The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
As we laugh together
From Rumi’s Divan of Shams of Tabriz (translated by James Coleman)
Of late, I have been re-reading some of the writings of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, the thirteenth century Persian Sufi mystic whose poetry is so beloved in the contemporary West. Continue reading »
I fell in love with a tree, about four years ago. And after four years, she died. She was a flowering cherry. I’m not sure which variety, Prunus Pink Perfection I think or perhaps Prunus Kanzan. She grew in my local park, ten minutes from where I live. Blowsy and bedecked, ephemeral and voluptuous – that’s how she was in the Spring. It would have been her time to flower now, as her sister trees are, tossing their heads in glory. But she died. She was cut down in the snow, just after the Winter Solstice. Continue reading »
US tele-evangelist Pat Robertson has said, in a television interview over the last couple of days, “Something happened in Haiti a long time ago that people may not want to talk about… they got together a pact with the Devil. Continue reading »
Released in the same week as the Copenhagen climate summit (not an accident given its very deliberate environmental message), Cameron’s Avatar is alight with beautiful paradox Continue reading »
“Creation arises in joy, abides in joy and returns to joy… Lalita awakens the receptive soul to the bliss that underlies all things” Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses (1994: 89).
I was standing in water the other day and the angle of it created a stream broken into drops, cascading from the end of my chin. Each drop chased the preceding one and, looking down at them, I was hit by amazement. Their light-catching, simple procession immersed me in immediate wonderment. But I was not bathing in a dramatic waterfall, merely showering on ordinary morning. Tantrism is a philosophy of the cultivation of everyday ecstasy.
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What might a queer Western tantra look like, feel like, or be? That’s a good question. The answer is that if we want it, we will have to imagine it into being.
Let’s start with a different question – what does tantra mean in the popular imagination of the contemporary West? Well, of course it means sex, strange and possibly “sacred”, but sex of some kind. Continue reading »
“To Practice Tantra is to Ride the Tiger of Crazy Wisdom,
to plummet into Wisdom-Fire, and emerge
Wearing the Body of Visions!”
Ngakpa Chogyam Rinpoche
Zanskar, Ladakh – site of the twelfth Kalachakra initiation given by the fourteenth Dalai Lama.
After six months teaching Tibetan kids in the Kulu valley, the children of those who had come to India as refugees, I travelled north, first into Kashmir and then into Ladakh. We’d heard the Dalai Lama was giving Kalachakra, a public ritual, amongst the people there. It was 1988. Continue reading »
I am currently reading Zora Neale Hurston’s book Tell My Horse – Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica (1938). It contains the following interesting passage “… the medicine man… and the ‘God wood tree’ (Birch Gum) . He had a covenant with that tree on the sunny side… One day we were there to prevent the enemies of the medicine man from harming him. He took a strong nail and hammer with him and drove the nail into the tree up to the head with three strokes, dropped the hammer and walked away rapidly without looking back. Later on he sent me back to fetch the hammer to him. He proved to me that all you need to do to poison a person and leave them horribly swollen was to touch a chip of this tree to their skin while they were sweating. It was uncanny”. Reading this, it occurred to me that if that was the sunny side of the tree, I wouldn’t be at all keen on meeting the person with a covenant with the shadow side.
What does it mean to have a covenant with a tree? Western en-visionings of shamanism very frequently focus on relationships with animal spirits guides. What about relationships with plants? Continue reading »