Devyuvaaca - The Goddess Said...
 
 
In This Issue:
Introducing Maa...
Why Donate? You Make a Difference...
Yoni Puja is Worship Par Excellence!
Mudra of the Month
Our Community Welcomes You. . . Come sing and worship with us!
Upcoming Events & Community Offerings
Aarati: Prayers & Offerings of Devotion
Spell to Remove Writer’s Block
Introducing Maa (Part II)...
Quote of the Month
To the Kaula & Community...
Contact Info
Introducing Maa...


A Walk on the Wild Side:
Possibilities for Goddess-honoring Traditions
Where the Witch and the Tantrick Meet


Part I

Often, those who seek the mysteries touch on the fringes of what Goddess Kali offers, yet stay away because they are afraid. Some are afraid, with due cause, of cultural appropriation. You might be thinking, "I am not from
India or Hindu, therefore, worshiping a goddess with roots in a living goddess tradition is out of bounds for me." Others of you might just be afraid, period.   

Certainly, it should be acknowledged that how She is represented inspires reaction. No account of Kali could possibly leave out Her image and iconography, for even in
India—let alone the goddess-fearing West—She is something to behold. Although many are already familiar with Her black-skinned, skull-adorned appearance, there is more than meets the eye to Her manifest presence and its significance. Not only do Her symbols convey spiritual truths, but the fact of Her existence today in the minds and hearts of devotees around the world is inspiring of something even greater...not the least of which is social justice and moves beyond the confines of religion. 

As I type, an image of Her greets my gaze. Her black feet sport golden anklets, and the residue of alta, a red plant-based, semi-permanent dye, decorates the outline of the soles and spaces in-between the toes. From this perspective, internally bowed low and spiritually naked before Adya Kali, the Primordial Dark Goddess, we come just a bit closer to an understanding of who She is and what She offers.

We at SHARANYA work at the intersection of the goddess-centered, embodied spirituality of India, known as Śākta Tantra [1] and the earth-based, goddess-centered spiritualities of the developed west that have done much to bring feminism, ecology, psychology, philosophy and critical spirituality together.  Ours is a (R)evolutionary Shakta Tantra...a spiritual tradition that recognizes the esoteric wisdom of opening to the presence of energy and consciousness within in order to harmonize and understand Self with regard and in relationship to the life-force of nature and the unseen world that exists in the realm of experience.
 
Through the ancient traditions of Goddess worship still practiced today in Hindu South Asia, women and men of the West, and those without religious or cultural access to the Divine Female and Divine Feminine, may achieve a glimpse at possibilities for the Feminine and female that lie outside of patriarchal constructs. Certainly, patriarchy plays a role in religions everywhere, and religions of the goddess are no exception. Yet, within these traditions are also to be found expanded notions of divinity and potentials for engagement in the world that promote healing and peace in response to patriarchy and patriarchal agendas.

For example, through the fierce extremes of the goddess’ paradoxical nature as garnered from juxtaposition of Her demon-slaying tendencies in the Hindu Śākta Devī-Māhātmya with Her functioning as supreme reality in some of the Tantras (or with Her position as universal, compassionate mother in the devotional bhakta traditions), we can find awarenesses that help us break through indoctrination and dogma. The potentials are for expanded conceptualizations of both personal divinity and cosmic reality for anyone wishing to move beyond culturally-infused stereotypes or monotheistic traditions that subjugate, disempower, or otherwise deny the roles and rights of women, nature, and the Feminine on transcendent or mundane levels.

(continued below in Part II...)


[1] A belief system whose cosmology reveres the immanence of spirit and in turn provides ritualized as well as lived practices in which the body acts as, and becomes substance for, the divine. Śākta traditions consider Female/Feminine energy to be fundamental and activating—the source of all creation without which the gods and humanity would perish. Although the Śākta and Tantrick traditions are often conflated because of the importance of the goddess within Tantra generally, the followers of Tantra are not all primarily worshippers of Goddess. There are therefore distinct paths within Tantra; still, it is Devī as this fundamental reality of energy who engages the heart, mind and soul of Śākta devotees.


Share with us your experience of Her worship ... >>



Why Donate? You Make a Difference...

 
Dear Friends...Sisters & Brothers on the Path,

Your contributions 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 commitment
to making spirituality
a vehicle for social justice
and life-affirming change.
 
Thank you for helping the spread of
Maa's love 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?

Jai Maa! 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 >>



Yoni Puja is Worship Par Excellence!










Yoni puja is worship par excellence...
By omitting it, every other puja is rendered worthless!


- THE YONI TANTRA -


At 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. In this, we recognize as does the Yoni Tantra, that Her mystery can be unfurled and explored through the very substance of our bodies.

Welcome to our (R)evolutionary Shakta Tantra!

Our Yoni Puja 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.


YONI PUJA
Tomorrow - Sunday, June 14 @ 5:30pm

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 Maa, in honoring of the life-force energy, 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. Please visit: www.sharanya.org/yonipuja to reserve your place in advance.


The YONI PUJA ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. No one is admitted after 5:45pm.
Worship ends at 8:00pm and is followed by community time and sharing of prasad (blessed food). 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).

New! Temple Etiquette and Good Things to Know for Puja!

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

Bhairava & Bhairavi Mudras

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 a 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. They can be wonderful tools for remedying external or internal problems.

Bhairava Mudra

This mudra invokes the essence of the force of consciousness through the more powerful form of Lord Shiva, called Bhairava. Place your hands right palm over left (as in the image), with thumbs touching, to activate this mudra's qualities.

In particular, this mudra helps one mediate between inner and outer realities. To use it properly, the gaze should be internally focused yet the eyes remain open. Seated in padmasana (lotus posture) or other seated postures conducive to meditative reflection, use this mudra to activate awareness during puja or at any time when balance of will and intuition are of greatest service.

Bhairavi Mudra

As with Bhairava mudra, this mudra is beneficial for harmonizing inner and outer worlds, doing so through the grace of Bhairavi, the goddess as Flaming Shakti. Instead of the right hand on top, however, place your left hand on top to activate this mudra.

Once again, your gaze remains internally focused and eyes open. As you hold this mudra, the hands, arms and shoulders should stay relaxed. The point of most active engagement is at the thumbs.

Held at your lap comfortably, both of these mudras will help you stay internally grounded while engaged in external events. Both facilitate the development of relationship to jivatman, the individual soul and witness consciousness that arises when one releases from ego engagement in the world as a source of identity.


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:
 

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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

 

June


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: info@sharanya.org 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.

July 

Purnima Satsang (7/7) 7-9pm Full 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

Yogini Chakra (7/18) (Closed circle) 

Amavasya Satsang (7/21) 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

SHARANYA's Kali Puja (7/26) Open to everyone. Come join us in worship of the Divine Mother, Goddess Kali Maa, by all Her names! 

SHARANYA's Introduction to Daughters of Kali (7/26) Open to everyone! 

At the Heart of Tantra: Practice & Theory on the Path of Spiritual Awakening (7/26) at the Cultural Integration Fellowship. Lecture by Chandra Alexandre. By donation - All are welcome to attend.


Not in the San Francisco Bay Area?

If 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.

 

SHARANYA's Kali Vidya


Learn more about the tradition that inspires our work and worship... >>



Aarati: Prayers & Offerings of Devotion

What is this waving of lights, singing, and celebration? Aarati is the offering of devotion to the Deity that has been invoked from our hearts into the murti (image) used for worship. We recognize through this external presentation of prayers, song and gifts the internal correspondences of personal surrender, opening, acceptance, and the cultivation of a peaceful mind and spirit. We seek this internal state of awareness through aarati for our own growth and well-being, as well as for those we love, and for the world.

Here then is a simple explanation of the aarati ritual so that you can participate fully in its creation and enjoyment...

•    Paying the first respect is done by bowing down before Her image – we do this to show that while we recognize Divinity in everyone and everything, we can humble ourselves to the Mystery that is beyond form and beyond our ways of conceptualizing or understanding.

At the very least, in the moment of doing the worship we offer that we are willing to try.  In beginning, we imagine (visualize and allow ourselves to feel) and then pay homage to Mahakali, the Great Kali, She Who is Beyond Time and Space. Then, we recognize Kali Maa, then the Mahavidyas and our ishtadevi (personal, in-dwelling goddess) if She is resonant with this form, then the Matrikas, then the Yoginis. We finally focus on our personal devotions offered to the Divine Mother in any of Her forms.

•    Blowing a conch shell three times does not only make Her aware that one is starting worship, but it also clears the environment of vibrations that do not serve the effort. Finally, it alights our own senses, waking our spirits up and moving us into a different state of consciousness from which we can more easily or readily engage with Maa.

•    Incense – light three sticks of incense in a candle flame. Once lit, do not blow the flame on the sticks out, but wave them quickly to extinguish the fire.

•    All offerings are made standing to the left of the deity (so as to not block the view of devotees) as follows:

    3x clockwise to the feet of the deity
    3x clockwise to the belly of the deity
    3x clockwise to the heart of the deity
    3x clockwise to the head of the deity
    1x clockwise around the whole of the deity •    Bathe - Washing Her feet is a sign of deep and heartfelt respect, devotion, love, and humility. Bathing water is ritually sipped after the ceremony by devotees who offer their right hand to the officiant, drink and then draw their hands over their heads in a symbolic gesture of obeisance and self-purification.

•    Water - Splashing Her with water—preferably from the Ganges or blessed to be so—contained in a small conch shell or kalash is to ask Her to absolve worshippers from any wrong attitude or wrongdoing. It is another level of connection—washing off what we see on the exterior to help us move into alignment with truth or reality as offered by Her; inviting balance between the worlds, aligning inner and outer. Cleansing is an important spiritual metaphor—yet has nothing, at all, to do with sin.

•    Food – Offering Her foodstuffs means that one is willing to nourish life, acknowledge Her gifts of abundance, and accept whatever Her grace provides. In Her unconditional acceptance, we attain identification with Her. Maa is not fussy and accepts even one little sweet…whatever we may have...usually vegetarian foods are offered in acknowledgement of the simplicity that serves to nourish the world.

•    Fan - Fanning Her with either a peacock feather (usually in hot weather) or a chammach (the white tail hair of a Yak or horse) means that Her wisdom and power should be spread everywhere, and our intention makes it so. It is also a symbol of compassion and insight, recognition of the powers of the soul and of intuition in guiding our spiritual lives.

•    Flowers - Presenting Her with flowers signifies that we give Her our thoughts and our hearts. Offering her the scent reminds us that She is everywhere and in everything, no matter how ephemeral. Like flowers, we wither and die, but our souls live forever in Her divine embrace.

•    Light - Moving before Her a lighted oil/ghee (clarified butter) lamp signifies that I am seeking engagement and that one accepts purification with fire—the fires of transformation that symbolize the divine work we each must do in our lives and practice. The light is also more specifically a symbol of asking Her to aid us in our ability to see ourselves more clearly, unencumbered increasingly through our work and devotion from our shadow material.

•    Karpura (camphor) - Burning of camphor in front of Her is to remind ourselves that this world is transient and what we see is not the whole of existence. Also, after burning (purification), the idea is that no sense of individuality (ahamkara, or ego) can remain; we are returned to the Source.

•    Sari (red cloth) – Offering clothing lets us know her nature as both digambari (sky-clad) and adorned. We connect to Her aesthetic and the beauty of creation through this offering.

•    Kumkum (vermillion) – A final dressing is done with the placement of kumkum powder at Her ajna chakra (third-eye center).

•    During the process, we ring the bell continuously with our left hand and sing or utter mantras in which we delight. This is both about celebration and deepening of devotion through the variety of yogas we have at our disposal. At SHARANYA’s pujas, this is when we sing, “Jai Maa!” You can listen to this from our last Annual Kali Puja Festival, here...



•    The final bow down before Her means love, respect and surrender. You may wish to place your hands in a triangle (thumbs and first fingers touching) in front of you as you kneel on the floor, setting your forehead down in the middle space created there. This is a mudra of selfless offering and acceptance.

•    The conch may again be blown to signal the end of aarati.

Traditionally done at the end of puja, we perform aarati at the end of the first half of our puja...come be with us to find out why!

Learn more about Kali Puja >>



Spell to Remove Writer’s Block

Color: Blue
Incense: Copal
 
This spell is actually a meditation designed to clear up energetic stagnation that keeps creativity stifled. The focal point is your Vishuddha Chakra or throat center, seat of communication and expressive creativity.  

Find a comfortable place where you can remain undisturbed for 5-10 minutes. Outdoors or at your altar is great, but the bathroom works just as well! Begin by focusing on your breath. Slow and deepen your breath comfortably, allowing your body and then mind to become fully relaxed. Now, imagine a heartbeat drum beating in tune to the rhythm of your own heart as you breathe.

Relax further and send the vibrations of that drumbeat throughout your body in a spiraling motion emanating from your heart center. Once your body is tuned, turn your inner gaze to the energy center at your throat, feeling the special pulse located there. Imagine that center as blue in color and begin making a sound on your next exhalation, allowing the vibrations at your throat to release tension, clenching, and stuck emotions throughout the area, into your jaw and down to your collarbones.

Repeat this sounding for as long as you need, altering tone or pitch as you desire. When done, return to your breath, offer gratitudes, and return fully to your body and awake awareness.

Come read other inspirations here >>



Introducing Maa (Part II)...

(continued from above...)

 
In seeking the Divine today, certainly many are looking beyond their own backyard and finding joy, healing and a deepened connection to a yearning within by virtue of spiritualities and religious traditions that acknowledge the fullness of God/dess. In part because of a greater global awareness created through the strides of feminism, activism and communication networks, the impact of the Goddess today on individuals working outside of as well as within patriarchy is becoming not only more discernable, but also more powerful.
 
With this in mind, Goddess today is becoming a “transaction between contexts, encouraging us to discover how the two contexts [of human and divine] can illuminate each other in new and sometimes unexpected ways.”  For many (perhaps you are included among them), we know that She is a radical role model helping those seeking expanded cosmogonies, cosmologies and consciousness break through limiting fears (often inspired by superstition and ignorance) and overcome the biases of the western socio-cultural milieu.
 
One only need look back to the goddesses of India to see that so great has been Her influence throughout the ages that borders have never contained Her. From Parvati to Kali, Shasthi to Sarasvati, new versions of the goddess, new reasons for her existence, and even newer forms are constantly appearing in India and abroad. She has historically crossed with trade routes and migrations into neighboring lands, becoming a powerful and revered deity in her newly chosen homeland, wherever that might be. We can readily see that in both Tibetan and Nepali Buddhist contexts, the Indian Kali and Chinnamasta early on became Tara and Vajrayogini, respectively. And today, Devi (Goddess) is beginning to find recognition across oceans in the minds and hearts of those located in more distant foreign lands, most notably North America, Australia, and Europe.
 
Here in the United States, for example, She is inspiring a (r)evolution of worship and is now assuming revised, context-specific meanings and alternative significances worked through the vehicles of individual bodies, minds and hearts. From the inside out, coming to us in dreams, meditations and through the channels of sacred spaces, the goddess’ archetypal symbols and forms are lifting us through and back into ourselves. She is in fact heeding our heart-song, flying through time and space back into our consciousness, refusing to be ignored. It would seem that our very souls are asking Her to emerge and She is heeding the call. Jai Maa!
 
For those seeking to awaken the intensity of the Divine Feminine in a land that has so culturally and spiritually denied it, the presence of a goddess who manifests as intimate mother and transcendent, universal creatrix; virgin and celestial lover; faithful, complacent wife and bloodthirsty, independent huntress, as does Devi, can be reassuring. In any of these forms or combinations, She encompasses and transcends Western notions of duality, thereby defying our ability to quantify, qualify or explain Her existence in terms we might easily understand by virtue of our dominant worldview. Devi, it would appear, is beyond succinct and simple explanation; beyond a monological interpretation.
 
At SHARANYA, we recognize that a robust and dynamic complexity is being achieved through new traditions in which the goddess’ symbols and rituals—some newly constructed—inform by connecting to passions, devotion and a desire for engaged spirituality that can not be contained by a deity’s or a devotee’s country of origin. Today, the Goddesses of both east and west are coming together in order to reclaim the power of womanhood and the Feminine from within the facts of nature, our bodies, and the universe. Through the Female Divine and Her agents empowered, subordinated communities and individuals are finding ways to reclaim marginalized ideological and literal spaces, including those of women’s bodies, through new spiritual traditions that allow Her to reverberate throughout more than the immediate context and situatedness of subjects and communities.
 
Here, the Witch and the Tantrick meet to create, enliven and empower us all!

Join us in worship and learn more about our tradition >>



Quote of the Month


"The purpose of religious practice is to help us to know the deep truths we believe to be so – by speaking and enacting them we spell ourselves, strengthen those deep truths: the root of the word religion is religio meaning to bind or connect, which may be understood in a positive sense of belonging.
Our rituals – Poetic articulations of the Cosmos as we understand it - may recognize this, and help us play and dance it into our bodyminds."

- Glenys Livingstone, author of PaGaian Cosmology





Want to add yours to our devotions? >>



To the Kaula & Community...



Gratitudes and Blessings!

May our paths continue to be nourished and supported, challenged and furthered by Maa's most-compassionate heart

OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI

Click here for mantras for your daily practice... >>



 
 

SHARANYA: The Maa Batakali Cultural Mission, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Devi Mandir (Goddess Temple) dedicated to Mahakālī and Her Mysteries. All donations are tax-deductible. We invite all spiritual seekers on a life-affirming path to join us.

Everyone is welcome in Maa's house!

Jai Maa!

 
SHARANYA: The Maa Batakali Cultural Mission, Inc. • 2063 42nd Avenue • San Francisco, CA 94116
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