How Lord Shiva transmutes our Shadow

Shiva Churning the Milk Ocean

shiva nataraja 3March 9 2013 is Maha Shivaratri, the great night of Shiva. On Maha Shivaratri it is traditional to stay up all night, immersed in devotion for Lord Shiva, increasing in the mind in the energy of Shiva.

The churning of the milk ocean happened at the beginning of time, both the Demi-gods and demons sought to extract the nectar of immortality from the immense milk ocean at the center of the universe.

(The Milk Ocean is a symbol of the Milky Way galaxy, Mula Lunar Sign, which the Sun conjuncted on the Winter Solstice 2012. The Sun won’t be there again on Winter Solstice for another 25,800 years!)
But neither the Demi-gods nor the Demons (the forces of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, our light and shadow sides) were strong enough to do it on their own, so they joined forces. Both our light side and our shadow side must be involved fully if we are to have the nectar!
But once they started churning the ocean, an enormous amount of poison emerged. They stirred it up from the bottom. It was so horrific it threatened to destroy all of creation. So, to avert catastrophe, they called on Lord Shiva. They asked Him to drink all the poison.

This Lord Shiva managed to do. He drank all the evil, then transmuted it within himself, and thus he saved creation, because this allowed for the immortal nectar to be extracted. However, the poison might have destroyed Lord Shiva as well, had he actually swallowed it. Maybe even he could be overwhelmed by our Shadow? So, instead, he held it in his throat, and transmuted it. That is why he is sometimes portrayed blue. One of his forms is called “the blue throated one” (Neelakanthaya). He holds the poison of our darkness in his throat and transmutes it – so that we can live.

This is a story about the need to tread a tantric road to salvation: one which involves both our light and our shadow.

The moral of this story is: It is no good ungroundedly imagining images of light and ascension, and gushing awesome etc, if we ignore our very own huge shadow demon creeping up behind us!

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