As a Goddess-centric Witch, I am always looking for new ways to connect with the myriad of global goddesses. Even though I know that I can have powerful relationships with different goddesses from the comfort of my home, I’ve also got a bit of a travel bug, so when I am wandering in new places, I try to hold myself open to spiritual experience and divine intervention. Sometimes, though, I only realize how magical the experience was after the fact. I'll be exploring these different experiences and goddesses on this blog.
When I was in college, I had the wonderful experience of taking a class entitled “Goddess and Gender.” Because of that class, I was introduced to the goddess Shakti, and that introduction continues to shape my worldview and creative actions.
In Tantric practice, Shakti is considered the all-pervasive feminine force. She is active, fiery, and creative, and because she is too tremendous to fully comprehend, Tantricas believe that the other Indian goddesses are all different manifestations of Shakti. This belief is also combined with a complimentary male force, typified for Tantricas as Shiva. The Shakti force is intricately linked with the Shiva force, but Shakti is a powerful entity even without her male counterpart.
Shakti is one of the reasons I am desperate to travel to India someday, but one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had with Shakti didn’t take place in a smoky temple across the world; I met her one summer in the Cincinnati Art Museum, and that encounter changed my life.
The museum itself is impressive; housed in a building that resembles a classical temple, the museum is well into its second century (the original building went up in 1886). The collection is rich and diverse, and the galleries are well lit with natural and artificial light. It’s a serene, beautiful spot, and there’s something deeply divine about the space in general.
I was puttering through the galleries, snapping photos and absorbing the art, when I rounded the corner and came face to face with Goddess. One large, beautiful room was gracefully adorned with three-dimensional pieces depicting Asian deities, but I was drawn like a magnet to one in particular.
The exhibit was years ago, and I’m not even sure if it’s part of the permanent museum collection, so I don’t know how the museum had labeled her, but for me, she is resoundingly Shakti. I stood before her, spellbound, and I don’t know how much time passed. What I do know is that the face-to-face meeting woke up my creative heart, which had been slumbering for years. Emotions surged through me, and I felt myself at once on the verge of tears and ready to leap into the air and dance for joy.
Out of a sense of obligation, I completed my circuit of the museum, discovering the deeply contemplative reconstructed medieval cloister (built, if memory serves, from the preserved architecture of four different monasteries), but I was drawn back to Shakti. When I returned to her, the gallery was empty, and I sank into the stillness of the afternoon.
We stared at each other, the beautiful goddess and the wandering student, and I hesitantly entered into dialogue with her. Even though I was in a museum, surrounded by works of visual art, the goddess very firmly told me to go home and write.
“I can’t,” I told her, glancing around to make sure I was still alone. “I’m not that good.”
You don’t know until you try.
“But I did try! Remember high school? I wasn’t that good.”
“Well, yeah. Because I didn’t want to fail.”
Stopping is failure.
I glared at her. “No it’s not.”
Her steady gaze held mine until I caved.
“Okay, fine, yes, it is.” I sighed. “What do you want me to do?”
You must create.
I argued with her some more, but finally, her words broke through. I left the museum that afternoon drained but strangely exhilarated. Shakti had planted her seed, and when I returned home from my travels, I found myself pulled to write. I didn’t have anything in mind, but I tried to do what the goddess said, and soon I was writing poetry. As a child and teen, I’d been a prolific writer, but by the time I got to high school, I had convinced myself that I wasn’t very good at writing. I don’t know; maybe I wasn’t, but I never gave myself the chance to get better. I stopped writing for years, and it took a powerful push from Shakti to get me started again.
Now, whenever I sit down to my craft, I know Shakti is there. Her presence is fiery and fierce, but at the same time, perfectly comforting. I am grateful I had the opportunity to meet this goddess, and she plays a role in every day of my life. I offer her words, and she offers me inspiration; Shakti is the eternal muse.
Creativity is a vital part of each of us, and creativity manifests in as many infinite ways as Shakti herself.
Whether Shakti has called you to paint, write, sew, dance, sing, weld, bake, or garden, listen to her. She reminds us that the creative force is the divine goddess at the heart of our universe.
What does Shakti invite you to create?
To Learn More:
Cincinnati Art Museum. Cincinnati Art Museum. 2011. Retrieved from http://www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org/ 14 June 2013.
Kempton, Sally. Awakening Shakti. Boulder, CO: Sounds True. 2013.
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