A commitment to the Divine within the Sha’can tradition takes many forms. Seekers are invited to our public rituals and are welcome to join us for teaching circles held monthly on the dates of our regular worship.
For those who feel a deeper call, the path to initiation is open when the time is right. While we welcome all serious inquiries, we recognize that the commitment and dedication necessary for initiation, and most especially for the process of ordination as clergy, is not possible or practical for everyone. No matter what your inclination at this moment, we invite you to familiarize yourself with our path and our temple, to ask questions of our community members, initiates and ministry, and after all this, to determine what is best for you.
Outlined here are the guidelines for a faith-based practice that can lead to initiation and the ministerial path if one so desires. Please note that regardless of the road, ours is a tradition of commitment, devotion and dedication. For religious governance purposes, SHARANYA runs by consensus among clergy and elders, and we seek to promote fresh ideas and open avenues of communication among all members in community.
Kali has appeared serendipitously in my life since I was a teenager through a variety of channels, including images, books, people, and altered state of consciousness experiences. I knew in my heart that there was meaning and purpose to this pull I had to her. However, I was living on the East Coast where my surroundings and relationships did not validate or help me understand her presence in my life, causing me to wonder whether she was just a figment of my imagination.
Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area and discovering SHARANYA and, subsequently, meeting other people with a similar connection with Kali was greatly affirming. Through SHARANYA I have learned volumes about a presence in my life that, prior, was a mystery. The opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with Kali within the spiritual community of SHARANYA has been empowering, healing, enlightening, and rewarding.
Initiation and Beyond
Objective: To develop personal practice within Sha’can and deepen worship of the Dark Goddess; to gain basic techniques and understandings through learning of cosmology, practice, language, and ritual in the tradition that help guide spiritual development.
Those interested in becoming practicing members of the tradition, and possibly initiates, are encouraged to sit in circle with us during our Daughters of Kali meetings. This means that in addition to attending worship ceremonies, individuals are encouraged to follow a course of regular devotion and practice, as outlined in our course, taking to heart the fundamentals of our history and the symbolism, ritual formats, liturgy, and prayer methodologies of Sha’can.
Participation in regular circle work for a year and a day is typical under the supervision and mentoring of an initiate (one serving at least within a Yogini Chakra). This can prepare one for and lead to initiation within the tradition, as agreed upon by the individual and the circle members, with final recommendation and approval granted by the presiding initiate.
Sitting in circle, here is some of what you will learn:
- The history and foundation of Sha’can
- Cosmology and cosmogony of the tradition
- Principles of Tantra and Shakta Tantra
- History and context for worship of Kali and other Hindu goddesses
- Mantras to ground material and work with deities
- Foundations of ritual work (purification, invocations, etc.)
- Components of the Kali Puja (first level)
- Foundations of individual practice (grounding and centering, spell work, divination, energy work, creating sacred space, meditation, etc.)
Examples of Tantric techniques, concepts, and practices taught:
- Pranayama (breath work)
- Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation)
- Japa (recitation)
- Mudra (hand postures)
- Chakras (energy centers)
- Tattwa shuddhi (elemental purification)
- Koshas (sheaths)
- Akshara nyasa (placement)
The ceremony culminates with the initiate being presented to at least three witnesses (one of whom must also be an initiate), before whom the Statement of Faith is affirmed. With this, initiates willingly carry responsibility for the preservation of the tradition, and for promoting the aims and objectives of SHARANYA to the utmost of their abilities.
Although this responsibility is not codified, the responsibility is real and fully based upon the needs, interests, and objectives of both the initiate and the guiding community spirit. Potential initiates have an opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills by sitting in circle (in this past this was facilitated through Daughters of Kali). Sitting in circle on the path to initiation requires a commitment to regular sadhana, worship and study. After initiation, individuals have further opportunities within the faith for developing their commitment to the Divine according to our beliefs and practices.
After initiation, individuals may request admittance to the Yogini Chakra. This circle is a manifest expression of deeper commitment to the tradition and faith. It is considered the first step towards pursuing ordination, a much longer and more involved process to which initiates must dedicate themselves over the course of, at a minimum, three years.
Application for membership requires that in addition to expressing an earnest desire to further spiritual practice with demonstrable dedication to the path, an individual must obtain the support of another initiate willing to act as mentor. This requires that the supporting mentor already be within the Matrika Chakra, or at a more advanced degree within SHARANYA’s ordination structure. All membership requests are reviewed by committee and either accepted or denied based in large part upon the following criteria:
- Applicant must be initiated in the Sha’can tradition.
- Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
- Applicant must hold at least a high-school diploma.
- Demonstrable commitment to the work of SHARANYA and the faith.
- Demonstrable aptitude in and knowledge of the tradition.
- Recognized and demonstrable leadership abilities.
- Letter of recommendation from mentor or other initiate.
Denied membership applications may be augmented or otherwise altered to meet committee requirements and resubmitted on appeal within three months. Those accepted into the Yogini Chakra make a commitment in formal ceremony marking the passage to regular and disciplined practice, deepened instruction in religious ceremonies, study, dedicated attendance at monthly meetings, participation in community worship services, and assistance at high holy day public events. This assistance encompasses the logistical details of public functions as well as the spiritual guidance aspects of ritual.
The primary work of this circle is to further familiarize initiates with all levels of ministerial duties, provide opportunities for leadership, and create a container for work on and practice of invocations, prayers, and other ritual elements. Participation within the Yogini Chakra for a year and a day (or after six months with special application to committee) entitles one to seek membership within the next circle.
Some of what you will learn (in addition to deepening work with previous material):
- Mantras appropriate to this level of practice
- Integration of ritual techniques
- Components of Kali Puja (second level)
- Yantra Level I (creation, worship as deity, protection)
- Introduction to panchatattva chakra puja
- Advanced pranayama
Examples of some Tantric techniques, concepts, and practices taught:
- Prana pratishtha
- Kara nyasa and other nyasas
- Kundalini yoga practices
- Yoga nidra
NOTE: Initiates may remain in Yogini Chakra for as long as they wish. Initiates are considered elders in community once they have participated in Yogini Chakra for two years.
Objective: Engagement of spirituality in the larger community/world. Learning and mastery of more intricate spiritual technologies for realization of S/self, facilitation of relationships, personal growth, and deepened connection with the Divine.
Entry to the Matrika Chakra is predicated upon successful completion of tenure within the Yogini Chakra and based upon application and approval by committee. In addition to a Certification of Completion by the Yogini Chakra committee, applicants are required to submit, in writing, details of their religious/spiritual work to date within the tradition, a statement called Explanation of Involvement (this details how they have served in community), and a proposal for project work as application. Once the application is received and reviewed, an interview with the candidate will be arranged as the final step before determination is given. As above, denied membership applications may be augmented or otherwise altered to meet committee requirements and resubmitted on appeal within three months.
When approved, individuals are accepted and granted status within this circle at the Ceremony of Elders. They must complete, at a minimum, one year of service and fulfillment of their project before requesting Apprenticeship. The primary work of the Matrika Chakra is to augment deepening ritual knowledge with mentoring responsibilities and ministerial assistance, including learning to lead and taking responsibility for public monthly puja ceremonies.
Individuals within this circle must also complete a community service project based on SHARANYA’s aims and objectives as approved by committee, prove proficiency in ritual work that includes the creation of a commitment or rite of passage ceremony for submission to the tradition’s Twilight Book of Ritual and Prayer, mastery of devanagari script (reading and writing only; translation is not required), and commitment to memory of the Kali Gayatri, at least 51 of Maa Kali’s sacred names, and other important mantras for use in worship (puja) services.
- Subtle body practices, including work with the patala chakras
- Increased engagement with the Sacred Male/Divine Masculine
- Mantra as appropriate to this level of practice
- Foundations of Sanskrit
- Deepening yoga nidra, shuddhi, nyasa and fundamental practices
- Advanced ritual techniques
Examples of some Tantric techniques, concepts, and practices taught:
- Bahya matrika nyasa
- Matrika nyasa
- Anga puja
- Pitha nyasa
- Yantra Level II (spell work, siddhis, talismans)
- Yajna and homa rites