MAHASHIVRATRI: THE DIVINE MASCULINE
One of the gifts of our FARA home being based here in India is that we get to witness the beautiful and extraordinary ways in which India celebrates life and the Divine. Endless colourful traditions, full of symbolism and metaphor, have emerged from the ancient mythology and philosophical views and there are hundreds of festivals every year complete with offerings, dance, song and often austerities such as fasting and meditation, all woven in ritual to honour and connect to Divine energies.
MAHASHIVRATRI: MASCULINE BLESSINGS
Every year we look forward to one such celebration which happens on the night of the dark moon in the last lunar month of the Hindu calendar. The festival is called Mahashivratri, the Great Night of Shiva, and it is the night when seekers and devotees stay up throughout the night to turn their hearts towards Shiva with prayers for awakening. Shiva, the Divine Masculine, along with Shakti, the Divine Feminine, sit at the heart of Indian mythology and it is understood that our entire experience, within and without, is a play of these two primordial energies and Mahashivratri celebrates this play and ultimately their Divine Union.
We can think of Shiva as pure consciousness, the vast container within which everything is held, and the emergent life process within that container, this is Shakti, the Divine Feminine. Together, it is said that they are in an eternal love play which is Creation itself and the ancient tantric scripts teach us that this love play, this dialogue, between Shiva and Shakti, between the Divine Masculine and Feminine, is happening inside each of us right now.
SHIVA AND SHAKTI
Let’s travel back to a very long long time ago before even time or space was realised, to when Shiva rested as the original thought ‘I am’, empty, yet full of unlimited potential. And then an impulse arose and that ‘I am’ developed into ‘What could I be?’ and Shakti unfolded Herself into all the possibilities of what can be manifest simply for the purpose of Consciousness, Pure Awareness, to be mirrored back to Itself and for Shiva to realise himself through Shakti.
And here is the beauty of our humanness, we are Pure Awareness embodied, earthbound dancers gifted the experience of our senses and the capacity to taste all the flavours of life – yet we also we have the invitation to be Spiritual seekers searching for our inner Beloved, for union with the Divine. It is like Shiva is the ocean and we are drops within that ocean experiencing the waves, yet when we quieten and give ourselves space to enter into stillness we can merge back into the ocean remembering our vast, unbounded, expansive true nature.
This is the magic of Mahashivatri as it was this very night that Shiva and his beloved, Parvati (Shakti), were wed and during this night there is a portal into this meeting, into this union. It was after the demise of Sati, Shiva’s first wife (a story for another time!) and Shiva had retreated into deep meditation during which time Sati reincarnated as Parvati. Parvati recognised her beloved as Shiva and worshipped Shiva with the utmost devotion until he was roused from his practice and they were reunited. It is the power and function of the Divine Feminine which was able to bring forth Creation and lure Shiva into participating in the world. Yet the cycle of emergence and withdrawal continues as the dance is eternal and they continue to spiral in and out of each other through all time and space.
There is a well known image of Lord Shiva in the form of Nataraja, the dancer, where he moves wildly in the ānanda tāṇḍava, the Dance of Bliss. Through this dance Lord Shiva is transforming the world in and out of existence, over and over, moment to moment, his dance reminds us that the only constant is change, that everything that rises will eventually dissolve back into Source, into Nothingness. Into Him. Yet, that each part of every process is essential; there will always be times of expansion and times of withdrawal, growth is cyclical, not linear and that life is a dance and we are the dancers.
Mahashivratri is an opportunity for us to turn towards the inner Beloved; it is a moment in time when we are invited to meet this part within ourselves which is the vast, pure, still and unbounded – dancing slowly and intimately with and as the Divine Masculine.
How can we celebrate Mahashivratri at home?
Eat lightly or fast on fruits and water
Wash and dress to meet with the Divine in the classic FARA Raw Silk Kimono and Silk Scarf in cream to symbolise purity and Pure Awareness (remember we are offering ourselves, as an embodiment of Shakti, to our Beloved, Shiva)
Light a diya, an oil lamp or candle
Offer incense, flowers, milk and honey
Recite Om Namah Shivaya 108 times, ideally through the midnight hour, seated upright with the spine straight
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivay
Journal by Mischa Varmuza
Mischa facilitates sacred space and transformation through Yoga, Ritual and Transpersonal Coaching.
You can find her @MISCHAVARMUZA