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  1. Practice notes: on the garland of names

    “What you’ve done can’t be helped;
    the day is almost over.
    On a jeweled island
    Siva sits in Siva’s house.
    Contemplate Her always.
    Prasad says,
    Durga’s ambrosial name liberates.
    Repeat it without ceasing;
    drench your tongue in nectar.”
    Ramprasad Sen (trans. Rachel Fell McDermott)

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  2. Group Book review: Indian Goddesses

    As a follow-up to the group review of books related to Kali in August, I’m going to present short reviews of three books focusing on Indian Goddesses that I’ve found to be very useful – The Divine Consort: Radha and the Goddesses of India edited by John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulf; David Kinsley’s Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition and Lynn Foulston and Stuart Abbott’s Hindu Goddesses: Beliefs and Practices. Continue reading »

  3. Sakti bodies – III: Geographies of power

    “O twice borns! wherever the pair of feet and the other parts of the dead body of Sati had fallen, Mahadeva being attracted and out of deep attachment to Her stayed Himself, in all those places, assuming the shape of a linga.”
    Kalika Purana 18:46

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  4. Some reflections on Transcendence – I

    “…what is emerging now is the nondualistic understanding of “immanent” and “transcendent.” Long seen as opposites in Western cultural history, transcendence is coming to be understood as “beyond” but not “above” the material plane we can see in every day life. What science calls “complex dynamical systems” has illuminated in recent decades the extraordinarily creative, complex, dynamic processes going on at every fraction of a second within, around, and through every entity in the universe. Our minds will never be able to map the endless networks of what I call “relational reality,” so spirituality that seeks to commune with either immanence or transcendence now sees that they are not apart. This realization is not new to Eastern philosophy or indigenous cultures, of course; we were simply late coming to it in the modern West because of our dualistic and mechanistic worldview.”
    Charlene Spretnak, Immanence as well as Transcendence

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  5. Book review – Imagining Hinduism: A Postcolonial Perspective

    One of the problems of engaging with tantra is that so many of the tropes used to construct contemporary popular representations of “tantra” – indeed, the very notion of “tantra” itself; that it is a singular, monolithic category which can be easily seperated from its South Asian roots and contexts – arise from colonial-era discourses. Postcolonialism has, since the 1970s been gaining increasing prominence as a broad-based approach to studying the interactions between (mostly) European nations and the societies they colonised. For a useful introduction to the range of issues which postcolonialism encompasses, see this Interview with Achille Mbembe. Continue reading »

  6. Shamanism and gender variance: the eighteenth century – “torrid zones”

    “On my visit this Morning to Tynah and his Wife, I found with her a person, who altho I was certain was a Man, had great marks of effeminacy about him and created in me certain notions which I wished to find out if there were any foundations for. On asking Iddeah who he was, she without any hesitation told me he was a friend of hers, and a class of people common in Otaheite called Mahoo. That the Men had frequent connections with him and that he lived, observed the same ceremonies, and eat as the Women did. The Effeminacy of this persons speech induced me to think that he had suffered castration, and that other unnatural and shocking things were done by him, and particularly as I had myself some Idea that it was common in this sea. I was however mistaken in all my conjectures except that things equally disgusting were committed.”
    William Bligh, The Log of the Bounty, 1789

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  7. Review: The Mysteries of the Red Goddess

    The Mysteries of the Red Goddess by Mike Magee, Kindle Edition Prakasha Publishing 2011 (3999kb, unlimited simultaneous device usage, text-to-speech enabled). £10.46 (incl. VAT and free whispernet delivery).

    The Mysteries of the Red Goddess

    Mike Magee has been providing invaluable translations and insights into tantric texts since the late 1970s. He’s also renown as an IT journalist – launching two major news sites – The Register and The Inquirer and has been named by the Daily Telegraph as one of the 50 most influential Britons in technology. Now he’s taken the leap onto Amazon’s Kindle platform and released The Mysteries of the Red Goddess which combines a translation of the Vamakesvara Tantra together with an exposition of themes and ideas which relate to the Sri Vidya tradition. Continue reading »

  8. Intensities: after the puja

    It seemed that I was enfolded through the sky
    Becoming a net; gauze; silken
    Bathed in feathers. Continue reading »

  9. Approaching Lalita: three modalities

    “Let my idle chatter be the muttering of prayer, my every manual movement the execution of ritual gesture,
    my walking a ceremonial circumambulation, my eating and other acts the rite of sacrifice,
    my lying down prostration in worship, my every pleasure enjoyed with dedication of myself,
    let whatever activity is mine be some form of worship of you.”
    Saundaryalahari

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  10. Pan: “disreputable objects of pagan licentiousness”

    “Shocking things go on here. You wouldn’t believe it! Licentiousness! Orgies! …. Even bingo. Oh yes.”
    Lurcio (Frankie Howerd), Up Pompeii

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