In the Vedic tradition of India, the Holy Trinity of Gods are Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Sustainer and Shiva the Destroyer. Shiva, like Kali is the deity that represents the destruction of illusion….negating anything that separates us from the truth of who we are. Whether in the Divine Play of relationship or the personal cycles of transformation throughout our lives,
Shiva is the great destroyer who helps us transform and surrender to our true nature.
In Tantra we hear Shiva, and his consort Shakti, referred to as the Divine Couple; the ultimate union of masculine and feminine. If we look deeper though, the sexual union of Shiva/Shakti is not just about yoni’s and lingams meeting with a couple of namastes thrown in for good measure! In the Vedic tradition the Shiva Lingam and Yoni symbolize the sacred union of the inactive and dynamic aspects of consciousness. So the desire to be in Union with our partner represents the fundamental desire to be in union with the Beloved or our true nature (consciousness).
Shiva represents the un-manifest stillness out of which Shakti emanates. That’s why we see pictures of Kali with her foot on the prone Shiva. It isn’t about subjugating the masculine to the feminine…it’s just reminding us of the divine play. Out of the inactive Divine Consciousness of Shiva comes the active, Divine Energy of Shakti that brings that consciousness into form. The Divine interplay between Shiva/Shakti, Yin/Yang, male/female all shows us that neither can exist without the other.
We embody Shiva in our lives when we connect to the stillness and silence that is at the heart of who we are. The realm of Shiva is about being and not about doing. Shiva represents being in integrity with one’s self and being present for others from a place of grounded stillness. In the Divine play of Male/Female, this is what Shakti really needs…the ground of Silence from which she can create. When a man embodies Shiva he emanates inner strength, groundedness, and stillness. This allows Shakti, his Divine Consort, the freedom to bring this stillness into form.
When a man is not able to embody Shiva, his Shakti is not able to surrender to him because she has to embody Shiva herself. This is at the heart of much of the suffering that occurs in relationships. Whether we are male or female, heterosexual or homosexual makes no difference as the same Divine Play between Shiva and Shakti, (inactive Divine Consciousness and active Divine Energy) exists in all forms of relationship.
In Vedic Astrology, Shiva is represented by the planet Saturn, sometimes known as the Lord of Karma. Saturn, like Shiva ultimately represents the negation of false identifications that are associated with a limited sense of self. Saturn aspects in the astrological chart, on the personality level, represent the primary imprinting we have experienced around separation consciousness. This imprinting does not represent who we truly are but rather the contracted identifications we have taken on for survival.
Since Saturn corresponds with the first chakra representing basic survival needs, the fear of survival shows up differently for each individual depending on their early imprinting and circumstances. It could manifest as the fear of being seen, fear of expressing emotion, fear of speaking one’s truth, fear of giving or receiving love, or the fear of taking action or asserting oneself. For example, on the personality level, the fear of being seen could prevent a person from truly shining their light and giving their gift to the planet. On a soul level though, this may actually be an opportunity for learning about true self-effacement or humility. The challenge, though, is to see Saturn or Shiva as our spiritual ally rather than our persecutor.
The planet Saturn takes approximately 28.5 years to circumnavigate the zodiac which means that every seven years after birth, Saturn (by transit in the sky) is in a major aspect or relationship to the position of Saturn at birth. At approximately 7, 21, 35,49 and 63, Saturn is square (90 degrees to it’s natal position.) At approximately 14, 42, and 70, Saturn is opposition (180 degrees to it’s natal position.) And at approximately 28.5-29, and 57-58, Saturn is conjunct (0 degrees or conjunct it’s natal position) also known as the Saturn return.
These seven year cycles represent the shedding of false identifications with contracted or limited notions of self. Even though our identity seems to be solid, (father, mother, son, daughter, lover, employee, rich/poor, etc), in truth none of these identifications represents who we truly are. As we go through the seven year cycles of Saturn/Shiva, it can sometimes seem like something that we value or identify with is being taken away from us. Usually though, what is being taken away are false identifications that no longer serve us. This is the true power of Saturn and Shiva…destroying or negating what is false so we can be in integrity with our true nature. By destroying whatever illusion of separation we were imprinted with, we discover our true Shiva nature, which is stillness, power and presence.
The power of doing this work in relationship or sacred partnership is that our relationships are direct mirrors of our inner states and reflect exactly where we experience separation. The deepest intimacy (in-to-me-see) comes from sharing where we feel separate with our partner…. our vulnerability, deepest secrets and fears. When that “in-to-me-see” is combined with the intimacy of Tantra as a path of Union with Divine, relationship is elevated to a new level of experience. When we truly acknowledge and share our humanity with our partner and embrace and experience our divinity together, relationship becomes the highest path of transformation possible.