Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sri Shiva's Cosmic Dance of Creation

Shri Shiva Nataraj, the Cosmic Dancer. The Star of David represents the six-petalled lotus of the Swadisthana Chakra, the chakra of Creation.
Though He is also the form of the Divine repsonsible for cosmic dissolution, the dance of Shri Shiva brings the Universe into being.

Thanks to Pavan for this image.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Protective Mother Archetype

A friend emailed me an image of this statue of the Virgin Mary and Child Jesus. It appears to be from a Latin country (Italy?) and is unusual in that it depicts the Queen of Heaven wielding a cudgel or stick to strike a devil, prone beneath Her right foot. I have never before seen the Madonna portrayed in this martial aspect.
It is remarkably similar to Hindu depictions of the Mother Goddess, Shri Durga, battling with the demon Mahishasura. She holds underfoot the buffalo form Mahisha took, and She prepares to strike his true form as it emerges from the wounded animal.
Where an archetype is important in the human collective psyche, it will reappear, even where it has been suppressed, or within religious traditions that seem unsympathetic to it.
If anyone knows any more information about this statue, please add a comment.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Three Subtle Channels

painting by Graham Brown
The three subtle channels (nadis):
On the right side of the body is the Pingala Nadi (Sun Channel) which has a fiery energy that can be balanced with cool water.
One the left side is the Ida Nadi (Moon Channel) which has a cold wet energy that can be balanced by fire.
In the center is the Shushumna Nadi, which brings a person into balance, and through which the Kundalini energy ascends during the experience of Self-realisation.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Divine Wisdom

Detail from Wisdom and Strength by Paolo Veronese (1528-1588)

Divine wisdom is accessible through the Sahasrara Chakra at the crown of the head.
The Renaissance painter Paolo Veronese has depicted Divine Wisdom as a goddess with an illumined sahasrara.

She appears in the Bible, in the book of Proverbs 8:22-31, where She is described as taking part in the Creation, being present with God before it took place. She is therefore not a created being, but an aspect of God.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Shri Mahakali

The Hindu goddess Shri Mahakali is the fearsome destroyer of evil, an archetype which has appeared also outside of India. In Hindu iconography she is usually depicted with wide eyes, terrifying expression and protruding tongue, and sometimes sharp fangs.
The Gorgon of ancient Greece was originally a goddess whose image enjoyed positions of prestige on the facades of temples and at the centre of shields, where it was placed to repel negative forces.
There are many similarities between the cultures of ancient Greece and India. This could be due to physical cross-pollination between the two regions, or the archetypes may have emerged independently from the collective unconscious. It is likely that a terrific feminine aspect of the Divine fulfilled a need in the collective psyche of the Hindus and the Greeks.

The top image shows the Gorgon's head on the aegis (see Wikipedia entry below) of the goddess Athena, protecting the centre heart.
The winged Gorgon (middle) is from the pediment of a temple (Greek colony of Syracuse in Sicily), below this is a Hindu statue of Shri Mahakali, and the bottom image is a bronze head from a shield (National Archaeological Museum of Athens).

From Wikipedia:
An aegis is a large collar or cape worn in ancient times to display the protection provided by a high religious authority or the holder of a protective shield signifying the same, such as a bag-like garment that contained a shield. Sometimes the garment and the shield are merged, with a small version of the shield appearing on the garment. It originally was derived from the protective shield associated with a religious figure when related in myths and images. The wearing of the aegis and its contents show sponsorship, protection, or authority derived from yet a higher source or deity. The name has been extended to many other entities, and the concept of a protective shield is found in other mythologies, while its form varies across sources.
Now, the more modern concept of doing something "under someone's aegis" means doing something under the protection of a powerful, knowledgeable, or benevolent source. The word aegis is identified with protection by a strong force with its roots in Greek mythology and adopted by the Romans; there are parallels in Norse mythology and in Egyptian mythology as well, where the Greek word aegis is applied by extension.

A protective Gorgon's head is visible on the breastplate worn by Alexander the Great, in this first century BC mosaic.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Swadisthana Chakra

William Blake's image of a bearded Creator surrounded by six angels, reflecting the six days (or aeons) of Creation, is a revelation of the Swadisthana Chakra, which is the seat of creative energy in the subtle body of a human being. 
The Swadisthana has six petals, or sub-plexuses, and is presided over by Lord Brahma and his wife the goddess Saraswati, who together personify the creative aspect of the Divine. Unlike the other male Hindu deities, Shri Brahmadeva is usually depicted with a beard, often long and white, representing his eternal nature.
In Hindu philosophy, the created universe can be divided into six aspects: front, back, left, right, above and below.

In the Zoroastrian religion, there are six divine beings called Amesha Spenta, the six great divine sparks or emanations of Ahura Mazda (uncreated Divinity) through whom creation was accomplished.

Diagram of the Swadisthana Chakra, showing its six petals, each with a sanskrit letter indicating the sound associated with that aspect of the chakra. From the top reading clockwise they are: ba, bha, ma, ya,ra, and la. The seed sound in the centre is vam.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gisele Moura

Gisele is a Brazilian artist whose work reflects the subtle system of chakras and the spiral Kundalini. Here's a link to her art blog