6. Go on a Local Lakshmi Pilgrimmage
Go on a Lakshmi Pilgrimage in a Museum
You can find Lakshmi in museums around the world. Visiting ancient statues and art gives you a deeper sense of her history and presence. Many of the icons that are now in museums were used in ancient worship and carry the holy energy of the deity.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Museum of Art, I spotted her with her beloved Vishnu in several forms. Some Lakshmi antiquities reflect a time in history when Lakshmi was celebrated more for her role as consort to Vishnu. Numerous statues feature Vishnu as a more prominent divinity, with Lakshmi and Saraswati at the lower bottom, next to each foot. Some statues and art feature Vishnu, Lakshmi, and Bhudevi, a goddess who is considered the personification of the earth. These trios are also seen in vintage art and reflect the idea that Vishnu had two divine consorts. In more recent artistic renderings of the divine couple, they are of equal size. Regardless of the form she takes in museum pieces, it is exciting to find Lakshmi in a museum. You can also find Radha and Krishna, and Sita and Rama.
Lakshmi is also featured in her own glory in ancient statues and older artwork that reflects her role as a powerful, beloved, independent deity who can stand on her own two feet on her sacred lotus. It is a privilege to stand in front of these icons that have been worshipped for eons. Short of taking a trip to India, and when you can't get to a Hindu temple, it can help you connect to her ancient powers and may bring a smile to your face. Amazingly, in so many statues, she seems to have a smile on her face.
If you are adventurous, just show up at a museum and conduct a Lakshmi treasure hunt. You can also begin your journey to find her by visiting the website of your local museum and looking for museums in your area that have Asian collections. You can also research out-of-town museums in places you may be visiting or hope to visit. Do an initial search for Lakshmi and any of the other specific goddesses you would like to see and connect with. Some museums have numerous Lakshmi images and icons; some are not on view but can be found in the museum's online archive.
For example, I went on a pilgrimage to The Brooklyn Museum in New York. I started on the fourth floor with The Dinner Party, the iconic feminist artwork that features a triangular dinner table with thirty-nine plates and settings representing a specially curated group of women from history, along with 999 names in golden script on the exhibition tiles. Goddess Kali is featured in one of the main plates as one of the earliest goddesses in time, and if you peek on the floor beneath her, you can find Lakshmi's name in gold.
Next, I explored the Arts of Asia. It is in an open-air area on the second floor, filled with delights from so many nations and cultures, including Korea, Japan, China, and Nepal, with Hindu elements too. It has beautiful, large goddess statues, such as a colorful four-armed Tara (Tibet) and a beautiful four-armed goddess Lakshmi, who was out in the open like a temple shrine. Standing in front of her, I could feel her ancient presence. Also, she had a smile on her face that seemed to bless visitors from every angle. I took photos of her and a selfie with her because I wanted to remember the moment.
She was in good, divine company. There were also representations of The Buddha in many forms, Vishnu and Ganesh, and other gods. There were numerous Bodhisattva statues, including the beloved Guan Yin/Kuan Yin, who is known by many names. The Brooklyn Museum is a community art museum. It's smaller and intimate, but has so many treasures.
There is no touching of antiquities in museums. Still, you can take home a little bit of Lakshmi energy by praying to her while in front of her, respectfully cupping your hands in front of her and quietly asking for her help, and possibly by bringing a small icon, symbol, or image of Lakshmi you can hold before her and softly ask her for blessings for your home altar.
In recent times, local governments have searched for stolen icons, and museums around the world have faced calls for the return of ancient goddesses. Spiritual folks may feel uneasy about ancient statues when they seem to belong in their place of origin. Another way you can honor Lakshmi is to pray she is in the right hands in a legal and righteous manner, which is part of her worship. You can track any efforts to find her missing statues, as well, such as the recently stolen Lakshminarayan statue that was returned to its shrine in Nepal. If you have a chance to witness powerful Lakshmi icons in local museums, do so with reverence and appreciation for the opportunity, knowing that she may be called back home someday.