Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Michael Hafftka, Kali Yuga, 1977

Michael Hafftka, Kali Yuga, 1977. 

After I published Revelation on Academia.edu, my dear friend Michael Hafftka saw it in his feed and sent me his painting, Kālī Yuga, 1977. Kālī Yuga is 36-inches by 28-inches, oil on canvas, painted in 1977. Michael Hafftka is an eminent figurative expressionist painter, and our friendship dates back to the mid-1990‘s. 

As you read Revelation and meditate on Hafftka’s Kālī Yuga, his painting will atavistically provoke you: Mahakālī  dancing. 

The name Kālī means Kāla, or force of time. Before creation, when all was darkness, the blackness of Kālī evokes the beginning: initiates understand that the sinister feminine was first. Kālī's name derives from a legend about Yama, lord of death, who fled upon hearing her name. Initiates of Kālī are contemptuous of death.

In esoteric doctrine, Kālī is the goddess of preservation, preserver of nature. Her eyes are red in rage, her wild black hair is the freedom of nature from civilization. The signs of the Sun, the Moon and Fire are beneath her third eye ājnā, driving forces of nature. As Kālī Ma she is the primordial Mother Goddess of the Tantric traditions.

Classical representations of Kālī depict her wearing a garland of 108 human heads, an auspicious number in Hinduism and the number of countable beads on a japa mālā rosary. Kālī is sometimes depicted with 50 heads: the number of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.

Sanskrit is the language of dynamism, each letter representing a form of energy, a form of Kālī. She is the mother of language and mantras. A garland of 50 skulls denotes dominion over words and thought.

Overflowing the veils of Māyā  Kālī is nirguna, beyond nature, beyond prakṛti. Nirguna means "without form or qualities." Dualism between ātman and Brahman is obliterated. Kālī is an incarnation of Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva the Destroyer.

Kālī is a dark goddess because she is Brahman in an unmanifest state. Kālī Ma exists beyond the ends of the multiverses. Human concepts of color, goodness, badness, are inapplicable.

In classical representations Kālī's tongue is extended in shame (lajjā) as she realizes that she is dancing atop her consort Shiva. Her earrings are the corpses of dead boys as she prefers childlike disciples. Her forehead is luminous, dispensing ambrosia.

Wearing a skirt of human arms, Kālī assumes the kárma of the donors who contributed them. Four-handed Kālī brandishes a sword, a trishul trident, a severed human head and a skull-cap kapala to catch blood, which Kālī drinks to intoxication.

The sword severs the bondage of ignorance and ego, symbolizing knowledge. The human head is the ego which must be vanquished to attain mokṣa. Her two right hands signal the abhaya (abhayamudra, “fear not,” “dauntless”) and varada (“bestower of boons”) mudrā forms. 

As Mahākālī the Goddess is synonymous with the totality of BrahmanMahākālī is the feminine variant of Mahākālā or “Great Time,” synonymous with death, an epithet of Shiva, her consort.

Portrayals of Mahākālī depict ten arms, each hand holding an implement of a given Deva: Mahākālī subsumes their powers and as Brahman she manifests them.

Emblematic of feminine power, Mahākālī is custodian of cosmic order, restoring balance. The goddess of revolutions, Mahākālī is the goddess of cycles, and so, of spacetime: the embodiment of Brahman. In Hindu legend, Mahākālī eats spacetime. In some representations Mahākālī is depicted with ten heads and ten legs.

As Dakṣiṇākālī, this goddess is the Mother. Dakṣiṇā is the offering to a priest before ritual, or a gift to a guru. Dakṣiṇākālī’s right hands are mudrās granting blessings or boons.


Dakṣiṇākālī is depicted with her right foot on the chest of Shiva, while Dakṣiṇākālī with her left foot on his chest is said to be Vamakali, worshipped by the marginalized: TantrikasHafftka’s interpretation of the Goddess is vanamarga, left-hand path.

Kālī was rampaging, destroying demons, so Shiva, fearing that Kālī would not stop before the multiverses were laid waste, laid himself down on the battlefield in her path. Seeing her consort beneath her calmed Kālī. The god Shiva was suffused in the grace of Kālī through her foot on his chest.

Surrendering his ego to Kālī, enveloped in mokṣaShiva was enchanted and he offered her austerities. Shiva is puruṣa, the unchanging aspect of reality, pure consciousness. In Tantra, fusing puruṣa and prakṛti yields samādhi: Brahman, ultimate reality.

The Mother in her terrible form is Śmaana Kālī, two-armed and black, standing on a corpse with a wine cup and a piece of rotten flesh in her hands. Worshipped by Tantrikas, devotees of Śmaana Kālī perform their austerities in the śmaan, the cremation grounds, to short-circuit orthodox processes and expedite mokṣa.

Tantrikas consider the goddess Śakti emblematic of energy, and Shiva of consciousness. As Shiva depends on Śakti, on energy, to fulfill his purposes in creation, in preservation and in destruction, Shiva by himself is an inert corpse and unable to act.

In the Mahanirvana-tantra, Kālī is one of the epithets of the primordial Śakti or Shakti, and Shiva extolls her:

“At the dissolution of things, it is Kāla [Time] Who will devour all, and by reason of this He is called Mahākāla [an epithet of Lord Shiva], and since Thou devourest Mahākāla Himself, it is Thou who art the Supreme Primordial Kālika.

Because Thou devourest Kāla, Thou art Kāli, the original form of all things, and because Thou art the Origin of and devourest all things Thou art called the Adya [the Primordial One] Kālī.

Resuming after Dissolution Thine own form, dark and formless, Thou alone remainest as One ineffable and inconceivable. Though having a form, yet art Thou formless; though Thyself without beginning, multiform by the power of Māyā, Thou art the Beginning of all, Creatrix, Protectress, and Destructress that Thou art.”

--Arthur Avalon (John Woodroffe), Mahānirvāna Tantra, (Tāntrik Texts), Chapter 4, Introduction of the Worship of the Supreme Prakṛti, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, (1913), 1920. 

Michael Hafftka, Kālī Yuga, Study, 1977, watercolor. 

Hafftka also completed a study of Kālī Yuga in watercolor.

The watercolor precedes Kālī Yuga, 1977. It was painted in 1977, but the different medium and colors communicate variant impressions. The watercolor helped Hafftka visualize Kālī Yuga, but it stands as a separate painting in his watercolor oeuvre. 

The flag on the left of the watercolor recalls the bars of the American flag, an impression which evaporates in the oil painting, where the flag is executed in deep blue and red. The flag in the watercolor is red and white. The tongue in both works is a coral snake, fatal serpent. The snake in Hindu iconography is not the serpent from Judeo-Christian Edenic legend.

Cultural flexibility is required to appreciate snakes in Hindu iconography: their implications in African systems of mysticism are utterly different. Dynastic Egyptians associated the cobra with Ra and Wadjet, patron goddess of Upper Egypt.

In Hafftka's watercolor androgyne Kālī reaches down to grasp an implicit snakelike phallus. In the oil painting the phallus is red, yet less noticeable, while it dangles over the yoni of the goddess. In the watercolor, testes are obvious, though less apparent in blue in the oil painting. 

Kālī, goddess of death, is a sexual goddess. Hindu Tantrikas and Tibetan adepts of the Vajrayana tradition are not mystified by the juxtaposition of death and sex. The orgasmic manipulations of the Vajra vehicle and the simulacra of the processes of dying are modalities of karmic energy. 

The diagonal bisection of Kālī's face is her androgynous nature: male and female, personifying Shiva and Śakti, consort of Brahman

Remember that the Shivalingam and the yoni of Śakti are emblematic of the totality of existence. Kālī is the Śakti of Brahman, universal feminine: Goddess. 

In the watercolor, Shiva reaches up with a left hand (three total arms and hands are depicted) to caress the left foot of the goddess, a hand which appears like a foot in the oil painting. In both paintings Shiva’s other left hand reaches out to Kālī’s right foot, Shiva’s limb being both arm and leg. This is figurative expressionism, Hafftka’s medium.

In the watercolor Kālī’s eyes (Sun and the Moon) look as normal as eyes can look in a Hafftka work, mirrors of the soul. In the oil painting Kālī’s eyes are blazing, characteristic of classical Kālī iconography. The third eye ājnā of the Goddess is redly enraged. 

In the oil painting Shiva’s heart chakra, anāhata, is subdued in orange. In the watercolor Shiva’s anāhata is radiating in red and pink, as it would be upon contact with the sublime foot of Kālī

The eater of spacetime is depicted in the upper right quadrant in both works, evocative of Hieronymus Bosch in the watercolor.

William Clark, Kālī Yantra, Public Domain, 2012. 

This is the yantra of Kālī for use in meditation. I consider this yantra overpowering for beginning practitioners of meditation. 

It should not be attempted until a sādhaka develops a grounding in Kālī iconography and affinity with her legendarium. 

Reading this article is a start. 






Monday, November 19, 2018

Patreon


My glorious header banner done for me by my Ranger brother John Czarnecki

I updated my Patreon page. I hate begging, but if folks donate to me via Patreon, I will swallow my pride and accept. 

Amazon is killing me. Their KDP engine fails to parse pages correctly, so I am forced to send files to professionals for reformatting. It is not that expensive, and if they do what they promise, it is worth it to me. 

But I am spending money to earn money, and I will have to sell a lot of Kindle copies to make up the discrepancy. 

Few of us are rich. Certainly not me. I need help to make hardware upgrades and budget for a trip back to CONUS so the VA will refill my medications. This sounds so pathetic. 

It helps when folks buy my books. My royalties for eBooks are between $3.00-$6.00, so I am not getting rich. My royalties for print books are $10. Not getting rich that way, either. 

I need help, friends! If you are in a position to be a patron to this poor old veteran, my gratitude will be boundless!

Thank you!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Metamorphosis: Forging an Airborne Ranger


Metamorphosis continues the narrative begun in A Tale of the Grenada Raiders. Metamorphosis is book 2 in Tales of the Rangers, and details the training pipeline that forges airborne Rangers and my training as a Special Forces medic. For those who complained that A Tale of the Grenada Raiders failed to explain where I came from or why I awoke in a safe house in Lima in 1991, this book answers those questions. 

Metamorphosis is now available as an eBook on Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle and GooglePlay at $9.99.

Metamorphosis is now available from Amazon as a physical softcover in black and white at $24.99, and in full color from Barnes & Noble at $34.99

I made half the manuscript available free on GoogleBooks, so you can preview it and ensure that it is something that you wish to purchase.

Metamorphosis checks in at 260 pages long. It is stuffed with photos, so old Rangers will enjoy plenty of pics depicting the Usual Suspects that we all know and love.

I am grateful that it is done. I need to move on to Tales of the Rangers. That book is forecasted to drop in late 2019. It is already 777 pages long, so I will publish it in two volumes. 

Thank you for reading! 

Metamorphosis as a Barnes & Noble full color softcover: $34.99

Metamorphosis as an Amazon Kindle eBook: $9.99

Metamorphosis as a physical Amazon softcover: $24.99.

Metamorphosis on Apple iBooks: $9.99

Metamorphosis on GooglePlay: $9.99!

Metamorphosis is on GoogleBooks. Half the manuscript is available free.