Tag Archives: kaula

Much ado about menstruation

Menstruation is in the news. Okay, actually I’ve just noticed a few things recently online and decided to collect them together with a few other references that came to mind.

First, I noticed The history of menstruation by Helen King over at Wonders & Marvels.

“In 2008 Sara Read wrote a fascinating article about early modern women’s menstrual practices. … Sara pointed out that one of the reasons why we don’t really know for certain what women did is that they didn’t talk about it either. It’s men who tell us the few things we know, and we don’t know whether women’s attitude was the same or not. We don’t even know what level of blood loss they expected – apparently this can vary with diet, and people were not as well-fed in the past as we are now – but the Hippocratic gynaecological treatises assume a ‘wombful’ of blood every month, with any less of a flow opening up the risk of being seen as ‘ill’ and hence leading to remedies like the dreaded beetle pessaries.” [via]

Then there was a new post pointing to an article from a couple years ago: “Menstrual Blood in Ancient Rome: An Unspeakable Impurity?” by Jack Lennon, Classica et Mediaevalia: Danish Journal of Philology and History, Vol.61 (2010) [via]

“This article examines the language and power associated with menstrual blood in Roman literature, focusing primarily on the issue of ritual impurity. In particular, it will highlight the importance of two phrases from Pliny’s Natural History which can offer new insights into Roman perceptions of menstruation. Using comparisons from modern anthropological theory, it seeks to refute recent suggestions that Roman society felt no anxiety about menstrual pollution, but equally it will be argued that this anxiety was not on a comparable scale to earlier Greek regulations and practices.”

This discussion of menstruation of course brings to mind Liber AL vel Legis, III 24:

“The best blood is of the moon, monthly: then the fresh blood of a child, or dropping from the host of heaven: then of enemies; then of the priest or of the worshippers: last of some beast, no matter what.” [via]

There are any number of resources at the library to go along with this. You may be interested in a site search on various terms, such as blood of the moon, to get started.

For the ritual use of menstrual blood, I cannot help but recommend The Yoni Tantra, serialized in the Scarlet Letter, the journal of Scarlet Woman OTO, which also connects to the recent publication of The Secrets of the Kaula Circle and the older Kali Kaula mentioned in other posts.

“The statements by many Western commentators that the ‘secret sadhana’ was hidden by an allusive style are completely exploded by Yoni Tantra. Kaulas were never prone to mince words and the consumption of Yoni Tattva—the mixture of menses and semen—is described in the clearest of terms in Yoni Tantra.

While ritual sexual intercourse is often alluded to in Kaula and Shri Tantras there are only a few places where the Yoni Tattva is referred to. The chief of these is Yoni Tantra, which could be described as a eulogy of the Yoni and the Yoni Tattva.” [via]

You may also be interested in Judy Grahn’s Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World, especially in conjunction, I think, with Calvert Watkins’ How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics.

Kali Kaula

Kali Kaula by Jan Fries is a book released a while ago by Avalonia Books, but Kuala has recently come to mind due to a recent release from another publisher. For those interested in Kaula as a type of Tantra, this may be something of interest.

 

Kali Kaula is a practical and experiential journey through the land of living magical art that is Tantra, guided by the incisive, inspired and multi-talented hands of Jan Fries. By stripping away the fantasies and exploring the roots, flowers and fruits of Tantra, the author provides an outstandingly effective and coherent manual of practices.

Acknowledging the huge diversity of Tantric material produced over the centuries, Jan Fries draws on several decades of research and experience and focuses on the early traditions of Kula, Kaula and Krama, and the result is this inimitable work which shines with the light of possibility. Unique in style and content, this book is more than a manual of tantric magick, it is a guide to the exploration of the inner soul. It contains the most lucid discussions of how to achieve liberation in the company of numerous Indian goddesses and gods, each of whom brings their own lessons and gifts to the dedicated seeker. It is also an eloquent introduction to the mysteries of the great goddess Kali, providing numerous views of her manifold nature, and showing the immense but hidden role played throughout history by women in the development and dissemination of tantric practices and beliefs.

Jan Fries explores the spectrum of techniques from mudra to mantra, pranayama to puja, from kundalini arousal to purification to sexual rites, and makes them both accessible and relevant, translating them out of the Twilight Language of old texts and setting them in the context of both personal transformation and the historical evolution of traditions. The web of connections between Tantra and Chinese Alchemy and Taoism are explored as the author weaves together many of the previously disparate strands of philosophies and practices. This book challenges the reader to dream, delight, and develop, and provides an illustrated guidebook on how to do so.

Bliss awaits those who dare.” [via]