DANCING WITH THE DIVINE FEMININE
Goddesses have been worshipped in India and elsewhere since ancient times. They appeared in the Vedas (the oldest texts within the yogic tradition) and, since then, the mythology of the goddesses has filled text after Tantric text. Goddess worship has been one of the cornerstones of Tantric practice throughout its evolution (beginning sometime in the sixth century). In fact, Tantra is a path that reveres the divine feminine as central to spiritual life.
The word tantra can be defined in myriad ways. Etymologically, it comes from two roots, tan, which means ‘to expand or develop’ and tra, which can mean ‘instrument’ or ‘to save, liberate or redeem’. Together, Tantra is a collection of teachings and practices that free us from our conditioning. Tantra helps our soul expand in the most creative and joyful way possible.
So, how does this work, and where does the goddess fit in?
One of Tantra’s central teachings is that the world is comprised of consciousness and energy. A consciousness and energy that (as an expression of Source) is divine in nature. This consciousness and energy flow through everything in the world and we, as part of that world, are made of that same stuff.
We think of ourselves as separate but we’re not. We’re simply a vessel through which the universe moves on its quest to experience itself. What is the name we give that consciousness? Shiva (the divine masculine). What is the name we give that energy? Shakti (the divine feminine).
Shiva and Shakti are two sides of the same coin. They flow through everything there is. Consciousness, however, is formless, whereas Shakti gives us form. Shakti, powers creation and gives shape to consciousness; she is the creatrix of the world. The Kashmiri Sage, Maheshwaranda, wrote, “Shakti, revelling in her own bliss, pours herself forth as the universe”.
Because of this, Tantra is uncompromising in its embrace of all of reality. Nothing can be rejected because all of it is Her. Tantra says, ‘Look for the divine spark in everything you experience. Can you see it as Shakti’s dance?’.
If we can recognize everything as an expression of the goddess, if we can feel it with every fibre of our being, we’ll have absorbed the penultimate of Tantra’s teachings and will revel in Shakti’s bliss.
You are existence experiencing itself. Isn’t that wild?
It is often said that Shakti has two faces. One is the face of absolute unity, the other is the face of diversity. In the process of manifesting as diverse individual realities, she begins by manifesting as subtle forms, in worlds of light and awareness. Gradually, however, she manifests in ways that become increasingly dense (trees, bees, oceans, people, emotions, etc etc)
This is why the veil between us and source can feel too thick to pierce, which just happens to be part of the reason we practice; to access the spaces where the veil is thin, so Shakti might reveal herself to us.
Tantra teaches that anyone who has a yearning to undertake this journey with true commitment and the openness of their heart will, by her grace, come to know themselves as her.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful….you might even say… divine?
Maybe you would like to explore this further? If so, you may be interested in joining my upcoming 300 hour Online Advanced Yoga Teacher Training starting 3rd September 2021. You’ll learn to embody the divine feminine, teach from the heart (not just the head) and enjoy a softer, more fluid approach to life.