This will be the last dark Moon of the year, the dark time when the night will be at its longest.
A further blessing is that this dark Moon falls upon a Monday, Somavhwar, literally the ‘Day of Soma’ – the Moon God.
If a dark moon falls upon a Somavhwar it is known as the festival of Somavati and it occurs only once or twice a year, bringing forth many Tantric rites. It is an event most conducive for practice and for seeking healing, especially in relation to ancestral work.
BLOOD, SEX & DEATH
The Tabooed Forces of Life
Somavati is a day when water, milk and blood (in the form of wine) are worked with ritualistically.
The wine represents the blood of Kali (the Goddess of Life), the Milk is the juice of Kamakhya (the Goddess of Desire), and the water represents the river of time in the realm of Kala Bhairava (God of Death, which we celebrated last monday).
It is with these divine forces of blood, sex and death that we shall work with on Monday’s ritual in the search for healing our relationship to Life, Pleasure and Surrender, which are often infused with patters and Shadows we struggle to understand in our daily lives.
The Spirits come to Heal
The coming Dark Moon is the last one embedded within the darkening half year of lengthening nights, upon this we have a solar eclipse, known to Tantrics as a Surya Grah.
Spiritual practices on eclipses are intensified 100 fold, it is said in Tantra. It is a time when consciousness is overshadowed & the application of our psychic will proves the strength of Soul. The spirits are close to the earth plane on eclipses & much healing with the world of spirit can be set in motion.
Traditionally it is a time when our ancestors would stay inside and not venture outside. Mundane activities would be left to rest and one would rather take to spiritual focus in times of eclipse.
These things are slowly being forgotten and classified as a mere superstition by Modernity which overshadows spiritual wisdom.
By being sensitive to our inner currents of feeling, we come to see the spiritual dimension of our being, which the eye of civilisation has been trained to overlook.
The Moon under the rulership of Soma, relates to fluidity and flow of life force.
In Tantra, Soma refers to the Moon and carries several connotations.
The Moon’s Healing Fluid
Soma refers to the sacred & Healing Moon fluid. It is a subtle psycho/physical compound that is the essence of Tejas – the cool fire of psychic & spiritual power.
The opposite of Tejas is the hot fire of Agni. Tantra is concerned with bringing both the cooling and the heating fires into a balanced dance with each other.
Soma vivifies and creates, whereas Agni consumes and destroys. Both of these fires are needed in the correct proportions in the constituents of our body and spirit. A balance of these forces is required to open the subtle portals of awareness.
An abundance of Agni fire in our psycho/physical mechanism is the ill of modern times. The overemphasis of Agni not only consumes the finer currents of awareness but creates stress in the system and ages the body.
Soma on the other hand is the juice of eternal youth – you may enjoy reading a previous post, The Forgotten Jewel of Tantra, which goes in more details about the qualities of Soma.
Some forms of Shakti consume Soma and some forms of Shakti vivify the Soma fluid of the Moon within us. Heating pursuits and emotions, extroversion and over activity consume Soma.
Introversion, rest and slowing down the currents of being are what nurture Soma. Noise and speech create Agni, which is hot and active. Silence and stillness create Soma, which is brewed in passivity.
Passivity is a quality that might have disappeared from our lives & considered a sign of weakness of illness even. In Tantra it is sought like a rare jewel.
Passivity is a secret Moon-type state of consciousness that the Yogis venture to know in the midst of the fires and actions of life. The Yogis prize Soma and are cautious and careful to nurture, cultivate and preserve it. Soma is psychic power.
Soma is the cool healing fire that melts the obstructions in the way of our Shakti life energy. The cool fire of Soma is not as obvious as the active expression of Agni.
Soma lives internally and signifies and is experienced as a magical inner life.. .perhaps even independent of external factors. The introverted fire of Soma is an internal glow that gives one strength of focus and ‘awake-ness’ upon the astral levels.
The Fire of (Self-)Destruction
In present times Agni burns strong & stands in a predominant place. This is most visible in the magnitude of destruction on a planetary scale, through wars, violence towards all forms of life, & even in the warming of the atmosphere. There is too much heat in the system.
This calls for the cultivation of Soma, which must become a priority both individually and collectively if we wish to shift the balance back to a state of harmony.
To give strength to the God of softness and simplicity that Soma is. Soma is cultivated in simplifying our lives. Somnath is one of the names which Shiva goes by, for he is the eternal Yogi who wears the moon in his hair.
Somnath lives in the spirit of all souls who tread the path of shining in the dark. The path of the Magic Moonlight. Like the moon that shines brightly in the night sky, Soma is cultivated in the dark.
The practice of Kechari Mudra has several preparatory steps, it is initiated and practiced when the Soma Moon is at its strongest.
Ketchari is a secret science of Mudra that activates points of energy in the system that releases Soma in the form of a hormonal substance that creates profound softness & trance.
PRACTICES ON SOMAVATI
Honouring the Ancestors
The day of Somavati happens rarely, one or twice yearly when a dark Moon falls on a Monday, it is a strong ritualistic time, when it is combined with an eclipse it is made more profound, a most rare occurrence it be.
It is a time to give homage to the deceased ancestors. To perform Shraddh (psychic ritualistic offerings) this is to bless & heal the spirits of one’s dead ancestors.
To assist in earthbound elements that can affect us in the Astral world, tantrics call this effect the Pitru Dosha. Somavati is a sacred ritual time of liberating Pitru Dosha. The new Moon sequence of Chandra Parampara supports this and is ritualistically practiced by the tantrics at this Moon junction.
Chandra Parampara is the Yog sequence of practice that among all the practices of Yog. It creates the greatest softening and flexibility in the organism, both psychicaly and physically. Prayer and ritual under the Soma Moon is a time of opening body and soul towards the deepest levels of softness.
Simplification is the way to Soma… and the way of Soma.
We shall work with the three liquids that make up Soma. They equal Soma if they are balanced in equal equations. Blood, Milk and Water shall lay upon the altar on this a Dark Moon night – the Darkest Moon of the Year.
You would be most welcome to join the Online Ritual on Monday 14th of December
Om Shreem Hreem Hring Ring Glaum Gum Bum Ganapathiyay Namaha
When Ganesh is pleased he raises his trunk and flaps his ears.
This tantric phrase referring to Ganesh holds much symbolism as to Ganesh’s significance.
He is the Elephant God of the base chakra.
The trunk raising is indicative of Kundalini Shakti rising up when the base chakra energy is nourished and grounded.
When stray psychic energies are concentrated and given solid form and life they then become sweet nourishment to Elephant who will raise the accumulated power that has been brought home, this he does with a move of his trunk.
Ganesh the Elephant headed God is a favourite amongst the Indian Gods and possibly the widest known of all the Indian deities outside of India.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the 4th day of the New Moon of August. Chaturthi means fourth and refers to the 4th day following a New Moon or Full Moon.
This is the grand Ganesh Moon.
In Tantric cosmology this Moon day is said to be amongst the most psychically destabilizing days and hence the Elephant ritual is a practice that fills the polar opposite of instability by its stability. It is a ritual of grounding and weight that has greatly stabilizing effects. Such ritual practices have been kept preciously by Tantrics and involve many careful formulas for working with focussed energy.Orthodox rites have this day as a very dramatically festive time with much public and private home measures of worship.
The Chaturthi each month is the 4th lunar day and is a Moon phase marked by instability and dwindling power. The Moon energy of the Full and New Moon is potent for the first 3 nights and then on the 4th day its effects starts to subside.
This subsiding corresponds to a subsiding of psychic tension/magnetism within us that is pronounced and potent at the extremes of the New and Full lunar expressions. The subsiding of inner psychic magnetism brings with is a state of psychic instability and uncertainty, hence the solidity of the Elephant energy is invoked on the Chaturthi days.
This is the 4th lunar day each month, where Tantrics invoke the energy of the elephant through internal and external mudras.
Tantricly and most practically calling upon solidity and stability within the destabilizing lunar effects of the 4th day. By looking for and finding the elephant within the unbalance of the psychic nature is to go to the eye of the storm where there is a place of safe and solid ground amidst the moving swirl of effects.
Ganesh the keeper of 4
Ganesh is the Elephant God who guards the Mooladhar Chakra.
This is the Earth Chakra lotus that has 4 petals of 4 syllables along with a central root or Bija (seed) mantra from which the 4 syllables originate.
The utterance of these syllables awaken the physical and psychic sensitivities of this chakra. The physical elephant mudras require slow strength and steady endurance to perform.
When practicing with the elephant energy, one replicates the qualities of the creature. The inner mudras are characterized by weight and heavy focus and have as their outcome a grounding and maturing of psychic energy.
The 4 petals of the Mooladhar chakra are 4 sounds that govern the 4 most physical elements: Earth, water, fire and air.
Working with the Ganesh ruled elephant practices brings stability to the foundations of our primary elements and this will be the focus of our online tantric ritual on the 22nd of August, practicing the secret inner and outer mudras and the 4 sacred mantras.
The slow, strong steady countenance of an elephant is something held in high reverence and esteem amongst the tantrics.
In the field and cultural fabric within which we live and die, many may be the doings so easily and lightly driven by haste and baseless expressions.
The Elephant is a much needed spirit creature within our being.
The steady current of the elephant stands strong in superficialities and is a power to back up every step of our being with a weight of earthly wisdom.
A steady rhythmical step by which the elephant proceeds.
The elephant is the only 4 legged creature that has 4 forward bending knees.The 4 sided yantra of the square is a representation and signification of the base chakra. The square is a pictorial character of equality, formed by the balance of the 4 elements.
10 days of the Elephant
Ganesh Chaturthi is a ritual festival where an earthen statue of Ganesh, or of an elephant is made. Publicly this statue is worshiped and paraded until the 10th day it is submerged in water.
Earth returning to water holds much significance in this rite.
All over India there are tens of thousands of statues of Ganesh offered to the waters at the conclusion of this festival. Some of these statues are of gigantic proportions and luminously coloured and affixed to vehicles as they are paraded proudly towards their watery rebirth.
Tantrics rites of ritual create an earthen form of an elephant with earth and water from ones locality. The elephant form is placed upon a metal base to spread electrical magnetism and then meditated upon and infused with one’s magnetism that one in turn relates to the base chakra through concentrated focus.
It is focused upon intensively for the 10 days until the full Moon.
This invoking life into statue or representation of a deity or principle is known as Pran Pratishtha and is done in formal orthodox rites of setting up statues in temples.
Tantric formulas work in similar ways through imbuing life and energy into statues for specific inner work and healing measures. This form of concentration upon the statue of Ganesh has as its focus the bringing up of one’s base chakra themes so they can come up to be viewed and worked with. By such methods one may get a view of karmic obstacles of Mooladhar chakra to be healed.
The invocation of this elephant energy is most powerful upon this yearly junction of Ganesh Chaturthi as astral elements are in favour of supporting the Elephant energy ritual.
It is the peak of fire as the Hot season has touched its pinnacle, the opposite element of air is brought forward by fire, the Monsoon of water and humidity at large at this time brings forth its opposite of the earth element. In this way the physical elements are at their peak of stimulation, which in turn activate the subtle reflections of these elements within the base chakra.
10 days following Ganesh Chaturthi takes one to the full Moon. The earthen statue is then offered into water such as a river by Tantrics.
The Tantrics take this as a meditation of releasing blocked or locked shakti to enter to the worlds above in the chakras beyond the base; beginning with the second chakra of Shaktistan.
This offering of the earth statue to the water is a movement that represents the opening of the granthi’s (psycho/physical knots) of the base chakra and the subsequent release of Shakti to the ascent towards the second chakra which is the sexual chakra, which is connected to the water element.
This outer way of working hints at the inner mudras that relate to the elephant.
These mudras are known as Gaja Karana (doing of elephant) and are Mudras that are exercised at this favourable time in order to assist the dissolving of ones earthy knots and karma’s.
Ganesh protector of the Mother and Home
The story of Ganesh tells how he was the son of Shakti and Shiva.
His mother wanted to take a bath but could not find the peace to enter into union with the water element, many disturbing demands came upon her until she finally asked Ganesh to stand guard at the entrance to the home, which he proudly did, refusing any admittance that came their way.
Ganesh’s father Shiva had the habit of disappearing for long periods of time and retreating to the mountains where he would be undisturbed.
In deep solitude Shiva would pursue deep travels into the inner spiritual worlds.
The season was at its hottest and the outer fire of the earth’s atmosphere had aroused the inner fire of Shiva.
The rains of the time had brought the fire down to the watery second chakra and further reached Shiva’s passion.
Passion and determination brought Shiva down from the mountain and he found himself wandering home to his Wife.
When he reached the house, he found a young child standing guard who would not let him enter.
Ganesh had been born in his absence and neither had knowledge of each other. Shiva pushed him aside but Ganesh would not relent.
A vicious slap from Shiva decapitated the boy, sending the head flying into worlds beyond terrestrial reach.
Without the slightest care for what he had just done, Shiva entered into the watery chamber where his wife bathed naked in milky jasmine and rose scented waters.
‘’How did you enter within” she asked of him. ‘Our son should have let no one in”
Shiva realised then what he had just done and his heated passion and one pointed determination started to give way to lament.
The Shiva power from above may carry the fire down to the water-element ruled Sexual chakra of Shaktistan (literally place of the Goddess) but without the inclusion of the Earth element, the fire poses an unwelcome risk to the watery Goddess of the second Chakra.
The milky bath water started to turn red as the blood of the child poured gradually in.
Distraught wails of the mother resounded through the ethers.
Shiva said, ”By the power of Kechari Mudra, I say that the first living being to come this way shall offer life to our son.”
It was a baby elephant that wandered to their home and offered life to the decapitated child’s body, and so Ganesh received the head of the elephant for which he gets the name Gajanan, the elephant faced one.
The elephant has an unparalleled memory that took note of the offence, hence Ganesh is often portrayed as the great record keeper with pen in hand.
The Tantric language of Moon time
In this story the detailing of Ganesh as the protector of the Mother is a significant detail.
The New Moon just 4 days previous to this day of Ganesh’s elephant birth was celebrated as Pithori Amvasya or Mata Puja as it’s known in Tantric ritual – This is the Mothers Moon that brings the mother energy to the solar plexus chakra known as Manipur.
Pithori refers to flour and edible sustenance which is the physical sustenance to the body through the stomach at the level of the fire-ruled Manipur chakra.
If we trace it further back to the previous Full Moon, we find the horse Moon which represents the Air element and the Annahatt heart and its touch upon throat Chakra. The Pran of the heart chakra connects to and is converted into and creates the element of Akash (space) at the Vishudd chakra at the throat.
And previous to the Horse Moon was the Soma Moon (see previous blog) which connects to the upper chakras and to the most subtle ultra-terrestrial element.
When we see the pattern of how the chakras have worked along all the way down through their respective elements we can see that the ritual days have brought the movement down to the Base and second chakra at this junction.
Water and Earth are implicit in this most tangible junction of manifestation to the previous preceding elements.
The energy has come through the chakric line… down from the subtle element of soma through space, air, fire and water to now meet Ganesh at the base of Earth.
21 leaves and 21 sweets and 21 mantras. The sum of 7 x 3
That the subconscious mind is accessed by symbols and emotion has been known to Tantrics for aeons. Much of the tantric work is to access the out of sight granthis (knots) and karmas that affect the foundation of one’s being.
Tantric work partakes of much more than blind ritual of tradition, but has a very clear focus upon the symbol being worked with and what it represents within oneself.
The Bhar (outer) mudra is recognized and focused on with its corresponding Anthar (inner) mudra. Whether this focus is on asana and inner meditation or upon ritual offerings and gestures.
Tantra is a very focused and practical undertaking – it focuses and ‘practicalizes’ subtle energies through symbolic concentrations on intangible or far away realities so they can be brought closer within tangible range.
Focus requires the inner fire of Tejas and at the same time focus stokes this fire, the steadiness of the flame of Tejas is dependent upon our usage or wastage of our Pran (breath).
When Tejas is nurtured and cared for then Tantra becomes powerful.
Tejas builds Soma and in turn manifests as Ojas in a more embodied and tangible level of being.
Tantra shows and teaches subtle care experientially by its very methods of practice. It shows us areas where we do not take care of the subtle elements, without the subtle care Tantra cannot begin.
It is said that Ganesh is very fond of eating sweets. He is often pictured with a tray of Indian delicacies.
Modhak sweets are a coconut filled dumplings and in many regions of India are said to be the favourite of Ganesh. He is sometimes called Modhakapriya for this reason, which means ‘the one who loves to eat Modhak’.
The form of a modhak is like a small conical mountain and represents the weight and solidity of the Mountain. The form of Ganesh also represents a mountainous conical shape that spells out solidity and earthed power.
21 sweets are offered to Ganesh in many forms of Ganesh puja (ritual). 21 is a number sacred to Ganesh for several reasons as we shall see.
Ganesh represents the mountainous base and foundation of all the chakras, for this he is known as Chakravatin.
There are 7 major chakras in the body that physically are connected to the 7 major endocrine glands that create and distribute hormones. When there are said to be 8 major glands one must note that the male and female reproductive glands are both included in the list, and except in the rare cases of physical hermaphrodites, there are 7 predominant with a man or woman.
These hormones of the glandular system condition our physicality to a great extent. The suppression or increase of a single hormonal substance can radically alter our bodily health and chemistry and also our consciousness.
By working with conscious and focus, we effect change in the physical level via the hormonal system – this also works the other way around.
By working with physical mudra, Asana (movements) and Pran (breath) we approach the spirit world through the balancing of chemical constituents.
Ganesh is the Chakravatin who balances the whole psycho/physical structure of the chakras. The chakras are 7 and exist in the physical world, they exist in the ‘astral’ and effect the emotional/mental levels of our being, and they extend beyond terrestrial reach into causal world and beyond to the spiritual world. The chakras can be seen as doorways to these levels of existence.
All in all the 7 chakras exist in these three worlds which are known by various names such as Bumi, Patala and Swarga.
That equals 21 levels of the 7 chakras when we see them as 7 x 3.
Each of these 21 chakra levels has a name and that is a name of Ganesh.
Rituals of Ganesh often work with these 21 mantras made up of various forms of his name.
The 21 mantras work with the science of Naad (sound) to activate the potentialities of the 21 levels of chakra.
Within each of the 21 names of Ganesh is encoded a meaning that pertains to a particular level of the chakras.
Here is a list of the 21 names of Ganesh:
The first name in the list translates as the lord of the whole structure, and the last name in the list translates as the one who successfully brings magic and power.
In Tantric ritual each of the 21 sweets is offered along with each of the 21 mantras and concentration upon the 7 chakras in the 3 worlds.
Ladhus or Modhaks being the most common offerings with the mantras, but all manner of sweets can and are be used as offerings to the energies and spirits of the 21 levels of awareness.
The sweets represent the physical tangible level.
Aside from the sweets, 21 types of leaf are offered and often made into incenses in Tantric ritual, the incense of the leaves represents the astral level by its more subtle form of matter.
For example jasmine leaves, Dhurbha grass, and several other leaves are offered, some of which have slight psychoactive effects when specially prepared as incense.
The gaseous level of the scent connects to the more subtle astral levels and spirits so that the various incenses further stimulate the 21 chakric levels.
Ganapati is a common name of Ganesh and translates as the pati (friend or master) of the Gana (spirits who preside in the 21 worlds) In the orthodox rituals the leaves are not usually burned, but offered whole. It is most common to offer 21 offerings of the Dhurbha grass alone. This is a leaf amongst the 21 that has a profoundly cooling effect on the body and is a preparation in many yogic remedies. The Dhurbha grass is to be offered with 3 strands that represent the 3 spinal channels, the scent and ingestion of this grass removes heat in the 3 main Nadis (meridians) so that Shakti can flow without burning obstructions.
There is a story that encapsulates the importance of the cooling effect of this important yogic herb that is used widely in many types of remedy and ritual invocation.
One there was a bothersome demon called Anlasur. He represented the heating nature of many of the pursuits that humans take that consume Soma (psychic elixir).
The demon Anlasur breathed fire and was causing catastrophe for humans.
The Gods and Yogis invoked Ganesh for help with this disturbing foe who was consuming life power.
The mighty Ganesh simply swallowed him whole and that seemed to be the end of that.
But soon after Ganesh was overcome with heat and burning sensations in his stomach. The fire was so great that he gained a voracious appetite to appease it.
The awakening of the Manipur (solar plexus chakra) finds form in Ganesh’s powerful belly and is further exemplified in the Ladhu sweet which is a heating yellow sweet ball that represents the sun.
The burning only abated when the clairvoyant sages ‘looked’ for a cure to the heat and saw the cooling nature of the Dhurbha grass that grows so commonly and abundantly. Having been covered in the Grass the heat in Ganesh’s belly subsided.
21 sprouts or bundles are offered in orthodox worship, often wrapped upon the statue of Ganesh in a way that mirrors and gives honour of the story.
Tantric mats are sometimes woven from this grass and used for executing the heating mudras and practicing without overheating the system. The asan (blanket) of the yogi is of the utmost importance in mudra practice. Substances that do not conduct the electric generated by yogic practice(such as rubber yoga mats) work counterproductively on the electrical nervous system.
Ganesh and the honouring of the ancestors
As already noted, the Ganesh Chaturthi festival takes place after the Mother’s New Moon festival known as Prithori amvasya (see previous blogpost).
It is a new Moon of honouring the Mata Tattva.
The Mothers Moon follows on logically to the Ganesh Chaturthi to give a deeper grounding and earthing to the ancestral work set in motion on the New Moon.
In the Story we have already seen how Ganesh was the protector of the Mother as he stood watch over the watery world of the second chakra as his Mother wished to bathe undisturbed.
Another story that points to Ganesh’s significance as an honorary of the ancestors is one that tells of him as Chakravatin.
The literal meaning of Chakravatin is the one who causes all the chakras to spin.
This is a word assigned to a ruler in a spiritual or a mundane sense and refers to ‘one who circles the world’
The story goes that in their youth, Ganesh and his brother Skanda were finding ways to test their super powers. A bet was set up between them – that the one who circles the world the fastest would win a plate of sweets.
The fast paced brother Skanda, was highly confident that he wound win the bet over the elephant paced Ganesh.
On the go! He set off at lightning speed and circled the world.
When he returned he saw that Ganesh had not even left the house.
He prepared to take the prize of the sweets for himself, when Ganesh interjected and said, ”you were slower than I thought my dear brother.”
Skanda was not quite understanding until Ganesh clarified the situation.
Ganesh told how his world was his parents Parvati and Shiva and he did not need to race across space and time to circle them as Skanda had done. In fact he stayed home and took a few steps around them and completed it before Skanda had returned.
Skanda understood this and accepted Ganesh’s success.
Ganesh happily got the sweets and smiled at being able to communicate a secret about grounding energy.
When Ganesh Circles and concentrates on his parents as his ‘uni’verse he is honouring the ancestral lines. Ganesh grounds energy by setting free the astral knots that link us to blocked ancestral imprints. Ancestral work is a big part of Tantra and some of the mudras quite literally involve circling the ancestry and resolving issues on the spiritual levels. Our ancestry lives in the psychic atmosphere of our being and is acknowledged as a key by the tantric for grounding and solidifying stray energies.
Ganesh in this story presents himself as the guardian to the world of the ancestors and the honouring of the lines from which we come.
Quite conveniently and without chance, as we flow our way through the Tantric years calendar, Ganesh carries us to the next major ancient tantric festival of Ancestral healing.
At the September Full Moon, we come upon the festival known as Pitri Pakasha, which literally translates as ‘the fortnight of the ancestors.’
At the time of the Pitri Pakasha the constellations of astral energies and influence are such that the spirit world of the ancestors comes close to the earth and Tantrics pay homage with healing rituals particularly on the Full, half and New Moon throughout the two weeks of the Pitri Pakasha festival time.
It is a time of healing deep seated issues along the ancestral line. We will be gathering on specific dates in September too to join in ritual. For now we hope you will join us of these august dates to celebrate the child-mother connection.
Wisdom is a heavy subject with a heavy price that the Weight of the Elephant formed Ganesh reminds us of.
Naaga Puja is also known as Naaga Panchami. A time honoured Indian festival, both for orthodox worship and the Tantric lines, it is a ritual time of working with the spirit of the snake.
Practices of the Snake Night
Upon this night, Tantrics engage in inner and outer snake mudras and ritual practice to balance their energy involvements upon the astral plane. The junction of celestial energies upon this festival day makes it a most favourable time for working with the astral forces. Bija mantras relating to the snake are chanted along with the antar (inner) Naag Mudras. Various asanam are practiced to help assist one in opening the astral portals in the psycho/physical constitution.
In Tantric practice, there are many particular physical snake mudras which help free our perception and vision from astral interference. For example, Naagini mudra is a radical position of body and mind that embodies the snake quality strongly in our system, it establishes a strong connection to the world of the snakes. In fact it refers directly to a woman who is both human and serpent at the same time. Working with inner and outer eagle practices also forms part of the Tantric Naagas Panchami ritual as the eagle and snake are intimately connected.
The spirits and energies of the Astral plane are of numerous kinds. Those that live in the most unconscious recesses are known to Tantrics as the Naagas. The Naagas are spirits and energies that can have deep effect upon our consciousness. They link to us and live and operate from the most unconscious level of our being.
Naaga Lokh – realms of the underworld
Naaga ‘Lokh’ (realm) is one of the many dimensions of the astral world. We might think of it as a parallel universe where we exist perhaps only in a semi-conscious or unintegrated state. The work of the Tantric Naaga Puja Ritual is to find the part of our human consciousness that dwells unconsciously in the World of the Naaga and bring it to a state of awakened awareness.
The Naaga realms are places where our Shakti is invested in a semi-aware state of consciousness particularly in relation to base and sexual chakra themes. These can be places where we have blind spots and lose our power. By becoming aware of our unconscious investments and the patterning we have within ourselves, we may relinquish the invested Shakti.
Naaga Lokh exists in the underworld. This is not a ‘hell’ as might be understood by the term underworld, although it can be depending on what kind of relationship we have to the Naaga spirits within ourselves. The underworld is known as Patala to the yogis. It has seven divisions and each semi division corresponds to one of the seven chakras. Naaga Lokh is the deepest of them all. It is a deep ‘heaven’ and is said to have more beauty than the upper world, with the Naaga as keepers of its most precious jewels, the Naagmani.
Some say that it is mere myth that a cobra has a jewel underneath its hood. Many speculations have ensued around the Naagmani, and many commercial ventures of selling such pseudo-Snake stones are undertaken in the name of Naagmani.
Real Naagmani’s are very rare and can never be procured easily. Only very specific and extremely rare snakes carry the precious stone. Some tantrics may gain such a stone by very special procedures that involve a deep degree of magical knowledge and accomplishment. The Naagmani is sometimes handed down as a power object among the Siddha’s in their initiations.
The 3 worlds and their 7 divisions
According to the Tantrics, there exist three worlds. The first two are portals to the astral world:
Patala – the underworld of seven divisions, connected to the seven chakras and connected astrally to the earth;
Bhumi or Pritvi – the Earthly world which includes the stars and physical manifestation of planets. This physical world we live in has seven divisions of manifested energy which are expressed through the chakras. These chakras start at the terrestrial base levels to bring and go all the way up to the ultra-terrestrial chakras in the head that are finer the frequencies. Individuals and collectives in the physical world may live in all manner of energy constellation of the seven realities of the chakras. Naturally we move between these seven states of being according to many factors, one being the influence of Lunar currents upon our constitution.
Swarga – the third world – is the upper world beyond the physical that is connected to us on earth through the portals of the stars. Again this is divided into seven levels – each of which corresponds and intersects with the manifestations of Chakras within us on earth.
We could think of the Swarga realms as the fruit and flowers of the tree, the earth could be likened to the shade of the tree along with the taste and scent of its offerings. The Patala underworld would then be the roots.
These worlds are given various names according to the district or the bent of the school. For example in left hand Tantra (the way of the Heart): The realm of Patala is the world of the Crow – Kah. The realm of Swarga is the world of the Swan – Hamsa. Bhumi is the Earth Goddess who stands between their flights, she is the place where the birds meet and depart in the ever swinging dance between moondark and moonlight.
At the Full Moon, the upper Swarga World of the Swan is most active, as it is in the ascending half of the lunar month. At the Dark Moon, the underworld of the Crow…Patala is most active, as it is on the descending half of the lunar month.
By balancing and addressing our being in one of the worlds, we balance and address the reflection of that world in all its 3 levels:
1) The unconscious 2) The physical manifest level of the body 3) The level of consciousness
These 3 layers interrelate and are inseparable. By addressing unconscious areas we bring the corresponding shift of power to a change in our consciousness and the body changes in the way Praan (breath) and Shakti relate to it.
We often have a familiar station of residence that is our main chakra of issue with which we are concerned. Through this chakra we may predominantly express and live out our life.
The Chakras are stations or even whole worlds we could say and Tantrics are travellers between the worlds. Tantrics start at the base underworld levels. They work also with much physical Mudra and spiritual astral vision techniques, but a lot of the focus of the Tantric pursuit comes back towards opening and untying the knots of the unconscious Granthis in the underworld.
The rituals of Tantrics take into account atmospheric, celestial, lunar and seasonal shifts of energy and the portals that these movements create in relation to the 3 worlds. What drives a person to such Tantric travels of traversing and connecting unknown territories? is a question well worth pondering!
Shiva and the 3 Worlds
Shiva is the one who is free of the shadows of the unconscious, or rather free of the overshadowing of consciousness. The state of Shiva that is our potential is to become aware on all the spiritual planes, waking from dreams and integrating and disentangling ourselves from unconscious energy ties to the numerous astral realms.
Mythology often tells of competitions between the Gods. In one such instance Shiva revealed the extent of his power, burning through the three worlds with the power of his awareness.
This fire of awareness and psychic power is known as Tejas. It is strong when the things that belong to the upper world of consciousness are gathered and extricated from the places they are intertwined in the underworld of the unconscious. The myth tells how the beam of Tejas extended to infinity beyond the underworlds and the upperworlds, it’s end was sought hopelessly but never to be found. Shiva himself was the beam. The great Lingam of energy.
Ling refers to the Male generative power and Gam to the Female creative power. Shiva was the pinnacle of both of these forces in balance in all three worlds.
Shiva revealed himself as a vast beam of Tejas fire which shot out 12 snakes from the 12 Naaga Granthi (snake knot) portals of his body. These 12 portals relate to the body’s 12 snake meridians.
The 12 snakes of Tejas fire were attracted to 12 magnetic places of power on the earth – marked by the 12 Jyotirlingam temples spread across India. Jyotir means ‘sacred flame’. Each of the 12 temples is related to one of 12 forms of Shiva and these 12 forms are also names for the 12 (Naaga) Granthi (energy knots) of the human organism, with the the temples located diametrically upon the human body. Each temple has a Bija mantra known to Tantrics which can open the related places energy knots in the psycho/physical system. Sophisticated Tantric methods of bodily asan along with Mudra and inner psychic work unties the Granthis and brings the human into a balance in and between the three worlds.
A particular magnetic place of power upon the earth can open the particular corresponding Granthi in the body. Obstinate karmic blocks and both psychic and physical impediments can be healed by going to the corresponding places of magnetism. Such places of power can equally disrupt psychic and physical forces in the human system.
The 7 Stars of the Saptrishi
As discussed in a previous newsletter, Sapt means ‘seven’ and Rishi means ‘Seer’. The 7 stars of the Saptrishi constellation are connected to the 7 chakras and represent portals through which the 7 types of human soul are incarnated.
One star type may be reflected or represented more strongly in a particular culture, group of people or individual. Though astral forces of like-kind, as well as like-kind types of being do tend to group together and create a defined line of consensual reality, this is not a clear cut subject with hard and fast rules.
A Tantric practitioner attempts to know all 7 worlds of the 7 Stars of the Saptrishi and may attempt to move out of their comfort zone and familiar port of residence – discovering worlds shaded from view by unconsciousness and worlds far beyond their star of origin. When the voyage has gone so far and all astral worlds are made a home of…then the Yogi becomes one of the Natanaaga, the celestial dancers.
The Turtle Star
‘Kacchaapa’ refers to one of the Saptrishi star constellations and means ‘turtle’ in reference to its elliptical turtleshell-like shape.
Mythology tells that the Turtle Star Rishi Kacchaapa fathered 84 crore (Indian numerical measurement) of all manner of species of astral spirit, earth creatures and plants including the Naagas. From the very monstrous astral ghouls known as Rakshasas to the very Benign Gahandarvas. Even Garuda, the King of Birds himself is his son. All such being relate to the earth or water elements, even if only as an opposite, as in the case of the bird (sky) relating to the snake (earth) and each came through this one (turtle star) in a previous Manvantara (age).
The Turtle Star is an astral portal to the earth plane for the Naagas, connecting them to us energetically and physically at the level of the base and sexual chakras. It is to be remembered that a snake is a creature that is close to the earth, it can swim, much in the same way a turtle is versatile in these two elements. Hyper aware in their world, paradoxically, the Naaga spirits that incarnate on the earth can be profoundly tamasic (sleepy) and revolve in the themes and shadows of these first two chakras. They are usually astral brings and realities or illusions depending on the insight of our vision. Just as a Naaga may incarnate in the human realm, so a human on earth may enter the Naaga worlds through work with the chakras as star portals worlds.
Awakening Garuda, King of Birds
Garuda is often known as the vahana (vehicle) of Vishnu. Garuda is half human and half eagle. Known commonly as the enemy of all serpents, his Tejas (spiritual fire) is not dimmed or put to sleep by their slippery world. The astral world of the Naagas is seen in awareness when the Tejas is relinquished and brought to flame.
Two fires recognised by the Tantrics are worked with and brought to their rightful balance. Tejas – cooling and creative. Agni – hot and destructive.
This very principle of the human bird represents the becoming conscious within the unconscious worlds of the Naagas. A human with the possibility of flight, represented by the wings of Garuda. He is one who has penetrated the world of unconsciousness in an awakened state, able to see the dreams that steal Shakti from the Astral plane and bring her back.
By flying spiritually into the astral plane with the sharp vision of the eagle Guruda we are able to awaken from unconscious dreams of ‘illusory reality’ in the worlds of the Naagas. For Garuda the Naagas are no threat, his vision and direction are one pointed (Dharana). He represents the ascent of Kundalini.
Awakening Garuda within ourselves means disentangling our energy from the illusions that bind it in the astral plane, with the skill of an eagle. Garuda is also known as Ellh in Tantra, and finds his expression in the Ellh Mudras (eagle locks). The Tantric becomes Garuda when working with astral illusions, dreams and shadows. The sharp penetrating vision of the eagle is needed for such a venture of insight.
Taking the Dance of Shiva
In many depictions, Shiva wears snakes at all the major energy junctions of the physical locations of the Granthis, even wearing the snake necklace. He wears them as ornaments because he is friend and lord of the snake spirits of the astral plane, and therefore called Naaganath. The Naaga spirits are no longer knots upon the energy centres of his physical and astral body. Shiva is one who has awakened from the dream of the Naagas.
Legend has it that when we attempt Tantra, we are taking the dance of Shiva. Through the astral levels of dreams. Shiva lives in us as the lord of dreams, awake in the dreams and illusions of variegated astral realities.The path of Shiva reveals to us where we are yet unconscious.
Shiva is he who opens the doors of Tantric practices. To the locked doors of the Granthis – it is Shiva who gives the keys when we undergo the courageous voyage to face the world of our dreams and illusions. Shiva is the fearless one inside us. Shiva is ever on the path of dreams and reality. He is at once, human and animal, angel and demon, man and woman, dark and light…..and at the same time Shiva is beyond these things. Shiva is the soul within us that is empowered upon the day of Nag Panchami to voyage through the astral.
A focused state of awareness and Kundalini awakening occurs when one de-invests themselves of unconscious patterning. Tantra is such a path of deprogramming. In order to awaken the Queen Shakti of Kundalini, the yogi brings their Shakti back from the realms of the unconscious. On the Path of Kundalini, one confronts the deep layers of oneself and becomes conscious of the spiritual forces within and behind their inner states of unconsciousness.
The portal to the world of the Naaga is opened by the celestial currents on this day of Naaga Panchami. Naaga spirits can give both benefic or malefic effects according to the level of our awareness of the astral planes and relation to Shakti. For example – if we were to walk through a stretch of forest known for its wild dogs with an open basket full of meat, chances are we would be pursued for the aforementioned food. Travelling in a more conscious manner however, we might know how to protect our goods or even befriend the dogs and walk with them as allays.
By denying ourselves access to the realm of the snakes altogether because of its alleged ‘danger’ or difficulty, we deny ourselves access to the reflection of that realm in the upper-world, the world of the Birds.
The Naaga astral planes cannot be shut down or denied, but our relationship to those worlds and spirits changes according to the way we relate to them. Naagas that cause us suffering are brought into a different constellation of relationship with us as we become conscious of previously unconscious uses of Shakti energy. Tantrics see how the path of denial or repression leads to a diminishment of life power. Turning one’s gaze in an easy and pleasant direction and holding it there takes a huge amount of Shakti and can close off our great potentials. Some spiritual paths might work in this way, but Tantra is inclusive of all realms. Sitting in the courageous seat of Shiva, the Tantric comes to know all of existence.
As one becomes familiar and aware of the world of unconsciousness, the journey becomes one of waking up from dreams that shade our power. Shakti is then raised from her latency of being. She lives in the unconscious in varying degrees… intertwined in the unseen half of the reflection of life. Our vision broadens to see the underworld – which is brought to awareness by the exploration that the Tantrics know as the healing path.
Unresolved sexual and base karma themes within the first two chakras of our being are what tie us unconsciously to the world of the Naagas. By bringing our sexual power back from the unconscious places of investment there, we heal deeply rooted imprints – even ancestral sexual imprints that we carry. We naturally and gradually awaken Kundalini as the great amount of invested astral Shakti is brought back to our centre.
For Kundalini to awaken it is as simple as healing the bonds that disempower us and take our powers away with them. Simple yes, but a profound venture to undertake.
Beauty comes when Shakti returns, Hara Ring
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO JOIN THE NAAGA PANCHAMI RITUAL
“Guru Purnima is a sacred night in the Tantric calendar of giving honour to the teachers and the elders who guide us on the path of wisdom.”
The Full Moon of July is known to the Tantrics as Guru Purnima, ‘The Celebration of the Teacher’, and it has been reserved since aeons to give honour not only to the personalities of one’s teachers, but also to the principle of devotion and effort that the teacher represents.
The Guru is the inner quality that we all possess. The quality of attention to detail and unwavering voyage into the depths of a single subject.
This effort to surpass oneself and attain the hights of wisdoms is said to come from the GuruTatva. Tatva can be translated as ‘element’. The Guru Tatva implies ‘weight’ and ‘heaviness’. The word Guru is often defined in various ways according to modern custom, but the root of the Sanskrit word means ‘ heavy’, whereas the word denoting the aspirant means ‘light’.
A great weight is required to ground wisdom.
To follow the austerity to accomplish any profound skill in a single subject takes weight, and so the Guru represents a weighted immovable force that stands above all for the subject that is represented. The element of devotion exists within all as the Guru Tatva. This is the element that drives us to achieve successes and overcome obstacles, but the Guru Tatva is more than just this. The true essence of the Guru Tatva is a one pointed focus on a branch of wisdom. A wisdom that stands outside of rewards of personal satisfaction and a learning and devotion which differs from the drives of sentimental ambition.
The Guru Tatva aligns the human instrument to very subtle layers of reality.
The art of the Guru is often learned and devoted to from early childhood, passed down the ages in unbroken lines. Our society may give credit to all manner of attainments and skills. The contemporary development of contest shows and a culture of awards to actors and musicians may make it seem like a common place thing to honour those within developed ranges of skill. The difference being that the Guru represents someone who passes on a line of teaching and has as their main interest the passing on of the wisdom and the development of the students art. This is quite a difference of focus to taking credit for or indulging in praise at the accomplishment.
In India it is said that a true Guru lives for his student, which defines his role as teacher.
Shiva is known as the Adi Guru and is legendarily revered as the first Guru. Adi meaning ‘first’ or ‘origin’. He had been absorbed in Samadhi for unknown ages and was discovered in a small Himalayan cave by 7 Seekers of Truth. When they approached Shiva he roused from the trance to be asked what he was doing. He replied he was listening and watching and then he went back into his meditation. 84 years passed until Shiva roused once more only to find himself in the company of the 7 seekers of truth who had been there all along attempting to imitate Shiva. He was pleased at their effort and granted them the secrets of Yog.
The seven seekers became the Sapt (7) Rishis of legend who are said to have spread the yogic arts and inspired the scriptures.The seven Rishis are reflected in the seven stars of the Big Dipper constellation and are activated by the full Moon of July.
It is the drive of the Guru Tatva within us than urges the 7 stars of the chakras to balance within us through the yogic art of listening and watching. The overseeing Guru Tatva is brought to its full power on this Moon Phase and provides the opportunity to develop the gift of devotion. The Guru Moon has passed the halfway mark in the lunar year to shower it’s Moonlit gifts upon us. A gift that is at once saturated in sweetness and also a certain ruthlessness that is required to delve into the twilight regions of wisdoms constellation.
Esoterically the Sapt Rishis represent the 7 chakras within us. The 84 years refer to the 8.4 million different forms of life that are said to exist in Indian philosophical thought.
The myth reveals how the Rishis who represent the 7 chakras came to know all levels of existence through the art of listening and watching that was imparted to them by the Adi Guru Shiva. In the same way the 7 chakras within is come to know of the vastness of existence when we take up the art of listening and watching.
The festival of Guru Purnima takes place annually in the Star constellation of Uttara-Ashada. The Nakshatra (lunar house) of Uttara-Ashada gives the teaching of enduring focus.
Its focus is singular and unwavering – this is the quality of the Guru. The Guru is an uncompromising force that endures in the vision for the very deep and enduring truth at the foundation of being.
Guru Purnima is an age old festival that honours the Guru – the festival occurs when the Full Moon is in Uttara-Ashada. In a world of beliefs, opinions, likes, dislikes, dualistic information and endless modes of self expression of all of these, we risk the very opposite of what Uttara-Ashada wishes to show us. Uttara-Ashada is the very opposite of light dispersing action.
Guru is an adjective that means heavy, just like the Elephant energy that is the prominent earthly expression of his Nakshatra. Just like the weight of memory possessed by an Elephant. Uttara-Ashada gives power to memory and reminds us of the heavy foundations at the roots of being.
The Guru is an elder, Guru Wisdom is the elder base of Wisdom. It is grounded power and maturity. We live in a culture where the elders themselves perhaps do not strive to be elders but rather to emulate the tones of youth.
A mass cultural fabric that does not honour the heavy weighted wisdom of age may indeed be a culture that banishes the Guru altogether. The much needed weight of mature vision is something that is needed in all branches of life and is not exclusive to Tantra.
Politics, technology, agriculture and both secular and spiritual life are places where the Foundation of being is as much needed as in any branch of life. When we banish the roots of being, the fruit fails.
THE ELDER VISION
The Guru is a reminder that the fruit and the root belong together. The Northern node of the Moon is known as Rahu and the Southern Lunar mode is known as Ketu.
The Ancient stories of India mythologize that they were once a single being. The cut that divided them turned them into head and tale, regarded as inauspicious energies, they have much to teach us about the nature of Wisdom and the lunar opposites.
Rahu is the head that consumes all and anything without any regard, it is never satisfied and it does not discriminate between the quality of the quantity that it takes in. Of course the consequences are registered by Ketu the tail.
Neither are inauspicious energies when we learn the maturity of adequate intake. When adequate intake is a hallmark of our lives then the reception at the tail end of lunar influence is another matter than bearing the consequences of indiscriminate consumption. The consumption of ideas, of beliefs, of principles and of course of food, all follow the laws and consequences of nutrition.
The real elder vision does not seek to emulate any pervasive cultural ideas, the elder vision does not strive for expressions imbued with the power of youth and ideology.
The elder vision is the vision that unifies the North and the South once more after having learned of the consequences of having separated cause and effect – or consumption and consequence. This is the lesson that brings Rahu and Ketu into a unified and whole being. They had to be parted to learn the lessons of the laws of consequences, this is the law of Karma in action – written and reflected in the stars.
How do we unify these forces? By slowing down the vision to an ‘Elder Perspective’ that through the viewing of the passage of time, pauses to look at what we are doing and creating. Tantric ritual is an attempt to move to the elder mature vision and not stay only in the leaps and springs of youth.
The leaps and springs of youth have their necessity and power, but when they endure as a measure of being for too long, they outstay their use – then the elder vision is lost and maturity can not ripen in the garden of the soul.
This will be the mood with which we will approach the practice on the Guru Purnima Full Moon ritual. Upon the Full Moon of July we come to the time honoured tradition of Guru Purnima. Upon this day the astral forces are strong for setting the Guru Tatva within us into motion. It is a day for remembering the elders and those that have given to us the gifts and fruits of their labours.