Shakti and Goddess Power (Part 1 of 3)

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.”[1] 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.”[2]

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.[3] Shakti is “the manifest universe and the power inherent in it”[4]. Van Lysebeth points here to the tantric theory on ultimate reality, consisting of:

  1. Shiva – the masculine, or Consciousness, aspect of the ultimate bipolar Reality;
  2. Shakti – the feminine, or power [or energy[5]] aspect, of the ultimate bipolar Reality, which polarizes Consciousness into “I” and “this”, or subject and object, but without separating them dualistically.[6]

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.”[7]

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.”[8] 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”

[1] Van Lysebeth, A. (1995) Tantra – The Cult of the Feminine. Weiser Books: Boston, p.107.

[2] Ibid, p.107.

[3] Ibid, p.110.

[4] Feuerstein, G. (1998) Tantra: the Path to Ecstasy. Shamballa Publications: Boston & London, p.137.

[5] Ibid, p.78.

[6] Ibid, p.62.

[7] Kempton, S. (2013) Awakening Shakti. Sounds True: Boulder, CO, p.7.

[8] Ibid, p.7.

4 thoughts on “Shakti and Goddess Power (Part 1 of 3)

  1. Hi Sam, Whenever I speak of the ‘Goddess,’ I talk about the deity the ‘Great Mother’ who for me represents a person’s beautiful, divine, and sacred ‘Feminine Consciousness’ aspects. Thousands of books, poems, songs and stories have been written, chanted and spoken about Her, in homage to her phenomenal life-giving, and healing energies. Oh my Goddess! It’s so very difficult to find the right words … in one of my poems, ‘The Soul is My Mother’ I try to explore her wisdom and what is asked of us in order to receive it.

    When desired, I also turn in prayer, or in active imagination to different goddesses for different energies. I use the Tarot (Divination tool) Queens in a similar way, as each different Queen (like the goddesses) represent different available energy. I love all mythologies, folklore and other tales … most especially when they’re written with the Goddesses’ in mind! Looking forward to reading more about Her! Warm greetings, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, dear Deborah, for sharing your definition of “the Goddess” as “the ‘Great Mother’ who represents a person’s beautiful, divine, and sacred ‘Feminine Consciousness’ aspect”. It’s very interesting to note the similarities and differences between this definition and the tantric view of the Goddess as Shakti. I know you regularly integrate the concept of the Goddess, feminine consciousness and the Great Mother in your wonderful and very inspiring poetry, which I hugely enjoy and admire 🙂 Like you, I also “turn in prayer, or in active imagination to different goddesses”, which in the tantric tradition are facets of Shakti. It’s so wonderful and enriching to share perspectives and understandings. Thanks so much. Love & blessings, always, Sam 🙂


    • Thanks so much for sharing your view of the Goddess as the Great Womb and ultimate creative power! There is plenty in your definition that resonates with the tantric perspective. Joyful greetings, Sam 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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