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The Divine Feminine: Varahi’s Call in the Month of Aashad

Varahi's Call in the Month of Aashad

Author

Date

Sneha S

Introduction

In the heart of India’s monsoon season, the enigmatic goddess Varahi emerges, her boar-like face a symbol of power and transformation. This Aashad Navaratri, delve into the mysteries of this fierce deity and explore her connection to the divine feminine within us all. Join us on a journey into the shadows and light, where ancient wisdom meets modern psychology. Discover how this powerful archetype can guide you towards profound healing, self-discovery, and spiritual awakening.

“From Vishnu’s body was born Varahi, who assumed a boar-like form, terrible in appearance and of great strength.”

Devi Mahatmya
Chapter 8, Verse 15

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In the sweltering heat of an Indian summer, as the monsoon rains begin to whisper their arrival, a peculiar energy stirs in the air. It’s Aashad, a month that holds a special place in the hearts of spiritual seekers across the subcontinent. This year, as I found myself drawn into the mystical world of Varahi worship during Aashad Navaratri, I couldn’t help but feel I was stepping into a realm where the veil between the mundane and the divine grows tantalizingly thin.

The Boar-Faced Goddess and Her Monsoon Magic
Picture this: a goddess with the head of a boar and the body of a woman, riding atop a buffalo, wielding weapons in her multiple arms. This is Varahi, a deity so enigmatic that even seasoned scholars of Hindu mythology find themselves intrigued by her complexity. Yet, for those who dare to delve deeper, Varahi represents a portal to profound spiritual transformation.
Dr. David Kinsley, in his seminal work “Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas,” describes Varahi as “a goddess who embodies the raw, untamed power of the feminine.” He goes on to explain, “Varahi’s boar face symbolizes her ability to ‘root out’ hidden truths and transformative energies” (Kinsley 165).

As I sit in a dimly lit temple, the air heavy with incense, Dr. Bimal Krishna Matilal’s words from “The Word and the World: India’s Contribution to the Study of Language” echo in my mind. He writes, “The monsoon season, which Aashad heralds, is a time of transition in nature. This flux is mirrored in the spiritual realm, making it an ideal period for transformative practices” (Matilal 203).

A Dance of Shadows and Light
The concept of shadow work, popularized by psychologist Carl Jung, finds a surprising resonance in Varahi worship. Dr. Sudhir Kakar, a renowned Indian psychoanalyst, draws parallels between Jungian psychology and Hindu spiritual practices in his book “The Inner World.” Kakar writes, “The Hindu tantric traditions, particularly those associated with fierce goddesses like Varahi, offer a unique pathway to confronting and integrating the shadow aspects of the psyche. This process of integration is crucial for psychological wholeness” (Kakar 178). His words illuminate the psychological depth of Varahi worship, suggesting that these ancient practices might offer profound insights into the human psyche.

 

“The tantric body is a living microcosm, homologized to the macrocosm. Through ritual and meditation, the adept aims to awaken the divine powers dormant within this body.”

Mircea Eliade
Yoga: Immortality and Freedom

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The Alchemy of Transformation
As the first day of Aashad Navaratri dawns, I find myself swept up in a whirlwind of activity. The air is thick with the sound of mantras and the clanging of bells. Devotees, their faces etched with concentration, engage in intricate rituals that seem to blend the mundane and the mystical. Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist known for his work on meditation and brain plasticity, offers a scientific perspective on such intensive spiritual practices. In his book “The Emotional Life of Your Brain,” he notes, “Repetitive practices, such as mantra recitation, can induce neuroplastic changes in the brain, potentially rewiring cognitive and emotional patterns” (Davidson 245).
His research brings to mind the concept of neuroplasticity, suggesting that these ancient practices might be tapping into cutting-edge neuroscience.

Archetypes and Altered States
As Navaratri unfolds, I find myself drawn deeper into the world of Varahi worship. The goddess, with her wild, untamed energy, begins to take on the qualities of what Clarissa Pinkola Estés might call the “Wild Woman” archetype. In her groundbreaking work “Women Who Run With the Wolves,” Estés writes, “The Wild Woman archetype represents a primordial feminine power. By connecting with this archetype, women tap into something ancient and powerful within themselves” (Estés 8). While Estés doesn’t specifically mention Varahi, her description of the Wild Woman archetype resonates deeply with the fierce, transformative energy of this tantric goddess.

The Cosmic Dance of Shakti
As we move deeper, the philosophical underpinnings of Varahi worship begin to reveal themselves. The concept of Shakti – the dynamic, active principle of consciousness – takes center stage. Dr. Georg Feuerstein, in his comprehensive work “Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy,” elucidates this concept: “In Tantra, Shakti is seen as the active, manifesting power of consciousness. Deities like Varahi represent Shakti in its most potent form, embodying the power that brings potential into manifestation” (Feuerstein 80). This idea of Shakti as the executive power of consciousness challenges Western theological concepts, presenting a vision of divinity that is immanent and actively engaged in the world.

Time’s Cyclical Dance
I have become acutely aware of the cyclical nature of time in Hindu philosophy. The festival marks the beginning of Dakshinayana, the six-month period when the sun travels southward. This transition is seen as spiritually significant, a time when the veil between worlds grows thin. Dr. Anindita Balslev, in her work “A Study of Time in Indian Philosophy,” offers insight into this cyclical view of time: “The Hindu conception of time is fundamentally cyclical, viewing creation, preservation, and dissolution as ongoing processes rather than linear events. This perspective deeply influences spiritual practices, particularly during transitional periods like Dakshinayana” (Balslev 134). This cyclical view of time offers a profound alternative to the linear progress narrative of the West, suggesting a universe of eternal return.

The Tantra of Transformation
I find myself reflecting on the Tantric approach to spirituality exemplified by Varahi worship. Unlike more ascetic traditions that seek to transcend the material world, Tantra embraces the physical as a pathway to the divine. Dr. David Gordon White, in his book “Kiss of the Yogini,” explains this unique approach: “Tantra teaches that the same energies that can lead to bondage, when properly understood and channeled, can lead to liberation. It’s not about escaping the world, but about seeing it with new eyes, recognizing the divine in every aspect of existence” (White 219). This non-dual approach challenges conventional notions of spirituality, suggesting a path of transformation through engagement rather than renunciation.

The Goddess in the Mirror
My mind swirling with new insights and experiences, I’m reminded of the words of Dr. Rita Gross from her book “Feminism and Religion”: “Goddess worship, particularly of fierce goddesses like Varahi, offers women a powerful mirror for their own divinity. It challenges patriarchal religious paradigms and provides a pathway for women to reclaim their spiritual power” (Gross 176). Her words stay with me, a fitting summation of the profound and transformative journey that is Varahi worship in Aashad. In this ancient practice, we get a glimpse at spirituality that doesn’t shy away from the complexities of human experience but embraces them as gateways to the divine.

In a world increasingly dominated by rationality and materialism, could these age-old wisdom traditions offer a much-needed balm for our collective soul? The answer, like Varahi herself, remains delightfully, tantalizingly enigmatic.


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Take-away

As the monsoon rains cleanse the earth, let Varahi cleanse your spirit. Whether you seek personal transformation or a deeper understanding of the Divine Feminine, this Aashad Navaratri is an invitation to embrace the untamed goddess within. Join us on this journey as we explore the shadows and light, the ancient wisdom and modern relevance, of Varahi’s enduring power.

“In Tantra, time is not merely a neutral backdrop against which events unfold. Certain periods, like Aashad, are seen as particularly potent for spiritual practices due to cosmic alignments.”

Dr. Robert Svoboda
Aghora: At the Left Hand of God

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Sources

Balslev, Anindita N. “A Study of Time in Indian Philosophy.” Motilal Banarsidass, 1983.

Davidson, Richard J. “The Emotional Life of Your Brain.” Penguin, 2012.

Estés, Clarissa Pinkola. “Women Who Run With the Wolves.” Ballantine Books, 1992.

Feuerstein, Georg. “Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy.” Shambhala, 1998.

Flood, Gavin. “The Tantric Body: The Secret Tradition of Hindu Religion.” I.B. Tauris, 2006.

Gross, Rita M. “Feminism and Religion.” Beacon Press, 1996.

Kakar, Sudhir. “The Inner World: A Psychoanalytic Study of Childhood and Society in India.” Oxford University Press, 1978.

Kinsley, David. “Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas.” University of California Press, 1997.

Matilal, Bimal Krishna. “The Word and the World: India’s Contribution to the Study of Language.” Oxford University Press, 1990.

White, David Gordon. “Kiss of the Yogini: ‘Tantric Sex’ in its South Asian Contexts.” University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Further reading

Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert A. Johnson

The Path of the Priestess: A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine by Sharron Rose

Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes in Women’s Lives by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy by Georg Feuerstein

The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder & Delight by Lorin Roche:


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About the Author

Sneha S, with her diverse expertise as a certified yoga and pranayama teacher, skilled workshop facilitator, and dedicated researcher, Sneha curates enchanting experiences tailored for women. Drawing upon the profound wisdom of goddesses and archetypal psychology, she unveils the extraordinary transformative power of the divine feminine. Through her sacred endeavors, Sneha skillfully guides individuals on an immersive voyage of self-discovery and liberation. Her unwavering commitment to unearthing ancient wisdom has solidified her reputation as a revered author and cherished authority in the realm of Goddess Cards.


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