The Western Revival of Goddess Worship – Academic Paper

very excited to share the first academic paper of mine that is published in complete form in a peer-reviewed journal! 🥰 it is entitled ‘The Western Revival of Goddess Worship’ and it has been published in Feminist Theology, volume 31(2).

‘[Western] Women are resisting secularism and are connecting with the transcendental on their own terms, while seeking self-understanding and self-realisation in a gynocentric cosmology. From deifying female sexuality to revering the cosmos as the womb of an all-pervading Mother Goddess, the Goddess Movement encapsulates women’s defiant quest for wholeness.’

i wrote this article two years ago (which is the approximate duration of academic publishing, haha!) during my first MA at Lancaster University, under the supervision of the fantastic Dr. Brian Black, whom i am most grateful to. this paper encapsulates my views at that time, and although my perspectives have become more refined since – both as a scholar and as a practitioner – i remain pleased with this work and i am hopeful that it contributes to the illumination of the phenomenon of religious revival in scholarship. 🙏

you can read it here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/epub/10.1177/09667350221135089

Caturāvṛtti Tarpaṇam | bhakti poem by Téa Nicolae

my Lord,

melt me on the betelnut leaf

show me that i am rough on the surface

but soft all the way through

my rugged edges,

my delusions of mass

my convictions of being,

my frights of flow

in the melding of haldi

and sanctified water,

apaḥ sips my contractions

pours of holy water,

my fissures dissolve into You

fingertips adorned in yellow hue

and moist eyes of velvet,

i throw my head back and gasp

𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈 𝓂𝓊𝓈𝓉 𝒷𝑒 𝓁𝑜𝓋𝑒

🌼 photos: the ecstatic Caturāvṛtti Tarpaṇam, completed in forty-one days with my saṅgha of Śabda Yoginīs. my beloved Guru Kavitha Amma writes:

“Tarpaṇam is ritual libation in which the gross flows into the subtle, the lower into the higher, the rigid into the flexible, the known into knowing and the knowing into the knower.

Gaṇapati rules over the gaṇas in the Mūlādhāra cakra. It is here at the Mūlādhāra that solidity becomes our way of life. As soon as I think or say, “this is how I am,” my being has solidified exactly into that way of being. All other possibilities are eliminated. What was previously flowing (from the Sva-adhiṣṭhāna) has now become fixed, definitive, and stubborn.

When we invoke Mahāgaṇapati, he dissolves these self-imposed chains, allowing them to flow out of restrictions toward expansiveness. Unless this solidity melts, there is no growth or expansion.

In November 2022, Śabda Yoginīs across the world took the saṅkalpa of completing the Caturāvṛtti Tarpaṇam for forty-one days. Every day, we prepared a turmeric pyramid representing Mahāgaṇapati that dissolved with 444 offerings of mantra-infused water. The collective experience of this ritual resulted in exponential expansion, groundedness and miraculous transformation and transmutation of the gross to the subtle…

Deep gratitude to our Guru Maṇḍala for guiding us, leading us, and dissolving us.” 💛

🌼 please do read the rest of Amma’s exquisite writing on Śabda Institute, where you can also find many gorgeous photos from the collective Tarpaṇam experience. 🙏

Morocco: immersion into beauty and devotion

“The Universe belongs to God.” is written on the walls of the Hassan II Mosque. 🤍 Morocco weaves beauty and devotion magnificently within itself, and it has left a profound mark on me. seeing those splendid lands filled me with joy and almost recognition, as if i had been there before, perhaps in another life. what was most significant for me was witnessing the calls to prayer. it moved me to tears – to see people drop their everything to join prayer, with fervour and innocence. from truck drivers parking their car on the side of the road and kneeling before their devotion on the land, to workers kneeling on the pavement on busy streets with folded hands… truly a most touching sight for sore eyes.

what is more, the scents, the architecture, the nature, the monuments – “deeply fulfilling to the senses”, as my beloved teacher wrote, who, as grace happens, had just experienced Morocco before i did. 🤍

photos from Casablanca, Rabat, Essaouira, Marrakesh, Fes, including captures of… tree-climbing goats!! 💛 a romanian custom is to caress a lamb on the first days of the new year for good luck & auspiciousness – hopefully holding a goatling baby is a close-enough attempt!

and, finally, photos from New Year’s Eve, spent in the electric Marrakesh! 🖤

“I drop the dying year behind me like a shawl and let it fall. The urgent fireworks fling themselves against the night.
I lean back, lip-read the heavens talking on in light, syllabic stars. I see, at last, they pray at us. Time falls and falls through endless space, to when we are.”

🎆 Carol Ann Duffy 🎆

2022 Śabda Institute Review

💖 2022 #sabdainstitute review! 💖

💖 December 2021 marked the first Śabda Institute retreat in Europe. i met my teacher and sisters for the first time in Barcelona, and my heart burst open. like magic, travel restrictions eased, and what followed was an incredibly rich year of travelling adventures and cellular transformation shared together, including retreats in Detroit, Edinburgh & Seattle, workshops in London, Seattle, Chicago & New York, as well as a yātrā in the Himalayas. we concluded 2022 by returning to the gorgeous villa in Barcelona that welcomed us one year ago. 🙏 exploring & experiencing the world with Amma & my sisters is the greatest blessing, and i can’t even begin to imagine the wonders the next year will bring. 🥰💖🙏

•• #repost @sabda_institute ••

Happy New Year from Śabda Institute! May we never stray from Devī’s auspicious feet. 🙏

In 2022:

• ŚI’s beloved teacher and founder Kavitha Chinnaiyan published her highly awaited fourth book, “Fractals of Reality: Living the Śrīcakra”.

• Śabda Yoginīs ventured on a yātrā in the Himalayas and trekked to Gomukh, the source of Gaṅgā Devī.

• We welcomed three groups of women in Śabdācāra, ŚI’s women’s immersion, and additionally launched Śabdopāya, ŚI’s long-term study and practice program.

• We consolidated “HoW: The Practice”, a guided program into health, lifestyle and blissful living, based on the algorithms of Āyurveda.

• We offered four courses: “Decoding YOU… the Upaniṣad Way: Īśopaniṣad”, “Glorious Alchemy: Living the Lalitā Sahasranāma”, “Śakti Dancing: Kuṇḍalinī and Cakras” (which included an in-person intensive comprising of the Siri Jyoti Pūjā) and “Pañcamahābhūta: The Five Great Elements in Practice”, where spiritual concepts were explored through practical techniques immediately applicable in the moment-to-moment unfolding of life.

• We held four workshops: one in London, United Kingdom, entitled “Rasa: The Art and Science of Emotional Healing”, and three in the United States: “The Science of Mantra” (New York), “The Science of Cakras” (Burlington), and “The Science of Breath” (Seattle). “The Science of Breath” was followed by the collective experience of the Siri Jyoti Pūjā.

• We went on three retreats: two in the United States (Detroit & Seattle), and one in Barcelona, Spain, as well as embarked on a Rasa Tour in Scotland. The Barcelona retreat represented our first Renegade Method event.

• Śabda Yoginīs completed the Caturāvṛtti Tarpaṇam in 41 days.

• We launched Śabdollāsa, an interactive series of online collaborations and discussions.

• In the Śabda Saṅgha, we continued our explorations of the Bhagavadgītā and participated in monthly moon meditations.

• We released exquisite chants sung by Kavithaji such as the Khaḍgamālā Stotram, the Kuṇḍalinī Stavaḥ & the Śrī Rudram on our channels (YT, Spotify & Apple Music).

We are looking forward to continuing our journey with you in 2023!

Śrī mātre namah! Śrī gurubhyo namah! 🙏

🌺

photos: BCN Retreat.

Barcelona explorations:

in the view of the master Antoni Gaudí, creation continues incessantly through the medium of us, and yet we do not create, we discover. 🖤 photos of the astonishing sagrada família, casa batlló & la pedrera – casa milà, the first of beauty which drew me into soft tears. 🖤

haunting beauty

Roma – the haunting beauty of marble! the sculpture of Artemis (#2) is her incarnation as “Lady of the Animals”. the close rows of overlapping breasts, interpreted by some to be bulls’ testicles, signify fertility & abundance. spellbinding to see the sculptures coming to life in the city & mesmerising to face Artemis. tears upon seeing Mary’s beautiful face in the Pietà. 🤍

*sculptures of Ponte Umberto I, Artemis, Pietà, Vaticano, Ponte Sant’Angelo, Fontana di Trevi, Pantheon.

cresciuti sotto un fiore
nascosti con i segreti
creati da Dio
sparsi nell’universo
🥀

[blanco]

gratitude to have celebrated mammina in the beautiful citta eterna. thank you for your out-of-this-world support, for bearing with me through my times of casual cruelty and immaturity. i owe what i have built and what i am building to your generosity. i love you.

my youth spills on dancefloors by Téa Nicolae

*poem published in Kamena Magazine, 2022. written in 2019. from my ‘teenage angst’ collection.

pitch-black clubs,
dazed fridays.
my youth pumps through my veins.

high heels,
shiny fake ids.
my youth grounds me.

grimy dance floors,

my youth bursts inside of me

it glides through me

wildly

as my heart throbs beneath my skin
matching the music’s beat

i please my youth
bending my body obediently
with the deafening bass

midnight
the synth dismantles my mind
and my limbs are not mine anymore
they follow the sound

there is no past
or future
only my body
spinning madly
only the music
twisting in my ears
only my youth
spilling on dance floors
from the crashed bottles of wine at my feet

She dances me to her call | bhakti poem by Téa Nicolae

in the depths of my being, She dances me to her call:

“come to me. I want all of you, my child. no part of you is too dark, too gritty, too cruel for me. I claim all of you.”

Māiyā! your waves carry your call and roll it against my chest. i seek you with my breath, eyes, hands, and knees. my lungs seek you like they seek air.

Ya Devī! soothing her tears,

Kṛṣṇa told Pāñcālī

that just as you, Śrī Gaṅgā, hold and wash all pollutions yet are ever-pristine,

so does the fallen empress remain untainted by her shame.

aches bathed in your luster,

i plead:

take all of me, Devī.

leave nothing of me behind.

establish me in knowing

that despite my wrongs, fears and corruptions, i, too,

your fragment in the microcosm,

remain unmarred.

may the holy flow of your untamed waters

sweeten the harshness i bear towards myself and the world

soften the rigid corners straining my being

loosen the knots hindering you from coursing within me.

Śrī Mātre Namaḥ. 🙏

photos: before & after bathing in the waters of Śrī Gaṅgā in the auspicious Gangotri. Śabda Yātra. 🙏 the blessing of blessings. 💙

for how many lifetimes have you been calling me to You? | bhakti poem

for how many lifetimes
have you been calling me to you, Devī?
for how many lifetimes
have i cowered?

for how many lifetimes
have i been lost, Devī?
for how many lifetimes
have you watched me stumble?

i have been through many wombs
to rest my head at your feet today.

yet here i am,
my Devī.

would it be
greedy of me
to plead with you
one more time?

will you
grace me?
will you
wash away
my good, my ugly?
my irreverences, my pride?
my agonies, my beauty?

will you
cleanse this heart
until i am nothing but flow
rushing forth to meet your shores
like the water running between your locks

🤍 what came to me upon seeing the magnificence of Gaṅgā Devī for the very first time. pictures: Gangotri. Gomukh, Her Source. they fail to encompass Her beauty.

The Call of the Himalayas

by Mahārājñī’s grace, my dream of India came true! 🥲 for five years, it has been an ardent wish of mine to see these lands. led by my beloved Guru Kavitha Amma, and together with the Śabda Yoginīs, i was blessed to answer to the call of the Himalayas by embarking on the most special, magnificent and expansive yātra. starting from Rishikesh, we traversed Uttarkashi, Gangotri, Bhojbasa, Gomukh, Barkot, Yamunotri, and returned to Rishikesh for our closing ceremony. we trailed and trekked the mountains in worship of Devī in her forms as Śrī Gaṅgā & Śrī Yamunā. it was a journey of cellular transformation: explosive insights, breath-taking beauty, moving softness, immersion in the love and flow of Gaṅgā Devī and the Guru.

most miraculously, we completed the arduous and most fulfilling trek of 36 km from Gangotri to Gomukh, the source of the Holy Gaṅgā, in two intense & magical days! 💙 i have never felt more alive than on this trail, immersed in the hum of Devī Gaṅgā and held in the lap of the mountains. every step taken was a challenge to my self-imposed limitations and ideas of myself – of who i am, of what i can do and achieve. every step taken taught me resilience and determination, as well as showed me that my strength springs from my longing. it has been most sacred to complete this trail and to come to be at the Source with my Guru & saṅgha. imbibing in Her exquisite vibrations, we worshipped Her through pūjā. we breathed, we smiled, we cried. i will remember this experience for the rest of my life with all the gratitude & awe my being can muster.

Śrī Mātre Namaḥ! Har Har Mahādeva! Hare Hare Gaṅge!!!

what is more, in Gangotri, we hiked to a cave where it is said that Draupadī and the Pāṇḍavas spent time while on exile, and had the fortune to meet the sādhu who has been living there, entrenched in tapasya. ♥️ i have felt the Mahābhārata vibrantly coming alive for me on our yātra; from being at Gaṅgā Devī’s feet, arguably the precursor of the Mbh’s unfolding, to reaching Yamunā Devī, whose shores welcomed Ambā, who burned herself on a pyre at Yamunā’s banks to gain Lord Śiva’s boon… these mystical lands are unparalleled in beauty, significance, power and history.

birthday dawn

i turn 24 today! 💖 23 has been a dream shaped by my Guru’s grace, whom i got to meet in-person for the first time as the pandemic eased. externally, Guru’s grace took me to places i thought i’d never see, such as the transcendental Himalayas or America, while it internally catapulted me to priorly unimagined heights of euphoria & expansion. when i look back to my young life, i glimpse a golden thread expertly weaving each fragment and pulling me to where i am now; a glimmer nestled within me, of me and yet not of me, calling to me, caring for me, polishing me, shaping me – preparing me, guiding me to the path. a glimmer, a spark; the love of the Guru. the love of Mahādevī. the love of Hari.

and so, today i am moved to share verses from a sweet song.

☁️ time, mystical time
gave me the blues and then purple pink skies
were there clues
i didn’t see?

isn’t it just so pretty to think
all along there was some
invisible string
tying You to me?

a string that pulled me…

something wrapped all of my past mistakes in barbed wire
chains around my demons,
wool to brave the seasons
one single thread of gold tied me to You. ☁️

today & every day i pray to flow like the waters of the magnificent Gaṅgā Devī holding me in this photo. 💖