Basic Practice in Dakini Instruction
In Planetary Tantra, the three aspects of basic practice correlate to space, time, and matter or sensation:
With this essay, I introduce the method of attuning to dakini instruction by observation of the lunar cycles. For this practice, you go on moontime, adopting the lunar calendar alongside the solar calendar of mundane activities. The astronomical basics are quite simple. Key terms are in bold:
In the northern hemisphere, all observations of the sky are made facing south and looking up. East is on your left, west on your right. The constellations of the zodiac form a huge arch looming overhead at an angle of about 45 degrees. The angle varies depending on the time of year and the latitude of your location.
The motion of the moon occurs in two ways at once: it revolves around the earth in the direction right to left as we view it looking up. Thus it advances through the sky, against the background of the stars, right to left, west to east. But due to the rotation of the earth, the moon appears to rise in the east and set in the west. This is a conferred motion, due to the earth's turning on its axis. The actual motion of the moon is west to east through the stars in the sequence of the zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc.
Note how this sequence generates itself with each number being formed by the addition of the two previous numbers: 1 + 2 = 3, 2 + 3 = 5, 3 + 5 = 8, 5 + 8 = 13, and so on. With the Fibonacci Series, the count keeps itself. This sequence is unique and does not have to be memorized as would any other sequence, such as 2, 6, 9, 14, 22, 29. The Fibonnaci Series of numbers can be said to remember itself.
Here are the six intervals with their keywords for the practice of transception, and corresponding observable aspects of the moon:
Note how the six intervals or phases of the lunation conform to the Fibonacci sequence of 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 (in bold). The only variation is in the last eight days, D 22 - 30, which break up into two parts, D 22 - 25 and D 26 - 30, of four days each. (More on this irregularity in the closing section.) The sequence after 21 goes to 34: 13 + 21 + 34. D 34 is the runover into the next sequence: 30 days for the full lunation, plus 4, comes to D 4 of the next cycle.
By or before Day 4 the sunset crescent first becomes visible. Ideally, under good viewing conditions, the practice begins with visual sighting of this faint, elegant form on the western horizon. Sighting can happen as early as Day 2. 36 - 40 hours from the new moon, equivalent to 20 degrees of separation between moon and sun, is about the earliest one can observe the sunset crescent. Previous to day 4, it appears as a slender sliver (often compared to a fingernail paring) and descends rapidly after sunset. Each day as the moon waxes the crescent fattens and it appears higher in the sky at dusk.
Note that the constellation where the new moon falls does not necessarily determine the shakti presiding over the month-long transmission that follows. The "shift" for each shakti (Mahavidya or Diamond Sky Dakini) is determined by the constellation behind the sunset crescent, visible usually between two and four days after the exact lunation.
To follow the lunar shaktis and learn transception with the monthly transmissions, you need to set up a calendar with the count broken down into the sequence of six phases. One way to do this is shown here, using a simple calendar format:
To construct a "calendar frame" for any month, you insert the sequence of the lunar shaktis into an ordinary calendar format: in other words, frame the sequence in the calendar you are accustomed to use. Here I show the lunar cycle that begins on saturday, March 28. Days 26 - 30, corresponding to March 23 to 27, fall in the completion phase of the previous cycle. The transmisson of that cycle, under Naimratya, ended precisely with the new moon of 27 March in 7 degrees Aries (sign).
The calendar format shows the days of the month in the upper righthand corner of the box for each day. To distinguish the lunar circuit, you can place a larger number central in the box, or offset to the right, as here: the numbers in dark blue. You might indicate them as D 1, D 2, or M 1 M 2 and so on, to get used to the notion that you are counting another kind of time, moondays.
Day 1 of the next lunation is saturday, March 28. When the sunset crescent emerges, it can be seen against the background of the stars of the Ram, corresponding to the Mahavidya Chinnamasta. In days 1-4, you CLEAR the mindstream to receive the new download of instruction. In days 5 - 8, you ATTUNE to the new instruction, picking up on its themes, motifs, mood. In days 9 - 13, you DEFINE the instruction by key terms of cueing syntax.
I am using the specific example of the current lunation to describe the procedure here, but it is the same for all lunar cycles, month by month. Directly after the new moon begins the time to CLEAR. For four days (D 1 - 4 inclusive), you simply clear your field of attention and empty the mind to receive the inceptive signs of the next transmission. During this time, you look for the sunset crescent. Keep you eyes on it each evening, if possible. The dakini or Mahavidya of the month is the presiding yidam or tutelary diety for the new cycle. To learn transception, you attune yourself to this devata (iconic feminine deity) by contemplating her image and learning her traits, attributes, stories, boons, and so on. You learn her lore to prime your mind for transception on her frequencies. The procedure is the same with all shaktis throughout the year.
In days 5 through 8 (Fibonacci numbers), you ATTUNE to the frequencies of the broadcasting yidam. In days 9 through 13 (= 5 + 8, another Fibonacci number), you DEFINE what emerges in the mindstream due to this attunement. This exercise of keeping the count in a month-long ritual of attention brings you to day 14 and the full moon, which occurs on Friday April 10 in 20 Libra (astrological sign).
This happens in 2009 to be the full moon of Good Friday by the Christian calendar. Many people will be attuned to the mythology of the messianic scapegoat on that occasion, but students in dakini instruction will be receptive to a totally different input. As I write these words, Chinnamasta is due to come on shift. Hang on to your socks.
I can tell you how to find out when lunations occur through the year, but for the moment, rely on me to inform you of the timing. There is one trick in this notation, however. Although we use the star zodiac of the visible constellations to determine who is on shift each month, we use the invisible sign zodiac to designate the new moon. The reason for this technique is simple: the astrological signs of the zodiac, Aries-Taurus-Gemini, present a calibrated scale for marking with precision the location of the moon when it is not visible. 7 Aries, the position of the new moon on March 27, 2009, is a point on a 360-degree scale. The non-observable new moon ends each cycle, like a punctuation mark. The observable sunset crescent commences the next cycle.
In observation of the lunar shaktis, I will always refer to the visible constellations by their graphic or story-book names, and the astrological signs by their Greco-Latin names. The Tantric Zodiac carries correlations to Mahavidyas (MV) and Diamond Sky Dakinis (DSD).
Difficult as it is to understand, signs and constellations do not correlate or correspond except by superficial associations inherited from Greco-Latin and medieval astrology. Please try to keep astrological notions out of the real-sky constellations and the Tantric Zodiac! As you can see, the presence of the Mahavidyas and Diamond Sky Dakinis in the constellations is irregular, full of variations, with some doubling in the shakti cycles, and it does not reduce to a neat set of correlations. There are yet other variations and anomalous details that I have not included here.
So there are two phases of four days inclusive (eight days total) at the start and close of the cycle. And there are two phases of five and eight days within the cycle. The recurrence of 5 and 8 (2 X 4) shows the permeation of Fibonnaci numbers within the sequence. The entire lunar cycle is permeated by the Fibonnaci series, both in the linear sequence and the intervals of the sequence. To my knowledge, this fact has not elsewhere been indicated or developed.
When you observe the sequence of six phases," keeping the count," you perform a ritual act of attention in fractal time. This very act attunes you to the supernatural frequencies of the dakinis and shaktis, entities who may be said to inhabit the fractal reaches of spacetime. That is to say, a higher or hidden dimension internested in the sensorial world. The fractal zone of the dakinis interfaces with the sky surrounding the earth, extending into the reaches of the outer cosmos. Tibetan lore, such as the terma of Tsultrim Dorje (1291 - 1315 CE), The Seminal Heart of the Dakinis, describes visions of dakinis dancing in the sky. Such visions arise due to a breakthough of perception in which the ordinary senses detect the fractal pattern of the surrounding sky. The fractal ptterns are like plates that mov and intersect, kaleidosopically, forming images of the dakinis. This is not an hallucination but an event of heightened perception.
Dakini instruction may not involves visual perception of the transmitting devatas. As in "the Tibetan treasure tradition of channelled authorial voices (Germano and Gyatso, Tantra In Practice)," transmission is detected clairaudiently as a vein of crystal-clear syntax in the mindstream. In other words, transception of dakini instruction involves the attention required for subliminal hearing: listening to your own thought flow at an exceptionally deep level.
Following the lunar sequence through the month puts your ordinary mind in snych with the wavelength on which transception can occur. These wavelengths are uniquely lunar. They carry the reflex frequencies of the Gaian mind itself—the aspect of the planetary intelligence that is reflected in the lunar cycle. The moon along with the sun is an integral part of the Gaian cosmos, a triune system. The moon does not merely, passive reflect the light of the sun, like a shiny rock. It actively reflects and transmits the operate wavelengths of the Gaian mind. The Mayavidyas and Dakinis of the Shakti Cluster are vital and vibrant channels in the console of that mind.
In the past, the initiates of the Mysteries were able to attune to the Gaian mind as if they were listening to a radio broadcast -- for instance, listening to a performance of a Beethoven Quartet. The difference now is, when we transceive dakini instrution, we are more like ham radio operators who are interacting with the radio transmissions we receive. Transception to the Gaian mind among the Gnostics was rarely two-way. Today it is becoming so, rapidly. How wonderful is that. The further wonder is, the process of transception can be taught and learned.
jll: 27 March 2009 Andalucia
Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2018 by John L. Lash.