Dance o snakeby Pampattic Cittar
English version by Kamil V. Zvelebil
Original Language Tamil
Dance o snake
for you've seen
the Deluge of Bliss
which stands Outside and Apart
like the Beginning and the Source of all life and all worlds
after it had given life to all life and all worlds
in its Divine Play
|-- from The Poets of the Powers: Freedom, Magic, and Renewal, Translated by Kamil V. Zvelebil|
There is something striking, even shocking about the sacred poetry of the Tamil Siddhas of southern India. What is this image of a dancing snake? And what does it have to do with bliss, the "Source of all life," and "Divine Play"?
Imagery of snakes and serpents often appear in sacred poetry and art. It can particularly cause confusion because Christian iconography focuses so heavily on the image of the serpent in the Garden of Eden as an expression of evil or the Devil. But among Eastern spiritual traditions (as well as pre-Christian pagan traditions in Europe), snakes represent the Divine Feminine, and more specifically, the sacred Kundalini Shakti -- the Goddess energy of manifestation and spiritual power, found within each individual.
In most individuals this energy is coiled up and dormant at the base of the spine. Through spiritual practice and stillness of mind, or occasionally through trauma, the Kundalini is awakened and it rises up the spine to the crown.
Sometimes this rising of the Kundalini "serpent" can be so powerful that trembling or, in extreme cases, convulsions and unconsciousness result. Spiritual practice and increasing familiarity with the energy minimizes these more disruptive expressions. This is the dancing snake that Pampattic Cittar addresses his poem to.
For most mystics, the awakening of the Kundalini is profoundly blissful. And accompanying the bliss is often a sensation of water or flowing delight -- the "Deluge of Bliss."
When you allow yourself to drown in that oceanic bliss, your normal sense of identity, the little self, the ego, disappears. There is no "you" left, just the radiant state of Being. There is a sense of being "Outside and Apart," while, at the same time, being more fully present than you've ever been before.
If you continue to watch quietly, you begin to see how everything -- "all life and all worlds" -- emerge from that great ocean of bliss. It is the "Beginning and the Source" of all things. Despite the many layers of conflict and suffering, the mystic finally sees that, when you go deep enough, all things are formed of pure bliss.
But why does creation manifest at all? Why not simply the blissful ocean in profound stillness? It is Lila. It is Play. The Divine delights in the drama of manifestation, and delights the return to unity once again.
So, dance o snake!