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"Passionate Enlightenment" Not for the Faint of Heart

Passionate Enlightenment - Women in Tantric Buddhism

by Miranda Shaw (1994)

This book wasn't in the Feraferia library, but it would have been if Fred had discovered it. A dense piece of scholarship by a Harvard graduate student, it explores the female origins of much of Tantric Buddhism. Women were, in many cases, the honored teachers of the famous male founders of the tradition.

However, it seems that of all the Western writers on the Tantric Buddhism, only one before Shaw held out the possibility that the women of the tradition were important! As Ms. Shaw so clearly points out, how likely is it that a monk alone in his cell would dream up this intimate, joyous, body-oriented method of enlightenment?

Author Miranda Shaw's points are carefully researched, with copious notes and sources quoted. Shaw received approval, offers of assistance and an indispensable interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and spent literally years researching the book in India and Nepal.

This was1 a method used by co-equal couples of men and women, seeking enlightenment together. Along with descriptions of esoteric methods and requirements for the practice itself, we find a lovely mention of the practice of envisioning, while in union, the 8 Buddhas in a mandala around the lotus (female point of union), with the sacred couple in the middle. The couple then also engages in seeing themselves and their partner as the male and female Buddha in union. This inner yoga of visualizing is what gives the practice its depth and efficacy - bliss upon bliss!

Note to you Feraferians: Does this remind you of visualizing dressing the circle with Goddess shrines when doing the Ground Star ritual? And the eight Buddhas could certainly be seen as guardians of the sacred directions...

There is much more to it, of course - it is a real delight to read, and has many expressive line drawings of female Buddhas, yoginis and daikinis.

1 - Tantrism flourished in 9th - 11th century India before migrating to Tibet where it became more a metaphorical system for monks.


Pentagram, Queen of Heaven

The idea that the pentagram is sacred goes back a long ways. As is revealed at the heart of some initiations, a horizontally sliced apple reveals a pentagram of seeds at its core. One who studies the heavens for some time will note that the pattern of movement taken by our closest sister planet, Venus (sometimes called "Queen of Heaven"), is also that of a pentagram or five petaled star. As above, so below...as was noted very long ago.

Venus was not called Queen of Heaven for nothing. According to Giorgio de Santillana's "Reflections on Men and Ideas"1, "Venus turns out to be a model of reliability, the timekeeper as it were of planetary periods." A period here means the interval of time after which the same planetary positions repeat themselves with respect to the fixed stars and the Sun. Venus' period is 8 years. Venus became the Celestial Queen, invested again and again with the "starry mantle", meaning "Earth - in- Heaven."2 "Venus seems to have been a kind of pledge, reassuring the earliest astronomers of the reality of invariable order behind the apparent confusion. "Read More....

1 - p. 117 - From the Feraferian Library, see short description here.

2 - Ibid., p. 117


Feraferia Tomorrow...

There are thousands of books to peruse in the Feraferian Library - many with notes made by Fred over the years.

...Also letters: Fred kept up an active correspondence with many of the thinkers of the day, including Anais Nin, Timothy Leary, Arthur Janinger, Max Freedom Long, and Robert Graves.

Copious notes and manuscripts describing various Things Feraferian...

As we assemble material for the upcoming "Book of Feraferia", I'll also be posting snippets and ideas regularly in this Blog.

Looking forward to sharing, and seeing what others have to say!


Feraferia Today...

This is the first entry in the new Feraferian Blog:

We will post the latest news from the Library Project, Book of Feraferia, latest happenings, thoughts, communications, and more....

In "Drawing Down the Moon", Margot Adler wrote that Feraferia was like a beautiful jewel box, perched on a high shelf... It was an odd comment, for all of us who were enjoying the warm parties, the outdoor rituals, and the beauty of Feraferia. Maybe the best way to understand her comment is that it was great, but needed to be more accessible. Now, with this website and the one Peter Tromp has in Amsterdam, we want to do that, to get all the ideas, tools and inspirations out for use by everyone who resonates with Feraferia. Evoe Kore!

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