Fertility rites and magic
“The locutions "fertility magic," "fertility rite," and the like will be used to refer to the whole complex of religious practice in archaic agricultural societies, where more of course was at issue than the fertility of the soil alone. They will signify a circular (rather than linear-causal) interweaving of aims, including renewal of world-lease, connection of above and below, cohesion of social units, and abundance of life in general, including the crops. In Indian religions these three categories are interpenetrated to an unusual degree. On the one hand, India is known to have participated peripherally, by way of Tibetan and other influences, in the Central and North Asian shamanic zone”. Thomas McEvilley ‘The Archaeology of Yoga’ (Page 45).
“Chattopadhyaya has noted that the tantric term Vāmācāra, usually translated "left-hand way," literally means "the woman practice" and quotes the Ācārabheda Tantra saying, "The ultimate female force is to be propitiated by becoming a woman."200 In the rituals of Durgā, the male worshiper drew closer to the goddess by thinking of himself as a woman. And the practice was not purely mental: Ramakrishna, a Durgā worshiper, wore women's clothing for several years as a part of his Sādhanā. It is altogether plausible, in the context of Bronze Age religion, that the activity that is being worshiped by serpents on the seals is an attempt by sympathetic magic to stimulate the sexuality of the earth and hence her yield. It is not to be wondered at, then, that a male figure or shaman should wear the hairstyle, jewelry, and "girdle" of the goddess herself. In fact, it is to be expected. The female is more powerful in such rituals than the male. The Vāmācāra practice of "becoming a woman" is, according to some tantric texts, the only true form of tantrism. In terms of primitive practice in general, it is a means of acquiring for the male magician the power that the female expresses by giving birth, and that he will express by magically manipulating events. A Sahajiyā song of the middle ages is explicit, saying, "Discard the male (puruṣa) in thee and become a woman (Prakṛti). We might recall again that the Ājīvika initiation rite exhibits the structure of "rebirth from the fathers, "that is, of transferring to the males, through initiation, the fertitity power of the females.” Thomas McEvilley ‘The Archaeology of Yoga’ (Page 72).
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