Dance of 2020 – When Shiva came to visit & Kali roared!
I’ve been contemplating this time, of Covid-19 and the utter retreat across the globe during lockdown. It is unprecedented. And it’s made me think of Shiva and Kali and their dance, or aka tāṇḍava. It’s as if Shiva came to visit and Kali is roaring change! Let me tell you why…
Shiva the mighty meditator, pauses to retreat inwards, often. Then when the time calls he emerges, rises and dances. This sometimes causes a storm and that is what makes me feel into my Beloved Kali!
For the Tantrika, now, this time in our unprecedented history, 2020 is now the perfect storm in all the imperfect ways; we call our daily life.
And as a Tantrika I am calling in Shiva and Kali.
I truly feel like I am now practicing the real yoga.
Who is Shiva?
Shiva is an aspect of the Hindu Trinity, the Trimūrti, which are the 3 forms of creation, maintenance and destruction. The Three forms are;
▼ Brahma = creation
▼ Vishnu = preservation or maintenance
▼ Shiva = transformation or destruction
I’ve been looking within my own practices of what is igniting (creation) what is dissolving (destruction) to transform and what sustains my life (maintenance).
What sustains me is my breath, the gratitude of my breath and life, and mantra.
I have a great affinity for Shiva because his mantra was my first initiation into Tantra and Yoga.
Mantra is a potent key in the story I am about to share with you.
Shiva holds a trident and as you might know out of all the men I could magnetise into my life, when I chanted Om Namaḥ Śivāya, the man I met was a Rasta man, this picture, Shiva has dreadlocks. My husband lives in an island whose emblem is a trident. AND this year my theme is Shiva Shakti…
Back to Shiva, when energies need to change, evolve, shift or die. When the cycles are changing and the universe needs to shift.
When old structures or paradigms need to die.
Shiva comes to visit!
Shiva becomes Naṭarāja the cosmic dancer. His dance is the ānanda tāṇḍava, which means the dance (tāṇḍava )of bliss ānanda. The bliss is the tearing down of the old, destroying for the good of all to rebirth the new. I now it might not feel like bliss I hear you say! And…
Covid-19 may not feel like this now, but we in time will see the rebirth, the transformation. Until then the dance is one we must flow with or resist.
What I love about these metaphors of the myth is they give us the keys to open the doors within.
You choose flow or resist.
Shiva’s dance gives us the tools to navigate the destruction, the death to rise with the rebirth. The tools can be seen in what Shiva holds or his stance, reveal what he is calling in and what he is mirroring to us.
Life is cyclic, there’s creation or birth, maintenance or life and dissolution or death.
The dance initiates us into the rhythm of life, and all the cycles, be it life, death and rebirth.
Let me invite you into the dance when Shiva came to Visit
Shiva as Naṭarāja shares the 5 acts called pañca-kṛtya. These five (pañca) acts empower us to navigate our everyday reality on the journey with more with ease and understanding. Or not as the case may be and the storm for some is an utter nightmare.
I am writing this after I have finished a practice with my teacher Shiva Rea, called Agni Kriya; I feel like my body became a drum and the fire ignited my soul. The dance creates with the drum…
▼ Creation is manifested with Naṭarāja back, right hand. He holds a damaru, a small, two-headed drum that calls in sound. The sonic vibrations are the initiation of creation called – Sṛṣṭi. Sṛṣṭi is the beat of life, the pulse of the universe, the beat of your heart and the pulse of life in your body. The drum has two heads because the universe expresses itself through polarities – light and dark, soft and strong, effort and ease, stability and freedom.
▼ Shiva the dancer, Naṭarāja right foot stands steadily, he holds the universe above him in his body. He stands upon a dwarf called Apasmāra, which represents the ego, and means forgetfulness. Naṭarāja is strong yet flexible in steadiness. This blissful dancer is the steady eye in the middle of the storm. This is Sthiti or maintenance, Naṭarāja epotomizes the ever-adjusting energy of maintenance of life, where we forget our true nature.
– This is where we are right now in coivd-19 I believe. Learning what sustains, being flexible with what needs to bend, shape-shift, release, from the old, to make way for the new paradigm.
This is why Shiva came to visit us – to give us a message.
▼ Naṭarāja outstretched, back, left hand he holds Agni or fire, the flame of destructive energy or dissolution Saṁhāra. The fire is the power that transforms everything to ash and from the fertile ash rebirth emerges. After we create something and it maintains us, it naturally dissolves or dies. Yet consciousness remains. The old ways of consumerism, patriarchal hierarchy, power, control are not immune. We are all in the same storm. Mother Earth is resting from our collective over-doing.
▼ His front left arm reaches across his body, in particular his heart in the gajahasta (hand of the elephant) mudrā concealing his heart. Tirodhāna is concealment. Why would one of the acts be to conceal?
The limited awareness of being human – when Consciousness (Shiva)emerges as a human it is part ofDivine Play. But the Divine imparts him/herself with only a fraction of its unfathomable awareness and in the process, forgets who or what s/he really is. This Tirodhāna also causes suffering – we cannot see the truth of our reality and this causes fear, the next hand.
What are your fears?
▼ Here I am am holding my hand like Naṭarāja front right hand is raised, palm open toward us in abhāya (fearless) mudrā. We all have fears, yet when we bring them to the mirror of the heart, and are humbled, we embrace and transform them. Are we not in a humbling experience right now? Or some are still in concealment…
The two hand gestures combine to remind us that Śiva’s concealment is a gift to be embraced rather than to be feared.
The concealment arm points to the 5th act of grace, called Anugraha. Oh the beauty of this reminder, that within every apparent concealment, there is a hidden gift to be discovered. We remember. Anugraha is an intitiation. I remember my own personal storm when I couldn’t walk when I first met Tantra and was chanting Om Namaḥ Śivāya and the touch of grace awakened me to what I was concealing and my inner most fears revealed and released.
The cave we fear to enter holds the treasure that we seek.
▼ Lastly, Naṭarāja left leg is raised in front of him with the left foot gently turned up. This is considered the most sophisticated of all the positions of the dance. This foot Naṭarāja offers us Anugraha – the grace as revelation.
The entire dance is surrounded by a ring of fire called prabha mandala, or the circle or crown of rays. These rays of light are the emanating power of mantra and the sacred sounds of Sanskrit.
The whole dance
The blissful dance of Naṭarāja as he starts the drum he initiates the thunderous sounds of creation. Let the dance begin, it generates great internal heat (Agni, which emanates as the flame in his hand). As he continues dancing, he starts throwing fireballs to all the places in the Universe or within our self that need to be destroyed or awakened to released. The cosmic fire is when things metaphorically burn in our life or literally burn, this is where life, or our Self is reborn or recreated. So that everything can change, transform and evolve into the new paradigm.
Shiva comes to visit or to town whenever it is time, – this makes me think of Kali, one of Shiva’s consorts. I’ll add a little about her at end. But for now he doesn’t check in whether we are ready or even ask us politely to dance (haha another Kali touch!). Nope time is time.
When it’s time, may be at times of forest fires, Earthquakes, tsunamis, or personal challenges that affect our work, relationships, family. We may experience great loss.
Kali and Shiva came to visit…
Kali is feminine for Kala time. Kali’s empowerment removes linear time. She’s the fierce feisty form of the feminine and one of Shiva’s most beloved consorts.
Kali dances her own tāṇḍava, when she is summoned into the battlefield of life to kill a demon aka our fears. She licks them up with her tongue, yet then becomes intoxicated.
The gods begged Shiva to stop her. So he lay in Kali’s path. As soon as Kali stepped on him, a patriarchal interpretation of this is; she bit her tongue out of embarrassment. She was ashamed to learn that her bloodlust prevented her from seeing her Beloved.
Another view, a more matriarchal one is Kali’s tongue literally is sticking out mocking the rules, the judgments, the projections and the opinions of others. Especially the establishment or the patriarchy.
Kali Ma is the primal raw power of the birthing process. She is naked, wild loose hair, her bling are skulls, her skirt hands.
In Hindu mythology nakedness is symbolic of wildness and this goes against the patriarchy, western society control. Clothes symbolise a civilised society, whereas nakedness represent the wildness beyond society’s rules or social graces
▼ Is covid inviting us back to our wild roots, to simplify life?
I’m not saying we all become naked, but we are being stripped bare to our deepest fears, death, what is important?
Many of us fear this kind of raw emotional nakedness and conform physically, mentally and emotionally. The outer shell of our house may look pretty, manicured, plumped, waxed, botox’d, lashed up….but is the inner falling apart.
▼Or maybe we just want it all to go back to normal?
Nope, no can do, the dance has begun and the birthing process too. And any mother or midwife will tell you when the birthing process begins, you cannot stop it. Surrender is a key. No Mr fix it can enter…
Kali’s Tongue as Shiva came to visit
Kali’s tongue mocks limitations and assumptions of the human gaze. You can read more in my other blog.
▼ Even mine about the plumping and preening. I’ve done it! But it wasn’t what sustained me…I was concealing my fears of growing older.
Kali reminds us that whole nature is sovereign. Especially our inherent nature that is the pulse and beat of life.
As Shiva comes to visit, now, Kali with him and their dance is one of change.
Before these last contemplations, I wanted to share a quote from my teacher Shiva Rea book, that is quoted from Andrew Harvey, not written about 2020 or covid, nevertheless this has been going on and needs change…
The human race is now in an unprecedented and destined evolutionary crisis – a global dark night. This global dark night is potentially the birth canal for a new, embodied divine humanity chastened by tragedy and illuminated by grace.
The birthing force of the divine human is the force of the Motherhood of God, expressed not only in the new and radically evolutionary mysticism but also in sacredly inspired radical action on every level and every arena.
What radical action will you embody?
How will you change?
What is important to you right now?
What needs to dissolve?
What do you yearn to ignite?
And how does the kind of life you see sustain you?