Monday, April 17, 2006

The Goddess of the Four Quarters

Great Goddess of the East -
Bone of my flesh,
Refuge of the Dead:
i worship at your lotus feet.

Great Goddess of the South -
Fire of my passion,
Spirit of my Self:
In You my soul has found its home.

Great Goddess of the West -
Elixir of Life,
Ocean of Awareness:
Though i lay upon your breast,
i long for Your touch.

Great Goddess of the North -
Breath on my cheek,
Divine Will:
Even in Your darkest corners
Can i see Light.


The following devotional flows from my own Goddess Devotional practice. Some might find it overly personal, or even servile. But the tradition of bhakti - or absolute devotion to a specific Deity - has a long and storied history in religion, particularly in India. When asked to explain why he worshipped Mother Kali as opposed to the Divine Being of Brahman, the Divine without Form, the great mystic Sri Ramakrishna replied:
Satchidananda is like an infinite ocean. Intense cold freezes the water into ice, which floats on the ocean in blocks of various forms. Likewise, through the cooling influence of bhakti, one sees forms of God in oceans of the Absolute." (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 191)
Think of faith, then, as diving headlong into the ocean of the Absolute. Faith is not blind obedience to a scriptural authority. Faith is open trust; nondirected confidence; unconditional love; and intense longing. Devotion is the practice of faith - an act of both Creation and Identification in which the heart overrules the body-mind and sweeps one away in a joy that can only be experienced.

I can't explain my devotion to the Goddess, except that I know it is part of my spiritual destiny. Though I have many excellent, holy teachers helping me at various times on my path, ultimately, I regard the Goddess as my Guru.

I perform the devotional below at the beginning of my daily meditation ritual. It incorporates the "four quarters" of the Western Hermetic tradition, with North assigned to Air per Mike Nichols. The words incorporate both so-called "light" and "dark" aspects of the Goddess.

Before I recite each paragraph, I sit in the Burmese lotus position facing the appropriate direction, still my mind, and bow my forehead toward the floor, resting it on my clasped hands.

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