In the beginning was the word...

The Goddess Matangi is the 9th of the dasa mahavidyas, the 10 wisdom goddesses of the tantra tradition. In essence all 10 Goddesses can be considered as versions or epithets of Shakti, feminine power but their individual presentation lets us go deeper into the various aspects of precisely what this divine energy is and how we can relate to it in our everyday life.


Matangi bears many similarities to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of speech, music, learning and the arts and consort of Brahma, the creator lord of the Hindu trinity. She is Vak: speech or the word by which we label objects, explain experience, communicate with other, process, think, relate to and record the world we inhabit.


Just imagine not having a language in which to express yourself!


Prior to the emergence of words as speech a complex process of transformation takers place. Matangi represents the 4 steps to manifestation of sound, each of which can be related to different states of awareness and to the subtle energies within us - the chakra system and the layers of our being - the 5 sheaths.


"May my word be one with my thought and my thought be one with my word." Aitareya Upanishad


Step 1: the word perceives itself for manifestation.

Step 2: the word reaches the thinking mind.

Step 3: the word is fashioned by the heart (coloured by present emotion) and formulated by the mind.

Step 4: the word is articulated and pours forth into the world.


Our speech is coloured along the path towards expression and Matangi is usually depicted as having dark green or sometimes dark blue skin. The words we express are laced with tone; imbibed with implication; shrouded in hidden meaning; fragranced by personality and often underpinned by an agenda. When we look more deeply into the words we speak and those we hear, we begin to see into what lies beneath - a subtle layer and then increasingly subtle ones beyond that.


"Ancient dissectionists spoke of the auditory nerve being divided into 3 (or more) pathways deep in the brain. They surmised that the ear was meant to therefore hear at 3 different levels. One pathway was said to hear the mundane conversations of the world. A second pathway apprehended learning and art. A third pathway existed so the soul itself might hear guidance and gain knowledge while here on Earth." Women Who Run With The Wolves - Clarissa Pinkola Estes


This quote reminds me strongly of the Sa Ta Na Ma kriya from Kundalini yoga in which the practitioner meditates with a moving mudra, touching thumb to each finger in term whilst chanting the mantra first out loud, the sound of humans, then whispering it, the sound of loves and finally silently - the sound of the divine.


"Attention to an unseen truth they seize,

A sound as of invisible augur wings.

Voices of an unplumbed significance,

Mutterings that brood in the core of matter' sleep.

In the heart's profound audition they can catch,

The murmurs lost by life's uncaring ear.

A prophet's speech in thought's omniscient trance." Aurobindo


To find expression sound, or the primordial word, has to make its way toward manifestation. Matangi can be deconstructured in the same way we might trace a thought back to its origin: mati - the thinking mind; mata - the thought or idea and matanga - that which goes to the thought - just as Lord Shiva goes to his eternal consort, the Goddess Parvati. Therefore Matangi is the articulated word expressed into the world.


In the tantra system Matangi is often depicted as a polluting force. An underbelly of subterfuge, rebellion or even relating to the many sub cultural activities that had to be hidden away from the perceived normality of an organised stable society. In honouring the Goddess Matangi devotees will even offer polluted food!


The veena, a stringed musical instrument most associated with Saraswati is also shown in depictions of Matangi as a representation of the backbone. The strings are the nerves and Matangi's fingers move the strings as she animates the being in a melody of expression. This expression is coloured by the heart, formulated by the mind and emerges as language appearing as a truth yet polluted. Along the path its essence has been radically changed by thoughts, emotions, memories, like and dislikes as well as influenced by the precise moment, our perception of a situation and of course the ego.


Unlike Saraswati, Matangi is frequently shown with one or sometimes two parrots. Parrots, can be taught to mimic speech but they have no knowledge or understanding behind their expression. As a symbol, the parrots call attention to where we are perhaps mimicking others without true understanding or embodiment of the words we express. Where have we fallen out of alignment with our true beliefs, values and intentions and are simply parroting what we think we should or what we perceive others want to hear?


Sadhana with Matangi can shine awareness into our how we express ourselves through sound. How our feeling states alter what we say; the words we chose, tone we apply and the implication or hidden meanings beneath it and importantly, direct awareness to what is left over as mutated energy.


When we start to look at our communication in this deconstructed manner we might be able to see more clearly where our own truth gets lost or altered. The power of Matangi is to lead us into the light of knowledge through the shadows of reactive speech as she unwraps the illusion of language that hides behind itself and offers us a route to connect back to the divine truth of sound.

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