This is an invitation to a very special ceremony. All the Hindu gods have been invited, and you - even as a mortal - are invited too. Would you like to come? Let me tell you all about it.
It is a wedding of deities, old as time itself, perhaps even the wedding of your very first ancestors. It is also a multiple marriage (downright polyamorous, you might say) - a marriage between chaos and order, mind and body, soul and spirit, anima and animus, as well as of many goddesses and gods, as all the goddesses are aspects of the divine mother, Mahadevi, who is the source of all. In this particular ceremony, however, the deities to marry will appear in the archetypal forms of Shakti and Shiva. Their love for each other is legendary, and their union brings peace, understanding, and exquisite bliss. It generates the full spectrum of existence, the ten thousand levels of manifestation.
Do not go to look for your calendar, because this ceremony can take place anytime. For those who are luckiest, it happens every day. Do not say that you cannot travel to distant and exotic lands, because it takes place wherever you are, deep within the Self, in the sacred realm of the heart. Do not say that you have no gift to bring, for the gift of the Self is gift enough, and it will be much renewed by your attendance.
Let me first tell you about Shakti, the bride. She is wondrous and She is everywhere! She dances in the life of the plants, She is the spark in the laugh of the child. She is present in the growing belly, the voice that sings, the heart that loves. She is the urge to grow, to move, to change, to awaken. She is pure energy, chaotically free, the fuel for all activity, infinite energy.
Her full name is Kundalini Shakti and sometimes She dresses like a serpent, coiled tightly around the four petaled lotus that grows at the base of your spine. Here is the bed where She sleeps, giving you grounding and stability, security and peace, with your roots buried deeply in the Earth. Her home at this level is called Muladhara, or root support. It is here that She binds together the physical world. Her instincts help you survive.
Oh, but sometimes She stirs, languidly ravishing in the sensuous movements of Her serpentine body, sinuously sliding through the liquid nectar of your cells, moving upward through the curves and organs of your flesh. She pierces the lotus of six petals, whose element is water, and in this form She may bring you intense desire. Hers is the longing that cries out for touch and sometimes brings forth Kama the Lord of Lust to awaken the cells within you to ecstatic pleasure. Here She may have many lovers, each one renewed in the glorious energy of Her distinct Goddess-nature. Her home at this level is called Swadhisthana, which means both sweetness and “one’s own place.” Her loving in the sacred space in sweet indeed.
Beware, though, because her movements may be chaotic when She first breaks out of Her slumber. She may be a wild dancer, robbing you of sleep. You may shake with her tremors, burn with her longing, ache with her movement upward, her search for her true love, Shiva himself. If she does not find him, She may get more and more agitated, burning even stronger with desire, until you think you will burst with the intensity of her presence.
Ah, but She knows it is not enough to merely dance suggestively to attract the likes of Shiva. No, She must have power to do that, rising to the third chakra of fire, the lustrous gem of manipura. Here She will find the strength and fierceness of a warrior Goddess, not merely the soft feminine sweetness of the young maiden. Shiva is a formidable force, and does not trifle with Maidens, but only with the raw stuff of life, the Goddess Herself. In this form, you may see her riding a tiger, as the goddess Durga, or dancing with Shiva as her Dark Sister, Mother Kali, who drips blood form her mouth to splatter upon her necklace of skulls.
Her power at this level is to break apart old forms, for once awakened, She hates constriction, and you may find nothing in your life is ever the same. In her search for her lover, she can be most intense, relentless, in fact, and there may be little you can hold onto if it gets in her way. You’d best cooperate with her and begin looking for her lover, for She will not stop until She finds him.
And who is this divine being? Who is the true love of our Shakti? He is the auspicious Lord Shiva, who comes in many forms. He is the Lord of Sleep, the undifferentiated bliss of meditation, unified with all that is. He is the wisdom of pure consciousness, the divine intelligence that shapes primordial chaos into order and form. His most familiar home is in the crown chakra, in the undifferentiated realm of limitless spirit, where he sees and knows ALL. But He is also a dark one, known as Rudra, the howler or weeping one, a Lord of Destruction, whose lightning bolt can destroy your attachments with but a single glance. As Rudra, He feeds on the corpses of men slain in battle, feeding their souls to his dark consort Kali.
He is also a god of healing and sacrifices, worshipped by many in the rising phallus, the Shiva Lingam, always erect and ever thrusting into the great mysteries of the feminine, never satisfied. It is said that long ago, his brother Brahma and Vishnu, gathered to compare their power, and while arguing, a towering lingam crowned with flame rose up between them and replaced their fighting with stunned amazement. Vishnu plunged downward, in the form of a boar, and Brahma flew upward, as a bird, but they could not, for all their searching find its beginning or its end, for as they flew, the lingam grew and grew. Finally the side of the phallus burst open and there stood Shiva, who proclaimed himself to be the origin of them both, thus encompassing the threefold principles of creation, preservation, and destruction.
Without His lover, however, Shiva is but a corpse, downright boring for the uninitiated. If you see him before the wedding, he may lay in perfect stillness, lost in meditation of the infinite wonders, enfolded in the bliss of perfect enlightenment, disembodied from the world of samsara, of birth and death. Here the Lord of Sleep may bring you dreams, or in waking states, visions of what is possible. As He descends into the two-petaled chakra lotus of the third eye, He is the illumination of limitless light, enabling us to see clearly through the illusions that bind us in the lower realms. He is the infinity of the imagination, the birthplace of dreams, the true seeing of the awakened One. And when He catches sight of his Beloved Goddess, He is luminescence everywhere, creating brilliant shining stars and bursting suns, glancing up Her jewels as She dances in splendor.
And the sounds He can make! As Lord of Song, He descends to the fifth chakra lotus of communication to call for His divine lover. For His is the sound of the primordial OM, the underlying sound of all creation. With His other consort Mother Kali, they control the sounds of the universe that are the basis of all creation. It is said that when Kali, whose name means times, wants to destroy the world, She only need remove the alphabet from the petals of each chakra, and all of creation will dissolve back into nothingness.
When Siva's sounds join the energy of Shakti, the music of their love is passionate and sweet, and there are few who attend this wedding who are not compelled to dance with an unknown fervor, free and aware of the divine realm within their heart.
So now it is time for their joining. Come and enter the Sacred Chamber. Ganesha, remover of obstacles will greet you at the door, his elephant trunk seeping away your fears of love, his ample belly quivering with laughter. As you enter the sacred temple, you find yourself sinking into a lotus of twelve petals, set in emerald green, (although the colors may vary according to the mood of the day.) Within the lotus, two triangles intersect in perfect balance, the descending triangle of spirit merging with the ascending triangle of matter. The sacred marriage of yoni and lingam are thus made on in this celestial six-pointed star.
In the center, Brahma sits deep in meditation, quietly generating all that you see and experience. He consort, Saraswati, Patroness of the Arts, has created the decor with elaborate tapestries of gold filigree, exotic plants and bouquets of flowers everywhere. She has hired the very best dancers and musicians for your entertainment. Soon they enter with sitars and tablas, accompanied by ornately costumed dancers of all kinds. Hanuman, who is keeper of the heart, jumps quickly from place to place, lithe monkey that He is, ushering in each guest and seating them among the petals. Agni, god of the primordial fires, is lighting the candles on the altar, fanning the sparks within your heart.
And what would a wedding be without a feast? Uma, the Corn Goddess has brought her first harvest to be shared. Laksmi, the goddess of earthly prosperity, clothed in red raiments, laced with gold, bedecked in perfumed sweetness, directs the preparation of a sumptuous feast of delightful curries and dahls, sweetmeats and fruits. Her consort, Vishnu, enters the court with Krishna, who smiles and dances with the Asparas, a group of heavenly and lascivious young nymphs, dressed in their laciest garments, tattooed with henna on the hands and feet, their hair bound with strands of pearls.
And now, at last, the ceremony is about to begin. Guests begin to chant, “Om nama Anahata” (in the name of the heart chakra) as rapt attention is stirred for the sacred event of their joining. Vayu, god of winds calls forth the divine breath of prana, and fills all with spaciousness. Agni, god of fire, sends forth sparks as the the divine polarities of the universe arc into a dynamic flow of power. Indra, god of the waters, fills all vessels with amrita, the nectar of enlightenment. Laksmi, as goddess of earthly treasures, bestows her immense wealth, and an island of jewels springs forth, with abundance enough for all living beings.
And now the bride and groom are to be joined, as the chanting softens into a deep primordial OM. First Shiva appears as a rising phallus of stone, piercing the center of the heart to probe its deepest mysteries. Shakti, who has been separated from him for some time, comes forward dancing in the form of Parvati. Her breasts are full like the round, white moon, Her hips supple, Her waist narrow, Her sari of gold lightly draped across Her dark lotus eyes. When She enters, each one present is filled with a radiant energy, a power so illustrious that there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.
When She strokes the rising phallus, the drums and music play ever more forcefully, the dancers writhing feverishly to the rhythm. When the hall can no longer contain this passionate energy of creation, Shiva springs forth, grabbing his Shakti with one of his four great arms. His other arms hold a trident and a rosary, symbolizing his active and ascetic sides, while His remaining hand holds a lotus flower, complete with stalk, which he silently offers to the resplendent goddess, who glows with the radiance of love.
Shiva's hair is piled high upon His head, bound with stars and moons. As He begins to dance, the frenzy loosens His long tresses, cascading down across His great blue body, expanding into a halo of wings. His tresses, as they tumble are filled with little figures, the goddess Ganges, flowers of the datura, a skull, a crescent moon. The moon becomes a cup of nectar, which He offers to His sweet love for Her pleasure and enlightenment.
And now Shakti-parvati sits upon His left thigh, encircling Her arm about His shoulder. She carries a bow and arrow, a noose and a gourd, symbolizing the power of will, knowledge, and action, the essential principles of her power. The divine couple stare fixedly into each other’s eyes, lost in eternal rapture. Though appearing as two, they know that they have always been inseparably one, and their union is a return to the primordial unity from which all things spring forth.
The polarities of the universe combine, creating cascading multiplicities, dark and light, joining in a shower of rainbows, sparks and jewels explode across time and space in the ever generating and eternal sri yantra, symbol of endless creation and destruction.
Shakti has met Her match. With destruction as Her ally, She can now create endlessly to Her heart’s content, knowing that all of maya, all of the manifested universe is an endless cycle of creation and destruction. Shiva has found His sacred other, a feminine source of limitless energy. He can now move from static to dynamic dance, as Shiva Nataraj. And as they tumble into eternal ecstasy and divine union for the creation and destruction of all that is, all who are present to this divine and auspicious ritual are forever transformed.