I’ve heard the term “goddess” used in various circles, suggesting there are different understandings of what this concept implies. I’ll present 3 separate posts that cover some of the results of my research into the tantric definitions of “the goddess”, starting with the overarching concept of Shakti. I’d be very interested to hear what your definitions of a goddess are. Joyful greetings, Sam 🙂
Shakti and Goddess Power (Part 1 of 3)
In relation to the feminine, Tantra places a huge focus on the goddess. But, what is a goddess? “She is the manifest deity in each of us.” The sense here is that the goddess is immanent i.e. the energy that underlies our physical bodies. In addition, the goddess encompasses all sentient and non-sentient forms: “The Goddess is not separate from the world, but is the world and all things in it.”
Van Lysebeth suggests that for a more tantric understanding of the concept of the goddess, the word goddess can be replaced with the term Shakti. Shakti is “the manifest universe and the power inherent in it”. Van Lysebeth points here to the tantric theory on ultimate reality, consisting of:
- Shiva – the masculine, or Consciousness, aspect of the ultimate bipolar Reality;
- Shakti – the feminine, or power [or energy] aspect, of the ultimate bipolar Reality, which polarizes Consciousness into “I” and “this”, or subject and object, but without separating them dualistically.
Sally Kempton offers further clarifications on what is understood as Shakti in tantric practice, and mentions the five aspects of her Goddess Power: “The cosmic creation explodes in a big bang and then evolves over millions of years as suns, planets, increasingly sophisticated life forms, and of course, human beings. […] We are, in our essence, made of Shakti. Her powers of consciousness, ecstasy, will, knowing, and acting are constantly at play both in ourselves and the world.”
From Kempton’s quote, I understand Shakti to be the power to be conscious, in contrast to Shiva, who is pure consciousness. In addition, Shakti represents what I refer to as the inner spiritual urge, which guides and encourages us to move ever forwards in our quest to discover the transrational (true divine) nature of our being. “She is also the force that inescapably nudges us towards the evolution of our consciousness, with which we must align when we seek conscious transformation.” Some humans are more aware of this inner urge and follow it actively and voluntarily; others seem not to hear – or want to hear – Shakti’s calling and, therefore, either ignore her voice and continue to live their lives with the wool pulled down over their spiritual eyes by their ego, or they’re made to advance by Life (life circumstances) whilst kicking and screaming.
Excerpt from “Looking for Tantra – living the tantric dream”
 Van Lysebeth, A. (1995) Tantra – The Cult of the Feminine. Weiser Books: Boston, p.107.
 Ibid, p.107.
 Ibid, p.110.
 Feuerstein, G. (1998) Tantra: the Path to Ecstasy. Shamballa Publications: Boston & London, p.137.
 Ibid, p.78.
 Ibid, p.62.
 Kempton, S. (2013) Awakening Shakti. Sounds True: Boulder, CO, p.7.
 Ibid, p.7.