I love a good holiday – one that invites us to contemplate deeply, to call for our inspiration, to bring form to our desires, to bring forth the expression of our deepest longing. Last night (and today) is one of my favorite holidays. It is Maha Shivaratri – the Great Night Of Shiva.
In India, this is a night of great celebration and deep meditation. The tradition is to fast and stay up all night, to commune with the light that bursts out of the immersive darkness of this grand night, chanting Shiva mantras, and meditating on the formless form of the Lord Of Yoga.
This holiday marks the marriage of Shiva and his beloved Shakti.
She is Mahadevi – the great goddess, the great light that lives and churns and yearns and heats and energizes and gives shape to reality by burning hotly. She is Uma – our breath, our life force, the power of being as it pulses in us, as us. She is Sati – truth, reality, existence, our actual presence as embodied forms of aliveness. She is Parvati – the daughter of the mountains, the great beauty of the earth, the mother of the universe, the one who is born to love him, to dedicate her life to longing, and carving her own way, born to domesticate the beast. She is Kali – the beast herself, the darkness of life, time and death and dissolution, the ferocity of nature, the fierce fire of being alive. She is Shiva-kama-Sundari – the one who Shiva desires.
He is the rebel. He is the untamed and the untamable. He sits on the edge. He IS the outskirts of society. He is the yogi on the mountain top. The one who lives in dark caves, and meditates in cremation grounds. Naked and covered in ashes, he roams the earth with a skull as his begging bowl. He is the intensity of the universe, the one who howls and growls and barks loud and bloody into the night. He leads the groups of ghosts and demons. And they need a mother.
He doesn’t give a flying fuck. She is all the love in the world. He can’t resist her. And she knows it. He needs his time in his man cave – sometimes 3000 years. She needs her autonomy. She is her own empowerment. She wants to make a home. He wants to keep dancing in the forest. She is lasya – flirt and play and sexiness embodied. He’s not so bad either, in his tiger loincloth and his wild rasta hairstyle. It’s a hot universe.
Desire is in the core of all creation. And on this night of great darkness and sparkly lights, devotion to that which you want takes the center stage. Deep longing and the power to bring that which you long for into form, dedication, perseverance, and adaptability, are reasons to celebrate, to meditate, to contemplate.
Spend some time today, or this evening, asking yourself what you want. Check in if what you set as intentions for this year still pulses in you as your actual desire. What has changed for you since January? Are you willing to try different things in order to manifest your deepest longing?
Are you willing to adapt and allow your desires to change?
Chant some Shiva mantras. Aum Namah Shivaya is a basic and reliable mantra for this day and night. Recite it silently in meditation, or as you move through your work day. Sing it as you make breakfast or dinner.