comment from you telling me about the post and the goddess for my daughter and myself!

I've known about and liked the symbol of Quan Yin for many years, and in fact have a print of her that keep at arm's reach.

I like that she is a protector of women and the goddess of infinite mercy and compassion.

I put a little post on my blog, with a link to you, to thank you for your research.

An Open Heart said...

Margaret, I found the link to your blog through Bonnie's blog and shared with her that my roommate and I were having a discussion about religion and religious belief systems....roommie is going through a hard time and is questioning herself alot, so, when the reference was made by Bonnie to Quan Yin, roomie decided that she was the goddess for her! Thank you!

My request, I am on a spiritual quest to find out what my true path is....is there a goddess you can light the way?

Choices said...

I found you on Bonnie's blog post. This is very fascinating. I learned something that I didn't know. Thanks for sharing it. I am glad that I came.

MamaJosephine said...

Thanks, as always, for posting! I look forward to these "Goddess of the Week" blogs so much!!

There is a Pagan musician/singer named Celia who has a song called "Quan Yin" - you should look it up, It is so amazing! The first time I heard it (or Celia) was at The Phoenix Pagan Pride festival, I was there with my daughter, holding her and we were both crying. Ever since then, I have realized that I have a special connection with Quan Yin!

... daisy... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
... daisy... said...

A beautiful Goddess… Caring and sensitive… It’s so good to know there is someone like her to wait for us when we need it the most. Hopefully we all be so lucky to enter our personal nirvana. In the meantime we should just try to find it while we’re living… ;-) We could start by really appreciate all the good things we already have! :-)
Is there a Goddess who can help me to find my soul mate??? :-DDD
Or just a normal, trustworthy person who will bump into me while I walk from the newsagents with my head in the clouds???
Have a wonderful day!

Italo said...

Quan yin. Thank you for this explanation about this goddess. I like to learn things every day. thanks.

altadenahiker said...

Reminds me of when I was fifth grade floor monitor, and found out I'd be the last to leave the classroom in the event of fire or flood.

Jean Spitzer said...

Quite a change from the Greek goddesses featured lately, who dish out trouble.

Margaret said...

Shell: Very funny, as usual. We can only hope Ouranus had someone to comfort him.

Bonnie: Glad you approve, and thanks for linking your blog to mine. Also, I hope your daughter is doing well.

An Open Heart: Thanks for the visit. I think Quan Yin is a goddess for all of us.

Choices: So glad you came to visit.

MamaJ: So glad you like the goddesses of the week. I will look up the singer you mention.

Daisy: You're in the queue.

Italo: Glad you learned something.

AH: Sounds like dangerous work.

Jean: Well we don't want trouble all the time.

Linda Dove said...

We had a Quan Yin shrine at the ranch in Arizona (left from the previous occupants...), and we ran into her likenesses all over China. She's a good one, I think.

Bree said...

Quan Yin is such a special icon. Thank you for sharing her.

gaelikaa said...

I heard of the Chinese Kuan Yin all right. This must be the same one. I guess she is a mother as she is supposed to empathise....this is interesting!

Laila Of Course! said...

Oh, this is such a sweet type to have around! Thank you for the delightful stories. :)

Be sure and pop by & leave a note! :)


Margaret said...

Linda: She does seem to pop up once you know who she is.

Bree: Thanks for visiting!

Gaelikaa: She one and the same.

Laila: Thank you.

Posey Lynn Poole said...

I have never thought much about goddesses in the way you describe them. I have taught mythology classes, but what you have here is different. So Quan Yin is symbolic of compassion? To make a request for goddess, what would I need to be looking for: A trait I want to possess? Which goddess, in your opinon, has the most courage and is a strong mother?

... daisy... said...

:-) Thanks!

Margaret said...

Posey: Thanks for your comment. I think what I am trying to do here is connect these ancient female archeypes and stories to contemporary life. In America, we often dispose of our past and our history like cheap toys, and I think that can make us feel really adrift and isolated. We can feel like our problems are so singular, when in fact, our problems are usually pretty timeless and universal. For me, knowing that I'm not the first mother to cry or feel hurt or the first woman to struggle with whatever is comforting, and I want the goddesses of the week and the wise women, too, to provide that kind of comfort. I will find you a strong, courageous mother goddess. You are in the queue.

Anonymous said...

I wrote you this long involved response to this post while I was sitting in court hoping my number wouldn't be called. Unfortunately it was done on their computer and it wouldn't allow my comment through. Will you let me take a pass? Long day and I'm having trouble finding two brain cells to rub together. Quan Yin understands. Those greeks would probably send a buzzard to dine on my eyeballs.

Petrea said...

Margaret your posts entertain and enlighten, and provide comfort as well. What a service, huh? That's really something special.

Alison said...

I found out about Quan Yin in the book "Book of Shadows: A Modern Woman's Journey into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess" by Phyllis Curot.

I'm not a patient person, and I have very little tolerance for stupid, rude people (just read my blog! LOL!). I got a little Quan Yin statue in Chinatown to remind me to be compassionate and merciful towards others.