Happy Women’s Day to everyone who ever had a mother

Dear students and friends in yoga,

It says a lot about our era that we need to be reminded to celebrate women today, International Women’s Day. In distant times, the power of the divine feminine was understood to underlie all life, and across the world we can find traces of ancient shamanic and religious rituals and artefacts worshipping the principle of female energy in gratitude for this fragile gift.

For so, so long, women and the nurturing, life-giving energy we provide were dismissed as less important than men and their outer drives for power. This imbalance has led us to live in a world where the feminine forces that sustain us – our environment, women, love and compassion – have been eroded and abused.

Men and women both pay lip service to Mother Earth, then treat her like a whore who exists only for our pleasure. A society, an individual, that truly honours and understands the importance of the feminine principle will know that it must be treated as an equal partner working in cooperation with the masculine principle. No babies would be born if it weren’t for this sacred Truth, yet we carry on as if it were negotiable.

Ardhanarishvara, the androgynous form depicted above, visually represents the intricate and indivisible creative relationship of male (in the form of Lord Shiva, representing consciousness) and female (in the form of Parvati, Shiva‘s wife, representing Shakti). Shiva, symbolising purusha, eternal awareness or consciousness, is energised by Shakti – also known as prakriti, our primary nature, the source of life.

This principle is more commonly understood (and accepted, because it doesn’t appear to be idol worship) through the modern Taoist symbol of Yin (Shakti) and Yang (Shiva), known as Taijitu, and as Adam and Eve to Christians.

Because of its merging of opposites, Ardhanarishvara is the deity of Ajña, the Sixth Chakra, which flourishes when we have embraced the Truth of our existence and genuinely live through it. Duality ceases to exist at this level of awareness – no more us and them, no more like or dislike, approval or disapproval, solar or lunar. Our interdependent nature is fully understood.

When the ego consciousness dissolves, we no longer objectify other living beings. Abuse becomes unconscionable. We realise that there is no separation and we love and respect others as we do ourselves. Ajña Chakra, the third eye, is the domain of the ‘Golden Rule’ of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. This is the repository of Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Satyam Shivam Sundaram.

Salutations and gratitude to the Divine Feminine today and every day. Jai Maa!

With much love and light,