Yoginis and Animals
A few years ago, I picked up the Yoginis' Oracle by Stella Dupuis at the National Museum, New Delhi. I had just been to the National Crafts Museum to talk to someone about Pupul Jayakar, whose phenomenal book "The Earth Mother" had opened a new understanding for me about women as keepers of ritual art traditions in India. I was about to head to Lata Village in Uttarakhand, drawn there both by the stories of the women of Chipko that to me spoke of their holding the links between land, the sacred, and social change; and by Nanda Devi—the goddess and the mountain. In my PhD dissertation, I called this following the snake.
Then last year the yoginis alighted into my life. I was entranced by the animal-headed yoginis and the animals cooccurring with yoginis. There was an intuition knocking at me through my studies in anthropology, cultural histories of women, and feminist tantric philosophy. I turned to the incredible work of scholars such as Vidya Dehejia to ground my understandings.
I bring these together in my panel presentation at the Symposium of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology—this will also be appearing in print later this year. Through commentary and poetry, I will share my hypotheses and insights on the relationships between yoginis and animals.
May the hidden be revealed in a way that serves the planet and our consciousness. May the links between us and all our kin be regenerated. May the memories of our pasts and imagination carry us into the future.
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