The Golden Moon of Wealth & the Dark Moon of Poverty
A Tantric Ritualistic Investigation into Duality
In the Tantric system Lakshmi is the Golden Goddess of Wealth. A beautiful woman of rapturous allure, attracting the soul like a moth to the flame. Alakshmi, her elder sister, is the Barren Goddess of Poverty. A withered woman of sour nature who rules over loss, hopelessness, disgust and perversity.
When Lakshmi enters the heart and home there is a desire for Golden living. In her sweet-lipped realm, abundance and prosperity abounds on the spiritual and physical level as she carries the cup of Amrita (elixir). When Alakshmi enters there is preoccupation with life in decay. In her sour-lipped realm, perversion and poverty shade one’s heart and being as she carries the cup of Hala Hala (poison).
One who trails their hand towards the secrets of blue twilight…
One who reaches for a secret wisdom imparted twice daily…
Such a one is on the way of the soul. The way of Shiva.
Shiva is the one who rejects nothing, that’s his secret and he’s the prototype for the Yogi on the path of Wisdom. Yogi means the one who balances and brings together. Shiva does not run in fear from the shadows of poison or loss, and neither does he run to the light for hope or abundance.
Shiva’s seat is the place of balance and power in the opposites that reality presents us, Shiva is the natural being who’s surrendered the selective battle of the self and because of this stance has opened the secrets to reality. The meeting of the Full Moon of Lakshmi with the Dark Moon of Alakshmi is the wisdom of Shiva who represents the soul power in us all. Shiva drinks of Halahala (poison) and Amrita (elixir) alike. It is Shiva who meets both Lakshmi and Alakshmi at Twilight.
In Tantra nothing is rejected and poison and medicine are understood to be one and the same: polar facets of the same reality. In seeming paradox, to reject the poison becomes equal to refusing the medicine. Tantra offers a healing vision to the notion and reality of poison: a new approach to revealing and resolving conflict…
To Know Both Goddesses
The Full Moon on 1st October is known as Lakshmi Puja.
The Dark Moon on 16th October is known as Alakshmi Amvasya (Amvasya means when the Moon is absent).
Between the Full Moon and the Dark Moon we find the age old Tantric festival connected to Lakshmi and her elder sister Alakshmi. When both Goddesses are known in balanced measure, there is sobriety and Tantric focus between the dualities.
The wisdom of the balance between wealth and poverty is the key to the door of vision.
These two forces prevail in our heart and in our universe and are both given honour by the Tantrics. A balance between dark and light, man and woman, beauty and ugliness, Crow and Swan.
To worship Lakshmi without acknowledging her elder sister Alakshmi would be a one sided, blind pursuit, exemplified by extremes of indulgence and satisfaction without taking into account the shadows of life. True spirituality never turns a blind eye but has a vision between the dark and light at twilight. Night and day don’t exist together, but might enter our home in the secret Tantric twilight.
Two Sisters Come for Dinner at Twilight
An old Indian Tantric teaching story tells of both sister Goddesses visiting the house of a devotee, who through great Tapasya (concentrated effort) had awakened their interest. Upon inviting them into his home he asked them, as is the Indian custom, “What may I offer you?”.
In Indian culture, when receiving a guest into one’s home, the unquestioned custom is to offer them a wish. Whatever is asked is given as duty, without resentment from the giver or shame on the part of the asker. ‘The Guest is God’ is a Indian phrase that has at its root the vision of the divine in the most mundane of areas. Although classical Indian culture is slowly being eroded by modern standards, this elegance and grace of etiquette remains, mirroring an order from a world beyond that of everyday concerns and striving.
And so the devoted host received the sisters…
Lakshmi came wearing red and gold (the colours of the bride in India). Her full hair was beautifully and modestly braided and she scented the atmosphere with rose and jasmine. She moved with sweet elegance as if she floated on the ether. The devotee noticed that her countenance and presence brought space to his breath and heart, a feeling of well-being, generosity and contentment entering his spirit as he watched her.
Lakshmi’s wish was for a single dish of sweets and creamy delicacies. The devotee had these ordered and she ate them in a graceful, almost dance-like manner.
Alakshimi entered wearing a single white cloth (the colours of an Indian funeral widow). Her hair was sparse and unkempt, matted and unwashed. She moved awkwardly and painfully with a hunchback, stinking of bile and excrement. The devotee watched her and noticed how she aroused craving and perverse tightening thoughts in him. Anger and violence struck his mind like lightening. Shortness of breath and a vice like grip on his heart was felt.
Alakshmi’s wish was for copious dishes of lemons and chilies that had started to rot and decay. The devotee had these ordered and watched how she went at devouring them in a seemingly breathless panic.
As the two sisters enjoyed their meal in the home of their devotee, he noticed that a profound focus and sobriety existed in him. He had equal understanding of fortune and loss at the same time, which filled his head with compassion and lucidity.
Lakshmi stood up and said “May I wash my hands outside, I will return in a moment.”
The devotee directed her and she left him alone with her older sister. In the presence of Alakshimi, the devotee became morose and depressed, concerned only with the morbidity in his heart and the world around him. He went very deep into his meditation but the pain took away his clarity. When Lakshimi returned, a balance once again came over him as if waking from a dream and he saw that life is not only bad.
Then Alakshimi stood up and said “I wish to go shit and need no water as I never wash.” The devotee directed her. When he was left in the presence of Lakshimi, he noticed that he was filled with rapture and well-being. Kingly and proud, compassion left his heart as he indulged in his own grandeur. As Alakshimi returned the devotee felt he had awoken from a self-satisfied trance and could not imagine what arrogance had possessed him.
After dinner conversation ensued…
The elder sister demanded to know from the devotee which of them was the most beautiful. The poor devotee strained to find an answer that would not cause offence.
He attempted to go into deep meditation to find the answer that stands between the opposites. In inner Tantric equanimity he found the secret twilight insight that stands between dark and light.
“You are both profoundly beautiful and ugly at the same time according to where you stand.” he said.
Alakshimi leaned forward and glared frighteningly into his eyes, asking, “What do you mean?” The stench of her breath almost knocked him unconscious.
He answered: “Lakshmi for example was hideously ugly when she stood outside my home, but when she entered within she became beautiful’.” He continued, choosing his words very carefully, “Alakshimi was unbelievably beautiful when she stood outside my home, but not so pleasing when she entered within. When both of you come together my heart feels in balance.”
Lakshmi said, “Dear devotee, sometimes I will come alone. But if you wish to enjoy my beauty a little more then place rose and jasmine flowers and sweets on your altar.
Alakshimi said, “And sometimes I will also visit you alone. But if you wish to enjoy my beauty a little longer then leave rotting lemons and chillies outside your door.”
“If you are wise and find the secret between twilight,” spoke both sisters together, “we will come and visit you together.”
Yoga: Meeting in the Balance of Twilight
Just as night departs when the sun rises, and the sun departs as the moon rises, Alakshmi and Lakshmi are opposites never to inhabit the same space except in rare moments of balance, exemplified by the hours of twilight.
Twilight symbolises the balance of opposites. The word Hathyog by its very etymology, implies the art and practice of this unity. The twilight consciousness is the balanced harmonised place of awareness and poise between both sides of reality.
In general, modern living, ideologies and religions are based upon ideas and principles that honour the sun. We may follow these established lines and codes of conduct to our own detriment if we don’t take a closer look at the nature of things.
Living by the sun causes dryness, heat and exhaustion. One can become loud and consumed by fire. Gold in the daylight is of great worth, but it becomes a curse when not balanced with Silver by moonlight.
Hence an overbalance of the Lakshimi Tatva in oneself can cause stagnation, greed, arrogance, lack of compassion and self-satisfied indulgence. However, along with their conferring of vision, sensitivity and feeling of the subtle, night and moonlight realms hold dangers of being consumed by the spiritual world. Hence an overbalance of the Alakshimi Tatva in oneself can create a hunger mindset of unsatisfiable craving and feelings of emptiness. Humility void of a little pride can turn to poverty.
The Balance of Gold and Silver, Sun and Moon, is the place where both sisters are given honour, where power meets humility and heat touches cooling respite.
Sisters as Queens
Lakshmi is the Queen of Riddhi.
The Riddhis are a very subtle science regarding the manifested powers of success and prosperity. For example, one of the Riddhis is known as Satyasankalp. This is the power to manifest whatever one intends.
Alakshimi is the Queen of the Siddhi.
The Siddhis are equally a very subtle science of powers within the psychic realm.
The Siddhis are powers that pertain more to the spiritual side of things, it could be said.
For example, one of the Siddhis is known as Isithavam. This is the psychic power of having wisdom of the secrets of the Sun and the Moon.
We will go into a detailed account of the Riddhis and Siddhis at another time.
The Door to Appeasing the Spirits
Above the doors of many Indian households and workplaces often hangs a string of lemons and chillies. Even though its meaning may be forgotten by many, it has its roots in a spiritual world view. The spirits of poverty exemplified by Alakshimi are astral energies that live in the ether and feed upon sour and hot energy, emanated though the string’s decomposing odours.
In Tantra, a whole science exists around satisfying the energies and spirits that live in the subtle layers of the air element, with perfumes both fragrant and noxious being used to balance and appease.
The Door to the Heart
SHREEM is the Bija mantra of Lakshimi. When uttered at the right resonance, this mantra stimulates the currents of the heart chakra and opens the door to the heart. The hands are a door to the heart energies and, when we look at Lakshmi iconography, we see that she has mountains of gold coins pouring from her hands. Lakshimi Mudra is the physical gesture of assisting the body to open the heart channel. It goes ‘hand in hand’ with an inner mudra of concentration used at this moon phase.
The mantras and mudras of Alakshimi are not to be written and only imparted in ritual context. These mudras teach one of closing the door to the heart. Such practices can give insights into the ways we might be unconsciously closing off the life force.
The mudras of both sisters work with the hands extensively. It may be noted that improper yoga practice compressing the wrist nerves can work counterproductively on both the spiritual and physical levels of Prana Shakti.
Unlocking our True Being
Samskaras and Vasanas
Samskaras are the deep roots of our tendencies from which, or moreover ‘around’ which, we move. Samskaras are stored in and arise from the causal body which is known as the deepest of the 5 bodies that cover the soul. Tantra knows these bodies as layers of frozen shadows that mask reality. The causal covering is known as the Manomaya Kosha and is the deep place where things in our being are hidden and almost invisible.
Vasanas are our tendencies that we move with, and move towards. They are present in the most subtle layers of the astral body, known as the Anandamaya Kosha. This astral body is a more tangible realm of the subconscious mind than the causal body, giving us the experience of sensation.
Alakshimi is the Goddess with the key to the Samskaras.
Lakshimi is the Goddess with the key to the Vasanas.
Our Samskaras and Vasanas are invisible as they give rise to our experience. Through the manifestations and consequences they incur we might obtain clues to the programming that rules us.
Tantra is the introspective study of how we formulate reality by the dance of Samskara and Vasana, of Alakshmi and Lakshimi. Tantra recognises that the Samskaras and Vasanas are not who we really are, but two interacting constellations of energy giving form to self-experience.
Samskaras and Vasanas
Our being is like a ball that bounces around a room full of furniture. We could say that, according to the contents of the room, we come to define ourselves. The furniture upon which the ball resounds gives definition to the psychic space and defines the ball’s possible movements.
The ball represents the Vasanas – our tendencies – and the content and form of the room represent the Samskaras – our predefined codes.
By liberating the ball from its usual movements or Vasanas, one steps into attainment of the Riddhis, a very subtle science regarding the manifested powers of success and prosperity, of which the Goddess Lakshmi is Queen. Through deep study of the furniture-filled room that the self-inhabits, one unlocks the Samskaras and opens the doors to the Siddhis, of which the Goddess Alakshmi is Queen.
Though the two realms interlace and overlap, the Siddhis may be considered less perceptible than the Riddhis, pertaining to powers within the psychic rather than material realms.
Under the Dust
Samskaras are stored in and arise from the causal body. This causal body is known as the deepest of the 5 bodies that cover the soul. Tantra knows these bodies as layers of frozen shadows that mask reality. The causal covering is known as the Manomaya Kosha and is the deep place where things in our being are out of sight and almost invisible.
Vasanas are present in the most subtle layers of the astral body, known as the Anandamaya Kosha. This astral body is a more tangible realm of the subconscious mind than the causal body, giving us the experience of sensation.
Samskaras and Vasanas are invisible as they give rise to our experience. Through the manifestations and consequences they incur, we may glean clues to the programming we run by.
Tantra is the introspective study of how we formulate reality by the dance of Samskara and Vasana, of Alakshmi and Lakshimi. It recognises that the Samskaras and Vasanas are not who we really are. These two interacting constellations of energy give form to how we experience ourselves, but both are formed of the dust gathered by the soul in its journey through infinity. The Tantric voyage is like wiping the windshield of the self, freeing it of the particles that define who we are and define the reality that we see. Tantra, quite practically, is a way of decoding structures of familiarity and preparing for unfamiliar, forgotten, or perhaps unknown voyages.
The Solidified Structures
of Self-Confronting the Soul
Samskaras are the subconscious imprints out of which Vasanas are built – the foundational codes we enact and reflect in our countenance, language and conduct. For example, if our Samskaras involve identifying with the archetypes of royalty, wealth and prosperity, our Vasanas would be expressed in our tendencies to dress well and act royally.
It might seem a good thing to be ruled by a positive archetype such as ‘the royal imprint’, but from the Tantric perspective, to be over-identified with a symbol is a cause of psychic inflexibility. This translates to an inflexible breathing pattern, revealed in the patterns in our musculature. The solidifications and rigidities of the psycho/physical mechanism can manifest anywhere within the narrow perspective we serve. Upholding of a character consumes vast amounts of our energies and limits our vast possibilities.
The practice of Tantric mudras goes through the medium of the body in order to confront the soul. By investigating our physical places of resistance and stiffness, we come into the world of the subconscious and unconscious. This is the world of the Samskaras. We could say that the Vasanas are merely symptoms of the imprints of Samskaras.
Do we think we only need a code of character to live by? Is it merely a response to living in a world rampant with codes of conduct, the imposition of modernity and civilization? The Tantric peers into such questions and in doing so, questions the root of themselves before posing questions about ideal principles and the nature of things. The object and its reception transforms as the subject does so. The door to magic and mystical vision, to a hitherto level of psychic autonomy and liberty, reopens.
An Investigation of Opposites
The Path to Our True Nature
If we were enmeshed within the inflexibility of the royal archetype, the Tantric practice of working with the opposite energy would yield much insight into our true nature. To know Lakshmi’s older sister Alakshmi reveals the secrets of loss and poverty, hence revealing the resistances and inflexibilities in our mind and body and allowing for changed perception and behaviour.
The Tantric investigates opposites and the shadows of the structures we move within and around. Tantric practice thereby transforms our whole relationship to wealth and poverty. Through opened breathing and releasing rigidities in the musculature, one becomes more receptive to the currents of life. The psychic tension we hold (or that holds us) in relation to this theme can be released and made fluid, giving us an influx of power that is then available for spiritual travel.
The holding onto and focus upon a persona or way of being at the expense of another is crystallisation and solidification.
This in Tantra means death.
Tantra is not positive thinking or the aim at one principle at the expense of another. Tantra is the embrace of both dark and light, the vision of reality free of unfixed ideals and principles, moving towards being the balance reflected in nature. Nature has both negative and positive forces that keep balance and equilibrium. An electrical circuit can only flow by the marriage of both poles, by the meeting of the passive and active. We become a circuit of flow and force when we move onto the path of balancing and reconciling the parted dualities of our being. As psychic energy is liberated, so too is its manifest reflection in the physical dimension.
Tantra is then, the middle place of meeting between Hot and Cold, Woman and Man, Mother and Father, Parent and Child, Human and Animal, Sky and Earth, Wild and Civilised, Rich and Poor. The gaze from the ever changing reflective Moon-like mirror that releases personas and concepts in accord with nature’s rhythms and catches the Twilight view, where worlds apart meet in the secret between the so called good and bad, between Lakshimi and Alakshmi.