Sixteenth Night: Lalita Tripura Sundari


Sixteenth night: Lalita Tripura Sundari “She Who is Lovely in the Three Worlds”


Lalita is playful, lovely, and red. She carries the noose, the goad, the sugarcane bow, flower arrows, vara mudra and abhaya mudra.

Lalita is our plus one goddess, when the 15 nights have completed their cycle, and we have reached the full moon night. The other 15 are all manifestations of this goddess. Lalita is also sometimes called “Shodashi,” which means “sixteen,” and refers to her as a nubile 16 year old girl. Together, these Nityas are sometimes understood as the 16 manifestations of desire.

The full moon has a particular kind of power, in my experience. She seems to stir up the energy from our deepest places until the wildness pops out in little bursts and puffs, in sleepless nights, and sometimes, in huge tantrums (I always know it’s a full moon because of the fights that break out on city buses). She seems to light up the night, pull back the covers on the deeply felt emotions many of us work so hard to keep at bay. We keep quiet about what we really feel because we are afraid, and we feel powerless and alone. Lalita shines a light on our darkness, giggles, and asks us to let it be seen.

My favourite story about Lalita involves her standoff with the demon Bhandasura, the demon of “bound curses.” He liked to spend his time railing at Lalita, saying things like, “you’re so pretty and sweet! How could you have any power?” She appears to simply let him rail at her, not responding, letting the insults land.

One day, while Bhandasura is yelling about Lalita’s powerlessness, she pulls out a bottle of her red nail polish. She paints her nails a gorgeous shade of red, and out of the ten fingernails come the Deshamahavidya, the Ten Great Wisdom Goddesses. They surround Bhandasura and close in on him until he bursts into a million pieces.

Lalita didn’t need to prove anything to Bhandasura, and she didn’t need to become anything other than herself to completely conquer him. She showed him her power in her own way, through her pretty, powerful red nails.

How often have you felt that your power was going unrecognized? That the world was railing against you, and that you didn’t seem to have the weapons you needed to face the threat? Is there a part of you that’s already powerful that you’ve maybe forgotten how to access? How can you fight the good fight by simply being unapologetically, honestly, yourself?


Sit or lie down and imagine yourself in the middle of a dark, wild wood, the full moon light shining down on you. Breathe deeply into your belly, and relax as much as you can. Allow the light of the moon to reveal the true feelings, secrets, shames, desires, anger, and whatever else you don’t feel like you have the space to be with when you are in public. In this quiet, wild wood, it’s just you and the moon. Let yourself see what’s been hiding in the dark.

Writing prompt: 

Write an incantation. This is a form of writing like a prayer or a magic spell, calling on the objects, images, spirit guides, goddesses, or whatever else you need to help you find your power to do what you need to do. Here’s an example from Leonard Cohen:


Twelve O’Clock Chant 


Hold me hard light, soft light hold me,

Moonlight in your mountains fold me,

Sunlight in your tall waves scald me,

Ironlight in your wires shield me,

Deathlight in your darkness wield me.


In burlap bags the bankers sew me,

In countries far the merchants sell me,

In icy caves the princes throw me,

In golden rooms the doctors geld me,

In battlefields the hunters rule me.


I will starve till prophets find me

I will bleed till angels bind me,

Still I sing till churches blind me,

Still I love till cog-wheels wind me.


Hold me hard light, soft light hold me,

Moonlight in your mountains fold me,

Sunlight in your tall waves scald me,

Ironlight in your wires shield me,

Deathlight in your darkness wield me.



Get the book: Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses (SkyLight Paths Publishing)

One thought on “Sixteenth Night: Lalita Tripura Sundari”

  1. Hello Julie,
    I receivedt this book couple of days back.
    I really honestly love the book.
    When I opened the book, I just saw the chapter of Devi Bhagamalini.
    I have been really interested in Nitya Devies, theirm mantras and Puja.
    And I happened to see your book online.
    I got really interestedi n Bhagamalini Nitya because of my underlying issues of life. And it was such a coincidence that when I open the book I see that chapter straight away.
    I have gone through the jungle of reading books on spirituality for very long. I used to do yoga .I learnt few meditations, but couldn’t follow them because deep in my consciousness their are underlying issues of sexuality which won’t let me go ahead.
    After all these years, I have come to this realisationt that ,for me for sure, till I don’t have Grace of Great Powerful Compassionate Mother, I can’t go ahead. No matter how many books I read of no matter what discourses I hear, I have to first address to the most powerful emotion me with complete honesty and sincerity. Only then I can move ahead with her Grace.
    I really liked your deep insights in the book. Althoughi have just read one chapter,but I really loved it.
    Just one suggestion: You could have added Nitya mantras of Devis in their respective chapters.
    Thank You So Much For This Book
    God Bless You

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Writer, yoga teacher, studio owner.