A few years ago, I started learning about a tradition called Rajanaka Tantra, mostly through New York teacher Eric Stoneberg. He teaches a progressive meditation with the Nityas, or Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses, whom you can follow every night as they shift from the New Moon up through the Full Moon. New moons are traditionally the time to be planting seeds, setting intentions, and considering your true desires. My new book about these goddesses, called Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses (SkyLight Paths Publishing) is coming out this May. You can preorder here: http://www.skylightpaths.com/page/product/978-1-59473-618-6
These 16 goddesses are manifestations of the more well-known goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari, or “she who is lovely in the three worlds.” She is also sometimes called Shodashi, which means “sixteen” in Sanskrit, and indicates her form as a nubile sixteen year old. The sixteen goddesses, then, represent sixteen manifestations of her desire. The Nityas trace a narrative about desire through the metaphor of lovemaking, and stand to teach us about desire, difference, otherness, and the complexities of our need to connect with other beings.
Unlike many other spiritual traditions, Rajanaka Tantra is not interested in practices that lead us closer and closer to oneness in order to stay there in ultimate freedom. This tradition is interested in the short gift of having a life and a body, of being separate, and experiencing the complex realities of that as fully as possible. One of the recurring lessons in this worldview is the constant play experiencing self and other as “I’m nothing like you,” “I’m something like you,” and “I’m nothing but you.” As humans, we are constantly shifting from connection to separation, from freedom to boundedness, and back again, and that’s a part of the gift of our human experience.
As we explore desire through these Nityas and their sexual metaphor, we start in the seduction phase. The first five goddesses desire for the other: “I’m something like you.” Then, the lovemaking begins, and the second set of five enter into the ultimate bliss of total oneness and connection: “I’m nothing but you.” The last set of five explore the reconstitution of the self after having dissolved into the other, when we must navigate independence and the complexities of relationship: “I’m nothing like you.” The sixteenth goddess, the full moon, is Lalita herself, the umbrella goddess for all the other fifteen.
Join me in a practice of imagining these powerful shaktis, and see what you can learn about your own desires as you enter into whatever new phase is happening in your life. I encourage you to take Eric’s wonderful course on these Shaktis ( http://ericstoneberg.com/visionquest/), and please note that these interpretations are my own.
Meditation: I will offer a meditation with every goddess. Set an alarm for as much time as you’d like (minimum 5 minutes) in a comfortable position (which doesn’t necessarily mean sitting erect: these goddesses want to know what would bring you pleasure, and if that means lying down, go for it!). I’ll offer images or sometimes practices to contemplate, but you might simply imagine the goddess with her various weapons and see what messages she might have for you.
Writing practice: These goddesses will come with a writing prompt. I recommend you do this immediately after the meditation, and set your alarm for 5-10 minutes. You don’t need any experience in writing to try this, and a baseline practice that anyone can do is called freewriting: put your pen to the page, and write without stopping until your alarm goes off. No stopping, no editing, no going back and reading over until the alarm sounds. This will help you access your subconscious mind and you may find some insight there. Please feel welcome to go back and edit later if you are using it for writing inspiration. Keep in mind that while the writing may be insightful and beautiful at times, it will also occasionally be total crap, and give yourself all the permission in the world to write that crap, it’s an important part of the process.