I've always enjoyed the perspective of being shown what you need to see without trying to figure out what you need based on what you think you want. So a little while ago, I pulled out my one of my favorite resources, Awakening Shakti - and leafed through - letting the pages fall open while I pointed my finger to a page. And it landed precisely on the first page of a chapter dedicated to Chinnamasta - known as the Goddess of Radical Self Transcendence. When we talk goddess-shop, most people just picture beautiful, gentle, feminine benevolent beings - which is true - sometimes. They are all benevolent expressions of the Feminine in their own ways - but this is not a dainty goddess. Chinnamasta lives on the fierce end of the spectrum with the warrior goddesses Kali and Durga, and she represents "the dark realm of the Goddess's transformative terror and mystery" - she represents the Feminine in her fully ferocious expression.
And it doesn't take long to realize what's meant by the transformative terror and mystery until you look at her. She's shown holding cut off her own head and her life blood is flowing (more like spewing) form her neck into three distinct streams. One flows into her head that she's cut off and is holding up herself, and the other two streams flow into the mouths of her two attendees. In the Tantric tradition, she is literally the self-sacrificing, life giving mother, nurturing herself so that she can nurture life.
But beyond the shocking imagery - Kempton, the author of Awakening Shakti, says that she is essentially a goddess of the inner yogic process - she is the Goddess present when kundalini awakens - when we come into our own spiritual power. And by carrying the energy of yoga’s enlightening fire (kundalini) - she represents the process that allows one to be led to radical self-realization.
Chinnamasta is a goddess of transcendence and ecstatic empowerment - and also represents sexual desire, and as such, demands that we look for the sacred in the forbidden and the terrifying. How many of us want to look away when were are thrown into the fire of realizing something uncomfortable about ourselves? How many of us want to sink back into our mundane and slightly miserable lives instead of seeking out the parts of ourselves that are terrifyingly alive? How many of us suppress our sexuality or true sexual desires? Transcendence coms from acceptance - and acceptance comes in receiving all parts of ourselves - especially the seemingly forbidden.
The parts that society as deemed forbidden, but even more so, the parts of ourselves that we feel we need to keep locked and hidden away.
Chinnamasta's realization comes in the form of the selfless offering of teaching and power that arises when the head of the personal ego, the false self, is severed because this is when we actually allow ourselves to sit with our forbidden and hidden natures. And this is where her magic really starts to set in - because her power lies in her passion and her passion comes form being fully consumed by the fire of actually FEELING. Feeling desire, emotion, the power of fearless self inquiry and forgiveness, feeling the forbidden ... all of these things convert the elements of passion into fierce energy. And that fierce energy of transcendence is what transmits into wisdom and wisdom transmits into awakening. Just like lightening, passion is what creates the spark to the deeper realm of the spiritual self - and it's Chinnamasta's thunderbolt of lightening that deepens and accelerates spiritual awakening when we have the desire and patience to let passion guides us back to what our hearts are really calling out for.
And if you're curious, on the spectrum of Goddess Study where Chinnamasta falls and where you can expect to feel her in your life ... it will likely be after Kali sweeps through to slay all your demons. Kali is the Goddess most associated with the death of the ego - so you have to go through that death and begin the rebirth process in order for Chinnamasta to be able to emerge in her full self-sarificing force. You have to be wiling to lose everything to gain everything - and that's where she comes in. Once you've surrendered to being ripped apart physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually by Kali, you lose your attachment to your attachments, and that's when Chinnamasta can enter.
When you fully surrender, when you drop the resistance, she can come in when you've fully entered into the self-surrender that comes with the spiritual process. Because when you've fully truly surrendered - you can release your resistance - and that's when you can be led by the truth of your desires, without the attachment or shame that's societally associated with them.