Dancing with the Divine Feminine Contemplation Homework for Week One January 18-24, 2012

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1 Introduction: Dancing with the Divine Feminine Contemplation Homework for Week One January 18-24, 2012 In these notes you ll find some questions for contemplation, and some suggestions for working with your partner, if you have chosen to do so. As you begin these and the meditation exercises, you might like to dedicate the merit generated by these contemplations as blessings for the people in Haiti. Please set aside at least half an hour this week to look at each of these questions, to consider them and journal about them. Let whatever you discover percolate within you, and notice what the contemplations bring up either in your meditation, in your dreams, or in the events of your life. Much of the power of this exploration will show up in unexpected moments, in ordinary interactions, and in recognitions that spring up both during your official contemplation time, while working with your partner, as well as outside your designated quiet time. Contemplation A should be done alone, and then discussed with your partner. The Question Process (C) should be done with a partner. Contemplation B can be done with your partner or alone. The Exercises Exercise A: Contemplation on the Feminine Spend some time with a notebook, considering some or all of the following questions, and making notes on what comes up as you contemplate them. Choose the questions that resonate for you. Questions: What are some qualities that you think of as feminine? In contemplating these, consider the different aspects of yourself or of other women you know that feel feminine. Consider both the qualities you admire or aspire to, and the qualities you deny or dislike or disown. See if you can separate your own felt sense of the feminine from what you have read or been conditioned to believe. At points, the two may coincide, at other points, they may differ. Look especially at your image of feminine strength, and at whether fierceness is a part of your image of the feminine Sally Kempton. All Rights Reserved. 1

2 What are the qualities you recognize as part of the sacred or divine feminine? Which qualities of the sacred feminine do you find in yourself (whether you are a man or a women) at this point in your life? Which qualities do you feel you need to discover or develop or contact now? Which qualities of the sacred feminine do you feel are ready to emerge in your life now? Now, go deeper in contemplation: After you ve considered and jotted down your thoughts on these questions, sit in a meditative posture, keeping your notebook handy. Focusing on the breath, ask that the sacred feminine essence be present with you either as an inner presence, or as a presence in the atmosphere around you. Wait a few minutes, without trying to control or censor the ways in which that presence is felt. (In this, you might use the meditation we practiced last night (notes on that meditation are Item D, towards the end of this document), or simply make the silent request for sacred feminine presence to be with you.) Then ask, What are the sacred feminine qualities that are ready to emerge in my life now? You might feel that you are asking this question of your Self, or of the divine feminine presence. (In truth, they are not really different!) After asking the question, wait for a moment, and then begin to write. Write without censorship, whatever comes. The answer may be a feeling or an image rather than words, in which case you might draw or describe it. (Remember, it is also possible that the answers may come at a later time. Take note when they do!) Once you have a sense of what sacred feminine quality might be needed now or ready to emerge, ask yourself, What is one step I can take today that will help bring forth this sacred feminine quality in myself or in others? Then, ask yourself for an affirmation that you can use to assist this process. It might be something like Whatever exists is made of Shakti or I stand in truth or I can receive and give nourishment but should be one that is uniquely personal to your life at this time. If you are working with a partner, make notes so that you can discuss your findings with your partner Sally Kempton. All Rights Reserved. 2

3 Exercise B: Contemplation on Kali energy: to be done with a partner or alone. Questions to Contemplate: 1) How do you experience the fierce feminine in yourself and others? How have you experienced its unconscious, or shadow manifestations? How do you experience the fierce feminine as energy of truth or clarity? In what ways do you hide your fierceness? How has fierceness served you? 2) How has Kali energy the energy of breakthrough worked for your awakening and transformation through your life? How has Kali s power to dissolve structures helped to liberate you? How can understanding the liberating quality of the Kali energy help you to understand and reframe certain experiences of loss and dissolution in your life? Notice, in short, different ways in which the Kali energy is connected to the movement toward liberation both personal or inward in your life? 3) In what areas of your life do you feel you need Kali energy the energy of naked truth, of breakthrough, or the energy which can take a stand outside custom and convention- - now? How could you use Kali s energy for liberation? Exercise C: Partner Question/ Answer Process: Questions from Kali as the energy of Truth Choose who will be Partner A and who will be Partner B. Partner A begins asking the questions, while Partner B answers. Then switch. Give each partner at least 5 minutes to answer and share the answers. After both have taken a turn, debrief with each other Begin by taking a moment or two to ask that the sacred feminine energy be present with you and around you. The questioning Partner should think of herself or himself as the pure witness. During the questioning session, do not comment, give advice, or interpret. Simply ask the question. It is as if you are the sacred feminine holding space for your partner to experience the truth. Partner B may answer out loud, or may silently write down the answer. If there is no answer, after about 45 seconds, Partner A asks again. Partner A keeps asking the question until Partner B indicates that she s gone as far as she can or wants to now. Question: What is the deepest truth you know about yourself now? In giving answers, the person being questioned should try and speak not from what you ve heard or read, but from a felt sense of their own truth in this moment or at this time in their life Sally Kempton. All Rights Reserved. 3

4 Then, ask, Is there a deeper truth? Alternate the two questions for 3 to 5 minutes, long enough so that the person being questioned goes a little bit past the immediate answers that come up. Switch sides, then debrief. Exercise D Invoking the Presence of the Divine Feminine (The final meditation from Wednesday s class) Make your posture firm, and spend a moment focusing on the breath. Imagine yourself lying in an alpine meadow, on a summer night. Above you is a sky filled with stars. The stars are bright, very close. As you look at the stars, you realize that one of them is growing, and you feel it coming closer, hovering above you. You experience that star as a feminine presence, utterly still, yet filled with pulsing energy and presence. You feel that presence as love, a love that sees you completely. That divine feminine presence sees your beauty and your wounded ness, your fears and your doubts, your longing and your goodness, your secret shame and your hidden anger. She sees it all, and she holds it all. Good and bad, light and dark. She is the divine feminine incarnate, the liberating force of grace itself. She is freedom itself, and she is the energy of the world. Let your breath connect you to her heart. You don t have to visualize her, simply know that she is there. With the inhalation, breathe her energy into your heart. With the exhalation, breathe it through your body and out into the room, even into the world. Optional Practice A Tantric Contemplation/Meditation (For those of you who d like to enter more fully into the esoteric aspect of Kali, you might like to read the paragraph below, and spend a few minutes doing the suggested meditation that follows. You can find the image of Kali that it describes in the special Divine Feminine Course area of my website. URL: / password: saraswato Kali is that reality without which nothing would be effective. She is the underlying Shakti, the creative energy 2012 Sally Kempton. All Rights Reserved. 4

5 Kali s four arms represent the complete circle of creation and destruction, which is contained within or encompassed by her. She represents the inherent creative and destructive rhythms of the cosmos. Her right hands, making the gestures of fear not and conferring boons represent the creative aspect of Kali, while the left hand, holding a bloodied sword and a severed head, represent her destructive aspect The blooded sword and severed head also symbolize the destruction of ignorance and the dawning of knowledge. The sword is the sword of knowledge, or desire less sadhana (practice), that cuts the knots of ignorance and destroys false consciousness (the severed head). Kali opens the gates of freedom with this sword, having cut the bonds that bind human beings. In addition to signifying false consciousness, the severed head is said to signify the outflow of rajas guna (passionate proclivities), which completely purifies the adept, who becomes totally composed of sattvic (spiritual qualities) in his or her awakening to truth. Kali s lolling tongue and sharp fangs are interpreted as symbolizing the conquest of rajasic (ambitious, greedy, passionate, worldly) power by sattvic (spiritual, pure) power. That is, Kali is totally spiritual in nature, having transcended any impurities Kali s blackness also symbolizes her all- embracing, comprehensive nature, because black is the color in which all other colors merge; black absorbs and dissolve them. Or black is said to represent the total absence of color, again signifying that Kali is beyond all qualities as the ultimate reality. Kali s nudity has a similar meaning. It symbolizes that she is completely beyond names and forms, completely transcendent Her nudity is said to represent totally illuminated consciousness, unaffected by delusion. Kali is the bright fire of truth, which cannot be hidden by the clothes of ignorance. Such truth simply burns them away. (She stands on Shiva s prone body), which represents the passive potential of creation. In the philosophy of yoga he represents purusha (literally, male), the unchanging, unqualified aspect of reality, while Kali represents the active prakriti (nature of the physical world). In this interpretation, Kali and Shiva together symbolize ultimate reality. Another interpretation of Kali s standing on Shiva is that it symbolizes meditative involution, by means of which one decreates the universe in order to experience the blissful union of Shiva and Shakti. The garland of severed heads represents the sounds of the alphabet and symbolizes Kali as shabda Brahman, God as sound, the underlying essence of reality as manifest in sound (NB: Remember In the beginning was the Word from the Gospel of John? Same idea, here). From the various seed sounds (bijas) all creation proceeds, and Kali is identified with this underlying power. Her girdle of severed arms represents the destruction of devotees karma. (From Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine, by David Kinsley) Suggested Visual Contemplation: After reading over the foregoing, look at the picture of Kali that appears on the private area of the website. Then close your eyes, and imagine for a 2012 Sally Kempton. All Rights Reserved. 5

6 moment that this image (don t worry, you don t have to visualize it perfectly!) dances in your heart. Have the sense that the wild Kali image is offering you liberation from whatever holds you back now. Notice what arises in response. Further Reading: 1) A good scholarly book on the Indian goddess figures is David Kinsley s The Goddesses Mirror 2) Ajit Mookerjee s Kali: The Feminine Force is my favorite text on the mythological aspects of Kali. With pictures. 3) The Return of the Mother by Andrew Harvey (discusses several aspects of the divine feminine, including Kali, Mary, Sophia and others.) 2012 Sally Kempton. All Rights Reserved. 6

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