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TWINS :: Bagalamukhi

The Crane-Headed One
The Paralyzer

NOTE: I am posting notes and impressions for the devata or presiding deity of the current lunar cycle of dakini instruction, so that those who wish to follow this process can get up and running in time with the cycle. I will post similar pages for the two preceding cycles in the new format which is associative, not discursive. Explanation of my approach and further orientation to the instruction process is in the works. Thanks again for your patience. JLL

Lunar cycle 2009: begins May 25 (sunset crescent in the TWINS) - ends June 22 (new moon 92 ECL, beyond the horns of the Bull, at the feet of the Twins)

Compare the notes below with the review of this lunar shakti in 2008.

The images of the Mahavidyas are relatively consistent and similar, except for fine details. The visual iconography can be complex, but it is not essential for learning dakini instruction, which is mainly clairaudient, a transmission in the mindsteam.

Bagalamukhi means "with the head (mukhi) of a crane (baka)." Uniquely, this Mahavidya is theriomorphic, recalling Egyptian dieties such as the hawk-headed Horus and the lion-headed Sekmet. But she is not represented this way in the recent body of received iconography. I find no representation of Bagalmukhi with a crane's head, but Kinsley cites one instance of art from Kantra, India. No point in baffling over this matter. There is plenty of mysterious lore to explore in the domain of this Mahavidya.


Traditional icon: She is yellow with yellow dress and ornaments, seated in a pavilion of jewels in the middle of an ocean, before an altar. She holds the tongue of her enemy in her left hand, and a raise club in the right.

Her mood is serious, maddened by intoxication. Golden hues flash from her body. On her forehead is the crescent moon.

Origin myths:

1 When a cosmic storm threatened to disrupt cosmic order, Vishnu dressed in yellow (turmeric) and bathed in a sacred pond (a lake of turmeric), invoking the Mahavidya Sodashi (Tripurasundari :: zodiacal locus VIRGIN) who caused Bagalamukhi to appear and quell the storm.

2 The demon Madan acquired vak siddhi, the power to make thing happen by pronouncing them, and killed many people. The gods call on Bagalamukhi to take hold of his tongue and defeat him.

3 Shiva was living on Mount Kailash with Parvati, who became starved for a meal. But Shiva ignored her and continued to practice yogic austerities. Finaly, Parvati took Shiva into her mouth and held him there. Smokey emanation issued from her body, the mirage-like waves of maya, the power to make worlds appear. Finally, Shiva emerged in his usual form and said, "My consort, because you have abandoned your consort in this way, and even consumed him, a woman will appear who does not ever have the status of a married woman, called Bagalamukhi, and another woman, Matangi, produced from the smoky emanations of your mouth."

Themes, cues, associations:

§ Her powers of paralysis refer specifically to speech, to be able to reduce to silence. ltimately, this means, to reduce the mind to silence: that is, to enter silent knowing, as one does in altered states. She is shown serious, maddened by intoxication: in a state of silent knowing, beyond word or thought. The ultimate "paralysis."

§ The stillness or motionlessness of total amazement. The experience of being rendered speechless and motionless in a moment of awe.

§ With Matangi, she specifically confers vak siddhi, the power of pronouncement. All opponents can be defeated by the power of superior speech. Not only to make what one says come true, but to overwhelm and override other expressions of truth.

§ Some of the 64 Yoginis have bird's heads. Matangi, paired with her in myth3, is associated with a parrot, Dhumavati with a crow... The crane hunts by remaining motionless like a statue, until it snatches the pray.

§ Pitambara-devata: the devata dressed in yellow. The color of the element bhu, earth. Turmeric.

§ Chemical agents called curcuminoids, present in turmeric, are known to have antioxidant and antiarthritic properties: paradoxically, the spice uniquely associated with the paralyzing Mahavidya act against aging and paralysis due to arthritic joints. This would seem to demonstrate "the inversion of opposites" that Frawley associated with Bagalamukhi.

§ In the Tantrasara, a passage invokes her: "O Bagalamukhi, arrest the speech of wicked andstupid people, paralyze their faces, fix their tongues and demolish their illusion-bound intellects." She also turns wealth to poverty, thus protecting her adepts from worldly people whose sense of power is based on money and materiality. She also makes hostile people friendly to her devotees, reversing antipathies.

§ "Her paralyzing power applies to motion, thought, and initiative" (Kinsley).

§ The ability to stupefy. To say things or do things that automatically stupefy others and destroy their tendencies to resistence, nay-saying, and denial.

§ She grants marana, the power to kill another justy by willing it. Of upsetting or ruining others.

§ Associated with the heightened sensory capabities of a hunter, able to predict, outwit, and control others.

§ Paralysis (stambhana) represents the control of the five pranas or vital airs that pervade the body. In Indian and Tibetan Tantra alike, directing the course of these airs produces occult powers.

§ She gives worldly powers and the highest enjoyment of this world as well as grants enlightenment -- combining the traditional Mahavidya profile with the liberationist role of the Diamond Sky Dakinis.

§Associated with the corpse: anesthesia. A secret of Kali worship is how immersion into the total rapture of this moment now, this instant, induces a state of anesthesia, immunity to normal sensations and pains. Shiva prone and inert is the cardinal image of anesthesia, not unconsciousness, but entrancement by the powers of the Goddess. the eight lunar day of the shakti cycle is auspicious for attaining this state. Bagalamukhi confers the motionless perfection of the trance. Formerly, this ritual was practiced in cremation grounds. The power of 64 dakinis was invoked.

§ An enemy or corpse being pulled by the tongue: the power to shut up opposition and defeat dishonest and demeaning expression directed toward the adept. This act implies overcoming the aggression and nastiness concealed in many expressions of speech, which dishonestly disguise their true origin and intent.

§ Her power to defeat enemies is closely associated with Dhumavati, another grim figure. As such, it was invoked during the struggle for independence in India. It was thought that Gandhi's passive (i.e., motionless) resistence paralyzed the opposition, but in fact it drew a great deal of violence upon the protestors, including Gandhi himself, who endedup being assassinated. Application of Mahavidya powers to social and global events is highly questionable. They operate almost exclusively in the realm of personal and interpersonal reality, as far as I can tell.

§ Sanskrit baka is crane, literally. Bagala is "rope, bridle." Frawley invokes "The Hypnotic power of the Goddess" for B. He cites a Hindu hymn, Uma Sahasram: "Oh Mother, the power of stopping all things in the microcosm and macrocosm, is your single great power as Bagala." Stopping things and people "in their tracks." Frawley suggests that one power that does this is BEAUTY. Hence the hypnotic power of beauty. It reduces limited intellect, inhibited sensibility, and ego-driven protestations to utter speechlessness.

§ The effect of Tantric sexuality is to generate beauty: both to increase the capacity to perceive beauty, and to actively generate it, amplify it. This is a motif of Bagalamukhi's instruction.

[Tuesday, May 26, 8:45 PM : the thin sliver of the sunset crescent stands in the lower torso of the TWINS, floating over the Sierra del Libar seen from the western slope of the Reed Valley of the Guadiaro river in Andalucia]

§ When they know you have ther wavelength, the Diamond Sky Dakinis always ask, "How much beauty can you take?" That is their come-on line, their introduction and invitation. Their challenge.

§ Reversal of opposite. "She represents the knowledge whereby each thing in time must become its opposite" (Frawley). The still point between dualities. The secret presence of the opposite.

§ Her locus in the body is indra-yoni, the soft palate, "the middle point between the senses of the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue" (Frawley). The seat of hidden and forbidden desire (JLL). Vajranatha and other Dzogchen practitioners state that the placement of the tongue on the soft palate is a key in many exercises of Tibetan Tantra. It is also a key point in Tantric oral intercourse: the woman who holds the tip of the erect organ to her soft palate engages in deep still union with her consort. This delicate juncture releases hormonal nectars in the brain.

§ "She is symbolic of the entire process of Yoga aiming at silencing the mind" (Frawley).

§ Rules over subtle forms of killing, black magic, poisons. The power of cruelty to liberate, the use of deceit against the purposes of deception. Grants the ability to sense and dispense the suffering and misery of others at a distance. Operates through cruelty, sadism, brutal measures. Cruel behaviors are of human origin, and extremely common. They are frequently enacted by people who deceitfully deny they do so, and pretend the opposite. Bagalamukhi reverses these behavioral polarities, exposing the true face of emotional negativity. She may also appropriate acts of human cruelty to suit her supernatural purposes. Rare insight into the nature and origin of human cruelty comes with dakini instruction in this cycle. I would guess.

Zodiacal motifs:

§ TWINS, called maithuna in Sanskrit and the Hindu zodiac. Maithuna = Tantric union, sacred (non-proceeative) intercourse. This is the Tantric constellation par excellance. Tantric intercourse spins the consorts on a motionless axis, inducing a kind of paralysis or en-stasis in the body. The eruption of sexual currents mounts, breaks, and then "freeze-frames" into pulsed moments of such exquisite delicacy that it is impossible to move, although some higher or more inclusive field of motion seems to prevail—as if you are floating suspended in a seething cloud that encases you firmly, preventing movement or even breathing. The impression of being immersed in porous, seething gel induces a sensation of stasis even though, paradoxically, it comes with a massive rush of motility: the "coral effect," as if your body were formed of immobile coral with the ocean seething through it. Hence, perhaps, a parallel of Bagalamukhi's "paralysis" to high-end Tantric rapture.

This direction of association adds a novel twist to the received lore, of course, but it is not inconsistent with some Indian commentaries: "Thus the Tantra declares that one experiences the play of the goddess Bagalamukhi by practicing Hathayoga and Rajayoga," the aim of which is ecstatic union with the Divine in a state of motionless and breathless immersion (S. Shankaranarayanan, The Ten Great Cosmic Powers).

§ Tantric and erotic elements loom up behind Bagalamukhi. Does she in some sense oversee the Tantric mating game? Is this forbidding, bird-headed figure a sacred guardian of consort yoga? In ancient Greece, on Crete and in the Middle East, the crane was widely associated with the harvest when mating rituals were performed. The crane dance of Crete was one of the most honored and mysterious celebrations of Pagan antiquity. It is said to consist of nine steps and be performed with a thread, recalling the thread that Ariadne gave to Theseusto guide hiim out of the labyrinth. (Curiously, sarod dancing uses a thread and sarod music is composed in nine different emotional keys, the nine "raga moods.")

§ In Cretan myth, King Minos’s daughter Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of golden thread so that he could retrace his steps out of the labyrinth. Later she left Crete with Theseus and on the Island of Delos they celebrated their Tantric union with the crane dance. Some say that its spiralling steps recalled and re-enacted the winding journey into the underworld and back. Later, Theseus without apparent reason abandoned Ariadne. No one has ever explained this part of the story... But the mythic motif of "abandonment" recalls myth 3 of Bagalamukhi's creation. (Esoterically, abandonment refers to the capacity of Tantric lovers to remain as close in absence as in presence: that is, to transcend all separation due to the limits of space and time.)

§ Somehow, Bagalamukhi may be connected with the sacred dance of Tantra, the meeting and parting of Tantric consorts, and the labyrinthine connections of Lovers through time and space, transcending all distance and separation.

§ TWINS: Divine Lovers. The dominant religious archetype of the mythogenetic moment of the 12th Century, seminal to the Romantic Movement of the 18th Century and 21st century transfiguration, the merge with Vajrayana, Planetary Tantra.


At first sight, Bagalamukhi seems to represent a purely negative force: she opposes that which disfavors and works against her devotees, she paralyzes enemies, etc. But her seeming negativity or negative use of power may disguise a really fantastic capacity: the power to overcome negativity in all its forms. Her ability to "freeze" might be the power to defeat negativity without getting contaminated by it. Frawley is on to this notion:

Bagala gives the power to overcome hostile forces, which inwardly are the negative thoughts and emotions born of the ego. She is speech used as a weapon to destroy negativity... Negativity is not so much a force that has to be distroyed as a distracted state of mind that has to be brought to rest.

Bagala is similar to Chinnamasta, as both have an electrical, lightning, or vajra force. Howerver, wheras Chinnamasta gives power to see through things, which proceeds throufh perception, Bagala gives the power to stop them, which proceeds through the Word. Both Goddesses should be worshipped by those seeking radical changes in their lives and their view of reality.

A distracted state of mind that has to be quelled -- this is as good a definition of human negativity as I can figure, right now. Distraction draws us away and seals us from what is essential to beauty and rapture and happiness. The silencing of distraction and defeat of those who express and impose it would then be Bagala's warrior art.

The first line of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is: "Yoga is the cessation of the modifications of the mind." Yoga chitta vritti nirodhas. This stilling or cessation is Bagalamukhi's paralysis, considered in one sense, at least. Yoga or uniting can only happen when there are things to be joined. The constellation of the Twins represents duality but also the union of different things, one and other. The beauty of duality is that it affords the occasion for joining, even for fusion. The uniting that arises out of duality is superior to any kind of unity -- such is the view of Mayavada Vedanta, Shakta dualism. I strongly sense that the experience of uniting and fusion will play into this cycle. Some of the instruction of Bagalamukhi probably concerns Tantric fusion, and secrets of dyadic rapture.

In ancient Crete, the crane dance (geranos) was apparently a collective or tribal celebration of sexual rites or mating. It was performed in a circle, as Homer describes:

Furthermore he wrought a green, like that which Daedalus once made in Cnossus for lovely Ariadne. Hereon there danced youths and maidens whom all would woo, with their hands on one another's wrists. ... sometimes they would dance deftly in a ring with gay skipping feet..., and sometimes they would go all in line with one another... There was a bard also to sing to them and play his lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in the midst of them when the lyrist struck up with his tune. (The Iliad, 18)

Is there a tribal aspect to this cycle, the forming of a clan or band based on Erotic ties? This would fit the profile of the kulas or Kalika tribes. Does Bagalamukhi in some way oversee the Erotic bonding of communities? By warding off hostility and silencing opposition, does she prepare the atmosphere for community to emerge in a free-flowing and spontaneous way? We'll see about that.

Traditional lore on the Mahavidyas does not include anything of this sort, so I am extrapolating. It is only the third day into the cycle, but in my experience, activation is sudden. Dakini instruction comes in a subliminal rush. And corresponding events take shape in rapid and remarkable ways....

jll 27 May 2009 Andalucia


Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2018 by John L. Lash.