As we move through the year celebrating the tantric festivals we would like to introduce you to a lesser know divinity, and yet a very important one within the Tantric system: Hayagriva. Hayagriva is the Horse headed God, and the full Moon of August is celebrated as his birthday in the ancient Indian festival known as Hayagriva Jayanti, the birthday of the Horse-headed God. Tantric law has its roots deeply at the base of this festival, mapping out the mythological and energetic significance of this day that honours the Horse God.
Tantra goes into practical and magical invocation of the Horse energy by specific Yog practices to awaken our own inner Horse power and raise the Kundalini energy into full consciousness.
The Horse breath is a pranayama (breathing) practice that is practiced upon this ritual Moon. It is s breath that simulates the sound of a horse, this pranayam stimulates the nerves connected to the third eye and assists in giving one insight and vision into the two halves of ourselves (the dark and light parts of each one of us) and how they relate to each other. The Chorrah, or Horse challana (movement), is a Tantric Mudra of moving as if one were upon horseback. There are numerous asanam in which this is done, but mostly it is performed in the squatting position. Along with inner horse Mudra these practices will be woven into this nights ritual. On this night, Tantric wisdom harnesses the planetary energy that is present on this lunar junction. The lunar house named Ashvini is the Horse constellation that is touched upon the astral plane by the August full Moon. It gives us spiritual access to the powers of the Horse. The Horse constellation is connected to the star brothers, the Ashvins, who are the divine healing horsemen.
The Ashvins are two healing twins who ride the starry heavens. When their influence is in orbit, they bring dead parts of us to life. The Horse Stars bring power to those places that have fallen into Tamas (resignation). These Healing star brothers are the representatives of Usha, the Goddess of the dawn who stands for the birth of new things.
These are the energies that we shall be working with upon the astral plane on this coming Full Moon.
The Human & the Horse
The Horse is a powerful solar animal. The Horse has an unparalleled stamina, perhaps for this reason the Horse has been used by humans for transportation. Once it was common practice to own a horse as a form of fulfilling labour duties and providing transport. The grace and elegance of a horse is still something admired and much sought after and represented in the culture by things such as fashion icons or horse racing, dressage, festival parades and such. The beauty and capabilities of the horse may well have been something working in its ill-favour as horses become an often mistreated ‘product’ of selfish human satisfaction. Perhaps this relationship between the human and the Horse mirrors our own inner misbalance between the human and the animal (horse) sides of our nature.
The Horse headed god steps-up upon this ritual festival to reveal the balance of nature within ourselves; the balance between the instinct of nature and the human will.
The constellations are in favour as Hayagriva the Horse headed man opens the portal of balance upon the astral plane at the Full Moon in August.
The human animal in its potential has at once its hands in the ‘civilised’ world and its hooves upon the green grass of nature.
The confining and domesticating of wild animals is something that we see played out in a larger scale. The captivity of animals to exist without their natural climate in which to express their natural instincts is something that in our modern culture we may have got completely conditioned to. We might be so used to it as to even take it as a normality.
It is worth recalling that, the Western project of Enlightenment has been one of domination of Man over Nature, as opposed to living in equilibrium with nature – the objective of ‘Eastern Enlightenment’ and in particular of Tantra.
The reigning in and confinement of instincts is equally paralleled in the human. Our human nature may have become confined within religious and spiritual dictums, or it may have been harnessed to pull the cart of commerce and capitalisation as the authentic human being gets overridden by other gods and myths. Many things we might take to be normal are brought into question when and if natural law unfolds. Tantra is the path of attempting to reveal and unfold Nature’s Laws within ourselves.
THE MYTH OF HAYAGRIVA
Hayagriva is mythologised as a great yogi who acquired immense power, which he couldn’t handle and therefore ended up misusing. The myth tells how of he fell into the shadow of unconsciousness and threatened the very existance of creation. Hayagriva was a black horse headed yogi who had become so powerful that the power went to his head. He was driven by one-sided unconscious forces that were heedless to any effect, for the unconscious shadow was outside of the eye of awareness. Unstoppable was he in his destruction, just like the horse that is able to run at great speed without getting breathless. This is why Hayagriva represents the unstoppable force of Prana. By his unstoppable force he reigned darkness upon the world, so much so that he even caused the sun to fall.
The world threatened to fall into complete darkness as the black horse ran amok in his self-glorifying dance of destruction. In this state Hayagriva represents the unconscious use of power without a balanced natural will to guide him.
From the celestial spheres above Hayagriva was met by the other side of his shadow, his light form, a white horse that had galloped along with him all along, but outside of Hayagriva’s consciousness.
It is sometimes so, that the unconscious shadow-forces possess one and create a darkened life void of awareness.
The black horse suffered for his relentless blindness and held a secret prayer for salvation from his dead ended path. And so the white form of Hayagriva was called forth and into awareness when the mindless shadow rampage had reached the furthest extent of blindness possible. A war and struggle of epic proportions between the two was brought forth until a balance between shadow and light was restored.
Tantricly speaking, once the forces of the shadow become known, they can be gradually and carefully integrated from the unconscious and often destructive levels they play out in our lives. Once seen, known and worked with, our shadow parts can be put to use creatively to unfold in more constructive and mysterious ways of using power in our lives.
The integration of the shadow, the core objective of Tantra, is symbolised in the myth of Hayagriva. Seeing the Shadow in wakefulness and not in a dream state that it so easily casts upon us is a grand undertaking.
The Black Hayagriva represents unconscious forces in the shadow such as jealousy, selfish interest over others and the will to be superior. These being all powers that can’t be stamped out, but powers to be redirected and liberated from unconscious programs and traumas that give them their birth and power. They become creative forces when the two horses, black and white, are unified and work with each other. This is the birth of the Horse god within us.
It is the unified Hayagriva who carries the Sun up each day at sunrise and lets her rest at night. He comes to know both parts equally, light and darkness, and doesn’t try to keep the Sun down in the night nor up during the day. He accepts the natural existence of both and lets them express themselves equally. Representing the strength of our prana and how by balancing the black and white horses of breath – the in and out breath is implied here – we can raise Shakti from the unconscious levels to the levels of awareness. The unified Hayagriva is the inner alchemy of the black and white horse – the objective of the ritual gathering we will undertake on this Full Moon.
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.
This coming New Moon (Monday 20 July 2020 )is under the rulership of Soma. In Tantra, Soma refers to the Moon and carries several connotations.
Soma refers to the sacred and Healing Moon fluid. It is subtle psycho/physical compound that is the essence of Tejas: the cool fire of psychic and spiritual power.
The opposite of Tejas is the hot fire of Agni. Tantra is concerned with bringing both the cooling and the heating fires into a balanced dance with each other. Soma vivifies and creates, whereas Agni consumes and destroys. Both of these fires are needed in the correct proportions in the constituents of our body and spirit.
A balance of colling and heating forces (fires) is required to open the subtle portals of awareness. An abundance of Agni fire in our psycho/physical mechanism is the ill of modern times.
PASSIVITY The forgotten Jewel
The overemphasis of Agni not only consumes the finer currents of awareness but creates stress in the system and ages the body. Soma on the other hand is the juice of eternal youth. There are many forms that Shakti (life energy) expresses herself as, and there are many forms that we live out and are occupied by in the fabric and weave of our lives. We might be expressing or being impressed upon by a particular form of Shakti at the expense of another. This depends on the karmas (actions) that we are involved in and creating. Some forms of Shakti consume Soma and some forms of Shakti vivify the Soma fluid of the Moon within us. Heating pursuits and emotions, extroversion and over activity consume Soma. Introversion, rest and slowing down the currents of being nurture Soma. Noise and speech create Agni – which is hot and active. Silence and stillness create Soma – which is brewed in passivity.
Passivity is a quality that might have disappeared from our lives and a rare jewel of even rarer inaccessibility. Passivity is a secret Moon-type state of consciousness that the Yogis venture to know in the midst of the fires and actions of life.
The Yogis prize Soma and are cautious and careful to nurture, cultivate and preserve it. Soma is psychic power. Soma is the cool healing fire that melts the obstructions in the way of our Shakti life energy. The cool fire of Soma is not as obvious as the active expression of Agni. Soma lives internally and signifies and is experienced as a magical inner life. Perhaps even independent of external factors.
By awareness and being awake in the astral layers of our inner life, we are able to undo knots of karma and unconscious shadows in the Granthis.
Granthis are the psychic and physical energy knots that the Yogis open by the science of a Tantra. The Granthis are tightened by Agni and loosened by Soma. That is why Soma is known as the soft fluid. Cultivating Soma creates liquid softness in both the body and the psyche. Over-stretching Agni creates heat and dryness.
It goes without saying, that an overemphasis on heating practices popular with modern styles of Yoga consumes Soma.
The yoga practices for a woman are radically different than those for a man, as the constitutions are different energetically. The man has a different relationship to Agni and Soma than the relationship a woman has two these two fires. This line of Tantra addresses the subject profoundly.
In present times we live in the Agni fire burns strong and stands in a predominant place. This makes the cultivation of Soma most applicable and most important.
SOMVAAHR The Day of SOMA
In the Tantric calendar, the year is divided into two. We are presently in the half that brings lengthening nights, this half of the year follows the solstice. It is the half of the year that belongs to Soma – as nature is on her introverting darkening journey towards the next solstice switch. This coming new Moon is the first new Moon embedded within the darkening half year of lengthening nights. It is the Moon of Soma and falls on Monday which is known to the Tantrics as Somvaahr, literally: the day of Soma. Giving strength to the God of Softness and simplicity that Soma is. Soma is cultivated in simplifying our lives.
Somnath is a name of Shiva the eternal Yogi that wears the moon in his hair. Somnath lives in the spirit of all souls who tread the path of shining in the dark. The path of the Magic Moonlight.
CHANDRA PARAMPARA New Moon Sequence
Like the moon that shines brightly in the night sky, Soma is cultivated in the dark.
The practice of Kechari Mudra has several preparatory stepsand we will practice some on this ritual. It is initiated and practiced when the Soma Moon is at its strongest. This is a secret science of Mudra that activates points of energy in the system that releases Soma in the form of a hormonal substance that creates profound softness and trance. The new Moon sequence of Chandra Parampara supports this and is ritualistically practiced by the tantrics at this Moon junction.
Chandra Parampara is the Yog sequence of practice that among all the practices of Yog creates the greatest softening and flexibility in the organism, both psychically and physically.
Prayer and ritual under the Soma Moon is a time of opening body and soul towards the deepest levels of softness. Simplification is the way to Soma… and the way of Soma.