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Alexandra David-Neél was a Franco-Belgian singer, explorer, author and Tibetan Mystic who became a Tantric Lama.She was the first westerner to visit the forbidden city of Lhasa in the year 1916. Long before Heinrich Harrar spent his 7 years in Tibet making nice with the Dalai Lama, Alexandra had been there, done that, and why her life has never been immortalized on film remains a mystery that only the Hollywood patriarchy can answer. She wrote over 30 books covering the subjects of Buddhism, Tibetan Tantra and Esotericism and that’s just for starters.She was also a much accomplished and sought after translator, being fluent in French, English, Sanskrit and Tibetan. Sadly, only two of her books are still in print today: “My Journey To Lhasa” and “Magic and Mystery in Tibet”. Alexandra lived to the age of 101 and to this day remains the most authoritative source for Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.
Alexandra was born in Paris, October 24, 1868 to an anarchist father who nearly escaped execution by firing squad after the failed revolt of the Paris Commune and a mother who was a deeply religious, conservative heiress. This social incompatibility led to many arguments between the parents during Alexandra’s formative years. No doubt this created a pattern in her life of wanting to runaway from conflict and instilled a desire to find balance through travel.Her earliest attempt to runaway was at the 5, she only got as far as the local park before the Gendarmes found her and promptly returned her home. This was the first of many attempts to runaway until she reached adulthood and was able to claim her inheritance; allowing her to satisfy her wanderlust. I myself being a product of a dysfunctional upbringing, related to many of her situations, which made her story to be particularly compelling on a very personal level.
Throughout her childhood and adolescence, she would find the opportunities to escape her bourgeoissurroundings in search of adventure: While vacationing with her parents Belgium, she ran away to the Netherlands, was found and returned home. Later that same year, she embarked on a bicycle trip from Paris to Spain, “forgetting” to tell her parents, naturally. But perhaps her most ambitious and successful attempt to fly the coup was at age 17, when she boarded a train from Brussels to Switzerland, hiked across the Alps where she wound up in Lake Maggiore, on the Italian side of the Alps. This last escapade was certainly a primer for her future adventures in the Himalayas. As she loved to say about herself: “I learned to run before I could walk”.
When she turned 21, she moved out on her own and set herself up in Paris, where she enrolled in the Paris Conservatory of Music while at the same time began to study esoteric traditions with the well known mystic of her times, Madame Blavatsky. She also discovered Paris’ venerable museum to Asian art and culture: Le Musée Guimet; which still exists today. It was here that she fed her hunger for exotic cultures, traditions and converted to Buddhism.Right around this time Alexandra received her inheritance and she flew the coup once again, this time to India. She traveled through India, studying Sanskrit, visiting temples until she ran out of money and returned to Paris.
Upon her return to Paris, she sadly discovered that her desire to share the experiences of her visit was met with antipathy. Since women did not do those things and studies of other cultures were done from an observers point of view. Not as Alexandra had done, as a participant. Needing to find gainful employment, she fell back on her earlier training in voice to pursue a career as an opera singer. As a singer she achieved a fairly acceptable amount of success, traveling the world and finally landing a permanent residency at the Saigon Opera. She even found the time to compose an Opera herself! She continued traveling the world and while performing a gig in Tunisia, she met the man who was to become her husband and would be the facilitator of some of her greatest adventures. Philippe Neel was a civil engineer who worked for the government of France and like Alexandra was extensively well traveled as a result of his job. Together they had an unconventional marriage by the norms of the times. It could be called an “open marriage” but open only in the sense it was Philippe’s support of her travels that facilitated some of Alexandra’s greatest adventures. But let’s not confuse Philippe for a pushover, because underneath all the generosity was an ulterior motive: Philippe also had a mistress and dispatching his wife off to yet another globe trotting mission kept her out of the way. All evidence suggests that Alexandra was ok with this and chose to look the other way.
The Ultimate Late Bloomer:
On August 9, 1911, with her husband’s blessing, Alexandrareturned to India. She told her husband she would return in a few months. She would be gone for 14 years. But during all this time Philippe was supportive both emotionally and financially. The letter between them prove this. Even though there was little physical connection between them, their correspondence reveals a strong intellectual connection and more importantly, a heart connection.
Upon arriving in India she travelled north to the Himalayan Kingdom of Sikkim where she was a guest of Maharaja. Here she met the Dalai Lama, whose only advice for her was “Learn Tibetan!” and a great Buddhist mystic named Lachen Gomshen Rinpoche (more about him later). In one of the monasteries she met a teenager named Lama Yuphur Yongden who would become her lifelong companion and whom she would eventually adopt as her son. The proximity of Sikkim to the Tibetan border sparked Alexandra’s desire to visit the forbidden city of Lhasa, which was closed to Westerners. But with no success; she did cross the border illegally a few times but was turned away.
During her mentorship with Gomshen, she lived in an anchorite cave. Essentially as a hermit, practicing yoga, Tibetan Tantra and the study of Buddhist Scriptures. So accomplished did she become in her studies that she was awarded the title of “Lamani” (female Lama) and “Kadoma” a reincarnated female spirit. As a result of this she was allowed to wear the sacred red and white vestments of a Lama as depicted in the pictures here.
On July 18, 1916, she once again attempted to illegally enter Tibet, hoping to make it to Lhasa. She did manage to visit a few important monasteries and struck up a friendship with the Panchan Lama and his mother. She was given an honorary Doctorate in Tibetan Buddhism by the Panchan Lama, who wanted her to stay on as his guest. But Alexandra refused, wanting to return to Sikkim. This was to prove to be a great error on her part. Once she returned to Sikkim, she learned that her actions had sparked the ire of the British Colonial Authorities. Remember ant this point in time, Sikkim, India and the rest of the kingdoms of the subcontinent were under British colonial rule and travel to Tibet was forbidden. So consequently poor Alexandra was kicked out of the country.
This began Alexandra’s Iliad through the countries of Asia. Since WW1 was raging throughout Europe, it was too dangerous to go back. Instead she headed east, visiting China, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia with the faithful Yongden at her side. Determined to return to Lhasa, she and Yongden devised a plan where they would attempt to enter Tibet by traveling from Mongolia, via the northern deserts through the shared border of China and Tibet. In order to make her entrance with as little fanfare as possible (it’s obvious by now that Alexandra had a flare for the obvious) she darkened her skin with soot, dressed in rags and passed herself off as Yongden’s mother. A foreshadowing of things to come. This time her journey was a success, by now it was 1924 Alexandra had now been wandering the face of the earth for almost 14 years. Even though she had achieved a personal Nirvana, Alexandra felt the need to return home. So she packed up and returned to France with her companion Yongden in tow and returned to France
Inner Iliad/Outer Odyssey:
Upon her arrival in France, Alexandra discovered that she had attained something of a celebrity status in France, due to her writings, translations of Buddhists manuscripts and reports of her adventures in popular magazines. She wound up settling down in the village of Digne-les-Bains in the region of Provence. She earned a reputation as a Buddhist scholar of record. The accounts of her adventures were published in many of the major newspapers and magazines of the day.It was here that she wrote her book “Magic and Mystery of Tibet”. She worked on expanding the property and by all accounts created the first Tibetan Tantric temple in the western hemisphere.
During this period of her life from 1925 to 1937 that she began what I like to call her “Inner Odyssey”. Alexandra had clocked in more travel miles than most of her contemporaries an amazing feat for anyone back then, in particular a woman. The origins of her wanderlust began as a way of escaping from her dysfunctional past. As she progressed on her outer journey to forbidden lands, she also began a journey of inner exploration in a quest to find balance. Through the study of ancient and sacred texts, she was able to shed her outer shell to realize to achieve a personal nirvana and become a “Lamani”.
In her book, “Magic and Mystery in Tibet” she recounts many unexplainable phenomena which may appear to be inconceivable to the average Westerner. Some of which are explained here:
Tummo: The ability to control the temperature of your body. This technique came in handy for Alexandra and her companions as they hiked through the Himalayas. Since they often traveled by foot or by horse and on a shoe string budget, learning to control your body’s temperature for personal warmth or to start a campfire would become a mainstay survival technique throughout her travels.
Tulpa: This is not to be confused with the western concept of an Egregore or a Golem. A Tulpa is the creation of a physical being through one’s own thought process. In order to survive under dangerous conditions while trekking through the Himalayas, Alexandra recalls creating Tulpas to serve as her guides and to endeavor protection. Apparently none of these emanations survived for more than a few days according to her.
Bardo Thödel: A death and rebirth ritual in which the Lamas have the ability to die, and in doing so their spirits would leave their physical body and then return at will. This was accomplished by the insertion of a thin bamboo reed or straw into the fontanelle of the skull. This straw or reed would serve as a conduit for Spirit to exit and enter the body, once the magical words had been uttered. These magical words (which I will not disclose here) were also uttered when a Lama would be midwifing a transition of a human from this existence to the next Bardo. In other words, serving as a guide for them at the time of death.
Flying Yogis/Levitating Yogis: In her book “Magic and Mystery in Tibet”, she describes seeing yogis with the ability to levitate or even fly through the air to get from point A to point B. There has been much speculation about this phenomena in particular especially since many Indian Fakirs have been discredited when it was discovered that they were creating the illusion of levitation by relying on a specially rigged chair disguised with cloaks. But what Alexandra describes in her book is nothing of the sort; She witnessed grown men flying across open fields with out any visible means of support.
To the average westerner, these anecdotes may border on the delusional or ridiculous. And yes they sometimes they are a bit difficult to believe. But keep in mind of the environment and culture that produced these assertions: They were produced in the rarified air of Himalayan Kingdoms that are free of are western distractions such as internet, cell phones, televisions, traffic, unhealthy foods. These “modern conveniences” that are more of an addiction than a convenience. There the mind is free of distractions and free to manifest at will. To paraphrase Alexandra: Our thoughts manifest our reality, and the mind that is free of distractions can manifest anything. So there is no doubt in my mind that she used these techniques not only to expand her knowledge of to also heal from her fractured past, make herself whole and to impart healing to others.
Her Relevance Today’s World:
So again, to the Western mind these recollections would seem improbable, but I am here too say that one needs to take themselves out our linear Occidental mindset and learn how to appreciate how these techniques can be applied to our own urban enlightenment. The Tantric Yogis may have had the capacity to fly through the airbut they would probably shrink in horror at the thought of us climbing into a big metal bird that flies through the sky. We may laugh at yogis inserting straws into their skulls in order to experience life and rebirth, but how about her modern medical traditions that keep people alive through organ transplants or defibrillation when in some cases the patient may be way past their time to transition?
Our society today is fractured, some say way beyond repair. But I refuse to subscribe to that opinion. Because if these teaching that have existed for thousands of years before our current western traditions, then they will still continue to flourish long after our ministries have been reduced to dust. Today there are advanced thinkers who would have mediation taught in schools not as any part of a religious agenda but as a way of calming a child’s hyperactive mind. As a former art instructor, I can confirm that teaching some simple breath works prior to art class can open a student’s mind so that they can experience a great creative awakening.So imagine, if we can plant a small seed of awareness, what amazing children we will create. Alexandra would have been proud. In fact there are many Tantric techniques that couples can practice in order to bring an enlightened child into this world. But this will be the topic of another blog later on.
Le Troisième Etape:
In 1937 Alexandra was now 69 years old, most people would be entering the third stage of their life, but not Alexandra; She had spent a good 12 years in Digne-les-Bagnes, making improvements on her home, expanding a portion of the structure to which she named the “Samtem Dzong” or “Fortress of Meditation”. The purpose of this structure was for the teaching of mediation making it the first Lamaist Temple in the west and it would later become part of her museum.
At this point in her life she was ready to return to her beloved Tibet and to travel through China in order to study Taoism which is the Chinese form of Tantra. This time she decided to take the Trans Siberian Express so she could enter Tibet through the Northern route. But as the fates would have it, for the second time in her life, she was caught once again in the midst of a worldwide conflict: The war between China and Japan. This event was to be a precursor to World War II and it’s ironic to think that Alexandra who many considered to be a warrior for peace,was now compelled to witness the horrible atrocities that were committed by both sides. But always wanting to make herself useful, she actually worked as a medic and a healer for both sides of the conflict.
Finally in 1938, after a year of navigating the conflicts of WW2, she was able to at last enter Tibet, where she visited monasteries, studied sacred scriptures and settled down in the village of Kangdin for what was to become five years retreat of solitary meditation. It was at the end of these five years when she learned that her husband had passed away. It was now 1946, she had been wandering through China and Tibet for 9 years. It was time to return to France in order to tend to the estate of her deceased husband. So she left Tibet via India this time, departing on a new invention called the jet plane which flew her back to Paris.
Now back in France, Alexandra settled her husband’s affairs. She stayed in at Digne-le-Bains where the accolades began to pour in as a result her accomplishments. The French government named her a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. She was awarded the Gold Medal by Geographical Society of France. There were streets and schools named after her. Alexandra David-Neel became the foremost authority on Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.
But fate was to give Alexandra one final cruel blow, in 1955 Yongden, her beloved travel companion and now adopted son, died suddenly of kidney failure. The years of hardship traveling under impossible conditions took its toll on his fragile body. Alexandra was heartbroken, but after cremating his remains, vowed that they would once again return to Tibet. She was now 87 years old. Even though her body was showing signs of wear and tear, there were many who said she looked younger due to her lifestyle of yoga and meditation. She continued writing, translating, teaching and became known as the “Wise Lady of Digne”. Buddhist scholars from all over the world made the pilgrimage to her house in Provence to sit at her feet and drink from her well of wisdom.
Finally, at the age of 100, she felt the need to return to Tibet and so went about filing the papers to obtain her travel visa. On September 8, 1969, she transitioned to the next Bardo a month shy of her 101st birthday and just as her travel visa was approved by the Chinese government. Her body was cremated and her ashes, along with those of Yongden, were taken by her followers to Varanasi India so they could be thrown into the Ganges River.
I would like to think that her ashes traveled the Shakti trajectory of the Ganges to the Himalayas, where her Spirit roams the sacred mountain passes as the Lamani, Kadoma, Flying Sky Dakini, always everywhere and nowhere.
Learn French! A final interview with Alexandra for French TV shortly before her death.
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Maria de Naglowska was a Russian occultist and author who was the founder of the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow in Paris. In this occult society she lectured and taught about the rituals of Sex Magic and how orgasmic power can be harnessed for spiritually transformative purposes. She led her group from 1932-1935 and immediately became the darling of the French Surrealist movement. “The Brotherhood” included likes of Man Ray, André Breton and many other notable artists of that time. During these years she published a newsletter called “La Flèche (The Arrow) that featured contributions from herself and other occultists. Her writings were considered so revolutionary that it earned her the name of: “La Sophiale de Montparnasse” (The Wise Woman of Montparnasse).
For someone who was so ahead of her time, Maria’s origins are decidedly bourgeois: She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1883 and after being orphaned at age 12 she was raised by her aristocratic relatives who expected her to become just another pretty face in St. Petersburg society. But Maria was having none of that; she eloped with someone outside of her social economic sphere and ran away to Geneva, Switzerland. As fate would have it, her jerk of a husband abandoned her and she was forced to go to work as a school teacher. In order to supplement her income, Maria also began working as a journalist and it was around this time that she discovered the works of an obscure American writer named Paschal Beverly Randolph, who was the founder of the American Rosicrucian Order and a practitioner of Sex Magic. As a result of his teachings, Maria began to advocate the power of Sex Magic in her writings and it caused so much controversy in stuffy Geneva that she wound up being imprisoned and eventually deported from Switzerland, as if such a thing were possible!
After her deportation, she continued working as a journalist first in Rome and then finally in Paris where her practice finally took off. She compiled and translated the writings of Randolph and had them published in book form. If it wasn’t for her proselytizing of his works, the world may have never heard of him, or Sex Magic. But again, the powers that be were out to get Maria and she found herself once again running afoul of the law. Fortunately the French were a bit more open minded than the Swiss and she was able to overturn her conviction for “outrage to public decency” in a court of law.
However she was not without controversy even within the parameters of her group. She was criticized for embellishing many of her rituals with satanism and the unsafe practice of autoerotic asphyxiation. Her explanation being that the latter helped the subject focus on their orgasm through sensory deprivation. I guess there are somethings which are too “out there” even for the French Surrealists. But I must say in her defense that there was an element of truth to her claim; Let me get one thing straight before going any further: I do not approve of the practice of autoerotic asphyxiation. It is too risky and we have lost many people as a result of this. (Can you hear me in the afterlife Messrs Bourdain & Carradine?) There is a safer way to practice sensory deprivation called the “Yoni Face Mudra” which allows the person to be in control of the sensory deprivation while preventing any unfortunate “accidents”.
Inspite of the prurient reputation surrounding her, Maria was a well travelled, cultured individual. She studied with many masters throughout the world, in Alexandria, Egypt she connected with followers of Madame Blavatsky and rumor had it that she became part of Rasputins inner circle when she was growing up in St. Petersburg. Maria was fluent in ten languages and in addition to publishing “La Flèche” she also authored over six books on the subject of Sex Magicand worked as a journalist/translator. Click here to be directed to her Simon & Schuster Official Publisher Page.
Towards the end of her life, Maria became the muse of the Swiss architect, Le Corbusier. He was a serious occultist himself and found inspiration in her teachings and how they matched his own interpretation of sacred architecture. But Maria was not meant to be attached to her mortal coil for very long and in 1936 she a premonition of her own death in a dream. She decided to return to Switzerland where she died a year later. Leaving behind this little known, but very powerful legacy.
Nowadays Valentine’s Day is associated Hearts and Flowers. Friends, whether romantic or platonic, exchange cards, candy and ask “Will you be My Valentine?”. Maybe a romantic dinner between couples. Common knowledge is that it was an invention of American greeting card companies to create a holiday in order to fill the gap between Christmas and Easter. Its name is derived from an unfortunate Christian Martyr, Valentine, also known as the Patron Saint of Lovers. (more about this guy later). But did you know that Valentine’s Day actually has much deeper, darker origins? Origins which are highly charged with eroticism, Sex Magic and blood rituals?
Lupercalia was an ancient Roman fertility festival that was celebrated around the 15th of February (or the Kalends of February according to the Roman Calendar). It’s a festival that involved animal sacrifice, blood rituals, nudity, public flogging, anonymous sex with strangers, lots of wine and other inebriates. Did I leave anything out? No? Good. What was the purpose of this public display of debauchery? Well, to ward off evil spirts and to increase the fertility of the women of course!
The festival was also to celebrate the founding of Rome and to honor its founders Romulus and Remus and the She-Wolf who suckled them in her cave. And of course it’s important that a festival honoring the founding of this auspicious empire be celebrated by warding off evil spirits and ensuring the procreation of its citizens.
The event began in the Cave of the Lupercal, the mythical cave at the foot of the Palatine Hill on the Banks of the Tiber, where the mama wolf suckled her foundling twins. There, a group of young men, Rome’s best and brightest sacrificed one or more male goats, smearing their blood all over their naked bodies. The blood would then be wiped off with milk symbolizing not only male sexuality but the nurturing female energies as well. I find this to be an interesting correspondence between the red/white, Shiva/Shakti energies of Tantra.
The Lupercal, as these young men where called, came from Rome’s finest families and some notable Lupercal where Marc Antony and Octavian Ceaser. If anyone reading this saw the HBO Series “Rome”, this festival was rather graphically depicted in the first season. All this blood ritual was followed by a feast involving lots of eating and drinking but it’s what comes next that is really interesting.
The drunken revelers then skinned the sacrificed goats and cut the leather into long bloody strips that where fashioned into whips. Yep, then they proceeded to march through the streets of the Eternal City flogging female revelers who would purposely get in their way so that they could receive a taste of the whip. And did I mention that all parties where naked? I believe this would probably get a lot of likes on PornHub! The belief here was that if their naked bodies where flogged by the whips of the Lupercal, it would increase fertility while at the same time ward off evil spirits. Makes total sense to me.
But wait, there’s more!
The festival doesn’t end there, because after that the names of the celebrants would be pulled from a jar and paired with someone of the opposite sex. They would then have to engage in public sex in the Forum for the rest of the festival. Reminds me a bit of the “Swingers Key Parties” of the 70’s.
So how does this all tie in with the martyred St Valentine? Well, it appears that during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, christian marriage ceremonies were illegal and there was one individual named Valentine who defied the emperor’s order by secretly marrying christian lovers. The Emperor caught wind of this and before you could say “Isis Caliphate” had the poor guy beheaded. So once christianity spread through the Roman Empire, the festival of Lupercalia was appropriated by the new religion and it became “St. Valentine’s Day”. Now, I must say that by the time this conversion took place, the original festival of Lupercalia was only a shadow of its former self; gone was the nudity and public flogging and instead the acts were performed “symbolically”. Ie fully clothed, just a tapping with a hand and you could forget about pulling the names out of a jar. However you can still see some vestiges of these practices in modern day Mardi Gras events and in Holy Week in Spain.
So the next time you buy a Valentine’s Day Card or decorate your home with the colors of red and white. Remember the ancient origins of this Holiday and its earthy, pagan origins.
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Or so go the lyrics from “Station to Station”. David Bowie was more that a musician, he was an artist and a mystic whose talents transcended those of mere mortals into an esoteric sphere most of us lacked the capacity to comprehend. But he somehow made it palatable for the masses, bringing those arcane realities down to a level that made it enjoyable for us lesser mortals to swallow.
The “David Bowie Is” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum did not disappoint in terms of showing us not only Bowie the Artist, but Bowie the Magus; The Man who not only Sold the World, but travelled between several of them.
“Here are we, one magical movement from Kether to Malkuth
There are you, you drive like a demon from Station to Station”
So what are ‘Kether and Malkuth’ and what is the Tantric equivalency?
Kether and Malkuth are Are Sephoroth (spheres) on the Tree of Life in the tradition of the Kabbalah and they represent emanations/attributes similar to the Chakra Tree of Life in Tantra. According to Aleister Crowley in his book ‘777’, which contains multiple Tables of Correspondents referencing equivalencies form traditions to traditions, Kether would correspond to Sahasrara (The Crown) while Malkuth corresponds to Muladhara (The Root). So in essence, Bowie’s song lyrics represent the quest to achieve that Alchemical Wholeness that many of us strive to achieve yet seldom maintain. The “Stations” refer these spheres through which he alchemicaly transmutes. So you see, in the end it all comes together and David is the glue.
David’s early life was fraught with fractionalization and conflict. These traumas were best expressed in his painting and I was particularly struck by one particular painting that looks like a collage with many occult symbols that translated into his future opera. There was one detail showing a man in a pierrot costume comforting a little boy who is obviously disturbed. I immediately saw the early of his Pierrot/Major Tom persona from the ‘Ashes to Ashes’ video.
Then there’s the little boy: Is that David or could it be someone else? Terry Jones was David’s half brother, who suffered from severe schizophrenia resulting from early childhood emotional abuse. He was a tragic figure who was in and out of mental institutions most of his life. David tried his best to be ‘his brother’s keeper’ but it was to no avail: Terry died by suicide in 1986. The fear of mental illness and a sort of survivors guilt was something that haunted David throughout his life and was the subject of many of his songs.
David was an accomplished painter and he used this medium to help him overcome his drug addiction during his “Berlin Era”. As has been documented elsewhere, towards the end of the 70’s he felt washed up and had run out of ideas. He was addicted to cocaine and his marriage to Angela was on the rocks. Bowie’s idea of rehab was to move to Berlin and to bring along his friend Iggy Pop. Seems like an extremely counter indicative approach to getting the monkey off your back but it worked for Bowie; He cleaned up his act and produced some of the most innovative music of his career. He even managed to elevate Iggy Pop to a new level of respectability.
The exhibit showcased many of his paintings and two that really caught my eye were the portraits of the Japanese Nobel laureate Yukio Mishima and the portrait of his friend, Iggy Pop. The solarized colors used in these paintings seem to bring out the demons that possessed these two very different men. Mishima was a controversial figure during his lifetime and rather than getting into details about his life, I will refer you to this link here to read more about him. Iggy’s portrait, like Mishima’s, looks like David was trying to draw out the inner demons that possessed both men in their lifetimes.
David Bowie Is showcased a lot of his iconic costumes too. Some of which are pictured here. According to designer Kansai Yamamoto, the man who collaborated with Bowie on the creation of the “Ziggy Stardust” character, costumes where David’s favorite medium for expressing his music. And it was evident in the wide range of styles and characters.
So in conclusion, the exhibit was a culmination of David’s quest for Alchemical Wholeness that I think came to a full circle towards the end of his life with his revisiting of the Major Tom character in his final album “Black Star” and his opera “Lazarus”. Come to think of it, almost all of Bowie’s albums seemed to have an operatic narrative anyone of his albums would work well as a stage adaptation.
Here is an early interpretation of his quest for wholeness in an early song from the 60’s called “Karma Man”. Click on the image below to have a listen:
The Brooklyn Museum, which hosted the David Bowie Is exhibition, is also the permanent home of a permanent installation honoring the Divine Feminine. “The Dinner Party” by Judy Chicago showcases a virtual dinner party in which the guests are influential women who were overlooked by history.The artist chose to highlight skills which traditionally been derided as “woman’s work” skills such as sewing, weaving, embroidery, pottery making, cooking. By including these media within the parameters of the installation, she brought them into the realm of “Fine Art”.
Each place setting offers a unique vulvic plate and like all vulvas, each one is unique. The fabric embellishments echo a them related to the dinner guest. This exhibit is so overwhelmingly feminine that one “art critic” crudely referred to it as “vaginas on a plate”. But to walk into the installation has a very moving effect on the observer, its as if one where to walk into the Sistine Chapel or the Taj Mahal. Please enjoy these images and the provenance behind them.
~ All Roads Lead to Bowie~
So this New York Trip was not without its Synchronicities. It seemed that everywhere I turned the roads led back to Bowie or to a particular aspect of my past.
Case in point was stumbling upon “Nikola Tesla Corner” in Manhattan. Bowie’s last film role was playing Tesla in “The Prestige”. David was one of those actors who totally disappeared into his role and this was no exception. Witnessing this coincidence also reminded me of an older Blog post “Tesla and Tantra”.“If you want to understand the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
A couple of days later, there were some further synchronicities when I visited the World Trade Center Memorial. What an event. As many of you may already know, I lost some friends, during the attacks. I blogged about in in “The Transcendental Delegate”, but going to the memorial and seeing their names inscribed in the walls of the fountains had a profound impact. Perhaps this New York visit served as a bit of a closure for me as well.
Linda Loves Bingo!
But I don’t want this post to be a complete downer. My visit ended on a high note with my reunion with a dear friend from college, who is now the Doyenne of the New York Drag Scene!
I’m speaking of course about Linda Simpson whom I have known for almost 35 years. I think that I would like to take a little bit of credit for giving her some make up tips early in his career, but her achievements are all her own. Congratulations Dear!
I have always been a great admirer of Drag Queens because of their originality of style and their openness. This fits in very well with the concept of duality in nature and the unification of opposites. I feel that DQ’s are one of the fortunate few who have managed to reconcile these polarities and what emerges is a beautiful rainbow of infinite possibilities. Reminding me of that other Tantric Deity: Ardhanarishwara. The God/Dess who is both an ultimate man and an ultimate woman.
But back to Linda, we met up for dinner shortly after I arrived in town, then she invited me to her Saturday night show “Linda Loves Bingo” at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village. Of course I could have always gone to see an overpriced Broadway Show like any other tourist. But how often can you see NYC’s #1 Drag Queen Bingo Show?
So in closing, I think that my return to my beloved New York served as a kind of Self Realization and a raising of consciousness that can only be achieved in an environment where so many diverse points of views can come together as a cohesive whole. This was something I observed when I would visit the corner deli in the Central Park West neighborhood where I was staying with friends. As I watched the Palestinian employee in the Jewish deli prepare a lox with shmeer bagel for an African American customer and her Asian American friend, I said to myself: This is the real America, not the “Make America Great Again” bullshit barfed up by the knuckle draggers in the flyover states. The real America is this diverse group of humans living together on this tiny island Manhattan. Each person is unique and different from the other but they manage to make it work and live in harmony.
This is the beauty of the Real America. Somewhere between Kether and Malkuth.
by Robert Venosa, oil on canvas, 1975, 35 x 70 cm / 14” x 26”
(link is embedded in image)
Pranic Breathing is a technique that helps to awaken and balance the Mind, Body and Spirit. I will often begin my workshops and private sessions alike with a series of breathing techniques that fall under this category such as Nadi Sodhana and Hong Sau Breath Mantra. The classic Prana Breath is the most commonly known and has also been referred to as the 6-3-6-3 Cycle.
The approach is easy to learn and reaps a multitude of benefits:
* Place the tip of your tongue at the roof of the mouth behind your teeth. This is known as the forward Kechari Mudra and it helps to quiet the mind.
* Now, inhale through your nose for 6 counts
* Then hold your breath for 3 counts.
* Now exhale through your nose for 6 counts
* Finally, hold your breath for 3 counts.
* Repeat the 6-3-6-3 cycle until your mind is completely relaxed. Usually about 12 cycles will suffice.
It’s important to inhale deeply and exhale completely as you perform these breaths. Feel the 3 lobes of your lungs filling incrementally: First the top third, then middle and finally the bottom third. Pump the air out of your lungs in a similar fashion as you exhale. Inhaling and exhaling deeply and completely.
This breathing technique can be practiced during meditation to keep the mind focused and it can also the practiced prior to performing your Kriya Asanas. Of course, it’s important that as you perform Pranic Breath, to also hold your fingers in the Prana Mudra Gesture.
The Prana Mudra Gesture helps to quiet and center our energetic channels. It can be a ‘stand alone’ exercise that can be done at any time when some grounding is needed. Whether you are getting ready to speak in public or board an airplane, the Prana Mudra Gesture can help to stave off a panic/anxiety attack.
Practicing these techniques on a regular basis will help to impart a positive shift in your life.
Questions about Workshops:
I have been getting a lot of inquiries as to when my workshop schedule will resume: At the moment I find myself involved in a lot of other projects, so for the time being workshops will be on a sponsorship basis only. If you are interested in having me lead a workshop for your group please contact me directly for more details:
Martina Hoffmann and Robert Venosa exhibit at the HR Giger Museum!
It is my distinct honor to share the news of this upcoming exhibit at the HR Giger Museum in Gruyere, Switzerland by my dear friend and mentor Martina Hoffmann and her late husband Robert Venosa. H R Giger, was best known as the creator of the ‘Alien’ monster from the film of the same name and for which he was awarded an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. The theme of the exhibit is ‘Transmutations’ and I think it is only fitting to include this with the theme of the newsletter. I hope that my friends reading this who live in Geneva and its environs will be able to attend this most auspicious event. Please click on the imageto be directed to the Giger Museum Website.
For more information about the artists please visit their websites:
As we gestate in our Mother’s womb, our gender is at first female and at around 16 to 20 weeks the embryo either stays female or evolves into another gender. So I guess that it is only natural to say that there is a female in our core. Metaphorically speaking, of course! But then, the other day as I was browsing though a dear friends FB page, I saw this GIF that he had posted with the commentary alluding to the Venus of Willendorf. Indeed! I thought. There really is a Goddess lurking within our deepest consciousness. And it’s only natural that she should resemble one of our most beloved and ancient archetypes.
The image in the above animation is actually a representation of the Corpus Callosum complex within the human brain which houses the Pineal gland, the Hypothalamus and connects to the Medulla Oblongata. Or as we refer to it within the Alchemical process of Tantra: Bindu, The Hidden Chakra. This concept can also be referenced in Western Esoterica as the ‘Abyss’. I guess that makes our Venus the ‘Babe’ of the Abyss. Would it not? But let’s save that for another blog post. Shall we?
*Image of The Venus of Willendorf courtesy of the Natural History Museum in Vienna*
I recall that during one of my visits to the Glastonbury Goddess Conference that I attended a presentation by Katinka Soetens describing how the Yoni can be found in all shapes of nature. It was a fascinating lecture featuring all sorts of beautiful images of canyons, waterfalls etc. All bearing a remarkable similarity to the female genitals. This presentation later served as an inspiration for my two books ‘Yoniverse’ and ‘Worshipping the Goddess’.
So going back to the image, it’s only natural these organic archetypes should be embedded within us. As Above so Below, from a Macro/Microcosmic point of view. So let’s honor and achieve this balance. Regardless of our orientation or point of view. The Hypothalamus embraces the Pineal gland much like the way the Yoni embraces the Lingham and the Cosmic Mother embraces us all.
Disclaimer: Any medical reference is strictly my own opinion and is not meant to be interpreted as medical advise.
For more information regarding my Practice, please visit my Website:
The Vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the autonomic nervous system in the human body and even though this is actually a pair of nerves, it is often referred to in the singular. How does this relate to Tantra? Well, in every way possible! I am referring precisely to those three channels of Transmutation, namely: Ida, Pingala and Shumumna.
Let’s start with the Vagus nerve, which begins at the Medulla Oblongata (Bindu) then the left and right Vagus descend to the throat, heart, digestive and finally to the colon (Muladhara), covering almost every smooth muscle corresponding to the Chakra energetic centers and the connecting channels of Ida, Pingala and Shushumna.
Tantra is described as the study of the movements of the polaric energies within the bodies and then bringing these energies into balance. From an esoteric standpoint these energies arise from Muladhara the root chakra with Shakti awakening and Kundalini ascending through these channels, clearing the Chakras and finally joining the Shiva energy within the Bindu Chakra to begin transmuting through the manestfestations of the bodies.
As this energy travels, it follows the trajectory path within Ida and Pingala, finally united and channeling through Shushumna. This ambulatory energy clears and balances the Chakras, allowing for the unencumbered movement of balanced energy. Imparting a sense of balance and bliss, free of emotional and psychic attachment to that which no longer serve us.
According to the teachings of Dr. Harish Johari, these three channels, also referred to as Nadi Channels, are channels that connect the Charkras that allow the flow of energy between the Chakras. Ida, Pingala and Shushumna serve functions that directly correspond with the flow and function of the Vagus nerve system. Let’s Explore:
Ida~The Left Channel, Vagus Ascending, Feminine, Shakti Ascending, trajectory path commencing in Muladhara and connecting in Bindu.
Pinball~The Right Channel, Vagus Descending, Masculine, Shiva Descending, trajectory path commencing in Bindu and connecting Muladhara.
Shushumna~The Middle Pillar of Balance, where these ambulatory forms connect and merge allowing for the balanced flow of Kunda to disperse and clear the Chakras within the Subtle Body.
Just as these Chakras and Nadis correspond to our vital organs and how the understanding and isolation of these organs via the practice of yoga and meditation allows us to clear and balance these centers. Its of the upmost importance that we understand how the function of the Vagus Nerve System corresponds to the movement of energy within the manifestations of our bodies.
Understanding our the relation between our subtle and physical bodies is crucial to understanding our Oneness as it relates to our Aetheric Body. And gaining this understanding allows us to expand Consciousness making us One with Everything.
To find out more, please visit my website: universaltantra.org