Topics/Questions addressed in this interview (in order of their discussion):
– What is a Priestess?
– Who am I? How did I get started on The Path?
– What is the Nurturing Feminine/Masculine?
– What is the Assertive Masculine/Feminine?
– Astrological Bodies that represent the Feminine/Masculine
– Interpreting Venus & Mars in the Natal Chart
– The Goddess & God in Astrology
– Reinterpreting Juno and Virgo
– The Fiery Venus: Going back to Goddesses Ishtar and Inanna
– The Compassionate Masculine: The Christ Archetype and Lord Shiva
– Eroding Gender Binaries and its Impact on Astrological Interpretation
– The Path of Formlessness / Dissolution
– What is ‘The Shadow’? (Goddess Chinnamasta as Compassion, Saturn as Crone-Love – Reversing the Archetypes and bringing them into balance)
– Nessus & Overcoming the Cycle of Abuse
– Eros & Intimacy
– Re-defining Astrology as a Tool of Healing
+ why everything said in this interview is but one Truth, not fixed, and open to Interpretation and Evolution … breaking through the stereotypes!
The past couple of days I’ve seen spiritual writings saturated with the idea of ‘transforming’ or ‘transcending’ Darkness, and turning it into Light. Whilst I understand the basic idea behind it, I also feel compelled to share my take on it. This understanding is simply a restatement of the Binary/Duality that so much of Spirituality claims to want to transcend. The moment you ascribe normative values such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to experiences, and then classify them as ‘light’ and ‘dark’ – and then make narratives about which is better, which needs to be transcended, and which needs to be let go of – you’re still falling into the same trap of Judgment. (If we’re perfectly honest with ourselves — the kind of dissolution and transcendence that spirituality aspires to would require a transcending of ALL categories)
Think about it. At the end of the day, Light and Dark are different aspects of the same Reality. The moment we declare that one is somehow worse, weaker, or in need of ‘transmutation’ into the other, is the moment we officially declare war on a key aspect of our own complexity – and origins…
Now I know the idea that we’re all recycled stardust and beings of Light is true … (and I like that idea too) – but it’s also worth remembering that EVERYTHING came from Darkness.
Yes, we are children of the Supernova, but we are also descendants of a Time in which Light simply did not exist. We emerged out of that Primordial Abyss.
Those of us willing to experience ‘Darkness’ without the categories and narratives of ‘evil’ or ‘dense’ or ‘in need of transmutation’ – eventually come to the understanding that there was in fact, a Sacred, Holy Energy present in Our Collective Primordial Beginning. An energy that accompanies us through our lives, and which we return to in order to experience our most powerful moments of transformation.
Astrologers understand the pull of this energy, and the immense wisdom and cycles of learning it imparts – as expressed our recognition of points such as the Galactic Center (at 27 Sagittarius) and the Super-Galactic Center (at 1 Libra) – these are massive Black Holes which represent the energy of Spiritual Teaching (among other things) … Often, those tight aspects to these points have a strong connection with ‘Source’ (in spiritual parlance).
Spiritualists in shamanic and more ancient traditions also understand the role of the Holy Darkness, expressing this connection through the imagery of the Dark Womb of the Earth. Those who engage with the energies of the Crone, Dark and/or Warrior aspect of the Goddess will know exactly what I’m talking about. That place in which you are first discovered, nurtured, and then able to arise from (and return to, when need be).
One theory for the evolution of Life on this planet points to its origins in the deep hydrothermal vents, beneath the ocean’s floor. A very ‘dark’ place … a more relatable analogy is the how a seed must first be buried before it begins to grow…. Thinking about it… even the womb in which the human fetus gestates is … a familiar, comforting – individualized – expression and engagement with Primordial Darkness.
So no matter which perspective you look at – astrophysics, astrology, evolutionary anthropology, biology,ancient spirituality – and so on — Darkness has had a key role to play in the ‘beginning’ of Life and Existence as we know it.
So.. I’d say it’s not something to avoid – or (possibly worse) to patronize with ideas of ‘transmutation’ and ‘healing’ so it can then become ‘Light’. It is its own vibration – and one that we do not need to (and cannot) ‘light-wash’, lest we erase our own primordial origins in the process.
Darkness and Light do not share the relationship of Opposites as commonly understood – Darkness is not even the ‘absence’ of light – but the photonic saturation of Light Absorbed (thank you one of my commentors for pointing that juicy fact out)
And they really don’t share relationship of soap (Light) and grease (Dark), something which enough soap can ultimately get rid of…. That is exactly the kind of binary/heuristic duality that sprung the trap of Judgment in the first place.
Enjoy the Rainbows, Enjoy the Light – and for those of you in search of Totality … Enjoy the Sacred Darkness and all the Shades of Grey that dance between the two – whilst you’re at it.
As Priestesses – what is it that we do? Do we hold someone’s hand and listen to them pour their hearts out? Do we just ‘talk straight’, and tell someone what they really need to hear? Do we heal? Do we inspire? Do we defend? Do we terrify? Do we help out behind the scenes or jump straight into the heart of things?
Yes… Yes… and Yes ….
And a lot more besides …
Being a Priestess does not require a religion, or even any understanding of faith (as paradoxical as that sounds). Some Priestesses use a Title, and some others do not even recognize the construct – doesn’t stop them from being one though 😉 And both approaches are just as valid.
And just to be clear – whilst I tend to address my posts to all genders, this one has a strong emphasis on the Feminine. The Priest’s Path of Service tends to be slightly different – but those who have a balanced sense of Masculine/Feminine will be able to relate to this piece as well.
What I have seen across the board is this: Priestesses live day-to-day with eyes in this world and in plenty others simultaneously. They see the movement of Spirit, Divinity, Grace, Life through all that occurs and honor, amplify or simply recognize that movement through some form of Service. As a Priestess upholds, embodies and anchors that vibration of Living-in-Communion, she naturally becomes a beacon that others are drawn to – a Gateway, if you will – to Healing and Re-connection.
Sometimes it’s a pleasant process, and at other times, it can be extremely uncomfortable. Some Priestesses are gentler, others are harsher. Some see joy and life in the world, and others see the rot and are focused upon its healing. Sometimes both, and a lot more besides. There’s just no generalizing it.
You can find a Priestess in a hospital, in a church, in a pagan community, in a social care center, in parliament, in a corporation, in a mirror – anywhere where there is a Woman able to see this Movement/Vibration and Align herself with it.
But more than any of that – there’s the Devotion, or Dedication to a particular Cause, Vibration or Idea. In ancient times, many of us chose death over the forsaking of our beliefs; We chose our cause of devotion over much-desired love and comfort; We chose to walk the route that no one else dared or wanted to even approach (as so many awakening priestesses are beginning to remember).
Some of us continue to make those same choices. And in some parts of the world, it really is a matter of life-and-death. For most of us, the repercussions are nowhere near as dire. But that does not make our choices any less significant.
We see it when we are called to speak our Truth to friends, family, colleagues, lovers, and so on. We see it in our thoughts, emotions, ideas and very substance, or essence of Being.
A constantly running red thread … that keeps pulsing, as real as your heartbeat. The sound of an invisible drum, a rhythm your Soul keeps dancing to. Each footstep, each time you follow that thread – a Choice is Made.
At times these choices seems like Trials – Trials of Fire and Spirit that just keep you going forward, come what may. Some with more intensity, others less so (and both is fine).
The choices that come in our lives, which call us to always, always look at things from a Transcendent Perspective. We’re always called to take the ‘higher/deeper’ road – and nothing exists in half-measures.
There is this constant intensity – be if of joy, trials, sorrow, anger – or any other emotional state (sometimes all) as Priestesses begin to remember and embody their Sacred Archetypes.
It’s not all grim, but it’s not all cupcakes and roses either. There is a beauty to this path, but also a great striving that accompanies it – especially in the earlier phases of awakening.
In my case, I was recognized as a Priestess (without the title ever being used) by a spiritually attuned mother and a father who recognized me as his teacher (and I him) from infancy. Even so, Living the Path, has not been a walk in the park (and that too, is a part of my Service).
In my earlier years, given my name (Bhairavi – Destroyer of Obstacles, The Most Terrifying Aspect of Maha-Kali) and cultural background (where Goddesses are shown sticking tridents into and impaling ‘demons’) – the biggest lesson I had to learn was in the Mode, or Type of Service I was called to give. The ‘battle metaphor’ had to dissolve (which took some work, and the help of friends), till I was better able to see the full spectrum of things.
So here’s some of what I’ve learnt:
(1) Leaping into battle doesn’t always work. But neither does dropping all your defenses and walking in as the pacifist.
(2) Mediation, Healing and Transmutation isn’t always the best course of action (at least, not at first). Sometimes Defending, Protecting and Making a Boundary is.
(3) Holding your ground is right sometimes, but so is complete Surrender.
(4) Not backing down is just as valid as turning your back and walking away
(5) Not all crises are yours to solve, not all problems you encounter are a part of the work that you came to do.
(Sometimes we feel indispensable, and that too is a part of the ego learning that this Priestessing business is not something you can put in a box 😀 )
(6) There is no ‘one formula’ or ‘mode’ that can be used for every situation – nothing is generalizable
(7) The moment you think you ‘know’ something, the Universe shows up with a whole new thing for you to learn. It’s endless, and that’s a beautiful thing in itself.
I’d like to think that I integrate a wider repertoire of these responses in the current way I walk my path, and that I will continue to learn more as time progresses. My trident (claws/ferocity) is there in the background should I ever truly require it, but a more peaceful approach tends to solve most issues.
But one thing I have learnt through all of this is the following:
That there is no ‘default’ response for what a Priestess does, when she is Called to Serve. We are all different, and our Paths and Purposes are different – as are the wide range of situations we encounter in our individual lives.
So there is no need to generalize, to compare one’s path with another, or to try and create a ‘standard formula for Priestessing’.
Here’s what I wrote to a friend earlier today, on the same subject – and with these words I leave you to your thoughts:
At times we will be called into battle to seek the peace through mediation. And at other times, we will be called to fortify the defenses against assault. Sometimes it’s making sure the crops grow and people are safe. It’s very very relative.
At times we burn, at times we heal, at times we stand our ground, or build bridges – and at times, we make sure we turn and never look back. All are necessary, all are equal, and all are …. specific to the circumstance.
Today I visited two temples with my dance teacher, my mum and my healer. It was an unlikely combination of people, but a group that was meant to visit these sacred spaces on an astrologically potent day. Today we had the Sun conjunct Saturn, the re-activation of the Great Goddess Fire Trine and a powerful T-Square between Mars and the North/South Nodes (see – http://wp.me/p4OUNS-c3 ). We visited a Shiva and Kali temple situated on a hill known as Bukit Gasing – and a small miracle occured 🙂
But first – some back-story … Re-wind to a week ago!
On November 11th, 2014, I was with my father and we were waiting for my healer to show up. His train was delayed, and so I suggested we visit some temples whilst waiting. We went to the (same) Shiva and Kali temple on Bukit Gasing – places I go to each time I get a chance – and strange and wonderful things happened.
The Shiva temple on Bukit Gasing is a place that I’ve visited since early childhood. The temple – back then – had a beautiful form, and I loved offering my prayers to a beautiful serpent mound therein. You had a view of Kuala Lumpur unlike any other, and truly you felt as though you were layers up into some other etheric place. It had an otherworldly feel to it, and in the best sense possible.
In recent years, the old temple was demolished to make way for a newer temple – a move which I felt wholly unnecessary (as I’d loved the old one in the first place). Due to structural issues, that too was demolished. And all that remains of both temples is a poignant mound of earth and rubble.
When my father and I went there on November 11th, something strange happened. We hadn’t twigged that it had all been demolished, and so Appa and I gazed upon the mound of earth in a mixture of shock and sadness.
But His vibration was there. In a poignant way, the Lord of Formlessness and Dissolution resided in a Temple with No Form.
All that remained of the Serpent Mound I used to offer my prayers to was a statue of a large 5-headed serpent made of cement (pictured below), hovering over a jasmine bush.
We headed a little further up the hill where priests had kept some idols in a very small mini-temple. The mini-temple housed the Shiva Linga, the row of gods around it, the Navagrahas (Nine Planets), Muneeswarar (an ancient Tamil god), Nagathampirar (the Serpent Lord), Bhairava (the fierce, wild, primordial form of Lord Shiva), Dakshinamoorthy (the ‘Guru’ form of Shiva), all placed in the size of a small living room.
Just before we went in, I noticed one of the priests looking at me in a curious way. I was clad in a long nehru-jacket style suit, with some trousers beneath it, showing maybe about … 1 inch of ankle?
The priest told me to grab an old piece of yellow cloth and tie it around my waist. I was confused at first, and frankly – he seemed the same. So I wore it around me, and as I’m tall, my ankles were still showing. So if it was for ‘modesty’ … it didn’t really help….
My dad looked amused as I shrugged at him and he said I looked like a priest as yellow is the sacred colour for the priesthood – as is white and saffron.
I was a little perplexed about the whole thing as I was the only person at the temple who was asked to wear this. I decided to consider it a form of His ‘Thiruvilaiyadal’ (Divine Play) and focus upon Lord Shiva Himself – and what a beautiful vision he granted me. I saw him as an endless form, so tall, so large, that there was simply not enough of Space in the Universe to contain to him. A beautiful, powerful vision, and one in which in I indicated my readiness to Serve in the ways I needed to.
Taking off the rough yellow cloth, I asked another priest why I had been handed it … He said something about wearing it when one wears ‘half-length trousers’ …. Which made absolutely no sense. Frankly … there was confusion in the air, and I decided that it was Fate that I had to wear a garment handed by a priest.
We then went to the Shivabhatrakaliamman Temple, dedicated to Mother Kali. The temple is also located on Gasing Hill, beneath the Shiva temple. We’d passed by this temple for years, until 2-3 years ago I asked my older brother to take me there. And what I found myself looking at was a 7 ft tall statue of the Mother standing in all Her beauty and Glory. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that this is the only temple I know of in this country who honors the essence of Bhairavi (after whom I am named), and which plans to conduct the ‘Linga Bhairavi (Bhairavi in the Shiva Lingam) Pooja’.
So when I went to see her on November 11th with my dad, I was surprised that she told me to ‘Go and come back in a week’s time’. I paid my respects to the other deities Durga Maa, Shangalli Karuppan / Madurai Veeran / Muniswaran (ancient Tamil gods), Vinayagar (Ganapathi), Nagalinga (The Serpent Lord) and of course, Pechaiamman (The Grandmother / Crone / Healer Goddess). I got the same message from Pechaiamman as well – to ‘Go and come back in a week’s time’.
I continued my worship of the Navagrahas (9 Planets), walked around the main altar thrice, and payed my respects to the Chinese shrine integrated as part of the Temple (that happens in this country, I think it’s cool). As I was headed to the Serpent Goddess’ Shrine (where there is a towering 5-headed serpent sculpture hovering over the Goddess’ image and a beautiful Serpent Mound) — I noticed something new at the temple.
A new alcove had been opened, and in it – two fierce, black-skinned, wild, primordial paintings of Lord Bhairava (Shiva) and Goddess Bhairavi (Kali). The were life-sized drawings in a small room with a single lime on the ground, surrounded by the red powder (vermillion / kungkumam) and a lowly placed red light. I felt at home .. I felt as though THIS was the reason why I’d been told to keep ‘Going’ through the temple.
I paid my respects to the Serpent Mother and my dad and I left to pick up the healer (whose delay made this visit possible). Right next to the train station was another Goddess temple … in fact, the same temple in which my grandparents got married. So … my dad knowing what I’m like, pulled the car over so I could go in and pay my respects.
As soon as I stepped inside, I realized the temple was conducting special prayers for Goddess Pratangyira Devi (whom I’d shared an image of just a few days prior – she is the Lion-Headed Goddess, also linked with the energy of Bhairavi) and for Gayatri Devi (the feminine Principle in Unified form). I spent quite a while walking around and praying to all of the gods, much to the curiosity of a small child whose eyes kept following my movements.
I was told to return in a year’s time, on Nov 11th 2015. Goddess knows what’s in store for me then.
Fast forward to the present … a week later … Nov 18th. Only a few days ago (after I’d been told to go back to the temple on the 18th) did I realize the astrological significance of the date. I’d only had about 2 hours of sleep as – try as I might – I wasn’t able to upload a video on the most recent transits.
My mum, who normally doesn’t travel much decided to come along as I’d told her about the Bhairavi shrine. My dance teacher provided the transport and my healer arranged to meet to us.
There was so, so much traffic but we had the sense of … being able to make it to the temples (on Bukit Gasing) on time.
We went to the ShivaBhatraKaliamman temple first, to see Mother. I prayed to my heart’s content, with an oil lamp in my palm, walking around the whole premises. I felt peaceful, and at exactly the right place and the right time. I had the sense She was pleased, and kept walking around. My party was joyful and moved by the Bhairava-Bhairavi shrine and the other installations at the temple.
I spoke briefly to the priest there (who knows who I am) and he explained that the Shrine was opened only 4-5 months ago. It was where Maha-Kali was originally placed before being shifted to Her present location. Now typically, Hindu temples have a trishulam (trident) representing Lord Bhairava-Shiva towards the outer section of a temple. He represents the protection of Boundaries.
But Bhairavi? Here’s the first time I’d seen her represented alongside Him.
The priest explained – as with the name of the temple itself (Shiva-BhatraKali-Amman Temple), that their rationale was that Bhairava/Bhairavi (Shiva/Shakti) ought not to be separated. They needed to be represented together.
A temple after my own heart <3 <3 <3 , in other words.
But that wasn’t all…
She told me to do an Archana (where you buy a ticket and the priest says some prayers for you, giving you some fruits and thunooru (holy grey ash) and kungkumam (vermillion, red powder) to take home).
This is unusual for me as I tend to do my prayers myself. But it was a clear missive, and so I did.
I had my party (myself, mum, my dance teacher, my healer) hold the silver tray together as we stated our names and Signs/Ascendants for the archana.
Here’s where it got strange. The priest (a different person from the one I spoke to) looked somewhat off-balance – like he was being disturbed by something. The mantras did not match the gods he prayed to, and Dakshinamoorthy (the ‘Guru’ form of Lord Shiva) was left out of it. My dance teacher and I were listening and observing and knew something strange was at work…
Again, Thiruvilaiyadal (Divine Play), this time by the Mother.
I waited till Dakshinamoorthy was honored, and realized that he’d forgotten to give us the customary fruits and powders you get when you buy an archana ticket. I said no matter, and made to leave.
Suddenly … he remembered and he did something most unusual.
He took a the usual fruits and such, but …
He Also Took the Bangles Placed at the Feet of the Mother. And handed my M/mother a Lime.
The Lime was one that had been on Her Trident (we later discovered).
(For context, you don’t get those Bangles when you go to a temple — those are for Her! The same with the Lime!)
It was a tremendous Blessing … and one that was new to us all (having traveled in India and other sacred sites).
But here’s where it gets even more powerful.
My mum – as she was praying to the Grandmother Goddess (Pechaiamman), had offered her bangles (which is something people do). There was no way the priest could have seen as Pechaiamman’s alcove is towards the back of the temple. (and it’s not something you get a trade for). People leave their bangles when they pray for children, or for other specific wishes.
My mum didn’t say a word, till she got glass bangles (from the feet of the Mother herself) ….
Now if that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.
We then went to the Shiva temple, further up the hill. I was extremely tired (with only 2 hours of sleep) and the hill isn’t an easy climb. I knew if I lagged, I’d feel the pain more … and so I began chanting the Shiva Tandava Strotam … and shot up the hill, faster than my dance teacher and healer. They were as surprised as I was 😀
The priests gave us the same curious, slightly puzzled look – and no yellow cloth today. I could feel their stares upon me as I was walking around and offering my prayers. My dance teacher and I performed pranayam as the temple was closing – and – one again, another beautiful vision. Which I shall share when the time is right.
We had some prasadam in the form of ponggal (sweet rice) from the temple and vadai (a savoury donut) and walked back down the hill. I touched the soil of the rubble, feeling His presence within once more.
So all in all, Miracles and the Love of the Divine.