The Future of Rapture (II)
Religious Dementia and Planetary Tantra
To foster understanding of Planetary Tantra, I have ventured the notion of "the birth of a new religious archetype." This language may sound a bit grandiose, as if I were attaching a high-sounding label to my personal and merely subjective experience, but I am not alone in signalling such an event. Far from it. In popular discourse, the same concept is called "the planetary shift." This controversial idea is widely associated with the date 2012, the endtime of the Mayan calendar. Planetary shift initially came into definition with the Harmonic Convergence of 1987. Twenty-one years later it broke into the mainstream, seriously discussed in feature articles in the New York Times. Its leading proponent to the urban under-40 generation is Daniel Pinchbeck. Coming as I do from the Gnostic viewpoint, and proposing an identification between Sophia and Gaia, I call this archetype "Gaia Awakening." It could also be called Sophia Awakening, or the Ascent of Sophia. Its distinctive features are:
I continue to be astonished by the features of this archetype, especially factor 8. In my self-proclaimed role as a terton, I can be said to have identified and defined this archetype. In this instance, the concept of provenance might apply (Wikipedia definition, edited):
So, the provenance of the Shakti Cluster comes down to me, but I did not originate this archetype. I regard it with the same curiosity and wonder as anyone else who encounters it. It definitely looks to me like something I could not have invented. A strange thing to say, perhaps, but that is my position. It would require the independent opinion of a religious scholar to determine if my view is sober and objective, or merely an affect of inflation and infatuation.
I would challenge any scholar to name another religious archetype or belief system from any time or culture that combines desideristic and liberationist aims in the way this one does, not to mention the other features which are, to my knowledge, relatively unique.
To a specialist who understands the composition of such archetypes, factor 8 is truly outstanding. It arrests the mind. To the lay person, it may seem unremarkable... I encourage patience and reflection: it is well worth the time it takes to get your mind around this notion of the unity of desideristic and liberationist aims. Perhaps this comparison will be helpful:
In Christianity, believers try to be good people by following the Ten Commandments or the ethical teachings of Jesus—pursuing what might be considered as altruistic and transpersonal aims. By a long stretch, conformity to "the Will of God" verges on a liberationist aim: the well-behaved Christian is promised the reward of eternal life in heaven, tantamount to liberation from death and suffering. At the same time, the devout Christian asks the father god to grant personal desires and wishes, bring success, assist with the ordinary endeavours of life, etc.
So, it would appear that both desideristic and liberationist aims co-exist in the Christian faith, after a fashion. But the archetype of Shakti Cluster presents a different dynamic: not co-existence, but cooperation of the two aims. In Christianity, desires in this life may be granted as a reward for good behavior, with the ultimate payoff coming later, after death. This is what many Christians believe. But there is no reward system in Planetary Tantra, now or later. The Mahavidyas do not reward devotees for pursuing liberationist aims, or anything else. And certainly not for good behavior! They do not grant desires relative to worthiness, but purely in response to intensity. Liberationist aims are likewise realized through intensification of the experience of immediate presence in the sense-world, in the magical and ecstatic dimension of nature. Both desire and liberation share the common ground of rapture, intense ecstatic immersion.
The Rapture prophesied in Christian eschatology is a planet-wide event in which those who are "saved" participate in the return of the saviour, Jesus Christ. Although the current scenario of the Rapture ("Scottish version") is quite recent, the New Testament contains some language suggesting the event: The Risen Christ is said to appear again apo ton ouranon, "in the clouds, open sky, or heavens." The religious archetype of the Returning Messiah is directly identified with an atmospheric phenomenon. The same is true for the Shakti Cluster: the religious archetype manifests in an atmospheric event. In this sense, the Shakti Cluster is structurally or formally similar to the Rapture scenario. The experiential bearing of the Shakti Cluster scenario is totally different, however.
Christians who have died are to be resurrected to participate in the "Second Coming." Along with those still living, the chosen ones are are swept upwards from the earth into heaven. They are transported out of this world at the moment of the Rapture. By contrast, interactivity with the Shakti Cluster occurs entirely in this world, feet-first on the planet. In the Christian Rapture, those who are saved love the father god who in turns saves those who are loved by him and his son, the virgin-born savior. The love of God is a massive obligation in salvationist religion. You love god under the threat of what will happen if you don't. Are we likewiser required to love the devatas of the Shakti Cluster? No, not at all in the same way. But loving the earth is a requisite of Planetary Tantra. In Not in His Image, I wrote:
Since the eighteen nodes of the Cluster are all aspects of Gaia, love for the planet, including adoration for and devotion to its non-human aspects, extends to the entire aggregation. I could paraphrase the last sentence above: the power to perceive the Shakti Cluster is given from the Cluster itself. Love is a key factor in this perception, for love is cognitive in all species, and predominantly in humankind. Love in the humam realm is a form of knowing, carnal and mystical knowledge combined. Love for the Shakti Cluster grows with first-hand knowledge of its operations, outrageous manifestations of the Divine Feminine. It increases in proportion to the wonder that arises when you actually interact with this archetype. I would advise that respect also plays a huge part both in attraction and reception to Gaian interactivity. Respecting this archetype enables one to approach it in an open, honest, and fulfilling way. I do not mean blind respect, or unquestioning allegiance to beliefs that might be attached to it, and certainly not blind respect for some assumed authority of mine. I mean the respect one gives to a mountain you are about to climb, or to an ocean you are going to sail across...
A recent email exchange raised the question of whether Planetary Tantra might not be just another religious obsession, as bad as anything that came before, such as the salvationist religions of Judaism and Christianity, which I have rigorously refuted on this site and in my book, Not in His Image. My interlocuter, a proponent of deep ecology with a Christian background he rejects, expressed these objections:
Well, first off, one huge difference is, the Kali Yuga scenario does not entail a four-point program of redemption (the "Palestinian redeemer complex") involving 1 the male creator god, 2 the chosen people, 3 the heaven-sent superhuman messiah with a master plan and moral agenda, and 4 the apocalypse or last judgement. These are the components of the religious archetype of the Messiah that has dominated the Piscean Age since its inception around 120 BCE. With the Shakti Cluster, there is no messiah with a message of cosmic love and the supernatural power to save the chosen few. The Mahavidyas around Kali do not save anyone: they provide magical power and fulfillment of desire for those who interact with them. They boost human intention and extrapolate desire into the field of empirical magic. With the Shakti Cluster, there is no promise of deliverance from anything but the restraints of the human condition—and this ins not a promise but a challenge. There is no transport into a heaven realm, no afterlife of immortality in the flesh.
Last but not least, the mythical scenario of the Shakti Cluster presents no apocalyptic war between the forces of evil and good, although the motif of "magical warfare" cannot be disregarded where the Mahyvidyas are concerned. They are all aspects of Kali who is a warrior goddess by standard definition. This war is against illusion, not evil, however. A classic Gnostic twist, you may note. The Gnostic view that the spiritual challenge for humanity is to overcome error, not evil, applies keenly to the Cluster. The teaching inherent to the Mahavidyas is: you cannot err in life if you hold to your highest desire. The teaching inherent to the Diamond Sky Dakinis is: it is an error to think that you have an ordinary mind.
The objections continue:
If Planetary Tantra is truly an option to the religious dementia of our time, it cannot be just another version of that dementia, as described here. But what would prevent this from being the case?
Consider this distinction: Kalikas are not a special group of people chosen by the female divinities of the Shakti Cluster and saved from the fate of the rest of humankind. They are individuals who surpass the limits of the human condition by entering playfully into a supernatural connection. But the supernatural connection is coupled with, and complementary to, deep personal love. Planetary Tantra does not offer a message of cosmic love, it invites an experiment in the merge of love and the supernatural. There is always a triangulation at play: a couple of dyad and a third point, the Cluster.
Planetary Tantra is a way to interact with Gaia-Sophia. In that sense, yes, it is an expansion or extrapolation of the Gnostic Mysteries. The correlation Sophia :: Vidya, affords a shift from the limited genre of Gnosticism (a dead movement with an extremely limited vocavulary and no surviving evidence of prescribed practices) to the rich fields of Vajrayana, Hindu goddess religion, Mayavadin dualist cosmology, Kashmiri Shaivism, etc. As far as I know, the Gnostics of the Sophianic Mysteries did not have the opportunity for magical interactivity with the Goddess of that kind that is now available. Their relationship to Sophia was educational, learning and teaching from direct encounters with the Organic Light. Sophia was dreaming but not in a lucid way. Since about 1775 her dream becomes lucid. This momentous event signals an entirely new scenario for mystical experimentation with Sophia.
Gnostic interaction was anonymous and impersonal, consistent with the transpersonal nature of initiation. But engagement with the Shakti Cluster is intimate and personal.
Does the wrathful goddess Kali represent "a dimension of destructive violence that was unknown to devotees of the Sophia mythos?" Well, those devotees were hounded into exile and murdered wholesale, their sacred sanctuaries were razed and plundered, their books burnt, their knowledge denied—in short, I'd say they had quite a strong taste of destructive violence. It was directed toward them by the fanatics of the salvationist program. But the wrath of Kali is nothing of this sort. It is primarily a shock-wave of moral, emotional, and psychic devastation, arising from within. It spreads through the populace of the planet like wildfire. It comes to expression in the rage of youth, in anarchistic, anti-social and anti-materialistic compulsions. Kali will not nurture human illusions, so all that is based on illusion is due to self-destruct as her archetype becomes dominant.
Finally, my interlocuter asks: How exactly does the Anthropos figure into the new story? This is an essential question that opens a range of far-reaching considerations. To be brief, and go to the core of the matter, I will suggest that interaction with Gaia-Sophia through the Shakti Cluster will generate specific mutations of the human species, even of the genome itself. Okay, I know this is an Archontic fiction: aliens messing with the genome. But Gnostic myth clearly shows that although the Archons wished to rape Eve and propagate their seed on her, they failed to do so. They succeeded only in perverting a phantom image of Eve, of woman. In my view, the Archons cannot access the human genome. But magical interactivity with the Shakti Cluster may precipitate mutations, engendering a new strain of humanity. In my experience, no one feels the direct impact of the Divine Feminine without being permanently altered by it.
The idea of "violet children," or "indigo and crystal children," seems to be a New Age fantasy that points in this direction. I don't know much about this phenomenon, or how much of it may derive from narcissistic make-believe. It would be interesting to see if it has been connected in any way with telluric phenomena, Gaia, and dakini magic. I would guess that it hasn't, so far.
Regarding this tricky matter of mutation, I need to clarify the distinction between Planetary Tantra and Kala Tantra. Since both of these systems came to me in one and the same impact, last summer, I did not initially distinguish them in a clear and consistent way. The moment to do so is overdue, so here goes:
Planetary Tantra is a limited case of Kala Tantra, which, in the broad sense, is the practice of liberation through desire suited to the last centuries of Kali Yuga, right now. This is the path announced and prefigured in the Mahanirvana Tantra, "The Tantra of the Great Liberation":
Kaula-dharmat paro dharmo nasti jnane tu mamake: "By rigorous adherence to this Kalika practice, one achieves ultimate knowing (jnana) in the Supreme State." Not of the Supreme State, in it. "This is the most excellant path kept hidden by reason of the blind mentality of materialist people, but when the Kali Age advances, this pathway will be opoenly revealed" (IV, 44). In other words, what hid this fast track to wisdom-filled bliss in its supreme self-evidentiality was the obtusity of human habits of mind, especially the stupid habit of materialistic people who assume, not only that material things are all that matter in life, but worse: that the material is totally distinct from the spiritual. The folly of materialism is to assume a false opposition between concrete and sublime, ordinary and divine. Kala Tantra demolishes this opposition. For the Kalika, there is no difference between material and immaterial reality.
Planetary Tantra is open to everyone, suited for "the general public." It does not involve arcane rites or sexual practices of any kind. It consists of making the connection to Gaia-Sophia by calling her secret dakini name and declaring the Gaian Tantra Vow. That's all. Deepening participation in Planetary Tantra comes through study and practice with the Shakti Cluster—learning the lunar shakti cycles in order to transceive dakini instruction, delving into the five-fold magic of the Vajra Jewel, and so forth. Anyone can do all this and still continue to maintain an ordinary life.
By analogy to "extreme sports" like snowboarding on Mount Everest, Kala Tantra is extreme spirituality. It involves psychonautic exploration in states of heightened perception induced by psychoactive plants. It is free-form shamanism, involving divination and the casting of spells (intentional magic). It also includes chanting, psychoacoustic rites, trance and dance (sarod thread dancing). Kala Tantra is cultic, ritualistic, extremely idiosyncratic, and anti-social. It is a practice of the kulas, the tribes of Kali. It suits the marginal and rejected elements of society, the anarchists, anti-globalists and other alienated youth who care nothing about improving the social system. It does not fit into ordinary society in any way at all. The bridge from Kala Tantra to ordinary life would perhaps be through music: for instance, introducing Shri Yantra, the Mahavidya mantras, and sarod thread dancing into the urban trance-dance scene.
Planetary Tantra can be practiced within the context of ordinary life, but Kala Tantra is non-ordinary, non-conventional, and anti-conventional. In its most extreme form, Kala Tantra will, I imagine, lead to an entirely new vision of the Anthropos—if not a new version. As Sophia awakens in her lucid dream, her attention goes primarily to the human species because we are the original project of her Dreaming. Invoking VV and taking the Gaian Tantra Vow are ways to bond our attention to hers in the lucid state. The inspirational Gaia connection can support many kinds of life-enhancing activities. Planetary Tantra is for the enhancement of life as it is.
Kala Tantra is the extreme entry into the dynamics of Gaia's Dreaming. It is possible that rapturous immersion in nature alters human nature. Kala Tantra is the path of trance-mutation leading to high-end evolutionary magic. It is the body of techniques that carries a part of humanity through the pralaya, the transition from Kali Yuga into the next Age, the coming Kalpa of 26,000 years that begins in 2216 CE.
jll: 29 May 2009
Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2018 by John L. Lash.