Sunday, 27 April 2008

Innocent Tiger

Innocent Tiger (Jungle Spirit)

I am late on the Bead Journal Project ; I don't have the skills to turn my ideas into reality... Meanwhile I have made a Spirit Doll thinking back on the days I spent in India, especially near Periyar's Wild Tigers reservation. I have tried to render the high vibrations of the jungle together with some stories people have told me, as wild animals stay very clear from tourists :o)

She has two silver tags ; "power" and "wisdom", and a lucky bell. In the fringe there is a clove which is supposed to bring luck, a yellow exotic seed and an amethyst chip supposed to be good for spiritual energy. On her shoulder is a snake with a black tongue. This is a reference to a frightening dream I had in India, and to the Kundalini snake. I took a yoga class in the village next to Periyar, which had amazing effects on me and convinved me to start taking lessons again (well the teacher actually ordered me to do this). The Indian teacher was very kind to me, as I found out last thursday with my "sadistic" Paris teacher lol. Funnily enough in my new course, I met a woman who was in Pondicherry around the same time as I was there.

I am always amazed by the meditative process that takes place when making a Spirit Doll. This one brought back the intense pain I felt on my first days back home. But after a while, she became friendly though a little mischievious (she must be a friend of Coyote).

I will try to take better pictures tomorrow but I was impatient to introduce her to the World. I hope you like her.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Be your note

Thank you all for your kind comments on my Indian posts. As you may have guessed, I am still a little disturbed by my trip, as I have discovered myself from a totally different and unexpected angle. I dream of India every night, and amusing synchronicities keep popping up. For instance yesterday, as I was meditating on the wound-that-opened-again and how to close it, I received this wonderful poem via a newsletter :

God picks up the reed flute world and blows.
Each note is a need coming through one of us,
a passion, a longing-pain.
Remember the lips
where the wind-breath originated,
and let your note be clear.
Don't try to end it.
Be your note.
-- Jalalludin Rumi

I had to smile.

Friday, 18 April 2008

South Indian Temples

Shiva Nataraja temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu

Entering a Hindu temple is quite an experience. From the outside, it is often a very high and colourful building, whith so many sculptures it makes your head spin.

Rameshawaram corridor

As you approach the center of the temple through very large and high corridors, you leave the light of day behind you and immerse yourself more in more into the darkness. It is cool inside, and very peaceful. You might hear mantras or people singing and laughing. It is not permitted to take pictures in the temple so you'll have to use your imagination for most of what follows....

Ganesha, Thanjavur

Shiva, Thanjavur

Everywhere there are amazing sculptures, some of which are smothered in ghee (clarified butter), ash and sacred powders, some of which wear clothes, some of which are adorned with food and flowers. I remember vividly a sculpture of a couple on a pillar in Chidambaram ; the man tall and tenderly protective, the woman smaller and all in sensuous curves, the man had his hand under the woman's chin and somebody had placed a few raisins there. A very moving picture.

Praying in Madurai (c) Claude Renault

Devotees are everywhere, some stay standing, others kneel, a few lie on the floor to show their absolute worship. Some shave their hair and give them away to the temple.

The central shrine is generally not visible to non-Hindus. It is a small dark cave in which a representation of the God is placed (often a lingam and a yoni). Lots of candles are lit. The doors of the shrine are only open a few hours a day. Fire and water always present.

After receiving darshan (benediction), devotees are given a little spicy milk to drink from their cupped right hand. All in all there is a powerful smell of milk and butter that reminds the sweet sour smell of young babys. Therefore it feels a little like being in your mother's womb again.
Theyyam (c) Claude Renault
In some temples in Kerala region there are trance dancing performances known as Theyyatam at certain times of the year.

All in all something very powerful can be felt there. On my first visit to a temple, I simply cried. Later, I understood that at least in India, God certainly exists. You can see it in the shiny eyes of the people .

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


While in Tamil Nadu, I fell in love with the old houses. They often have terraces on which people can sleep on hot nights. There is often a palm tree roof or a palm tree room on the terrace.

Doors are decorated at the bottom with yellow and red paint, which is supposed to be auspicious, and above them the God of the house is sculpted ; you might find a heart for a Christian, a David star for a Jew, an elephant for a Hindu etc...

Each day, women wake up early to prepare breakfast and clean the house. When they have finished they draw lucky kolams in front of their doors. Traditionnally these were made using rice flour to feed insects and birds, nowadays people use chalk or paint.

I learnt a lot about these houses in the superb Dakshina Chitra village museum, and wandering through Pondicherry's streets on foot.

Thinking of you

In India, I wasn't very lucky on the textile/bead search. Just before I left I understood that beads are produced mainly around Delhi, and the interesting regions for textile are up north too (Orissa, Gujarat...). I thought I would visit Arikamedu, an archeological site which was a major bead export town more than two thousands years ago. However I discovered in Pondicherry's museum that there was nothing to see there (that's why it wasnt mentioned in my guidebooks lol).

However I saw many treasures in shops, which I found very difficult not to buy (gorgeous women's traditional clothes). But I kept thinking about my beading friends :o)

From India with love

Thinking back on my Indian experience, I am convinced that most of what I lived was happening not in the ordinary reality but rather in dreamland or on the archetypal level. Ordinary reality, that kept me firmly grounded, was great physical discomfort and long driving hours with a maddening driver. At the same time I experienced many emotions and insights that cannot really be explained by what I saw or did. Well, I suppose I can see Coyote's paw in my everyday miseries leading to insights. I think it is just possible that one of my chakras opened up in the bargain - while I was in the jungle.

Anyways, while in India it came to me that this country is probably a Paradise for trees. There are trees everywhere, incredibly healthy and green, even when it doesnt't rain, plus many trees are sacred in India. Just have a look at these beauties...

Tree on the side of the road, Tamil Nadu. They all wear numbers for some reason.

Trees in Pondicherry's French quarter

Tea trees near Munnar, Kerala

Sacred tree inside Thanjavur's temple, Tamil Nadu

Tree spirit in Thanjavur's temple

Sacred tree hidden near the beach of Rameshwaram.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Goodbye India

I am sitting in an internet shop near Chennai (Madras) airport, highly excited because tomorrow I meet my partner and children, the day after I meet my parents and my sister and her family, but very depressed because tomorrow I'm also leaving India.

After this trip, I know that my soul is part Indian, I must have been here before. Although on the material side it was a nightmare (I have been sick all the time, unable to eat and sleep properly, prey to fever, insect bites and tourista and so on), on the emotional and spiritual side I have been truly blessed. In a very humorous and matter of fact way, God has been giving me the answers that I had been praying for, with the help of the most amazing guide. I feel humbled and stunned, lucky and so much alive ! I also feel I am no longer a child, but at last a grown-up !

God's message to me ? "Work harder in all you do" ;o)
Amongst other things... (Hey, you have to work too, can't tell everything lol)