Cruising the Lunar Shaktis
Basic Practice in Dakini Instruction
In Planetary Tantra, the three aspects of basic practice correlate to space, time, and matter or sensation:
With this essay, I introduce the method of attuning to dakini instruction by observation of the lunar cycles. For this practice, you go on moontime, adopting the lunar calendar alongside the solar calendar of mundane activities. The astronomical basics are quite simple. Key terms are in bold:
In the northern hemisphere, all observations of the sky are made facing south and looking up. East is on your left, west on your right. The constellations of the zodiac form a huge arch looming overhead at an angle of about 45 degrees. The angle varies depending on the time of year and the latitude of your location.
The motion of the moon occurs in two ways at once: it revolves around the earth in the direction right to left as we view it looking up. Thus it advances through the sky, against the background of the stars, right to left, west to east. But due to the rotation of the earth, the moon appears to rise in the east and set in the west. This is a conferred motion, due to the earth's turning on its axis. The actual motion of the moon is west to east through the stars in the sequence of the zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc.
Note how this sequence generates itself with each number being formed by the addition of the two previous numbers: 1 + 2 = 3, 2 + 3 = 5, 3 + 5 = 8, 5 + 8 = 13, and so on. With the Fibonacci Series, the count keeps itself. This sequence is unique and does not have to be memorized as would any other sequence, such as 2, 6, 9, 14, 22, 29. The lunar count, following the Fibonnaci Series, can be said to remember itself.
Here are the six intervals with their keywords for the practice of transception, and corresponding observable aspects of the moon:
Note how the six intervals or phases of the lunation conform to the Fibonacci sequence of 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 (in bold). The only variation is in the last nine days, D 21 - 30, which break up into two parts, D 21 - 26 and D 26 - 30. The sequence after 21 goes to 34: 13 + 21 + 34. D 34 is the runover into the next sequence: 30 days for the full lunation, plus 4, comes to D 4 of the next cycle. This is usually the day of each cycle when transception becomes clearly defined in a concept, theme, inspiration or mood.
At the exact moment of the new moon, the moon is between the earth and the sun and cannot be observed. This moment is the conclusion of the preceding cycle, the last day of the completion phase, sixth in the sequence. The next lunar shakti cycle begins immediately with the emergence of the sunset crescent. Where the crescent stands in the constellations of the zodiac will indicate the shakti for that cycle: that is, the presiding devata, be it a Diamond-Sky Dakini or Mahavidya.
The youngest sunset crescent that can be observed happens after about 40 hours, or 20 degress of separation between the moon and the sun. This can be on D 2. By or before Day 4 the sunset crescent usually becomes easily visible, if viewing conditions allow. Under good viewing conditions, the practice begins with visual sighting of this faint, elegant form on the western horizon. It appears as a slender sliver (often compared to a fingernail paring) and descends rapidly after sunset. Each day as the moon waxes the crescent fattens and appears higher in the sky at dusk.
In observation of the lunar shaktis, I will call the visible constellations by their graphic or story-book names, RAM, BULL, TWINS, rather than the Greco-Latin names used in astrology, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc. Each constellation of the Tantric Zodiac can be correlated to Mahavidyas (MV) or Diamond Sky Dakinis (DSD).
These correlations are somewhat, with doubling and striking inconsistencies. They are not rigid, logical correspondences that can be locked into a strict framework. Working with the lunar shaktis over time inspires great respect in the fluidic and metamorphic properties of time and imagination. Nevertheless, according to my practice to far, this is the way that dakini instruction will play out following the lunar cycles.
Note that there are thirteen visible constellations in the zodiac, not twelve. And these vast animations are irregular in shape and extent, not even, pizza-like slices of the sky. The thirteenth constellation is Ophiuchus, the Snaketamer, a shamanic figure wrestling a python-like snake. The corresponding devata is Parnashavari, "the Leaf-Clad Lady."
Note also that of the 18 entities in the Shakti Cluster, only 14 match the zodiacal parameters. There is no correlation for the Mahavidya Dhumavati. There are no correlations for Durtro Lhamo and the Prajnaparamita, two guardian devatas positioned above and below the Varja Jewel. And there is no zodiacal correlation for VV, the 18th Diamond-Sky Dakini. These exclusions are not rigid, however. There is a way in which the excluded Mahavidya Dhumavati can participate in certain lunar cycles, if she is called to do so. You could stay that in not being correlated to a specific constellation and its 30-day timeframe, she is constantly "on call". How and why you would call in instruction from Dhumavati is something to be learned in the course ahead.
The two guardians Durtro Lhamo and the Prajnaparamita represents mutable facets in the Shakti Cluster: that is, portals of interchange where various divine feminine powers can come into play. The identity of Prajnaparamita is a kind of blind, or perhaps better said, the identity given to a portal. PPM is a portal through which other devata powers can emerge, but recognition of her role as teacher and guide is essential to these contacts. More on this this works as we proceed month-by-month with the lunar shakti calendar.
Durtro Lhamo is a dangerous protector who watches over termas, wisdom-treasures, and tertons, those who discover them. The Terma of Gaia Awakening is the first of its kind: a generational or group-generated treasure revelation with a duration of 208 years until 2216, the end of Kali Yuga. Her role is stable and well-defined and does not have to be associated with the shifting patterns of the lunar shakti cycles.
VV is situated centrally to the pentad of Diamond Sky Dakinis, but she permeates the entire Shakti Cluster as well. She has no particular correlation in the zodiac, but she does have a celestial reflection outside the zodiac, in the extra-excliptic constellations that lie north of the path of the sun, moon, and planets. More on this graphic detail as the right conditions arise in the course of dakini instruction.
Difficult as it is to understand, and tedious to explain over and over again, these real-sky constellations do not correlate or correspond to the astrological signs Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc, except by superficial and often specious associations derived from Greco-Latin astrology and its medieval spinoffs. The ARCHER correlated to Kurukulla must not be associated with Sagittarius, the astrological stereotype. The constellation of the BULL does not represent the traits of sign Taurus, although Taurus has some aspects similar to those of the BULL because that constellation pre-existed it and some of the mythic lore of the real-sky pattern got absorbed into the astrological model. The shared references between sign and constellation are semantic, a matter of terms in use. The same holds true for all the signs; hence there are overlaps between the invisible signs and the visible constellations, but no true correspondances, or equivalences. Nor did signs and constellations at one time match up with each other, in a perfect overlay. There are thirteen signs of uneven extent, and twelve signs of 30 degrees each. These two disparate formats never matched, as some historians of astrology wrongly assume.
The constellations of the Tantric Zodiac do not indicate styles of personal behaviour, the talkative Gemini, the secretive Scorpio, and so forth. They indicate numinous resources of wisdom in the mindstream and human psyche, archetypes of enlightenment conceived as channels of subliminal instruction. The lunar shakti calendar is like the program for the emanations of the Shakti Cluster in the course of a year. The constellations correlated as above indicate themes, challenges, spiritual talents, sublime teachings, and prevailing moods, revealed first-hand through cultivation of dakini instruction.
Please try to keep personalistic astrological notions out of the real-sky constellations and the Tantric Zodiac! Transceiving dakini instruction is an opportunity to get off your act, decenter from personal concern, and get involved in transpersonal learning.
To follow the lunar shaktis and learn transception with the monthly transmissions, you need to set up a calendar with the count broken down into six phases. One way to do this is shown here, using a simple calendar format:
To construct a "calendar frame" for any month, insert the six-phase sequence of the lunar shaktis into an ordinary calendar format. Here I am using a printout of the calender format from Entourage. This format gives the day of the month in the upper righthand corner of the day box. May 1st is a Friday. It so happens that the first day of the shakti cycle after the new moon of March 25 begins on March 26, shown here in the upper register of the first week. So I mark in blue D1 in that day box, just below the calendar date. This leaves room in the box to make some notations, if desired.
I use left-facing brackets to show the six phases following the Fibonnaci series: 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, with a special "toggle" marker between days 25 and 26. Through the month there is an elision of phases, more like a musical progession of chords melting into each other than a rigid, point-by-point progression. Days 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and 25/26 are transitional, demonstrating strong elision. I have sketched in keywords for the six phases: OBSERVE (D 1 - 3) - ATTUNE (3 - 5 - 8) - DEFINE (8 - 13) - REFLECT and SELECT (13 - 21) - REFINE (21 - 25) - COMPLETE (26 - 30).
Years ago in Los Angeles, I introduced friends, astrological clients, and students to a lunar meditation practice involving observation of the sunset crescent. The practice was based on the sign zodiac of conventional astrology. It used the location of a new moon in a sign as the inceptive moment of a 30-day-long meditation process. The location of the new moon can conveniently be designated by where it falls in the 360-degree scale of the twelve uinform 30-degree astrological signs. For instance, the new moon of March 25, 2009 fell in 6 degrees of the astrological sign Taurus. In the real-sky zodiac, this is in the constellation of the RAM, pictured as a horned sheep in repose. Another way to indicate the same position would be 36 ECL, meaning at 36 degrees on the ecliptic scale which is divided into twelve equal sectors of 30 degrees each, the pizza-slive format of the signs. Taurus is the second sector, running from 30 to 60 degrees on the ecliptic scale. So 6 Taurus is 36 ECL.
In future, I will designate new moons by the ECL notation, thus eliminating any need to refer to the astrological sign zodiac.
In my practice and sharing of the lunar meditation cycle, I proposed a sequence based on phases similar to those of the lunar shakti calender. When the moment came to introduce dakini instruction, I thoughtlessly applied the old lunar meditation format to the pattern of transception. This was an error. In the former method based on the astrological zodiac, there was a slow build-up from the initial moment of the practice, signaled by the new moon that could not be obserbed but had to be imagined. Once the sunset crescent appeared, the ritual continued by defining a clear thought or wish or question that fitted the nature of the sign in which the non-observable new moon had occurred. For instance, for the Taurus new moon, Taurean themes and concepts such as love-for-self, self-image, material values, the need for affection, identity as reflected in what you own, etc. Reflecting on such Taurean themes, the practitioner would then define a particular wish or thought or question distilled from these themes, formulate it in clear language,a definitive proposition, and maintain it steadily day by day through the remaining days of the lunar month. The object was to fulfill or realize that idea or wish during the course of the mont, or to answer the question posed in definitive syntax.The meditation exercise unfolded on a gradient of realizations through the course of the month with key moments at the full moon, midpoint of the cycle, and the dark moon, conclusion of the cycle.
Upon posting the preceding version of Cruising the Lunar Shaktis, here replaced, I misapplied the old progression of lunar meditation to the rhythm of dakini instruction. I did so even though I myself knew perfectly well that dakini instruction does not unfold in a slow, progressive manner, following a developmental curve. The error was in my conception of how someone totaly new to this experience could be oriented toward it, guided into it... I wrongly assumed that others who were not versed in the experience of transception might acquire the skill by following a gradual developmental process. This is entirely wrong. Therefore I have had to revise this essay and present the lunar shakti practice in an entirely different way.
The main difference is, lunar shakti transmission is sudden and instantaneous, a high-impact experience of spontaneity. It does not involve a process of developing insight from an initial vague germ or mood or motif. It does not require a gradual progression of realization.
The month-long lunar meditation ritual with the astrological signs gradually built into insight and realization from an initial definition or thematic key, comparable to a plant sprouting from a seed, then acquiring leaves, then flowering and fruiting. To describe the experience of dakini instruction under the new shift of an ista-devata, the presiding Mahavidya or Diamond Sky Dakini, I have to resort to a rather different analogy:
Picture a Formula One racing circuit with a sinuous track that poses extreme driving challenges, with pits provided for each team to maintain their vehicle. When a driver makes a pit stop, the team replaces the tires, fills the gas tank, and makes other critical adjustments that may be required, all in less than a minute. The driver is out of the pit in a flash, and back into the race. Likewise for lunar shakti transmission: immediately following the new moon, a new devata takes the wheel and pulls out of the pit with a breathtaking thrust of acceleration. With dakini transmission, its zero to sixty in four seconds, then to 120 in the next two. The subliminal download is instantaneous, and you spend the entire month trying to hang on it to it, formulate it, sustain it, express it.
I have said that in Kala Tantra you always get more than you can handle: more power, more wisdom, more beauty, more bliss. I cannot overemphasize the veracity of this statement. The Middle Way, this ain't. Kala Tantra is the Way of Extremity. Kala is this instant, right now, with everything you can imagine and feel and intuit packed into it and exploding like fireworks. Planetary Tantra and Kala Tantra are not identical or interchangeable practices -- another error that I will soon correct -- but they are similar in the instantaneous nature of the experience they offer. Download from the Shakti Cluster begins in hours if not minutes of the first day of the cycle, and it doesn't let up at any moment. The practice consists of flowing in extremity and seeing how much you can maintain and express of what you are transceiving. Five percent or under is typical for beginners, a good start. Get up to fifteen percent of expression, and you are cruising into the adept zone. Fifty percent or more is almost unimaginable. It is like being in a steady blaze of insight and beauty so intense that you can hardly catch your breath.
Often you cannot think another thought for the brilliance of the one you just had blinds the entire field of conception. And these thoughts are not even yours by origin, yet they become so through expression.
Bear in mind that I discovered the Shakti Cluster in August, 2008. I began formulating the lunar shakti calender early in September, incorporating a treasure trove of visionary material on the Tantric Zodiac and the Mahamudra Sky. At that time, only my Shakti Jeanne and I were following the mensual schematic for transception. Working the Tantric buddy-system, we could each check the download and comment on how we were handling it. I strongly advise that everyone who undertakes practice with the lunar skakti calendar do it in tandem, with a buddy or partner. Tantrikas, rather like schizophrenics with MPS (multiple personality syndrome), are never alone in their own minds.
My initial experience in close communication with Jeanne covered the Sodashi shift of September and October, correlated to the VIRGIN. Transmission then skipped a beat, overridding Visvamata due to an anomaly with the constellation of the SCALES -- yet another example of the fluid, unpredictable nature of these transmissions. The sequence followed up with Kamala/Kula Devi :: SCORPION late in November, and then Kurukulla :: ARCHER, which took the wheel on December 28. I had just three shifts under consideration before the sunset crescent of January 26 in the GOATFISH, signaling Mahakali and Delivery Day for Planetary Tantra. Note that of the three shifts I was able to transceive upon my initial realization of the entire shakti transmission process, the first two were operated by Mahavidyas, Sodashi and Kamala or Kula Devi. So when Kurukulla came on shift, just after Christmas, I had my first taste of a Diamond Sky Dakini at the wheel of my modest little Formula One Maserati. This experience gave a whole new dimension to my sense of the expression, "when the rubber hits the road."
Kurukulla is a notorious dakini of witchcraft and sexual magic. Buddhist scholars bend over backwards trying to explain how such a rambunctious, amoral, and sexually glamorous witch can be regarded as an icon of liberation and selfless compassion. Kurukulla came on so hard and fast I felt like I was trapped in a Brazilian bordello with six different kinds of gender benders performing acts of sexual magic and Madame Blavatsky at the honky tonk piano beside the bar channelling a verbal blitz of dirty jokes and informer scoop on the magic of mirrors, Astral Light, Illuminati, the Decadence, and the ludicrous sinister practices of the seedy denizens of the New World Order. I felt like I was sitting in a wind tunnel -- an impression I have often had with dakini instruction: but in this case, it had me planted against the wall of my living room, barely able to reach out for my black goblet of champagne.
After six hours of hearing about the inner secrets of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and their silly perversions of the Astral Light that led to the mass-mind media control of modern society, I had to call time out. This I do using vak siddhi, an occult power conferred on me by the Mahavidya Matangi. Vak siddhi is the power to make something happen by pronouncing it -- not predictively, but in a declarative statement. By declaring "stop transmission" aloud, I could get that outrageous witch to lay off for a while. She was telling me things about occult manipulation I didn't want to know because the implications of using the information were all-consuming. I saw I could get involved in those operations for years. Highly entertaining. I admit I was tempted... I would have gone for the total download on astral mirror magic did I not have a few other, rather more humane commitments to complete.
The soaring generosity of these devatas will blow you away, every time. They don't hold anything back. They respect no persons and they shatter limits recklessly, right, left, and center. The more I confer and conspire with them, the more intimately I interact with the numinous constellation of the Shakti Cluster, the more I am inclined to do the same.
In the last days of Kali Yuga, the time of withholding anything that fosters liberation from deceit and delusion, and enhances the ardent spirituality born in the merge of love and the supernatural, is over and done. For a thousand years, dakini wisdom has been monopolized by a cult of lamas who withhold its virtual magic from their devotees and traffic in empty promises of enlightenment. Women Buddhist scholars like Elizabeth English and accomplished practitioners of Dzogchen like June Campbell, once the consort of Kalu Ripoche, have shown that the origin and quintessence of Vajrayana is the "twilight talk" of the dakinis -- that is, subliminal mindstream instruction. But the explicit practices of dakini intentional magic and first-hand access to their instruction has been withheld, obscured, and deviated in the service of a male-mind domination game. The revelation of the Shakti Cluster is not just the birth of a new religious archetype at a spectacular "mythogenetic moment" (to borrow a feliticous term from Joseph Campbell) in the history of the human species -- as if that were not enough!
Participation in the Shakti Cluster through dakini instruction available to anyone who truly desires to undertake it is the crucial disclosure that cracks open the closed agenda of Tibetan Buddhism and blows the doors off the Potala.
The Transception Process
Here are the six phases, with some suggestions on how to ...
he left-facing bracket separates cycles and designates phases within each cycle. For friday, March 27, 2009, the frame indicates that the new moon (NM) occurs in seven degrees of Aries (sign zodiac). The symbol of the new moon is a dark flaming bindu, or flaming drop. This is the symbol of the Dakini Wisdom dispensed in droplets like heart drop medicine. March 27 is D 30, the last day of the preceding cycle. Important rule of thumb:
The calendar format shows the days of the month in the upper righthand corner of the box for each day. To distinguish the lunar circuit, you can place a larger number central in the box, or offset to the right, as here: the numbers in dark blue. You might indicate them as D 1, D 2, or M 1 M 2 and so on, to get used to the notion that you are counting another kind of time, moondays.
Day 1 of the next lunation is saturday, March 28. When the sunset crescent emerges, it can be seen against the background of the stars of the Ram, corresponding to the Mahavidya Chinnamasta. In days 1-4, you CLEAR the mindstream to receive the new download of instruction. In days 5 - 8, you ATTUNE to the new instruction, picking up on its themes, motifs, mood. In days 9 - 13, you DEFINE the instruction by key terms of cueing syntax.
I am using the specific example of the current lunation to describe the procedure here, but it is the same for all lunar cycles, month by month. Directly after the new moon begins the time to CLEAR. For four days (D 1 - 4 inclusive), you simply clear your field of attention and empty the mind to receive the inceptive signs of the next transmission. During this time, you look for the sunset crescent. Keep you eyes on it each evening, if possible. The dakini or Mahavidya of the month is the presiding yidam or tutelary diety for the new cycle. To learn transception, you attune yourself to this devata (iconic feminine deity) by contemplating her image and learning her traits, attributes, stories, boons, and so on. You learn her lore to prime your mind for transception on her frequencies. The procedure is the same with all shaktis throughout the year.
In days 5 through 8 (Fibonacci numbers), you ATTUNE to the frequencies of the broadcasting yidam. In days 9 through 13 (= 5 + 8, another Fibonacci number), you DEFINE what emerges in the mindstream due to this attunement. This exercise of keeping the count in a month-long ritual of attention brings you to day 14 and the full moon, which occurs on Friday April 10 in 20 Libra (astrological sign).
This happens in 2009 to be the full moon of Good Friday by the Christian calendar. Many people will be attuned to the mythology of the messianic scapegoat on that occasion, but students in dakini instruction will be receptive to a totally different input. As I write these words, Chinnamasta is due to come on shift. Hang on to your socks.
I can tell you how to find out when lunations occur through the year, but for the moment, rely on me to inform you of the timing. There is one trick in this notation, however. Although we use the star zodiac of the visible constellations to determine who is on shift each month, we use the invisible sign zodiac to designate the new moon. The reason for this technique is simple: the astrological signs of the zodiac, Aries-Taurus-Gemini, present a calibrated scale for marking with precision the location of the moon when it is not visible. 7 Aries, the position of the new moon on March 27, 2009, is a point on a 360-degree scale. The non-observable new moon ends each cycle, like a punctuation mark. The observable sunset crescent commences the next cycle.
So there are two phases of four days inclusive (eight days total) at the start and close of the cycle. And there are two phases of five and eight days within the cycle. The recurrence of 5 and 8 (2 X 4) shows the permeation of Fibonnaci numbers within the sequence. The entire lunar cycle is permeated by the Fibonnaci series, both in the linear sequence and the intervals of the sequence. To my knowledge, this fact has not elsewhere been indicated or developed.
When you observe the sequence of six phases," keeping the count," you perform a ritual act of attention in fractal time. This very act attunes you to the supernatural frequencies of the dakinis and shaktis, entities who may be said to inhabit the fractal reaches of spacetime. That is to say, a higher or hidden dimension internested in the sensorial world. The fractal zone of the dakinis interfaces with the sky surrounding the earth, extending into the reaches of the outer cosmos. Tibetan lore, such as the terma of Tsultrim Dorje (1291 - 1315 CE), The Seminal Heart of the Dakinis, describes visions of dakinis dancing in the sky. Such visions arise due to a breakthough of perception in which the ordinary senses detect the fractal pattern of the surrounding sky. The fractal ptterns are like plates that mov and intersect, kaleidosopically, forming images of the dakinis. This is not an hallucination but an event of heightened perception.
Dakini instruction may not involves visual perception of the transmitting devatas. As in "the Tibetan treasure tradition of channelled authorial voices (Germano and Gyatso, Tantra In Practice)," transmission is detected clairaudiently as a vein of crystal-clear syntax in the mindstream. In other words, transception of dakini instruction involves the attention required for subliminal hearing: listening to your own thought flow at an exceptionally deep level.
Following the lunar sequence through the month puts your ordinary mind in snych with the wavelength on which transception can occur. These wavelengths are uniquely lunar. They carry the reflex frequencies of the Gaian mind itself—the aspect of the planetary intelligence that is reflected in the lunar cycle. The moon along with the sun is an integral part of the Gaian cosmos, a triune system. The moon does not merely, passive reflect the light of the sun, like a shiny rock. It actively reflects and transmits the operate wavelengths of the Gaian mind. The Mayavidyas and Dakinis of the Shakti Cluster are vital and vibrant channels in the console of that mind.
In the past, the initiates of the Mysteries were able to attune to the Gaian mind as if they were listening to a radio broadcast -- for instance, listening to a performance of a Beethoven Quartet. The difference now is, when we transceive dakini instrution, we are more like ham radio operators who are interacting with the radio transmissions we receive. Transception to the Gaian mind among the Gnostics was rarely two-way. Today it is becoming so, rapidly. How wonderful is that. The further wonder is, the process of transception can be taught and learned.
jll: 27 March 2009 Andalucia
Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2013 by John Lash.