Or, how to make love to life...
When I first began my spiritual journey as an adult, I have to admit didn’t actually have ecstasy as a goal. Ascension - yes, mastery, definitely, wisdom - absolutely, but ecstasy wasn’t really something I had on my list, because I would have defined mastery etc. more in terms of absence - absence of pain and suffering, feeling good and whole, experiencing flow, peace etc.
But I hadn’t really been led, by anyone I’d learned from, to expect states of extreme pleasure, communion and totality.
I hadn’t been led either, to think that ecstasy could be a tool to experience more of those other good things. Tantra for me has become an attitude to life. When I experience resistance in certain areas, I feel in and let the ecstasy do the work in healing and unblocking so that bit by bit more of life becomes ‘ecstasy-compatible’.
When I first opened to ecstasy, many of the elements were familiar, whereas others were completely new. I think it is helpful, if the concept of ecstasy resonates with you, to know what you are aiming for, and which states and experiences to develop. It is like joining the dots. You start with isolated incidents, then they ripple out, joining into each other to create a state which you can dip into at any time.
Ecstasy is a state of non duality where you can observe polarity but simultaneously hold two poles, understandings, opinions, in your consciousness, with appreciation but without judgement. You reach a point where the one enhances the other and you understand that both are a part of the whole, of what is divine. You can feel this rippling through your body.
Ecstasy has infinite moods and layers. It is literally all of existence, every feeling, every experience, transmuted into divine pleasure and communion. The more of yourself you can allow, can open to, the greater your capacity for the many ‘threads’ and harmonics of ecstasy.
So, these are some of the elements of ecstasy. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start...
Joy without boundaries. Childlike. Just because you are IT and this is IT. Touching joy in another at being alive and observing the primal nature that brings you together.
For ecstasy this is a key element. It is much more important than ‘love’, which is an overused term to the point of being meaningless for many. Compassion for another opens you to the depths and layers of feeling that will melt you at your core and bridge the polarity that separates you.
The more complex a situation, relationship, an appreciation, the greater its potential to teach you ecstasy. The fact that you need to hold awareness of many different appreciations at once which may seem impossible to resolve into black and white, right and wrong, forces you simultaneously into simplicity - checking out your mind and seeing only with your presence.
Dipping into your emotional reservoir - the feelings you’ve healed, those which are unresolved, those that others are going through to which you can relate. The songs we sing, the stories we tell. The histories. What it means to be human AND divine.
Not necessarily sexy, just alive and full of creative power. Power to heal, power to be vulnerable, power to surrender, power to explore the shadow, power to accept. Appreciating everything in its finest, many layered potential. Not judging.
A quieter state on which to build. Do you attain this in meditation? Where else does this crop up in your life? Talking to animals, after a yoga class, massage or Reiki treatment? For me, for years, inexplicably, this was induced by sitting with a cup of tea and my favourite catalogue. Practice imagining yourself in that state until you can tap into it just by focus.
Accepting your place in it all. Your childlike self, your divinity. Being humble yet curious. Infinite yet finite. Primal yet harmless.
Humour and delight
The kind of humour where someone adores you but can’t help teasing. A precocious child who says something gorgeous and you are not sure whether to weep or giggle. When you see a kitten and want to give it’s tail a tweak...
Especially this. You need to allow yourself to look at pain and surrender to it. If you try to shut yourself off from pain or other difficult emotions, if you resist them, you are also shutting yourself off from ecstasy and higher states. We need to own what it means to be human. This is the hardest element for the ego to swallow. When Babaji first showed me this it made part of me very uneasy. But if you want to own your birthright, you need to be able to look at pain with the perspective of deity, of everything being ultimately ok from the perspective of eternity, not of the individual stuck in illusion. Feel into pain, don’t resist it, express it, then access that higher perspective and work on transmuting it into one or more of the other elements.
If you do not feel this is ‘you’ (I didn’t used to), try starting with love and compassion. Think about it. Are there certain tasks you devote yourself to easily? Do you feel this more easily around certain people? A lover? A child? A mentor? Start where you find it, then spread it outwards. The goal of devotion is not to put the ‘other’ on a pedestal and make yourself wretched, but is in fact an act of enormous self esteem (big Self), which allows you to dissolve into communion with the other and puts you in a receptive state (also try my Divine Lover Bhakti playlist for more on this).
So those, for me, are the key elements of ecstasy.
Add to these a healthy dose of surrender, gratitude and inner connection, and you’re on the right track.
We’re nearing the end of the year, and for many this is a time for reflection: on where they are, on where they are going, on how far they’ve come.
If this is you, I would like to suggest trying something a bit different this year (read all the way to the bottom)...
This year, don’t ‘learn’ any lessons.
Don’t learn anything.
If you learn anything, learn to be deeply meditative. Become the observer of your life.
‘Learning’ implies judgement, that a greater wisdom is now achieved. It will get you so far, learning lessons, but even this kind of wisdom is linear, a part of the illusion of existence, the ‘before and after’ story you tell of yourself.
You are still identified with the ‘you’, not the I AM. The I AM always knows, always knew, always loved unconditionally.
What happens if you stop looking for meaning, for the moral of the story, for signs? Many people have accepted that there is no such thing as a ‘mistake’ in their life, only a learning, but what lies behind even that ‘learning’?
Just be. Just observe. Just allow.
If you are learning from the past, you are bringing the past into the present which means you are not being totally present. This is not the most empowering stance, because it does not allow you to enter into the magic space of self love. Complete self love is to accept the perfect imperfection that manifests as your life. You can honour the past, without feeling the need to react to it.
If you can’t release yourself from the past, how can you release yourself in the now, release yourself from fear of making mistakes? How can you release yourself from fear of negative repercussions or ‘punishment’ for ‘bad’ choices? You are the best you can be right now.
Don’t learn any ‘lessons’, but do learn to feel. Without reference to the past, what do you feel like doing today? Feel with your whole being rather than thinking with your mind. Feel with your toes. What wants to happen through you right now? Where is your compassion pointing? Dig deep. What is the highest compassion you can access?
Don’t learn any lessons. Start unlearning everything if you want to experience freedom. It’s the only way into the now and the power that lies therein. You AM. We AM. From this still point of observation, of unconditionality, what can you co-create?
Instead of the ‘life lesson’ paradigm, allow yourself to experience fully, let each experience penetrate your knowing, feel the pleasure, the pain without pushing it away, without judgement, denial or analysis. Let it seep into your consciousness with compassion. Once you’ve done this, you can let your now moment do the talking. If you are in presence, your choices will become more enlightened without needing to judge or ‘learn’. You will sooner or later feel like doing something slightly different. This is the quickest way to evolve your consciousness - without causing blockages of guilt, regret, condemnation and fear.
Let your experiences go without judgement or drama. If ‘negative’, thank them for being a part of your existence. Acknowledge the feelings moving through you, and refrain from analysing your choices. Why is it good or ‘bad’ in the first place? This is the portal into dissolving your karma, to accept your desires, your humanity without drama or punishment. No lessons learned, only service, only life, only being in the moment and observing gratitude.
If you unite yourself with the ONE in divine union instead of your individual little ‘me’, become the I AM, what can become of that little me? What can you do ‘wrong’ if you are in a state of compassion with the Lover, the Divine?
Don’t learn anything. Be faithful to the divine spark in you. Breathe, and ask yourself what you want to do now.
I remember writing this poem down during the summer, one hot day standing in the queue for the outdoor swimming pool on Jesus Green with my daughters. This was before the current shift which I’m describing above, hence the word ‘learning’, but I don’t feel inclined to change it now. The softness of the meaning is still present. I hope you like it.
Happy New Year.
Karma is a quiet master
a gentle sweetheart
healing with grace
touching your voice
I AM both the lesson
and the learner
who appeals to
Support each other
through your learning
What you forge
You carry this
a love story
beyond the hurts
Be loose, free
Concerning the tree on Jesus Green, the early morning HIIT class (evidence of which in the photo - that was a few weeks ago, it is pitch black now), The Guru, and the juicy mystery...
In the tree again
I found myself
the strong old guru
with loosened bark
where my hand had gripped
in search of treasure
Golden He entered
my every cell
and I in turn
fell blended into wood
blissing at my master
watching this merging
of him in me
and me in all
soaking up and soaking in
dripping with aliveness
and roaring in rage
that I can’t contain this
only be opened
by his exquisite purpose
this sparkling gold
in all of my cells
and the trunk of this soft being
sinking me into oneness
And why did I rage
restless with questions:
It is hope that is killing
he said to me later
But the answer
is there between
the golden sparkles
between my cells
within the unraveling
which knows everything.
Can we slaughter the mind
on the girth of the tree
nail our poison
to being this free?
I am loving this
Guru, this learning
I am loving this unity of existence
Take me back to the tree
push me further
melt me inwards
One of the unremarked aspects of Madonna’s legacy, in my opinion, is the fact that many of her lyrics are exceptionally devotional. She is remembered for the controversy, the pushing of boundaries about women were allowed to express, but also, she intuitively understood the nature of the Divine Lover and the blurred line between 'him' and 'Him'. The chastity and absolution that comes with prayerful loving.
Aside from the obvious (and controversial at the time) Like a Prayer, we also have : Cherish, True Blue, Rain. Deeper and Deeper. Even the (again, controversial video) Justify my Love. You can see so many of them as potent songs of Shakti to Shiva. Flitting between the Him, and the him.
Demanding that the little him shape up (Open your Heart, Express Yourself) to the full glory of what he is capable. As tantrics have always known, this is the mystical power of the conscious female, the yogini.
And you wonder where the modern day mystics have gone... They are going where mystics are supposed to go. Check out the scriptwriters, the rock bands, the writers, the poets, the artists, the thought leaders. Look at Lady Gaga. ‘It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-im. Baby you were born this way’. Or the quietly witty video for ‘Judas’. Just because she’s exploring the shadow, doesn’t make her dark. It's a journey to the underworld, like the goddess Inanna. This is what women are supposed to do: feel and express without judgement. Feeling involves throwing a harness on darkness, rawness, pain, and pulling it into the light. Transmuting it through art into something less scary and freeing. There’s a great power in saying: This is how I feel. What are you going to do about it? Heal it, accept it or fix it, but don’t argue with it or deny it.
I could go on (and on), but in the meantime, what about the song which inspired this post... True Blue?
Go on, have a listen. I bet you’ve forgotten how childlike, innocent and uplifting this song really is.
I have been taught not to trust ecstasy.
That ecstasy cannot be my teacher.
That ecstasy is in conflict with what is good and moral.
That it is selfish.
That it is lust.
That it is temporary.
That it is unruly and unreliable.
That it is not social.
That it is not compatible with a good life, an ordered life.
I have not been taught that ecstasy is something to aspire to.
If you experience it, fine, but it’s not the be all and end all.
Always limit it.
Only in specific circumstances.
Only in private.
I have been taught to be suspicious of ‘experience’ in spiritual contexts.
‘Charismatic’ always comes with a warning.
Nothing in my spiritual experience taught me that ecstasy was a goal.
There were surely warnings about letting go, being taken in, trusting the wrong teachings, trusting the wrong guru, suspicions of trance like states (samadhi) and being possessed by demons or negative energies.
Some saints experienced it, perhaps, but it was often touch and go whether to burn or beatify.
And as a woman, what is the messaging? Don’t enjoy your sexuality for yourself. Like ever. Or submit to condemnation in some form. The fewer partners the better. Not before marriage. But when with your ‘ok’ partner, make sure you look as if you’re having a good time. You are a failure if not. We don’t let women own sex. They are too often first introduced to sex on the back foot, forced into either a defensive or ‘pleasing’ position, and will spend x amount of years re-discovering it in a way that includes their wisdom.
Why are we shutting ourselves off from ecstasy with SO much unconscious intention?
On some level we know that once we’ve experienced true sacred ecstasy, we are finished as a limited being. There is no going back once transcendent states have been experienced. We cannot be controlled and made to dance to another’s tune once we have accessed our inner knowing. Even if we are momentarily swayed, we just know and can reconnect with that sense of communion. We know which ‘rules’ bring us closer to that, and which push us away. Ecstasy comes with a big fat happy warning of too much freedom.
No wonder why it is so elusive.
Today, I’m excited to be introducing...
(drum roll), The Divine Lover bhakti playlist. (You can find it here).
Explore consciousness with me through Bhakti yoga...
This is the first Tantra Mataji playlist which has come to fruition but there are more to come. These are the result of many years of rigorous testing in my very own kitchen. Each playlist has its own focus, but together they are designed to help you become more alive, more total, experience more love. In order to make the list, each song has to rate very highly on the Ecstasy-o-meter. The blend of artists, lyrics, music, and combination of songs in the list adds a further dimension of complexity.
Who do I mean by The Divine Lover?
Your sweetheart? Your guru? Your deity? Does it matter?
Sufis know God as the Beloved. Jesus offers himself as the Bridegroom. Shiva is a loving husband to Parvati. Krishna is Lover to many. What are these archetypes telling us about our relationship with the Divine? Who or what will point the way to communion with the ONE and Divine Unconditional Love?
I am not making any apologies for the song choices (Boyzone warning). There will be some tracks which you don’t immediately like. That is ok. There may be some song transitions that shock you. The goal is to PLAY with the list. If something annoys you, ask yourself which part of you is annoyed. Savour the tracks you do like or which move you. Stop and start and play the ones you like over and over. These are not designed as background music or easy listening. Ideally, if the idea resonates, you will treat this as sadhana and ‘work the list’. Turn up the volume and sing. Dance around. Do it in front of other people. Especially if it’s ‘not you’.
‘Yes, but I don’t really do Bhakti’ I hear you say. Hmm, that’s what I used to think - not a devotional bone in my body. I guess that joke is on me (spontaneously dissolves into puddle). If you are human, you are capable of Bhakti yoga. If your goal is bliss and ecstasy, try it. Paramhansa Yogananda once told a disciple, “Kriya Yoga plus devotion works like mathematics. It cannot fail.” It’s a bonafide path of yoga that works, especially in combination with other practices.
And if you’re still hovering, this is not just a simple Bhakti playlist (you can find plenty of those already on offer on YouTube). My mix-y up-y mix tapes are tantricly woven to challenge you a little, activate more energy sub-harmonics, and help you expand into totality.
Warning: This post contains fruity content (!)
A tale of two lovers...
Our divine couple...
Two beloveds, wandering free in the countryside, in the desert, over the sea, have attained sacred union - the eternal inner marriage of hieros gamos. Conjoining, they watched as their essences spiralled round each other, golden, in a double helix, binding them together.
Once two, now they are one, communing constantly as a single being in two bodies.
Whether together or apart, their energies sing to each other. From their tongues, their energy channels, their love organs - streams of tingling consciousness speaking the mysteries of the universe.
They began with wildly different backgrounds, Love is funny like that, but if you asked them now, you would find they have forgotten their starting points. Meeting in the centre they have dissolved their histories, their former selves and opened to the Christ consciousness, the inner soulmate.
How old are they? Who can tell? These entwined beings are constantly renewing through the breath of the cosmos that flows between them.
Together they have become a love-bomb, dissolving all barriers to Love in their paths.
Inspired by the new sensations flowing through them, between each ONE and the Divine, with childlike curiosity they look for new ways to experience more, share more divine communion.
What can there be to dislike, to argue with, concerning a love such as theirs? But they have heard rumours, incomprehensible ideas, and it makes them wonder...
She takes his hand:
My tongue speaks to yours
communing like wafer
So much to say
yet no words taking form
like a stream
with eager boisterous
Please be gentle
What are you saying?
This is popping candy
Like a tongue on pencil sharpener
like the stream
Can we go to the chapel
for the love
with each other?
I want to feel it
the wafer on my tongue
Will it speak to me
Can we go there together
as we offer our tongues
to this union?
Hold my hand
The priest is on our side
No lover of mine
is an enemy
we are fine
'Our love affair was a prickly thing
I thought you were ugly and cruel
You enticed me back'
I was planning another post, but given the current diplomatic crisis between the UK and Russia (and the world), this one feels more timely.
As love affairs go, this one's been pretty damn big for me....
Moscow is my Himalayas. I start to breath differently there as soon as the plane hits the tarmac. It's a place to feel more alive. I realise not everyone feels like this.
How do you learn to love something which initially seems off-putting?
Well, this is the essence of tantra, and Russia has taught it to me well...
'Overcast and austere, you make me glad to be with you
Unwelcoming, you embrace my soul
Once more I breathe deeply in your feather-heavy air
My belly bubbles the buzz none can hear'
Often, the things which seem most 'difficult' are the ones most worth the effort. When I first visited Moscow in 1996, I can safely say I was not immediately in love with the place. It was big, dusty, unwelcoming, had horrible red tape, and all the good nightclubs were hidden un-signposted down some back street only to be reached using a hastily hand-drawn map.
But there was something.... an excitement, a challenge, a significance, a secret, a promise of more.
It is becoming a bit of a theme for me, but if you want to experience ecstasy, you need to embrace complexity - the 'good' and the 'bad'. It is only through transmuting the duality of these that you find genuine unconditionality and passion for life.
Those red stars on top of the Kremlin get me every time....
(Also, y'know, Russians are not that difficult to get on with - lots of my favorite, favourite people in this lifetime have been and are Russian).
Poetry heals, and here is a poem I wrote in Moscow two years ago in 2016, a whole twenty years after my first visit - celebrating the things that had changed, the things that hadn't, the memories, and the constant new-ness. I hope it goes some way to offering a fresh perspective.
Am I old or young?
This place tumbles my feelings
Until I melt into the flow
Releasing the years in between
Worn like barricades
Can I still be one of you?
In these spaces so grand
I lose myself lightly
So present in every in-breath
Every mouthful, every undiminished echo
Still delightfully stern and unyielding
Now flaunting glamour and poise
A new-old presence reinvented again
Between grid-locked cars
Joy bursts out at stony walls
A face this serious can only be pretending
One tickle and here's a laugh
It's flooding back to me
I remember how to dance through this
Lilac trees invite
Red stars in the night
Vibrating with stored knowing
A constant landmark for our stories
Yours, and mine
Of course - you were my mentor!
Shaping my young years
Being the anarchy of aliveness
A love of many lifetimes
We must know each other well
Connecting so deeply
Your love-flow flavour
Comes spontaneously to my lips
I am here, now
Dissolving the distance between us
In the awe of your embrace
I am always young
Do we need a song? Hmmmm. Too much choice. I think on this occasion a traditional one...
What is your relationship with the divine?
Father? Mother? Friend? Spirit?
What about Lover?
Can you make love to your vision of God? Just the two of you?
(Warning: your ego and shadow body won't like this at all. They will tell you all kinds of stories about why this is a big dangerous idea. If you're ready to take those fellas on, read more...)
Sexual union is the highest form of worship because it implies complete acceptance.
Think about it.
If you were to make love to your deity, you would have to accept everything that the deity is and stands for (hard). You would also find you have to accept everything that you are - your humanity, physically, sexuality (even harder), and accept that you are accepted, even adored, for being just as you are (mind blowing).
It would take years off your spiritual journey.
You would be forced to integrate your shadow self and find yourself a more whole, total being for it.
You would never have another bad relationship, because you’d have the gold standard to measure it against and no one could take that away from you.
I don’t want to give anyone crazy ideas, but who do you call out for in your most intimate moments? Is the divine present?
Who is the face of the Lover? Are they separate or are they ONE?
If the Divine is your sweetheart, you will very quickly start to see all of life in a very different way.
Like I said, don't get any crazy ideas...
I bit my tongue three times this week.
So I had to ask the glaring question...Why am I biting my effing tongue?
What am I not saying?
So many parts of our feminine story are missing from the dialogue. The unconditionality, the sensuality, the calling to account.
This is the job of Shakti. Embracing the sheer complexity of all that is, has ever been and will always be.
Tantra is like forgiveness in motion. It exists because we are all IT, and we are all one, and because there was a Hitler, and there was also an Eva Braun. They are both still here in all of us.
Because the role of Shakti is to surrender, to remember, to use her whole self unashamedly, and raise her beloved to a higher place. It's not about rejecting or withholding. It's about kissing and upbraiding in a single breath. Caressing like a lover, and cuffing like a lioness to her cubs. Drawing lines, but going in. This is the power of the feminine.
It's time to get our hands dirty, and call our beloved home...
Why am I biting my precious tongue?
The tongue is an organ of loving
Feel the love flow between us
The pouring, the gushing
The gentle prattling to your sweetheart
You just want to be known
Confiding in me your lifetimes
All of your stories your learnings
I have the other half of these
The wisdom, understandings
I will explain it all, the primal rush
The love play
The way you slay me
How whatever happens
I still go to pieces when you play
Between my tongue and my love
The harmonics of good, and god-like
And what is that! and ninja-sweet attainment
I make it ok in you, the god in you
The stuff that makes no sense in you
Come home to me
Why am I biting my precious tongue?
Torturing this love organ
When we are both speaking through it
Giving and receiving
When the chiding and forgiveness come in two
When you finish my sentences, my being
As brother-sister, one-it-y
While you tickle all my love organs
With your ecstasy, our laughter
I have as much to give
As to receive
I am the engine that makes us go
You need to listen to what I say
As part of you
I find the needle in your hay
And know what to do
You slay me
Come home to me
I am not biting my precious tongue
confidence - freedom - passion