We gather in our sanctuary, our home temple, to contemplate Her mysteries. Through Her, Dark Goddess, we see the potential for liberation knowing that Devi is able, as dictated in the scriptures and by the lineage of the ancients, to lead aspirants to the highest and most deeply experienced reality. Meeting regularly, we devote our time and energy on the path to active engagement in living. Use the resources in this section of our site to facilitate your own journey.


Books & Reference

To begin learning about Sha’can, the following three books are recommended to provide academic and practical information, offering a starting place for your reflections and engagement on the path:

  • Kali: The Feminine Force by Ajit Mookerji
  • Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineshwar by Elizabeth Usha Harding
  • Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas by David Kinsley

Additional Resources

Adams, Carol J. ed. Ecofeminism and the Sacred (Continuum: New York) 1993

Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (Beacon Press: Boston) 1986

Aiyar, Indira S. Durga as Mahisasuramardini: A Dynamic Myth of Goddess (Gyan Publishing House: New Delhi) 1997

Baring, Anne and Jules Cashford. The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image (Arkana/Penguin: London) 1991

Bhairavan, Amarananda. Kali’s Odiyya: A Shaman’s True Story of Initiation (Nicolas- Hays: York Beach, Maine) 2000

Bharati, Agehananda. The Tantric Tradition (Samuel Weiser: NY) 1975

Bhattacharyya, Narendra Nath. Ancient Indian Rituals and their Social Contents (Manohar: New Delhi) 1975

Bhattacharyya, Narendra Nath. History of the Shakta Religion (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers: New Delhi) 1996

Brown, C. Mackenzie. The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of the Devi-Bhagavata Purana (State University of NY Press: Albany) 1990

Danielou, Alain. The Myths and Gods of India (Inner Traditions: VT) 1985

Eck, Diana L. and Jain, Devaki. Speaking of Faith: Global Perspectives on Women, Religion & Social Change (New Society Publishers: Philadelphia) 1987

Eisler, Riane. The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future, (Harper & Row: San Francisco) 1988

Feuerstein, Georg. Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy (Shambhala: Boston) 1998

Gadon, Elinor W. The Once & Future Goddess: A Sweeping Visual Chronicle of the Sacred Female and Her Reemergence in the Cultural Mythology of Our Time (Harper & Row: San Francisco) 1989

Galland, China. Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna, A Ten-Year Journey (Viking/Penguin) 1991

George, Demetra. Mysteries of the Dark Moon: The Healing Power of the Dark Goddess (Harper Collins: San Francisco) 1992

Ghanananda, Swami and Sir John Stewart-Wallace, C.B., eds. Women Saints East and West (Vedanta Press: Hollywood, CA) 1955

Gimbutas, Marija. The Language of the Goddess (HarperRow: San Francisco) 1989

Hiltebeitel, Alf and Erndl, Kathleen, eds. Is the Goddess a Feminist? The Politics of South Asian Goddesses (New York University Press : NY) 2000

Hixon, Lex. Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna (Shambhala: Boston) 1992

Huyler, Stephen P. Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion (Yale University Press: New Haven) 1999

Jansen, Eva Rudy. The Book of Hindu Imagery: The Gods and their Symbols (Binkey Kok Publications: The Netherlands) 1993

Jayakar, Pupul. The Earth Mother: Legends, Rituals Arts, and Goddesses of India (Harper & Row: San Francisco) 1990

Johnsen, Linda. Daughters of the Goddess: The Women Saints of India (Yes International Publishers: St. Paul, MN) 1994

Khanna, Madhu. Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity (Thames and Hudson Ltd: London) 1979

Kinsley, David. The Sword and the Flute: Kali & Krishna, Dark Visions of the Terrible and the Sublime in Hindu Mythology (University of California: Berkeley) 1975

Neumann, Erich. The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype (Bollingen Series: Princeton) 1974

Ochs, Carol. Behind the Sex of God: Toward a New Consciousness Transcending Matriarchy and Patriarchy (Beacon Press: Boston) 1977

Pande, Mrinal. Devi: Tales of the Goddess in Our Time (Penguin Books India: New Delhi) 1996

Pattanaik, Devdutt. The Goddess in India; The Five Faces of the Eternal Feminine (Inner Traditions: VT) 2000

Payne, Ernest A. The Shaktas: An Introductory and Comparative Study (Dover: New York) 1997 (Reprint)

Pintchman, Tracy. The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition (State University of New York Press: Albany) 1994

Shelton, Mary Murray. Guidance from the Darkness: The Transforming Power of the Divine Feminine in Difficult Times (Putnam: NY) 2000

Shiva, Vandana. Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development (Zed Books: London) 1989

Sjoo, Monica and Mor, Barbara. The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth 1991

Sri Aurobindo. The Ideal of Human Unity, (Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press: Pondicherry, India) 1950

Starhawk. The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess–10th Aniversary Edition, Revised and Updated (Harper: San Francisco) 1979

Stone, Merlin. When God Was a Woman  (Harcourt Brace:  NY) 1978

White, David Gordon. The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India (University of Chicago Press: Chicago) 1996

Woodman, Marion and Elinor Dickson. Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness (Shambhala: Boston) 1996

Woodroffe, Sir John. Hymns to the Goddess (Ganesh & Co.: Madras) 1973

Zimmer, Heinrich. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization (Motilal Banarsidass: Delhi) Joseph Campbell, ed., 1990

Provided here are some of our kaula’s current reading with links to texts (we do not receive any remuneration through these links).

If you are new to Eastern traditions, or if you are walking the Sha’can path, you may find this to be a helpful resource. We have listed the most common terms that one may run across in our tradition.

acarya (aah-chaar’-yah) – teacher; an advanced jnana yogi; traditionally, the formal title used for a respected teacher, appended to the end of their name, such as the famous teacher Shankaracarya (Shankar + acarya = Shankaracarya). Sometimes equated with guru, the acarya is differentiated somewhat from a guru as having deep knowledge in the scriptures and ability to use them to support his/her teaching, as well as a pure connection with the Divine. 

agni (uhg’-nee) – fire; also the God of fire, one of the most important Gods of the Vedas; as such, Agni is considered the first purohit.

bali (buh’-lee or boh’-lee) – sacrifice. We use a melon, as is done in daksinacara Hindu practice, as the sacrifice in our puja.

dada (daa’-daa) – elder brother (Bengali)

daksinacara (dak-shee’-na-chaara) – the right-hand or dakshina path of Tantra; the dualistic path in which symbols are used in ritual as substitutes for what are otherwise used in vamacara practice to connect worshippers with the divine.

dasa mahavidya (duh’-shuh muh-haa’-vid’-yaah) – literally, the ten great female wisdoms, or the ten great wisdom goddesses; the ten fierce (primarily Tantrik) Goddesses who are considered forms of Kali. There are many lists that variously give their names. In the Sha’can tradition, we primarily worship this list: Kali, Tara, Sodashi/Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshvari, Chinnamasta, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Bagala/Bagalamukhi, Matangi, Kamala.

deva (day’-vuh) – god

devanagari (day’-vah-nah’-gah-ree) – the script used for writing both Sanskrit and Hindi. Literally, “of the city of the gods.”

devi (day’-vee) – goddess

dhyana (dyaah’-nuh) – meditation

-di (dee) – a Bengali honorific appended to a name to show respect or honor (like the Hindi -ji).

didi (dee’-dee) – elder sister in Bengali

evam astu (aay’-vum aah’-stoo) – thus it will be (synonymous with “blessed be,” “so shall it be,” so mote it be, or “amen”)

Ganesha (Guh-nay’-shuh) – literally “Lord of the Multitudes” (“gana” referring to Shiva’s multitude of attendants); the elephant-headed God of knowledge, wisdom, compassion, the remover of obstacles, the lord of the dance. He is traditionally worshiped first in all pujas, to remove obstacles to devotion. It is also said on a spiritual level that “ga” means knowledge and “na” means salvation – thus Ganesha is also the Lord of Knowledge and Salvation.

gayatri (gai’-yuh-tree… where “gai” rhymes with “pie”) – a song or hymn; a meter for Sanskrit poetry; also the name of a Goddess who is the Mother of the Vedas and a personification of the famous Gayatri Mantra (not to be confused with the Kali Gayatri).

guru (goo’-roo) – teacher or guide; literally, venerable/worthy of praise; one who helps to cross from darkness (gu) to light (ru); one gifted with the ability to impart not only knowledge, but experience of the Divine, who can open the pathway to each individual’s experience. This term is widely misunderstood, especially in the West. 

A true spiritual guru, being continually and intimately connected with the Divine, serves the Divine and encourages each individual to explore their own direct connection with the Divine. They help guide others toward their own realization of Divinity, in the spirit of service to the Divine and to humanity. False gurus (sometimes referred to as cult leaders) often claim Divine oneness, then demand unquestioning faith for the purpose of self-glory, self-promotion and the exploitation and control of their followers. 

Although we honor our lineage holders and teachers for helping us to connect more fully and deeply to our chosen paths, SHARANYA does not require or request any pledge of faith to any guru.

homa (hoh’-muh… where “hoh” rhymes with “show”) – fire ceremony, during which clarified butter and other sacred substances are offered to the fire.

Jai Maa! – literally, “Victory to the Mother!” We’ve also heard it lovingly translated as “hooray Kali!” – which is a sweet and wonderful translation that captures its essence.

japa (juh’-puh) – literally, “muttering.” It is the term for the process of devotionally repeating mantras with a mala, which when it becomes fast and quiet sounds like muttering.

-ji (jee) – a Hindi affectionate honorific; appended to the end of a name to denote affection.

jnana (nyaah’-nuh) – knowledge; wisdom. As a yogic path, the pursuit of connection with the Divine via intensive study of the Sanskrit scriptures and traditions, as well as intensive meditative and ritual devotional practice. 

Kali (kaah’-lee) – based on the word meaning either “time” or “black,” in simplest translation, Kali is “She Who is Time,” or “She Who is Black.” There are other, expanded meanings, as well. Her name should not be confused with the similar-looking word “kali,” which means “terrible,” but in devanagari is spelled differently and is also pronounced differently. In simple transliteration, the Goddess is Kaalii, and the word meaning “terrible” is kali.

kaula (kow’-luh) – family; as a Tantric term, this traditionally refers specifically to initiates in the same Tantric tradition, but we use it also to refer to those sincerely practicing Sha’can, not necessarily just initiates.

Maa – mother (affectionate colloquialism for Mata); somewhat better translated as “mama” or “mommy.” Also spelled Ma.

maha (muh-haah’) – great (as in Mahakali – the Great Kali; Mahadeva – the Great God)

mala (maah’-luh) – garland; the garland of beads similar to a rosary used for japa.

mandir (mun’-deer) – temple

mata (maah’-taah) – mother

marga (maar’-guh) – path or way, as in vamamarga.

matrika (muh’-tree-kaah) – little mother (as in the asta matrikas, “the eight little mothers”); in Sha’can, the second level of commitment toward ordination, after initiation.

namaste (nuh’-muh-stay) – literally, I bow to you. The spirit of this word, however, is the recognition of the divinity in each person.

prana (praah’-nuh) – the life-breath;  energy carried on the breath into the body.

prema (pray’-muh) – love

puja (poo’-juh) – worship (specifically, ritual worship)

pujari (poo-jaah’-ree) – a priest who facilitates worship in a traditional Hindu service.

purohit (puh’-row-heet) – literally, the one who stands before others; i.e., the lead priest in a traditional Hindu ritual.

puspa (poosh’-puh) – flower; a symbol for menstrual blood.

rashani (rah-shaa’-nee) – priestess; in Sha’can, one who is ordained. It is a Romani (Gypsy) word, and thus symbolic of our standing as a bridge between East and West. (N.B. while in some instances we have learned of interesting twists on this meaning, the original meaning of the word Rashani is priestess, and this is how we use it in community.)

ritu (rih’-too) – cycle; used in Tantra to designate the menstrual cycle in particular as well as the blood of that cycle.

sa’ham (saah’-hum) – when pronounced with a long aa, it means literally “I am She;” when pronounced with a short a (often written Òso’hamÓ), it means “I am He.” This is frequently used in the feminine form by members of our community as a greeting or farewell and to recognize their oneness with Maa, the inherent divinity in themselves, and thus in all beings.

sankalpa (sun-kaahl’-puh) – intention

Shaiva (shai’-vuh) – one who primarily worships the God Shiva

Shakta (shaahk’-tuh) – one who primarily worships the Goddess; most typically, Shaktas worship Kali or Lalita (Also known commonly as Sri or Tripura Sundari)

shakti (shuhk’-tee) – power or energy; also, the name of the Goddess as the essence of the power of the universe; the divine female force.

shanti (shaahn’-tee) – peace

sharanya (shuh’-ruhn-yuh) – sanctuary, refuge

Shiva (shih’-vuh) – auspicious; the name of the God who is the consort of Kali Maa, and as such “He Who is the Auspicious One.” He is the Great God, the Great Yogi, and the Lord of the Dance – referring to his cosmic dance of creation, preservation and destruction, which he dances with Maa Kali.

shri (shree) – an honorific denoting respect; used in front of a name. Deities are often referred to as “Shri Shri” and then their name. 

shuddhi (shood’-hee) – purification

ugra (ooh’-grah) – angry, powerful or fierce

Vaishnava (vaish-naah’-vuh) – one who primarily worships the God Vishnu and/or his incarnations, such as Krishna and Rama

vamacara (vaah’-muh-chaara) – the ‘left-hand’ path of Tantra; the non-dualistic path in which traditionally impure, unclean or polluting substances are utilized in ritual in order to break down the practitioner’s acculturated resistance to or fear of certain aspects of the divine. 

vamamarga (vaah’-muh-maar’-guh) – the left-hand path (see also vamacara)

vidya (vihd’-yuh) – wisdom, knowledge

yogini (yoh-gee’-nee) – one who seeks spiritual union with the divine; sometimes causally used to refer to a female practitioner of hatha yoga. Also, a female divine intermediary who functions and acts on behalf of the absolute in the mundane realm. Yogini Chakra is the first commitment level toward ordination in Sha’can after initiation.

Read our newsletter archives! Devyuvaaca: The Goddess Said, is full of tea and treat recipes, mantra, seasonal stories, community updates, poetry, special notices about teachings and events such as public pujas.

January 2009 - January 2010

January 2010

Included inside: Saraswati’s Birthday, Visarjan Mantra, Altar of the Month, Hiphoppin’ to Kali, The Apsara Store…and More!

December 2009

Included inside: The Divine Mother (or ‘How a nice Lutheran girl…’), Peace Mantra, Puja in a Box!, Shanti Mission (a memoir from Australia), Quote of the Month…and More!

November 2009

Included inside: Crafting Puja for Maa (a presentation at the American Academy of Religion’s national conference in Montreal), link to the Kali Puja Festival & Fundraiser’s YouTube video from the event, Stuart Sovatsky’s spiritual erotic memoir tidbit from Your Perfect Lips, Kali Maa’s Heart Mantra…and More!

September/October 2009

Included inside: Kali Puja Festival, link to our YouTube video, Engaged Spirituality, September’s Kali Puja Photos, Namaskara Mantra…and More!

August 2009

Included inside: Ganesha Chathuri, Padma Mudra, Interview with a Tattoo Artist, Dark Moon Invocations…and More!

July 2009

Included inside: Mary Magdalene, Women & Goddess in India, Shankha Mudra, Creating a Living Altar to the Dark Goddess…and More!

June 2009

Included inside: Witch & Tantrick, Yoni Puja, Aarati, Bhairava & Bhairavi Mudras…and More!

May 2009

Included inside: Dark Goddess, Yoni Mudra, Blood Mysteries & the Festival of Ambubachi…and More!

April 2009

Included inside: Beltane, Apana Mudra, Crafting Puja for Maa, Voices of the Goddess…and More!

March 2009

Included inside: Holi, Women’s Mysteries, The Elevated Chant, Introduction to Mudra…and More!

February 2009

Included inside: Celebrating Lord Shiva’s Dance, Shappodhara Mantra, Imbolc, One mantra at a time, Lessons & Love…and More!

January 2009

Included inside: Vajrayogini, Vajrayogini Mudra, Initiation by Kali Maa (workshop), Infinite Admiration Puja…and More!