The Feminine Mystic


The Mystic is one who sees beyond the veils, who reaches from the world of form and into the great mystery of the formless!

The Mystic is one who seeks to be enraptured by the divine, who transmutes the mundane into the miraculous!

Those of us on a spiritual journey, no matter the path we choose; Yoga, Tantra, Sufism, Sacred Dance, Herbalism, Astrology, Taoism and so many more, are on the path of the Mystic, or as women, the path of the Mystica.

Mystics throughout time have been an incredible contribution to society. The Mystics would open doors into the divine, lay maps to the mystery, and translate the unknowable into the known. They were keepers of the keys of beauty, truth, unconditional love and pure presence. 

Today more and more women are setting out on the spiritual path as they feel a deep calling in their hearts. In a society that is increasingly infatuated with materialism, we are thirsting for a deeper knowing of the self from the inside out! 

Women are the vessels of the manifest with the ability to create life. As we reach from the material into the spiritual, the aim of the feminine Mystic is to then also draw the wisdom from the spiritual back into the earthly abode of our manifestation through our sacred embodiment!

This is the medicine for the times we are in! The reclamation of our spiritual expression through form!

When we realize ourselves in this way and free ourselves in this way, we become Mysticas: feminine translators of the mystery and embodiments of divinities beauty. We become gateways for others to realize their direct connection to spirit as we live through example. 

There are so many methods in which we become Mystica: we dance, we sing, we create beauty, we celebrate together!

The aim of the path is liberation into our ecstatic nature as love, every step of the way an offering of beauty onto the altar of life.

Journey into the Heart of the Mystica with Us in Greece Over Summer Solstice:

Let's Talk About Manifesting


In the new age alternative community I see so much talk and teachings focused around “manifesting”. A lot of it seems to be based on this idea that we can somehow wish our wants into being through unrelated methods to what we are actually hoping to accomplish. I witness a lot of giving up and giving over because there is an idea that if it is “meant to be” it won’t be difficult. 

We so often throw something out before it’s even had an opportunity to take root out of waning attention spans and laziness, lack of clarity and focus and this idea that life should serve us rather than us serving life.

I have been inspired to bring my biggest secret weapon for manifesting to the forefront:


It is a concept that I find lacking in our modern era. In my own experience, which is the only space I can really speak from, I can undoubtedly say that everything I have accomplished or acquired that is meaningful took a great deal of commitment.

The first step to manifesting is clear vision, what is the goal or objective? This creates the target. I find it better to begin at the end. Many give up because they don’t know where to begin. Begin at the end and allow the path to reveal next. 

The second step is to set a resolve or COMMIT to that. This is how we affirm to the universe our intention. We commit with our whole energy and consciousness. Now this doesn’t mean we won’t be tested, in fact expect it . The universe loves to know how serious we are about achieving our visions.

Finally, once that steadfast commitment is in place, it’s time to give our energy in exchange for manifestation as tangible action. 

Within manifestation there is a natural grace that is required for fruition, however I have found that spirit, god/dess, the universe, rewards those who put in effort with the gift of that grace.

Clear Vision↠Commitment↠Energy in Action=Manifestation

This formula works for relationships, work, health, spirituality, you name it.

We are not in this realm for things to be easy. We are here to grow and stretch and evolve the bounds of who we think we are and what we think we are capable of. 

Live large my loves. 

Sisterhood in the Time of Feminine Empowerment


As we step forward into our gifts, our offerings and our full radiance as women, how do we take a stand against the predominant paradigm of competition and into the true feminine way of inclusion, celebration and collaboration? 

This has been a question I have been asking myself as I step forward as a teacher and a professional. 

In a day and age where most want to lead and even those who follow, follow in order to one day lead, how do we take the time to truly honor the influence we inevitably have on one another through humility and patience? A Taoist proverb states that in order to lead, one must know how to follow, for it is in following that we gain the wisdom to lead. 

In these times where so much influence is shared, where we are learning to trust that there is enough space for everyone to shine and enough to go around in general, I find it of utmost importance that we learn to truly honor one another; to know what is ours through hard work, diligent studies and practiced experience, and what is another’s without comparing a rose to a lily and with self-honesty. 

I have noticed a fear of scarcity, that if we share openly with one another, our gifts will be taken or abused. On one hand this is unfortunately inevitable, on the other hand we live only at half of our capacity if we let fear stop us from shining our brightest. 

I also witness a dimming of the light to protect the egos of others, or on the other side of the coin, attempting to shine brighter and be better than the other. 




This is a call to TRUST! To move beyond our conditioning and into a place of celebration rather than comparison, of collaboration rather than competition. A call to realize that the beauty we see in others is oftentimes a reflection of our own. 

So how can we support one another on this journey of true and sincere sisterhood in the time of feminine empowerment? 

How can we lead when it is our time to lead, and follow when it is our time to allow another to shine?

How can we honor the inevitable influence we all have on one another and credit the sources of our influence with humility if we borrow? To allow unconditional generosity and trust if we give with the realization that nothing truly belongs to us, especially in the realms of communing with the mystery.

I see us all trademarking sections of the mystery, selling a way into something eternal that simply belongs to NO ONE and is so far beyond compartmentalization. 

I honor the unique pathways, I honor the wisdom of those who have found the way and the teachings they hold. Yet let us remember, this does not belong to us, but is a source that becomes so much greater when we share it! Let us not take it so personally but as a great lila, a divine play of which we all have a part!

So let us celebrate the unique bridge each of us is into the mystery! Let us collaborate in our mutual adoration of the mystery! 

Let us soften our patriarchal conditioning to out-shine or make small those who would be our allies on a parallel path because I truly believe there IS ENOUGH ROOM FOR US ALL TO BE IN OUR FULL RADIANCE, and in the mystery, there is truly enough to go around.

So shine my beautiful sisters, and walk the beauty way with honor and love, recognizing that we are all walking one another home, influencing one another and inspiring one another to lift off into the realm of the eternal! 

This has been my inspiration in creating the Temple Arts Collective. To create a platform where we can share in our mutual love of the mystery and our mutual study and offerings of the Temple Arts creating a web of strength rather than separate moving parts. Where leaders can lead and be honored for their wisdom, where followers can follow and be honored for their learning, where leaders can continue to follow and contribute to their wisdom as lifelong students of the mystery, and followers can step into their leadership as they claim the path they have walked in Devotion. 




In love and devotion,

Halo Seronko

Photo by my beloved sister Penny Dinn with one of my nearest and dearest, Schirin Chams-Diba, during her Solstice offering on Crete at our Path of the Mystica Retreat

Schirin Chams-Diba:

Penny Dinn:

The Cosmic Consort


There is no mortal that can meet the longing of this heart and flesh, for only when this chalice is filled by spirit's intoxication does it know the true communion.

For even in two-bodied love, is it not yet a container for the eternal presence to be tasted between the two lovers?

What does it mean to be a cosmic consort? To be enraptured by existence?

In tantra we choose our relationship with the Divine, whether that of a mother and child, a guru and disciple or a lover and beloved.

When we see the formless Divine as our consort, we court that which is eternal. When we experience pain we recognize it as the truest longing that comes from our separation from this source of love, and we use this pain to again and again call this beloved back into our heart. When we experience pleasure we recognize the reunion of the beloved spirit in the vessel of our flesh. Both pain and pleasure become our dance of love with divinity.

As long as we seek fulfillment from other "vessels" our rapture will be temporary and fleeting and often times leave behind an even greater longing. It is when we recognize that we are each but a chalice that the divine pours itself into when we are empty enough to receive that we come to know true fulfillment. This is the alchemical marriage of spirit and flesh, two becoming one, when we realize the rapture of Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram; truth, auspiciousness and beauty.

When our consort is the cosmic divine first and foremost, we then claim the sovereignty needed to have fulfilling relationships here on the earth plane; relationships that are no longer selfish, no longer conditional, no longer tainted by our attempts to fill a hole inside that can ONLY be filled by the omnipresent.

In the rapture of what is, we can open ourselves to that which can truly fill us to the brim, and allow our being to pour forth beauty into the world in devotion to its magnificence, spiraling into the ecstasy of being deeply engaged with life.

How do we live when we are courting life as the beloved, when even the mundane becomes infused with love, tenderness and eroticism?

Reach within beloved, not without, to be embraced by the eternal source of ecstasy.

Devotion and the Divine Feminine


In conjunction with my last post on Discipline and the Divine Masculine we now surrender into the feminine flow of devotion, for what drives us to be disciplined but to realize the beauty of existence in devotional merger?

While discipline is the masculine container through which devotion can be held, without the devotion of the heart it is empty. It is in merging our devotion to the eternal with our discipline to strive towards the object of our hearts longing that eventually leads to an embodied experience of union between polarities. Through devotion we come to recognize the Beloved in all of creation and thus become servants of that immense beauty that cracks us open into existential ecstasy.

Discipline is of the higher mind while devotion is of the spiritual heart. Discipline is governed by the intellect while devotion lives in the realm of feeling. If one of these aspects is imbalanced with the other we will lack either the sentiment or the follow-through to achieve our souls dharma of awakening.

Devotion exists in the realm where the personal and transpersonal merge; where what is of the world merges with the mysterious energy that is beyond this world. As existence manifests in countless unique forms, we each have our own devotional path. Devotion needs to be stirred, so it is up to us to find that particular ray that incites our heart to throb.

What is it that inspires your devotional heart? What ignites you to offer yourself in surrender to a greater force? What does that greater force look like or feel like? How can you offer even more of yourself, your longing, your rapture to that which stirs the passion of your heart?

Devotion and discipline are primary ingredients in any spiritual path. When we find a system or a practice that marries our masculine discipline with our feminine devotion, we have found a map toward wholeness through the alchemy of that which is in form and that which is formless.

Discipline and the Divine Masculine

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Discipline in a dying art in this modern age of distractions and quick fixes. In a time when we need to be more focused than ever, more resourced than ever, and more connected to the well of truth within, our energy is being leaked in a million different directions.

When I look into the gifts of the true masculine, the Divine masculine I see the exalted qualities of responsibility, accountability and discipline as containers that hold that which is sacred. Without creating these containers in our lives, that which is subtle such as truth, beauty, presence and love cannot be fully known. There is a powerful level of integrity that is needed to attain these subtleties of being. All great spiritual paths and traditions hold high levels of discipline at great importance, for if we are not able to discipline ourselves for our higher good, we will not be able to attain that which is worth more than gold. Our minds, our bodies and our souls all require a certain level of discipline in order to be tuned to their highest octave.

In calling upon the structure of the divine masculine in my own life, I am heeding a call towards greater responsibility; response-ability. This is the ability to respond with choice and awareness to my thoughts and emotions, thus taking responsibility for them; the responsibility to hold myself accountable to walk my talk and take the time each day to be in the container of my practices where I seek communion with the eternal; the accountability to my own souls growth and evolution for the sake of all beings, the accountability to dot my I's and cross my T's so that each action is total and in harmony with the whole. In this way I claim my sovereignty, I claim my center and I claim my power.

How do we show up for ourselves? How do we show up for our beloveds? What does it look and feel like to stand for life and love with strength, courage and discipline?

YES, we need the feminine to rise at this time, but we simultaneously need the reclamation of the true and divine masculine within us all that takes a stand for that which is the beauty of the world, the container in which She flowers.

Heiros Gamos within is the gateway at which we stand. The sacred marriage will not be complete until we hold within our own chalice the great alchemical union of the masculine and the feminine, stepping out of victimhood, stepping out of overwhelm and distraction and into the steadfast knowing of our true and divine nature.

Jade In Her Temple: The Origins of the Jade Egg Practice

The worlds women are increasingly arriving at a state of curiosity about our sexuality, our wisdom, our embodiment, and our power as we become more and more aware of the necessity to take exquisite care of our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits in an increasingly complex world. In this process of feminine awakening, many of us are looking to ancient maps of practice, philosophy and embodiment to guide us in our modern journey. The Taoist female sexual energy cultivation practices with the Jade Egg are one of those poignant maps, and as we come to discover the Taoist secrets, it is important that we remain honoring and understanding of the tradition from which they came. It is in this way that we can truly acquire the merit of these practices that have survived millennia.

So what is the history of these profound practices?

The Jade Egg practices originated from a philosophy of harmonious being known as Taoism. Taoism was birthed in ancient China by the revered sage Lao Tzu, the author of the famous Tao Te Ching. Taoism was the foundation of many of China’s healing and self-cultivation practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong. In order to deeply understand the Jade Egg practices, one must have at least a minimal understanding of Taoism and the energies at play within and outside of the human body.

 So lets take a deeper look at Taoism. Tao literally translates to “The Way”. It is more a philosophy than a religion. The underlying teachings of Taoism are teachings of presence, simplicity, acceptance, harmony and balance. It is an extremely feminine philosophy in that, unlike modern day life, it teaches us how to flow with the naturally occurring cycles of existence. In our modern world we are caught up in striving, achieving, and bending the world to our will. Taoism is literally a teaching of ease and grace by harmonizing with the forces of nature within and without the body. It teaches us to listen deeply, and to act with an intelligence that is always assessing what is in the interest of balance moment by moment. Within Taoism we work with nature instead of against Her. Taoism is extremely simplistic in it’s nature; it is again, simply “The Way”.

Many of us are familiar with the Taoist symbol of the Yin and Yang. The dark Yin represents the feminine receptive principle, and that stillness which is the base from which creation takes form. The light Yang represents the masculine active principle, and that which is in motion. Within the Yin there is Yang, and within the Yang there is Yin. Ultimately the two are inseparable, constantly spiraling into each other, merging into each other, and becoming one another. Nothing in this holographic realm is fixed, all is in constant flux and flow, and this motion is the dance of Yin and Yang. When we are in a state of peace and balance, we can recognize this blessing as a point of equipoise between the Yin and Yang aspects of our being and life. It is important to familiarize with the concepts of Yin and Yang before practicing with the Jade Egg, as the highest goal of these practices is the alchemy of Yin and Yang within the body, consciousness and spirit.

While the Jade Egg practices were very much inspired and molded by the simplistic Taoist masters who often lived simple lives in the mountains, they were originally utilized by the concubines of ancient China’s courts. The women of the courts used these practices to maintain their youthfulness and vitality, perform exquisite acts of love, and to merge their potent sexual energies into high spiritual pursuits. It was said that they ruled from behind the curtain, meaning that the Kings true power and precision came from the women of the palace. It is interesting to note that in both the Taoist and Tantric systems of practice, women were seen to be the keepers of power. This led male practitioners in both of these systems to worshipping and exalting these women from whom they sought initiation. On the darker side, it also led to extorting and hoarding the women to draw their power from.

While many ancient practices of feminine power were nearly lost as the power of the patriarchy swept across the lands, the Jade Egg practices were preserved by Taoist Priestesses in underground mystery schools. Today they are re-emerging with passion as the rise of the Sacred Feminine ignites, to instill our power unto ourselves yet again.

Dive into the lineage of the Taoist Feminine Arts September 6th-October 5th with the Jade Temple Online Initiation.

Tantra for the modern world

The greatest wound on Earth at this time is the imbalance between the masculine and feminine interplay of creation. This is almost entirely due to humanities divergence from nature and her harmonious cycles of light and dark, creation and destruction, yin and yang, Shiva and Shakti.

This wound has been in part created by our severance from our greatest source of power, truth, love and illumination: our sexuality. We have been made to feel that it is wrong, shameful, dirty, and in essence sinful. We have been made small and docile while religion has taught us to think of sex as our greatest weakness.

But is it not perhaps our greatest power? Why else would religion be so afraid of it?

Perhaps within our sex, our desire and our rapture is the roadmap to a union more divine than any to be found in the flesh alone: our union with our own divine essence HERE and NOW and IN the body. Perhaps all we need is to align our sexual energies vertically rather than horizontally, to connect the loins with the heart and the crown where merger becomes total. Religion has created shame within our sexuality to split us, to create fractured beings in need of an intermediary between the self and the divine, the earth plane and the heaven realms.

It is time that we reclaim this direct line of communion with the creative energy of universal power! It is time that we fully sanctify and honor this force as the path to our own awakening IN and THROUGH the body! It is time that we honor both the horizontal plane of existence (form and energy) as the great Shakti Yoni, being penetrated by the great vertical plane of existence (spirit and consciousness) as the great Shiva Linga. Only through fully honoring and making sacred our sexual energy will our souls have the opportunity to awaken to a higher state of truth and consciousness. Our sexual energy is the bridge from the material to the spiritual in the form of the Goddess Kundalini. By negating our sexual urges many religions have been able to keep people chained in lower states of consciousness where they are easier to control.

It is an immense gift that many ancient road maps still remain to show us the way despite the patriarchies attempt to burn them in a thousand ways. Tantra is one of those maps.

Tantra is one of few spiritual systems in which sexual energy is not only accepted, but worshipped as the divine power that it is. This is not permission for a free-for-all between the sheets, but an honoring of the primary step on the path of awakening, which is fully becoming aware of our sexual energy as a means to enlightenment. If one skips this first step, the path to awakening is thwarted. One must become deeply intimate with their own powerful sexual energy by healing societal constructs around this powerful, wild and sacred energy, which is the Goddess herself. One must learn to adore this energy, to use it with the utmost intention for good in the world, to harness it and direct it's pathway for the liberation of oneself and all sentient beings.

Only by fully adoring the material world which is the expression of sexual life force energy, and which is the feminine principle of Shakti herself, will we reach the abode of truth, which exists beyond as the realm of Lord Shiva.

Tantra is the inner alchemy of Shiva and Shakti; the Masculine, and Feminine, the Solar and Lunar, the Red and White, the Sukra (seed) and Rakta (blood), the Sacred and the Profane. Tantra is the web that encompasses and includes all aspects of existence, and humanity; that sanctifies every act into an act of divinity by infusing it with consciousness. In Tantra we realize that all we experience is but the loving dance of Shiva, or consciousness, and Shakti, light and energy. All we can sense through sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound is Shakti's dance. All that changes such as the cycles of death and rebirth, day and night, our feelings and emotions, are Shakti. The sacred elements that make up this divine creation are Shakti. Shiva is then the thread of consciousness that infuses, indeed penetrates this effulgent dance of Shakti. Shiva is that which is able to witness this dance, unchanging, and in vertical alignment with truth, able to be in, but not of this illusory world. True Tantra is the inner alchemy of these great forces of seeming duality into wholeness and divine union. The great illusion of the world is that Shiva and Shakti are separate, but in truth they cannot be separated. When we awaken, we simply realize this to be so as if waking from a great dream. When we realize the eternal unchanging nature within the ever-changing world, we begin to see the world as truly beautiful, something to be tended and cherished. We see that the world is the immanent Goddess, and we begin to engage with it as such. We become living embodiments of Shiva and Shakti in one body, dancing the dance of life and death while our consciousness witnesses the miracle and mystery of it all. Through adoration and compassion towards all beings we become one with Shakti, through meditation and self-reflection we become one with Shiva. Tantra is simply put, the path to being human and divine simultaneously.

This is why the Tantric path is so powerful and picking up so much interest in this day and age. It is not an ascetic path that negates the body as the expense of an enlightened mind, but is the practice of accessing the seed of enlightenment through full inhabitation of the body, and consecrating to the divine every single act of being human, whether duality would judge it sacred, or profane. True Tantra is deepening into the divine dance of polarities as one deepens into union with a lover. It is recognizing the existence of all of these polarities within our own singular being, and weaving them from within into a beautiful tapestry of consciousness, and without into reverence of all that is.

As true Tantra is essentially the practice of being human, of being natural, it is a potent gift for our times. Our modern society is a society of obsessive doing, cutting us off from our true nature that can only be tapped into through the allowance of being. Our society is rigged to lead us so far away from ourselves, nature and essentially our humanness, that it can be a daily challenge just to return to our sweet, nourishing essence. The practice of Tantra is such great medicine for this modern era madness. In simply returning to being, all things get done effortlessly. This does not mean that we stop engaging externally, but we begin to act in the world from fullness, from a deeply rooted seat within our own being. Tantra teaches us how to truly BE within the doing; how to commune with life moment by moment anchored in presence, beauty and ultimately LOVE.

Tantra sees all that exists as a gateway, a yoni or portal to step through into full merger with the divine. The invitation is always there if you have the eyes to see, and the ears to hear. Every moment is to be stepped through into a greater understanding; one cannot expect to receive the full darshan (blessing) of the temple by simply standing in the gateway. One must cross through the threshold to penetrate the depths. Tantra is a journey from the gross to the subtle. We may begin our journey at the gross level with the idea that it is all about sexual indulgence, Tantra is vast enough to hold even that and we must begin where we are at, however the ultimate goal of Tantra is total union with the God and Goddess within the singular self that holographically exists in all else. It is the alchemy of a wholeness that needs nothing from this world yet delights in the experience of it.

So let us reclaim Tantra in its truest essence as the weaving of the golden thread that connects all that exists; the weaving of the light and energy of the Goddess into myriad forms birthing, becoming and fading away; and the pure unchanging Shiva consciousness that is able to witness this dance in pure presence and adoration, penetrating with love every face that Shakti wears no matter how beautiful or terrible. True Tantra is not for the meek of mind or heart, but for the courageous who choose to step fully into the beckoning mystery of existence.

To begin the practice of Tantra is simple: take time to commune with the self each day, to simply be, breathe and align the largely externally oriented consciousness within; to root deeply within the temple of "I AM" and meet the day from that sacred place, drawing the awareness back throughout the day as it wanders without judgment or concepts of right or wrong, but with re-affirming presence. Thus allow all that the palate of life offers us to be an invitation within, to commune with source, to commune with self, to commune with life in all of its infinite facets from our deepest place.

May we all become experientially aware of the great God and Goddess, Shiva and his Shakti that lives within each of us as our own non-dual nature, arriving swiftly home to the sacred union of our birthright.

Om Siva SaktyaikyaRupinyai Namah

Obeisance and salutations to the One who is both Shiva and Shakti in one form.

Join Shakti Temple Arts on the journey of a lifetime into the magic and mystery of India November 2017. We will be diving into the depths of Tantra, Yoga and Temple Dance.

Womb Illumination Webinar Blog

The womb exists as the alchemical cauldron of the Great Mystery. In both the Taoist system of philosophy and practice as well as the Tantric, the idea of yoking our identification with duality into the harmonious experience of unity is the ultimate goal. As we enter deeply into the mystery of existence through the gateway of the womb, we begin to uncover maps to our own innate wholeness, our true virginity, and the ultimate sovereignty wherein there is no longer an experience of separation, but now a complete merger with Divine Love. This is the path of these sacred lineages of feminine power and beauty such as Temple Dance, Jade Egg Practice, Priestess Arts and Tantra; to merge seamlessly with the Divine that already lives and breathes us in the flesh.

As women we are intimately connected with the ever-changing tides of the lunar cycles. Within our wombs, ovaries, and the cycles that govern them, we are blessed with a profound alchemical formula to accessing deep gnosis of the nature of life, as well as our own sacred union within.

An inner alchemical map for this Divine Union in the female body is as follows:

While we are menstruating we can tap into our Shakti (feminine) essence, or Rakta, the essence of blood and the energy of the Dark Moon. During our ovulation we can merge with, and tap into our Shiva (masculine) essence, or Shukra, the essence of seed and energy of the Full Moon with the release of our ovum, or egg. In Taoism, the symbol of the Yin Yang represents just this; the feminine merging into and becoming the masculine and the masculine then merging back into and becoming the feminine. The left half of our body holds our lunar, feminine energy, while the right side holds the solar, masculine energy. We can then connect our ovaries, the storehouses of our life-force energy to these dual energies; our feminine, lunar, red, blood essence in the left ovary and our masculine, solar, white, seed essence on the right side. Our womb then becomes the void between these two poles; the place that exists beyond duality and absolutes, the realm of the Great Mystery Herself from which all things birth and to which all things return. We can then use the cauldron of the womb to alchemize the essence of the left/feminine ovary and the right/masculine ovary into amrita, the nectar of alchemical union between the immanent and transcendent, our own masculine and feminine energies.  This potent essence can then be circulated throughout our bodies via the central channel and used to feed our dreams, prayers, vitality, sexuality and eventually the immaculate conception and birth of our own spiritual awakening!

I share this with you that you may see the immense possibility inherent in unlocking the wisdom of your womb through both ancient and modern maps into Her mystery. Whatever your intention with this work, the possibilities are limitless. Whether you are seeking healing, empowerment, radiant expression, sensual ecstasy, or spiritual liberation, the path of the womb contains the keys to unlock your highest potential and deepest wisdom. There is no failure or success, right or wrong, good or bad on the path of Womb Illumination, only a continuous invitation to listen to the pulse, to surrender into the void of the unknown again and again, and to gleam the embodied wisdom that only you can discover for yourself.  You are your own womb Guru!

Blessed be your journey on your path of Womb Illumination!

For an alchemical transmission of this practice, check out this 40 min. guided audio meditation in the Shakti Shop!

The Tantra of Temple Dance

What is the Tantra of Temple Dance?

Let us first take a journey back through time to the ancient Temples of Mother India…

For a couple thousand years some of the most prominent Temples of India (as well as many other Asian countries, and perhaps throughout the world) housed not only the male Priests you will still find there to this day, but also some of the most auspicious women of the times, the Devadasis. To break down the term Devadasi, we have the Sanskrit word Deva, meaning God in the masculine form, and Dasi meaning servant in the female form. I would translate this to the term Priestess, for is not a Priest but a servant of the divine? A Devadas would then be a male servant of the masculine form of the divine, but let us not forget that the Hindu pantheon also has female Goddesses, therefore there could also be Devidasis, female servants to a female form of divinity, or even Devidas, male servants to a female form of the divine. I believe that all of these have existed in the temples of India in past chapters of Her history, however today you will only find male priests, or Brahmins serving both the male and female aspects of the divine.

As many female traditions have fallen from grace during this current age, the Devadasi’s were not exempt. To date the term Devadasi relates to prostitute in modern India, where it once was the term for yesterdays Priestesses. This is something that the Devadasi tradition has in common with Tantra, for both now have a poor rapour within the very land of their birth, mainly due to misunderstanding and taboo. It has become a passion of mine to not only reclaim the term Devadasi for what it really and truly is, but also the term Tantra that has become so convoluted both in the West as well as the East.

So what was the role of the Temple Priestesses, or Devadasi?

These auspicious women were wed to the divine at a young age following their coming of womanhood, or first menses.  At this point they were given to the temples as apprentices under the elder Devadasi. In the tradition of Odissi Temple Dance (which has since been codified into a classical form), in which my studies take root, the deity that the women were married to and served was the Lord Jugannath, a form of Krishna and avatar of Vishnu, the preserver. As wives of this most auspicious Lord, the Devadasi were seen as living embodiments of the Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of abundance, beauty, culture, wealth, pleasure, success, etc., all of the qualities that made a kingdom rich in all ways. She brought the rains that fed the crops that fed the people, she brought the song and dance, the fertility and the blossoming of the land and it’s people. It was these women’s duty to uphold the wealth and treasure of the land through their dance, song and music. They danced solely for their Lord, their bare feet slapping the stone in the inner sanctum of the temple in time to the rhythm of the pakawaj (drum) and the sing-song voices of their sisters.  The dance was their way of merging seamlessly with the Beloved, of entering into the sacred marriage of form and consciousness. It was their ecstatic path to Moksha, or liberation.

This places the song and dance of the Devadasi within the tree of yoga, specifically on the branch of Bhakti yoga , or the yoking of the Divine through devotion and the nectar of the heart. It is here that I wish to make the connection of Temple Dance as a Tantric path. Let us now turn to the lens of Tantra…

Tantra literally translates to “Web”. It is the Matrix of the manifest universe (uni meaning One) that is infused with conscious awareness. Tantra is the feminine (immanent) and masculine (transcendent) qualitIies of energy and consciousness, seeming duality, merging into a seamless whole, nothing separate from Divine although veiled in a multitude of forms. It is the ultimate Lila, the ultimate dance of opposites and paradox that eventually lead us to the truth of our nature AS the Divine incarnate.  Tantra is such an exceptional path in that it excludes nothing from sacred. Part of both the taboo and allure of Tantra is that it is of few spiritual paths that include human sexuality as a gateway to Divine merger, however to focus simply on this aspect is to miss a much larger picture. The sexual energy is the beginning of the path as the desire for opposites becomes the fuel feeding he fire of the intense sadhana (practice) that leads a soul through the gateways of the chakras and into the ultimate union in which there is no longer perceived separation of self and divine.  Tantra recognizes from the get-go that we are not separate; our flesh, our blood, our sex, our desire is already an integral part of the sacred manifestation of God/Goddess. In Tantric ritual we ourselves become the deity, we ourselves become the Murti, or idol. It is the same in Temple Dance. We become that which we are dancing through sacred theatre. In the telling of the stories of divine epochs, we remove the smaller ego self to allow for the archetypal space of divine presences to fill our beings in a multitude of qualities and emotions.

Tantra and Temple Dance also share the common languages of Mudra (hand gesture), Yantra (geometric form), and Yoga. As I continue to deepen into the study of the now Classical version of Odissi Temple Dance, I see the subtle movements relating to the different chakras, or energy centers, the mudras as switchboards of elemental alchemy as well as the language of the dance to communicate sacred stories. The dance and its postures as a whole are living Yantras of divine energy, moving mandalas of prayful movement, a mala of gestures, steps, and expressions offered to the lotus feet of the Divine within and without.

Through this dance we embody divine energies whether of the Goddess Durga in the heat of battle, or Radha flushed with romance at the soft touch of her beloved Krishna, or Shiva’s wild dance of Tandava birthing and destroying worlds as he whirls, or bringing life into the many avatars of Vishnu. This dance becomes sadhana, a spiritual practice within which we can merge in the ultimate Tantra, self and divine, self and source, self and beloved. This dance creates the tapas, or inner heat of yogic transformation. It can become the alchemical container to transform our desire into higher realms of expression and merger, for is it not union with creation itself that we truly seek?

This is the Tantra of Temple Dance; it is the rebirth of the feminine into the path of Yoga via the expressive and sensual means of dance. It is the ability to translate the frequencies of divine energies through embodiment. It is breathing life into Yantra through the moving mandala of dance. It is opening the nadis (energy pathways) in the body to allow more divine energies to flow through. It is bringing self and observer alike into more intimate contact with the sacred, and ultimately it is the path to the ultimate merger of full self realization, where the drop once again becomes the ocean.

May the Devadasi live on, as her role is of utmost significance at this time. May we rebirth her through our efforts, our remembrance and our new-found and hard-won freedom to re-ignite the feminine arts of the Temple Priestess.  In my heart of hearts, I wish to hear the jingle of her ankle bells, the slap of her bare feet, and the sound of her sweet trilling voice filling the temple walls in my lifetime. It is then perhaps that our society will have again reclaimed the woman’s right to be keeper of the keys alongside of her brother Priests once again.

If you would like to take an embodied journey into the Tantra of Temple Dance, please see below for a profound opportunity to join Halo Seronko in Guatemala this winter to dive into the lineages of Temple Dance interwoven with Tantric practice.