the Primordial Feminine:
Transforming Anger into Compassionate Wrath
by Mari Selby,
Jennet Inglis (Artist)
As 21st century women we will continue to be
easily seduced, and then just as easily dismayed, by the
mediaís "perfect woman" as long as we buy
into the outdated feminine ideal of motherly nurturance
and essential passivity. And even if we donít buy into
this limited ideal, our search for a "media
correct" woman often leaves us dissatisfied with
our army of personal trainers, therapists, and beauty
consultants. Whatís missing? Perhaps a more evolved
and holistic view of the feminine includes a wrathful
aspect to our nature. Anger (or rage) is not wrath;
wrath is focused, compassionate, creative and
intelligent anger. Perhaps the next step in a personal
and global evolution will guide women to become more
primordial, wrathful and unreasonable, yet still
What might wrathful creativity produce?
Recently a friend sent me an image of a group of
unreasonable women from Pt. Reyes, California. They were
protesting US aggression in the Middle East by forming
the word PEACE with their naked bodies. The
"spirit" in the display was powerful and
definitely sent a message. Their intention was to
"shame" the government into rational thinking
about the Middle East crisis.
Where do we source this wisdom of
compassionate wrath? Today more and more women are
turning to other world religions besides Christianity in
their search for a deeper, more primordial and wrathful
connection to feminine spirit. There has been a recent
upsurge in the popularity of Kali, the Hindu goddess
whose compassionate nature is both destructive and
creative. In the Southwest, women are drawn to the Hopi
and Navajo Kachinas as a way of embracing another
version of themselves. The arrival of Tantric Buddhism
in the West has introduced us to the (secret and
formerly hidden) ancient female deities called Dakinis.
The burgeoning popularity of Dakinis is rooted in their
compassionate and wrathful nature. The unique compassion
of the Dakinis is their focus on the embodiment of
sanity through the integration of all emotions, not just
peaceful or looking-good emotions.
So, still, what are we hungry for? Are
we searching for outlets for our rage? Has our rage
become so strong that we can ignore it no longer? As
women weíve learned that the personal is political.
How can we not be more angry than ever? We still see
women being beaten and raped by their husbands, still
assaulted and threatened by religionists, and still not
being paid enough to feed their children.
We have also learned that we cannot be
just angry, and then expect to be truly productive. As
well, anger may not necessarily be the spiritual image
we choose to mirror. How do we reconcile our rage with
our desire to be spiritual? Many religions tell us to
swallow our anger, or rise above it, or pray harder, or
devote ourselves more intensely to our children,
husbands etc. These practices do not change anything
deep within ourselves.
Can we transform this anger into
creative energy? One of the best films to deal with the
transformation of anger into wrath is "Erin
Brokavich." Erinís bitter frustration with her
own single motherhood merged with deeply felt compassion
to create wrathful action. Through witnessing acute
humane suffering caused by corporate polluters, Erin
transformed her anger into actions that profoundly
benefited her community. Erin was unreasonable
throughout her entire process.
We can all create wrathful change. We
can transform our lives. Where do we find the wisdom to
know how to do this? Wrathful women are a force of
nature, to be respected and venerated. Who were our
personal models who embodied a wrathful spirit? Did our
mothers stand up for us? Was there a neighbor who
fostered our courage and talents? Which teacher allowed
us to question authority? Each one of these people
mirrored the Dakini inside us. To embrace our
unreasonable and compassionate selves is to recognize
ourselves as Dakinis.
(The image seen here is a painting of
the Vajra Dakini. This Dakini represents the element
water. She transforms our fear, anger, and aggression
into the creative intelligence of wrath and the
embodiment of sanity. Invoke her and she will awaken
What are Dakinis?
Dakinis by their very essence, represent
a transformational journey. The Dakini principle is
found in all ancient and modern cultures. Thousands of
years ago, before being swallowed by Buddhism, Dakinis
were allies in the daily passage of life. A millennia
later, they were further demoted to a kind of demon
encountered during an individualís journey through the
Bardo. (To Buddhists the Bardo is the place you go when
you die, then travel through to the next level of
spiritual evolution.) Dakini literally translated from
Tibetan means sky-goer, one who moves through all
dimensions. In our modern world, Dakinis represent the
natural ever-changing flow of energy, from wrathful to
peaceful, and back to wrathful again. The Dakinis may
physically appear to us as a person, in our emotional
patterns, or as animals. Dakinis are wisdom beings, as
are we all.
The Hindus and Buddhists refer to these
spirits Dakinis. Native American, African, Celtic and
other cultures also have many names for elemental
spirits. Spider Woman is an example of a dakini in the
Navajo tradition. The legend of Nzingha, the African
woman who saved her people from slavery, is another
example of a Dakini at work.
Dakinis are primarily represented via
one of the 5 Buddhist families, each seen in its
specific color, element, direction, time of day and
lunar cycle. Each Dakini also represents a completed
integrated range of emotion, for instance, from fear and
rage to creative wrath and grace. The beauty of the
Dakinis is the full range of emotion and the
transformational journey within that range. When we see
the creative spark in our rage and feel inspired, when
we recognize the power in vulnerability, we truly know
what transformation means.
To many traditional Buddhists, the
Tantric Dakinis are still secret, with practices given
to certain lamas and nuns. Traditional Buddhists
normally do not introduce Dakinis to lay practitioners
as an enlightenment practice. As well, to some
westerners, the idea of confronting our demons of fear,
denial, anger, jealousy or greed is very threatening.
However, to those of you magnetized by these Dakinis,
they are perhaps already familiar allies. To those
women, we say, go ahead, leap into your dance with the
Why Dakinis Now?
Any unreasonable woman is a Dakini. All
the therapy and spiritual practice in the world can
still leave us caught in endless negative emotional
spirals. Through the realization of Dakini wisdom,
integrated with our emotional poisons, we are able to
break out of patterns.
Dakinis offer women a mirror image of
ourselves as untamed women. Who hasnít had a bad hair
day when bitch is the only word we can relate to? By
embracing the energy of the Dakini we embody an
elemental spirit that surrounds us in nature. By
invoking the Dakinis we become a primordial goddess, an
eternal image, and a compassionately unreasonable woman.
Unearthing the primordial feminine
brings relief to the tensions of a positive outer image
and an inner life in turmoil. We can be angry or
fearful, and, at the same time, know that the
transformation of those emotions is creativity and
grace. When we have exposed the hidden poisons in our
psyche, the Dakinis provide a path of soulful living and
transformation. With rampant worldwide spiritual hunger,
Dakinis offer the synthesis of our emotional, creative,
and spiritual realities.
Elemental beings like Dakinis model the
natural cycle of destruction and creation. Dakinis offer
us a way out of blaming the Earth for her sometimes
violent changes. By embodying our earthy nature as
Dakinis, we focus more on embodiment. When we focus more
on embodiment, the earth and our bodies can become one.
The emptiness inside diminishes when we are full of
ourselves with our reflection in all aspects of nature.
How do I know myself as a Dakini?
Start by recognizing yourself as an
elemental being, a force of nature. Respect the power of
who you are as a unique and special person. Be your own
guru! Most importantly, be willing to change and
transform yourself. After all, you are designing your
own evolutionary story every day.
What do you do to transform your
Play or listen to music, talk with a
friend, see a therapist, get a massage, ask for a raise,
play racquetball, take a hike, swim, play with your
inner child, draw a picture, make a pot, pet a dog,
volunteer at an animal shelter, etc.
Where is the source of your inspiration?
Walking in nature, watching a sunset,
working out, painting, sewing, meditating, your family,
your friends, music, animals, etc.
Examples of transformational dakini
Susan B. Anthonyís fight for Womenís
Rights, Martin Luther Kingís inspirational speeches,
Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad, Nelson
Mandelaís strength and endurance, Oprahís disclosure
of her sexual abuse, Crazy Horse fighting for his
people, Rosa Parks saying "No, I will not change my
Examples of being a transformational
Being open to new ideas, loving
yourself, recognizing the power of having and making
choices. Being wholly present in whatever you are doing,
surrendering when you meet obstacles, and using wrath as
a source of creative energy. Being generous with time or
money. Giving yourself time to be contemplative, and
honoring your accomplishments.
2002 Mari Selby and Jennet Inglis. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author:
Dakini life began for Mari
Selby in December 1988 when Tsultrim Allione gave the
Queen Simhamukha Dakini transmission in Santa Fe. With
the dakinis Mari discovered her whole self. A few months
later she began to dream about the dakinis, and of
creating an oracle deck. At the time, out of respect for
the Dakini tradition, Mari did not create a
"commercial" oracle deck. However, the dakinis
persevered and in 1998 she designed the Dancing
with Dakinis oracle deck.
For almost twenty years Mariís
private practice as a pastoral counselor helped families
and individuals build self-esteem and transform their
emotional patterns. Dakini wisdom soon became a part of
what Mari offered her clients. Mariís poems appear in
several anthologies and in an illustrated chapbook of
poetry titled We Are All Stars.
About the Artist:
Jennet Inglis is an
internationally acclaimed artist, scientist and
visionary. Jennet began her classical study of Nature at
the age of 12, and for the past two decades she has
exhibited her work in museums and galleries throughout
Europe and America.
Jennetís inspiration to paint
the twenty-five-piece mandala of the Vajra Dakini
Simhamukha came in a pure vision received two months
after first encountering the dakinis in 1988. At the
time, painting a full mandala from a secret Tantric
practice was considered the essence of unmitigated
audacity. A full mandala had never been produced, and
certainly not in the West. Needless to say, the dakinis
are thrilled to be liberated from dogma and obscurity.
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