First, let us recall what myth and religious texts tell us about Shakti. The following will necessarily be a very brief introduction to Shakti. There are so many different myths, texts and traditions about her, so many nuances, and each of the nuances illuminates aspects of the patriarchal “power-over-Life-and-women-vision”.
Shakti is a Sanskrit name originating in ”saknoti” meaning “is able, is strong”, from the Indo-European root *kak – “to enable, help”.
In Hindu traditions, Shakti has many different forms and names, and she is the spouse of the gods, or, more precisely, the creative power and intelligence of the gods. Each god has his own Shakti. The gods are impotent without their “Shakti”. Shakti is both the creative power and intelligence of the gods, and she is the life and creative power of the manifested Universe. Whereas the god represents the so-called formless aspects of Life – the spirit that is beyond time and space – Shakti is the form of the Universe, the matter aspect of Life. In the cosmic periods of “pralaya” (the slumber of extinction between world ages), the gods rest in cosmic peace and union with their Shaktis inside them.
Shakti is the power of the god to manifest HIS will and desires, and she is the manifestation of his will. Shakti has no will of her own. And yet without her, the god could manifest nothing. In tantric traditions she is a name for the kundalini energy/the inner fires of the physical and energetic bodies that lie dormant in the root chakra until she, through various practices, is awakened to vitalize the whole body and energetic systems by rising in the central channel of the spine and the two minor channels on either side of the spine. The goal of tantra and the goal of the whole manifested universe is to refine matter – Shakti – more and more, so that she can again be one with the god as she was before the gross bodies of the universe were manifested.
In the following we will concentrate on the Shakti of Shiva. Shiva is called “The Destroyer” aspect of the Hindu trinity Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. In the Pranava-Vada this trinity is described in the following way:
“Among these functions, that of making or creating goes with action by knowledge and belongs to Brahma. Again, that which has been made is maintained by knowledge: this maintenance or preservation is the work of Vishnu. Further because it is necessary that what has appeared should disappear, therefore there is a destroyer, and he is Shiva, connected with desire, which first affirms and next denies, acts and reacts, now attracts and then repels, begins with craving for, and, after satiety, revolts from its object and casts it off. It precedes action, or Brahma, as longing for manifestation; and it succeeds knowledge or Vishnu, after maintenance or enjoyment of that manifestation, as a sense of fatigue, a growth of inertness, a need for rest by winding up the manifestation.”
So it is Shiva, the destroyer, who is the final will and desire beyond all manifested life in the universe. Shiva is transcendent and deemed the only true reality. Immanent form in time and space is the divine illusion/Maya (another name for Shakti). It is the “lila”/play of the gods – the play where Shiva/all gods fulfil their desire for manifestation, enjoy it and then reject it. When satisfied, all is destroyed in the fires of cosmic kundalini. The ultimate desire of Shiva is total self/life annihilation, total destruction of all that is. In the final phase of this cosmic drama his Shakti is Kali. Images depicting Kali dancing on Shiva do not portrait Kali as stronger and more powerful than Shiva. They depict the fulfilment of Shiva’s own desire brought about by the fires of dissolution – the fire of Kali, who is his own life-force and power.
In a few Hindu traditions, the Goddess – Devi as Mahadevi – is the ultimate power and will behind all manifested and un-manifested realms. She is the Universe and transcends the Universe. She is Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and this trinity is described as the foundation of her throne. We meet her in such texts as Devi Gita, “the Song of the Goddess” and in Parvati Gita.
The Shiva-Shakti polarity and the idea of a sovereign feminine being – Mahadevi – are, even more than any other religions and myths, THE patriarchal myths of this contemporary transition between the old ages and the new age. They express the great turning we are programmed to experience within patriarchy right now. Women are meant to be an active force and energy within patriarchy, sustaining and nourishing patriarchy and the will of the gods by becoming fully integrated in patriarchy. In the old ages (and the old ages still rule the majority of people and nations in the world) women were intended to be victims, raped, beaten, killed in order to eliminate our innate connection to our original feminine Life-identified, Life-loving wild souls. But in the ultimate power-over-Life-and-women-vision, paradigm, and program, women are not intended to continue to live as victims in patriarchy. Women are intended to become One with patriarchal soul consciousness and One with the divine will and desire, that as, we saw in the quote above, is a will and desire first to enjoy Life and then to destroy Life. This is done firstly by integrating women into patriarchy on all levels of society and allowing them to play all the roles hitherto assigned to men. We literally become the Shaktis, the active intelligence and creative force, of patriarchy. This is what has happened since women were given the vote, began to earn money and participate in all processes of decision making . Women’s integration in patriarchy is meant to ensure that women’s intelligence and creativity maintain patriarchy AND make patriarchy into a graceful and peaceful New Age society. Integration in patriarchy is the second step towards total victory over women.
The first step was to make women into victims, the second step to make her equal with men, and the final step is to make her the supreme leader OF patriarchy. This will be, unless we women radically wake up, the final victory over and taming of our Life-identified wise, loving cosmic feminine souls. This is what the Devi Gita text is about. When it says that the old Hindu trinity is the foundation of her throne it simply means that the foundation of her throne, her power, is the patriarchal power-over-Life-and-women paradigm. Women are meant to be the local, national and international leaders within patriarchy on a worldwide scale in order to make patriarchy more invisible and in order to make us believe that feminine values now rule the world. This is women as Mahadevi. And this is what is going to happen if we don’t wake up to a radical breakaway from patriarchy – a radical breakaway that involves that we encourage ourselves and each other to see fully through the divine evil that manipulates and has manipulated humanity throughout history, AND it involves that we refuse to participate in the New Age nuclear war against the Earth. This nuclear war against the Earth can be stopped by us women if we collectively decide to stop consuming, stop using money on anything that is not absolutely necessary since without our money, patriarchy has no material power. We women can literally save the Earth by refusing to use money on unnecessary things, clothes, food, transportation, fun, holidays – all the things we in the rich part of the world take for granted and think it is our right to have. All we have materially that is not necessary for being comfortable belong to the Earth and all the millions of people whose basic needs are not met. Nuclear power has no meaning and will be much too expensive without our willingness to buy all the unnecessary products that are produced by destructive energy abuse (fossil fuels is also destructive energy abuse). We will need only the energy from wind, the sun and the Earth to produce the absolutely necessary things.
We women have to refuse to be Shaktis on all levels of Life, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, sexually, materially/economically, politically, socially and culturally. One of the books we are writing will be named “Healing the Goddess”. In this book we will move deeply into how we women can use the goddess images as images that reveal our deep collective feminine wounds and thus point to the healing we need in order to free ourselves from patriarchy, free ourselves to reclaim our Life-identified, wise, Life-loving feminine souls. As mentioned above Shakti is, as all goddesses are, an image that is defined by men in order to destroy Life-identified femininity. It is our feeling and experience that by diving deeply into the Shakti image and other goddess images with the knowledge that they are patriarchal constructs meant to suppress our true femininity and meant to destroy our connection to Life, we can, through them, open gateways to our authentic Life-identified femininity. Behind the patriarchal constructs we can glimpse the power, intelligence, love, beauty and creativity of our authentic souls. Behind the goddess images we can get a vision of Real Cosmic Life, beyond patriarchy and we can begin to listen to this vision, listen to the Life, the feminine power, intelligence, love and beauty, these images were intended to suppress and destroy.
How, then, can Shakti within us be healed? The following will be very brief. We have already touched upon the material level. Healing often starts with a letting go – letting go of the old, in order to make room for healing energy to enter. By letting go materially of all we don’t need, we open ourselves to a truly loving relationship to the Earth and all other life-forms here. As long as we participate in the consumer destructivity of patriarchy, we cannot feel ourselves as daughters of the Earth. Letting go of being Lakshmi, the Shakti of Vishnu, the patriarchal permission to indulge in material luxury, is a coming home to the Earth, home to a simplicity and Beauty that match the Beauty of the Earth. We become sisters (and brothers) of the flowers, the trees, the animals when we, like them, never take more than we need. This is Shakti healing on the material level.
We heal Shakti mentally by reclaiming our innate feminine logical and rational intellectual powers by letting go of the idea that the masculine is logical and rational, while the feminine is intuitive and emotion-based. Woman is the essentially rational and logical sex, and we have to reclaim our intellectual power in order to break free of patriarchy mentally. We need trust in ourselves and our intellectual powers in order to be able to think out a social, political and economic world order that is based on Mother Peace and Justice. We heal mentally when we free ourselves to become political, cultural and spiritual healers and leaders who don’t accept any patriarchal social, political, economic or cultural structure or institution. And we heal mentally when we allow ourselves to develop and be-speak a philosophy of Life that is truly Life-affirming. (I wrote an article about the feminine intellect and the Athena myth in June. It is on my timeline, so if you want to read it, you are welcome.)
Spiritually, Shakti is healed when we stop serving the divine will on any level. We heal when we begin to develop spiritual practices that aim at making us One with the Creative, Wise, Loving Intelligence of Life. One of the characteristics of this intelligence is that it is without hierarchies. It always creates and moves in relation to the Whole as a part of the Whole. The Creative Intelligence of Life is always Healing, always making Whole, always Mending. The Creative Intelligence of Life doesn’t serve anybody or anything. It Is and All-Ways unfolds itself as impeccable Wisdom, Love and Beauty. The Creative Intelligence of Life is continually spinning and weaving cosmic tapestries of Pure Beauty. When we allow ourselves to become One with that Intelligence, it becomes unthinkable and impossible for us to continue to sustain patriarchy with our creativity. It becomes impossible for us and unthinkable for us to participate in any aspects of the war against Earth-Life.
Emotionally, Shakti is healed when we stop accepting male destructivity. The Essence of Shakti is acceptance of Shiva’s destructivity. To continue to accept male violence, rape and sexual abuse as an inevitable part of life is actually to accept to presume that men are inherently evil. Men are not inherently evil. Men are the same beauty as we are, the Beauty of Life. Men have been abused by divine beings and been urged to violence by these beings throughout history. This is a deep wound in men collectively and they need to be encouraged to help each other heal this wound by coming together in groups where they meet each other with deep compassion for what it has meant to be men under divine tyranny. Men need that we all begin to address the problem of male destructivity.
For women male destructivity is the root of all emotional (and much physical) suffering. We have to realize that women are so filled with fear because we are so afraid of male violence, rape and sexual abuse. When we are afraid to walk home alone in the streets at night, walk alone at the ocean shore or in the forest, it is a REAL fear because there is always a risk that we meet a man who identifies so deeply with divine evil that he rapes, is violent or kills. We women wouldn’t be afraid of anything if we could be sure that we would never be beaten, raped or killed by a man. “You attract what you fear.” This is one of the many New Age lies that hide the truth: that some men choose to incarnate divine evil in relation to women and children. We have to realize that the destructivity of males is one of the greatest taboos of humanity, and we heal emotionally when we begin to speak out about this. Our fear cannot be healed before we can feel fully safe. But we can experience deep healing by not having to be afraid to name male destructivity. And we heal when we stop blaming ourselves for a fear that is real. It is not us that are weak. We are afraid because we have to live with the risk of male evil as long as there are males that choose to be violent, sexual abusive, rapists or killers. In our sisterhoods we need to encourage each other to name and address this deep problem of humanity. We heal Shakti on the deepest levels when we refuse to accept any aspects of male destructivity, divine or earthly.
Sexually, we heal Shakti when we let go of male-defined sexuality and allow ourselves to accept only Love and Beauty in our sexual self-expression and in the sexual self-expression of our husbands, partners and lovers. I consider it very likely that some of the tantric practices can be used for sexual healing. They were intended to bind women’s life-force, women’s inner fire to men and patriarchy, but it is my feeling that some of the techniques actually can be used to set our life-force free. Personally I am a committed celibate and sexual freedom for me is identical with living a life free of any forms of sexual self-expression. Many years ago, I had a vision of soft healing love-light flowing through all the cells of my body, and this is the kind of “sexual” healing I am longing for in this lifetime. But I am sure there is so much more to sexuality than I imagine and that there is so much beauty and love to be gained here in relation to ourselves and in relation to our partners.
Humanity needs healing on all levels, healing from patriarchy and not within patriarchy. We women have to lead the way by refusing to be Shaktis. If we radically refuse to play the role of Shakti, patriarchy will no longer be able to maintain its power. All things are born of Woman. Patriarchy simply can’t continue to exist if we stand together in Sisterhood and collectively decide that we only give birth to Life-affirming and Life-sustaining ways of being, Life-affirming and Life-sustaining cultures.
Read Part 1.