Eastern philosophies have always been central to my own magical path. I often forget that many western mages overlook them completely. I started to read my first books on Taoism when I was 15 years old- “Tao of the Pooh” and some Allan Watts. They have changed my perception of the world in a very profound way. Eastern minds appear to be more fluid and flexible than their western counterparts.They describe the world as a constant movement. In this context even gods appear very different. Taoism and Buddhism in particular rarely talk about gods as actual entities. They’re seen more as forces of nature. In this context when I think about Tara I see her more as a principle than an actual being.
She arrived to my life through the holistic therapy circles in my late twenties.
Tara as a goddess appears in both Buddhism and Hinduism. She takes on slightly different forms depending on the region:
– In Hinduism her name means a “Star” or a “Shining One”, depending on a translation. She is a form of Durga or Parvati. Her Tantric manifestations include Durga, Kali and Parvati. I feel close association with her ‘Star’ aspect as this interpretation fits with the Thelemic perspective. Tara is a great magical name for me. It’s a good replacement for my birth name Maria (Holy Mary) who is a beautiful and compassionate deity. Problem with Maria is that she has no dark aspect to her. Holy Mary is simply to sweet for me. Tara as the ‘Star’ is seen as a beautiful but perpetually self-combusting thing. She is perceived at core as the absolute, unquenchable hunger that propels all life. https://cittashanti.com/2011/08/01/tara-the-star-goddess-first-philosophical-feminist/ From what I understand she was supposedly a mother of demons in Tibetan mythology.
-In Tibetan Buddhism Tara is a female Bodhisattva. I allowed myself to copy a bit from the wikipedia page in here:
She is known as the “mother of liberation” or the ‘saviouress’- the deity who hears the cries of beings trapped in Samsara. Tara is a Tantric meditation deity whose practice is used by practitioners of the Tibetan branch of Vajrayana Buddhism to develop certain inner qualities and understand outer, inner and secret teachings about compassion and emptiness. Tara is actually the generic name for a set of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas of similar aspect. These may more properly be understood as different aspects of the same quality, as bodhisattvas are often considered metaphors for Buddhist virtues
The most widely known forms of Tārā are:
Green Tārā, (Syamatara) known as the Buddha of enlightened activity
White Tārā, (Sitatara) also known for compassion, long life, healing and serenity; also known as The Wish-fulfilling Wheel, or Cintachakra
Red Tārā, (Kurukulla) of fierce aspect associated with magnetizing all good things
Black Tārā, associated with power
Yellow Tārā, associated with wealth and prosperity
Blue Tara associated with transmutation of anger
Cittamani Tārā, a form of Tārā widely practiced at the level of Highest Yoga Tantra in the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism, portrayed as green and often conflated with Green Tārā
Khadiravani Tārā (Tārā of the acacia forest), who appeared to Nagarjuna in the Khadiravani forest of South India and who is sometimes referred to as the “22nd Tārā”
Funny enough many colours of Tara resemble eight magicks of the Chaos Star even though their meanings are slightly different. As you see Tara is not exactly a goddess, at least unlike the western type.
She is a Bodhisattva -an enlightened (bodhi) being (sattva). This can be interpreted in two or rather three ways:
-EITHER as a higher being who decided to reincarnate in the human form in order to help other beings on Earth
– OR as anyone who, motivated by great compassion feels an urge to help other sentient beings. Quoting Sam Webster and Tantric Thelema: “One who dedicates their life, however imperfectly, to the benefit of beings beside one’s self, has become a Bodhisattva. They no longer seek enlightenment as a way to escape cyclic existence. Bodhisattva seeks enlightenment in order to be more helpful to beings since attainment of enlightenment brings with it greater power and skill”*
I believe that on some level both these interpretations could be seen as the same thing. The higher being could be interpreted as your hidden potential, your Holy Guardian Angel. At some point it overtakes your conscious mind by which point you perceive yourself as a being transformed/transmutated into a higher plane.
There is also a legend associated with Tara that I find particularly interesting:
In this story Tara was a princess, who just like Buddha himself attained bodhiccita- the “Thought of Enlightenment” to save all beings. Up until then, only males had performed this deed and since it was unheard of in a woman monks told her she should pray to be reborn as a man. After a lengthy discussion Tara informed the monks that in the realm of Bodhisattva there was neither male or female but only androgynous being. She then made a vow that until Samsara was empty she would always return in a female body…This brings a nice feminist twist to the whole story. Even these days it is not uncommon for men to consider women as intellectually inferior. I like an idea of a female saviouress- nice counter balance to the Christian idea of Jesus and Buddhist Dalai Lama.
On more thing about Tara that I found interesting is the fact that Tara was a deity widely worshiped by the ‘common folk’, especially in the power circles of women who were themselves trained in crafts of all sorts. Only men allowed in these groups were those who recognised the value of the Divine Feminine. This reminds me a lot of the modern Wiccan witch covens.
Cult of Tara is therefore rooted in everyday life. The original meaning of the word Tantra means “to weave”- a clear association with the simple life of the common people. Quoting a zen proverb: “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water”. Followers of Tara weren’t treated like kings.
Tara has been ever present in my life since 2012 as a gentle goddess of wisdom. She helped me to appreciate simplicity of life and to find spiritual aspect of the mundane things. The thing she didn’t succeed with was breaking me out from my fears and anxiety issues. As I mentioned previously Tara tries to save people from pain of Samsara. Samsara literally means “running in circles”. It’s the most boring and stuck up feature of the human minds and the root of our suffering- the inability to break out from our own limitations.
Even though Tara helped me to find joy and peace in my life I still had severe problems with anxiety that often paralyzed my moves. Part of me was too afraid to follow my ‘call’. I was worrying how it would affect my marriage and my future life. I didn’t want changes. Finally I managed to break through…That’s where I discovered the berserker.
*It’s a common mistake for many people to assume that ‘helping others’ means engaging in the social activities. This is not necessarily true. Some of the world’s biggest crimes were committed with good intentions. An enlightened being becomes aware of other people’s limitations. Those who go out there shouting and trying to preach other people are not enlightened. Sometimes best thing you can do for somebody is to let them be who they are. A Bodhisattva tries to radiate compassion and love in everything they do -simple smile to a stranger, simple friendly gestures in everyday life. In order to generate Bodhisattva into your being you need to spend a fair bit of time in solitude. You need a state of presence, a quiet and aware mind. I suspect that for many this will mean prolonged times in the solitude. It’s not the quantity but the quality of your actions that matters.