Skip to navigation | Skip to content



Posts tagged ‘bodies’

  1. Tantra & Possession – II

    In my April 2017 Treadwells Lecture, I briefly touched on the growth of theistic religions in India during the early centuries of the common era. With the rise of theistic forms of religion, we get different articulations of how to enter into an intense, affective relationship to one’s chosen deity. Some devotees sought to absorb the power of their deity through the exchange of glance – darśan – a reciprocal act of seeing & knowing. Similarly, ingesting food (prasad) allows the divine grace of the deity to enter the body and thereby diminish the boundary between devotee and deity. Another powerful means to establish a relationship with deity is to take on the form of the deity – or take on a form that is considered pleasing to the deity. This doesn’t necessarily involve possession – but it’s not difficult to see how, once these ideas become popular, they can quickly develop into possession by a deity as indicative of a state of grace or power. Continue reading »

    Share
  2. Tantra & Possession – I

    This post is the first in a series based on my May 2017 lecture at Treadwells Bookshop of London entitled “Tantra & Trance Possession” together with some additional material which had to excluded for lack of time.

    Introduction
    Chamunda by Maria StrutzWhy Tantra & Trance Possession? Possession as a magical or religious practice is not something that is commonly associated with Tantra – I’ve tended to find that occultists are surprised to hear that tantra practice has a place for possession workings – it’s something that we are far more used to hearing about in relation to traditions such as Santeria, Candomble, etc. It’s possible we don’t think of possession in relation to India due to the overwhelming trope of the “mystic east” and the related idea that Indian religions – and Indian esoteric religions in particular, are world-denying and “peaceful”. In fact, possession is very common across South Asia – there’s a great deal of ethnographic material on contemporary possession-oriented practice in India. For this lecture, however, I’ll be focusing on historical material – of which there is a great deal, so what you’ll be getting is selected highlights. Continue reading »

    Share
  3. Heart Practice: approaching the tantric body-in-practice – I

    “The most immediate and concrete means of persuading people of the reality of divine power is to involve their bodies.”
    Thomas Csordas, Somatic Modes of Attention

    I’m going to progress this series by considering various themes related to the “tantric” body-in-practice. This is a massive subject, and I’ll begin by outlining what I mean by the “body-in-practice” and why this is a useful way of considering practice(see Tantra keywords: Embodied for some earlier reflections). Attempting to discuss the various different modes of tantra practice can be a tricky proposition, as it is, I often find, difficult to seperate them easily – as they work across different domains. In exploring Nyasa for example, at some point one will have to deal with how nyasa intersects with mantra-vidya. In considering mudras, it might be desirable to discuss how mudras ‘work’ across several registers simultaneously – from the broadly cosmological, the social, and the personal; as energetic movements through space and and at the same time, public, dialogical gestures. Continue reading »

    Share
  4. Jottings: On tantra and heteronormativity

    “To fit perfectly a man needs a woman, a woman needs a man. They are polar opposites, and that polarity is needed. It is just as if you are trying to create electricity without polar opposites, without positive and negative.”
    Osho

    If liberation could be attained simply by having intercourse with a śakti then all living beings in the world would be liberated just by having intercourse with women.
    Kularnavatantra

    In the wake of some of my posts discussing approaches to gender in a variety of Indian contexts, I’ve been engaged in some thought-provoking correspondence. One correspondent recently commented – “don’t you find that traditional tantra is well, really heteronormative?” Continue reading »

    Share
  5. Jottings: talking “energies”

    “Energy” is one of those words which has to do a great deal of work. It has become something of a generic term that gets used in multiple contexts, sometimes to the extent where any exercise/experience which gives rise to sensations or emotions is attributed to an impersonal ‘energy’ being present, moving, flowing, or being blocked, trapped, or stored. Continue reading »

    Share
  6. Occult gender regimes: Polarity and Thermodynamic bodies – II

    “…there is no word in any language I know which is an exact synonym for vril. I should call it electricity, except that it comprehends in its manifold branches other forces of nature, to which, in our scientific nomenclature, differing names are assigned, such as magnetism, galvanism, &c. These people consider that in vril they have arrived at the unity in natural energetic agencies, which has been conjectured by many philosophers above ground…”
    Bulwer-Lytton, 1871, The Coming Race

    Continue reading »

    Share
  7. 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

    Continue reading »

    Share
  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 »

    Share
  9. 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 »

    Share
  10. Multiplicious Becomings: tantric theologies of the grotesque – III

    “I salute You, Devi Sitala, and worship your feet. Wearing royal garments, yet You are space-clad. In Your right hand a broom, in the crook of Your left arm a water pot. You have with You pox-incense. A golden broom in Your hand, a golden pot on Your left side. Come, Ruler of Disease, accept the worship that is rightfully Yours, and offer salvation through Your unique quality.”
    Sitala Mangal Bardhaman Pala of Kavi Jagannath (Nicholas, 2003, p133)

    In the third part of this essay, I’m going to focus in on the goddess Sitala, frequently described as “the smallpox goddess” or categorised as a “disease goddess”. Continue reading »

    Share