Left Handed Tantra – I

The the oriental systems of Tantra were based upon the Draconian or Tantra were based upon the Draconian or Typhonian Cults of ancient Egypt may be adduced from the deposit of many Egyptian terms in the texts of the tantras, particularly in those of India. For example, shakti, meaning ‘power’ – the central concept of the Tantras – was known ages earlier, in Egypt, as Sekht or Sekhmet, the consort of the gods. She typified the fiery heat of the southern sun that had its biological analogue in the sexual heat of the lioness, a symbol of African origin. Pasht, in Sansrit, means ‘animal’, and in the Tantras Pashu has a specific connotation with reference to bestial modes of congress, i.e. sexual congress not sanctified by orthodox tradition. Pashu likewise existed in Egypt as Pasht or Bast, the feline goddess who ‘catted’, and whose brood gave its name in later ages to the bastards which originally signified children born of the mother alone at a time when the role of the male in the process of procreation was unknown, or when the individualized fatherhood was not recognized. In the Tantras, the animal passions were typified by the pashu, i.e. one who was disqualified from the performance of Tantric rites involving the use of the sexual energies.

The Khart in Egypt was the god Horus as a child (Hoor-paar-Kraat); he reappears in the Indian pantheon centuries later as Kartikeya, the son of the sun-god. The god On in Egypt was the Sun, and the name was perpetuated in the Vedic religion as Ong or Om, the primal vibration of the creative spirit.

Yet another striking example is the name of the goddess Sesheta who typified the female period; in Hinduism, Sesha is the serpent with a thousand heads; it is also a name in the Tantras for the lunar vibration or ‘serpent of darkness’ that manifests periodically in women. Such example of the Egyptian origin of Tantric concepts could be multiplied almost indefinitely.

The Ophidian cults of Africa were purged of their tribal and contingent accretions during their fusion with the Draconian Tradition of Egypt. But it is in the Kaula Division of the Vama Marg, or left hand Path, that the most perfect form of this tradition was continued in India and the Far East. Of this division the Chandrakala or ‘Moonray’ recension retained some of the primal characteristics of the Ophidian cults.

The application to the human body of the Ophidian processes was revealed in three principal degrees in which the secrets of sexual magick were demonstrated with the use of suvasinis or ‘sweet smelling women’ who represented the primal goddess and who formed the Kaula Circle.

The ability to function on the inner, or astral planes, and to travel freely in the realms of light or inner space, derived from a special purification and storage of vital force. This force in its densest form is identical with sexual energy. In order to transform sexual energy into magical energy (ojas), the dormant Fire Snake at the base of the spine is awakened. It then purges the vitality of all dross by the purifying virtue of its intense heat. Thus the function of the semen – in Tantras – is to build up the body of light, the inner body of man. As the vital fluid accumulates in the testicles it is consumed by the heat of the Fire Snake, and the subtle fumes or ‘perfumes’ of this molten semen so to strengthen the inner body.

The worship of shakti means in effect the exercise of the Fire Snake, which not only fortifies the body of light but gradually burns away all impurities in the physical body and rejuvenates it; for the life processes, unchecked, deposit quantities of ash or waste matter in the system. This is governed by the Fire Snake from her seat in the coccygeal (prostrate) gland: the excretory region alluded to in some Tantras as the feet of shakti. The effluvia from this region, when retroverted, have power not only to build up the body of light but also to create new worlds, new dimensions, in which the Adept can function as easily as he functions upon the mundane plane. In the non-initiate the waste-matter, not being purged and drawn up by the heat of the Fire Snake, remains as the end-products of catabolism and forms semen, urine, feces, and – in women – menstrual fluid. The Fire leaks out of the average person in these substance which, solely because they are imbued with a spark even of this Fire, are useful adjuncts in magical work. Their abuse, as in the sorcery of later ages – when they were not properly understood and improperly applied – accounts for the monstrous abnormalities of the pseudo Witch Cults and their demonic Sabbaths.

When the subtle essences, the ‘flowers’ of these substances, are drawn off and kept within the human organism they direct their Fire within and create the magical bodies that are used in the rituals of the Kaula Circle. Initiates have methods of preventing the deposit of semen in the testicles, and urine has curative properties as well as being a stimulant; the Tantras give instructions for its use in the rejuvenation of the physical body. Of far more importance, however, is its value as a bi-sexualizing agent which, if ingested at certain times of the month, creates a condition wherein the initiate becomes androgynous and without fear. The feces incinerated (i.e. burned to ashes) likewise are used in tantric rituals, and the Siddhas refer often to the god Shiva smeared with ashes. Behind this symbol, repulsive as it may appear to non-Orientals, or, more correctly, to non-initiaties, lies the great mystery of rejuvenation, physical and astral, and the creation of new worlds.

When the woman chosen for chakra puja is worshipped as the Goddess, the dust – or ashes – are washed off her feet and collected in a specially consecrated chalice of wine which is then drained by the Adepts of the Kaula Circle. Aleister Crowley, in Liber VII, harks back to the Egyptian origin of this Rite of the Panchatattvas or Five Principles:

I know that awful sound of primal joy; let us follow on the wings of the gale unto the holy house of Hathor; let us offer the five jewels of the cow upon her altar! (III, 37).

The five jewels of the ‘cow’ are the five makaras. The Tamil Siddha, Nampi Arurar, frequently mentions the Supreme Goddess whose ‘feet are soft and tender like the tender shoots of leaves; beautiful, like soft cotton . . . Her Soft feet are colored red with dyed cotton’.

The word cow (go in Sanskrit) is a euphemism for the human female and the secret rite of initiation wherein her maya is consumed is known as the Gomaya Diksha. The sow also is used as a cognate type, for the pig is the only animal know to eat human excrement; it was adopted by the ancients as a totemic type of this Initiation. Excrement, in this context, regarded as feminine, refers not to intestinal excrement, but to the emanations connected with the phenomena pf menstruation. This another case of direct inheritance from the Draconian Tradition, for the image of the pig was the vehicle of Khonsu whose image appeared – together with that of the pig – in the orb of the full moon, thus showing the age-old connection between Khonsu and the lunar current manifesting on the 15th day, the day of the full moon.

The power-zone in the conus medullaris may be opened by the use of these gomaya kalas. The Varaha (pig or boar incarnation of Vishnu), also conceals this symbolism of the Gomaya Diksha, and the Holy Abbess of Lamaseries in Tinet was – until very recently – known by the name Dorje Phagmo, which means ‘eternal’ or ‘adamantine sow’.

The exercise of the Fire Snake in its physical manifestation at an early stage of the Rite is said to resemble the contraction of the anal sphincter in horses and cows after the expulsion of dung. The rhythm of the sphincter-movement practiced with magical intent has an effect similar to that of electric induction; it generates a current of energy within the fulum terminale. The internal substances are thus prevented from leaving the body and their precipitates are drawn up the sushumna nadi and mingle with the heat of the risen Fire Snake. Hence the tantric admonition to ‘seize the Serpent Woman by the tail – awaken the sleeping One!’, a direct reference to the Fire Snake and the woman who is Her physical embodiment for the purpose of the Kaula rites.

The astro-glyph of the magically consecrated priestess is Scorpio. When the exercise known as akunchanam is performed, the constant contractions of the sphincter muscle act as an attack upon the Fire Snake who then rises up and strikes with its ‘tail’ at the conus medullaris. Akunchanam achieves for the Tantric what pranayama achieves for the Hatha Yogi. As with pranayama, akunchanam is not exercised while eating or drinking, or during the ‘higher forms of cunnilinctus’, i.e. the imbibition of the magically charged kalas of the Dhuti.

In the most secret forms of this ritual as many as sixteen women are used as ‘messengers’ or conveyors of the sacred fluids; sixteen being the culmination of the lunar current, which attains its maximum on the 15th day. The Chief Dhuti represents the Goddess Herself; the messenger becomes oracular at the climax of the rite. At such times she is able to confer magical powers (siddhis) upon her devotes, and sometimes high trances and states of transformed consciousness, as when the Adepts assume atavistic forms and practice a form of lycanthrophy.

In the Tamil Siddhas’ hymns to the Goddess, the Serpent is described as inseparable from its hole, which means that in this particular form of the rite the Fire Snake does not leave its natural base, the Muladharachakra, or hole from whence issues the Ophidian Oracle. At this zone the members of the Kaula Circle achieve total fulfilment of their desires in whichever plane or dimension they happen to project their will. This recalls the Witches’ Sabbath which is a travesty of the rite, although some authorities maintain that the genuine Witch Cult yet survives in the West, with practices barely distinguishable from those of the mediaeval covens.

Hindu religious texts such as the Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads refer to the use of woman as an agent of fertility, but they do not hint at the occult nature of the rite wherein – although used sexually – she forms the gateway to wholly trans-sexual objectives. The Agamas and Tantras and the Shastras of the South Indian Siddhas contain more specific references, and in the Shivayogapradipika (Ch. 3, v. 4), appears the following unequivocal statement:

Worship, my dear, the auspicious emblem of Shiva (lingam) always within thine own heart, with various kinds of flowers made of conditioned and unconditioned concepts; flowers that are the multiform and beautifully coloured lotuses, consisting of nerve-centres such as Muladhara or the basic plexus, as also those of jasmines that shine brilliantly in the middle of them.

In the Tevaram the flowers are said to be five in number, like the five jewels of the cow and the panchatattvas or five principles (makaras); they are ‘the five flower-arrows in the quiver of Kama, the God of Desire. When Kama aimed his arrows, Shiva (lingam) opened his eye and Kama was burnt to ashes!’, a reference to the annihilation of desire and the trans-sexual nature of the rite. The Sanatkumara Agama declares:

Thou shouldst not worship mere externals only; such are worshipped by the profane alone. One who worships in the seven chakras is a follower of the Vedas, he after death will become a mukta.

Here again is a clear reference to the fact that these practices and their results are not restricted to the material plane. The use of wine is similarly deprecated if it not used in a ritual context. of the Kaula celebrants it is said:

Wine they require in moderate quantities to control the images of their minds; and women to draw out their best nature at the time of Sadhana.

The commentators on the Gita, who aligned it with the Vedas, were either ignorant of the Tripura Upanishad or unwilling to take note of the hints freely given in that celebrated shastra.

Innumerable sacred texts and temple sculptures conceal the genuine Ophidian Current under a veneer of playfully erotic symbols. Western-educated Orientals read into them a whimsical tendency on the part of their forbears to liken the process of cosmic creation to that of human sexual congress. This is, of course, and erroneous deduction, the bow of arrows and the charming apanga or sidelong glances bestowed by dancing maidens on the objects of their playful attentions, are persistent themes interpreted in a romantic manner; in actual fact they refer to fundamental psycho-sexual process was symbolized by the upturned or sidelong gaze of the apsaras who represented Kundalini. Their charm and beauty indicated ‘the grace of the serenity that is attainable only by reversion of sensualities’. In this apanga-vision the Pranava or Creative Vibration Om is the ‘flower’ to be used. The nature of this ‘flower’ and its creative vibration has been explained; ‘flowers’ are the vaginal vibrations of the suvasini emitted during the ascent of the Fire Snake in the body of the priest. ‘The five arrows of the senses in their new (i.e. retroverted) function, stimulate a flow of nectar throughout the whole system’, implying the flowers the fragrance of which emanates from the prostate gland, the urinary and genital secretions other than semen, the fragrance which is instrumental in awakening the Fire Snake. The process is echoed in Liber VII (III, 24): ‘Come! Let us irritate the vessels of the earth: they shall distil starnge wine’, for this region of the vasa (prostate) is attributed to the element earth.

The Raja Yogins interpret the process of reversion in and through the element of air and use – instead of akunchanam of the Fire Snake – the pranayama of the breath. The Kaulas, or Shakta Tantrics, maintain however that a pale reflection only can be achieved by this method, and that whereas the Shakta realizes the actual Fire Snake in the region of earth, the Yogin merely realizes it in mind, in the vague and ethereal forms of air; he therefore experiences an illusion or imitation to attainment completely divorced from the physical plane. For the Tantric, on the other hand, akunchanam is the real meaning of pranayama, or control of the vital current. The turning back of the force applies not to breath alone but to fire itself, and that is why – in poetic imagery and in temple sculptures – the priests exhibited the maiden with eyes turned upward in oblique (i.e. retroverted) apanga. Apanga occurs only when the Goddess is suffused with the flow of amrit, the nectar emitted from the flowers of the inturned sensualities, the fragrance and glow of the Elixir of Life itself.

As in sexual congress the eyes of a woman turn upward at the moment of orgasm, so in tantric coitus apanga occurs in the suvasini, and the worshipper is inflamed with bliss.

The women trained for service in the Kaula Circle are of a special kind. Their characteristics are given in the Hevajra Tantra. They should be young, childless, well developed and healthy. They should be naturally capable of sensual retroversion and they should be able to control themselves at all stages of the rite and punish offences committed by male members of the Circle. But there is one physical characteristic of prime importance essential to a priestess of the higher mysteries; she should be retromingent. Such an anatomical peculiarity is not common even in Africa and Oriental women; in European women it is extremely rare. This physical predisposition is required for the Kaula equivalent of the rites of atavistic resurgence such as lycanthrophy and those practiced in the Cult of the spectral hyaena.

According to Kaula Adepts, the Fire Snake has a personality or ego-complex of its own, quite apart from its spiritual constituents. This shows that the woman chosen to represent the Fire Snake is identified with it to such an extent that she is in herself a powerful personality, with great strength of will and individuality. She is not worshipped as a merely passive instrument or embodiment of the Fire Snake, she is the Fire Snake and she directs the worship and corrects errors of procedure during the ritual. She exerts her most direct influence at the onset of trance, immediately prior to the oracular phase. Austin Osman Spare, who attended many astral Sabbaths, noted the peculiarly passive role played by the male throughout’, which is one reason he adduces for the dominance of the feminine principle in the earliest cults, symbolized by the witch straddling the besom-handle.

Various theories have been advanced to account for the division of the Tantras into those of the Dakshina and Vama Marg, Right and Left Hand Path. Kaula initiates maintain that the division ‘arose with the need to shut out the unfit, the latter thus cutting themselves off from the fount of truth. The original teaching dealt entirely with the real use of woman to man. By vama, the so-called left-hand path, or ‘black magic’, is meant; the use of things generally considered unclean, namely the excretions of the human body; the use of things that provoke disgust. But that is not to admit that these things are useless. . . The Tamils devote volumes to the subject’.

By the use of the yogic practice known as viparita karana, the senses are retroverted during the sexual act itself. bodily rhythms are reversed. The Vama Marg concerns itself particularly with the Elixir of Life or the perfumes of regeneration, and many of its Adepts do attain an astonishing degree of physical longevity. They claim that their science of viparita karani reverses not only the life-currents, but death itself ceases to be the final experience. John Blofeld refers to adepts of Taoist Tantra in China who are known to have achieved relative immortality. But such attainment is not the ultimate goal of Tantric Yoga; on the contrary, the Adepts of this Yoga are able so to control their consciousness that they have no need of preserving intact the physical body in order not to lose the thread of memory; they can ‘die’ in one body, be re-born, and still retain the traces of their identity. This again, is not ultimate aim of the Vama Marg or any of the Great Paths; the ultimate aim of the absorption in the Goddess, and this is sometimes accomplished through tantric sexual union with the priestess who embodies Her. This is the aim of Adepts of the genuine Kaula Circle.

The Kaula Path has provoked severe censure, particularly in the past, from those who attach false values to the body and its products. This caused the Vama Marg to withdraw itself and this made it even more suspect in the eyes of the uniformed. Today there are signs, at long last, that Kaula praxis may be seen for what it really is – a scientific experiment with the psychosexual chemistry of the human body. The Kalagni Rudra Upanishad gives directions for the preparation and imbibition of bodily essences, or kalas. Initiates of the Vama Marg use the actual kalas as they flow from the woman used for ritual purposes. In the Dakshina Marg, on the other hand, certain alternatives were employed after the fashion of present-day Christians who substitute wine and bread for the bodily products which they symbolize and which were consumed at the agapoi of the early Christian anchorites. (This is really the Samaya Marg, championed by the mid-fifteenth century reformer Lakshmidhara, that employs substitute substances). I have suggested, in Aleister Crowley & the Hidden God (p. 232) that the essential difference between the Vama Marg and the Dakshina Marg is that the votaries of the former worship the Fire Snake in the Muladhara, while the Dakshinacharins raise the Snake stage by stage, unsealing the siddhis of the power-zones as it ascends the spinal column (Sushumna Nadi). It is not at all easy at this distance of time to ascertain precisely how these paths differed in antiquity, but there seems no doubt at all that the Shaktas of the ‘reformed’ Tantric schools – the pseudo-kaulas – substituted wine foe soma (moon-juice), meat for mamsa (flesh), fish for mina (clitoris), ritual gestures for mudra (the magical passes that unseal the power-zones of the suvasini), and symbolic congress for maithuna (trans-sexual magic). These are the celebrated Five Ms or Panchamakaras, also known as the Panchatattva or Fivefold Principle. Pancha, Five; Makara, the letter ‘m’. the word Makara also denotes a fish; it is the mythological analogue of the zodiacal sea-goat, Capricorn, and, as such, specifies the nature of the five Ms. They are the ‘five jewels of the cow’ (referred to previously), the five basic principles or tattvas represented by the elements earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. These have a special significance when related to the number five, the number of the pentagram and of the human female as the vehicle of manifestation, symbolized by the five-day lunar period. According to the Chaldaean qabalah, the letter ‘m’, 40, is the ‘dead’ number of fixed law. It is the letter of water (i.e. blood), the fixative, in flesh, of spirit. Forty is 4 x 10, Tetragram, and represents man or ‘the lesser countenance, immutable in the heaviness of Malkuth’, i.e. the crystallization of idea into form, the fixation of the world of dream in terms of ‘solid’ wide-awake consciousness of the objective world. Forty is also the number of GVAL, a title of Yesod, the cosmic power-zone of the lunar current and of the water’ or kala that it transmits. Soma, or madya, is an auto-intoxicant; it is the essence of urine distilled after repeated re-cyclings through the yogically purified body. This process makes it magically effective. It is the wine of which mere alcohol is the ritual symbol. Its constant imbibition bi-sexualizes the body and creates in the Adept the conditions necessary for the true assumption of the god-form, one of the chief purposes of tantric sadhana. It also makes a man fearless and for this reason the Adepts of this Path are known as Bhairavas, the ‘fearless ones’. The Bhairavi Diksha involves the five makaras, madya (wine) being the element water; earth is mamsa (flesh), or calcined excrement (gomaya). The Bhairavis are smeared with white ash which has many symbolic references both for Shaivites and Shaktas. In the case of ascetic followers of Shiva, it symbolizes the giving up of wordly wealth and possessions and the dedication of the aspirant to a life of intense devotion to Shiva, the Auspicious One. But Shiva has also a name – Shambhu – which is a cypher for that secret initiation involving the madya and the mamsa, the wine and the flesh. To the element of water is ascribed mina, of which the symbol or glyph is the fish. This symbolizes the kalas of the suvasini at a particular stage of the rite. The mudras are the manual signs or passes made over the body of the suvasini to bring the kalas into manifestation at any particular lotus. It is said that these mudras are closely guarded secrets known only to initiates of the Cult. “they cannot be communicated unless by word of mouth and face to face with the Guru’, says a secret text. The fifth makaramaithuna – is the trans-sexual congress which causes the detumescence that releases the mahakalas, the supreme secretions that contain the magical presence of the Goddess. The five makaras are produced in three stages of the rite thus forming 15 steps or degrees that attain their consummation in the 16th kala, the ultimate kala of immortality and the elixir of life itself – a draught of such magical potency that he who imbibes it acquires all siddhis.

The great Yantra of Kali is linear formula of the progression of the kalas and their culmination in the 16th. The Yantra describes the unfolding of the Goddess 15, represented by the five triangles symbolic of the five makaras. The 16th kala is represented by the seed, or bindu at the heart of the central triangle (yoni). At this place the bîja mantra of the Goddess is usually situated. This syllable varies from cult to cult according to which aspect of the Goddess is being worshipped: kali for release from all forms of bondage and for final liberation from the cycles of births and deaths; Saraswati for poetic skill and the power to charm by mellifluous speech; Lakshmi for wealth, and so on. The syllable determines the nature and order of the chain of letters that form the girdle of the Goddess; each cult has its secret attributions to the Paths and Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. In the Tantric systems the Sephiroth are equivalent to the chakras seen in clairvoyant vision, or during trance, as whorls of multi-coloured lights revolving at varying speeds along the spinal column, the lesser lights glowing and pulsating like stars throughout the ganglionic network of nerves which constitutes the subtle anatomy of man. These rapidly revolving wheels of light emit a vibrant humming that is translated in terms of the various letters of the alphabet attributed to each chakra according to the pitch of its sound. In this way the Goddess manifests not only in the form of sound and vibration, i.e. as mantra, but also in the form of vectors of energy – the yantras denoting Her presence at the several power-zones in the subtle body.

If it is realized that both priestess and priest blend these vibrations in a single power-sound, it may be appreciated how subtle and how complex is the science of shabda (sound) when studied in relation to group workings in a fully functioning Kaula Circle of 8, 16, 28, and sometimes as many as 43 participants. Sir John Woodroffe has treated the basic principles of shabda in his translation of the Varnamala or Garland of Letters: ‘Sound creates electricity and magnetism and electro-magnetic fields. Thus the yantra of the Goddess is formed of the network of vectors connecting Her power-zones. Her mantra is the blent and ultimate vibration generated by the action of the kalas coursing through this remification of nadis (nerves). Her tantra is the bringing down of these potencies t the mundane level of consciousness for utilization in the Kaula Cirlce. The latter is in fact, the outer lotus, the cosmic enclosure – in symbolic form – that bounds the Goddess and all Her shaktis (energies) as typified by the Yantra of Dakshinakalika with its five triangles, fifteen steps, and the hidden bindu in the central yoni, the whole girt by an eight-petalled lotus typifying not only the eight directions of space but also the primary cross of four points and its reflection in the body of the priestess.

The chakras become fully energized only when the Fire Snake arrives at their several loci during Her ascent. Descriptions of the chakras, as given in textbooks on yoga, are misleading because the power-zones come into being only when the Fire Snake is active.

The letters, colours, sounds, and shapes attributed to them vary according to the disposition of the practitioner and the degree of his spiritual competence. It is unlikely that any two maps of the subtle regions would tally though there may be a general similarity in some cases. Great stress is placed, in Kaula doctrine on that complex machine, the human brain. As with the greater body which surrounds it, as the macrocosm surrounds the microcosm, so the brain is allotted various areas that are affected by the action of the Fire Snake and which, in their turn, influence the kalas released into the bloodstream of the suvasini. The four-faced image of Brahma is taken by the Kaulas to symbolize the corpora quadrigemina, the fourth ventricle of the brain. This region is affected powerfully by the Kundalini on its upward march. The pituitary body (third ventricle), and the pineal body (fifth ventricle) are similarly sensitive. They have been described as the Master Chakras in the brain and they have their corresponding centres in the Muadhara,Manipura, Svadisthana, etc; the power-zones corresponding to the elements Earth, Water, and Fire.

When the Fire Snake emits its luminous venom, it gushes and permeates the entire body. This overflow contains ojas, the magical current that electrifies the cerebro-spinal fluid in the region of the sushumna (spinal canal). According to the Kaula Tantra Comment ‘this overflow from the Kundalini is primarily an overflow of semen or of the female fluid, as the case may be’. This is the nectar or moon-juice, the ambrosia of the gods that is consumed by the Fire Snake during the ritual. When not expelled from the body – as in sexual detumescene – the ojas transmutes and gradually rejuvenates the organism; it emanates ‘from the very feet of Kaundalini at the coccygeal gland, or Luskas gland, as some call it. It is not from the brain, as the Samayins claim, but it is influenced and controlled by the Master Chakras that use the brain as their physical means of transmission.

The Supreme Kala (Mahakala) from the ‘feet’ of the Goddess is the so-called Elixir of Life that is emitted with the urine, the menstrual fluid, and with the secret or 16th kala that is identified with the root-vibration of the woman selected for the part of the Goddess in the Kaula rite.

The Shri Yantra, the most sacred chakra of the Goddess, is a complex of lines and angles, a map of the power-zones in relation to the body of the Goddess. Wherever two lines meet, a sandhi is situated; where three lines intersect, at that place exists a marma. Sandhis are points in the human body that control the mechanism of tumescence; marmas, those of detumescence. There are 24 sandhis and 28 marmas, and to each is allotted one of the 52 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.

So sensitive are the marmas that the slightest pressure on them causes changes in the chemistry of the body and can, in certain cases cause death, or, on the contrary such an access of the Life Current that the body is re-charged with vital energy. Some of these spots are known and used in the art of Ju-Jitsu which is to the Shri Vidya what fortune-telling is to the occult sciences. The erogenous zones (sandhis), as well as those of detumescence (marmas) are carefully avoided during the invocation of the Fire Snake. Their exact location varies with each woman. For this reason, the Tantras do not classify them; to make an error in their location can be exceedingly dangerous. As each woman maps out her own periodic cycle and is familiar with its pulse, so do the practitioners of the Kaula Cult make a study of the weapon used for ritual purposes and ascertain their ‘times’ and dispositions. In order to ascertain the precise location of the sandhis and marmas, the Kaulas employ a form of ‘zone-therapy’ which enables them to make a graph of the rise and fall of each woman’s lunar pulse. The Tamilian sidhas claim that ‘it is into the sexual organs of the healthy young female that the Lady of our world has entered to conquer all the world for us that serve Her’.

The Saundarya Lahari (Wave of Beauty) describes the state of ecstatic frenzy which seizes women during the ritual. They appear like bacchantes possessed, posturing lasciviously, disrobing themselves provocatively and exhibiting all the characteristics of rut, yet the men remain ‘old’, unresponsive, coldly indifferent to all blandishments. This is symbolic of the stage undergone by the neophyte when the Fire Snake begins to rise and streak up the spinal canal. The neophyte is the ‘old’ inert jiva (individual soul, but within him dances the cosmic life-force aflame with immense creative passion. The fire of Her passion assumes alluring forms, houris of paradise, apsaras of incredible loveliness that tempt the neophyte to release the sexual fluid. It is at this stage of the rite that he must not relinquish the akunchanam and unleash the fire which would then jet outward instead of remaining within to consume the impurities that lurk in his system. It is at this stage too that he is tested in his ability to ‘desensualize the senses’ for by this means alone may he obtain the amrita or nectar of the Goddess.

At this juncture the apanga is brought into play. The usual direction of the Fire Snake is downward and outward, therefore the apanga – or direction of vision – must be reversed and directed upward and inward. This action is reflected in the body of the priestess. When the apanga within the neophyte begins to reverse the flow of the Fire, the suvasini’s eyes slant upwards as her ecstasy approaches its climax. From this moment her vaginal vibrations become of positive magical value, and normal consciousness altogether ceases in her. She becomes oracular and the words that flow from her mouth no less than fluids that flow from her vulva are charged with supreme potency. Then ‘the suvasini disrobes herself, quite naturally, as if her lover were there; but no further advances are permitted, as the worshipper is too “aged” and far too wise to respond. When these signs of tumescence and the secretions which follow it. Whether they be Bindu or Nada, or even any of the minor fluids, they are of value as having originated from the Kundalini of the inflamed suvasini.

Philip Rawson suggests the probability ‘that in ancient times the special potency of the Tantra was transmitted along a female line of power-holders; by ritual intercourse with them the initiation was diffused’. But in the Kaula Circle, Adepts have no physical contact at all with the suvasini; even the mudras (magical passes) are applied astrally, and the energies that are drawn off are of an ‘etheric’, though material, nature.

According to the secret tradition of the Kaulas, the Kala Chakra or Wheel of Time, is identical with the Shri Chakra or Yantra of the Supreme Goddess. In other words, the woman’s body – the repository of the electro-magnetic kalas – is diagrammatized in the form of a time-chart.

As there are 365 days in the year, so also are there 365 kalas or rays of effulgence emanating from the Path of the Goddess. According to tantric lore these rays emanate from the feet of the Goddess after She has reached Her abode in the head, the region of the ajnachakra and of the supreme chakra beyond:

There are 64 rays from the pituitary region (mind) ajnachakra

There are 72 rays from the fourth ventricle region (akasha)

visudhachakra

There are 54 rays from the cardiac region anahatachakra

There are 52 rays from the lumbar region manipurachakra

There are 62 rays from the sacral region svadisthanachakra

There are 56 rays from the prostate region of the spinal canal

muladharachakra.

360, Full Circle.

Of this Full Circle, 118 degrees or rays are apportioned to Fire, 106 to the Sun, and 136 to the Moon (360° in all), denoting the three stages of the ritual and the three divisions of the spinal cord. The Kaula commentator here notes ‘a curious point: only 360 rays or days are given’. The reason may well be that the five missing days refer to the ‘eclipse of the moon’, for the number 360 is applicable to any cycle, not only solar and annual but lunar and monthly also. The five missing days are therefore the ‘occult degrees’ of the Circle and, as such, are not disclosed to the profane; their secret formulae are not revealed to the uninitiated.

Rawson notes:

For certain rituals it is also important that the woman’s own vital energies should be at their peak, and that she should be menstruating. Indian tradition has it that on different days of the month a woman’s sexual sensitivity, which is related to cosmic movements by her own periods, needs to be triggered by special attention to different parts of her body. Diagrams illustrate these trigger points, and relate them to the phases of the moon.

The distribution of the 360 rays of effulgence to the days of the bright and the dark fortnights forms a science as complex as the inter-relations of the vectors of forces connecting the sandhis and marmas of the Shri Chakra. To each of the days and nights are allotted specific god-forms which the astral bodies of the suvasinis assume. These god-forms dispense a subtle nectar consonant with their nature. The intricacies of the subject can merely be hinted at here, but it is important to understand that these interiorly located deities are, in a sense, the guardians or familiar spirits of their respective female vehicles. The ancient Tibetan Bon-pas utilized these demons, and they were perpetuated by the Buddhists of the Tantric and Mahayana Schools as the Dakinis or Witch-Queens.

There would be little point in listing here these so-called nitya deities, but the more important ones may be noted. In the genuine rituals of the Left Hand Path there are the Vasinis and the Arkashanis, and, where a full Shri Chakra is worked, there is also the full complement of 43 Yoginis, one for each yoni or triangle. Each Yogini represents a letter which, as previously explained, embodies a vibration consonant with the effect which the Yogini has upon the stages of the Fire Snake’s ascent. It is from the class of priestess known as Vasinis that the Yajaka (High Priest) selects his material for each stage of the worship; and the Vasinis alone may serve him in the innermost eight-yonied area around the Suvasini Herself. The Yoginis are an altogether different kind of priestess; they are specially selected for their natural aptitude where certain physiological practices are connected; more specifically the ‘olisSahajoli, Vajroli and Amaroli, these three being the most celebrated. But the Adepts of the Kaula Circle do not practice the ‘olis’ after the manner of the Hatha Yogins. The actual formula is never disclosed. ‘This much can be stated about the Yoginis, that they are women who do shed their radiance or elixir or perfume’, which implies that in other types of practitioners these essences are not necessarily manifested.

The women chosen for the office of Suvasini – the actual embodiment of the Fire Snake – are drawn from the classes of Vasinis, Yoginis, or Arkashanis. The Vasinis are the reflective, suggestible types of a mainly lunar disposition. The Yoginis are aggressive, intensely sexual, scorpionic types. The Arkashanis are of exceptional charm and fascination: ‘Care must be taken that they do not bewitch’. The Arkashanis are said to be best for regular Working despite their tendency to cast a spell upon the worshippers, towards whom they act in a highly positive manner.

The Yoginis rarely achieve orgasm without the use of the ‘olis’; they are therefore avoided by all but the most experienced priests; those who are able to retain their energy during the period of intense sexual provocatiob.

Within the actual Circle the Arkashanis are placed in the outermost ring, the Yoginis next, and the Vasinis nearest of all to the actual pitha, or seat of the Goddess represented by the Suvasini. When initiated males are present in the Circle, they occupy the remaining yonis and dalas.