Devyuvaaca - The Goddess Said...
 
 
In This Issue:
Celebrating Mary Magdalene
Why Donate? You Make a Difference...
Empowering & Evocative: Women & Goddess in India
Mudra of the Month
Our Community Welcomes You!
Upcoming Events & Community Offerings
Daughters of Kali Open Circles & Initiation
Amavasya Satsang & Pilgrimage Blog Postings
How to Create a Living Altar to the Dark Goddess
Quote of the Month
To the Kaula & Community...
Contact Info
Celebrating Mary Magdalene

Feast Day of a Saint & Priestess: A Role Model of Mother Blessed?

Mary Magdalene is often called the “Great Mary”… She may be “Our Lady” of the next millennium… the non-virginal role model for women as a wife and mother… but also as an Apostle…and an evangelizer.

From her comes the model of gender equality for women and men in the next century.

—The Society of Mary Magdalene


Walk into the cathedral of Sainte Marie-Madeleine in Sainte Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, and one of the first things you’ll notice is the conspicuous lack of a crucifix at center stage. Instead, positioned directly in line of sight above the main altar is a beautiful stained-glass window called, “La Gloire,” encircled by angels. The window is relatively small but stands out from its surroundings, the light passing though illuminating the brilliant yellow that is the backdrop for the pure white dove in the center. It would be apt to say that the effect is startling at the same time that it is embracing; the light coming through giving a distinctively warm and loving ambiance to the damp and quiet vastness of the large cathedral.

This dove, of course, is more than a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Christianity’s Trinity. While acknowledging the dove as a symbolic conduit for the Holy Spirit in Christian art and thought, this aspect of the Trinity defies complete masculinization by the Church. In both Gnostic and Hebraic traditions, for example, it has been called the Feminine aspect of God—Sophia and Chokmah respectively. Here in this majestic cathedral in the heart of land overlaid with pre-Christian (some would say heretical or pagan) influences, it is also a profound and significant icon of the basilica’s namesake, Sainte Marie Madeleine. The Magdalene, as she is also known, is here revered; for she is said to have been elevated on the wings of angels and carried from her grotto cave nearby in order to die in this place in the arms of her friend, now a saint, Maximin.

And we can move beyond the Christian embrace into a consciousness where the dove also ties the Magdalene to the love goddesses of, at least, Greece (Aphrodite) and Syria (Ashtoreth). This symbol then manifests in the tradition of troubadours and bards who brought dove imagery into their love-inspired works, corroborating the claim that it was the Divine Feminine of which they were singing, not just mere mortal love. We can also deepen that claim to suggest specifically that it was the Magdalene they were honoring in their verses.

Descending down the narrow stairs leading to the crypt of this church, one enters the small space quietly; for there’s a sense that reverence is due the personages honored inside. Inside, along with the sarcophagus of St. Maximin and those of three other individuals (Sidoine, Suzanne and Marcelle), lies what are said to be the remains of Marie Madeleine herself.

Enshrined in what Father H. Lacordaire, writing in 1860, calls “the third most important tomb in the world...[ranking] immediately after the tomb of our Savior in Jerusalem and of Saint Peter in Rome,” we find her body. Her skull, however, has been removed and placed on a palanquin of gold and set behind a barrier of glass to promote easy (and untouchable) viewing. Now guarded behind a gate, this ornamented relic is paraded through the town every July 22nd on her feast day—some say her birthday—to accompanying fanfare.

Visiting one May, I was disappointed to be too early to witness the festivities, but was nonetheless impressed with the magnificence of the Magdalene’s presence as I could feel it. Walking into the fourth-century chamber (part of the original church), home of her remains, I offered a silent invocation, honoring both her role in early Christianity and the mysteries of the Great Goddess in which she is said to have participated. Perhaps she heard me; for the pictures I took and later developed show not a reliquary of her skull, but rather what a friend
to whom I sent copies in Nans-les-Pins (a neighboring town) called, “the most compassionate face I’ve ever seen.” Indeed, the Magdalene appeared in the image, a face on the backdrop of a skull inviting me further into the revelation of her truth.

For centuries, France has been the home of heretical sects and traditions of devotion, honor and reverence that bring together the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, Black Madonnas (often in the guise of another Mary—either Mary the Egyptian, a repentant harlot, or Mary of Cleophas, who was present at the foot of the cross), and ancient goddesses such as Cybele, Artemis, Demeter, and Isis. Here, it is rather easy to scratch the surface of Catholicism to see that underneath are ancient pre-patriarchal, pre-Christian traditions of the Triple Goddess, She who in her aspects of Maiden, Mother, and Crone presides over love, birth and death.

The south of France is also special because it is said that here the Magdalene set ashore sometime around 43CE, perhaps carrying in her womb the child to be born of her union with Jesus—bringing a new twist to the legend of and quest for the Holy Grail, the cup as metaphor for her womb that carried the bloodline of Jesus, as Margaret Starbird pointed out in her writings long before the Da Vinci Code. It is here that the hidden story of Christianity begins to be revealed (the story of yearning for the lost Feminine); and here that an awakening to the consciousness of the Divine Feminine within the Judeo-Christian western world was reinitiated and continues to manifest powerfully today.

Happily, this awakening is to be found even within the very same institutions that so forcefully tried to suppress any expression of the Feminine, Divine or otherwise. Of course, re-emergence of the Divine Feminine has manifested most intensely where it was demonized most, and women have often quietly been Her most ardent devotees.

Today, on her sacred day, I invite you to meditate on your relationship to the Divine Female and the Feminine, on your embodiment of Her qualities, and on the ways in which you have overcome suppression, oppression, rejection and all forces that have asked you to be or claimed you to be something you are not. Take a moment for yourself to remember; allow into your body a flood of gratitude for what you have become and what you are becoming. In this space, remember the power of your female line, your bloodline, and the footsteps of those who have gone before to help create and maintain a space for Her in this world.

(Article by Chandra Alexandre)

Mary Magdalene is often called the “Great Mary”…She may be “Our Lady” of the next millennium…the non-virginal role model for women as a wife and mother…but also as an Apostle…and an evangelizer. From her comes the model of gender equality for women and men in the next century.

                                         —The Society of Mary Magdalene

Walk into the cathedral of Sainte Marie-Madeleine in Sainte Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, and one of the first things you’ll notice is the conspicuous lack of a crucifix at center stage.  Instead, positioned directly in line of sight above the main altar is a beautiful stained-glass window called, “La Gloire,” encircled by angels. The window is relatively small but stands out from its surroundings, the light passing though illuminating the brilliant yellow that is the backdrop for the pure white dove in the center. It would be apt to say that the effect is startling at the same time that it is embracing; the light coming through giving a distinctively warm and loving ambiance to the damp and quiet vastness of the cathedral.

This dove, of course, is more than a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Christianity’s Trinity. While acknowledging the dove as a symbolic conduit for the Holy Spirit in Christian art, this one aspect of the Trinity defies complete masculinization. In both Gnostic and Hebraic traditions, for example, it has been called the Feminine aspect of God—Sophia and Chokmah respectively. Here in this majestic cathedral in the heart of land overlaid with heretical and pagan influences, it is also a profound and significant icon of the basilica’s namesake, Sainte Marie Madeleine, she who is said to have been elevated on the wings of angels and carried from her grotto cave in order to die here in the arms of her friend, St. Maximin. 

Importantly, the dove also ties the Magdalene to the love goddesses of, at least, Greece (Aphrodite) and Syria (Ashtoreth).  This symbol also manifests in the tradition of troubadours and bards who brought dove imagery into their love-inspired works.  This, of course, corroborates the claim that it was the Divine Feminine of which they were singing, and deepens that claim to suggest specifically that it was the Magdalene they were honoring in their verses.

Descending now down the narrow stairs leading to the crypt, one enters the small space quietly; there’s a sense that reverence is due the personages honored inside. Here, along with the sarcophagus of St. Maximin and those of three other individuals (Sidoine, Suzanne and Marcelle), lies what are said to be the remains of Marie Madeleine enshrined in what Father H. Lacordaire, writing in 1860, calls “the third most important tomb in the world...[ranking] immediately after the tomb of our Savior in Jerusalem and of Saint Peter in Rome.” Her skull, however, has been removed and placed on a palanquin of gold and set behind a glass mask for easy (and untouchable) viewing. Now guarded behind a gate, this ornamented relic is paraded through the town every July 22nd on her feast day—some say her birthday—to accompanying fanfare.

Visiting one May, I was disappointed not to be able to view the festivities but was nonetheless impressed with the magnificence of the Magdalene’s presence. Walking into the fourth-century chamber (part of the original church) I gave a silent invocation to her, honoring her role in early Christianity and the mysteries of the Great Goddess. Perhaps she heard me; for the pictures I took and later developed show not a reliquary of her skull, but rather what a friend to whom I sent copies in Nans-les-Pins (a neighboring town) called, “the most compassionate face I’ve ever seen.” Indeed, the Magdalene appeared in the image, a face on the backdrop inviting me further into her mysteries…

For centuries, France has been the home of heretical sects and traditions of devotion, honor and reverence that bring together the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, Black Madonnas (often in the guise of another Mary—either Mary the Egyptian, a repentant harlot, or Mary of Cleophas, who was present at the foot of the cross), and ancient goddesses such as Cybele, Artemis, Demeter, and Isis. Here, it is rather easy to scratch the surface of Catholicism to see that underneath are ancient pre-patriarchal, pre-Christian traditions of the Triple Goddess, She who in her aspects of Maiden, Mother, and Crone presides over love, birth and death.

The south of France is also special because it is said that here the Magdalene set ashore sometime around 43CE, perhaps carrying in her womb the child to be born of her union with Jesus—bringing a new twist to the legend of and quest for the Holy Grail, the cup as metaphor for her womb that carried the bloodline of Jesus, as Margaret Starbird pointed out in her writings long before the Da Vinci Code. It is here that the hidden story of Christianity begins to be revealed (the story of yearning for the lost Feminine); and that an awakening to the consciousness of the Divine Feminine within the Judeo-Christian western world was reinitiated and continues to manifest powerfully today. 

This awakening is to be found even within the very same institutions that so forcefully tried to suppress any expression of the Feminine, Divine or otherwise. Of course, re-emergence of the Divine Feminine has manifested most intensely where it was demonized most, and women have often quietly been Her most ardent devotees.

Today, I invite you to meditate on your relationship to the Divine Female and the Feminine, your embodiment of Her qualities, and the ways in which you have overcome suppression, oppression, rejection and all forces that have asked you to be or claimed you to be something you are not. Take a moment for yourself in gratitude for what you have become and what you are becoming.

Share with us your experience of Goddess 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 >>



Empowering & Evocative: Women & Goddess in India

Drenched in blood from horrible battles, She, Goddess, protects the whole of creation from harm. In gratitude, She is loved deeply by huge numbers of devout followers. Still, while her prowress on the battlefield is recognized and glorified, in some parts of India to this day it is nonetheless believed that only by the power of special talismans can the fierce form of the goddess be transformed into the nurturing mother so adored in daily worship. Such a belief only perpetuates a duality that serves patriarchal ends, and today, we increasingly see that Her myths and appellations are being reclaimed to serve women's personal and collective empowerment.

In India, the two realms of sacred and secular are linked in a profound way. In the literature, religion, myth, and other social constructs of Hindu culture, an understanding of the feminine in both goddesses and women prevails. In a feminist reworking of this recognition, which has often been used to oppress, some Indian women are instead making a point to affirm that women are to be taken as “shades of the Divine,” pieces in fact of devī’s śākti. Mrinal Pande, for example, has written Devī: Tales of the Goddess in Our Time to specifically highlight the ways in which Indian women are defying the imposed limits of patriarchy and a male-dominated world and using Goddess to do so.

There has also been at least some call within Indian feminism for a relationship to be made between raudra devī (the fierce goddess) and the empowerment of women. Such a push is evidenced, for example, by the appearance of "Kali for Women," a pre-eminent feminist publisher in India that claims this fierce goddess’ name specifically in order to engage feminism and social justice for women.

It is possible [to empower women] through the revival of an energized feminine principle symbolized by Kālī—the most significant Goddess in the Hindu pantheon… Kālī in the non-Sanskritic personification—ethically dynamic and control-free. Kālī—autonomous and active and not defined by male control as she is depicted in later mythological texts by her “spousification” with her consort Shiva. Kālī who challenges the civilized order of Dharma and the status quo. -- Rani Jethmalani

One concrete way that the Dark Goddess does manifest in the Indian context itself, although still marginally, is through actual women who embody Her. Through these control-free women, those seeking goddess, empowerment and transformation outside of patriarchal norms can perhaps find powerful role models.

Such women reside within the Tantrick tradition as tāntrikas (women gurus and aspirants); within a very small percentage of Hindu society as sadvis (women renunciates); and within the reality of empowered individual women who have become role models and saint
s in their own right without (only sometimes with) the support of men.

All these women, often living at the fringes of society or embraced predominantly by those outside of India, must be reclaimed as a viable and normative (rather than exceptional) part of Indian womanhood. These autonomous women, according to Linda Johnsen (speaking in Daughters of the Goddess: The Women Saints of India),
“differ from us in that they seek not to learn or teach about the Goddess, but to wholly embody her. Because they incarnate the divine, unselfconsciously they evoke her in us.”

The presence of such women and those who have taken up the mantle of empowering relationship between women and goddess is, we believe, both a wake up call and glorious  testimony to what is actually happening...and beyond that, provocation for what else is possible. Join SHARANYA in an exploration of the possible every month...

Learn more about the offerings at our mandir... >>



Mudra of the Month


Shankha Mudra

Used in puja and healing work, this mudra concretizes the power of the shankha, or conch shell. This gift of the sea provides dramatic spiritual cleansing through the grace of river goddesses Saraswati and Ganga, and is also thought to help heal disorders of the body's fluids and equilibrium.

Said to be imbued with the powers of many other Gods and Goddesses, including Soma and Surya (the moon and sun gods respectively), the shankha is multipurpose: it is ground into medicinal powders, used in ceremony, and designated as one of the most important instruments of the Divine as guardian of goodness. Auspicious when it is found in nature turning to the left, it is the absolver of sins when born turning to the right.

To make this mudra, grasp your left thumb in your right fist. Then, simply bring the thumb of your right hand together with the index finger of your left, forming a conch shape. You will immediately notice the remarkable resemblace of this mudra to the intended object and the beautiful ease with which it is formed. There is tremendous grace in shankha mudra, perhaps a gift of the flowing waters.

Use this mudra to:

  • rid yourself of mental effluvia
  • bring a sense of calm and tranquility
  • balance the nadis (energy channels)
  • release tension and anxiety
  • harmonize inner and outer worlds
In worship ceremonies, you may wish to use this mudra while water is offered to the feet of the deity, or prior to receiving the blessed water from this offering at the end of the ritual. You may also wish to note the energetic differences between use of the left and right hands in holding the mudra: spiral the mudra with your right hand holding your left thumb (as pictured here) to attract abundance, and change hands to promote cleansing and letting go.


Want to know more about our devotion and practice? Listen here >>



Our Community Welcomes You!


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.

In the Bay Area? Join us this Sunday (7/26)
for our monthly Kali Puja!

You can also 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?


(Ganesha image by Jazmine: http://inkd-indigo.ca/)

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Upcoming Events & Community Offerings


July 

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! What is DoK? Read on and visit our website to learn more...

Daughters of Kali (DoK) is a study and ritual circle that meets monthly to facilitate work with the Dark Goddess and in particular, Kali Maa. It is primarily a teaching coven yet members have an opportunity to engage their learnings directly in community and public work. This circle is dedicated to those interested in becoming practicing members of the Sha'can tradition and SHARANYA community. Participation in regular circle work for a year and a day can prepare one for initiation. Initiation, however, is a personal decision and is not a requirement of DoK. In addition to participating in dedicated work together and learning the history, symbolism, ritual formats and prayer methodologies of Sha'can, Daughters of Kali members work with an initiated mentor and contribute to the community by attending and eventually facilitating public worship ceremonies. Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s “Kali Puja” is a guide on this journey as are postings and articles on the SHARANYA website. All newcomers to DoK are expected to have read the FAQ page, glossary of terms, and puja article by the first meeting.

Click here to RSVP for the July DoK Open Circle


At the Heart of Tantra: Practice & Theory on the Path of Spiritual Awakening (7/26) at the Cultural Integration Fellowship. Lecture by Chandra Alexandre at 11am. By donation - All are welcome to attend.

 


August

Yogini Chakra (8/1) (Closed circle) & Lammas

Purnima Satsang (8/5) 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
.


Community Meeting (8/10) SHARANYA's organizational gathering, open to everyone, to discuss business, logistics, planning, and fun!

SHARANYA's Board Meeting (8/14)

Amavasya Satsang (8/21) 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 (8/30) 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 (8/30) Open to everyone!
RSVP requested

 

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...

SHARANYA's Kali Vidya


 Kali Vidya:
A Wisdom School for Her Mysteries & Dedicated to
(R)evolutionary Shakta Tantra


 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... >>



Daughters of Kali Open Circles & Initiation

At SHARANYA, we approach Maa with a deep commitment to Her homeland, respect, reverence and honor for Her Indian advocates, and a dedication to the creation of the Sha'can tradition as an appropriate manifestation of our love for Her in the West through Shakta Tantra. Originally birthed into consciousness in India, She is now arising in contexts outside of South Asia and is helping to create, inspire and evolve new forms of worship. SHARANYA and our tradition is dedicated to honoring Her appropriately and reverently here in the western world.


"My DoK experience was profound and fulfilling. I gained not only ancient and mystical wisdom but also a family that became connected to me on the most deep, soulful and sacred level...."

One's dedication on this path as a Daughter of Kali involves study of Hinduism, Tantrick practice, Sanskrit, and the Old Religion. It can lead to initiation into Her mysteries within the lineage tradition of Sha'can, a tradition that is informed by both Tantra and the Craft and sits solidly as a (R)evolutionary Shakta Tantra relevant for those practicing outside of India today.

Through Daughters of Kali, one gains an understanding of Kali and the goddesses of the Tantrick path. At each meeting, we work together using ritual, myth, lecture, readings, discussion, spiritual practices, and group work to deepen understanding of the Divine Female in historical, cultural and psycho-spiritual perspectives. In the spirit of the Sha'can tradition, in which mind, body, and spirit co-mingle in conscious creation, classes require commitment, outside reading, participation, and active engagement of Spirit in the day-to-day world.

Learn more about Daughters of Kali >>



Amavasya Satsang & Pilgrimage Blog Postings

New Moon & Solar Eclipse Reflections

Tuesday was both the New Moon and Solar Eclipse. Personally, I really did not know what to expect. Often, the New Moon energy is not something with which I am comfortable; I always feel the dark, void, or emptiness...which is not within my comfort zone...

Walking in the Footsteps of Goddess

Pilgrimage --a sacred journey-- has the capacity, should we choose to engage it, to take us to the heart of our beingness. Every year, I set out for India, land of the ancients, homeland of the Divine Mother and the one to whom I have dedicated myself, Kali Maa. On these trips, I do my best to open to the possibilities and to the realities; for India is a place of shattering, and I am no stranger to the perils (both seen and unseen) of each voyage...

Read on! >>



How to Create a Living Altar to the Dark Goddess

Many practitioners are afraid of dark goddess energies. Divinities such as Hecate, The Morrigan, Freya, Gran Brijit, Kali, Lilith, Oya and others prove frightening, leaving many without recourse to some powerful help, especially in times of challenge or crisis. Even the most seasoned among us can fear working with these goddesses.

Why is that, and how can we create a safe space in which to work with Her and the potent energy she carries?

Learn more and continue the dark goddess adventure here >>



Quote of the Month


Tantra in Practice


"After both partners have bathed,
śākti (the female partner) is liberally and gently massaged with scented oils: jasmine for her hands, keora for her neck and cheeks, champa and hina for her breasts, spikenard for her hair, mustk for her abdomen, sandal paste for her thighs, and khus for her feet..."

--Mookerjee & Khanna
The Tantrick Way (p. 167)




Want to add to our inspirations? >>



To the Kaula & Community...

Gratitudes and Blessings...


Let the light of the Divine shine always through your unique expression of Her grace! 


Click here for more 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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