May I let my voice be a clarion call. I will use these words for justice. I will use these words for truth. And humour.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006


the five M's

music: le tigre. the strokes.

colors: green, light blue

mood: very good

thoughts: this was on my mind a few years back, and i finally found it again today (do a search for "five" on the page). i had forgotten which tradition it comes from, turns out it's tantra.
The most infamous practice is the circle ritual, the chakrasadhana or chakrapuja, which involves the panchamakara or "five M's": mamsa (meat), matsya (fish), madya (alcohol), mudra (parched grain) and maithuna (sexual intercourse). The meaning of mudra or parched grain is uncertain, but it probably refers to a hallucinogenic substance like ergot. Since these five elements are impure or illicit within the socioreligious context of Hindu orthodoxy, indulgence in any of them transgresses the purity code. Exposure results in feelings of shame, disgust or fear (Kripal 1995: 30-32).

All Tantric sects can be classified as either left-handed or right-handed. Followers of the left-handed vamachara path physically partake of the five M's in the the cakrasadhana ritual and are often branded as degenerates by other Hindus. The more respectable adepts of the right-handed dakshinachara path interpret the ritual symbolically and perform it either mentally or with nonpolluting substitutes for the forbidden elements. Similarly, some Wiccans physically enact the Great Rite through the sexual union of priest and priestess, but in most circles the Great Rite is celebrated symbolically by the lowering of the athame into the chalice.

The real purpose of the panchamakara is not to shock a prudish public, but to break through the social conditioning that can be a mental straightjacket to the spiritual aspirant. For a Hindu the violation of dietary or behavioral taboos, either symbolically or actually, is one way to overturn the neat and tidy preconceptions of social rigidity and be jolted into an altered state of awareness. Obviously, in other societies the concepts of propriety may differ, but in every case their violation results in the same old shame, disgust and fear. It goes without saying that Tantra, especially the left-handed variety, can be a dangerous course. There is a fine line between rising above duality and falling prey to the delusion that religious attainment puts one above the moral law.

Try it, you'll like it.

Peace to all,

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