aka: Slaying Shadows

This is a special part of the series for me as we begin our celebration of Navaratri- a 10 day celebration of the Goddess in her many forms in India.

Navaratri has always held a special place in my heart, as celebration of the Goddess, the Feminine, in all her glory and beauty, is pretty rare in modern religious and spiritual traditions. Many traditions tend to ignore the feminine and celebrate the masculine- including Hindu tradition, though not as bad as many others. But for 10 days every fall, the Goddess is revered all around the world by billions of people (yes, billions- how awesome is that?).

Beginning with the New Moon on Monday, we dove into this time. The celebration is broken up into 3 main parts: 3 nights dedicated to Durga, 3 nights to Lakshmi, and 3 nights to Saraswati. We'll take a look at each of these Goddesses in turn this week.

 

First up: Durga.

She's fierce. She rides a tiger. Her name means Invincible. And she is often depicted with as many as 18 arms, each wielding a sword, ready to fight and slay whatever demons threaten you in your life- namely, your shadows. According to myth, she was a warrior goddess created to slay the asura, or demon, called Mahishasura, who was invincible to men. As all of the male gods were powerless against this demon, Durga was created to rid creation of his tyranny. As battle between the two ensued, Durga riding her tiger fought against the ever changing shape of the demon- slaying parts of him as he morphed himself into various other creatures. Finally though, it was the light that emanated from the extreme radiance of her beauty that ultimately killed the demon, saving man and gods from his grasp.

Whew. Powerful woman. What I love the most about this myth is that Durga is so fierce in her ability to be a warrior, yet it is ultimately her Radiance, her truly brilliant light, that slays the demon. She is not scared of her own power and light, and embraces it so fully that it is lethal to those things which hold her back.

We can learn a lot of lessons from this myth, and working with Durga is an excellent way to begin or refine any spiritual practice. As I've spoken about many times, part of healing and transformation is facing our demons, our shadows, those things about ourselves which hold us back from being truly Radiant in every sense of the term.

We must face our own demons on our journey, and what better way to do that than by being prepared- swords in hand, riding the tiger, ready to face whatever it is that is going to be revealed to us and knowing that we have the strength to slay it no matter how big, bad and ugly it may be.

So an exercise for you to begin to channel Durga. Create some space for yourself over the next 2 days to write out the things about yourself that you wish to change, forgive, get over, move on from, burn away, slay. It could be something you need to forgive yourself for that you did in the past so that you can begin to love yourself again. It could be a list of old lovers that you need to release in order to create space for the right one to come in. It could even be a list of people you feel you have wronged or need to reach out to. Anything at all you that feel is holding you back. You might not even know what you will write about, just allow yourself the space to let it come out- often the answers are surprising!

Now you have your list or whatever it is you wrote. Now it's time to burn it away. Do what feels right for you to 'destroy' your demons. It could be burning it in the fireplace, cutting it into a million pieces, shredding it in the shredder- whatever feels right. I encourage not to bury it though- that just keeps it buried within our souls, and we are trying to get rid of these things, not bury them deeper!

A really fun way- and my chosen method- to 'slay' these demons as it were, is to ask for them to be taken care of in your dream state. Before bed, read your list, and set the intention as you drift off to sleep that these demons, shadows, past actions, whatever it is, be killed forever in your dreams. You may find that this even happens anyway just by doing the first steps of the exercise.

Report back what happens in the comments below, I'd love to hear how Durga is helping you in your journey so far.

**Just remember to keep it safe if working with real fire

I've been going through quite the process working with Durga myself the past few days. The past 10 months have been a beast for me- some of the best months ever of my life with so much abundance and love and light, but also some deep dark shadows coming up to test me in my resolve, to challenge my own Radiance, and see just how committed I truly am to all that lays before me. For the past 2 nights, I have worked with my list of shadows, wrongs, things that I need to forgive myself for, and asked for them to be killed in my dreams. The first night, a  massive giant appeared that represented many things from the past, and with the help of some guides, I was able to slay him. And last night, I felt a part of my soul finally die that had been holding me back from truly stepping out into the world in my full light- my fear of being truly seen. Much of my dream was spent mourning this piece of me, but in the end I knew it was alright, and for the best, that I let this piece of myself go.

And I can not recall a time when I have felt more light and free than the past several days.

Work with Durga, embrace her fierceness but also her compassion- for she can help you see that which you need to let go, and help you do it with love, light and Radiance beyond what you could ever believe possible.

Be sure to share your experience or questions below in the comments. Jai Ma!

Here is me rocking my tiger shirt on the first day dedicated to Durga

 

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Letters to the Divine {Within} will focus on one god or goddess at a time from a variety of traditions: Hindu, Christianity, Jewish tradition, ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Celtic and more. The goal is to begin to tap into the variety of energies out there available to us through these stories, myths and legends to begin to tap into your own healing & transformation. You can use each of these myths as a guiding force for whatever is happening in your own life. This isn’t worship (unless you want it to be) or in any way meant to replace your already established religious views. These stories transcend time and the themes are repeated in every major tradition in their own way. My goal is to make them available to you so you can learn and grow from them.

For each entry, I will give provide the legend and myth, and then pose questions or other activities that may guide you in interacting with this being. Then you write a letter, poem, dance to this legend- anything that helps you in tapping into this energy.

And be sure to share each post in the comments what you did and how it worked for you!