‘Devi in Tantric Practice’, in The Iconic Female, Goddesses of India, Nepal
and Tibet. Clayton: Monash University Press, 2008. pp. 113-132.
According to Kashmir Shaivism, supreme consciousness is not ignorant of itself. If Shiva is light, Shakti is the revelation of that light to itself. The god and the goddess relate as consciousness and its self-consciousness. The goddess is, therefore, the supreme word from which all words derive. Likewise, all mantras proceed from that original mantra; all goddesses derive from her, in ever more limited manifestations. She gives birth to the countless forms of transient reality. She is the Mother Goddess.
This is symbolized most perfectly by the feminine, for the woman not only gives birth to offspring but also, in her moment of bliss, emits the sexual fluid. By coming in contact particularly with this fluid, the practitioner is led back to the original consciousness and to the state of Shiva.
The feminine, therefore, communicates the ultimate source of reality. The woman is the guru, the teacher who leads her initiates to their own true self. Accordingly, it is fitting that one of the titles of the goddess should be ‘Matrasadbhava’, which can mean either ‘the essence of the mothers’ or ‘the essence of the knowing subject’.