Shiva is the Hindu God associated with the destruction of the ego. He is one of three principle deities in Hinduism along with Brahma the creator and Vishnu the preserver. Together they destroy, create and preserve the universe. This seems symbolic of the death and rebirth we experience after an ego death. Shiva is also consciousness and he represents the universal collective consciousness as well as the universe itself.
Shiva has been coming to me in my dreams the past few months and he’s also been coming up for me in my readings. Since I’ve started this journey of exploring consciousness, he’s been popping up quite a bit. I had never worked with him before or even really been drawn to him in the past. I’ve always been more drawn to Goddesses and the Divine Feminine rather than the Divine Masculine. But lately over the past few months during this spiritual awakening I’m experiencing, several male deities have come through to me. I think it’s there way of telling me that it’s time to find balance between the feminine and the masculine.
Shiva is an interesting deity to me because he represents so much. He is seen to be everything and yet nothing at the same time. He is the masculine counterpart to the Shakti feminine. This is represented in this painting by the Sri Yantra which glows behind his head. The Sri Yantra represents the cosmos, the universe and consciousness. Shiva and Shakti are represented by the upward and downward triangles within the yantra. The convergence of the triangles represents the divine union of the masculine and the feminine.
Shiva is also associated with altered states of consciousness. Cannabis is sacred to him and many of his followers known as sadhus smoke cannabis out of the traditional chillum pipe in order to fill themselves with the energy of Shiva. As a cannabis smoker myself, I found this to be interesting. Cannabis works by altering your state of consciousness and your perception. It opens your mind to other possibilities and makes you realize that there is more to this reality than meets the eye. Every year at the Shivaratri festival, Shiva is celebrated and honored by one million devotees who smoke cannabis and cover their bodies in sacred ash.
At this festival, the sadhus or sacred ascetics (followers of Shiva) bless their chillum pipes filled with ganja and share it with the festival goers. The sadhus are seen as connected to Shiva through their sacrifice of all material and worldly possessions. So a blessing from them can be seen as a blessing directly from Shiva himself. Cannabis is illegal in Nepal where the festival takes place. But every year, the ban is lifted for festival attendees so they can worship their God in peace and devotion.
In this painting, Shiva sits in the cosmos surrounded by galaxies and stars. The swirling galaxies represent the chaos of the universe while Shiva (consciousness) sits in the center keeping the balance. His snakes which represent Kundalini energy are wrapped around him as he sits in a trance. His eyes are half shut and this can have two meanings depending on who you are talking to. Some say it means simply that he is in a meditative state. Others say that it’s because he smoked the sacred cannabis. I’ll let you decide which one feels right for you.
For those who like to connect with this ancient deity of the cosmos, prints and prayer cards of this piece are available in my shop.