Chöd and Hekate

“That which is called 'devil' is not some actual great big black thing that scares and petrifies whomever sees it. A devil is anything that obstructs the achievement of freedom. . . . Most of all, there is no greater devil than this fixation to a self. So until this ego-fixation is cut off, all the devils wait with open mouths. For that reason, you need to exert yourself at a skillful method to sever the devil of ego-fixation” - Machig Lobdron (quoted from Harding)

I don’t recall exactly when it happened… after a night of 3 am fires in my little temple, creating green flames with absinthe in an offering cauldron. The clean smell of purely burnt offerings brought the familiar feeling of snakeskin against mine, the Fear creeping up my spine as Her darkness gathered about me. My nostrils filled with the subtle manure smell; organically processed grasses mixed with toxins dispelled. This is how I know it is Her and not another, my Titaness cannot be replicated by other mocking spirits. One word came through...a word I was not familiar with and one that would take me on an amazing journey over the next 5 years: Chöd.

In thoughts She speaks to my inner mind, the place which one can barely grasp once it is seen. From afar, Her message comes in one or two words sometimes, or reflective images as surface water. In the very first vision She showed how to cover my head, although I never felt “right” doing it...so it became one of those negotiated requests Gods sometimes offer us. Instead, I always include a special ring. But this theme of “heads” is recurring in my life and is very important to the rest of this story.

  1. My body has never suffered injury, except to only my head (rock thrown at me, concussion from car accident).
  2. When I took an undergraduate class in Ancient Philosophy, I decided the ideal state of being was for me to be a floating head...no body to drag around, but the intellectual and imaginative mind was free to be. Maybe it was the report I wrote on Hedonism, or maybe it was from watching “The Adventures of Baron Muncheusen”, but I became convinced it is the seat of the Soul.
  3. I used to sculpt Goddesses, and nearly all of them had trouble with their heads staying on. I also had a tendency to rip the heads off my Barbies as a girl, which you should know makes it SUPER hard to put back on.
  4. Once I went to a ritual for Yeshe Tsogyal...the central statue was one which I also had bought on clearance at Target (of all places). A tall wooden dakini, this generic ‘world’ art became the seat for a Bodhisattva in my own home, who unfortunately became beheaded during a move by my husband. I mentioned this after the ritual, for which was told how in one story of Yeshe Tsogyal she is beheaded and walks around holding her own head.

As if these weren’t enough connections (I am hard headed), it was the recurring dreams that lead me to my teacher, and the topic of Chöd came up. After a year of attending Dark Moon devotionals to Hermes and Hekate, our Priest offered an afternoon workshop transmitting a Pagan Chöd with Hekate as the guide. My head nearly exploded. I realized after all this time, when I was trying to find a Buddhist group to learn from or a corpse garden to go sit and meditate in (yes, I was willing to go there), this was what She had meant.

The build up to the workshop was fervent. My gut was completely inflamed with anxiety, spent by my IBS. I placed my cushion as close to the bathroom as I could...in case I vomited or shit myself. He handed out the papers and we spent the next 30 minutes receiving instruction...but the ACTUAL practice only took 6 minutes or so. I was kinda disappointed. I went through so much, got myself worked up and excited for some big elaborate ritual that was going to catapult my spiritual life onto some new level...or something like this, in my mind. But we did the practice, I became Hekate and severed my head from my body, chopped up my body to put in the flipped over skull like a cauldron, then used my femur to stir the pot. I called to demons, ghosts, animals, to any and all sentient or wandering and suffering beings who were hungry, to come and partake. And they came in swarms, swiftly and without notice to each other. I maintained the visualization, trying not to be distracted by the other demons, my own, which pulled at my hair and toes trying to keep me from feeding the hungry spirits. PHAT!

machig_labdron

Afterwards I returned to my Self, but before I could begin reflecting on the experience we performed it again, and a third time. Afterwards, I ate a little food to remind my head and body they were united, feeling almost speechless for the first time in my life. It was subtle, this profoundness...I sat with it for a week when finally I saw the effects. Two people in our group had their partners leave them. I was sad for them, but glad for being spared whatever effects were rippling in the aftermath of Chöd. A few weeks later I decided to try performing the ritual myself, maybe even starting a daily practice. Shortly after, the two people whose partners left them had a huge falling out with enormous repercussions; this also included the majority of our budding Priesthood to abandon their oaths and group. I was absolutely shocked and swore not to do the Chöd practice again, just in case.

Months passed when I decided my spirit was strong enough to really break through my Fear and do the practice. On New Year’s Eve, I made the commitment to myself and my Queen, to begin a daily practice of the Chöd for 40 days. I got 4 days into the practice when my husband started fighting with me. I pushed through until day 8 when he lost his job. I stopped immediately...the Fear had won. My life, at that point, had been exactly what I always wanted: working in a library, husband working from home and doing his thing, living in the country and having enough money to live comfortably. We were even shopping around for our first home to buy. This sudden change had a domino effect: my husband had to move back to the city for work, our marriage took a huge strain and we’ve since relocated back to the Bay Area.

What happened? Where is all the merit I accumulated from this practice? Do I continue the practice? Well, I gave it away...emptied my Self of all karma. My actual Fear was manifested before me… causing unhappiness for so many, including my Self. This is not a safe practice and something I will return to again over time. These demons and spirits, even if viewed through the psychological lens of one’s own personal demons, manifested from our subconscious… they still have to be dealt with, regardless.

I obviously have some connection to it on a soul level, but as I researched this practice the relevancy became much more apparent. This practice is one of the only ones to develop in Tibet and migrate to India...usually Buddhist practice is the opposite. Also, Chöd was first taught by a woman ; Machig Lobdron was consort to a holy man, had children and STILL pursued spiritual advancement successfully. She had been the tantrika Yeshe Tsongel in a former life with guru Padmasambhava; both incarnated together. Many others who had shared lives with Yeshe Tsongel and Padmasambhava followed them into the next lifetime, where they were married and householders. Machig (pronounced, ironically, like ‘magic’) was an unusual woman who in her younger years had learned to read and worked as a liturgy or holy scripture reader for an otherwise illiterate community. Machig was well known for her very quick readings; fitting several stops a day before going home to Her own chores and meditations. Families who heard the readings were blessed for being within earshot and also accumulated merit, or what we might call ‘good karma’, for sponsoring the recitation of the Prajnaparamita (Heart Sutra)... the more times it is read, the greater the benefit.  Her multitasking confounds me, as can be demonstrated by the complete ritual; a double-sided drum in one hand, bell in the other whilst singing the chants and songs...at one point a bone flute is also played to lure hungry ghosts to the spiritual feast. The traditional Chöd practitioners are akin to the Aghori of India; wearing cast off clothing, eating/drinking from skulls and living in graveyards.

For me, Machig is a reminder that some Buddhas and Bodhisattvas came from humble, ordinary places in life. Enlightened beings find their way back to each other, to continue the work they could not complete in one lifetime. Perhaps this is my time, now… to go and sit in a place of Fear, to call demons and to dance with them. Confronting the four demons which arise from this practice: one which blocks the senses, another that distracts the mind,the third lures away one from discipline with promises of pleasure, and the final demon of ego. I see how they have manifested in my life, and how I have had to battle them… and badly at that. But I am managing to hang on to my head, even if it is hanging from the neck.

“Without hope, Chöd practitioners are freed from the limits of hope and fear; having cut the ropes of grasping, definitely enlightened, where does one go?” - Machig Lobdron (quoted from Sorensen)

 

Sarah Harding, Machik's Complete Explanation: Clarifying the Meaning of Chöd. Snow Lion Publications. 2003.

Michelle Janet Sorensen. Making the Old New Again and Again: Legitimation and Innovation in the Tibetan Buddhist Chöd Tradition. Columbia University Academic Commons. 2013.

The Liminality of Bardo

"The time hath now come for thee to seek the Path [in reality]. Thy breathing is about to cease. Thy guru hath set thee face to face before with the Clear Light; and now thou art about to experience it in its Reality in the Bardo state, wherein all things are like the void and cloudless sky, and the naked, spotless intellect is like unto a transparent vacuum without circumference or centre. At this moment, know thou thyself; and abide in that state. I, too, at this time, am setting thee face to face." - Tibetan Book of the Dead

As I read the newsfeeds, headlines and reports these days, all I see are religious groups struggling for power...either over themselves or each other. Nothing new to humans... we've been doing this since the beginning. Ebola, Israel/Gaza, ISIS, Religious Freedom/Persecution used as a shield for questionable ethics and ignorance...it is enough to make one long for a better world. And there are, but like many other ideologies and mythologies we know it is beyond this mundane realm and, for some, only accessible through the process of Death. This is no argument in favor of suicide, although I believe in each individual's right to live or die (more on that later). As a matter of fact, in order to properly navigate the Otherworld(s) we need to stay alive and accumulate the necessary tools. At least, this is what the Tibetan Buddhists believe. Similar to the Egyptian Book of the Dead (“The Book of Coming Forth By Day” or rw nw prt m hrw), the 'Bardo Thodol' is a guide through the afterlife, translated as “The Great Liberation through Hearing of the Bardo". The “book” is actually a series of sutras and texts compiled over a long period of time, but is believed to have first been initially composed by legendary master magician Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche ). The process of dying and death is taken very seriously in Tibetan culture, and in some ways it's a welcome transition in general Buddhism. Unlike the Christian belief of resurrection, the laws of reincarnation and karma play a much more significant role in the recently departed. There is no waiting around for some Bodhisattva to come and liberate them; the work of the Buddhist consists of preparing for this final “test” so an individual can free themselves. Customarily, if one can afford it, holy men come to the deathbed and chant these sutras, giving directions and encouragement for the soul to reach it's final destination, whether through an incarnating physical body or settling into one of the many other realms of existence. The instructions are read over a 49-day period, the time it generally takes a soul to reach it's destination; depending on spiritual pursuits and meditation they did in life, some souls will take less time than others to move through the bardos. It is much more complicated than this simple explanation, but is essentially how I have come to understand it.

The term Bardo is essentially the combining of 'bar' (in between) and 'do' (island or mark)...it is a “place” between the various realms of existence, a crossroads of the soul. Whilst there is only three Bardos described in the Book of the Dead, there are multiple layers within each. Each is a threshold and opportunity for the departed to reconcile their karmic debt, and can be quite frightening to the unprepared. The first bardo is entered upon right before the MOMENT physical death occurs. Hovering between life and death, the individual realizes they are about to disappear into the next world. In the Shambhala Dragon Edition of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, there is a great passage in the commentary section which describes this process as an elementary releasing:

“Physically, you feel heavy when the earth element dissolves into water; and when water dissolves into fire you find that the circulation begins to cease functioning. When fire dissolves into air, any feeling of warmth or growth begins to dissolve; and when air dissolves into space you last the last feeling of contact with the physical world. Finally, when space or consciousness dissolves into the central nadi, there is a sense of internal luminousity, an inner glow, when everything has become completely introverted” (p.4).

Once death hastens the process and allows the 'self' to release the body, so does the biggest journey begin. The series of bardos that follow are opportunities for the soul to receive enlightenment, to get final chances at realizations the individual may not have practiced or pursued in life. This happens through a series of visions and travels through the different realms. If there had been a true connection made with deities or Buddhas, this is the time when they appear as guides for us to move forward. If this does not occur, the soul moves on into the next phase.

The Six Realms of Existence are states of Samsara (cycles of rebirth) which become available in the second bardo. The realms resonate a bright guiding light and unless focused on the task at hand, the soul is like a moth blindly following illusion. Now, pay attention because this part is kinda important: Our mundane human existence is located somewhere in the middle of this hierarchy, our karma was pretty good if we are now humans. And really, this is a very advantageous place to be because we can go either way: ascending into the realms of the demigods and Gods, or descending into the hellish realms of hungry ghosts and animals.

The Six Realms of Existence.
The Six Realms of Existence.

At the very lowest realm of hell, all intensity is expressed. Anger and loneliness are the dominating tortures in this world, which very much resembles Dante's Inferno: areas of complete freezing cold, rivers of magma, and the skies a fiery blaze. For those who escape or serve out time, the next realm is not much more pleasant as it is inhabited by the pretas, or Hungry Ghosts: beings who experience over and over the desires they attached themselves to in previous lifetimes. “Want” is the big theme here, feelings of greed are prevalent. In classical art they are portrayed as beings with very large bellies, but tiny necks and mouths, sitting before large plates of food they cannot manage to get at. This is an illusion, as they cannot see the food is spoiled and filled with the ravenous poisons they cultivated.

The next realm is that of Animals and whilst we, as humans, tend to like the idea of coming back as a housecat, this is just another illusion. Animals are sentient beings in their innocence...but really, that is just a nice way of describing their “dumbness”. Animals lack a sense of humor, are in a constant state of survival and have no time or intelligence to comprehend the dharma. They act solely on instinct, violence and death are not contemplations but ways of living. Some people are on the borderlands of this realm,I think, succumbing to bodily cravings and destruction for their own 'survival'. Humans are just above this realm, as we have evolved from this primal state of action and turn to the research of potentiality.

As we progress through the realms, just above the humans are the Jealous Gods, or Asuras; envy and suspicion reign supreme here. The beings here are demi-gods... not really good enough to become a fully realized being because they have these attachments of intrigue to work through. They are so busy looking at the shiny pretty details they are missing the bigger picture. It is the distractions of mind, spirituality wrapped up in theories so the soul does not progress but rather becomes “stuck”.

The next realm is that of the Gods: those who have built whole worlds, within their physical bodies, working towards apotheosis as an elevated being of the cosmos. Really, it doesn't sound so bad; a playground of the Devas in which pleasure is maintained and “rewarded” for all their hard work in previous lives. It is still illusion though, as Ego drives the motivation in this realm. The attainment of prideful worship and eternal pats on the back does not help to escape from the cycles of rebirth; which really is the ultimate goal of Buddhism. Even here, the impermanence of the Universe is Law and the heavenly realms are subject to the evolutionary progression of the soul.

Now, depending on how one acts and reacts through the second bardo will determine where they end up. Rejection, fear or attachment to other realms can become the cementing force slowing down the soul's progress....which is why it is important to develop these skills now whilst we still have time, being that it's relative. We can also pray for those who are still trapped in these realms. Making offerings and requests for karmic debt to be eliminated on their behalf, whilst also accepting that karma for ourselves, is a win-win. If all else has failed and the soul does not accept any of the options placed in front of them, the final bardo is crossed into and a “judgment” takes place. This is not unlike the “final boss” experienced in the afterlife of many other religions; the Egyptians face Ma'at where their heart is weighed against the feather of Truth. Facing this Truth is the most important part of the entire journey, facing what we truly ARE and not hiding behind all the falsities of our previous existences. If liberation is not achieved, rebirth is necessary. It is at this point potential parents or lifetimes are presented, with bright lights drawing the soul towards the most favorable womb. So, in essence, we chose this lifetime we are in now. We DID select our parents in this realm and gave ourselves another opportunity to achieve liberation.

All we can really do to avoid such suffering in the afterlife, is to try living a good life, be compassionate and kind-hearted. It seems, according to the Book of the Dead, even this is not enough as we should strive to become virtuous in spiritual pursuits. Our aim is to take advantage of opportunities and privileges for learning meditation, mantra and visualization; all skills we take with us after this lifetime.

"There being several turning-points, liberation should be obtained at one or other of them through recognizing. But those of very weak karmic connexions, whose mass of obscuration is great [because of] evil actions, have to wander downwards and downwards to the Sidpa Bardo. Yet since there are, like the rungs of a ladder, many kinds of settings-face-to-face [or remindings], liberation should have been obtained at one or at another by recognizing. But those of the weakest karmic connexions, by not recognizing, fall under the influence of awe and terror. [For them] there are various graded teachings for closing the womb-door and for selecting the womb-door; and, at one or other of these, they should have apprehended the method of visualization and [applied] the illimitable virtues [thereof] for exalting one's own condition. Even the lowest of them, resembling the brute order, will have been able -- in virtue of the application of the Refuge -- to turn from entering into misery; and, [obtaining] the great [boon] of a perfectly endowed and freed human body, will, in the next birth, meeting with a guru who is a virtuous friend, obtain the [saving] vows."

PBP: “W” is for Water

We are elemental creatures, whether we like it or not. Chemistry, Alchemy, Physics, Metaphysics... it is like blind men describing an elephant. Of the many different things which we are made of though, almost 80% of our matter contains water. We might have even come from water, an evolutionary path out of the primordial ooze. It is a precious thing, water... coming in many forms: vapor, solid and liquid. It is adaptable, destructive, nourishing, cleansing, vibrational; water is a universal element, a current and nourisher of spirit. Water is healing, above all else. When people are in hysterics or stressed often a hot bath is suggested to soothe nerves. Hot herbal teas release comfort not just in the medicines released but the warmth given too. Our ancestors knew water for the resource it is, some still do worship at sacred springs, rivers, falls and lakes. The ocean is often considered Mother and we, Her children, do not treat Her as such...for if we did half the things to our actual mothers as we do unto the world's oceans and lakes, well it would be considered a shameful abuse.

Naga women, source from http://www.tendrel.za.pl/klasy.htm

The spirits of water are not always the cute little sylphs and sprites often shown in fairy tale books. They are not just lovely mermaids combing their hair on boulders and rocks, singing songs to sailors. They can also be immense like dragons, watery serpents who hide wealth and hold back disease. Several years ago a mentor of mine challenged me to connect with these spirits as a remedy for my own depression... as a way to cope with a close friend who was suffering from lymphoma... as a blessing to the genus loci, local land spirits who inhabit the environment surrounding the waterways of Northern California. Every dark moon, I visited a local running creek, grotto, waterfall... I went everywhere I could think or that was convenient to give prayers to the Naga King, who rules them all. Milk and honey, poured out with a mantra (received from both His Holiness Serkong Rinpoche and Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, not transmitted personally):

TAYATHA OM TATHAGATA BHAGAVAN NAGA RANDZE SHORA

ADHISHTHANA ADHISHTITE SOHA

I did this for 2 years consecutively, even when a Wiccan lady freaked out saying I was feeding 'demons' or random dis-incarnated spirits. Even when I was accused and trash talked, I knew in my heart of practice it didn't matter. If there were suffering Be-ings floating by who partook of these offerings, so be it. The merit was passed on to them all through the act of heartfelt giving and the intention of alleviating suffering for all, including myself.

Time went on and I abandoned the practice, becoming busy in my new motherhood and graduate studies. Earlier this year I began a water practice that was similar, an on-going global ritual Mother of the New Time; every full moon blessed and charged water that I partake of as well, then pour into a jar collected over the year. On New Year's Day 2014, I will release this into one of the nearby bays. With the moon risen high and the cold clouds forming a halo, tonight I stepped out and performed my ritual with thoughts of a familiar challenge.

Just in the past few days, my mentor from years ago has called me to take up this challenge again and I accept with loving gratitude. Instead of only a few spiritual workers we are now integrating more on a global level; the project has been translated into French and soon Japanese. Our Oceans have been calling us and I hope many of you will take up the mantle of protector and answer the challenge as well: Our Ocean Project.

PBP: “T” is for Tantra

Soon after attending regular Dark Moon devotionals to Hermes and Hekate at The Sacred Well , I began reading a book by our Hermetic Priest, Sam Webster , called Tantric Thelema. New to Thelemic thought, I am taking my time (so far 6 months) with this very dense, short book. It's funny, but although intentions were quite the opposite surely, I am learning about Thelema (in general) through Webster's application of eastern tantric methodology to the Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis . This topic is one which many Neo-Pagan and New Age communities have the wrong impression of... if they truly understood the genuine techniques and value of Tantra, their whole attitude about the good/evil dichotomy would change forever. Instead most Westerners think of it only in relation to sacred sexuality, specific breathing/touching techniques, and delayed orgasms... which is all true as well, but not what Tantra is ALL about. From the Sanskrit root meaning 'looms' or 'weaving', Tantra essentially means the sharing of revelatory teachings or group of lessons from a guru, often from a mystical perspective. As Webster points out, Liber AL is a perfect example of a Tantra and offers a simple definition which I think might be more understandable from a Western perspective:

“Tantras tend to have the characteristics of presenting a theory and goal of practice, a means or vehicle of practice and a divine form that embodies the practice and its successful outcome” (Webster, xiii).

It is easy to understand how this word can be thrown around; after all, there are two cultures which use it in some similar contexts, Hindu and Buddhist. In ancient India, Tantra essentially had 4 branches: Action, Performance, Yoga, and Highest Yoga. This stratification is a way of describing the path to Vedic enlightenment and escaping samsara (cycles of rebirth). Some other Westerners seem to think it's COOL in having past lives... they brag about how many famous people they have been, when in reality they should be ashamed. If you were so great, why are you still HERE and not off in the seven realms of heaven/hell (another topic for another day)?  I digress, only to come back to how these four descriptions help in understanding Tantra.

It begins with taking on Action Tantra: trying to pursue knowledge as one seeks a lover... a thirst and desire which rises upon first glimpsing a grimoire, sutra, or an illustration which teaches and touches. We share in our Performance Tantra: giving attention and fawning over to satisfy Self and the object of our affections... this is a place of creation. Offering of gifts, establishing a shrine or altar space, enticing and delighting the Deity/Lover creates an inviting space. Using sly moves, the physicality involved in Yoga Tantra is sleek and smooths out the 'hand-holding' process... we are now at second base, so to speak. Beginning a practice, we are also forming a personal cult to touch and caress whatever is laid before us. It is when we are able to embrace and become One with Deity/Lover in the act of either physical sex or intense meditation... there is no third base as the ball is hit out of the park, so to speak. Devotional workings, prayers, offerings, disciplined meditation eventually pay off in Union with the Divine.

“The desire born from sexual passion can be used to destroy the desire that binds beings in samsara, like using a thorn to remove a thorn” (Lopez, p. 228).

On the flip side of the tantric coin, there are meditations of death called chod, a short-cut through to completely destroying the ego; the goal of Vajrayana Buddhism. Tantra, in this way, is about killing demons of attachment. More about this aspect in another future post.

This is a lot for Western thinkers to take on, and it is also why this practice is not suited for everyone. For those who are willing to  engage in meaningful and often challenging growth spurts of spiritual grace... the tantric path is waiting for you.

 

References

Webster, Sam. Tantric Thelema. Richmond, California: Concrescent Press, 2010.

Lopez, George. The Story of Buddhism: A concise guide to its history and teaching. San Francisco, California: HarperCollins, 2001.

PBP: “M” is for Mantras

Most Westerners understand somewhat how to use mantras... often it is a repeated affirmation, word of encouragement, or prayer. Whilst this is a powerful tool of empowerment and self transformation, Mantras can actually change the world too. In Eastern traditions, mantras are often in Sanskrit or Pali as a simple word (sometimes referred to as a 'bija' or a seed syllable), a series of adorations, or sounds of intonement (such as 'Om'). The very sound of a mantra vibrates throughout the cosmic web of the multiverse, sending out energy with purpose. It is a very simple devotional act, one which benefits not only the chanter but any Be-ings within listening distance of the mantra said. Usually mantras are repeated 108 times (traditionally), counted on a beaded necklace with one extra seed called the bija or seed bead... Christians brought these wonderful spiritual tools back with them from the first Crusades. Catholics all over the world still use these 'rosaries', which only contain 54 beads to count the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” repetitions prescribed by a priest as an act of contrition. Although I never really was repenting, I did LOVE saying the prayers, learning them in my catechism classes and repeating over and over at night when I couldn't sleep. I loved listening to the little old ladies who, with their heads covered, lit candles at the feet of the blessed virgin Mary and mumbled these prayers for hours. No other Christian denomination can pray as quickly as a Catholic... dare to compare.

Mantras caved into rock in Tibet, Photo by Nathan Freitas.
Mantras caved into rock in Tibet, photo by Nathan Freitas.

The most powerful tool I have in my witchy bag of tricks is my voice. I don't have some amazing singing voice, nor is it necessarily unusually pleasant sounding. Since I was a kid, it has been a bit 'rough' sounding... raspy, deep, and very, very LOUD. It carries even with a simple whisper. So when a meditation teacher introduced to me the concept of Mantras, I was immediately interested. The repetition made for an easy transition to altered states of consciousness... I could go into a trance brought on by the sound of my voice, like a beating drum, the slow steady breaths between, and the clinking of beads as they shifted through my fingers. Although there are healthy benefits to repeating mantras in the vernacular language of English, I choose to use foreign or dead languages ideally because it gives my body something to do... allowing the sounds to vibrate my whole Be-ing without thinking about the words. I EXPERIENCE the mantra instead of intellectualizing it. For example, try the most widely known mantra: OM MANI PADME HUM. It's translation into English is best described by the Dali Lama:

“the six syllables, OM MANI PADME HUM, mean that in dependence on the practice which is in indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure body, speech, and mind of a Buddha. It is said that you should not seek for Buddhahood outside of yourself; the substances for the achievement of Buddhahood are within" (From a lecture given by His Holiness The Dalai Lama of Tibet at the Kalmuck Mongolian Buddhist Center, New Jersey).

Many spiritual concepts are difficult to make tangible through spoken or written language. But going beyond form, beyond meaning lies the heart of mantra practice which for me anyway, is the experiential gnosis of divinity. I reconnect with what is already within me through a physical means, expressing and satisfying the longing my soul has. Seeking out union is not enough... transformation and evolution through building up these spiritual muscles, honing and perfecting my natural talents are the benefits. The results are infinite and I am a spiritual beefcake.

Longevity and Passive Defense

Blazing Light of Tara

If ever there was a shortcut to enlightenment, it will be through the grace of the final Tara, Lhamo Ozer Chenma. Her light blasts away any lingering negative energies which may come in the form of the walking dead (rolangs or those who have misused mantras) or as yakshas (“harm givers”) which are a lot like what some call psychic vampires who leech onto the vitality of living beings. Ozer Chenma grants longevity and a 'pacifying' peace...one which no longer requires the fierceness of Tara in Her wrathfulness, but totally encompassing the passiveness which comes without taking. In Her lotus is a golden fish, a beautiful jewel in the pond of serenity. Like this fish we are encouraged to glide around the waterways, allowing the current to wash over us without fighting for dominance. Little effort is needed as the traveling becomes more natural, there is no second guessing or attention to distractions for eradication...at this point we can simply slide over any rocks which may create rough waters. To be mutable and free flowing is the message of this Tara whose light is blazing and offering an opportunity to escape the hard work of spiritual life in favor of one enriched in peaceful passivity. It is not weakness...it is the balance for all our efforts through the journey of Tara. We have finally reached the state of true peace and fearlessness in our magickal and spiritual core.

ozer chenma

With peaceful intentions, I call for the the power and presence of Od.zer.chen.ma. In the light of your blazing stillness, I give to you my body, heart, and soul. May I be a shining example of your peace, leading to the awakening possibility in myself and all those who come before me. Destroy any harmful energies which may try to hinder my progress or pursuit of enlightenment; may it come swiftly and quietly.

praise21

A Balancing Act

Mountain-Dwelling Mendicant

In saffron colors, dressed in scented leaves and bringing the fresh winds from mountains, the Tara Rito Loma Jonma comes to our side for healing of illness in several capacities. Her right eye is like the sun, left is the moon...contrasting energies of fire and coolness; one destroys, the other creates, in a harmony of the cosmos. Her mystery is restorative, clearing our bodies of dis-ease to allow for healing to commence. Rito Loma Jonma carries with Her a jar of healing herbs and supernatural medicines. This Tara has the ability to also heal sickness in our environment; closing old wounds and restoring the balance in nature as well. When we think of illness we tend to only consider the bodies of breathing, moving things like people and animals when really the plants and Earth are just as alive. Blowing the tops off mountains for fracking out coal, which is detrimental to the environment and living things in general, is one way in which we do this Bodhisattva a great disservice. She offers up compassion and comfort, we strip-mine and deforest. The power of Rito Loma Jonma comes from the breathe of trees, the old spirits of nature are Her children. She is the mists hanging on the mountains crawling down through the valleys. Her energy is much needed now and as a Tara, She travels and works swiftly.

The warm, dry season of summer is conducive to the fires which are burning in both forests and oil refineries here in the Northern California. Southern California is a geographical area ripe for thermal inversion, a trap for the smog caused by vehicles and factories. The air quality in the whole state is not as it should be...and the balance will be restored either through great effort by us humans, or the chaos Mother Nature will ensue eventually. Many illnesses and dis-eases are the results of environmental issues; increased cancer rates, behavioral and mental health problems...we are trapped and sinking in the muck of our own making. It takes a Savioress like Rito Loma Jonma to reach in and pull us out, clean the yuck off, and help us in restoring our otherwise harmonious nature. We reset back to 'default': our already perfect selves.

Rito Loma Jonma

With humility I call forth the power and presence of Ri.to.ma, the divine mendicant. I give to you my body, heart and soul to do with as you will, a vehicle for healing. Bless and empower all the actions of those who care for the sick, nurture and offer healing to all sentient beings in this realm. May the forests, oceans, and air we breathe be cleansed and cured with your most restoring breath.

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Magickal Armor

The Umbrella of Tara Many of us in the pagan community also practice magick; which I spell with the infamous 'k' so as to differentiate between the stage magic of a prestidigitator and the enchantments/sorcery involved with witchcraft, including other mystical workings. Whilst most of the work done tends to be in alignment with healing and not harming others, there are some who would psychically attack or curse for whatever reason. Just in case, it is always good to know how to protect ourselves and those we love. Even if we do not know how to do this, we can be protected from malignant magicks sent by others who might be trying to hinder our development. Either through jealousy or other ill intentions, we cannot always just throw back what others are sending at us; there is still a cosmic balance to be kept and retaliating is almost the same as instigating a situation. Passive resistance is much more effective and a nonviolent means of justifying an end; and without taking on others karmic debt.

Tara as Dugkarmo holds an umbrella over us, protecting specifically from black magick attacks and hindrances in our practice. The shade She provides is cast by Her virtuous light, overwhelming to dark motivations. In all the realms, even the Gods and other higher beings cannot penetrate those under Her protection. It is an auspicious shelter, similar to the cobra who provided comfort for Buddha as He sat in meditation by spreading it's enormous hood. Whatever others throw at us simply slides away on the umbrella, like rain. Let others get wet, whilst we stay and focused in our progress.

Dugkarmo

I call forth the power and great presence of the Tara Dug.kar.mo. Under the shelter of your auspicious umbrella I give to you my body, heart, and soul. With your splendid light, cover my body as an shining armor of Dharma; reflecting your protective rays on everyone who comes before me.

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She Who Holds the Moon

By the Light of Tara

There is something awesome and spellbinding about the moon, this is reflected in the multicultural mysteries and folklore as part of human experience. The lunar shine is somewhat watery in it's ebbing and flowing, pulling parts of us from within and without ourselves. It is said in the East the spirit of the moon is like a Hare, or Rabbit; a strange site is to see the bunnies out in the field standing straight up gazing at the moon. In the lotus, Maja Chenmo holds the moon with the rabbit looking out at all who gaze upon it.

Maja Chenmo is called the 'great one of the peacock', for like this strange bird She can take poisons and turn it into something beautiful. She counteracts toxicity in our bodies as a form of natural medicine, removing the latent chemicals and pharmaceuticals which we take into ourselves for 'healing'. The impure waters, unhealthy soil, and polluted air are all a reflection of what is happening within our selves; and vice versa. From within and without we are trying to solve problems in ways which cause more...when really the solution is simple; difficult yes, but simple. Living compassionately eliminates all conflicts and poisons in our lives; it is an effect from Maja Chenmo's blazing light which reaches down through Her lunar medium. Her blessings come down as ripples, waves on a still and stagnant pond. She is gentle and nurturing, having a special place in the lives of children and babies. The water curls are playful, splashing and spraying a cleansing mist over all Her children.

maja chenmo

 

By the light of the moon, I call forth the power and presence of the brilliantly lit Bar.wod.chen.ma. In your lunar rays, I give to you my body, heart and soul. Pledging completely to compassionate acts of kindness, I request you illuminate every atom of my body. May this light ripple and reach out to others who come before me; eradicate all poisons where I walk so the world can be a safe place for our children in the present and future.

 

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The House of Tara

Protectress Against Robbers and Thieves

Nothing leaves us more vulnerable than being robbed; knowing someone has been through your things materially or if they were a friend who exploited your giving nature with a good ol' fashioned back-stab are a few ways this can happen. Either through physical or emotional violence, this Tara is Pagme Nonma, a fiery Lady who perpetuates nonviolence. She is the advocate for freedom fighters everywhere, keeping them safe during political actions or protests. Armed with dharma in the form of a golden stupa arising from the lotus in Her hand, the little small building is a reminder of the Buddha's life here on earth. Stupas are sacred mounds or specifically shaped buildings to hold various objects associated with the Buddha or housing the ashes of Buddhas. They're similar to what are referred to in Christianity as reliquaries; a place of pilgrimage for devotees who wish to seek out a connection with a holy person from this realm, hoping some of their attributes can be transferred through veneration. As holy places often are the depository for golden offerings or other things of value, they are also the target of thieves and robbers.

The stupa of Tara Pagme Nonma is a fortified reliquary of truth which cannot be taken; She also has the power to stop any who may have malign intent from approaching the treasure. She is better than any security system because She does not just sound the alarms, She actually prevents the theft from taking place. Her power can stop mountains of the mundane, Pagme Nonma is a vehicle of peace. The wheels of motivation simply cannot bear the force of Her mantra, She is a conduit for the winds of protection.

Pagme Nonma

Golden as the warmth of a sunset, I call forth the power and the presence of Tara Pag.me Non.ma. I give to you my body, heart, and soul. Please shine your protective light on any persons with malicious intent, who may otherwise steal from me or those who come before me. May all my deeds and actions be in accordance with the true path to enlightened being.

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Tara the Spell Slinger

Mother of Intentions

Jealousies and ill will can come from outside ourselves. Often when we are on the right track to a profound knowledge or experience, there will be opposition in powerful force. Spells and curses do exist, both are a temptation into the easier route of awakening. Not that having the ability to use these tools is a BAD thing; in fact having an aptitude for the spiritual is almost certainly past life abilities becoming manifest in the present. But more often than not magick involves a bit of ego and that just doesn't mix well with pure spiritual intent...it's just prettier grasping again. Many have not yet understood the karmic repercussions of speaking against others, in either a spell or gossip. In any form so much as it causes pain or injury in an emotional, psychic, financial, or physical way to a person there is always a price. Whether it is the self defense or counter-attack, we are still acting in response to someone else and that is when we give them our power. It is better to let go of the anger and any hooks they may have embedded in us.

Severing any traces of malice brought upon by others is still a job for Tara, but this next aspect of the compassionate Mother smashes any ill intentions coming your way. Rigngag Tobjom uses Her double dorje to smatter anything that is thrown at you. Whether it is a mugger hiding in an alleyway or a gossiping friend, the motivations still touch us by tainting our karma in the form of desires and fear. But this home run hitter has two bats and She swings pretty hard. She is a spiritual bodyguard, nothing gets past Her, and keeping us sober on the path is Her biggest job. It is in Her speech and sound where the power lies...Her voice makes negative energies coming our way explode like terracotta pots, shards flying everywhere.

Rigngag Tobjom

I call upon the Tara Da.pung.jom.ze.ma who is the destroyer of opposing forces. I give to you my body, heart and soul. Pledging completely to bringing compassion, joy, beauty, and abundance to all who come before me, I request that all influences which oppose my aspirations be nullified. May the motivations be shattered and scattered to the four winds never to return.

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Tara of Deep Peace

Purity in Wisdom

When everything has finally become a puddle of sludge, there is only the nothingness of a blank canvas. We can break ourselves down with acceptance or fight it, but either way sometimes we have to hit 'rock bottom' before we bounce back up. Buddhism essentially teaches how through non-attachment we can keep from hitting that desperate point in our transformation...but that is easier said than done for most of us. We still get angry on the road when someone cuts us off, or when we see great injustices done. It is most difficult to walk around and be a complacently blissed out being, whilst still part of this world of emotional responses. Tara as Rabzhima has an offer we cannot refuse.

This Tara is white as the glowing moonlight which also appears to have a golden glow, but when you see it here on Earth it's more like silver. This is how Her purifying energy comes to use, Rabzhima pours it from an elegant vase; the lotus on which it stands is blue with the vessel radiating a golden glow. As the silvery nectar drizzles out onto our ethereal bodies, it pushes out the sludge of everyday emotional baggage, revealing a clean surface beneath to rebuild upon. She is white in Her peaceful way, not invasive or intense in the cleansing. Rabzhima's blessing is one of freedom, being liberated of our past clinging or emotional patterns. After the pummeling, destroying and general stripping down to the bare bones, we are generally sore and tender in our exposure. There might be a film of negatives left tarnishing our spirit, so as a soothing liquid balm Rabzhima's nectar flows over the wounds washing out any impurities which may still be lingering. She is gentle in Her purifying, removing anything that might be manifested into an infection later on, leaving behind a squeaky clean being with nothing left but spiritual potential.

Rabzhima

Tara who is Rab.she.ma, I give to you my body, heart and soul. Blessed Tara of deep purifying peace, shower me with your cleansing nectar. Anoint me with your refining touch so that I may share this bliss with all those who come before me.

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Wrathful Cupcakes

Tara as Mover and Shaker

Often we think we're on the 'correct' path, when really it's just another supposed 'short cut' or easier means of achieving enlightenment. There are many ways in which we are misled; donating to a cause we believe to be just when secretly it is a laundering cover-up; supporting a candidate we think is genuine and turns out to be false, etc. Unless we know all the deep, dirty secrets of everyone, there is no way we can be entirely 'right'. When we make these mistakes unknowingly we also tend to learn from them, but there is sometimes still repercussions for those actions on both a mundane and sacred level. In really delusional situations, we might not even see our wrong attitudes due to stubbornness or wrong information given. Since it really isn't our intention to be misled or to advocate the wrong cause, how can we deal with what we cannot truly see? This is where the most wrathful aspect of Tara comes into play...She is Lady Thronyer Chen and has the ability to shake the entire cosmos free of any subtle obstacles which we cannot see for ourselves.

As another black Tara Thronyer Chen is a destroyer, but not in such a dramatic or big way as Zhengyi Migyalma or Kurukulle. In Her small actions She makes an ultimately big impact. In Her lotus is an unusual tool little used here in the West: a tung shing, used in a similar way as a mortar and pestle to pound seeds and make oils when ground. In Her stomping, grinding and slapping ways Thronyer Chen is like the electric mixer used by bakers, to get rid of small clumps and create a nice smooth batter for a fluffier, tasty cake. Intentional clumps of fudge in a chocolate cake are one thing, but bits of butter or clusters of flour can ruin the bite of an otherwise perfect cupcake. And that is what we are, cosmic cupcakes. Tara as Thronyer Chen refines the end process of our spiritual preparation for great things to come. She polishes out the frosting on the finished product, getting it ready for the embellishments and other decorations to come later.

Thronyer Chen

In the hopes of becoming refined and smooth as polished marble, I invoke the smattering presence of To.nyer.chen. My body, heart and soul are putty in your hands. Shake the last wrinkles of obstacles from the impeccable sheets of my spirit, so I may wrap myself in the pure peace that is left behind. May your wrathful presence slap out the disillusions of others so they approach enlightenment with eyes wide open.

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Fiery Destruction for Peace

Tara Who Protects From War

War is an inevitability in our world; humans have been fighting each other for as long as we have existed it seems. Whether one group fights another for resources such was water or land, or the fights break out in families among siblings...battle is almost as inherent in our experience as the potentiality for peace. So the question is, can Tara as the wrathful Yulle Gyalma eradicate ALL wars on this planet? Well, that depends: is every person asking for Her graces? Because if they were, I can say with most certainty that we would be living in a more peaceful world. And why is this? Well, it is because Yulle Gyalma works through us, not for us. She can protect and prevent insofar as we are capable of. In other words, we can pray night and day for Her to prevent the acts of violence going on in the Middle East, but essentially it is up to the people there (and in charge) to stop it. We can only pray for the protection of ourselves and for the people who make the decisions to have an awareness of peace. It might seem a little disheartening, but small gestures add up quickly in the universal karmic bank...our line of credit is dependent on the score we receive during our lifetimes.

Yulle Gyalma is wrathful in Her extremity. She is a dancer in the fire of enlightenment; burning up obstacles which hinder the process of suffering for all sentient beings. With Her vajra of fire, each point produces another vajre, and another, and another, reproducing exponentially. As the flames grow they create a circle of protection. This powerful fire also catches any emotions which may rise out of us, causing battles within our own selves. Destructive attitudes and thoughts are engulfed in Her fiery energy, indestructible and swift in Her clarity.

yulle_gyalma

I offer up my anger and any destructive emotions or thoughts to the wrathful Tara, Yulle Gyalma. I surrender to you my body, heart and soul. May many sentient beings find the peace and protection needed from dangerous conflict in both the mundane and spiritual realms. Encircle my life with your protective fire.

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Harmony Replenished with Auspiciousness

Tara as the Keeper of Balance Sometimes it is difficult to keep things in harmony; balancing both a spiritual life with the many roles we fulfill as parents, employees, students, etc. is one of the most difficult tasks many of us face. If we own a house we need to work to pay for it, but what is the TRUE price? Is our livelihood in alignment with our personal values? Do we secretly long for the life of an ascetic, living with complete non-attachment to material things? It might be a possibility for some folks, but not all of us. Many of us have families and other responsibilities which we cannot simply turn our backs on even the slightest, but this does not mean we cannot have a fulfilling spiritual practice. We need to only make the time for ourselves, and invoke the yellow Tara Tashi Donje.

Tashi Donje brings with Her the blessings of the harvest; the reaping and sowing of our efforts are revealed in perfect unity. In this one moment of meditation, we have the ability to restore any imbalances in our physical and spiritual bodies; sloughing off the extra baggage which keeps us from being wholly prosperous. In Her crown there sits a crescent moon, radiating an energetic yellow shower of glitter. The sparkly confetti is thrown from the knot She holds in the lotus, as a sprinkler in the summer grass; soaking up where needed and trickling away if not absorbed. It finds all the parched and dry places easily, replenishing like a sponge. This cooling energy is refreshing, giving the effects of compassion, love and the deep peace associated with a balanced practice. Removing negative mental and emotional patterns is one way in which this renewed outlook changes how we understand the world, leaving a positive attitude and attraction for an auspicious way of living.

Tashi donje

I ask for the light of Ta.shi.don.je.ma to radiate my being. I surrender my body, heart, and soul completely so that all I do be in the work of divine auspiciousness. May you be a shining light in the darkness of my mind, replenishing the fountain of my spirit so it may quench the thirst of all who come before me.

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Tara's Wish-Fulfilling Jewels

Bestower of Riches, Liberator of Poverty

Everything is not all destruction and annihilation with Tara. She makes way for Her blessings by clearing out debris, composting that which is dead, and eventually fertilizing the soil of our soul's garden in preparation for a garden to bloom. With intensive energy and a frown of determination on Her face, the next Tara is Phagma Norter Drolma; the supreme one who gifts riches and wealth in both materials and wisdom. In Her wrathful energy She removes the suffering which is caused by poverty; with compassion She is the mother who removes Her own clothes to give for those in need. The riches of the universe are at Her disposal and gifted to those who seek Her refuge, for we are each offered opportunities of advancement in our physical and spiritual lives through Her.

As Norter Drolma, Tara is seated in Her usual position with a vase coming out of the lotus; it holds within it wish-fulfilling jewels She is ready to pour into the hands of those who seek Her aid. She appears to us in an orange shade of colour; it is a combination of yellow (representing Her golden rays of wealth) and red (for Her swift, active nature). Her love and compassion offers these treasures to us, but in Her wrathful gaze we must be conscious of what that entails. Wishes granted for ill gotten gains or that perpetuate the suffering of someone else will have karmic repercussions. Which is why it is best to only seek joyful bliss by alleviating the suffering of others, as well as ourselves. Receiving gifts of peaceful happiness and contentment, the need for luxurious extravagances are no longer necessary. As the old saying goes, the things you own end up owning you. So we ask for OUR happiness, love, and compassion in a way that makes it okay to share with others, without hurting ourselves in the process.

We are starved in this society, malnourished not only in love and compassion, but in the richness that is a spiritual connection. The self-help, religious and new age industries are all thriving as never before in this sad economic environment as people try to reach out and grasp at whatever materialism has to offer. It is something we can taste, touch and look at...if it has promises of happiness attached, there is nothing we won't buy for the right price. When in truth the richest people I know are miserable, and the humblest tend to be highly spiritual and authentic; wealth is again a matter of perspective. The point is, Norter Drolma may help you become rich and She may even save you from poverty, but spirituality is a state of prosperity that must be balanced with the physical world. How can we focus on the meditation when our bellies are hungry? How can we help alleviate the sufferings of others when we are trying to live from paycheck to paycheck? The universe wants us to be happy and there is enough for all.

norterdolma_tara

From a spiritually starving space, I call forth the power and presence of Nor.ter.drol.ma in my life. I give to you my body, heart, and soul. Empower me with your energy so I may be nourished. May these blessings overfill my life so to spill out over all those who come before me. May all who experience poverty find relief from their sufferings in a way which further advances their spiritual evolution.

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The Red Banner-Bearer

Tara of Victory In a rich red, Tara as Jigten Sumle Gyalma is the banner holder leading the parade in our spiritual discipline. She is marching at the front, leading all the other Taras in formation around us as we walk the path, keeping us on course. Destroying the internal distractions is the easy part...it is the outside influences which keep us from our practice which are more difficult to combat; especially because these can often appear in a form out of our control. And how does She do it? With joyful laughter...She keeps the way light-hearted, showing us that any problem can be overcome with perseverance and a good sense of humor. Jigten Sumle teaches us to not take things so seriously, when we do it is a form of attachment by placing too much importance on something which will not benefit our spiritual pursuits.

A perfect example is some of the distractions I have recognized in my own practice. My daughter is someone I cannot ignore, and will not; but as a toddler She is always trying to vie for my attentions, especially during meditation time. I could get up earlier in the day to meditate, or stay up incredibly late for my practice, but I want to give my best time and attention possible. At first I was getting frustrated as my daughter didn't understand what I was doing and wanted to just play. It wasn't until I thought about the joy she brings me that I understood fully how I love watching her. So now when I am sitting on the cushion and my daughter comes in I keep praying and chanting, but with a smile. She sometimes just sits with me in lotus, watching or closing her eyes; or she might curl up on my lap and want hugs. Often she loses interest and goes to play quietly in another room. The point is, I didn't get irritated and tell her to get out, I quietly became aware of her whilst maintaining my meditation. This is when I realized I could meditate anywhere and do anything. Being mindful and aware of what is around me whilst staying in a spiritual state is the ultimate multi-tasking challenge.

Jigten Sumle Gyulma blesses us with joyful wisdom not by showering it over us, but by magnifying the way already within. Joy and bliss does not need to come from outside influences; we are perfectly capable of manifesting happiness without becoming attached to worldly things. Her crown/diadem is the amplifier and director of Her blessings...the banner of victory is carried in the lotus. Her laughter causes outside influences to shake and tremble, Her mockery defeats any arrogance present in ourselves or those who try to distract us from the path.

jigtengyalma_tara

As Conqueror of the Three Worldly Realms, I invoke the power and presence of Jig.ten.sum.le.gyal.ma. I give to you my body, heart, and soul. Influence me with your graces, lead the way in my spiritual path, so that I may be a blessing to all who come before me. May all my enemies no longer hold my attentions as they shiver and run from the wind of your banner.

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Savioress and Forested Protector

Emerald Tara We are approaching the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel of purging which has brought us to this very place. Sufferings are only the manifestation of fear and the next Tara battles them with grace and love. Green Tara is still a wrathful Mother, but Her ferocity is for protecting Her children. As Sengdeng Nagchi Drolma, Tara reaches out as a tree; wherever Her branches shelter they also create the darkness of shadow. It seems a lot, but Tara is just the gal to take on what is referred to as the 'Eight Great Fears'. In Her hand is the wheel of dharma, the eight spokes spinning out in all directions as a vehicle of wisdom. She can focus this illumination in Her mudra of protection.

Fear can be external as well as internal, faced over and over in spiritual life. It is as a hydra, with one fear finally being conquered it seems another three rear their heads. By having special knowledge and the persistence of seeking out Buddha nature, our efforts can be blessed with Sengdeng Nagchi Drolma. She is in our corner, standing as spiritual sentinel. She is the one who gets us pumped up, rolls up Her sleeves and helps to face the eight-headed fear manifested: demonic beings/spirits, poison/jealousy, fire/anger, elephants/ignorance, water and ocean/inner fear and desire, robbers/wrong beliefs, imprisonment/stubbornness and attachment. The potential is there, in each of us... we need only be ready to face these fears; name them, confront them, and with Tara's wheels rolling so quickly circumventing your entire being, traveling in and out of the chakras. Nothing can hurt us again.

sengdeng

As Mother of the Buddhas, I call forth the power and presence of the savioress Seng.deng Nag.chi Drol.ma. I give to you my body, heart, and soul with the courage to face my fears head on and deflect them into oblivion. May all sentient beings realize their own potential strength and Buddha nature in such a way they may never fear again. Send your green light onto this heart and protect it from all poisons, fears and demons.

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Annihilator of Mara

Tara Who Brings Nothingness Cannot get much more gone than annihilate...there is no trace of it left. The only thing left to reveal is the fear manifested as distractions. Like a ninja, they are stealth engaging us in the illusions which fascinate and deter us from the path. We cannot simply ignore them...these are demons which can only wreck havoc is left to their own devices. Zhengyi Migyalma is the darkest red in color, again an action-oriented Tara. She who is invincible no longer squashes out the demon, pulverizing it into an abyss...She IS the nothingness which is not left, so to speak. There is hardly a memory of what was manifesting from within us, making sure there is nothing to cling to ever again as well; leaving no trail to follow in a moment of weakness.

As the practice has been moving through these darker aspects of Tara, I realize She is a necessary teacher in the exploration of the depths in which attachments are deeply rooted. Instead of spraying poisons on the weeds in my garden, the more difficult work of pulling and up-rooting is truly the best plan for attack to permanently change. And that is what I have been trying to do...attack the foundation of spiritual distractions; their tendrils and thorns finding their way and digging in, causing scratching and infection at my soul in the form of bitterness and jealousies. As the Buddha was tempted by the illusions of Mara with sex, power and false happiness, so am I taunted with short cuts and flashy, shiny pathways to ecstatic bliss. Real enlightenment and illumination requires real work; but once the space is emptied, there is room for the flowers to spread and thrive.

This dark red Tara, Zhengyi Migyalma, has a seriously powerful weapon to utterly destroy the maras without fear. It is the holy vajra: the thunderbolt of illumination combined with the diamond, sharp enough to cut anything and not be affected. It is an irreversible force... once we have tapped into this energy, there is no turning back. With the wrong intentions, there is no other self-defeating magic quite as strong. Exposing the rawness at the center of our fears is eventually rewarding. The nightmares are a Sunday walk for Her and She'll be waiting on the other side to pull us back together.

zhengyi_migyalmaFrom the depths of dark places, where I am afraid to go, I seek out the powerful presence of She,gyi.mi.gyal.ma. I give to you my body, heart and soul. Pledging completely to the process of alleviating suffering for myself and all other sentient beings I ask that you bless me with your abysmal love; help me to work through the distractions. Raise your flaming dorje to be the spark of sacred destruction against all influences which keep me from my path.

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Invincible, Flaming One

Indestructible Tara Who Cuts In a blue-black hue surrounded by smoke and rain, Tara sits in the center of a blazing fire, gnashing Her teeth like a vampire. If black Tara is the equivalent of Kali, this one is most like Hekate with Her flaming blade that cuts loose any known, or unknown, inner demons from our spiritual lives. She is the karmic soldier who roots out any misuses of magic, mantras or powers we are afflicted with; either caused by ourselves or inflicted upon us by others. Any toxic influences are severed ties with, Zhengyi Mithubma will release us from them: ignorance, attachment, unnatural or unharmonious feelings and thoughts are quickly sliced away with Her flaming sword. These can sometimes manifest into the external world as misfortune not only in our own lives, but those of others as earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires. Although it may seem destructive and chaotic, it is within the realm of nature to 'clean house' every once in a while to restore balance; such is our spiritual nature as well.

Her fire is one of grace, the flame of knowledge that can become out of control and wild for the untrained. However, in the right hands this fire is the light of gnosis, inspiration from a deep dark place or the uncultured dreams waiting like pearls in the rocky beds of oysters. With Her left leg down She sends white energy down, with the right leg She pushes the red energy up; one being peaceful and the other more active elemental forces of the universe. With practice, a magician can learn to run these currents as well...dissipating any and all spells or curses thrown at them. Ordinary feelings are destroyed, our hands recoil from attachments of the material world as we reach inside ourselves for the mantra of Zhengyi Mithubma, inner Tara of the deep.

Sheghimitobma_Tara

Severed and surrendered, I call forth the power and presence of Shen.gi.tob.ma, Tara the invincible. I give you my body, heart and soul. Pledging completely to the process that brings the alleviation of suffering to all sentient beings, I request my life, plans, and magical aspirations catch fire with your divine flame.

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