Dear Ganesha, Patron Saint of Writers. ~ Elaine Mansfield

Via Elaine Mansfield
on Sep 25, 2013
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Ganesha altar [Elaine Mansfield]

In 1994, my husband Vic received another rejection for his book, Synchronicity, Science, and Soulmaking.

Disheartened, he added the latest to a small stack of rejection letters sitting under the feet of a bronze statue on his altar to the elephant-headed and elephant-bellied Hindu God Ganesha—Remover of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings and Patron Saint of Writers.

That night, Vic dreamed of a cheerful and fat-bellied young male elephant. The smiling elephant sat next to Vic in a director’s chair with a tree trunk arm thrown protectively over Vic’s shoulders. “I’ve been reminded that I’m not in charge,” he said after telling me the dream the next morning. “Ganesha is in the director’s chair. I’m not calling the shots.”

That week, Vic submitted his manuscript to Open Court Publishing and soon there was an acceptance.

Now, I write at the desk where Vic worked until his death in 2008. To my right, on a high book shelf above my reach, Vic’s elephant statues watch me. The altar is dusty and unkempt. For years, I have averted my eyes and neglected this altar in favor of my personal altar, near my meditation cushions in another room. But today I look up and remember.

In Hindu mythology, Ganesha is the scribe of the Mahabharata, an epic of ancient India that includes the Bhagavad Gita. I know the Bhagavad Gita’s message well. We are to do the work given to us without expecting worldly reward or success. The action itself—and the quiet mind that comes from serving something higher than ourselves—is the fruit of our labor. My job is to write, submit my work, and let the Gods (and Goddesses) take care of what happens next.

These are challenging goals for a woman full of attachment and expectation.

I pull a chair under Vic’s elephant altar and climb up to inspect it. There are a dozen images, from a one-inch seated statue to a regal seven-inch standing figure. Ganesha often has four arms. Sometimes he dances with his consorts Siddhi (Success) and Riddhi (Prosperity). He often sits on a throne of skulls, reminding us of time and mortality.

Most of the images are stone or cast bronze, but a few areVic and temple elephant 1993 [Elaine Mansfield] painted in bright primary colors. Most were gifts, received after Vic and I fell in love with temple elephants and Ganesha during three trips we took to South India in the early 1990s. In a favorite image, a painted Ganesha holds a pen and sits in front of a thick book—the Mahabharata, I assume.

I believe my book will help others accompany someone they love through the descent into illness and death. It will comfort them during the grief-filled dismantling of the ego and the life they must leave behind and help them emerge to create a wiser, more compassionate new life. Writing about loss and new life is my passion, along with working in bereavement at Hospice, but the book is finished and it’s time to help it find its way into the world.

So, I follow Vic’s wise example and turn toward the Patron Saint of Writers.

First, I carefully remove each Ganesha, elephant statue, card and painting and clean the shelf with a damp cloth. Then I inspect each image, dust and blow away the dirt that has accumulated in the crevasses and rearrange the altar. I place flowers in the front and a handwritten prayer under one statue:


Dear Ganesha,

Thank you for watching over me even when I ignored Your Presence. Allow me to write with a joyful heart and positive purpose. Let me remember that it is my job to do the work and leave the outcome to You.

With gratitude for Your guidance and help,



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Edited by: Ben Neal


About Elaine Mansfield

Elaine Mansfield’s writing reflects her 40 years as a student of philosophy, psychology, mythology and meditation and life on 71 acres of woods, fields and sunset views. Since her husband’s death in 2008, Elaine’s blog focuses on end-of-life and bereavement issues, marriage and the challenges and joys of her emerging life. Elaine facilitates hospice support groups for women who have lost partners or spouses and writes for the Hospicare and Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County.


76 Responses to “Dear Ganesha, Patron Saint of Writers. ~ Elaine Mansfield”

  1. Carolyn Riker says:

    Beautiful. Thank you. I just asked the universe for a little sign, why do I write? And then popped up your lovely article….because it’s what I do.

  2. Jillian says:

    I'm going to echo Carolyn here – I've been asking the universe for signs all morning as to whether or not I should accept a PT job doing something I loathe over freeing up those days for writing.

    Thank you for this beautiful synchronicity!!!

  3. Erica says:

    Yay! I am a writer whose patron saint has been Ganesh, not because of writing, but because he is the symbol of the studio where I trained to teach Yoga. I always knew he was the perfect fit for me. (I love Lakshmi too!) Thank you!

  4. Erica says:

    Also, I am sorry for your loss, and inspired that your are writing about it. I Lost my 16 year old son to suicide in 2004 and have written about it, but have a great deal more work and healing to do.

  5. Elaine, I have had the privilege of reading many of your writings. This piece is a moving stand out among many stand outs. The inspiration comes from deep within your Ganesha belly, lifts any tethered reader's spirit to freely float up, up, and away. Brava!

  6. Marisa Crabb says:

    You always give just the inspiration I'm looking for in my work day (and really, at home too!). Elaine, you have such a gift with words. I can only hope to have the same ability one day soon. Wonderful piece.

  7. rufus dia says:

    A warm good mornin to you Elaine. Best of luck finding that elusive publisher, and don't forget there's always self publishing these days. Vic looks like he's having a great time on Ganesha's back!

  8. Jeff Cox says:

    A perfect theme song for Elephant Journal!

  9. Gregory McBean says:

    I like the rhythm and intent with this piece Elaine, it touches me.

  10. Harriet says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for reminding us to ask, and how that opens us to life's unexpected flow.

  11. robert carlson says:

    A gentle, lovely reminder … yes, we are not in charge …. remember, be humble, and do not forget to laugh …Thank you Elaine …

  12. Lisa Romm White says:

    Your piece has filled my heart with more LOVE for my friends, my family and my own life…..You are a Goddess and a powerful messenger for Good. An ongoing Thank you for all your offerings, Elaine.

  13. Mariann Loveland says:

    Elaine, your beautifully writter piece reminds me about a lesson I often forget: The importance of release. Rather than thinking I am in control and can "make" it happen, often when I let go, what is intended happens. Thank you.

  14. Fred Weiner says:

    The message about surrendering to the higher, the greater, the deeper, whether to Christ, the Higher Self, Overself, or whatever we wish to name the unnameable, is upon us full force in this age. Elaine’s delightful piece reminds us that whimsy, humor, affection–all attributes of Ganesh–are hardly absent from this. Odd paradox: surrendering into Divine Power is empowerment.

  15. Marie Holmes says:

    I am glad to see Elaine sharing her experience and, so lovingly, expressing the transition from a healthy and happy relationship with her husband, to the pain of accepting and adjusting to that loss and the strength needed to rebuild another fulfilling life. I think Ganesha will help set in motion the universal flow to get this very beneficial message out to others.

  16. 1writeplace says:

    Thank you for sharing. Your openness and knowledge add so much to your story. The fact that you pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings, then follow through with action, makes me admire you more. I can guess that Vic is proud of you and so happy that you finally dusted off his treasures! :>)

  17. Christi says:

    A wonderful piece–and excellent reminder for all of us, whatever our endeavors!

  18. jeanraffa says:

    I loved this piece about Ganesha, a favorite of mine too. Since the universe is obviously listening to writers today, I shall write a prayer for you and put it beside a foot-long silver statue of him that I bought in Cambodia a few years ago. He's lounging on a shelf in my bedroom, leaning on his right elbow and holding the end of his trunk in his right hand. The prayer will rest just there beside his hand, where he can see it. You are a wonderful writer, Elaine, and I can't wait for your book to come out!

  19. Sally Klein says:

    Beautiful story, Elaine. It's always good to be reminded to let go of any outcome!

  20. Kathryn says:

    Thank you for this. It is lovely. <3

  21. jillybooks says:

    'Let go and let Ganesha' is my mantra for today. And thank you for introducing me to elephant journal and the musings here.

  22. Elaine, thank you so much for this reminder that it is the work that counts, not the outcome. I also get too attached to outcomes at times. But with your beautiful writing, I'm sure your book will be successful.


  23. Helen Schantz says:

    Thank you for this wonder-filled writing, Elaine. I am thankful that you have a wider audience to appreciate this now, too!

  24. {eggy Fry Keating says:

    You write with such humaness, love and inspiration, Elaine. Thanks so much for another wonderful piece!

  25. MarisaCrabb says:

    Well that's funny! I posted a comment earlier today and it vanished! Maybe I was supposed to come back for a reason…to read all of your thoughtful replies :) Anyway, I just said that you continue to inspire me with your writing. One of these days I may just have to try it myself. I really love your writing, Elaine!

  26. Kathleen Morrow says:

    I just rubbed the belly of Ganesha in a shop this past weekend.

    “Re-alter-ing” brings the deep sense of closeness as we clean, tidy and bring new life to it.

    Very nice article.

  27. GRamam says:

    " We are to do the work given to us without expecting worldly reward or success. The action itself—and the quiet mind that comes from serving something higher than ourselves—is the fruit of our labor"

    Thank you for this important reminder – I forget too easily (and I was raised Hindu!) and thank you for your courage in marking the trail for the rest of us on how to renew life after deep loss….

  28. Wonderful, Elaine! Funny, poignant, and inspiring…. perhaps I need to get to know Ganesha, too! Thanks for sharing this great article! xo ~Ann

  29. Lori says:

    Another lovely piece Elaine!. You writing constantly inspires and moves me. Yet again!

  30. Michael D. Cooper says:

    Never too late to reapproach Lord Ganesha with a devotional heart and damp cleaning cloth…

  31. Barbara Platek says:

    Beautiful piece Elaine! May Lord Ganesha, patron saint of writers, continue to inspire and inform your work as it flows out to the world.

  32. Dotty says:

    Thanks, Elaine, for the gorgeous, gentle reminder. Your writing is so heartfelt and honest. Beautiful. Thank you.

  33. Cindy says:

    Elaine, I can see how you are able to help many people. You not only can understand their pain you can feel their pain as well.
    Thank you for every article you write – each one is so beautiful and meaningful.
    Cindy Stillman

  34. Cindy Stillman says:

    Elaine, I can see how you are helping so many people. You not only understand what they are experiencing – you can feel their pain as well. Each article you write is a gift to all of us. Thank you.
    Cindy Stillman

  35. Joshua Weiner says:

    Very moving reading. I loved it!

  36. Laurie says:

    I didn't know about the connection between Ganesha and writing. Time to find one for my study. Thanks Elaine for sharing images of your writing life, Laurie

  37. Your connection with your husband is ongoing. The loving kindness that you enjoyed comes through in the most gentle ways, in your writing. I enjoyed your insights on Sri Ganesha immensely. While Sage Vyasa dictated the Vedas, as outpouring from Cosmic Mind, Sri Ganesha was the stenographer… there is a precious story, full of insights for writers, about how Ganesha came to be the stenographer of the Vedas… I'd like to share it with you when it's not so late.

  38. I loved your prayer to Ganesha, and your husband's altar shows a most calming harmony and beauty–a beauty enhanced by your loving touch.

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