One journeys into the underworld, the world below consciousness, a world which is unfamiliar and often feared. It is the primeval world of the psyche, which is usually unconscious to us, dark and incomprehensible. The underworld is the place of death, but it need not be feared. One journeys into it through death, that is, death of the conscious ego. The ego tendency is to hold on to itself, to its own limited consciousness and its own identity. The ego's tendency is to control and hold on to whatever is presently familiar. That is what ego does. And it tries to suppress or fight off any threat to this control, and it fears what is unfamiliar. The unfamiliar is the dark, the creepy, the unexpected, and without ego-control one is thought to be at the mercy of the dark, unknown forces lurking in both the outer and inner worlds.
This is how the ego might view the primeval forces lurking underneath its own limited consciousness. But what it does not realize is that these primeval forces are the spiritual causes of its own existence. These are the forces from which awareness and desire come. This underworld is not just the place of death but is the fertile ground of creative expression and where the creative energies come from. It is the nurturing earth soil, from which creativity grows. The underworld is the psychic home of Goddess Shakti. She lives in this darkness. This darkness is Her.
Yet we fear going into this psychic darkness, where we must use and trust our sense of feeling, allowing ourselves to feel the way through this dark but sensuously felt world of the psyche. As one relaxes the normal ego control and allows oneself to be guided by the forces of the underworld, one enters a new and exciting journey involving sensuous, sexual, primeval energies, uncontrolled and spontaneously expressive. This means letting oneself go, letting oneself go into the darkness, into the primeval, into the uncontrolled, into the spontaneous. Let yourself go into what you have feared, the dark forces within yourself which you have feared, the spontaneity which you have controlled and suppressed. Go into it. Move right into it. Penetrate deep into it, into the underworld of your own being, into the primeval forces underlying the present moment. This underworld is the very deep source of creativity and expression of essence. Yet at the same time this underworld is the place of ego death, for one cannot enter here without surrendering the controlling ego consciousness and allowing the underlying forces of the psyche to lead the journey.
This journey into the underworld, into the primordial essence of being, is a profound submergence, where one becomes submerged into the underlying forces of spontaneous creative expression. Self consciousness, or any kind of strategic consciousness or guilt consciousness, is dissolved in this submergence. Yet the light of curiosity or the light of innocence remains, which is the one who journeys through the underworld.
One can submerge deep into this world, underneath the world of usual awareness and ego control, with complete abandonment, complete letting go, and allow the underworld forces to uncontrollably erupt and spontaneously express, without any inhibition or suppression. This is the way of the fearless ones. Often it is a sexual abandonment, or a surrender to the sexual forces of the underworld, those forces of which one is usually unconscious, or which one usually suppresses or controls. One surrenders into this, submerges into this, falls into this, and abandons oneself in this. It takes a lot of trust. This could be called the way of Dionysian abandonment. It is the abandonment of Shiva in the world of Shakti. The mysteries tell us that Shiva, the great powerful light of divine consciousness, removes all His clothes, representing all thought-forms, and submerges Himself into the wet mud of Shakti Earth, then abandons Himself to a spontaneous, wandering life on earth, an innocent exploration of the living earth energies of the Goddess Shakti. Shiva is the fearless wanderer and explorer, often found crawling through dark caves, so to penetrate the deep matter of Shakti Earth. Shiva is not looking for anything in particular. He does not know what He is looking for in the underworld of Shakti. He is looking just to look, seeking just for the sake of seeking, exploring with complete abandonment for no other reason than exploring itself, and completely open to whatever is found and to whatever forces lead the way. One could say that Shiva is fearless and carefree, willing to walk anywhere, meet anything and do anything. We tend to call this kind of character mad, unstable, uncontrollable, unresponsible, and even dangerous. Yet this is God Himself, the great Shiva.
But, we think, if He is so great and powerful, then why doesn't He take control of life, manipulate and direct life to higher spiritual ends? Why would Shiva wallow in mud and wander naked in the forces of nature, when He could sit jeweled as a rightful King on the mountain top, directing and ruling His Kingdom? This is how we think a God should be.
When we think of power we think of this kind of power. But there is another kind of power, which is the power of integrity and fearlessness. Shiva can abandon Himself with vulnerability to the forces of Shakti because He trusts in His own immortality, because He is the eternal divine light and so cannot be harmed or destroyed. His clothes can be destroyed, His thoughts dissolved, His form can be altered, and His direction in life can be changed, but His Essence will always remain, the Essence being consciousness itself.
So Shiva is fearless and free in enjoyably exploring whatever life offers. He loses all emotional inhibition and gives up all forms of clothed identity, and abandons Himself to the forces of the underworld or the sexual-emotional forces of Shakti, but He does not lose consciousness which is His Essence. The purity of consciousness remains, no matter of its form, content or direction. Shiva abandons Himself in the world also in order to sensuously feel the nature of life, to feel the living nature of Shakti. If Shiva remained distant, ruling, and transcendent, then Shiva could not feel Shakti. If Shiva were not open and surrendering, then Shiva could not feel the energies of Shakti embrace and move through His Being. Shiva could admire Shakti from a distance, as an ideal or as a great beauty, but He could not feel intimately at one with Her and in the flow with Her if He did not abandon Himself in Her or allow Himself to be taken by the forces of the underworld.
This letting go into the sexual and psychic forces of the underworld, into what is underneath regular consciousness, is usually feared because of its dark, unknown, and spontaneously erupting qualities. Yet, when discovered, the qualities and forces found in this underworld of consciousness are extremely delightful, warm, nurturing, and even quite interesting. Nothing negative at all. What makes this underworld appear to be frightful and foreboding is that in order to go into the underworld one must surrender the usual ego control over the psyche and the emotions, and allow forces coming from the unconscious to embrace, possess and express through oneself. It is this necessary attitude of surrender and letting go to uncontrolled psychic forces flooding through the mental, emotional and physical body.
In fact, one is not so much taking a journey through the underworld, but one is being taken on the journey by the uncontrolled underworld forces themselves. It is the fear of letting go to this and the fear of allowing this, which frightens us. The energies themselves do not frighten us, for they are unknown and unconscious to us, until we fearlessly let go of our usual control and allow the energies to unfold, and flow with it all, being in it and with it, and just see what happens, without inhibition or judgment.
It is easier to do this in a sexual ritual with someone we love and feel comfortable and trusting with. Then also, the other becomes the mirror of this underworld, and as we go into the other, so to speak, we go into the underworld. The journey into the underworld of psychic forces is also the way of uncovering and retrieving that greater part of our divine psyche which has been lost or imprisoned.
Shiva is actually in search of His Polar Opposite, the other half of His whole spiritual Being. Remember that the true essence of Shiva is Brahman, the One and Only Being, Who divided into Shiva and Shakti, so that Divine Consciousness could behold Divine Beauty and so that Spirit could have a sensuous world to enjoy and dance about in. Now, Shakti is meant to be out in the open, naked, beautiful, and here to be enjoyed, for She is actually the sensual beautifulness of the Whole Being, Brahman, and Shiva is that aspect of Brahman which seeks to know Itself, in all Its Truth and Beauty. Shiva hopes to know the revealed beauty of Shakti in the light of the day and dance with Her uninhibitedly out in the open, but He realizes that She is mostly hidden and lives mostly in the dark, in deep caves in the underworld.
So He must descend down into those dark caves, down into the underworld, to retrieve Shakti, the Goddess, His spiritual Lover. He must descend deep into the underworld, deep into the darkness, to find Her and bring Her into the light where She can be realized in all Her Beauty and Glory. Or, He must somehow become Her to rise upward into the light, where She can be recognized and worshiped. Either way, the divine relationship must be renewed and divine wholeness restored. This is Self-retrieval. It is Self re-membering, a re-coming together, a re-union of Being. It is an emergence of that which is hidden or covered up, an emergence of the underworld, an uncovering of the whole self.
This underworld is the rest of our own complete being, that part which is predominately unconscious, unrecognized and very often suppressed. It appears to be dark and shadowy only because it so seldom is allowed into the light of expression. But once uncovered and allowed into expression, these hidden parts of ourself are recognized to be of our own integrity of being and not so alien as we previously believed. Only then can these other parts of ourself, these hidden energies and qualities, be integrated together with the more familiar energies and feelings. Then, the underworld, the dark, meets the light. The dark and the light of being come more together, and an integrated merging takes place, and finally what was dark is now light and what was feared is now embraced in one united love. This integration of the dark and the light, or the emergence of what is dark into the light, is not a once off occurrence.
It is not something which happens and then is finished. It is ongoing and continually unfolding, that is, if we allow it. The underworld is a deep reservoir of feelings and qualities of being. It is essentially the deep ocean of divine being, our own spiritual being. What is important is not that a certain content emerge, but that a certain kind of relationship be established, so that the deeper layers of content can continually emerge in their own time and in their spontaneity. That emergence cannot be planned or forced. It can only be allowed. We can only allow the spontaneous emergence of what is unknown to us. There can be no expectation, no planning, no manipulation. The unknown is unknown. It can only emerge spontaneously when all control and predeterminations are relinguished. And emerge it will, if we just allow it. These energies are ready to express themselves, ready to spring forth into the light of consciousness and be revealed through the body and emotions.
A healthy attitude is mostly what is needed. It is the attitude of self-trust, and allowing the underworld to emerge into the embracing light of unconditional love, or letting go and being submerged in the dark, sensuous forces of the underworld. Either you allow these underworld forces to rise up from below to embrace you or be embraced, or you allow yourself to submerge into that great undercurrent of primeval forces. It is essentially a sexual ritual, whereby one either allows the other to merge closer into oneself or one falls closer into merging with the other. Two kinds of approach, yet both result in closer mergence or union.
This is the spiritual intercourse between the light and the dark. In psychological terms this might be called the intercourse between the conscious ego and the unconscious forces of the greater psyche. What is important is the allowing attitude of the relationship, in which the conscious ego, having the tendency to control, now allows forces from the underworld to rise and swallow it up. The ego, which is a male aspect of divinity, allows itself to be overpowered and taken by the underworld being of the goddess. This is the goddess Kali, ruthless and powerful, taking hold of the ego consciousness, tearing it apart and eating it up. But what joy in such a sacrificial death? If the ego is willing and allowing, there is great joy, excitement and pleasure in being taken, eaten and finally swallowed up by the hungry goddess of the underworld. There is intense sexual pleasure in being torn apart and devoured by the powers of the goddess. Torture and death is never so sweet. And what shall remain after the final death rattle is the sweet contentment of embracing love and union with the goddess.
Fear of the dark forces of the underworld can take many forms, that is, the fear forms itself into many different shapes. The powers of the underworld are not really horrible or harmful, as fear makes them out to be, for it is only fear that shapes the psychic forces in distorted images. But of course, since we subjectively live in the psychic realm, such feared forces do appear very real and affective to us.
The goddess seeks to heal the man, to bring him to his complete fullness. Yet the man must first want to be healed by the goddess. He must want to uncover his wholeness and feel the love of the goddess permeate his being. So he must be receptive, wanting, and allowing of this merging with the goddess. Only then can the goddess be invoked and brought into being.
Yet the goddess emerges from the unconscious underworld of his own psyche, and if this underworld is feared then the goddess may first appear to be the dangerous Black Witch. So even though the goddess of the underworld is really a Princess of great beauty and love, She may first appear to man as the Black Witch, using the apparent innocence of the woman to lure the man into Her boiling pot of death. Thus, man fears being boiled alive or ripped apart, eaten and swallowed up by the overpowering embrace of the Black Witch, that demonic appearance of Kali. It is only when man lets go of this primordial, archetypal fear, and trusts the overall compassionate love of the Great Goddess, that the Princess of Beauty or the Goddess of Love becomes apparent and affective in his experience. He must allow himself to be taken into the deep underworld of goddess energies and be swallowed up in the Divine Yoni.
For woman, her fear of her own unconscious energies is psychically imagined as the Lord of Darkness, who has great powers to grab her conscious self and take her into his dark cave to have his way with her. So she fears her own unconscious energies, like she fears the underworld [of herself], which is all creatively imagined as the Lord of Darkness and Manipulation.
So for woman the fear of the underworld forces may appear as the Lord of the Dark forces, Who has the overwhelming power to take her, to rape her with force beyond her control. So she tries to hold on to some self control, some sense of being in charge and in control of the mounting pleasure. She feels herself enjoying and letting go to the mounting pleasure of being taken, but in her fear she cannot completely let go and submerge into the underworld of uncontrolled feelings and energies. The loss of self control seems too dangerous, too vulnerable, for she knows the dark power of the underworld will take and dominate her if she even for an instant lets go and totally opens the door. She knows that if she allows this power into her emotional psyche it will take her over with energies of overwhelming pleasure. Then, she will be at the mercy of the Dark Lord. She will be in His power, and she will love it. She will want more. She will beg for more. She will love Him taking her, thrusting her, holding her close and not letting her go. She will lose control to His power overwhelming her, and she will be completely vulnerable to this power. She will surrender and she will love it.
But the ego fears this. The ego will invent any number of reasons for not trusting this other power, this power which can force the ego into submission and eventually destroy it. And it is the fearful ego which sees this power of the sexual underworld as the Dark Lord or the seductive Horned God. And like the Black Witch for man, this Dark Power, this Black Demon is truly dangerous to the controlling ego of woman, for it can overpower that ego and burn it up in flames of passion. For the forces of the underworld are great and can be destructive to the limited ego consciousness.
The passions of the unconscious, the energies of the dark and hidden portion of our being, are truly great and powerful, but they need not be feared or suppressed, for when they are finally allowed into the light of expression they are then seen in all their colorful brilliance of beauty and are felt in all their sensuous delight. The new emerging passions from the underworld of the psyche may seem at first to be dangerously overpowering to the ego consciousness, and in fearing this their form may appear to be corruptive or evil, but if they are accepted in love they shine with forms of radiant beauty. The emerging forms of emotion and passion from the unconscious portion of the psyche represent the other half of ourself, that part which is suppressed, unrecognized, or missing from conscious experience. And this other half of ourself is often projected or mirrored in the lover of the opposite sex.
From the perspective of the conscious ego, or that consciously identified portion of the complete psyche, the unconscious part of the psyche tends to be viewed as the `mysterious other' or the `strange opposite', and it may further be viewed distortedly as dangerous, perverted, harmful, or sinister. The man may view his other half as effeminate or weak in some way, and the woman may view her other half as butch or masculinised or overly aggressive.
At the same time, this other half of man or woman becomes mirrored in the lover or prospective lover of the opposite sex, since it is most easily associated with what is naturally opposite or mysteriously different, yet in whom there is a natural affection, as though one feels this strange other to be the missing half of one's wholeness. Therefore, the woman may imagine in her lover the Dark Lord, and the man may imagine the Black Witch, and the energies of the underworld may appear to be manipulated from a sinister source in the other. Yet, upon acceptance, trust and love, these images or feelings will be transformed. The Dark Lord will suddenly be the Hero Prince and the Black Witch will suddenly be the Loving Princess.
In order for transformation to happen, the man needs to allow the Black Witch to emerge into the light and fearlessly meet Her. This is known as the first test of the Hero. Then, as this is allowed into the light, the feared powers and qualities of the Witch are transformed into delight and beauty, and the Goddess of Radiant Love and Beauty reveals Herself. This Goddess is then revered and loved, and eventually one finds union with Her, whereby Her divine energies flood one’s being, and the mysterious qualities of the Other are assimilated into one synthesis of being and eventually realized as powers of Oneself. Thus, darkness and terror is transformed into light and delight.
This essential process is fundamentally the same for woman. If she can embrace her own underworld, her own dark unknown mysteries, and allow these energies to arise from her own Unconscious, then the Dark Lord can transform into the Lord of Light; but she will have to allow the Dark to first penetrate her and feel what this is. Then, revealed will be the Great Redeemer, the Lord of Light, and the hidden divine qualities within her will begin to be assimilated into the synthesis of her being. But along the way, there may be adventures of seduction, and all sorts of psychic or archetypal images may arise within the experience of the sexual ritual or also in dreams. If there is fear then this must be released into trust, and if there is overwhelming seduction then this must be allowed. Then one moves through the secret portal of love and enters the divine sanctuary of love’s delight.
Locked in the sexual spirit, the having to have it, the overpowering enjoyment, the complete surrendering to the energies and excitement. This is being possessed by the sexual devil, the horned god [of the animals] and seductive goddess-witch. These were what the Christian pious feared and had to defeat within themselves and in others. And this is the power which the pagan tantric shaivites and shaktites worshiped and sacrificed to. Not the Judeo-Christian god of fear and morality, not the parental god telling us what is right and how to behave in an orderly society; but the lustful, libidinous god-goddess who craves enjoyment and pleasure through the possession of our bodies. This was the real devil cult, a cult of sexual lustfulness, not the obnoxious, sickening, gross satan cult that many rebellious youth might be drawn. The sexual cult is rebellious as well to the pious inhibited establishment, but its purpose is sensual, sexual body enjoyment and pleasure, and seductive, sensual beauty as well; its purpose is Not pain, terror, horror, torture, or ugliness - for those qualities defeat pleasure and beauty, and their sensationalism can only be quite transitory. We call this perversion, not because we have some moralistic code of right and wrong, but because anything that makes us feel sick, horrified, or in pain is not really Natural to us -- it can only draw into it those who have become so alienated from their natural bodies and feelings, because of the sick conditionings of their culture or upbringing. The tantra respects people's need for satisfaction, and there are many roads to satisfaction, but anyone who finds satisfaction in pain or in harming others is sick and out of balance in their natural bodies. When the mind has become alienated or out of balance with the natural body, then it is liable to find anything attractive and satisfying. This is because the mind disassociated from the natural body enjoyment can be perversely artificial and not realize it, for it is the body which reveals our true nature.
So in tantra, the devil is a natural power, a natural power on earth and potentially involved with our bodies and our sexual energies. What is difficult for those Christianized, and most in the West are, at least in some subtle manner, is the acceptance of this earthy sexual power which, when we give ourselves to it, seems to take us in its possession. For most people it would be best for their cultural conscience to not refer to this as the devil, and it is not necessary to do so, but there is a psychic use in recognizing this, which involves recognizing the grand archetypal power, in the Christian collective mind, and allowing this power to emerge from its prison in our psyche. We've too long chained up this power, this earth god, which our cultural conditioning boxed into the category of evil or that opposing the Good, God, Who is actually the solar god of will, love and intelligence. We made the sexual god into an ugly demonic figure, which distorted his natural, sensual and seductive beauty.
In the tantra the earth sexual god, or goddess, depending on one's orientation, is in opposition to the solar god or goddess, representing and carrying the power of compassionate wisdom. These is opposition here, but not necessarily conflict or war. The solar and the earth can creatively oppose each other in a complimenting relation, just like the sexual opposites called man and woman. In tantra `opposites' do not mean inharmony or discord, but rather a complimenting polar relation that actually creates harmony and beautiful music together. So, we can recognize a certain kind of `oppositeness' between sexual abandonment and a more reserved compassionate love. On the one hand, we may find the wild sexual passionate man or woman, who enjoys and takes you into the present moment of sexual ecstasy. On the other hand, we may find the spiritual saint, who cares for you in a more `refined', `tempered', and compassionate but detached manner. This is more of a motherly or fatherly love, while the former is erotic and libidinous. As a parent, would you be worried about your virgin daughter spending the night with the sexually wild kind of man, or is the young man studying to be a religious saint safe in the house with the libidinous seductive woman. One can see the possible appropriateness in calling the wild man a devil and the wild woman a witch. So, we can see the saint and the devil in an opposition, and the one can be very inharmonious, irritating and contradicting to the other. Our problem, so to speak, is how to be both or how to be involved with both kinds of love-power. This has been the perennial problem. Some have chosen and dedicated their body-minds to only one of the powers, so that the conflict is solved, at least in theory. In other words, some choose the path of body pleasure and some the path of sainthood or `spiritual love'. One is earthy and the other is solar. And then, each denies and finds disgust in the other path.
Yet the tantra claims a possible reconciliation. This is a sort of middle path or path of balance, and yet the extremes are welcome. At times it is appropriate to blend and balance the two extremes, and at other times it is more beneficial for experience to be fully involved in one of the extremes. The only caution in the extreme approach is to allow the other extreme into one's life-expression, and not become fanatically attached to one of the extremes, even though one's involvement is total for a given time.