Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Dhumavati: Crone Goddess of Disappointment and Letting Go
Sally Kempton and Ken Wilber
Audio, 5 minutes
"Disappointment is a multilayered teacher. Not many of us would choose to apprentice with her, yet sooner or later, most of us do. People disappoint us. Luck runs out. Status declines. Strength fails us. Then, the goddess Dhumavati flies into our awareness, accompanied by her crow, a harbinger of worldly misfortune who ironically also bestows the inner gifts of detachment, emptiness, and freedom.
Dhumavati—her name means "the smoky one"—is also called "the widow." In traditional India, especially in the higher castes, there was no "more inauspicious form of the feminine. In a culture where status for women is given by the husband, widowhood is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. The film Water depicts life in a house of widows, where young and old women live together in poverty, begging for food. Shaven-headed and wearing white, women in these widow houses received one meal a day and were supposed to spend their time in prayer and meditation. A widow in such a culture is at the bottom of the social order, often thrown out of her children's houses, wandering homeless, living in the outskirts of temples or in wild places.
From a worldly point of view, Dhumavati stands for despair, sadness, and failure. Yet she has significant and subtle boons to give, especially for someone on the path of awakening. Without passing through Dhumavati's winnowing basket, we remain trapped by our dreams of success and our fear of loss, especially the losses that come with age and sickness. With her grace, we can mine the exquisite wisdom hidden in the heart of life's most difficult moments."
From Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton
In this 13-part Goddess Returns series, acclaimed teachers Sally Kempton and Ken Wilber discuss one of the most powerful ways we can reconnect with a crucial aspect of feminine wisdom that has largely been lost in today's world: by invoking and internalizing the energetic qualities of eleven different Hindu goddesses.
As a way to honor the sacred feminine, Integral Life will be publishing discussions of each of these goddesses over the next couple weeks, with a different "Goddess of the Day" featured every few days.