Fierce times call for fierce goddesses. Whether the challenge is a personal crisis or a worldwide shutdown, our spiritual lives may get kicked into high gear as we seek the wisdom and courage to achieve a more radical understanding of the inevitable dark sides of life.
In the Tantric traditions of India, the Ten Goddesses of Transcendent Wisdom (in Sanskrit, dasha-mahavidyas) reveal the entirety of creation and our experiences within it. They are radiantly powerful archetypes who oversee a range of cosmic processes – from the wild, rampant, yet auspicious destructiveness of Kali to the graceful beneficence of the lotus goddess Kamala, also known as Sri-Lakshmi. The other eight represent varying aspects of life and wisdom manifest in our worldly existence; all of these creating great opportunity for amazing contemplation. They represent stark reality, and understanding their wisdom and mystery may help us navigate times that may be tougher than anything we’d experienced before. When we learn to appreciate and align with the auspiciousness of their processes, we attain a whole new level of spiritual mastery and tools to move gracefully through life’s mysterious inevitabilities.
The very nature of the Goddess is energy, and therefore she is always shifting and changing. On one level we will consider the different aspects of these goddesses; this one is ferocious, that one is serene, and so forth. However, we will see that even adhering to those rigid categories relegates our understanding to a linear, constricted perception of the world. To engage in perceiving these goddesses as they really are, we will expand outside of those boundaries to consider, for example, the tender, gracious heart of the “ferocious” Kali, or the formidable power of the “gentle” Kamala. Feminine power, Shakti, is its own kind of power. We will come to appreciate how mind-stunning paradox may catapult the consciousness to transcendent wisdom.
Constantina Rhodes is an acclaimed scholar of Sanskrit and the spiritual traditions of India, as well as a Certified Intuitive Consultant and Certified Instructor of Intuitive Development. Constantina holds a doctorate in South Asian Languages and Religions from Columbia University. She was a full professor with tenure at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida before moving back to New York City, where she teaches in the Program in Religion at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She has served on the steering committee of the Society for Tantric Studies; was an inaugural member of the Tantric Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion; and has held prestigious elected office as President of the American Academy of Religion. Constantina has practiced yoga and meditation for most of her life. She spent two years living and studying in India, and over the course of several decades she has received mantra initiation in the lineages of Transcendental Meditation, Integral Yoga, and Siddha Yoga. She is a Level II Usui Reiki practitioner and draws upon healing energy within her sessions. As a Certified Intuitive Consultant, Constantina engages in an ancient art that both enhances and is enhanced by her longtime meditation practice.