Opening to the Dark Goddess
Who can explain Your play, Mother?
What do You take, what give back?
For You dawn and dusk are the same.
Nothing can stop Your perfect freedom.
You give exactly what’s deserved.
The Dark Goddess is not the Light of an obfuscating, solar-inspired God, nor the
workings of those in power who have perpetuated the
religions of transcendence, the politics of injustice, the economics of
poverty, and philosophies of denigration and oppression. She is instead everything, the sum of all existence seen and unseen, loved and unloved by humanity. Her power—and why so many spiritual practitioners avoid her—tends to lie in our fear of the unknown.
And this is not only our individual, personal fear, but also our collective, societal, and cultural fear. The magnitude of her power lies in her claim to what we ignore. When we look at the Dark Goddess, we see whatever we wish to keep out of awareness. Yet, she does not hold back Truth, and for this, we are often terrified of Her. What might she reveal?!? What is it, exactly, that She holds within Her powerful embrace?
Darkness, indeed, is a metaphor for a deeper truth. Life, we know, is filled with beauty and pain, ecstasy and horror. Look at Kālī, for example, Hindu Black Goddess, Devourer of Time. With her right two hands she presents mudras (hand gestures) signifying the granting of boons and blessings, and with her left two hands she holds a severed head and a machete. To look upon her, we in the developed world might wonder how to achieve the benefits and avoid the blood and gore. But Her revelation lies in and through the acceptance of her totality—for the blade and head are in truth the goddess offering the promise of detachment and release from the constraints of our egos and limitedness. To take only half of Her then, is to miss the whole point.
In their very substance, Dark Goddesses the world over are the naming of two powerful undervalued sides of reality: the feminine and the dark. And their power is self-evident because Dark Goddesses continue to exist, doing so despite the tremendous energy that has been and continues to be exerted against them. Yet, because of the incredible ability the Dark Goddesses have—in part by virtue of their symbolic alignment with the forces of nature—to challenge patriarchal modes and meanings, they are motivators and leaders for transformative action, social justice, and (r)evolution in the hearts of humanity. They have indeed become a symbolic voice of the peoples and the planet suffering under all forms of tyranny. They are indeed today's liberators.
How do you experience the Dark Goddess? Does She enliven you? What do you call Her and how do you know her? Express your longing for Her with us in ceremony and community. Find out more...
Share with us your experience of Her worship ... >>
make all the difference as we work to keep engaged spirituality and a unique
spiritual expression of service viable in the world. At SHARANYA, our
Goddess Temple survives because of you, because of your support. For
all of the ways in which you love the Divine and make Her manifest, we
are deeply grateful.
Thank you for your
to making spirituality
a vehicle for social justice
Thank you for helping the spread of
in the world. Jai Maa!
Looking forward to seeing you at
a puja, class, or commuity event soon!
* Can I make a donation for Maa's worship if I live outside the Bay Area or can't attend this month?
Absolutely. Should you wish to contribute to the worship, know that we
will call your name into circle so that your intention will be with Maa
and held by community in sacred space. We can also mail you a flower
from the ceremony to put on your altar if you desire. Just let us know
with your donation and be sure to provide a current mailing address. Please contribute what you wish.
* I would like to offer flowers for Maa and Shiva. Can I do that?
That would be wonderful! Whether or not you can attend,
offering flowers is a lovely way to share your devotion. Please contribute what you wish.
Donate Now >>
Kali Puja: Devotion to Devi - This Sunday (5/31)!
New! Temple Etiquette and Good Things to Know for Puja!
“As is shown in the histories of all cross-cultural
religious transplants, Kālī devotionalism in the west must take on its
own indigenous forms if it is to adapt to its new environment...
have their own lives. So do goddesses."
- Rachel Fell McDermott
SHARANYA, we are dedicated in our worship to Goddess Kali in Her myriad
forms, including those as She is expressed through the world's various
traditions that honor the Dark Goddess, the one who holds the wisdom of
the full spectrum of human beingness.
Welcome to our Western Shakta Tantra!
Ceremony is held in the Sha'can tradition
and lead by Rashani (ordained clergy) with help from community. Our
puja infuses methods and practices from East and West in order to
create a sacred space for worship, deepening, and opening on the path
of the bhakta, or devotee of the Divine. Learn more about what our ceremonies are like with this brief introduction.
What to bring... Offerings for the main altar are welcome. It is
customary to bring flowers, fruit, wine, vegetarian offerings, or
sweets and to refrain from wearing black to our public rituals. If you
wish to wear a special color for Kali, we invite you to don red, a
color associated with Her power in the phenomenal world as shakti, the activating force and the energy of creation. You are also invited to bring an object you would like to have blessed.
A sliding scale donation of $21-15 is suggested to cover the cost of the space, puja supplies and prasad
(blessed food); however, no one is ever turned away for lack of funds,
and any donation is graciously accepted--we appreciate so much the
offerings you make to support our work and the community.
Note: Pujas are preceded by our teaching circle, Daughters of Kali.
An R.S.V.P. is requested if you would like to participate. All Kali Puja ceremonies begin at 5:30 p.m. No one is admitted after 5:45pm.
Worship usually ends at 8:00pm and is followed by community time and
sharing of prasad. Children are welcome, but no childcare is provided.
Cushions and chairs are available (arrangements can be made for
wheelchair access - kindly let us know in advance).
If you have been to a puja and wish to tell others about
your experience, we would love to have you share!
Please offer a testimonial here!
Learn more about this and other offerings at our mandir... >>
Mudra of the Month
Utilizing a mudra can be one of the most effective ways
of promoting health and knowledge in your mind, body, and soul. Each
finger of the hand symbolizes each tattva (an element or aspect
of reality conceived as an aspect of the Divine), and each mudra
connotes the awakening of a particular power or knowledge. Mudras are
deeply stabilizing and work to enhance energy levels and can be
wonderful tools for remedying external or internal problems.
This month, for a little awakening, opening and deepening, try this version (a bit more complex than some other possibilities) of the Yoni Mudra during your
meditations and moments of worship.
This mudra can be used whenever you are feeling a desire to connect to the most subtle of energies, or when you wish to concentrate and direct energy that you have raised in your practice. Create the mudra as follows:
1) Lay your palms together, pinky to pinky, face up.
2) Cross your pinkies, right over left and bend forward, grabbing the pinky tips with the thumbs. Bring your thumbs together, parallel to one another. Your other fingers remain outstretched.
3) Touch your ring and middle finger tips together.
4) Cross your ring fingers, right over left.
5) Use your index fingers to grab the ring fingers at the tips.
6) Gently relax into the mudra
This posture should be held for at least eight (8) minutes to receive benefit...longer if possible (we often call this mudra yoga for the fingers at SHARANYA!). You may wish to engage the mudra with your
eyes closed, meditating or focusing your internal gaze at your discretion. Upon completion, gently unfurl your fingers and lay your palms facing downward on each knee if working with subtle energies; palms facing upward if intentionally directing energy flow.
Want to know more about our tradition? >>
Our Community Welcomes You. . . Come sing and worship with us!
Interested in lending your love of Maa, your creativity, your inspiration to Kali Puja? Feel free to bring
us your ideas and energy. We have many ways for you to become
immediately and directly involved in a vibrant and growing spiritual
community, and look forward to your unique expression of joy in Her
name. We welcome your suggestions too; your experience, expertise, and
desire can inform many of the ways we do Her work in the world!
Click here to learn more about joining in the celebration of Her through SHARANYA...and be with us in cyberspace if you're not able to join us in person. Get timely updates, notifications of events, and your mantra of the day by being part of our online world:
And of course, stay in touch with us in all the old-fashioned ways too! Were you forwarded this newsletter by a friend?
Click here to receive your own newsletter! >>
Upcoming Events & Community Offerings
SHARANYA's Kali Puja (5/31) Open to everyone. Come join us in worship of the Divine Mother, Goddess Kali Maa, by all Her names!
Yogini Chakra (6/6) (Closed circle)
Purnima Satsang & Community Potluck (6/7) 5:30-7:30pm Full Moon - Evening of dhyana
(meditation), spiritual teachings, and/or ceremony at SHARANYA's Devi
Mandir - our home sanctuary. This is a community celebration; extended
spiritual family and guests welcome. The satsang will be followed by a
community potluck. RSVP requested.
SHARANYA's Yoni Puja (6/14) Open to everyone. Come join us in worship of the Divine Mother, the power of Earth, and the sacredness of our bodies!
India Pilgrimage (6/21 - 7/5) Join us in prayer during our sacred pilgrimage to the seats of the Divine Female, our Beloved Mother. Bring Her to your hearts especially for the joyous and potent festival of Ambuvachi, a celebration of the Goddess' menstruation...
Want your prayers shared with Devi in India?
Email: email@example.com and your prayers will be offered to the sacred fire during a special ceremony held at the feet of the goddess on Nilachal Hill at Kāmākhyā, the place where Maa's yoni resides! (Please email no later than June 18th to ensure we receive your message and can make the offering during the festival.)
Amavasya Satsang (6/22) 7-9pm New Moon - Evening of dhyana
(meditation), spiritual teachings, and/or ceremony at SHARANYA's Devi
Mandir - our home sanctuary. (Community celebration; extended spiritual
family and guests welcome.) RSVP requested.
Not in the San Francisco Bay Area?
you are not in the Bay Area or cannot attend events for any reason,
please join one of our online communities and participate in learning
more about Maa through Kali Vidya: A Wisdom School for Her Mysteries. Kali Vidya is offering a series of classes that you can work through independently or with your current worship circle.
Learn more about the tradition that inspires our work and worship... >>
Celebrating Devi & the Blood Mysteries: Ambuvaci Mela
Often, the connection between the power of women's blood and the paradoxical mystery of the Goddess is most fully recognized in the Crone or Dark Goddess aspect of the Divine because She is the doorway between the worlds of life and death. It is the raudra devīs (fierce goddesses) more generally who, in India, are said to bleed. In temples dedicated to these intense emanations of śākti (the feminine force), one finds the rites and rituals of the goddess' ṛtu, or menstrual blood.
For Devī’s most holy festival of Ambuvāci—the three days the goddess menstruates (usually beginning on the new moon following Summer Solstice)—the forces of life and death co-join at the temple of Kāmākhyā. During this auspicious time, no pilgrims are allowed to enter Her temple sanctuary. Her potency is so wild and intense, however, that one only has to follow the throngs of red-wrapped tāntrikas around the outside of the main shrine to absorb Her energy.
Take a moment now to imagine yourself there, overlooking the lush green fertile valleys of northern Assam and, following the women, proceed counterclockwise around the temple with your left hand running along the wall. Do you feel Her? How do you imagine Her?
Whether fierce or mild, a role model or the patriarchal ideal of a complacent wife, culturally sweetened or whitened or not, She is a powerful force who can offer both comfort and strength...even in our respective moments of silence. Open to the quiet and receive her lessons, as well as Her blessings, during this most auspicious time.
Learn more about the empowering force of menstruation >>
Rice Pudding for Ganesha
This is quite yummy, hot or cold!
1 C. white basmati rice
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 C. shredded
1/2 C. raisins
cinnamon sugar to taste
Put rice, sugar and
2 C. of milk to boil in heavy bottom pot. When it's boiling, reduce heat, and
stir frequently, adding milk about 1/2 a cup at a time, when it starts to get
thick and bubbly.
Continue adding milk, until rice is tender and pudding is
thick. sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, serve warm or cool. Present a bit to
Ganesha before serving to yourself and others.
Come read other inspirations here >>
The Fool in
Sitting on the edge of the cliff, she watches the old moon
a hollow sliver glowing in a starless sky.
Her tears are
The anger and blame and fear and shame, all gone.
The butterfly has
long flown on.
The little dog is curled up at her side asleep, sighing, like
a baby dreaming.
Below, soft night has come. There is no lovely valley to
be seen now,
no hazy, golden, sun-filled river.
All is absorbed into the
The Darkness has it's own beauty, it's depth so rich,
satiny and still.
Sorrow and bliss are one in Her arms.
Want to add to our devotional poetry? >>
To the Kaula & Community...
Blessings for the Season of Abundance & Harmony!
OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI