I've been spending more time meditating, seems appropriate given the current political climate with opposing sides clashing every which way. Given certain calms and imaginings that spring from within, it's like an exercise where I'm trying to strengthen my ability to be aware of intangible realms, and request some form of healing. I've recently had an interesting meet and greet with Chinnamasta that I had hoped to strengthen through continuous use of her mantra. However, as I proceeded to invoke her imaginings last night, in the middle of moving through my japa beads, my mind made the gradual shift to another Mahavidya in which I remember in very little detail. Ma Dhumavati's mantra is very simple and mainly consists of her name. Hence, if you can remember her name, you'll most likely remember her mantra after seeing it once.
Slightly over a month ago, I took a short trip to the legendary Mt. Shasta, which had all sorts of obvious oddities occur unlike my prior trips. On the second night, before getting some shut-eye, I had taken out my copper yantra dedicated to the 10 Mahavidyas and lit a candle to watch over me as I slept. Given that our rental was very close to a late 1800's cemetery, the fear of beings messing with my slumber arose, where the copper yantra was enough to subdue such worries. While still adjusting myself to call it a night, I had the image of a decrepit elderly white woman with frizzy white hair pop into my mind, almost like a character from a zombie flick, but not as macabre. At first I brushed the image away as my imagination, but the image arose immediately afterwards, which engaged my analytical mind. Was this someone that I had seen earlier or maybe this is a lost soul from the cemetery requesting my assistance? My mind quickly went through numerous ideas no matter how absurd, but I just as quickly brushed it off to rest for the night. In waking, I lingered in the comfort of my rest with my back towards the Mahavidya copper yantra that I had propped up. As my mind quickly adjusted itself to my surroundings, I felt as if someone was standing behind me. That "presence" then rushed itself closer to me to the point where I felt like it plugged itself into me from behind me. Immediately, my sympathetic nervous system chose to mentally fight. I cursed this thing, this sensation moving inside me to damnation reminiscent of my Christian education upbringing. In my short battle, I heard numerous masculine and feminine voices speaking in strange tongues, and felt light glowing at my crown as I was lulled into my old enemy, sleep paralysis.
I've experienced sleep paralysis quite a bit in my life, particularly in my pre-adult years. There is one I remember in particular around my high school years. After a nap, my eyes and consciousness were awake to my room, but I couldn't twitch a muscle. Realizing that I was under paralysis, you basically tell yourself to wake up and move until you are able. In that process, I immediately felt a breathe on my neck with a subtle growl that grew louder as I focused my awareness on it. Again, fight or flight, where you fight for the ability to move and wake up out of the paralysis. At this time, I developed the opinion that sleep paralysis was simply the in-between state of the astral plane and physical reality. Hence, I was still dreaming and dreams were just dreams for me then.
After my recent Mt. Shasta incident, I kept that experience in mind and related that experience to my high school sleep-paralysis experience relayed above. As odd as this experience was, it was not the most odd event to occur on this trip, but that maybe another story. In understanding sleep paralysis, I remember a course called "Visions of the Sacred" in my early college years, where certain traditions associate sleep paralysis with an "old hag" that would paralyze a sleeping individual by sitting on his/her chest. This "old hag" carried vampiric succubus qualities that would feast on the victims energy. The correlation between the "old hag" and my "decrepit elderly white woman" image was too outstanding.
For all my reasoning, I could not portray this "old hag" visit as negative, though it was a frightening experience. My logic took me through an analysis: first showing me that the Mahavidyas were watching over me as the copper yantra was nearby; second, that given my association with Ma Kali I'm assuming that lower entities would not mess with me; and third, I also would not expect harmful entities to approach me when I had a few high vibrational gemstones around me. But still couldn't conjure an answer. Could this be something trying to reach out to me for assistance? Or, could this be a teacher given that the internal experience after plugging inside me was surreal?
This bout of sleep paralysis wasn't even my most recent, where I similarly had an experience last week. While coming out of sleep and jumping into paralysis, I felt as though something was trying to grab me and pick me up. I shook myself to the fully awakened state, and simply grunted, "fuck, again!". Though no visuals, there was still something about this "old hag" that just stuck with me believing it to have returned, but I couldn't settle on a reason. I had asked myself if she was a Mahavidya, but when I looked through my books, there were no images of an elderly frail woman. I know I have seen a form of the Indian Devi as a fierce elderly figure, but brushed it off as either a village Goddess, or a destructive Matrika (Mother) entity.
Going back to my meditation, as I honed in on the reverberations of Dhumavati's mantra, I immediately noticed the difference between Chinnamasta and Dhumavati. Chinnamasta was solid though decapitated, where you feel grounded in your body with the ability to be aware outside of your body. Dhumavati was more tied to the soul realm, where I was awareness not attached to a body. In fact, I appeared to be above the physical realm in this gloomy area looking down into the physical realm. In order not to confuse with the Atman/Spirit, this felt more like ghosts, or what we call fucking Bhoot.
As a child, I was really frightened of the dark, because I always felt there was something lurking and watching. Despite my utter fascination with the paranormal, these fears were hard to conquer, which I am confident to admit knowing that many share the same phobia. However, such fears have been drastically minimized due to my practice and acquaintance with Ma Kali. Seeing the "old hag" in Mt. Shasta, even just in my head, was unsettling. However, I was equipped with the ability to not let my fears pull me down. In my meditation, I felt the rush of fear as if knowing something frightening was about to be revealed, but I wasn't about to turn back. There she was, an old decrepit fierce woman, where in forgetting the mantra my mouth was uttering, I calmly paid attention to my fear. It was like the sensation of "oh, shit!", as I thought to myself, am I going to finally face one of my greatest childhood fears. Fear is always the opposite end of the spectrum where one should linger. It is the real root of all evil. And here I was.
In facing this "old hag", luckily the mantra to Ma Dhumavati was still being uttered, as I quickly remembered who I was attempting to contact. As a Mahavidya, I simply looked at her and realized she was just another form of my beloved Ma Kali. With the sensation of a child realizing that it is his mother behind a Halloween mask, I ran up to her and said "I know you are Ma, you can't scare me". I looked at her with the love as in the way a child looks at his/her mother with my arms thrown in the air expecting her to pick me up. I was held in her arms, fully protected from everything she was to show me. She showed me outside of myself, outside of the colorful existence that we call reality, to a gloomy realm a few notches above the physical reality where ghosts seemed to have their play. Though I wasn't much interested in the ghosts, I focused on the numerous layered realms that were above the visual Ma Dhumavati was showing me. It was expansive to see that there are other layers to what we perceive and to look down from this gloomy realm into the colorful physical reality. As it was most likely to release some fears, I was only able to quickly grasp a few moments before the imaginings quickly dissolved.
After meditation, I returned to my books and online images to re-discover Ma Dhumavati. Though I was more familiar with the "smoky image" shown above, Ma Dhumavati is associated with the elderly form of Kali, the "old hag". No doubt from my expression above, I felt her as Ma Kali more so than Tara and Chinnamasta. Dr. David Frawley defines her as the "Grandmother Spirit", or the ancestral guide to the Goddesses in his Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses. He further describes her as the "smoky one" where she obscures one thing to reveal another, like how she obscured physical reality for me to reveal something on the other side. She is the primordial energy before creation, Shakti before Shiva, where she exists as pure potential. Hence, she is considered to be the void. She is not revealed in the ordinary world, but exists in the background like a smoke screen.
With Ma Dhumavati, I feel blessed for the opportunity to be given a glimpse of what is behind the smoke screen. Moreover, I'm really realizing that there is more truth hidden within us, for those daring enough to seek for it.
Overly educated and continuously exploring and revealing more behind the veil.
"It cannot be too highly emphasized that the mystic swims in the same waters in which the psychotic drowns."
-James Wasserman, The Mystery Traditions