For those of you in the United States, I hope you've had a pleasant Thanksgiving weekend.
Continuing on with the process of empowering women through the discussion of helpful & powerful female deities, today I'd like to talk about the Taras.
Now, in the discussion of Tara-Ma, you'll notice that I switch between singular and plural pronouns: this is intentional, as she's essentially one deity with a multitude of faces and manifestations. If you account for each variation as a deific mood, of a kind, you will likely begin to understand and experience her as I do, for she is a multiplicity as a singularity. The ultimate gathering of force and form, in many respects.
Each of these moods represent a multitude of deities gathered into one thread, not unlike hair gathered in a ponytail in some respects. Each form has their own manifestation, tone, tendencies, and strengths, and en masse they are a bit of a circus...all have their own voices, though they're all interrelated and connected through one consciousness.
She is a wonderful being, and her various manifestations are colorful, beautiful, and individually potent. Tara is a Boddhisattvadevi (or female Buddhist Teacher), and her general goal in life is to clear the way such that her followers can learn and improve upon their lives. She cares strongly for a balance in all things and seeks to rectify disturbances either through handling them directly or teaching those who honor her how to unpack their troubles and manage them.
These faces of hers all have a variety of names, so I'll seek to cover a few of them here:
- Lalita, The One Who Plays, often shown to be a light green.
- Ekajati, One Plait Woman, otherwise known as the Blue Tara.
- Kurukulla, Red Tara known as a weaver of magic and enchantment.
- Khadiravani, Tara of the Acacia Forest, she is a Green Tara known for teaching and directing growth.
- Sitatara, the White Tara. I generally see her as the "leader" of the circus, as she's stern, but kind.
- Ugratara-ma, the Black Tara. Her name translates roughly to "Mean Tara Lady", and its a more Kali-like manifestation that's less kind & quite active.
- Ayra Tara-ma, another White Tara, she is sweet and kind. Childlike and ancient.
- Praviratara, another Red Tara, she is swift and powerful, often seen as a heroic being.
These are not all of her aspects, and in truth, she's one of those entities where the specific names aren't needed. Instead, you generally need more of a byway into her realm...a foot in the door, if you will.
Thus, I am writing to give you a foot in that door so that you can begin to work with, learn from, and be inspired by her. Men and women alike can do this, but if you go for refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha in this way, seeking the way to self-empowerment as a woman, you will get a different, somewhat motherly, somewhat sisterly manifestation of Tara in response.
To begin this practice, print an image of Tara-ma that speaks to you and place it on an altarspace at eye level. Light one candle to the left of it, and a stick of incense to the right. Place an orange in front of her, and begin to chant this mantra: "Om tare tuttare ture soha"
As you do so, try to visualize her sitting in front of you on a lotus blossom. Listen for her voice in response, and watch the way her color shifts as you do this.
Bask in that light, and seek to understand this through contemplation as you go about this process. It won't seem like much at first, but she is a quiet being that becomes louder as attention is given.