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  1. 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 »

  2. 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

    Continue reading »

  3. 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 »

  4. Intensities: after the puja

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

  5. 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

    Continue reading »

  6. 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

    Continue reading »

  7. Group Book review: Kali Studies

    Following a Kali ritual at this year’s Queer Pagan Camp, a few people asked me to recommend books about Kali, so here’s a quick round-up of some books that I’ve found useful in one way or another, particularly in helping me to get to grips with this complex goddess. This is a subject very dear to me, as it was a recurring dream of Kali, experienced back in 1982, which first led to my becoming interested in Tantra – so my devotion to Kali is very much at the heart of my tantra practice. Continue reading »

  8. Sakti bodies – II: Kali in the Mahabhavagata Purana

    “Oh Kali full of Brahman!
    I’ve searched them all
    Vedas, Agamas, Puranas
    and found You:
    Mahakali
    Krisna, Siva, Rama
    they’re all You
    My Wild-Haired One.”
    Ramprasad Sen

    Kali has been occupying my thoughts a great deal of late, so to take this series of posts forward, I thought I’d take a look at how Kali is represented in the Mahabhavagata Purana, a late medieval text which for the most part, is given over to narratives about the Great Goddess. Continue reading »

  9. An extract from Smoke and Mirrors

    Admin’s note: There follows an extract from Stephen Grasso’s essay Smoke and Mirrors which features in a new anthology – The Wanton Green – out soon from Mandrake of Oxford. For more details and contributor previews, visit The Wanton Green blog.

    In the earliest creation stories of London, Brutus the Trojan was caught in a storm on his voyages from Troy, and amid the wreckage of his ship was witness to a vision of the Goddess Diana, the virgin huntress of The Moon. Radiant on the waters like so many incarnations of Our Lady from the Stella Maris to the Virgin Caridad del Cobre, each appearing to those in distress at sea. Diana saved his life, and told him to build her a temple at the place where he struck land. He founded a city and dedicated it to her. Luan-Dun, the city of The Moon, and built her sacred temple upon the hill where St Paul’s Cathedral now stands. Continue reading »

  10. Multiplicious Becomings: tantric theologies of the grotesque – IV

    “Dismantling the organism has never meant killing yourself, but rather opening the body to connections that presuppose an entire assemblage, circuits, conjunctions, levels and thresholds, passages and distributions of intensity, and territories and deterritorializations measured with the craft of a surveyor.”
    Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

    “The Supreme Lord fashions the body and the senses, corresponding (to the sphere of) duality by the power of Maya, while through His power of knowledge He generates Mantras. Their body is the self-awareness which is the expanse (akasa) (of consciousness), and they denote the wonderful diversity of things.”
    Ksemaraja, commentary on the Spandakarika (Dyczkowski, 1992)

    For the final part of this extended essay I will focus on Sitala and her relationship with disease and possession. Continue reading »