I first met Mara at Disneyland.
If you’re not a huge Disney nerd, you may not realize what I’m talking about, but a little over ten years ago, my ex took me to Disneyland and showed me her favorite ride, the Indiana Jones Adventure. The pretext of the ride is that you’re visiting a temple Indy helped excavate in India, a temple dedicated to the goddess Mara. She is a kind and generous goddess, bestowing youth, wealth and visions of the future on visitors – unless you look at her open eyes, in which case her wrath ensues. Which it always does, because this is a theme park ride.
If this wasn’t how I was introduced to the goddess, I might wonder if it was sacreligious. As it is, though, I think it’s pretty cool. After all, this temple has millions of visitors every week (when it’s not closed for repairs) and that puts Mara way ahead of many popular pagan goddesses.
I’m joking, but only a little.
Considering the presence of Laima/Laxshmi, and the Buddhist demon Mara I wrote about previously, the idea of a generous, wrathful goddess as an “in-between step” makes perfect sense. I’m perfectly aware that Disney archaeology is not real research, and yet… My ex wasn’t the only one making pilgrimage to Mara’s temple. Indiana Jones fans do it. Disney fans do it. She means something to all these people. And I spent too long working with egregores to think that means nothing.
Hail Mara, Lady of the Park!
Mistress of the three paths!
Generous granter of wishes!
Wrathful one, I turn my face away in humility!
Bless me with a fast-moving line
and hold back the tides of a broken-down ride.