By Kate Aughenbaugh
Before I began my Tantra Shakti teacher training with Rod Stryker, I was working with the Wild Unknown tarot regularly and I consistently pulled the Tower, which represents unexpected and uncontrollable upheaval. It is illustrated on the card as a lighting bolt splintering a tree. I had a turbulent and uneasy relationship with this card until a few days ago when I changed my perspective with the help of tantric practice. Today, wondering how best to explain the practice and what Tantra is to me, I pulled a card that I had never pulled before, Strength; a refreshing change from my well-worn Tower. Strength, as you can see from the title page of this document, is depicted with a lion, rose in mouth, infinity symbol in its third eye and rays of light beaming down overhead. It was perfect because it represents the ability to unleash Shakti (strength) to overcome limitations.
I pulled my old pal the Tower during the Tantra Shakti training and for the first time I didn’t want to fling the card across the room or burn it so that I couldn’t pull it from the deck again. I smiled. I recognized that all of the structures that I had built and dismantled along with the fears and paradoxes that I had come in sharp contact with, had a beauty of their own and had pushed me in the direction that would allow me to recognize my Shakti strength to weather the storm. I began to intuitively make tantric choices that were safe, sustainable, and elevating to accept and expand beyond my tower and transform my life.
Tantra translates to ‘stretch beyond limits’ and also to ‘weaving’. It acknowledges that we have conditions and limitations and it provides a way of allowing Shakti, that resides within us, to expand beyond these limitations. Tantra weaves the technology of many time-tested practices. However, it doesn’t stop there. It’s a living tradition and if something is safe, sustainable, and elevates you, it can be considered tantric.
Much like the infinity symbol depicted in the lion’s third eye, Tantra embraces both dual and non-dual reality. There are clearly two separate circles, part of one symbol; there is no separation between the divine and material. I have also applied this view to the imagery of light and dark; the two can’t exist without the other and are one in the same. Rod said several times during the training that when he meets with his teachers they are rarely interested in his meditation practice or transcendent experiences. Instead, they want to know about his life because life is the place where one has the opportunity to experience divinity.
Tantra methodology and philosophy is how I am able to expand my courage to begin to investigate, honor, and accept my fears and the mind boggling puzzles that they present so that I can soothe and balance them in order to not be controlled by them. Much of our focus during the training was using technique to awaken and expand light energy. As I reflected on practice throughout the course, my self-confidence, alertness, and perception of the dualistic world were transforming as my inner practice was brightening. My perception towards the Tower was changing. You know Tantra is thriving when you find more joy, fearlessness in your life, and that the amount of time between creating an intention and the intention manifesting is shortening. The Tower will always be a part of my deck, along with all of the other archetypes and scenarios available in this divine life.