Tuesday, June 28, 2016

More About Goddesses:Mother Shayi Nanzhao (Photos also by Tim Kavi)




More About Goddesses:  Mother Shayi Nanzhao
by Tim Kavi

Mother Shayi Nanzhao, also known as Shayi Mu, is one of the more obscure deities or mythical figures in worldwide lore.  Her group statues can be found on Nanzhao Folk Island, depicting a legend tracing the origin of the Ailao people, who are, in turn, said to be the ancestors of the Bai ethnic group, a supposed cornerstone of the Nanzhao kingdom of 738 to 902 AD.  These statues are among the main attractions on the island, which had since become a popular tourist destination in 1999.

Shayi, Mother of Dragons

Legend tells us that Shayi was a woman who lived in the Ailao Mountain thousands of years ago.  One day, while fishing, she had touched a log that had, for some reason, made her feel strange and eventually become pregnant.  Shayi would go on to give birth to ten sons, and several years later, when the sons had become older, she had taken them to the same river where she had mysteriously become pregnant after touching the log.

Upon seeing the log, it had transformed into a dragon, who had then asked Shayi where his sons are.  This similarly strange incident had scared off the nine older boys, who had run away upon seeing the dragon.  It was only the youngest who wasn’t scared, as he instead leaped on the dragon’s back; this prompted Shayi to name the boy Jiulong, jiu meaning “back” and long meaning “sit” in the Ailao tongue.  

Despite being the youngest son, Jiulong was chosen by his brothers to rule as king, as he had been licked by his father dragon after he jumped on his back.  The ten brothers would marry the ten daughters of a family residing in Ailao Mountain’s foot, and would become the patriarchs of the Ailao people, and eventually the Bai people.

Different Twists on the Legend of Shayi Mu

There are actually several theories pertaining to the Ailao people.  At least eight of China’s minority nationalities, including the Bai, trace their roots to the Ailao people, and have their own versions of the Mother Shayi Nanzhao/Shayi Mu myth, all similar but with their share of differences.  

Literature such as Confucian scholar Liu Xiang’s The Biographies of Women also depicts small twists on the Shayi Mu legend.  According to this tome, Jian Di, mother of Shang ancestor Qi, had also become pregnant in strange circumstances, this time swallowing a multi-colored egg that a bird dropped while she was bathing.

Due to the main similarity of these myths – a woman founding a civilization – modern scholars believe these stories were created as a means to establish patriarchy from a maternal source.

Mother Shayi Nanzhao’s Symbolism in Modern Times

Many years after the legend of Mother Shayi supposedly took place, her influence remains in modern-day culture.  

As the supposed matriarch of Nanzhao rulers and mother of the Bai people, Mother Shayi is a symbol of ancient matriarchy.  Her statue on Nanzhao Folk Island is said to be representative of independence and feminine strength and determination.  And while there has been controversy regarding whether her nude statue is appropriate, her nudity is said to be more redolent of primitive culture, as opposed to being an attempt toward eroticism.  

Overall, Mother Shayi is seen in today’s times as the symbolism of the Bai’s ancient roots and a symbol of their authenticity as a culture.

ABOUT THE PHOTOS: The photo above is an original photo taken by Tim Kavi at Nanzhao Folk Island which is near modern day Dali City in Yunnan Province, China. The photo was taken by Tim Kavi during the Summer of 2012. The island also includes the statue of another female figure from the Buddhist tradition, Kwan Yin; actual photo below. All Photos Copyright 2012 by Tim Kavi.








Saturday, May 7, 2016

Imagined Lines (poem)




Imagined Lines
by Tim Kavi

If One Were to Imagine
how beautiful Nature is
within and without
one would if not 
for the trappings 
of science, imagine
they are seeing
magic and beauty
at the same time.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rain Country (new poem)




Rain Country by Tim Kavi 

wet drops
so consuming that
they threaten
to flood you
with waves
of self deprecation

for ever
braving the elements
that you are convinced
of monsoon
qualities

until dancing in
the dirt
You realize
You are like the lush
green plants

thirsty
yet in this case
not knowing it
YOU are found
to be alive

dancing in vibrant
leafy expressions
of love
and life

until not one
moment is lost.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

More About Goddesses: The Hindu Goddess--Radharani (New Essay)



More About Goddesses: The Hindu Goddess--Radharani
by Tim Kavi

Radharani, also known as Radha, Radhika, or Radhikarani, is considered the original Shakti (goddess) in the Hindu religion, featuring mainly in the Vallabha and Gaudiya Vaihsnava sects.  She is also the primary goddess worshipped in the Nimbarka Samparadaya, a school of thought whose founder Nimbarka stated that Radharani and Krishna combine to form the absolute truth.  Radharani and Krishna are both connected deeply to each other, with the name “Radha Krishna” pertaining to the female and male aspects of God respectively.

Radharani is thought to be so powerful by Gaudiya Vaishnavas that she is the source of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity.

Two Gods Become One

As Radharani had such deep feelings of love toward Krishna, they cannot be separated into two.  Hindu teachings believe that Krishna, while capable of enchanting the entire world, is himself enchanted by Radharani, thus validating the maxim that Radha Krishna is the “supreme goddess” of the world.  Both deities give meaning to each other’s names, and in Vaishnava tradition, Krishna takes the form of Radharani when he wants to find pleasure outside his own being.  The two deities’ spiritual love for each other is a widely-held theme across India.

Even when the two gods are separated from each other, both Radharani and Krishna share the same thoughts, an example of parakiya-rasa, or a relationship based on undying mental love for each other. This is especially held true in the Gaudiya school of Vaishnavism.

25 Principal Transcendental Qualities

All in all, Radharani has unlimited transcendental qualities, but it is only 25 of these qualities that are considered to be principal. This makes her, once again, the same as Lord Krishna in the sense that her transcendental qualities are unlimited.

Some of the more notable principal qualities are that Radharani always maintains a fresh, youthful appearance; has a bright smile; is capable of making Krishna happy with the aroma of her body; is a good singer and speaker; has a good sense of humor; exudes humility; shows mercy; always shows respect; shows calmness; enjoys life; is located at the top level of ecstatic love; shows kindness to the elderly; keeps Krishna under her control.

Radharani and Krishna

Though it has been emphasized throughout the centuries that Radharani and Krishna are inseparable and, for many, considered one deity, the two have never actually married. There is a sense of duty for a man to a woman and vice versa, but the love of Radharani and Krishna for one another goes far beyond that.  There is no duty required in their union, and everything is meant to happen naturally, putting them in paramananda, or the highest and purest form of bliss.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Spring Garden (new poem)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Spring Garden"

by Tim Kavi


wondering about the Earth

there are only the glorious

colors, wings, of the seasoned

pushing forth

of Spring's new birth



gentle footsteps

down all of the paths

brings only the Mother

to her young



who is gathering eggs

that contain treasures

nearby



and dreaming of tea

with her tea set



until the sun greets

the raindrops on the

little plants



both she and her beholden ones

planted in the garden

by Gaia's loving hands



until all is revealed

in the gardens

of Spring.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mission of Mercy (New Poem)



"Mission of Mercy"by Tim Kavi

what was needed
in the faded arms
of age
was a mission
purposeful embodiments
out among the stars

yet the blood dripping
down the sleeves
into the snow
turned the world into blood

such hatred
evil hearts mistreated others
where almost forgotten
a new life
was born
into the glistening
hope of a thousand
songs and smiles
a promise
a yearning
a deeply felt love
for all there is
there was
a verse that brought meaning

the tenements
the earthy streets
stained beats
of a million names lost
of a young one
looking for old
an old one looking to be young
long lines, lined up in the cold

She moved gracefully
bringing peace
seven loaves and fishes
to the dying
the lost
the cold
the sick
the frail
the small child who never made it
to shore

She took it
brought it
and sung it
a mission of mercy
to a dark, speckled world.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

More About Goddesses: The Norse Goddess, Freya (New Column)



More About Goddesses: The Norse Goddess Freya
by Tim Kavi

Freya (also commonly spelled Freyja) is the Norse goddess of love, fertility, and sexuality.  Her name is derived from the Old Norse word for “the lady.” In Norse mythology, she is a member of the Vanir deities, together with her brother Freyr (“the lord”), her father Njoror, and her mother, whose identity is unknown.  Her husband is a god named Odr, and partly due to the similarities in name (Odr and Freya, Odin and Frigg), many scholars believe that these two couples are one and the same.
Freya’s afterlife field is known as Folkvangr, and that’s where half of the soldiers killed in battle go to, with the other half going to the god Odin’s Valhalla
.
Life of the Party, and Then Some
It can be said that Freya is the “life of the party” among Norse deities, given that she represents the aforementioned love, fertility, and sexuality, and also has a love for material trappings.  One can even say that Freya is a “player” of sorts, in informal terms.  The poem Lokasenna describes how Loki had accused Freya of sleeping with all the gods, and even her own brother Freyr.  But Freya’s seeming proclivity for decadence is just one of the many facets of her personality. 

Freya as a Master of Seidr
Freya is also known as the first to introduce seidr, a form of Norse magic, to the Aesir, also introducing the art to humanity indirectly. Seidr mainly deals with changing the course of destiny, and can be used in a number of ways, including manipulating any human destiny documented in Old Norse mythology.  

Seidr practitioners are known as volvas, and in Viking times, they traveled across different towns, performing this form of magic in exchange for food, shelter, or other types of compensation.  Due to the shamanistic nature of their craft, people reacted to Freya and other volvas with ambivalence, some respecting and exalting her and others treating her with scorn.

Freya and Frigg – Are They the Same?
It has been a much-debated topic as to whether Freya and Frigg are the same goddess, or similar, yet ultimately different goddesses from each other.  Migration Period mythology (400-800 AD) suggests that Freya was Odin’s wife, while Old Norse literature points to Freya’s husband being a god named Odr, which is very close to Odin.  This similarity in name is arguably the main reason why several experts do not differentiate between Freya and Frigg, instead considering them one and the same.
Other similarities include Freya and Frigg both being accused of infidelity while their husbands were away.  Tales such as Frigg sleeping with Odin’s brothers while he was exiled from Asgard refute the belief that Frigg differed from Freya by being more chaste.  Furthermore, the poem Lokasenna clearly shows Frigg as a volva in the same way that Freya is.

Freya after Christianization
The Christianization of Scandinavia resulted in the demonization of the Old Norse gods, though Freya remained revered by people even in modern times.  This was despite her sexual nature going against the epitome of an ideal woman for Christians – a chaste virgin.  Freya was still prayed to as a fertility goddess as recently as the 19th century, specifically for the purpose of ensuring a prosperous harvest.

About the image: The image is from the painting “Freyja and the Necklace” by James Doyle Penrose (1890)