Natarāja. Creativity. Freedom.
Do You Feel Free? I mean really, truly FREE?
Try these 3 rebel rules to give you unshakable creative freedom.
I am kind-of a rebel. For as long as I can remember, I have questioned authority and squirmed from the grasp of limiting “realities” to find my own way. Yesterday, one of my soul sisters reminded me: “Shakti, you are a dreamer.
I used to take offense to statements like that. I grew up believing that to be a “dreamer” was a bad thing. That to get things done (and stay out of trouble) I had to be grounded like 💯.
…but, then again, I am kind-of a rebel. After much experimentation (think hallucinogens, hitch-hiking, and homeless world travel…) I have learned to keep one foot solidly placed on the soils of the human experience, while the other foot hovers in infinite potential. I’m smiling as I realize that this image is the stance of Shiva’s dance.
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That is one reason I dig this image so much: It epitomizes the crossroads between manifesting and liberating power. It reminds me that creativity and freedom go together like, well, like Shiva/Shakti.
I’m still learning how to freely express all the things that my heart is constantly creating; but these days I feel more balanced than ever: hovering in the grace of effort and surrender.
To shake off limitation, I observe 3 rebel rules on the daily. Here they are for you, just in case you need them. If not, no big deal.
1. Set your expectation dial to 100%, your attachment dial to 0%.
THIS IS KEY. Every day, when you wake up, expect that the day will greet you with unlimited blessings…that the entire universe is conspiring for your greatest good…that you will be propelled forward by abundant gratitude and absolute joy…and you will make all your dreams come true.
Also, have 0 attachment to this.
So that when shit happens (and it will, because it’s another day on planet Earth) you will remain completely open to the next amazing miracle.
Attachment to outcomes is not sustainable. To stay in your full power, you must show up fully (every moment) just to let go completely (every moment). This is the dance of true freedom.
2. Repeat after me: “I care, but I don’t mind.”
It has taken me a long time to recognize the difference between caring for others and running myself into the ground trying to make everyone else happy. Here’s the truth: creative power is realized when you focus on service. Once you identify the people who benefit from your gifts, it sets the whole creative exchange in motion. HOWEVER! While I deeply desire to connect with all my fellow Earthlings, I really don’t mind when I don't. This is just another way of saying “I am not attached to the outcomes,” but it directly aims at the limiting story of “seeking approval.” Shake that right off.
3. Let go ‘the baggage.
We are all carrying unnecessary limitations like:
“You are your ideas.”
“You only get one shot, so don’t mess it up!”
“Stay in your lane.”
and the overall warning: “You can’t do that.”
The most liberating rebel rule is to GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION. Don’t wait for other people to give it to you (because they can’t give you what they don’t have.)
Give yourself permission to
This message has been brought to you by the New Moon: Inviting soul-rebels to release their limitations for 4.5 billion years.
Alchemy. Solstice. Tantra.
This weekend’s Solstice eclipse marks a powerful moment of sacred marriage, or the reunification of all opposites.
The sun and moon will appear as one.
I am not an astrologer...
But as a Contemplative Mythologist, Psychologist, and Yogini, I celebrate the rich symbolism of this weekend’s stellar events as an invitation to honor the Father archetype.
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The Marriage of the Sun & Moon
Much of my work–study and teaching–draws from the symbolism of esoteric alchemy because these images and rituals are foundational to the mystic spirituality of both Western and Eastern religions. The alchemical process is one by which the finite and infinite aspects of reality are differentiated and purified so that they might be fully recognized. Then those elements are consciously reunited so that, together, they create something new.
In esoteric alchemy, the MOON is the symbol of the feminine principle: the queen, the egg and womb–the Mother. The SUN is a symbol of the masculine principle. It is the king, the seed–the Father.
The alchemical process is a symbolic marriage of everything that is considered opposite. For the Deep Psychologist in me, this means the reunion of conscious and unconscious contents of your psyche (or your ego and your soul.) This alchemical process means gathering up all the projections that you spill onto the world around you, to recognize them as aspects of your own mind.
This alchemical narrative (the marriage of the sun & moon) is echoed in the teachings and practices of Tantrik Yoga. In Tantra mythology, the merging of duality is envisioned as the sacred marriage of Shiva and Shakti (the Infinite Potential and Creative Power, respectively). It is a story about the coordination of body and spirit, the harmonization of God, Nature, and Humanity. It is the sacred marriage of subject and object…the reconciliation of “Self” and “Other.”
You are called to recognize the finite and infinite aspects of who you are: your body, mind, and spirit. You are invited to know your Self as whole…to remember your entire being as an expression of the Creative Source of Life. That realization gives birth to a whole new way of Being in the world: an awakening to your infinite potential and, ultimately, a recognition of God/dess. By "God/dess," I mean "the essence of God in all things."
By "God/dess," I mean “the essence of God in all things.”
"God/dess" Does Not Mean "Woman"
These days I share a lot of God/dess teachings because, from where I sit, our culture is seriously lacking in its recognition of “the essence of God in all things.” I see a ton of disrespect going around–toward Nature, our bodies, and each other. There seems to be a deficit of qualities that history has attributed to the feminine principle: unconditional compassion, courageous interconnection, a balanced celebration of uniqueness and equality.
But I want to make it very clear that what I consider God/dess teachings are not necessarily teachings about women, women’s rights, or female activism. While that is, in itself, a valuable and necessary topic–one that naturally tends to follow Tantrik teachings–the conversation around God/dess is a conversation about the sacredness in the human experience at large. It is an invitation to all people…no matter how you identify in gender, sex, nationality, race, class, or religion…to realize the essence of God in all things…to remember the intrinsic value of LIFE itself, to honor the divine spirit that animates Nature…and to recognize the significance of relationship.
This weekend, we celebrate the Summer Solstice as the fullest expression of the sun. I’m also thinking about the Solar principles that have been associated with the Father archetype–that penetrating power that plants new seeds. That piercing wisdom that leads to clear vision and decisive action…and a keen balance of discipline and freedom. With all the God/dess talk in our spiritual communities, it is more important than ever to celebrate the value of the FATHER in this equation of one + one = ONE.
During the annular eclipse the sun will appear (in some places) like a vibrant ring around the new moon. I will be contemplating this cosmic artwork as a poetic representation of the Father’s radiant embrace. Our culture needs conscious fathers as much as we need powerful mothers. We need the Father to exemplify awakened consciousness. We need him to be a beacon of strength and flexibility...a role model of the courage found in true compassion; and the balanced expression of humility and dignity.
We need the Father to exemplify awakened consciousness:
We need him to be a beacon of strength and flexibility...
A role model of the courage found in true compassion,
and the balanced expression of humility and dignity.
I am grateful to all the fathers who claim their responsibility in remembrance of God/dess. To all those fathers who rise as heroes to realize beauty, equality, and reunification. To all of you who have been knocked down again and again…to you who rise again and again, to remember the essence of God in all things.
THANK YOU, DADS.
solstice. tantra. archetypes.
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Mother. Nature. Archetypes.
Introduction to Mother
Some historians believe that primitive cultures worshiped Nature as a Mother, a life-giving nurturer and sustainer.
They honored her as a destructive force too, one that redeemed through the ever-renewing cycles of death and rebirth. Those early civilizations understood the Mother’s character through myth. They related to her power with ritual.
Since the rise of philosophy, the western world has positioned intellectual thinking against ritual, logos against mythos, reason against emotion, and spirit against nature.
The Biblical account of creation posits God the Father as a singular creative energy. Nature falls prey to sin and is therefore corrupted, disgraced. As a result, the western world has metaphorically posed father against mother.
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As Joseph Campbell explains in The Power of Myth, “The mother gives birth to [one’s] nature, and the father gives birth to [one’s] social character” (182). With human nature viewed as sinful and social character considered paramount, the move toward salvation has been an exodus through the common era from the primal mythos of Mother, to the rational, social order of a Heavenly Father. Mythos parading as logos, this idea has championed the thinking of philosophers and theologians for centuries; inspiring art, influencing the attitudes and behaviors of nations, and propelling humanity toward ‘civilization.’
Perhaps in its fervent movement toward civilization, however, humanity has left something inescapable behind. As Carl Jung wrote: “The more civilized, the more unconscious and complicated a man is, the less he is able to follow his instincts. His complicated living conditions and the influence of his environment are so strong that they drown the quiet voice of nature” (117).
Today, the Earth is calling for a reconciliation between Spirit and Nature. She is heralding a return to the Mother.
Mother is an Archetype
Crumpled in a hospital chair, I'm looking at my mother in the strange soft light of a heart monitor. She is fast asleep as fluids drip, drip from plastic bag to tube and a respirator keeps time, ironically slow as I ponder how fast it all goes. I am recalling old times: childhood, holidays, summer at the lake. I am also thinking about recent conversations. This day has brought a pandemonium of talking faces—nurses, doctors, family, strangers—uttering a muddled cacophony of prayers, consultations and advice. Now quiet settles around us, just me and my mom. Here, in the dim stillness, I realize what has been missing all along.
At times like this, when insecurity, confusion, and tender emotions chase my inner child like ghosts, I always pick up the telephone and call my mom. When life bears down with the heart-breaking weight of human mortality, I yearn for her nurturing touch.
The greatest calm, the best relief, arrives out of her fierce grace and unconditional love—her support and sanity. She rocks me gently with her wisdom and sings lullabies of truth. Who do I call now? Who is the Mother when mother is ill: silent and tangled in tubes?
Mother is an archetype. Mother energy extends far beyond any one persona. She is a vital pulsation that gestures through Nature, from the subtlest phenomenon to the grandest expressions of life. She is the matrix from which all things manifest. The health and integrity of psyche, both individual and collective, is dependent upon its relationship to the Mother principle.
Myth Returns Soul to Nature
The hospital campus is surrounded by wooded trails. I step outside to get fresh air and find myself quickly shifting from a world of technological gadgetry and modern made machines; into a realm of soft, organic matter. I turn my emotional attention to the trees and earth and sky. Nature’s soul becomes tangible. She is breathing. Inhaling deeply, the nutrients of air revitalize my body and mind.
Inside the concrete walls, my mom is accepting vital sustenance through tanks and tubes. Monitors act like a surrogate mother, keeping track of her natural functions. But outside, Nature is breathing me. Her breath is effortless and natural. I am a human animal; and as such I encounter the natural realm as it speaks a language my heart knows well. I curl up into the Earth's lap and accept her warm and nurturing embrace. She rocks me gently with her wisdom and sings lullabies of truth. Here, in the grass, I realize what has been missing all along.
Nature is more than the scenery surrounding humanity. She is more than bio-chemical constructs and elemental forces. Nature is coursing with the dynamism of animation.
She is en-souled with living character, which is both intrinsic and relative to one’s relationship with her. That relationship is fortified by myth. Myth brings you into direct relationship with the mysterious universe and its myriad phenomena. It awakens you to the magic of being alive on the planet. Myth engages a dance of intrigue and imagination. It is also the living truth. The stories of your heart speak profound wisdom–the essential mysteries that underlie religion and science–the realities that transcend time and space.
With symbol and metaphor, the archetype becomes meaningful. Personifying Nature recovers her soul. The myth of Mother Earth honors her as more than a resource, more than a source of economical goods and gain. The aesthetic of her patterns, even her ravaging wrath, becomes a play of soul. When we hear the story of the Earth, we remember that her essence is entwined with the soul of humanity.
The Mother Nature Myth
Humanity subsists from the natural forces of the Earth, just as a child survives only with nurturance from the mother's womb. Like Gaia in Hesiod’s Theogony, she is identified as a great Mother, the primeval source of all. In the Greek Demeter, she is the goddess of the fields and grain—the cycles of the seasons. She may be as graciously protective as Changing Woman, the nurturing Sustainer of the Navajo.. She may be as fertile as the Hindu Lakshmi or as fierce as Kalī, who destroys all things to make way for something new.
Just as a plant appears above ground before withering away at the end of its season, the Source of life is both invisible and inescapable. We see the blossom which grows, then withers and decays. Through it all, the rhizome remains beneath the surface in the mysterious matrix of creative potential. The mythic Mother governs all three phases in a continuous cycle: birth, subsistence of life, and death.
It is springtime in the forest. New buds and shoots, in their vibrant green, are detectable everywhere, if one stops to look. Reaching to touch a golden twig, I notice the back of my hand. It is starting to show signs of age. Veins and wrinkles now mar the skin’s surface, where once plump pink stretched smoothly. My hand resembles my mother’s hand. Together, we are aging, vulnerable to the decay of nature. Yet underneath it all, a matrix—a breath taking, life sustaining, mystery—promises another spring. Nature is the Mother of this paradox. She is both the material matter and the mystery below. When I surrender to her ongoing cycles, I know a serenity beyond comprehension. She is the soil that nourishes my soul.
The Rape of the Mother
A long-standing patriarchal hierarchy has deprecated the value of nature. Social mythology overtook nature-oriented mythology until the soul of Mother became condemned. She has been blamed extensively, by both religion and society. The feminine principle has been viewed as the source of sin and shame since the fall of man. Whatever the mar on society–the syndrome or pathology–it may be traced back to the wicked blunder of Eve.
The hospital coffee shop is a liminal space between the inside and outside energies. There I sit, warming my bones with a cup of soup. At the next table sits an elderly gentleman, stooped and wrinkled. He is probably someone’s great grand-father. He gives a crooked, toothless smile. “I like your dress,” he says after a moment. His comment snaps me into a long-forgotten self awareness as I quickly gaze down to recall what I am wearing. It is a modest sundress, the skirt’s hem grazing the tops of my feet. “Thank you” I manage back, feebly.
“Girls these days,” he continues, “in their short, short skirts...It’s no wonder there is so much sexual violence when they insist on dressing like that.” I am stunned, speechless, as our eyes hold for a moment. He just smiles his approval of my modesty, as if what he has insinuated is the most obvious, natural truth. This Mother-blaming, feminine debasing story is his truth, his myth—an old, wrinkled, decrepit man of a myth. His attitude toward the feminine reflects a cultural manner of speaking about Nature that denies her of intelligence. Her wisdom cannot be seen for the blinding seduction of her commodity. Her accessibility is interpreted as an invitation to possess her assets. This story cannot serve society anymore. Nor can it serve nature, as she is slowly raped and depleted of her resources, simply because it is possible to do so.
Returning to Mother means reunion of masculine and feminine energy—within our individual psyches, our social communities and our relationship to the Earth. Returning to Mother means honoring the sacredness in Nature. It is a psycho-spiritual journey toward wholeness as together we seek to live in alignment with the planet's rhythms. The Mother presents healing for the rift that can still be seen in our modern culture between men and women, earth and spirit, psyche and nature. She is recognized as God/dess: the essence of God in all things.
My grandmother enters the hospital room with a look of serene inner knowing. My mother’s face lights up, then crumples into a sob. Hers is the familiar face that laughed at my childish antics, the same that sternly scolded my stubborn will. Now this face looks vulnerable and tired. My mom reaches for her mother. She needs, just as I need. No matter how much time passes, babies are always babies and mommies are always mommies. The two women, fleshy and grey, invite me into their generous embrace. It smells like home. Four generations rock gently as I slide my hand to my round abdomen. Here my unborn daughter rests nestled in the womb. Mother energy passes now from my mother’s wounded, weary body to my own fertile one.
The Mother is an archetype that crosses gender and expands boundaries. She is too abounding to fit inside one personality and too dynamic to be measured. The Mother remains steadfast in her nurturance and unconditional love. And she is so much more. As nature, she is in constant evolution, expansion, and cyclical generation. She changes as the moon changes, pulsing with the rhythms of the tides. And because she is energetic, dynamic and transformational, she remains accessible to every member of humanity, as we continue to evolve in our equality, expanding our awareness. The Mother beckons us to remember her.
Everyone needs the Mother.
mother. nature. archetypes.
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Abram, David. The Spell of the Sensuous. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.
Berry, Patricia. “What’s the Matter with Mother?” Fathers and Mothers. Dallas: Spring Publications, 1991.
Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth: with Bill Moyers. New York: Doubleday. 1988.
Cobb, Noel. “The Soul of the Sky.” Spring 75: Psyche & Nature, Part 1. New Orleans: Spring Journal, 2006.
Henderson, Joseph, and Dyane Sherwood. Transformation of the Psyche: The Symbolic Alchemy of the Splendor Solis. New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2003.
Jung, Carl Gustav. The Essential Jung: Selected Writings Introduced by Anthony Storr. Princeton UP, 1983.
---. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung. Trans. R.F. C. Hull. Vol 9. Princeton UP, 2012. web.
Linden, Stanton. The Alchemy Reader: From Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton. Cambridge UP, 2003.
Neumann, Erich. The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype. Trans. Ralph Manheim. 2nd ed. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1963.
Rowland, Susan. “Nature Writing.” Spring 75: Psyche & Nature, Part 1. New Orleans: Spring Journal 2006.
Slater, Lauren. Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the 20th Century. London: Bloomsbury, 2004.
Spencer, Katherine. Anthology and Values: An Analysis of Navaho Chantway Myths. Philadelphia: American Folklore Society, 1957.
About The Author
R.R. Shakti, PhD
Founding teacher of Inner Power Yoga®, Shakti is a Contemplative Mythologist, ritual facilitator, and writer who presents a Tantrik approach to personal empowerment and social action. Through contemplative story-telling and mind/body practices, she offers a vision of deep peace and radical freedom.
PSYCHE + SOUL