The darkness was hidden in darkness.
And all was fluid and formless.
Therein, in the void,
By the fire of fervor arose One.
And in the One arose love.
Love, the first seed of the soul.
Rig Veda, X.129
One thing that became clear early on in my friendship with Loki was that He is intimately connected to the Divine Feminine and, as far as I perceive it, He plays an active part in raising the consciousness of the Goddess here on earth. It is as though Loki’s force destroys the old, rigid structure that has been in power for a very long time (well, at least for human standards) to clear the way for the new consciousness to blossom. And it is the feminine energy that is re-awakening and which will bring balance, because the new consciousness is one of unity and oneness.
According to the ancient Indian scriptures, the feminine power is the cosmic energy that runs through all of creation. It can be intense, powerful and fierce, yet at the same time it also embodies compassion, softness, sweetness and peace. In Hindu culture She is known as Shakti, the Great Mother Goddess, and her consort is Shiva who reveres Her in all Her fierce and gentle manifestations. Similar to Loki, who is the consort of Angrboda, Glut and Sigyn – each embodying certain aspects of the Divine Feminine.
The power of Shakti is also known as the Kundalini energy, and it is Shiva who can balance the fierceness of Her dynamic force by uniting with Her. Shakti is seen as energy and Shiva as consciousness, but unless energy is united with consciousness it is ignorant, disordered, aimless and “blind”.
The serpent is often used as a symbol for Loki, so it was no surprise to me to discover that Loki, like Shiva, is a wielder of the “Serpent Power” – the Kundalini, our creative, life-giving energy. Kundalini literally translates as “coiled-up energy” or “power that dwells in a cave” – revealing its intrinsic feminine nature. She is referred to as serpent power, because She is compared to a snake that lies coiled up at the base of the spine while sleeping. When awakened the “snake” travels up through the energy centres or chakras, opening each one in the process until it reaches the highest where it connects with the universal mind – in Shaktism this is called the union of Shakti and Shiva – symbolised by the Goddess who travels from the root chakra at the base of the spine to unite with Her Beloved consort in the Crown Chakra.
Kundalini is a dynamic force, sacred and incredibly powerful. When used with wisdom, She can be channeled into creativity and dynamism, when awakened prematurely or abused, this energy can do great damage on all levels. Once the Kundalini is awakened and flows through the chakras, we can acquire occult powers. She is the essence of magic. Occult powers, like reading people’s mind, making ourselves invisible, heal any disease or travel to other realms may seem”miraculous” and special, yet they are limited as long as they still bind us to our ego. And when one longs for the ultimate Truth, they can stand in our way because of that very reason. Because to become one with the Infinite, acquire absolute peace within, act without attachment unperturbed by outer circumstances and encounter life with the serenity of a child who knows that somebody looks after him/her is much more difficult to achieve than the gain of occult powers. The ultimate Truth and Freedom lies beyond magical powers, and at the same time it is the real magic.
Kundalini Yoga has gained popularity in the Western World, yet it is seldom properly understood. According to Dr David Frawley, the traditional role of Kundalini is different to what it is viewed as today – especially in the Western world, which is to regard it as a mere force to control or harness. In truth, this sacred energy is a form of the Goddess and should be worshipped as Her power. It is not energy to be aroused, but energy to be revered. Efforts to manipulate it through certain disciplines and practices are not only dangerous but fail to recognise the reality of the Goddess. The Kundalini is the Goddess in form of a dynamic, creative and life-giving force, pulsing through everything in creation – She is in wind, water, earth in animals and insects – everything that moves, lives or even exists could not do so without Her.
On more than one occasion Loki has warned me of the dangers of the abuse of this sacred energy, because Kundalini is an energy that can be dangerous to awaken when one is unprepared. The fire of it rises through the subtle as well as the physical nervous system can burn it and cause great damage if the lower energy centres, which hold our primordial needs and urges, are not properly purified. The emotions and desires stirred up by this powerful energy can literally let you go insane or one can overindulge and get lost in pleasure which in turn can enslave you to forces that keep you in a lower vibrational state. That is why the path of Kundalini Yoga is a path of great purity and discipline.
All this said, the Kundalini is our creative life-force and when we guide it with the love and devotion that dwells inside our heart, it manifests as art, music, dance and many other beautiful things. According to Tantric texts the “natural” arousing of the Kundalini can occur through intense devotion or deep meditation and does not require the use of specific techniques.
Loki is a sensual deity who tends to stir up issues of suppressed desire and urges that lie hidden deep within us, issues that arise once the lower energy centres start opening. This side of Him made me wary at first, yet over time I came to understand that He knows exactly how to deal with these issues, and can lead us through the somewhat chaotic world of primordial needs – if we are willing to. Since Loki is a wielder of magic, He works with the Kundalini, the sacred fire of the Goddess that burns within us and, inevitably, He wanted me to understand this energy of the Goddess, explore it and learn about the yogic tradition that is closely connected to Her – the Yoga of Tantra.
Traditional Hindu Tantra is a complex system of spiritual knowledge and the philosophy of Tantra is to accept life and turn all ordinary activities, even menial tasks such as eating, breathing and sleeping, into sacred actions or rituals, into acts of devotion.
There is a misconception in the Western World about Tantra, as people usually connect it with sexual practices and books like the Kama Sutra. Being a Westerner myself I have to admit that I too held this very limited belief and was guarded when venturing into the “Tantric world”. When Loki opened my mind to the wisdom within the Tantric scriptures, I admit that I was embarrassed by my own ignorance in this matter.
Like all yogic traditions Tantra is centered mainly around meditation and mantras. Many Tantric texts contain no references at all to any sexual practices, while others mention them as only one line of approach, and still others regard them as mere metaphors. And although Tantra does contain sexual Yogas, it does not promote them for ordinary gratification of the senses and the Tantric philosophy is certainly not characterised by them.
Tantra literally means “book”.
There are three major lines of spiritual teachings in Hindu culture that stem from ancient and not so ancient scriptures – the oldest one being the Vedas, followed by the Puranic scriptures and the Tantric texts.
The philosophy of “Vedanta” is one of the world’s oldest spiritual philosophies, which is based on the Vedas, while Tantra is one the youngest of the yogic teachings. All spiritual teachings (yogas) lead to one goal – liberation from the illusion of existence (basically from our own limiting beliefs) and realisation of our True Self. To become one with our Highest Part. The different scriptures explain everything from the creation of the universe down to spiritual rituals and practices that help one achieve the ultimate goal of Yoga (which essentially means union with God).
The path of Tantra is unique as it has a very universal approach that uses all available methods and rejects nothing, it even includes methods that are rejected in other teachings for being unspiritual.
Even though it is not one of the main aspects, Tantra emphasises the worship of the Goddess and gives Her a special place. According to Frawley, Tantric texts provide verily a spiritual science of worship of the Mother, not merely a set of dogmas or beliefs, but a practical way of developing our higher awareness with the help of Her Wisdom and Grace. For those seeking to understand the Divine Mother, the Great Goddess, following the path of Tantra may be the key.
In contrast to traditional spiritual teachings Tantra affirms emotions but does not encourage mere emotional expression, which would only lead to a stronger attachment to these and to the outer (material) world. Tantra rather regards emotions as trapped energy and seeks the release of that energy, seeks to experience the emotion subside like a wave in the sea of awareness. To help connect with the meaning of emotions, which essentially is just a movement of nature, Tantric Yoga works with different forms of Gods and Goddesses – some peaceful others wrathful deities. Recognising the Divine energy inherent in emotions leads us to discover them as a means of relating to the Divine within us. Through genuine devotion to the Divine, human emotions can be transformed into Divine energy.
Loki is a God who works on an emotional level and also embodies a rich diversity of emotions Himself. Over time He has taught me the importance of releasing trapped emotions and sharing whatever arises inside me with Him – be it anger, hurt, fear or whatever else. No emotion is “bad”, but it is unhealthy to suppress them. He made me aware of the damaging affect suppressed emotions have on us and that guilt and shame block us very powerfully.
One of the Tantric paths, the left handed path, includes certain forbidden practices to overcome and transcend the feelings of shame and guilt – but these practices can be harmful to those who indulge in them rather than taking them as a means of transformation. Yet not even the most ascetic yogic practices encourage to suppress or deny emotion as this will never lead to liberation or realisation, and no yogic practices reject sexual energy as evil, bad or shameful. In ascetic yoga, for example, celibacy is recommended only along with spiritual practices to transmute this energy. Without meditation the practice of celibacy could even be harmful because when sexual energy stagnates it can cause various physical and emotional problems. Yet it is said that without control of sexual energy, there will not be the power necessary to do higher meditation practices.
“Yoga does not encourage to suppress anything that is natural to us, but discover our true nature in which we can naturally let go of all attachments and dependencies. … It is the ego that Yoga seeks to negate, which deludes us to selfishness and therefore to abuse the energies given to us.”
~Dr D. Frawley, Tantric Yoga
There are three major paths in Tantra:
- The right-handed path
- The left-handed path
- The direct path
The right-handed path could be seen as orthodox as it focuses on meditation and spiritual disciplines and requires a high level of purity in conduct and action. It is said to be the path for those of devotional nature.
The left-handed path includes various sexual practices and the use of meat and intoxicants, which are not approved of on the right-handed path. It is said to be the path of those of heroic nature – referring to the class of warriors.
While the right-handed path follows the rules of social dharma* and strict conduct for yogic practices, the left-handed path may include practices that are not part of Hindu social dharma and the rules of yogic practices. On the other hand, the left-handed path may not involve unorthodox practices at all and may only refer to an emphasis of the Goddess, who manifests in the left side of the deity.
*(the Hindu code of life; cosmic law underlying right behaviour and social order)
“… the left-handed path is said to be the way of ecstasy and the right-handed path the way of peace. Along the way of ecstasy we may be inclined to certain extreme actions as we break through preconceptions and as deep internal energies are released. Yet it is only peace that is lasting.”
~Dr D. Frawley, Tantric Yoga
There is a third Tantric path, which is called the direct path and it is regarded as a higher part of the other two approaches. On this path any outer form of ritualistic worship is given up, and even inner forms like chanting mantras are relinquished, as these practices can keep the mind attached to the material world. The yogi turns inward and only through exploration of his own nature, goes beyond the ego – or the small “i” – and eventually becomes one with Brahman (the highest principle, God), which is unattached and beyond the limitations of time and space. This path of Self-Enquiry is the highest Tantric as well as the highest Vedantic path.
I follow a path of yoga and relate to the spiritual philosophies of Hindu culture, yet it was only when Loki entered my life that the wisdom of the ancient scriptures became “accessible” to me, because He somehow opens my mind to grasp it. Loki seems to enjoy my fervent hunger to learn. Over the past year He has directed me to immerse myself in the ancient Indian scriptures and the knowledge I have been blessed with is remarkable, yet I am aware that this is only on a mental level. The real magic starts to happen when we realise it, feel it and live it. Loki never ceases to amaze me with His guidance and as so often I am left in complete awe of this profound, ancient and mysterious being called Loki who I so blithely call my friend.