Whether it’s an art project or the birth of a child, the creative process is often mysterious. We all know the magic involved in bringing something to fruition. And if we have nurtured life within our womb, we have an embodied experience from which to speak that ties us in yet another way to our mystical selves through the power of creation. Either way, we know the struggles of the journey and what it takes to hold true to our virtue and soulful purpose amidst others’ opinions and our own doubts. As the time of our creative endeavor, literal birthing, or self-awareness process grows, winds, unfolds, gets shaped by our will and is manipulated by our unconscious intentions and agendas (or those of others), we learn some of the cosmic forces that have come together for the manifestation of our own bodies and this Earth.
The philosophy of Tantra, and specifically that of creation, or srishti (as it’s called in Sanskrit), involves 51 distinct components. This article deals with a subset of these within the microcosm of our personal reality to provide additional insight as to the nature of the journey, regardless of manifestation or eventual outcome. The process by which Shakti creates the world of forms is the focus of our engagement. Shakti is Goddess, the primordial feminine/female principle that enlivens All. Moreover, She is energy, the Divine spark. The process by which She descends from the transcendental into the realms of spirit and then into matter is called pavritti. (As She expands and becomes increasingly drawn back to Source, the process is called nivritti, which is spiritual evolution.) Whether using this cosmology as a tool to bring mindfulness to your daily projects, to a pregnancy, or to your spiritual development, the hope is that you as a seeker are able to take away revelations from meditations on the movements of energy and its relationship to consciousness that this understanding informs.
Following then are the levels of increasing manifestation as descended from the One, that which is nameless and formless, residing beyond the confines of Time and Space. Each of these ten phases of the creation process is adapted from the working of essential purification based on the Tantric sadhana (spiritual discipline) known as Tattva Shuddhi. You will notice that each of these is resonant with the ten lunar cycles from conception to childbirth. Each is also based upon the nature and duration of the flows of energy through the cycle of involution; and elements within this process are given here noting durations. These are in the appropriate ratios relative to one another as related by the adepts. Thus, for example, when within the timeframe of Ether (which has a duration of two in the creation/creative process), we cycle for half the time than when in Air, which as a duration of four. These cycles can be weeks, days, hours, minutes, months or years—the timeline is up to you and your creation process.
This outline and progression can be used to help deepen your own birthing experience, no matter what it is or where you are (or were) in the process. Each section below: i) contains a description of a tattva (principle or element) as key to understanding a phase of that creation process; ii) invites you further into the mystery with a reflection question or two; and, iii) provides a brief ritual you may wish to do. It is intended to serve as a guide for all your endeavors so that they will manifest that for which you yearn and labor, and it seeks to help awaken you to exciting new potentials for creation.
(1) Prana Shakti – Source (Duration 1)
At the very beginning, we feel the stirring of our insides. A yearning comes to awareness and we desire to create or realize we are creating. Just as the Divine chose to incarnate in order to know and experience more of the Divine, we too can learn from choosing to create. Prana Shakti, the flow of vital energy within us, is our teacher and guide as we undertake the journey. Here, you will want to know the forces of breath within you, for they carry Her. Delve more deeply too into the basics of your practice so that you may (re)discover the fundamental patterns and movements of energy within. Visit the energy centers or chakras of the body, as well as the rivers or channels through which the currents flow. These are 72,000 in number and are called nadis—but you may wish to focus on establishing a relationship with the main ten or so. See what you can discover through your own turn to the inner landscape.
While a birthing will happen at some point in the future, this is not the time for agendas or expectations. All we can know is that the end will come at some point, that the solidification of our efforts will eventually manifest, and the beginning of something new born of our effort, patience, love and inspiration will happen in time. Today, we stand poised and expectant. The infinite source of our soul connects to potentials and possibilities in this world, and we are free to let our creativity flow. We may strive to bring consciousness to all we attempt. Still, this is not the time to begin willful engagement toward a specific outcome. It is rather a time for heartfelt deepening into self and world. It is from this place that the specific components of our creative process will be revealed.
Reflection: What is it in me that gives rise to this potential, this awakening, this project or this child (metaphoric or literal)? Can I remain free of expectations and agendas in order to serve and honor the end as one unto itself?
Ritual: Think of all you have done to get to this point of creating. Honor yourself and those who have helped you. Set a sankalpa (sacred intention) for the journey (this can be revised as you progress). You may wish to place a marker on your altar denoting the initiation of your process. Something that is personally meaningful and symbolic of your path is most likely to inspire you, whether in the most happy of moments or during the challenges and obstacles that you may face ahead. Make time to gaze at this object every day to reconnect and embolden your efforts.
By: Chandra Alexandre – Originally published in Llewellyn’s 2013 Magical Almanac under the title, Doing Life & Creating Life: An Introduction to the Birthing Mystery through Tantra