she is the slayer of demons and devourer of worlds. drunk on the blood of her enemies, kali dances to fever pitch. it is only the breaking of her husband’s bones underneath her feet that stops her from destroying the universe.
“Mohini (Sanskrit: मोहिनी) is the only female avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. She is portrayed as a femme fatale, an enchantress, who maddens lovers, sometimes leading them to their doom. Mohini is introduced into the Hindu mythology in the narrative epic of the Mahabharata. Here, she appears as a form of Vishnu, acquires the pot of Amrita from thieving asuras, and gives it back to the devas, helping them retain their immortality.” (x)
❝ The youngest of seven daughters-in-law in a prosperous household who was a glutton that used to secretly steal food and then blame a black cat, which was thrashed as punishment. The black cat happened to be the vahana (mount) of Shashthi and complained about the mistreatment to the goddess, who pledged to avenge it. When the youngest daughter-in-law gave birth to a son, the cat stole the child in the night and gave it to the goddess, and did the same for her next six sons. The neighbors accused the young mother of carelessness and began to believe she might be a witch who ate her own children. Finally, when a daughter was born, the young mother decided to remain awake the whole night to resolve the mystery. She managed to catch the cat in the act of robbery and wounded it with her bracelet, but the cat escaped with the child, leaving a trail of blood. The mother followed this trail to the abode of Shashthi. There she saw her sons playing around Shashthi as the goddess held the mother’s infant daughter in her arms. Shashthi explained the reason for the mother’s ordeal and told her to ask pardon of the cat. The mother asked the cat’s pardon, which was granted, and then she promised the goddess that she would offer worship in a ritual dedicated to her, which would come to be known as the Jamai-Shasthi Vrata. The mother returned home with her children and spread the worship of the goddess, who blessed her family with children, wealth and happiness.
Here’s an odd little thing,
in Hindu myth the deity Agni is associated with fire and the sun, he’s seen as a messenger between the humans and gods because he’s associated with ritualistic flames and sacrifice. He’s invoked with Indra and sometimes Soma.
Here’s the fun thing- Soma is a moon deity, usually called Chandra (two names, one in the same)
So our Agni calls Soma his sun, while he’s the actual sun and Soma is the moon.
Other fun thing- in one of the creation stories Agni’s body is cut up and used to create the world. Agni had to die so his world (Soma) could live.
What do you think about Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, paganism, and other beliefs?
Judaism is plain false. They believe in the same war god the Christians believe in. Their eschatology was either borrowed or at best co-created alongside Zoroastrians. The rabbis condone unspeakable things in the Talmud and that’s not to mention open disagreements that can’t be coming from the same source. Judaism is plagued by the same thing other religions are plagued by: the fingerprints of religious men. If it were truly a revelation, the fingerprints of men wouldn’t be present at all. If it were a religion revealed by a god that is nothing like humans, there wouldn’t be obvious examples of pedophilia considered halakah, which is a term signifying that an act is in accordance with Jewish law. Jews till this day celebrate Simeon ben Yohai, a rabbi who endorsed pedophilia.
Hinduism and Buddhism are quite connected. The ancient asceticisms were noble, in part, but today’s Hinduism is quite disconnected from that. It’s far more diverse with each locality having their gods and representations of certain gods. Secular versions of Advaita Vedanta or Zen Buddhism are unproblematic as these would ask us to achieve mental equanimity, inner peace, self-control, and a number of valuable things. There’s that and meditation is beneficial. I regard Hindu and Buddhist myths as false; asuras, the Narakas, reincarnation, and their entire eschatology are bunk. I also regard the gods of Hinduism as false, for some are credited with creating the universe and I maintain that this universe simply isn’t created and could not have been.
Sikhism has a militant history, but also has palpable connections to Islam and Hinduism. The issue in Sikhism is similar to what I discussed about Judaism: too many gurus purporting to have a revelation from Ik Onkar. This revelation is achieved through nadar and this is how truth is received and known. Yet the gurus had known disagreements. Once again, the fingerprints of men are too present, the desires of men too pronounced.
Paganism is quite the umbrella term, but included in it are mythology like the now dead religions of the Ancient Greeks, Romans, and indigenous African cultures, the mystery religions that emerged alongside Christianity, and the occult: theosophy, Thelema, Satanism, and Wicca. My knowledge of each varies, but I’ve found enough in all to know that while some of them teach lessons of value and point to truths, specifically about humans, none of them are worth my affiliation. Thelema, for example, has a Kantian principle at its core: in the Liber, the Thelemite is to respect the autonomy of others. “Do what thou wilt” extends not only to oneself, but to others, and this is achieved in realizing that the distinction between oneself and other people is entirely an illusion. As such, the autonomy in you is also the autonomy in them; implicit in this is the Kantian idea of treating others as ends in themselves rather than as means, treating them as self-governing beings rather than seeking ways to use and exploit them. This, to my mind, is probably the marquee truth in all of ethics and it is echoed in Thelema. Despite that, however, I see no good reason to devote myself to the three gods in The Book of the Law.
Ultimately, a religion that earns my affiliation would either have a god that actually exists, rituals that have demonstrable utility, and/or an cosmogony and/or eschatology that is in keeping with what we know about the universe through science. Any religion that is false, unethical, inhumane, or impractical in some way isn’t worth my affiliation. That’s precisely why I’m not religious. Religion is a product of culture, but it is also a response to some sociopolitical need at some given time in that culture’s history. This is why ancient religions that still exist today have as a part of them these inexplicable stories and laws that make modern folks cringe. There’s obviously something repulsive about asking parents to take their disobedient children to the city to get stoned to death and yet, this is exactly what we find in the Bible. Whatever the ancient Jews’ needs were are unbeknownst to us, but such a law makes no sense in the eyes of modern people. Religious law, philosophy, and cosmogony are outmoded and should be treated as such. No religion is a revelation; they are all an inadequate response to a problem at some time in a culture’s history. Clearly, these purported solutions might have covered the wound, but in many cases, they allowed for it to get infected.
Note: I’d like to point out that I lumped in what some may consider cults, but cults and religions are difficult to demarcate and develop over very similar trajectories. While religions serve more communal needs, cults may serve a personal need or the needs of a small group. Joseph Smith may have fabricated his numerous visions just so that he could have multiple wives. Or he could have been trying to undermine the Orthodoxy. Whatever his motivation, it was personal. Mormonism might have started out as a cult, but today it’s a recognized religion.
With a name meaning “Widow” in old Javanese, The Rangda is a personification of evil in Balinese mythology and culture, and is the demonic queen of the Leyaks. The Leyaks are very similar to the Malaysian Penanggalan, being disembodied flying heads with their entrails dangling below. Rangda leads her demons and witches against the leader of the forces of good, Barong, a lion-like deity. The Rangda is depicted usually as an old mostly nude woman, with drooping breasts, long unkempt hair, and large talon-like claws. Her face is traditionally a grotesque fanged, goggle-eyed, long tongued monster, and masks of such are very common in the area. With Bali’s association with Hinduism, it’s suggested that Rangda is possibly associated with Durga, as well as Kali, the goddess of destruction. Like Kali, she is generally a malevolent deity, but is nevertheless seen as a protective figure in certain regions.
The second hand on the clock ticks by, a slice of time hanging above her head. She watches a baby bird crack through the shell of its egg, helps her friend apply for a new job which she will definitely get, captures a moment perfectly on her iPhone camera, burns last year’s textbooks in a bonfire whose smoke makes her eyes sting. When people require encouragement, it is she who weaves it softly upon her tongue. They smile, empowered, her words helping to change the world.
never doubt yourself, for you are a multitude. keep a close guard on the world, for years, direction, and all the universe is yours to watch over. destroy fear; destroy ego; do not let evil walk free–for you are fierce and mighty and none can stand against you. and when the dead seek you out, lead their souls not into death, but through all of time and space into liberation.
Patriarchy asserts men are superior to women, Feminism clarifies women and men are equal, Queerness questions what constitutes male and female.
In his latest book, “Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You”, mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik explores the various stories revolving around queer topics that were a part of ancient Indian history but are seemingly and conveniently forgotten in the current society. Contrasting the popular belief in present day Indian society, that queerness and the LGBT+ community should be condemned and denounced as they go against the culture, traditions and history of India and are nothing but a Western corruption, Devdutt Pattanaik draws upon various Hindu oral myths as well as sacred texts which narrate tales of homosexual relationships, trans and intersex identities and other MOGII groups amongst not only humans, demigods and spirits but also Gods and Goddesses who constantly challenge the normative stances on gender roles and identities.
vile and demonic beings created from the breath of brahma himself, the rakshasi are powerful warriors, illusionists, and shapeshifters. like animals do they feed on the flesh of men, unstoppable and insatiable, happiest only when slaughter on the battlefield is nigh. their male equivalents are called rakshasa.
Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. She is a part of the trinity of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to create, maintain and regenerate-recycle the Universe respectively.
Hekate is the Ancient One of Theurgy, Opener of the Gates, Goddess of the Magical Ones.
One torch is the Divine Flame of Prometheus, Satan in Hebrew Mythology, as the caregiver, healer, and loving watcher of the ‘damned’. Another torch is Phosphorus, the Light of Lucifer in Roman Mythology and Camuel and Asmodeus in Hebrew Mythology, the Desire and Wrath for Divine Light. The third torch is the head of Baphomet, the Divine Wisdom, the holder of the Truth, Shemyaza in Hebrew Mythology, leader of the Fallen, and Surt, the holder of the Flaming Sword in Muspelheim.
Her key is the key to the Underworld, ruled by Hades and Persephone, Uzza, Azrael and Gabriel in Hebrew Mythology. Hindu Mantras to Ganesha open the Gates of Liberation.
Her crescent upon her head is the Moon, ruled by Selene and governed by Artemis. Lilith resides in the Lunar Phases in Hebrew Mythology and the Ajna and Siddhi Powers of Shiva in Hindu Myth (the father of Ganesha).
Her canines, wolves and Cerebrus, protect, guide, and love her fully, the Sleipnir in Norse Mythology and Romulus and Remus under the care of the She-Wolf, the founders of Ancient Rome, the Archetypes of Lycanthropy under the Curse of Zeus to King Lycaon.
The serpent is Idol of Ophidic Gnosticism, Samael, the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, and Lilith in Hebrew Mythology. The serpent is the internal power of Kundalini, the Raising of Shakti in Hindu Mythology (mother of Ganesha).
She wears the robe of Dead Light, the Japanese color of Death and the Purity of the Oni and Yurei, in honor of Persus and Astreia, and the Purity and Spiritual Authority of Tir, the Norse God of Sacrifice and Divine Righteousness.
She is the Triple Goddess of the Three Ways, Three-Times-Three, she is the Council of Nine in and of Herself. As a Goddess of Phases, she is also She of Time, female aspect of Khronos, Queen of the Erinyes (Furies)- Elekto (Unceasing) or Poinoi (Retaliations), Magaira (Grudge) or Arai (Curses), and Tisiphone (Murder Retritution) or Manai (Madnesses). Also the Moirai (Fates) - Clotho (Spinner), Lachesis (Alloter), and Atropos (Unturnable) and the Norns - Urd (What Once Was), Verthandi (What is Coming Into Being), and Skuld (What Shall Be) - in Norse Mythology. Kali in Hindu Mythology.
Light and Wisdom: Hekate Phosphorus, Spirit of Light (In Honor of Her Mother) Hekate Brimo, Spirit of Terror (Truth) Hekate Atalos, Spirit of the Delicate
Streets: Hekate Enodia, Spirit of the Crossroads Hekate Kourotrophos, Spirit of the Young Hekate Skylakagetis, Spirit of the Dogs
Underworld and Darkness: Hekate Anassa Eneroi, Spirit of the Below Hekate Nyktipolos, Spirit of the Night (Guardian of Vampires) Hekate Perseis, Spirit of Destruction (In Honor of Her Father)
I’ll be honest, I’ve been looking forward to writing this ever since I found out the themes because I myself am an Indian classical dancer. I hope this counts as a valid creation for Hub Asia Week! In this this piece, I’ll introduce the form of Indian classical dance which I do: Kathak. It is one of the eight major forms of Indian Classical dance and is found in North India.
The History of Kathak
The origin of Kathak can be found in the name itself. Kathak derives from the word katha, or story. The very first Kathak dancers were storytellers known as kathakars, who traveled throughout North India. Its earliest mention in literature, in the Natya Shastra, dated to 200 BCE. It developed largely within the Hindu temples. During this time period, Kathak was mostly spiritual and dance was considered a way to worship the gods. This changed when the Mughals, who were Muslim, took over much of India and welcomed the dance as entertainment. In order to please their new masters, dancers added an almost erotic side to their dance while trying to keep the Hindu myths alive. They also made use of the technical aspects of dance such as spins and footwork. The costumes changed as well, with a significant Persian and central Asian influence. During the British Raj, Kathak dancers were often ridiculed. It was wrongly thought of as a base for prostitution. Most Hindu families continued to keep the art alive despite backlash. They also began to train boys more than girls due to the ridicule faced by female dancers. After independence, a movement to reclaim the Indian culture saw a revival of Kathak. The dance continues to grow and develop through both Hindu and Muslim gharanas (styles). Today Kathak is taught all over the world, and both boys and girls are taught.
The three main gharanas of Kathak are Jaipur, Benares, and Lucknow. The Jaipur style favors strong, intricate rhythms and footwork, while the Lucknow style is more expressive and focuses on telling a story. The Benares style, which is supposed to be the oldest style, focuses on the spiritual side of dance.
Aspects of Kathak: Vandana
The three main aspects of Kathak are all represented in a traditional performance. Every performance begins with a vandana, or invocation. The purpose of this part is to offer respect towards the dancer’s guru and the musicians. In Hindu performances, we often dance on prayers and invoke a particular god using hand movements and facian expressions. In Muslim performances, the dancer replaces the invocation with a salami, or salutation.
Aspects of Kathak: Nritta
Nritta is the pure dance, the technical performance. Emphasis is placed on the beauty of the motions, speed, and form. We begin at the slowest speed with a thath, moving only wrists, the neck, and eyebrows. Then we move faster and faster, dancing technical pieces which stress footwork, spins, and hand movements. This section is not danced on a song or prayer, but on a cycle of rhythms called taal. Each piece is perfectly timed to stay on beat and ends on the first beat of the cycle. The beginning speed is the slowest and hardest to master (vilambit), the middle speed is the basic speed beginners learn on (madhya), and the fastest speed is the most energetic (dhruth). It is during the Dhruth Laya that the ghungroos, or bells which adorn the ankles, really amplify the energy of the piece.
Aspects of Kathak: Nritya
Nritya is the slower and expressive part of Kathak. Here is where the origins of the word lie. We tell stories through the movements of our hands and feet and our facial expressions. This section is very free and improvisation is encouraged. The dance expands to include the song which is being danced upon and the dancer aims to impact the audience directly through the dance. Sometimes the dancer will show the gait of a character, which is called gat. Other times, they will dance on a song and act out the story being sung, called abhinaya. There are four factors which directly affect abhinaya, which are vachik (the song, recitation, and rhythm), agnik (the movements of the dancer), aharya (the costume, jewelery, and makeup), and satvik (the dancer’s ability to emotionally connect with the audience).
Comparable Dance Forms
One dance form comparable to Kathak in its influence and scope is Bharatnatyam, the most famous dance of south India. This dance form, while less fluid, has a distinctive extroverted type of expression compared to Kathak’s more subtle ways. Many people confuse Kathak with Kathakali. Kathakali is from the southern state of Kerala and while the names may seem similar, the dance technique could not be more different. However, both forms utilize expression and song in order to tell ancient stories through dance. As for foreign dances, I believe that Flamenco from Spain and Kathak are quite similar when it comes to rhythm and visuals.
If you would like to watch a little bit of Kathak, ignore anything that has to do with Bollywood movies and look for stage performances done by professional dancers. This may sound strange, but the older the dancer, the better. I recommend watching a piece by Pandit Birju Maharaj, a famous dancer from the Lucknow gharana and my teacher’s teacher.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to add relevant information, ask questions, and suggest future posts.
Hello all! I’m feeling pretty bored right now so I’ve decided to try something fun (which was inspired by @rhys-feyre‘s name aesthetics):
I will be making personal mythology aesthetics based upon your names! What does that mean? Well, you’ll tell me your name and I will make an aesthetic of a god/goddess/mythological figure that I feel suits your name.