Devi, as she is called in Sanskrit, is the supreme Goddess of Indian tradition. She is multifaceted and universal in appeal; however, understanding Devi, particularly from a western perspective, is frighteningly difficult. This is at least in part because we in the West have traditionally little upon which to base a conception of Goddess, let alone a Goddess who is both immanent and transcendent, unitary and multiplex, all-pervasive and immediately powerful. So, how do we approach Her?
As Kālī, the goddess has been venerated for most of recent history (and particularly popularized in West Bengal during the 19th century) as expressing love for humanity that is not unlike the love a mother has for her children. The Bengali saint Rāmakṛṣna, and the great, devoted poet Rāmprasād Sen knew Kālī as Divine Mother and greatly influenced devotion to Her. For these two men, Kālī asked that Her children accept her for all the ways in which she manifests in the world. As Rāmprasād says in one of his poems:
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.
Under Your feet, forgets
Your great design.
I see what You show me—a stone
Floating on water.
Rāmprasād is Your son.
He can see right through those old ploys.
At SHARANYA, we honor Goddess through ritual that combines eastern and western practice, helping community connect to personal passion and devotion. We offer a safe space to explore childlike wonder in relationship to Devi, and offer a way to focus on the Divine--a way that allows love to flow and is not containable by country of origin (either our own or Hers).
However, because so much of what we do is informed by Tantra, we are often asked by devotees and newcomers to community how one should behave during ceremony, what is appropriate to wear, how it is best to worship, and so on. To help with your understanding of our worship and ritual practices so that you may know some of the most important elements, we have put together a page on temple etiquette and some FAQs on our website. Have you ever wondered why Maa has so many skulls associated with Her? Or how much of what we do in circle really is Tantrick...