The Moon is more than a glow in the sky.
It is a psychic mirror that Tantrics learn to read,
and tune into its ever changing rhythms.
Rhythms not Man-made
but ordained by Nature herself

Dark Moon
Tantra Hatha Ritual

10 June – Dark Moon

Tantric law dedicates this coming dark Moon to Saturn. Shuni Jayanti is the annual commemoration of Shuni, the dark planet.
This will be the last dark moon before the summer solstice. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, after which the days will start to recede in length and give way to the rising darkness.
It seems a paradox when considering that Shuni is the planet of darkness, that his dark moon should be in the brightest phase of the year.
This is a subject of meditation. Why should this should be so?
In the text that follows we offer some points that may help answering this question.
Let us consider Shuni’s parentage. He is the child of Surya (Sun) and Chaya (Shadow).

Shuni is the planet Saturn. Shuni means ‘the crusher’. He teaches us by bringing us to face limitation. He constricts habitual patterns and reveals the escape-routes we employ to evade reality. Shuni is reality.
He guides us into the basement of the soul.
Tantra regards Shuni as the master of all the planets because he brings us to face all yet unresolved issues and Karmic lessons.
Shuni teaches by the force of weight, taking us into the unseen side of reality. He brings us to face reality without the trimmings, or pleasant and distracting escape routes from the truth of the human condition.

Taking the form of a dark intense man who rides upon Crow, Shuni is overbearing, majestic, mysteriously and fearsomely punishing and spellbinding.

Shuni Jayanti, refers to the Birthday of Saturn.
This is an ancient ritual festival, based on planetary currents and lunar and celestial constellations that suit the work of accessing the underworld effectively.
Upon this day, rituals, prayers and offerings are made in various measures, both in exoteric and esoteric ways.
Prayers and sacrifices to lift relentless afflictions of Saturn are paid for with ritual measures by some, upon the occasion of Shuni Jayanti, measures such as fasting, hatha yog austerity, Yatra (pilgrimage) offerings and donations.

Some take the view that such offerings can appease the planet Saturn, and thereby gain remedy from his crushing darkening effect. Others take the view that by imposing austerity and challenge upon themselves, the realm of Saturn is glimpsed by the law of resonance.

On this day, Tantrics sacrifice themselves intentionally and practice austerity (tapasya) and raise unresolved issues. The purpose of this is to face reality, a reality where both the seen and the unseen meet.
This is a ritual day in the Tantric calendar to work on one’s most obstinate afflictions. Whether it is physical or spiritual or anything else. The Saturn energy opens a portal to the underworld and can provide an access to release long entrapped spirits.


The Crow Man

Shuni Kah is synonymous with Saturn for the Tantrics.
Shuni Kah is the Crow man, and is a most underworld deity. Tall with humanoid body and head of crow. He visits us in dreams as an omen that portends the excavating of the depths of the soul. He is sombre and terrifying, but he is a friend.

Tantrics who meet
with the inner planes of Shuni Kah
are approached by Crows.
Those who go very deep
on the path of the Shadow
are befriended by Crows.

The Crow is a creature of very special vision and sees people and things in another light. Crows shun those who shun the Feminine underworld in favour of the solar plane.
A person who is in touch with their shadow will have crows eat from their very hand. Noticing exactly what is happening around us, and within us, each time we hear or see crows, gives us insight into the unseen realms. This takes a sober awareness and attentiveness. Shuni is just that.
Going beyond our human constructs of speech and language, and tuning into the language of the crow, reveals much usually hidden wisdom to us. We could say this wisdom belongs in the realm of intuition.
There are some Tantric’s who have this Shuni Kah Siddhi very strong.
Such Tantric’s are very powerful healers, who are able to locate the shadows that create distress for people. They work their healing by bringing blind, lost and dark spots of the soul to awareness, so that revealing and healing can ensue.
Spending long periods in the dark, or gazing upon the shadow, gives one this Siddhi.
Shuni Kah is the Crow of the Dark Moon who has access to the nether regions. He is the one who brings the eye to the underground sediment that toxifies our lives. If this unresolved sediment it is left in the unseen world, then there is no healing, then there is flight from the real and the karmic game of fantasy rolls on. Shuni Kah is the gatekeeper to the world of dreams. He reveals the trapdoors that lead in and out of the word personal and collective illusion. He is the grand healer. Just singing his name is a powerful mantra that causes us to see in the dark.


Opening the box of the unseen

What is refused must be met with eventually.
Truth & reality are loosely used words in spirituality.
But it takes great courage & fortitude to face the truth.
The truth is not a only a sparkling wonderland,
it is burdened by the outcast shadows,
just as much as it is by glorious glow.
The most unwanted shadows
are part and parcel of the truth.
The shadow, as it may be called
is a dooorway to wholeness.
So called ‘bad’ arises
when the shadow is repressed & refused

Shuni is the great revealer. King of all the planets, he arouses the deepest Karmic imprints of the soul.

To cut the light from the dark is something that Lord Shuni will never allow us. Saturn’s affliction gets greater, the more that the shadow is turned away from and unfaced.

In a world culture that generally prizes light, ascension and rising over the dark descent into the underworld – and even seeks to crush the creative night forces out of the picture – it may be no wonder that suffering exists on a grand scale.

Shuni is pure reality without the trimmings and distractions. It is said that he has no humor and does not lighten the situation of reality by any means.

He brings the sober vision of reality, without the distraction of escape routes.

He reveals the psychic sidestepping of truth by revealing the truth.

He reveals the illusory realms where the soul evades reality with hope, belief and sentimentality

We generally don’t want Shuni. That’s the whole cause of the problems of existence. With no insight into the roots of a thing, the heart is lost.

By looking into the roots of everything, Shuni brings us to the deepest and most ancient wisdom of Heart.

A question…
What is really at the root of things?
This is the simple clear teaching of Shuni!
No need to read further.

The hamburger might come in a dazzling red shiny box, and it might be in our hand in a matter of minutes. By seeking the root of the burger at hand, we might see the roots beyond the shiny box of delights.

Everything comes in boxes, it’s worth to know the contents of the box.

By not looking into the contents of life’s many boxes, we bypass looking into the contents of the sacred heart. The heart is the greatest of all boxes that there be.

Beyond the shiny red box, is perhaps a creature that was electrocuted till its eyes popped out of its head with a slow painful scream filled death. We ourselves go blind if we don’t look deeper that the shine of the box. That’s Shuni. He is truth, and The Truth Hurts.

A remembrance of the full spectrum or reality is the sober touch that Shuni lays upon our eyes.

Many of us can afford to be indulgent in facing our suffering. We can afford to choose pleasure and eradicate boredom from our lives. We have numerous distractions and supplements available when the gaze of reality does not meet with our approval. There are endless designer means to shaper the face of reality until there is nothing real about it anymore.

We might take our tea or coffee as we read this very text, brewed just to our liking, with our favorite snack.

The time it takes to prepare it and get it down the hatch, will have seen the death of a startling amount of humans because of malnutrition. As many hungry and thirsty deaths, as the calories in our snack infact. This is the reality that Shuni reveals to us. He shows us that we are not separate from anything that happens.

He shows us how to look ordinary murder and routine atrocity in the eye, without escapism into lightening or darkening the vision of the heart. He is the royal sobriety on the throne of the soul.

Things that are swept under the carpet have a tendency to trip us up. The gaze of Shuni causes us to question well worn and established concepts we have around dark and light, good and bad. The vision of Shuni transgresses our most cherished psychic boundaries and sees into a place of foundation, basis, root and truth.

It does well to reflect on the matter of the underworld within us. We might have a lifetime of judgement upon this part of ourselves as an unholy or bad place, to best be avoided. The shadow is strengthened and created from what is unseen, feared and denied. It can eclipse the sacred heart if it is cut away. On the other hand, it can open the box of the sacred heart, if it is taken to heart.

Whatever we might think of the shadow within and without us. The Tantric axiom of ‘’What we Fear has Power over us’’, would be worth to ponder.


The Ear of Awareness

Many of the remedies and rituals of Tantra that relate to Shuni are all about ways of getting us in touch with our shadow side. The shadow is ever there, but goes usually unseen, and it may be made up of denied, feared, forgotten and repressed feelings.
It could be said that, getting the vision of the Shadow world is the beginning of the path of Tantra. And that, the integration and work with the Shadow, is the living of Tantra.
Whether it is a ritual, Mantra, or specific austerity, the main focus of Saturn related pursuits is that they are such, as to bring an awareness of that which we do not see.
The Hatha Yog practices of Mudra and Mantra that raise the unconscious forces are undertaken at this particularly favourable Dark-Moon junction of Shuni Jayanti.
The inner and outer Crow Mudras and The Chaya Karana practices of the Shadow are particularly emphasised.

The Mantras related to the Crow use specific bijas, or seed syllables, that activate the unconscious sides of our Chakras.
In Tantra they are secret Mantras that are carefully handled as they have very strong effect to arouse the latent spirits.
Such intonations, are part of the Tantric science of sound.
They resonate particular frequencies of sound vibration, that activate the Chaya Nadis (shadow-energy-lines that are latent). This is an undertaking that must obviously be handled with much care and preparation, as the shadow channels within us carry that which is out of sight and often obstinately denied.
Much of the Tantric path of healing involves bringing the spirits that rule us from the unconscious to the ear of awareness.


The Weight of Reality

Left hand Tantric practice
is very much under the rule of Shuni,
such practices raise latent & unfaced things
from the underworld.

The path of Tantra is gradual and slow, just as the movement of Saturn is. Fast track measures of haring and tearing into the unseen realms shock the psychic bodies and cause more harm than good for the unfoldment and healing of the soul.
The shadow could be likened to the roots of the tree.
We could say that the fruit is the consciousness, and the taste is the experience of reality.
If we run quickly to the taste, without regarding the roots and the quality of the fruit, we can well imagine what the condition of the tree would be.
A consideration of the nourishment needed for the roots, along with consideration of the quality of the fruit is paramount in Tantric science, when approaching the taste of reality.

Shuni raises the darkest shadow and latent karmas from deep in the unconscious.
Shuni’s face is black because he dwells in the dark and unseen, he is a slow moving planet and this slow movement represents a very important theme in Tantric practice.

“When the rhythm & speed
of our inner life is slowed down,
it becomes simplified
& the things that escape the gaze
are brought into view.”

In this way, Tantra shows us what we do not always see, and also what we don’t want to see, or perhaps even fear to face.
When we pursue the practices of breath, Mudra & Mantra, the energies of superficiality and rushing of body and spirit are brought to the slow pace of Saturn. Then the dark face of Shuni reveals that which dwells in the shadows.
Shuni sits on a throne of black bone behind the veils of boredom.
He brings suffering and strife and throws the unresolved pieces of our life right in our path. There is no speeding past distorted reflections when we are made to move in sync with his timing.
Some of the pieces he casts before our path, are sharp and heavy and cause us to fall. To go onward and inward upon the path of the soul, the pieces have to be put in order.
For us to tread the path of reality, patience must prevail and burden must be borne. To bypass these old-fashioned and seemingly unattractive virtues, is to take the path of superficiality.
The superficial path of pop culture might fly-on-by lightly like a bubble, but it has no power and no depth, and just like a bubble, is prone to pop when faced with the weight of reality.


Imprisoned Within its Own Designs

The entrance to Shuni is through the feminine. His Mother is Chaya, she is the Shadow Woman. His father is Surya, the Sun.
Chaya was not able to realise her power beside Surya. The Sun’s glow burned strongly and made her feel overwhelmed and insignificant, and so she fled, leaving behind her shadow.
This signifies how the feminine is brought into insignificance when the solar active force rules over her.
Having left her shadow with the sun, Shuni’s mother, who was then pregnant with Shuni, performed prayers and yogic austerity to Shiva under intense heat. Her effort was so great, and the heat generated was so hot, that her child Shuni was burned black in her womb.
This signifies how heat and tapasya (yogic fire of austerity) reveals the darkness within the unconscious recesses of one’s being. It reveals Shuni.
When Shuni was born and seen in his full blackness, his father the sun was shocked at how dark he was. The sun refused to recognise Shuni as his child, and accused his wife of being unfaithful. He raged greatly and insulted Chaya.
Seeing his mother thus insulted raised Shuni’s wrath!

Shuni thereby cast a single glance
upon his father the sun,
which made him lose all his light.
Shuni literally burned the sun to a crisp
with a single gaze
& turned the previously radiant father
to utter blackness.

This represents the astrological impact of Saturn, and why he is known as the Dark planet, when he appears astrologically upon the sun, all light is darkened and the unseen is highlighted.
Tantrics create this constellation in the inner realms of the soul, and gain the insight of the dark sun. That is the insight of honouring the feminine.
Saturn has the ability to take away all light within us, and take us into the parts of ourselves that have previously not been seen.

Some Tantric methods of working with the Shadow
eclipse the solar vision and make us aware
of the spirits of the unconscious world
that come to colour our lives

By seeing and addressing previously hidden and unseen forces, they are brought to vision upon the altar of the soul. Untying our awareness from blind spots is the path of healing. It is the path of totality, the relinquishing of division.
The fact in the story that Shuni’s gaze is invoked by seeing his mother insulted highlights a very important Tantric point: that Shuni is the protector of the Feminine. His slow Tantric rhythm is punishing and crushing if the Feminine is not honoured.
Shuni literally means ‘the crushing punisher’.
The subtlety of this symbol conveys how, if we ignore the feminine rhythms of our being, we will become blind to reality.

By following nature we become a Tantric and restore inner order.
Tantric law is the protector of the feminine mysteries that our civilisation and culture might blindly ignore at a price.
The night forces might be unfairly judged as being synonymous with bad.
Life is brewed in the dark of the womb. The night forces are the undercurrent of nourishment. Spiritual malnourishment might give way to spiritual seeking. We might then seek more light, when the simple answer may lay in restoring the darkness in the same balanced measure that nature keeps on showing us, time and time and time again.
We might do well to look at spiritual and cultural concepts that condemn and outlaw the dark, and put the light upon the prized pedestal.

Words are of utmost importance to the Tantric.
Words and language ‘spell’ out reality, and can cast a ‘spell’ upon us, if they are not imbued with the careful, slow and sober gaze of Shuni.

Shuni has no time for superficiality and drama. When we feed excitement, sentiment and other forms of escapist hysteria, we pay the price by casting reality out of the picture.
When we cast reality out of the picture, reality will pull us into its picture, this is a law of nature.

Shuni is often thought of as a malefic planet, but he is rather a beneficent force of order and truth. A great timely benefactor of utmost patience. Shuni has an endless amount of time at his disposal to reveal the nature of reality.
The planet Saturn has often been known as Father-Time. The Greco-Roman mythologies are well worth looking into. Cronus gives us the word chronological or Chronicle. Cronus means time and is an epithet of the planet Saturn. Cronus shares many similarities of Character with Shuni. We could basically say Cronus is the same energy as Shuni, that was picked up through the lenses of our distant ancestors in the Western hemispheres. The mythologies tell us that Cronus castrates his father for his unjust behaviour and devours his own children, just as time is ever devouring that which is born.

Who is Shuni?
Shuni is the great teacher in the realms of time.
He is austere, firm and unwavering.
His laws are potent with the startling scent of reality.
Shuni is the limiting jailer who casts escapism out of the picture.
Shuni makes us aware of how the soul is imprisoned within its own designs.


“I loved you when you opened like a lily to the heat.
If you were here I’d kneel for you,
a thousand kisses deep.
The autumn moved across your skin,
got something in my eye,
a light that doesn’t need to live,
and doesn’t need to die.
A riddle in the book of love,
obscure and obsolete,
till witnessed here in time and blood,
A thousand kisses deep.”

L. Cohen

Shuni is dark, he is deep, and he is slow. His teaching brings us to stand karmically naked before the Goddess.
Shuni’s beloved is Manda, she be a Gandharva beauty who can entice the whole creation with her feminine charms and beauty. She comes from the celestial star constellation of the Gandharvas. This is a floating astral realm, exactly in the central point between the sun and the pole star. The beings of this realm are possessed of musicality and the most subtle geometry of rhythm.
The term Gandhava has been used in India as an epithet for a great musical genius. Shuni’s beloved is the musical mistress of melody par-excellence. She has the dexterity to move within the forms and structures of all sound geometry in all realms. She is considered to be the grand mistress of all the feminine arts for this very reason.

This points deeper into Shuni’s connection to the feminine mysteries. We have already seen above, how, in honour of his mother, Shuni’s glare turned the lustre of the sun to utter blackness.
Shuni is the one who, by his slow dark rhythm, allows the feminine to open up her potential power and mysteries.
Shuni offers boundless time and space to pure feminine energy. Why this should be is a worthy subject for meditation, wherein lays a secret to becoming acquainted with him.
Shuni’s beloved has two aspects. One aspect of her is called Neela, the blue woman. Her name literally means ‘blue’ and signifies the sapphire of twilight. She is so intimate with Shuni that she lives within him in oneness.

The old teaching story of Shuni and the feminine tells us that, when he was in deep meditation on Shiva, his wife was menstruating (touched by the Goddess, as it is known in Tantra). She craved his attention and became angry and felt ignored as Shuni was deeply absorbed in Samadhi.
Her feminine wrath was aroused, and she proclaimed a curse upon him, that his gaze be ever down-cast and, furthermore, whomever he would gaze upon would be brought to face great suffering.
With everyone else fearing his gaze, Shuni was well and truly bound to his beloved. Rather than rebelling, Shuni accepted this fate and limitation sworn upon him. As he himself is the lord of limitation, he is comfortable to live by his own rules.
Thus Shuni’s gazes is ever down in the underworld and arouses suffering in all it meets. But his suffering is a blessing, making one look to the unseen, feared and denied parts of the soul, a radical and oftentimes painful pursuit. He brings creativity from crisis.
He Rides upon Crow and his beloved rides upon Swan at twilight.
One is the bird of the underworld and the other is the bird of the celestial spheres.

The completion of Tantra
is known as the Kiss of Crow & Swan.
The meeting of opposites.


The Stature of Shuni

Tantrics have since eternal times attempted extreme measures in order to become like Shuni. He is possessed with the gaze of reality, sober poised and real, with roots that reach to the very depth of things.
There is an old tantric teaching story that tells of the meeting of all the planets. They all assembled in a grand congregation to reveal their unique powers and enchantments. The meeting revealed that Shuni was the master of each and every planetary power. He had no enchantments of his own to show, but his mere gaze uprooted each enchantment with the force of reality.
Tantrics bow to the black planet Shuni.

Whether it has taken the form of
ritual, meditation or Mudra,
the principle of austerity in the Yogic sense
is to go to the places one does not know of…
it is a path of utmost effort to undo oneself.

Shuni is the most austere of all the Yogins.
All Tapasya, is done in his name.
The myths tell of many yogins and gods attempting to reach to the stature of Shuni. Yet his rhythm is so very slow that it can be crippling. Shuni’s tempo misses not a single thing.
When we slow down our life rhythm to his we begin to see everything.

Shuni is the King of austerity.
Suffering may crush the heart, but the crushing force is what makes a diamond.
There is no way around suffering. The diamond-like stars that shine through the dark night sky take voyage through the dark. It is known as the path of Karma. Suffering and blocks in our destiny point us towards that which needs to be resolved. Shuni can be thought of as the great resolver and leveller.

Hara Ring

To join the ritual dedicated to Shuni Jayanti