Welcome to the Threemilk-Moon Issue of the blog. This month we have something different again – a piece by Matthew Hern, on the gods of the path of initiation.
The Dagazian Dawn: Part I: Of Odin, Shiva and No-Thing
There is no god and this is exactly our God.
– Ian Read
There are mysteries in this world and there are laws of the universe. When it comes to religion, magic and illumination it’s better to have a Zen mind = beginner’s mind, even if we already have a huge amount of knowledge. But to be initiated we need to empty ourselves of ourselves. A cup that is full is not capable of receiving new, fresh water of insight. Because the answers we find are never the final destination, but rather shores and islands, at which we rest for a while before we set out for the great ocean again, on this mysterious journey we call “life”. The answers we find can lead to great ecstasy, but then the mantle of newness wears off and we realize that “our answer” turns into another comfort zone, another mental construct, another habit. All concepts are tools, another rung on the ladder, another step on the staircase, another door, which we must exit to continue on the Path of Mystery. Thus the nature of our Quest is eternal in a mythical sense: Every single image is a reflection in the mirror, ultimately we are the mirror reflecting, but not the reflected images: all our illuminations are finger pointing, at the eternal sky, in the sudden moment of awakening, like the snap of your finger, in the moment you relax in total presence, suddenly we see: Yes, everything is the manifestation of innate wisdom light. And then another yes: Like a mirror isn’t changed by any thing that is reflected in it, so is our nature. And yes again: Like a crystal that is pure whatever light flows through it, so is our nature. It was always here, the great mudra, the perplexing pattern, the self-originating mandala, the infinite Self, the vastness of space, the great ocean upon which the endless waves crash down, the eternal Yes. All our practice is only for this, this one perfect moment out of time, like an 8 lying on its back, like a serpent’s perfect movement, like Dagaz dawning…
So let me begin with the proposition that religion exists because the Divine exists, and a human being is a homo religiosus. More than that: man is an ecstatic being, who will never fulfil his/her complete potential until s/he experiences states of Higher Consciousness. Transformation and ecstasy, illumination and inspiration, creativity and Self-exploration, meditation and world(s)-expeditions, these are at the core of human consciousness, which – according to the myths of our forefathers and foremothers – is a Gift of the God who Himself represents these qualities: Óðinn, Woden, or Wotan.
This is also true of another major deity of the wider, older Indo-European tradition: Shiva. Shiva is considered in Tantric Shaivism as the embodiment of (enlightened) ‘pure Consciousness’ (Frawley 2015). And the greatest living German poet, Rolf Schilling, said in his poetic genius and divine intuition that Odin is Shiva’s “divine brother.” In Kashmir Shaivism the Divine – represented by the deity Shiva – is present to everything. It is nothing but pure Consciousness, the fullness of absolute I-Consciousness or purnahanta (Bäumer 2005). However, with regard to Ian Read’s statement quoted above there is a mystical paradox present here: this divine I-Consciousness is now here and yet nowhere to be found. This divine state is a Void, a Nothingness, a state of in-betweenness, which cannot be fully grasped:
In Kashmir Shaivism this void is precisely found in all the in-between states – the most important and yet not easy to catch being the void between breathing in and breathing out. And in this in-between is found the pure consciousness, the thought-free state: nirvikalpa… (Bäumer 2005: p. 3)
Image: Geoff Sumner with Ian Read in Geoff’s vé, a sacred landscape structure.