Shiva is a Hindu god. His wife is Parvati and his children are Ganesha and Kartikeya. He has a third eye, the Ganges flowing from his hair, a crescent moon on his forehead, a cobra around his neck, and wears a tiger skin. He rides the bull, Nandi. Shiva ensures the creation, preservation, and destruction of the world.
Shiva is simultaneously a peaceful yogi and fierce destroyer. To me, he seems the ideal masculine; benevolent, yet firm.
My Journey to Shiva
My knowledge of Shiva has mostly come as a byproduct of my study of Kali. However, I’ve become more connected to Shiva lately as I recognize the importance of the Divine Masculine as well as the Divine Feminine. While Shiva’s place in the trinity with Brahma and Vishnu is as destroyer, I often remember Shiva’s actions as a preserver and the benevolence of his ways. He has drunk poison to save the universe and lain as a corpse to absorb his wife’s battle rage. Yet, he also scorched Kamadeva with his third eye and decapitated Ganesha, who was then a stranger to him and blocking his path. Ultimately, Shiva seems to me one of the highest forces of benevolence, doing what is necessary— creation, defense, destruction— in service of the world. He destroys all that stands between him and his desire. His powerful meditative side and his role as a corpse demonstrate his ability to move between matter and mysticism. This makes him, in my mind, the god of tantra. He is the ultimate Divinity in sexual union, providing the objective power of the phallus in combination with the soul. And this is an important part of my spirituality.
image © Vrindivan Das