In this episode I am joined by Nirmala Nataraj. I discovered her great works in a search for a teaching on the symbology within the Kali Yantra and found her article.
She has graciously blessed the podcast by sharing her story of personal transformation through Tantra and Goddess Kali worship. She holds sacred space for me to share some of my revelations and research and generously provides validation of and guidance for many of my most controversial discoveries.
Together we weave a mutually affirming narrative of personal healing and spiritual growth through our devotion to Kali. We emphasize the need for preparation, care, and caution when approaching her might and magic. We also encourage listeners to find supportive fellowship as they rediscover and reinvent Kali’s vast primordial irrepressible nature.
Nirmala shares a description of the Kali Yantra and conducts a devotional guided meditation using the Yantra.
We close with a brief discussion on sexual healing and empowerment through tantra and she offers some great advice for individuals and couples to break through repressive cultural conditioning and reclaim the power and beauty of sacred love making.
I’m Nirmala Nataraj, a San Francisco Bay Area-based Desire Guru and Taboo Slayer (and you can find me at my day job here)!
Sacred Fire Desire Coaching is my way of connecting directly with those who want to embody their truth. My wish to expand people’s repertoire of tools and resources through creative problem-solving is paramount in my approach. I especially love to work with people to clear some of the obstacles that keep them from expressing their deepest truths—obstacles such as shame, past experiences of trauma, and the inability to embrace and integrate every last part of themselves.
For me, healing is something that happens when we are willing to wrestle our demons…and then become their friends (which also happens to be a recurring theme in my writing). I’m also interested in inspiring my clients to view relationships, intimacy, and sexuality as viable and rigorous paths to personal development and purpose.
My training background includes the OneTaste Coaching Program, the Co-Active Coach Training Program, and the Bay Area Nonviolent Communication (NVC) Immersion Program.
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Tantra Punk your guide to sexual Liberation healing and empowerment as a certified Tantra counselor and certified permaculture designer I’m here to help you grow spiritually sexually and ecologically my online and in-person counseling sessions and training programs are price to fit any budget I’m looking forward to helping you design and ever more Divine Life Path please send me an email to Ben at Tantra Punk. Com and our journey together will begin hello dear love his phone cover Township podcast episode number 57 I’m here with nirmala and we’re going to talk about goddess Kali and all of the beautiful magnificent ways that she’s entered our lives and given Direction and guidance and some of the Practical applications that we can all use to access her love and medicine and then we were just talking briefly about how apt it is that she was recently featured on the Empire State Building projected during a an endangered species slideshow production that that occurred and then at one of the Visionary artist Android Jones had a slide in there which is a beautiful collie face rendition and caused a bit of an uproar as you’d expect this is sort of a starting point to talk about this her she’s being called forth now to help us and if you don’t believe that you can look up the pictures didn’t see that you know it’s like the Batman signal or something so anyway that was my little brief intro and I normally would you please say thank you for joining us and please tell us about your background and in your path where to start my so first of all I I work I work pretty heavily with just what I consider the energy of desire and being somebody who’s been on a non dualistic tantrik pot for as long as I can remember and I grew up in a traditional Hindu household and both of my parents are from India and I was raised here so a lot of my own path has been about bridging cultural differences and really diving into the energy of what I see as the collective Shadow and for me desire is something that is really capable of helping us to heal from that split that we tend to have between masculine and feminine Darkness and Light and and I think that Kali is a really as it’s kind of emblematic of what it could look like when those when those pictures are heel and when the split is healed and we and we stopped being in conflict with ourselves and and so a lot of the work that I do is around healing our healing our connection with our sexuality healing our connection desire and my website is sacred fire coaching.com because because I do believe that our desire is the sacred fire that lives within us and it’s our responsibility as incarnate beings 210 that fire so that’s a little bit about 10 of the work that I do and I can talk a little bit more about that later but insurance if my own path I would I would say that it’s it actually comes from pretty ancient lineage and my family is from South India and there’s a long line of country cuz in the area both of my parents are from a lot of Hindu Tantra practice today can be found in South India and a lot of these practices are related to the 10 wisdom goddesses who are known as the Mojave Diaz and they’re very prevalent in a lot of different forms of Tantra and Kali is one of them so these goddesses are revered in South India and by far the most strongly maintain tan tradition in South India is his status Street as yet and she is Supreme goddess and a lot of practitioners in the street of your tradition including people in my family tends to be married householders and often there’s a family tradition of practice but being a woman is South Asian descent who was raised and the West I grew up in California back to Tantra has been its it happened been as direct it hasn’t been a part of this unbroken lineage and in fact I would say that that Tantra is still something that in in India in a lot of traditional Hindu family it’s really still seen as kind of a a dark path and there are still a lot of just as misunderstandings about Tantra abounds in the West on there’s a lot of misunderstanding about Tantra in the East and I think a lot of that comes from just you know Colonial attitude two words the way that the body and sexuality and certain spiritual practices were four kind of conveyed so a lot of I would say that a lot of Hindus in a lot of Indian people in general have kind of internalized those attitudes so so like I said before my path back to Tantra has a lot to do with my own exploration of desire and sexuality and desire and sexuality as a rigorous spiritual so I’ve always been interested in sex and sexuality and actually since I was very very young back when nobody in my family talks about it and if the same time because I I grew up in a household where devotion Devotion to god and goddess were really kind of a part of our daily existence I I was always in an environment that was very overly spiritual actually one of my earliest I wanted to be a nun and I wasn’t Christian nobody in my family was Christian but I remember just reading about female nuns and Mystics and being so drawn to this idea of devoting myself body and soul to God so I have always been on a path that I’ve considered devotional and that I’ve considered a path of surrender and that gradually grew into a worship of the dark goddess and all of her forms as mahakali as inanna Ishtar as as the Virgin of Guadalupe and that was actually really connected to my own discovery of feminism and goddess worship as a way of bringing the salmon in back into spiritual practices so so over time I was really interested in how the dark goddess encourages us to dissolve our boundaries between the sacred and the profane and I think that that’s what led me to Tantra and in addition a lot of my former work I used to be a Rape Crisis counselor and so I’ve worked with a lot of women who have felt just generally wounded and disconnected from their own essential sexuality and sensuality and a lot of my work has been without healing. Chasm and I for me working with collie and working with different forms of the dark goddess has been immensely healing I I really can’t even put that into words and end this this really comes from my own experience of how many women and it isn’t just women it’s also none how many of us have been wounded by a pervasive cultural attitudes about sex and sexuality and the sex is an extremely powerful force and the time because I knew this and they know it and and they work with it and incredible and hoping ways but sex is also something that’s a power that can be misused and as women we we often use that power in ways that don’t serve us and we use it to to do things like we to make people fall in love with us for instance where to use sexuality as a weapon because in many ways text has been used as a weapon against us and very few of the women that I’ve ever met has have worked with their sexuality as a source of pleasure and is a source of achieving Union ecstatic Union with the Divine so that’s that’s been a really big interest of mine how do we how do we move towards sex and desire to do that and also another really important aspect is my pot that I kind of alluded to earlier is looking at this experience of being bicultural this experience of growing up in two completely different traditions and and Bridging the Gap because I do think that Eastern forms of thought like Tantra obviously we’re seeing them becoming more and more popular and more and more needed and the west and at the same time there’s there’s just been a lot of really interesting stuff that’s been happening in India in particular and other places where traditionally women haven’t held over positions of power and where there really is still a lot of suppression as far as sexuality goes it’s amazing that India’s this place where Tantra and the Kama Sutra came out of but at the same time there are still horrific attitudes towards women are still bride burning since honor killings and end public rate end so I think that we really we really need to come to an understanding that that Bridges the disconnect that exists and it and I think this isn’t just a disconnect that’s about east and west and our attitudes towards sexuality and body and spirituality it’s a deeper and deeper conflict that’s being healed and it’s a conflict that I think lives inside the human consciousness and that collie and got us have to have the profound power to really heal so so a lot of the work that I’m doing is that the dressing that dualistic split again you know between nature and civilization masculine light and dark and I’m really interested in accessing your life force which is it’s the erotic nstemi accessing the erotic it’s it’s a spiritual act it’s a political act on it’s what we can do to claim our freedom as creative beings and I’ve really seen magical things happen we can act without energy and I’ve seen that happen in my own life and just to give you a little bit more background about myself about 7 years ago or so I was in a marriage that was falling apart and everything looked great on the outside I have been with my partner for close to a decade and something was missing and I didn’t know exactly what and I felt so guilty that I can be in this marriage that where everything looks perfect on the outside but inside there was something essential that was missing that I couldn’t put a name to I’m so I buried that understanding three years and years and and finally at some point the entire relationship just kind of exploded and it was like goddess herself came into my life and and shown this Stark light on to everything that I had built and and I felt like I was falling apart and it was a revelation and it was very difficult for me at that time and I think it’s that way of guilt and shame this this sense of internal knowing that there’s something that’s missing and I look back on that time now and I know that what was missing was my sense of connection to pleasure and desire and two goddess really to the feminine I think that that weight of guilt and shame of wanting and longing for this thing that we don’t have words for it it keeps so many women from tapping into the full extent of who they are and they’re afraid to even admit to it so I would say that my my real talk begin with just acknowledging my desire technology that there was a desire that was not being mad and it was not being that in the context of that marriage so after that I I would stay the night I went on an odyssey that involved Tantra it involved doing some somatic therapy sexological Bodywork and seeing what has been frozen inside me and this experience with Awakening and another itself and I really wanted to share that with other women and so many of the women that I have worked with had really similar stories and another thing that I’ve discovered that’s been remarkable is that a lot of the women I’ve worked with have kind of come into their own relationship with goddess and we’re really finding you know we can’t we can’t divorce our sexuality from our sense of connection to God has for my sense of connection to the universe and to each other and I think that would have been recognizing the night I should say that I work primarily with women but I’ve also worked with men and I’m seeing this awareness and then also is that we are seeking to make our ecosystem harmonious we’re tired of being in conflict with ourselves and we want a sexuality and a spirituality and creativity and community that are all integrated where we don’t have to leave any part of ourselves out answer me with the work that I’ve done in Tantra and with my own practices that involves connecting with collie she she is that energy she is fat energy of you know what here’s this is this is who you are this is all of you take it all you know the good the bad the ugly the things that you perceived as beautiful things that you perceive is garbage and use it because it’s yours and that for me has really been the gift of working with Tantra and being on this path wow thank you so much I’m just like smiling like ramakrishna this whole time here he missed that one photo that’s like so ecstatic and blissed-out the love of the mother just is so intoxicating and yeah yeah this is so beautiful for me to hear especially the did you see at the intensity I mean I’ll tell you that a lot of the time for that I was exposed to four years didn’t go anywhere near Shadow work or collie and when it’s when she was finally you know various when she entered my life very forcefully but yet beautifully I realized how much well just started to scratch the surface of what was missing from the westernized you know hyper-sexualized Tantra that’s not really getting into the deep Shadow work so yeah I really appreciate just having you on this in this conversation and if you don’t mind before we get into the the yantra if I could just Explorer some of my questions for you about Kali and how how she can be accessed and what some of her roles are ya so like I said I was going to learning Township techniques and breathwork and eye gazing and meditation and chakras and Kundalini stuff and and and it was just sort of well divorced from Sedona and goddess worship and so you know the encountering of in the wind a true just to passionate Devotion to the goddess for how much love there is there in one set started to pour into my life and when you know female sort of priestesses were starting to enter my life to initiate me and connect me that way I started going on a frenzy of really studying this force of nature that’s beyond words really beyond the iconic symbol of her standing on Shiva really that’s just a map but it’s not the terrain the terrain of her flesh in her being in her dimensions are so vast you know they’re unspeakable and I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into exploring her boundlessness and I’m curious as SUV gun into your ritual practice of of worship how how would you describe visual experiences an emotional and embodiment experiences send just a sort of narrative Beyond iconography that you’ve experienced too kind of compare notes you know I’m saying about that for hours yeah it’s it’s I think there’s always kind of this interesting experience that that we have when we decide to devote ourselves to particular path or even to a particular deity there’s you know kind of navigating that c of contradictions that all of the stories all of the lore all of the imagery on the experiences you hear about other people having there’s all of that that’s kind of floating and the Consciousness and I think it’s particularly complicated with Kali because she’s she’s so she represents a paradigm that to me is about moving beyond Orthodox representation socially Downs ideas of what’s good are appropriate so in some ways she’s she’s she’s really hard to represent and you know I’m constantly reading descriptions of Kali at that I that I think are grossly mistaken and I just a kind of I picked this up in park in preparing for this interview I was doing a bit of research and I was and I noticed that there was an Encyclopedia Britannica it describes collie as the major Hindu goddess whose I can. she calls in mythology commonly associate her with death sexuality violence and paradoxically and some of her later historical appearances motherly love which I think is really funny because I don’t think any of that is paradox in some ways and comprehensible and so I I would actually say that eyes my relationship with Collies when that is I mean how can it not be informed by certain cultural ideas of who she is whether those are coming more from Orthodox Hindu ideas of who she is and I should say that I grew up in a household that very much revered Kali and and and Shiva in particular they were they were on the present so there were lots and lots of beautiful pictures of collie with her necklace with severed skulls and it was always really funny when I had friends coming over to my house and they see these pictures and it’d be like oh my God that’s that’s so creepy that’s so messed up like why do you have these pictures up in your house and I I really agree with a with an enormous amount of reverence for these images which you know that they might look violent on the outside but they’re just they’re just representations you know their representations of things that exist within each and every one of us then and I always for me I always felt that was that was the beauty of it the beauty was in was in the imagery that that didn’t just fit didn’t just done represent her as being kind of the docile nurturing mother but there’s love these in here there’s love even in this and I really grew up with that understanding so none of that snooze paradoxical but at the same time a lot of Hindus will say oh well, he is actually really loving there is no there is no ferocious aspect beer I think that still persist even among people who do follow her and I think that it’s really important to it’s really important to see that so that her love is all encompassing it it really it’s her love is is her dancing in the Charnel grounds it’s her cutting off illusion at its roots it’s her frankly doing all the shit that we humans don’t want to do that we don’t want to face and I think I really I’ve really discovered Kali in my body in my dreams there’s a very there’s a personal relationship that I’ve had to develop with collie that’s about yes it’s about entertaining the way that she appears in the world and imagery and iconography and I think that there’s a place for all of that but it never became quite real to me until I experienced her for myself until I experienced myself in her grip well yeah well I think that the the story that you read that I wrote it was it was about coming face-to-face with her during I guess what I could describe as being a Dark Night of the Soul on at a time in my life where I felt completely alone and in many ways forsaken by just the spiritual practices that I had had and it was just a really it was a very lonely. My life and I didn’t have a spiritual community that I could really share this with and the most intense experience I had is coming face-to-face with Mama was it’s so appropriate it was during my first Ayahuasca Journey and and I it’s it’s funny sometimes when I described that Journey to the people that they’re just horrified because it really felt like I was coming I was coming face-to-face with death with my dad with the death of everything that I had held to be stable and fixed and everything I thought of as being me and and I think it’s really it’s important of course to remember that collie Collies name is it comes from the Sanskrit root for time and there’s nothing that is skates you know the march of time there’s nothing that escapes her and so and I do think of calling is being a goddess of death but I I’ve always seen it as being the death of the ego and that was that was kind of the experience that I that I had and I which is not to say that I think my ego is completely dead or the even that I wanted to be completely and totally different conversation altogether but but I really felt that this this experience that I had of coming face-to-face with her was about overcoming all of these ideas that I had about who I was and I think that when we become encased in those ideas those ideas become a prison and we don’t allow ourselves to grow into what we could be we don’t allow ourselves to move in the direction that our souls urine for and so I it was it was an incredibly on uplifting experience it was the experience of I’m dying and and also understanding that part of me that is eternal that that is not my you know the part of me that is not my body and not my personality and not my ego which is not to say that that stuff is in the gated because I cannot have that experience was just an even deeper appreciation for everything that I do have all of these tools that I do have at my disposal and I just remember coming out about journey of being sort of like wow I have have this body and you know like my body does all this amazing stuff that’s so cool and there was a sense of. Being you know a face of this this larger being that I am but I bet that’s part of the mystery it belongs to the mystery just as she lives in a mystery and I kind of felt that little journey into my death was this this this beautiful on kind of sojourn into that deeper mystery where you know everything that we believe about ourselves is is just untrue on and it’s it’s interesting cuz it feels like to me that was ego obliterating but it was also on I would say that it’s the most loved that I’ve ever felt it’s the most I’ve ever felt and it was in it wasn’t it was coming to me and it was moving through me and I was that love and if anything it felt like it just it it made me so much bigger then I then I ever knew was possible and that’s me is is just kind of stuff ultimate that’s the ultimate encounter with her she shows you how small your ideas of yourself really are there so puny know who you think you are and what you believe you’re capable of compared to the reality which is just so vast it’s it’s like you know if we settle we settle for so little in terms of our lives than 10 we settle for safety but I but I do think that with the soul wants is that experience of vastness and that experience is moving in to know the places that we fear which I kind of like the veil in front of the vastness you know you got it you have to move through that in order to get to in order to get to that place where you like oh yeah this is it this is this is the experience that my soul has been hungering for and I was the experience that I knew I was hungry for when I was in this dead-end marriage where everything like the future had been written it was everything had been predicted I know I could cross it all off my to-do list and die happy according to someone else’s standards of what that happiness was but I would never have gotten to that to that place to that place of you know feeling this Indescribable love the love that comes through when you’re willing to surrender your ideas of who you are and what your life is supposed to look like and said that experience that’s a very that’s that’s always going to be a personal experience for anybody and it’s going to look different for everybody and I’ve got to say that was that was fairly recent in my life and I honestly don’t know that I that I really knew Kali was before that I had an idea I had a deep reverence for her but I wasn’t touched by her in quite the same way as I was when I allowed myself to go into this experience and allowed myself to say yes I’m okay I’m okay with my dad so just to sort of Jump Ahead a little bit I think there are a lot of different ways to really make a connection with her to get in contacts but I do think that one of the quickest route is is Ayahuasca if if any of your listeners are so inclined it seems to be kind of a direct a direct line to her and and I think