Friday, December 24

How do we celebrate a Tantric Christmas?

     Christmas time can be confusing for non-Christians.  (It can even be confusing for Christians who are non-consumers.) As a tantric priestess and mama of a 4 year old, I've been exploring the meaning and rituals I want to embrace and practice with my son and poly family.
     Tantra yoga is not a religion, rather it is a spiritual path that can enhance life while coexisting with other beliefs and practices. Tantra is a vast umbrella that covers multiple lineages, so it doesn't have any one official holiday. (Although, I personally never pass up an opportunity to worship the lingam on Maha Shivaratri, which occurs on the lunar calendar around Valentines day.)
     Valentines day is probably the busiest time of the year for me and most tantra teachers, because Tantra is often seen as the path of relationship. Conversely, Solstice happens to be the slowest time because seekers get busy with their families, and as the nights get longer most Tantrics go inward to meditate and vision.
     It's humorous to notice that America's sex-obsessed consumer society is quick to sell x-mas themed adult toys and market them as tantric:
  • Sexy Santa Lingerie
  • Christmas Spiced Massage Oil
  • Candy Cane flavored condoms
  • Tantric Xmas Gift Certificates for sensual massage
  • Topless Kama Sutra photos with Santa hats
  • And The list goes on. (I admit I'm envious of a the hand-painted Christmas-Tree ornaments with yantras of each of the seven chakras.)
    This short inventory brings up the questions of spiritual materialism and consumerism. Unlike many spiritual paths which teach us to renounce our material possessions, Tantra invites us to embrace that the goddess also exists in the world of form.  Materialism is not inherently wrong, unless we seek the form to the exclusion of truth. 
     One of the most widespread spiritual teachings of the season, is that of giving and receiving. This is also a core teaching within tantric philosophy. In a basic practice of taking turns during erotic massage, tantric seekers often melt into the non-dual experience of receiving from service. And they can have a direct experience of only being able to love to the degree that they let themselves be loved.  Needless to say, receiving and giving sensual massage has always been be one of my favorite holiday gifts!
     One fundamental tantric practice is to expand into the spontaneous divine impulse within our self and others. As such, it's paramount that we stay connected to the true holiday spirit, instead of mindlessly following annual traditions.  Don't buy gifts unless your moved to. Dressing up is optional. Sing Christmas carols from the depths of your soul, or not at all. Choosing between vegetarianism or eating meat is a devotional act as opposed to a dogmatic one. And perhaps the greatest challenge: don't buy into any obligation out of family guilt. From this place of freedom, acts of kindness are pure, not diluted by expectation of reward or punishment.
     When I got pregnant and the doctor declared Christmas was my official due date, the holidays took on a whole new flavor. "Christmas is for the kids," I was reminded by everyone. Since there is no Tantric church of fellowship telling me how to raise my son, I am gifted/burdened with the opportunity to find my own way. I looked around and frankly, saw that we can either lie and spoil our children; or love and teach them. Though it's hard to avoid Disney portrayal of an American Christmas, we've been known to take Devin out of the country for the holidays to broaden his global perspective. But on the years when we stay home, like this one we've decided to be inclusive and eclectic in our practices. We light candles on Hanukkah, celebrate solstice with our goddess worshipping sisters, go skiing, exchange gifts without obligation, and always, always kiss under the miseltoe.
Kamala Devi
P.S. Kissing Under the Mistletoe -- From Wikipedia
     Many cultures consider mistletoe a mystical healing plant that is associated to fertility because it stays green and alive through winter, while its host will not. Ironically it is a poisonous partial parasite who's . kissing customs sources from Norse goddess mythology.
     "Baldur's mother, Frigga, Goddess of beauty and love, went to all plants and animals asking them to protect her son and cause him no harm, since he was the God of the summer sun. She overlooked one, mistletoe. Loki, God of evil, found this out and got another to kill Baldur with a spear laced with mistletoe. Baldur was eventually brought back to life. Frigga cried tears of little white berries, like the ones found on mistletoe. Out of admiration, Frigga vowed to kiss anyone who walked under the mistletoe, so beginning the kissing under the mistletoe myth. What a wonderful way for the story to end, love overcoming death."


Al Polito said...

Brilliant, Kamala. I like to say that I never saw a holiday I didn't like, if not respect. I appreciate the conscientiousness with which you raise your son.

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