Tara Berserkr- the Berserker

5f44573203f93c27d5e05e316dc2de07  Berserkr (berserker)

I adopted Tara as my magical name back in 2012. However I didn’t feel ready to announce it publicly until I had a ‘surname’ for it. There are hundreds of Taras out there. I wanted my one to be special.

Berserker came to me slowly as a combination of a few different things. First of all in May last year (2014) during my stay in Croatia I had a dream:
In a dream Dana (my sister) and I walked up a hill. It looked a bit like Calton Hill in Edinburgh, an old place of pagan worship. Every year Beltane Fire Festival takes place up there. The hill in my dream was somewhat different though. On its very top there was a tree – a very powerful and old looking. It glowed with a very br979851517471261221ight light/ flame- orange, red and yellow. The light was spreading across the sky. I was walking towards it and I felt almost weightless. Something in my head told me that this was an ash tree, the gateway to another dimension. As I got closer I was suddenly knocked down by a very powerful force- similar to what happens sometimes during the sleep paralysis experiences. I fell on the back of my head. Some people run towards me. Dana looked scared so I told her: “on’t worry, tell them I’m having an epileptic seizure” That’s how the dream ended. I don’t suffer from epilepsy by the way..
I knew straight away that there was something significant about this dream. As soon as I got back home and regained internet access I started researching symbolic meaning of ash trees. Somehow Yggdrasil escaped my attention. This is strange as I knew about Yggdrasil before- over a decade ago when I developed a strong affinity with Odin. In later years my fascination with Odin eased off somewhat until I almost forgot about him.

It was only during my visit in Inverness at the end of the August last year (2014) when Dana jokingly called me a “berserker” in relation to my rage attacks I suffered from as a teenager. In medieval Norse and Germanic history and folklore, the berserkers (or berserkr as I prefer to spell it) were described as members of an unruly warrior gang that worshiped Odin. They were commissioned to royal and noble courts as bodyguards and ‘shock troops’, who would strike fear into all who encountered them. Adding to their ferocity, and in order to intimidate the enemy, they would wear bear and wolf pelts when they fought, giving them the name Berserker, meaning “bear coat” in Old Norse. Dating back as far as the ninth century, the berserker Norse Warriors were said to be able to do things that normal humans could not. According to ancient legend, the berserkers were indestructible, and no weapon could break them from their trance. They were described as being immune to fire and to the strike of a sword, continuing on their rampage despite injury. They often fought empty handed discarding all their weapons.
According to some sources berserkers threw their shields away as a reminder that their ultimate identity was no longer their social persona. A warrior’s shield and weapons were the very emblems of his social persona and status. In biting or discarding the shield the berserker achieved the unity with the animal w136834_1311939629_600orld. This idea fits well to the Thelemic concept of the beast.
Some people believe that berserkers trance was achieved by consumption of amanita muscaria- the fly agaric mushrooms. Another theory suggests that their rage attacks were actually epileptic seizures! Sounds like a complete nonsense to me although it makes my dream more significant, especially since I didn’t know this connection at the time of my dream.

As soon as Dana mentioned berserkers I immediately remembered my dream. I remembered also that Odin was my chosen deity during my late teens. I began to search Odin’s background to refresh my memory and I found incredible insights that fit perfectly with my personality:

Odin – “Master of Ecstasy” or The “Furious One “ is one of the most complex and enigmatic characters in Norse mythology, and perhaps in all of world literature. He’s a relentless seeker after and giver of wisdom, but he has little regard for communal values such as justice, fairness, or respect for law and convention. He’s the divine patron of rulers, and also of outcasts. He’s a war-god, but also a poetry-god, He’s worshiped by those in search of prestige, honor, and nobility, yet he’s often cursed for being a fickle trickster. The ecstasy that Odin embodies and imparts is the unifyingFem_barbarian factor behind the myriad areas of life with which he is especially associated: war, sovereignty, wisdom, magic, shamanism, poetry, and the dead.” (http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/the-aesir-gods-and-goddesses/odin/ )

Odin’s connection with shamanism is especially significant to me. Not only he put himself through series of ordeals and initiations. He was even willing to take his own eye out in search for wisdom. In berserkers he gave them mad courage in fight. They were his chosen, favourite type of warriors. There was even a theory that berserk possessions were not by the animal spirits but Odin himself. I realised that this MAD courage was necessary for me to complete my shamanic initiation.

 

 

 

Tara + Berserkr

The moment I announced myself as Tara Berserkr Anton’s immediate question was: “Aren’t these two deities contradictory?”
As it turns out they’re not.

First of all berserkers just like many Tara worshipers were placed quite low in their society. Even though during the battle berserkers were feared and admired, in everyday life people avoided them and treated them like freaks. Sometimes they were even ridiculed and bullied.

There are also other similarities in in the cults of Tara and Odin:

Odin was himself a tumblr_mobhnun6La1rs05z4o1_500practitioner of seidr- magic and shamanism concerned with “discerning and altering the course of destiny by re-weaving part of destiny’s web!” Seidr not unlike many Tara’s cults was practiced by women, hedge-witches as you could call them. Seidr wasn’t a fitting activity for men, to say the least. A man who practiced seidr could expect to be labeled ergi (Old Norse for “unmanly”) by his peers – one of the gravest insults that could be hurled at a Norseman. While there were probably several reasons for seidr being considered ergi, the greatest seems to have been the centrality of weaving, the paragon of the traditional female economic sphere, in seidr. Still, this didn’t stop numerous men from engaging in seidr, sometimes even as a profession. A few such men have had their deeds recorded in the sagas.” (http://norse-mythology.org/concepts/seidr/ ) Therefore seidr and Tara’s cults both attracted females and feminine men.
A great irony with seidr is that Odin himself was its practitioner! This is one of the biggest paradoxes of Odin. Even now he’s perceived as a very macho/manly type of God whilst in fact he has prominent transgender qualities. Some sources claim that Valkyrias were not so much female helpers but rather aspects of Odin himself. This brings on a very strong trickster aspect to his personality. Perhaps just like Tara he realised that gender roles were a social construct and didn’t apply in the world of spirit.
One more interesting aspect of Tara Berserkr relates to the concept of a wrathful Bodhisattva. Three types of Bodhisattvas exist in Buddhism- peaceful ones, joyful ones and wrathful ones. Even though the wrathful ones appear to be the 4ec4fe7836ef98408adf68040e71eac7most scary (according to Sam Webster) they’re in fact the most compassionate ones. Their lack of tolerance towards pain of Samsara makes them act in quite reckless, often violent ways. They’re ultimate destroyers of illusions, passionate warriors just like thelemic Ra-Hoor-Khuit. In this context Tara Berserkr becomes an enlightened mad warrior as well as a simple citizen, placed quite low in the social hierarchy. Disguised just like Odin the Wanderer, leading simple life full of magical insights, connected with the land and people around me.

Tara Berserkr- Nature of Tara

 

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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

Tara as a goddess appea11036253_10206337905800801_2318082299891267337_nrs 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 93df6dbb4827a5567c150b7053df883bsentient 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 17170042298833255cjvNbN4wc“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.