WOW. I was doing a Skype consult with one of my subscribers when I’m finally like what do you DO? Because her chart was kind of all Jupiter, Uranian, Lilith-ish and she told me she is writing a book on the Dakini…And I’m like “the what?” So that is how this little Q & A came about.
Kerry Moran is “a depth-oriented psychotherapist, a writer, a Buddhist practitioner, and a few other things. I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal from 1985-1998, during which time I traveled extensively in Tibet and wrote several books, including Kailas: On Pilgrimage to the Sacred Mountain of Tibet and a number of guides to Nepal. I currently work as a Buddhist-oriented psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon.”
MYSTIC: What are the Dakinis? Muses? Buddhist Angels?
K.M: Hard to pin them down in words, they are both compelling and elusive! The short answer might be: mystical/magical feminine beings who embody enlightened power. The dakini appears in Tibetan Buddhism as a muse, a trickster, a mediatrix, a provocateur. Statues and paintings show her as dancing in the sky, naked except for jewelry and delicate bone ornaments. She appears in visions and dreams, in meditative awareness, and in the form of actual women, provoking and inspiring practitioners towards enlightenment — the recognition of the nature of their own minds. She has many moods — playful, wrathful, inspiring, seductive, terrifying — but her basic nature is always profound wisdom and effortless compassion.
MYSTIC: How did you come to be interested in them?
K.M: Traveling through Tibet in the mid-80s when it first opened to independent travelers, I was struck by the strength, resilience and humor of the Tibetan people. Clearly they were on to something, and I could only attribute it to their deep-seated Buddhist faith, which years of Chinese occupation had failed to destroy.
It took me several years to dig through my own personal layers of resistance, but I became a Buddhist in 1988. The teachings and meditation instruction that followed, along with my continuing travels in Tibet and Nepal, revealed more about the dakini.
I went deeper into dakini-land when I wrote my master’s thesis exploring her from a cultural and therapeutic perspective – weaving together the ancient image of the dakini with our culture’s profound need to reintegrate the power, sexuality, and fierce, grounded femininity she embodies.
MYSTIC: I feel so naive but as a lifelong vegetarian and with an interest in/respect for Buddhism, i have not heard of them, why is this?
K.M.: Maybe because the dakini only appears in Tibetan Buddhism? But I am inclined to say that it’s because she is the dark feminine– the assertive, angry, powerful, sexual feminine that’s been swept under the rug in Western culture for a few millennia. She doesn’t get much press.
MYSTIC: A few years ago I saw an amazing exhibition called Goddess that was all about the Hindu-Arabic Gods/Goddesses and they said there were two paths of Buddhism one the better known school of non-attachment/celibacy etc and one that was more sensual and creative. Do the Dakini belong to the latter?
K.M: Yes, she belongs to Tantra, an ancient spiritual tradition that has both Hindu and Buddhist forms. Tibetan Buddhist Tantra or Vajrayana emphasizes the integration of spiritual realization with ordinary life.The dakini’s mission is to wake us up to this.
MYSTIC: How do you feel the Dakini fits in with other traditions e.g.: Wicca, Islam, Judeo Christianity etc. Is there any cross over?
K.M.:To my mind she embodies an important missing piece in mainstream Western religious traditions – the transformative power, and raw sexuality of the dark feminine that has been taboo since at least the witch hunts of Europe.
MYSTIC: what does the word Dakini literally mean?
K.M: Dakini is a Sanskrit term. originally referring to malevolent witch-spirits of ancient India. She was developed further in Hindu Tantra, and reaches her full fruition in Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan word for dakini is khandroma – literally, “She Who Goes Through the Sky”, more poetically translated as Sky-Goer or Sky Dancer.
MYSTIC: Do you think it could be a good idea to work with Dakini energy or could it be dangerous?
K.M.: I think it depends on your motivation and your frame of reference. She needs to be respected — she is not something to tinker with casually or for personal gain. She’s really a way of being/seeing, a way of moving through the world in a free and unobstructed fashion, unhindered by conceptual thought. She is the integration of space and awareness. If you are sincere about developing this – for the benefit not just of yourself, but of all beings, as Buddhism emphasizes – then … go for it!
See also What Is A Dakini?