Naaga Puja is also known as Naaga Panchami.
A time honoured Indian festival,
both for orthodox worship and the Tantric lines,
it is a ritual time of working with the spirit of the snake.
Practices of the Snake Night
Upon this night, Tantrics engage in inner and outer snake mudras and ritual practice to balance their energy involvements upon the astral plane. The junction of celestial energies upon this festival day makes it a most favourable time for working with the astral forces. Bija mantras relating to the snake are chanted along with the antar (inner) Naag Mudras. Various asanam are practiced to help assist one in opening the astral portals in the psycho/physical constitution.
In Tantric practice, there are many particular physical snake mudras which help free our perception and vision from astral interference. For example, Naagini mudra is a radical position of body and mind that embodies the snake quality strongly in our system, it establishes a strong connection to the world of the snakes. In fact it refers directly to a woman who is both human and serpent at the same time. Working with inner and outer eagle practices also forms part of the Tantric Naagas Panchami ritual as the eagle and snake are intimately connected.
The spirits and energies of the Astral plane are of numerous kinds. Those that live in the most unconscious recesses are known to Tantrics as the Naagas. The Naagas are spirits and energies that can have deep effect upon our consciousness. They link to us and live and operate from the most unconscious level of our being.
Naaga Lokh – realms of the underworld
Naaga ‘Lokh’ (realm) is one of the many dimensions of the astral world. We might think of it as a parallel universe where we exist perhaps only in a semi-conscious or unintegrated state. The work of the Tantric Naaga Puja Ritual is to find the part of our human consciousness that dwells unconsciously in the World of the Naaga and bring it to a state of awakened awareness.
The Naaga realms are places where our Shakti is invested in a semi-aware state of consciousness particularly in relation to base and sexual chakra themes. These can be places where we have blind spots and lose our power. By becoming aware of our unconscious investments and the patterning we have within ourselves, we may relinquish the invested Shakti.
Naaga Lokh exists in the underworld. This is not a ‘hell’ as might be understood by the term underworld, although it can be depending on what kind of relationship we have to the Naaga spirits within ourselves. The underworld is known as Patala to the yogis. It has seven divisions and each semi division corresponds to one of the seven chakras. Naaga Lokh is the deepest of them all. It is a deep ‘heaven’ and is said to have more beauty than the upper world, with the Naaga as keepers of its most precious jewels, the Naagmani.
Some say that it is mere myth that a cobra has a jewel underneath its hood. Many speculations have ensued around the Naagmani, and many commercial ventures of selling such pseudo-Snake stones are undertaken in the name of Naagmani.
Real Naagmani’s are very rare and can never be procured easily. Only very specific and extremely rare snakes carry the precious stone. Some tantrics may gain such a stone by very special procedures that involve a deep degree of magical knowledge and accomplishment. The Naagmani is sometimes handed down as a power object among the Siddha’s in their initiations.
The 3 worlds and their 7 divisions
According to the Tantrics, there exist three worlds. The first two are portals to the astral world:
Patala – the underworld of seven divisions, connected to the seven chakras and connected astrally to the earth;
Bhumi or Pritvi – the Earthly world which includes the stars and physical manifestation of planets. This physical world we live in has seven divisions of manifested energy which are expressed through the chakras. These chakras start at the terrestrial base levels to bring and go all the way up to the ultra-terrestrial chakras in the head that are finer the frequencies. Individuals and collectives in the physical world may live in all manner of energy constellation of the seven realities of the chakras. Naturally we move between these seven states of being according to many factors, one being the influence of Lunar currents upon our constitution.
Swarga – the third world – is the upper world beyond the physical that is connected to us on earth through the portals of the stars. Again this is divided into seven levels – each of which corresponds and intersects with the manifestations of Chakras within us on earth.
We could think of the Swarga realms as the fruit and flowers of the tree, the earth could be likened to the shade of the tree along with the taste and scent of its offerings. The Patala underworld would then be the roots.
These worlds are given various names according to the district or the bent of the school. For example in left hand Tantra (the way of the Heart): The realm of Patala is the world of the Crow – Kah. The realm of Swarga is the world of the Swan – Hamsa. Bhumi is the Earth Goddess who stands between their flights, she is the place where the birds meet and depart in the ever swinging dance between moondark and moonlight.
At the Full Moon, the upper Swarga World of the Swan is most active, as it is in the ascending half of the lunar month.
At the Dark Moon, the underworld of the Crow…Patala is most active, as it is on the descending half of the lunar month.
By balancing and addressing our being in one of the worlds, we balance and address the reflection of that world in all its 3 levels:
1) The unconscious
2) The physical manifest level of the body
3) The level of consciousness
These 3 layers interrelate and are inseparable. By addressing unconscious areas we bring the corresponding shift of power to a change in our consciousness and the body changes in the way Praan (breath) and Shakti relate to it.
We often have a familiar station of residence that is our main chakra of issue with which we are concerned. Through this chakra we may predominantly express and live out our life.
The Chakras are stations or even whole worlds we could say and Tantrics are travellers between the worlds. Tantrics start at the base underworld levels. They work also with much physical Mudra and spiritual astral vision techniques, but a lot of the focus of the Tantric pursuit comes back towards opening and untying the knots of the unconscious Granthis in the underworld.
The rituals of Tantrics take into account atmospheric, celestial, lunar and seasonal shifts of energy and the portals that these movements create in relation to the 3 worlds. What drives a person to such Tantric travels of traversing and connecting unknown territories? is a question well worth pondering!
Shiva and the 3 Worlds
Shiva is the one who is free of the shadows of the unconscious, or rather free of the overshadowing of consciousness. The state of Shiva that is our potential is to become aware on all the spiritual planes, waking from dreams and integrating and disentangling ourselves from unconscious energy ties to the numerous astral realms.
Mythology often tells of competitions between the Gods. In one such instance Shiva revealed the extent of his power, burning through the three worlds with the power of his awareness.
This fire of awareness and psychic power is known as Tejas. It is strong when the things that belong to the upper world of consciousness are gathered and extricated from the places they are intertwined in the underworld of the unconscious. The myth tells how the beam of Tejas extended to infinity beyond the underworlds and the upperworlds, it’s end was sought hopelessly but never to be found. Shiva himself was the beam. The great Lingam of energy.
Ling refers to the Male generative power and Gam to the Female creative power. Shiva was the pinnacle of both of these forces in balance in all three worlds.
Shiva revealed himself as a vast beam of Tejas fire which shot out 12 snakes from the 12 Naaga Granthi (snake knot) portals of his body. These 12 portals relate to the body’s 12 snake meridians.
The 12 snakes of Tejas fire were attracted to 12 magnetic places of power on the earth – marked by the 12 Jyotirlingam temples spread across India. Jyotir means ‘sacred flame’. Each of the 12 temples is related to one of 12 forms of Shiva and these 12 forms are also names for the 12 (Naaga) Granthi (energy knots) of the human organism, with the the temples located diametrically upon the human body. Each temple has a Bija mantra known to Tantrics which can open the related places energy knots in the psycho/physical system. Sophisticated Tantric methods of bodily asan along with Mudra and inner psychic work unties the Granthis and brings the human into a balance in and between the three worlds.
A particular magnetic place of power upon the earth can open the particular corresponding Granthi in the body. Obstinate karmic blocks and both psychic and physical impediments can be healed by going to the corresponding places of magnetism. Such places of power can equally disrupt psychic and physical forces in the human system.
The 7 Stars of the Saptrishi
As discussed in a previous newsletter, Sapt means ‘seven’ and Rishi means ‘Seer’. The 7 stars of the Saptrishi constellation are connected to the 7 chakras and represent portals through which the 7 types of human soul are incarnated.
One star type may be reflected or represented more strongly in a particular culture, group of people or individual. Though astral forces of like-kind, as well as like-kind types of being do tend to group together and create a defined line of consensual reality, this is not a clear cut subject with hard and fast rules.
A Tantric practitioner attempts to know all 7 worlds of the 7 Stars of the Saptrishi and may attempt to move out of their comfort zone and familiar port of residence – discovering worlds shaded from view by unconsciousness and worlds far beyond their star of origin. When the voyage has gone so far and all astral worlds are made a home of…then the Yogi becomes one of the Natanaaga, the celestial dancers.
The Turtle Star
‘Kacchaapa’ refers to one of the Saptrishi star constellations and means ‘turtle’ in reference to its elliptical turtleshell-like shape.
Mythology tells that the Turtle Star Rishi Kacchaapa fathered 84 crore (Indian numerical measurement) of all manner of species of astral spirit, earth creatures and plants including the Naagas. From the very monstrous astral ghouls known as Rakshasas to the very Benign Gahandarvas. Even Garuda, the King of Birds himself is his son. All such being relate to the earth or water elements, even if only as an opposite, as in the case of the bird (sky) relating to the snake (earth) and each came through this one (turtle star) in a previous Manvantara (age).
The Turtle Star is an astral portal to the earth plane for the Naagas, connecting them to us energetically and physically at the level of the base and sexual chakras. It is to be remembered that a snake is a creature that is close to the earth, it can swim, much in the same way a turtle is versatile in these two elements. Hyper aware in their world, paradoxically, the Naaga spirits that incarnate on the earth can be profoundly tamasic (sleepy) and revolve in the themes and shadows of these first two chakras. They are usually astral brings and realities or illusions depending on the insight of our vision. Just as a Naaga may incarnate in the human realm, so a human on earth may enter the Naaga worlds through work with the chakras as star portals worlds.
Awakening Garuda, King of Birds
Garuda is often known as the vahana (vehicle) of Vishnu. Garuda is half human and half eagle. Known commonly as the enemy of all serpents, his Tejas (spiritual fire) is not dimmed or put to sleep by their slippery world. The astral world of the Naagas is seen in awareness when the Tejas is relinquished and brought to flame.
Two fires recognised by the Tantrics are worked with and brought to their rightful balance. Tejas – cooling and creative. Agni – hot and destructive.
This very principle of the human bird represents the becoming conscious within the unconscious worlds of the Naagas. A human with the possibility of flight, represented by the wings of Garuda. He is one who has penetrated the world of unconsciousness in an awakened state, able to see the dreams that steal Shakti from the Astral plane and bring her back.
By flying spiritually into the astral plane with the sharp vision of the eagle Guruda we are able to awaken from unconscious dreams of ‘illusory reality’ in the worlds of the Naagas. For Garuda the Naagas are no threat, his vision and direction are one pointed (Dharana). He represents the ascent of Kundalini.
Awakening Garuda within ourselves means disentangling our energy from the illusions that bind it in the astral plane, with the skill of an eagle. Garuda is also known as Ellh in Tantra, and finds his expression in the Ellh Mudras (eagle locks). The Tantric becomes Garuda when working with astral illusions, dreams and shadows. The sharp penetrating vision of the eagle is needed for such a venture of insight.
Taking the Dance of Shiva
In many depictions, Shiva wears snakes at all the major energy junctions of the physical locations of the Granthis, even wearing the snake necklace. He wears them as ornaments because he is friend and lord of the snake spirits of the astral plane, and therefore called Naaganath. The Naaga spirits are no longer knots upon the energy centres of his physical and astral body. Shiva is one who has awakened from the dream of the Naagas.
Legend has it that when we attempt Tantra, we are taking the dance of Shiva. Through the astral levels of dreams. Shiva lives in us as the lord of dreams, awake in the dreams and illusions of variegated astral realities.The path of Shiva reveals to us where we are yet unconscious.
Shiva is he who opens the doors of Tantric practices. To the locked doors of the Granthis – it is Shiva who gives the keys when we undergo the courageous voyage to face the world of our dreams and illusions. Shiva is the fearless one inside us. Shiva is ever on the path of dreams and reality. He is at once, human and animal, angel and demon, man and woman, dark and light…..and at the same time Shiva is beyond these things. Shiva is the soul within us that is empowered upon the day of Nag Panchami to voyage through the astral.
A focused state of awareness and Kundalini awakening occurs when one de-invests themselves of unconscious patterning. Tantra is such a path of deprogramming. In order to awaken the Queen Shakti of Kundalini, the yogi brings their Shakti back from the realms of the unconscious. On the Path of Kundalini, one confronts the deep layers of oneself and becomes conscious of the spiritual forces within and behind their inner states of unconsciousness.
The portal to the world of the Naaga is opened by the celestial currents on this day of Naaga Panchami. Naaga spirits can give both benefic or malefic effects according to the level of our awareness of the astral planes and relation to Shakti. For example – if we were to walk through a stretch of forest known for its wild dogs with an open basket full of meat, chances are we would be pursued for the aforementioned food. Travelling in a more conscious manner however, we might know how to protect our goods or even befriend the dogs and walk with them as allays.
By denying ourselves access to the realm of the snakes altogether because of its alleged ‘danger’ or difficulty, we deny ourselves access to the reflection of that realm in the upper-world, the world of the Birds.
The Naaga astral planes cannot be shut down or denied, but our relationship to those worlds and spirits changes according to the way we relate to them. Naagas that cause us suffering are brought into a different constellation of relationship with us as we become conscious of previously unconscious uses of Shakti energy. Tantrics see how the path of denial or repression leads to a diminishment of life power. Turning one’s gaze in an easy and pleasant direction and holding it there takes a huge amount of Shakti and can close off our great potentials. Some spiritual paths might work in this way, but Tantra is inclusive of all realms. Sitting in the courageous seat of Shiva, the Tantric comes to know all of existence.
As one becomes familiar and aware of the world of unconsciousness, the journey becomes one of waking up from dreams that shade our power. Shakti is then raised from her latency of being. She lives in the unconscious in varying degrees… intertwined in the unseen half of the reflection of life. Our vision broadens to see the underworld – which is brought to awareness by the exploration that the Tantrics know as the healing path.
Unresolved sexual and base karma themes within the first two chakras of our being are what tie us unconsciously to the world of the Naagas. By bringing our sexual power back from the unconscious places of investment there, we heal deeply rooted imprints – even ancestral sexual imprints that we carry. We naturally and gradually awaken Kundalini as the great amount of invested astral Shakti is brought back to our centre.
For Kundalini to awaken it is as simple as healing the bonds that disempower us and take our powers away with them. Simple yes, but a profound venture to undertake.
Beauty comes when Shakti returns,