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Svādhiṣṭhāna : tides

Meditations on the Sacral Chakra

The watery place where you just get to be free. The centre of a flame.

I threw a burning hot stone in the water, the smoking sizzle lost to the air. It lay aglow, creating ripples and staining the crescent reflection of the moon that cradled it. As the undulations rolled out, they became a shower of meteors. The water, the sky and all between them was one. An auspicious vision!

Typically, Svādhiṣṭhāna is represented by a lotus within which is a crescent moon, symbolizing the water element. I would like to quickly mention, I try to put all prior knowledge of the chakras out of my mind during these meditations in order to receive a *pure* message and begin the journey with a clean slate. Undoubtedly, I cannot remove all associations but my understanding of Svādhiṣṭhāna beforehand knew nothing of the inclusion of the moon and its subsequent symbols. In fact, I went into this meditation with a wonderful naïveté, my sacrum an empty bowl.

The second of the primary Yogic chakras, found on the body, is known in the West as the sacral chakra. There are many other systems for chakras outlined in various texts over the centuries. For instance, the system according to Goraksanath (outlined by Tantric scholar Gopinath Kavira) considers the Svādhiṣṭhāna as the third chakra, similarly located at the genital region with Brahma as its Devata and Savitri for the Power, as opposed to Varuṇa or Lakshmi. There is even a Tantric text from a Bengali cult that has zero chakras but rather, a sacred geography that indicates different locations in the body by way of a “Crooked River”.

Anyhow, it is in the 10th Century where we see the earliest emergence of a six-chakra system. The Kubjikāmatatantra of the Kubjika tradition was a hugely influential text, permeating Tantric traditions such as Śrīvidyā and post-Tantric systems of Yoga thereafter.

The Svādhiṣṭhāna has been proving itself of great interest to me; whilst looking for an accurate translation, Wikipedia offered the phrase "where your being is established." This is the general consensus, with numerous sites stating “where Self is established.” Perhaps my favourite translation I found was “her favourite standing place” à la Alanna Kaivalya. She is referencing Kuṇḍalinī.

A brief note here; since early Tantric literature, Kuṇḍalinī has been identified with breath and sound but notably, she is not dormant (as mostly understood today) because that would mean – you would be dead. Practices involved stoking the fire of liberation using mantras, intended to cater to her movements throughout the body. She was known through many allegories such as the coil of fire, a bolt of lightning, a flickering flame, the wind of breath and much more, including the uncoiling serpent we are most familiar with.

Contemporary Yogis believe she resides and ascends from the Mūlādhāra. As a modern practitioner myself, immersed in the feminine, watery vibe of Svādhiṣṭhāna, I find Kaivalya's interpretation a fascinating one. I concur that Kuṇḍalinī seems much more at home or perhaps, exalted in this place of inexhaustible creative energy.

Whether creating a home and/or family, a composition of paint or music, a project of some kind, or transmuting energy through the alchemy of Yoga or any other model of subtle energy – this chakra has come to harbour all modes of creativity, including procreativity, sexuality, our emotions, and passions. The Svādhiṣṭhāna is the essence of the water element. It gives us the ability to our enjoy our life, and thus represents all of life’s abundance.

Naturally, I ascribe the Moon card to the Svādhiṣṭhāna, with perhaps a peppering of High Priestess and the Chariot. It is a powerful chakra that defines our perception of Self in it's correlations with intimacy, relationships and the volatility of emotion that disturbs the water.

Throughout my meditation, I was focused on the visual aspects rather than the feeling which I can decode now; the stone as a disruption of peace, yet also a stimulus for change with its *hot* aspect – the Kuṇḍalinī-Śakti as a bindu, a condensed power sending vibrations across the water. I consider past patterns, unresolved feelings and their transformation through the power of sound, or words. For me, she reveals herself through poetry and prose.

When working with Svādhiṣṭhāna, we fill our cups with that which brings us passion. We overflow with excitement and wonderment for the world as we discover what we love and makes us feel whole. It could be examined by posing the question, “what is the Self?”

For this explanation, I would like to turn to Yoga’s delineation of Ātman. Yoga offers a tried and true framework that lets us, as droplets of light, re-immerse ourselves with the Great Ocean, and know ourselves as complete and contiguous with this source. We seek to create transparency so the light shines through and we may recognise ourselves - through this, others may recognise themselves in us and experience their own emanation.

I believe we do this best when we communicate our Self clearly – by revelling in the enjoyment of life and doing what we love, what bring us passion. There need not be any explanation of why you love it.

Images from Tantra Song - Tantric Painting from Rajasthan, Franck Andre Jamme, Siglio Press

Writing has always been one my instinctive forms of communicating. I always knew I was good at it. Poetry is a puzzle that engages me to no end. Collating valuable information to present a cohesive theory is full of Eureka. Not only do I enjoy it, but it is the medium in which other people find me most clear and direct, finding my Self-discoveries helpful. It is this connectedness with life at large that Svādhiṣṭhāna offers us, as we connect with the source of creativity. We locate our passion and by extension, we get to love our life.

I smiled and breathed deep as I watched the comets stream and blaze across, bringing destruction and creation into the infinite expanse.

Lately, I have been somewhat *inspired*, writing a collection of explicit poems. Although I hate to be the one to perpetuate the notion that Tantra is a practice driven by sexual desires and other such New Age nonsense, the richness of the metaphors are all too tempting! I would say that neither Tantra nor poetry are for the literal-minded.

I present a poem; a symbolic summary of my personal epiphanies with Svādhiṣṭhāna, celebrating the ways in which Sanskrit and Tantric vocabulary has given me the power to emphasise nuanced and subtle realms of thought, and the ease of expressing sexuality.


Laying beneath the ribs of the trees
The splash of Summer 	heat on our brows
Greasing my lips with the sweat of your neck

An arthouse porno for the local crows
Who consider this masterpiece		 an opera
	(And gladly mock the moment of your death)
My love,  this is the invocation of devis 
							I believe
I am imbued, 
	bathed in the halo light of this urgent hour
Flying above your face in a state of Yoga and despair
How the screams shatter the aquamarine strata!

An applause of acorns to match my wilding heart
	The grand ferocity of your belligerent cock 
	Beseeches the Kundalini 
	With an oaken power
	- Ushering the new aeon into its early doom
 							I dissolve
The kingdom 		is mine alone,
I the punisher and the kaivalya
		mirrored in my sundown eyes
Drop the veil and spit the taste of your lesser lovers

The kingdom is mine 		for the steady taking
	(Drink down the nectar and quench further)

Reckless but loyal, I ride harder to the beating drum 
Of my stomach pit that be the bindu of expansion!
							I deserve
							I know
							I am

(The Hottest Day of the Year)

Notes & Recommendations

  • Wheels Within Wheels; Exploring the History of the Chakras, Book 1: Chakras in the Tantric Traditions by Phil Hine

  • Tantra Song - Tantric Painting from Rajasthan by Franck Andre Jamme

  • Yoga Beyond the Mat; How to Make Yoga Your Spiritual Practice by Alanna Kaivalya, PhD

  • YouTube channel and website by SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies

  • Kuṇḍalinī and the Chakras by Genevieve Lewis Paulson


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