She has a smiling face, her eyes are intoxicated, and she is seated on a corpse. She is blue in color and has the disc of the moon on her forehead. She has a very thin waist, her breasts are round and firm, and she holds a noose, a sword, a goad, and a club in her four hands.
Matangi is erotically powerful. Her name literally means “she whose limbs are intoxicated with passion.” In one version of Matangi’s origin story there is clear emphasis of sexual tension between husband and wife, where Parvati asks Siva for permission to return to her paternal home and Siva’s reluctance to grant it. Siva, in disguise, seeks to test and seduce his own wife, while she in turn does the same thing to him. They present themselves as ‘the forbidden’, and perhaps inadvertently make themselves more sexually appealing to each other. Parvati agrees to have sex with the merchant in disguise and Siva lusts after the Candala huntress from the jungle (Matangi). One of the central tensions in the story is the lure and attractiveness of illicit sex – seen as spiritually transformative, as Siva is actually transformed into a Candala (low caste) during the sex act.
Matangi is closely identified with a goddess named Savaresvari, Mistress of the Savaras, from a legendary forest tribe. Savaresvari is described as sixteen and short in stature. She is entirely clothed in leaves, she holds a basket of vines, is collecting fruit with her right hand, and is smiling and singing. This goddess puts into sharp focus another aspect of Matangi, her association with the forest. In Matangi’s 1000 name hymn she is called She Who Lives in the Forest. Who Walks in the Forest, Who knows the Forest. She is also said to control all wild animals. This further reinforces her role as an outcast, living in a forest culture, in a life beyond the boundaries of civilized society.
Matangi’s association with low castes and pollution is clear in the ways in which polluted substances are handled among certain communities in Nepal. The lowest group of castes in Napal, the Pore, includes sweepers, cleaners of latrines, and fishermen. These castes have the important job of collecting and accumulating the polluted and polluting detritus of other castes and getting rid of it. They not only collect physically impure things, such as human waste, but are also thought to accumulate pollution associated with death and bad luck. They are required to live outside the village and in this sense define the boundaries of ‘pure’ society. That society cannot, in fact, function without them: they provide the valve through which it rids itself of its own pollution. This role of low castes is a common theme in Hindu idea of caste and pollution. These castes are also known by the caste name Matangi.
In the Nepalese context, polluted substances and items are also associated with special rocks called chwasas that are set up at crossroads (a common location for getting rid of dangerous things). Remains of sacrificial heads offered to deities, clothes worn by people just before they died, and other such things are disposed of at chwasas. The deity associated with these crossroads ‘is the dangerous goddess Matangi’, who is believed to consume these dangerous materials. Like the untouchables among whom she is found, that is, she gets rid of pollution by accepting it as an offering and in so doing lives up to her name Uccista-Matangi.
The Goddess of Magical Powers
Like other goddesses among the Mahavidyas, particularly Idris the Paralyzer, Matangi is worshiped in order to gain certain magical or psychic powers, specifically control over others. In one prayer, the Mahavidyas are typified according to their peculiar natures and powers. The aspirant asks to be like Chinnamasta in showing generosity to others, like Idris in battle, like Dhumavati when angry, in kingly functions like Shodashi, in times of peace like Bhudevi, and in controlling enemies like Matangi. In worshiping Matangi one gains power over others, the power of everything one says becomes true, and the power of attracting people.
Often found in Mahavidya texts, a command is identified and associated with a Mahavidya ‘concerning the acquisition of desires’. It is here that the different ‘recipes’ are given for achieving specific benefits in return for worshiping the goddess in question. Here Matangi is clearly associated with acquiring magical powers and granting favors. It is useful in getting a more complete picture of Mahavidya worship to discuss in some detail this aspect of her cult.
Certain preliminary rites are necessary before making the specific offerings to obtain what one wants. First, and of essential importance is the empowerment of the goddess’s mantra, which will be an indispensable part of subsequent rituals. The devotee empowers the mantra by performing five rituals. The mantra is then empowered and is referred to as a supernatural mantra (siddha mantra).
Next is performed the worship of the place within which the offerings will be made for the desired boons. The place is cleared by banishing inimical spirits, then guardian deities are summoned from all ten directions. Next the goddesses yantra is constructed (either physically or mentally). On this yantra alter the devotee kindles a fire. Depending on the devotees desired wishes, different elements or combinations of elements are offered up in the fire, accompanied by the recitation of Matangi’s mantra. Other factors are specified as to place, times, day or night, for most effective performance of the ritual.
Some ‘recipes’ call for success in yoga, acquiring power to rule over others – kingship, destroying diseases, obtaining great wealth, abundance in the stores of grain, power to paralyze, the power to attract others, the power to vanquish enemies, and the power to acquire poetic talent.
Ten Mahavidyas – Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine – Kinsley
Lunar Cycle: Crescent Moon Sighting in the MANITOU (waterbearer)