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Cruising the Lunar Shaktis

Basic Practice in Dakini Instruction

In Planetary Tantra, the three aspects of basic practice correlate to space, time, and matter or sensation:

space: the great mandala of the 18-gauge Shakti Cluster
time: the circuit of the lunar shaktis in 30-day intervals
matter: the Vajra Jewel of five Diamond Sky Dakinis with VV central

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:

The lunar calendar is based on the synodic cycle of the moon, a period of 29 days, 13 hours, rounded off to 30 days. Synodic refers to the meeting or conjunction (synod) of sun and moon. Every 30 days there is a "new moon": this event happens when the moon which orbits the earth passes directly between the sun and the earth. At that moment, the moon is invisible. After about 40 hours, it appears as a thin crescent in the western sky, the sunset crescent. This sight marks the beginning of the lunation cycle to be observed for attaining dakini instruction (transception).

By the time the sunset crescent is visible, the cycle has already been unfolding for about two days. This is the phase of the waxing moon. It reaches its midpoint at the full moon: this event happens when the moon in its orbit around the earth stands opposite the sun, with the earth exactly between them. After full moon begins the cycle of the waning moon, or gibbous moon. When it reaches the last five days of the cycle, the moon appears as a thin crescent in the eastern sky before sunrise: this is the sunrise crescent, also called the balsamic moon. The cycle ends at the next new moon when the lunar orb is again invisible: "dark of the moon".

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.

Dakini Count

To transceive dakini instruction, you follow the 30-day cycle according to a particular sequence or breakdown. This is called "keeping the count." It does not merely mean keeping track of the days, 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on, but counting the days by a sequence of intervals. In all there are six intervals in the total count. The 30-day cycle breaks into six distinct phases. Keeping count of these phases is simplicity itself because they exhibit the single self-generating sequence of numbers in nature, the Fibonacci Series:

1, 2 > 3 > 5 > 8 > 13 > 21 > 34

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:

D 1, 2, 3 - 4 CLEAR: emergence of the sunset crescent
two D 5 - 8 ATTUNE: sunset crescent waxes to half moon (first quarter)
three D 9 - 13 DEFINE: half moon to full moon
four D 14 - 21 REFLECT and SELECT: full moon begins to wane
five D 22 - 25 REFINE: waning moon (last quarter), sunrise crescent
six D 26 - 30 COMPLETE: sunrise crescent dissolves: dark of the moon
D 34 = day 4 of the succeeding cycle

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.

This is the lunar crescent of the right hand: so called because you can imitate its form by curving the thumb and index finger of the right hand. The lunar crescent of the left hand occurs at dawn, before sunrise, in the east. The sunrise crescent signals the conclusion of the lunar cycle denoting the "shift" of a particular shakti or dakini.

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.

This illustration shows the arch of the zodiac as seen looking south and up. The constellations shown are: Crab, Lion, Virgin, Scales. (Not to be confused with the astrological signs: Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra. More on this niggling problem below.) The sequence of the constellations is right (west) to left (east): Crab-Lion-Virgin, etc. Meaning that the sun, moon and planets traverse the arch in this direction. A crescent moon that first appears, say, in the Lion, will wax or increase as it traverses the Virgin and the Scales and so on; it will reach full moon in the opposite zone, the Manitou or Waterbearer, opposite to the Lion.

This sequence of lunations (new moons) shown here is for summer 2008. The black spots represent the exact locale of the new moon, which is invisible, non-observable. The curving lines proceeding to the left indicate the emergence of the sunset crescents. For example: the new moon of August 2 occurred in the Crab. This is an amorphous figure drawn with left claw extended like a pointer, right claw like a bulky rounded pincer. The new moon of August 2 stood in the right claw. As the crescent emerged, the moon shifted into the Lion. When it became observable, around August 5, it was in the body of the Lion, the constellation that represents the Mahavidya Bhairavi, one of the more ferocious of the Mahavidyas.

Bhairavi is also a title of reverence for a female adept in Kundalini Tantra, one who has attained the secrets of the Serpent Power. Bhairavi means "the terror," or "awe-inspiring" Whoever has achieved the state of Bhairavi is beyond the fear of death, and all fear whatsoever.

Many variations occur in the Tantric Zodiac where the circuit of the lunar shaktis unfolds. The presence of Bhairavi in the Lion conceals or invites a second correlation: namely, to Simhamukha, the lion-headed dakini. She also represents the female adept or accomplished tantrika. She is the Indian equivalent to the Egyptian goddess Sekmet. In 2008, from August 2 to the 29th, Simhamukha, cooperating with Bhairavi, as it were, presided over the lunar circuit. She was the main source of instruction for that period, and her influence was reflected in the events of that period among the lives of those whose attunement to the Shakti Cluster is conscious and deliberate—not to just anyone.

The following month, August 30 to September 29, commenced with a new moon (non-observable) in the hind-parts of the Lion (shown by the black dot). But as the crescent emerged, it could be observed at the head of the Virgin. As always, the constellation in the background of the sunset cresent designates the prevailing shakti: in this case, Sodashi, a Mahavidya who is also called Tripurasundari and Kameshvari, she who grants your ultimate desire.

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.

Calendar Frame

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 left-facing bracket separates cycles and designates phases within each cycle. For friday, March 27, 2009, the frame indicates that the new moon (NM) occurs in seven degrees of Aries (sign zodiac). The symbol of the new moon is a dark flaming bindu, or flaming drop. This is the symbol of the Dakini Wisdom dispensed in droplets like heart drop medicine. March 27 is D 30, the last day of the preceding cycle. Important rule of thumb:

The day of the exact lunation is always the LAST day of the concluding cycle, not the first day of the succeeding one. This is called the day of completion, and the last four days, 26-26-28-29 are devoted to the phase of completion.

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.

Chinnamasta is the Mahavidya shown holding her own severed head while blood gushes in three streams from her neck. Two attendants drink the streams, right and left, and she herself drinks from the central gush. She stands on the bodies of Shiva and Parvati in sexual union. Fuming around her is a haze of yellowish smoke from the charnal ground.


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).

CONSTELLATIONS with Shakti Cluster Correlations

RAM: Chinnamasta (Buddhist Cinnamunda) MV
BULL: Bhuvaneshvari; also Tara (the Selector) MV
TWINS: Bagalamukti MV
CRAB: Vajravarahi DSD and Dhumavati MV
LION: Bhairavi (Simhamukta, anomalous dakini) MV
VIRGIN: MV 16 Sodashi (Kameshvari, Tripurasundari) MV
SCORPION: Kamala; also, Kula Devi (Kundalini) MV
SNAKETAMER: Parnashavari DSD
ARCHER: Kurukulla DSD
MANITO: Matangi MV
FISHES: Nairatmya DSD

NOTE: These are the real-sky constellations of the Zodiac, visible to the naked eye, not the invisible astrological signs.

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.

To summarize: The complete lunation cycle of 30 days in six phases can also be represented by a symmetrical plan:

CLEAR: 4 days to commence the cycle
ATTUNE: D 5 - 8, four days, inclusive
DEFINE: D 9 - 13, five days, inclusive
REFLECT and SELECT: D 14 - 21, eight days, inclusive
REFINE: D 22 -25, fours days, inclusive
COMPLETE: D 26 - 29/30, four days, inclusive,
D 30 being terminal to the cycle

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.

Moontime is fractal, with linear time and its internested units permeated by the sacred proportion, 1::1.618 and demonstrating the unique sequence it generates: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21...

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.


From the spring equinox 2009 until the fall equinox 2009, I will present introductory material on tracking the lunar shaktis so that anyone who cares to do so can learn this method and do what it takes to attain dakini instruction.

After September 2009, I will offer a Lunar Shakti Calendar for the coming year and provide on this site a real-time commentary on the transmissions through the course of the entire year. The commentary will be interactive, inviting those of you who undertake this practice to share your impressions, insights, and questions.

All material on the lunar shaktis will be posted in the section for SKY LORE on this site. Click here to go to the portal page for this material.

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 - 2017 by John Lash.