The Winds of the Womb
I’ve been debating whether or not to post this now, as we’re about to head out on our annual family vacation to visit relatives in the midwest and east coast. But I will be online while away, and am interested to hear how this strikes some of you. The teachings offered here are some of the more odd and esoteric ones related to women’s energy bodies that I have come across. But they also resonate deeply for me, and thought they might for many of you also.
As I mentioned in my last post, I came across the idea of ‘winds of the womb’ while re-reading The Second Ring of Power, by Carlos Castaneda. In it, Castaneda encounters four women apprentices of Don Juan, his own teacher (who at this point in the series, has ‘left the world’.) Amidst the occult battles and bizarre events that characterize so many of Castaneda’s books, these women share with him some of the unique teachings for women offered as part of this lineage (real or fictional – and there’s much debate about that!)
The winds of the womb teachings are based on the idea that women have a unique connection to the wind, based on the energy center located in our womb area, what I think of as part of the 2nd or sacral chakra (and the actual physical womb is not what we’re talking about – this energy center is present whether a woman has had a hysterectomy or not.) There are four kinds of wind, and every potential woman sorceress best channels one of the four kinds of wind. ‘Sorceress’ or ‘warrior’ are the words Castaneda uses in his books – you can substitute witch, shamaness, siddha mistress, mystic, woman of power, or anything you like. The point is, we are talking about a unique use of power, not simply power in the physical, seen world.
There are four kinds of wind, each corresponding to one of the four directions, and a different time of day:
- The breeze, associated with the east, and with morning. It brings “hope and brightness”, and is “gay, sleek, and shifty.” It “gets into everything” and is sometimes “mild and unnoticeable” while at other times it is “nagging and bothersome.”
- The hard wind, associated with the north, and with midday. It is “energetic and commandeering and impatient”. It is “blasting full of energy but also full of blindness”. It breaks through barriers, but sometimes inflicts collateral damage.
- The cold wind, associated with the west, and with the afternoon. This wind tends to be “moody, melancholy and pensive”, and can “chill you and make you cry.” But it has “such a depth to it” that it is “more than worthwhile to seek.”
- The hot wind, associated with the south, and with nighttime. It is “happy and abandoned and bouncy”. It also “warms and protects and envelops”. Its power goes “together with the darkness”, and all that the darkness represents.
These winds aren’t just metaphorical, although they can certainly be thought of that way – as descriptions of temperament, or personal styles. But presented here they are literally about how a woman, particularly an occult woman, gathers and stores personal power. Or to use another vernacular, how we connect to Source, and how we process and manifest what we receive.
I think these teachings initially captured my attention because I love the wind, but haven’t really read a lot that connected the wind specifically to women. In astrology, earth and water are considered feminine/yin elements (at least as I learned them) and air and fire are masculine/yang. Water is the element usually associated with the 2nd or sacral chakra in chakra teachings. In qi gong and Chinese medicine, water is also associated with the reproductive organs, through the kidney meridian, and air is not even considered one of the elements (which are earth, fire, water, wood and metal.) The male god Vayu rules the wind in Hinduism, and he is one of the more macho ones in that pantheon.
As for the womb, it’s not really about the physical organ – it’s the center in the energy or subtle body that we’re talking about here (I came across one of the more unique names for this center in a recent Qi Gong book I was reading – the ‘Uterine Palace’!) And of course men have this center too, sometimes referred to as the hara. But in pretty much every set of energy body teachings I have come across, this center functions differently in men and women. I said a lot about this in my 2nd chakra series, so I don’t want to repeat all of that here, but I think the most relevant part of those teachings in terms of these wind themes are the ideas that:
– Energetically, women attract and store energies and power in this energy center, and therefore its health is central to our overall energy and physical health. (Interestingly, this is being mirrored in contemporary pharmaceutical research, which is discovering that women often react differently than men to medication, including those for anxiety and depression, or even cholesterol drugs, because of subtle hormonal differences that cascade through our entire system. In other words, physical gender differences that used to be thought only relevant to reproductive health issues, are now known to impact our entire physical body.)
– This energy center is a universe unto itself, or rather, can be an entrance directly to source through the doorway of creation. This is the root of the tantric and dakini teachings, as far as I’m concerned.
In addition to the health implications of the first point above, one story in The Second Ring of Power demonstrates another way this center acts as a collection point. Towards the end, Carlos and one of the women in the book are saying goodbye to a particular power place, and want to capture the gifts of that place permanently in their being. Carlos has been taught a ritual for pulling these energies into his heart area, and storing them there. He notices that his woman companion pulls them into her belly instead, capturing them in her Uterine Palace (sorry, I just couldn’t resist using that phrase!)
This reminded me of a statement I once read by a yoga teacher, that men are actually better suited to heart-based devotional spiritual paths, and women to power-based occult paths. On the surface this goes against the psychological stereotype that women are more emotionally-based and men more power-driven. But there is a deep truth to it I think, if we pull back from social conditioning and think metaphysically. I’m not sure I can exactly describe it, but try and see (really see) the energy bodies of men and women you know, and let me know what you discern. Of course, I have to add my usual disclaimer that whenever I talk about gender differences I am never implying absolutes – it is a spectrum, and we all draw on all sides of ourselves in our path.
Ok, back to the winds. As I said, I do think these 4 types of winds have metaphorical value, as representations of temperaments. But in Castaneda’s tradition, they go much beyond this – they are about methods of accessing power, and styles of manifesting it.
Here’s one sorceress, dona Soledad, describing her first encounter with the wind, as part of her training:
“[The wind] came directly to my womb. I was lying on top of a flat rock and the wind twirled around me…It felt like a bird that had landed on my stomach…I was stark naked but I was not cold because the wind was warming me up…[It] was alive; it licked me from my head to my toes. And then it got inside my whole body. I was like a balloon, and the wind came out of my ears and my mouth and other parts I don’t want to mention…I lay quietly and let the wind do whatever it wanted with me. It was then that it told me what to do…with my life, my things, my room, my feelings. It was not clear at first. I thought it was me thinking…When we are quiet, though, we realize that it is something else telling us things.”
She goes on to say that she learned to distinguish and work with all four winds, but that she learned her own wind was the hard, north wind. Owning this truth was the equivalent of owning her personal power. She had always had a harsh destructive side, and before beginning her apprenticeship this had most often came out in her relationships. As she aged, she increasingly turned it in on herself, and it almost devoured her. Owning her connection to the ‘hard wind’, and learning how to, 1) connect with it, 2) receive guidance from it, and 3) transmute it into raw power moving through her being, were the essence of her journey. The other women in the book have similar stories, each of them an example of a different wind.
Make of it what you will. For the record, I’m not advising laying down naked on a rock in the desert during a wind storm:-) I think these teachings spoke to me both because of my love of the wind, and because they centered on the womb energy center as archetypal space, as a doorway to other levels of reality. The wind becomes these women’s messenger in a way – a link between those other worlds and their physical bodies in this dimension. And they can ride the wind through the doorway to gain knowledge and insight from other planes, or they can pull the wind through them, and use it to manifest in this world.
I’d love to hear if you relate to this in any way, and what wind type you think you might be. I’ll be checking in while on vacation, and hopefully get a new blog share post out once I return (which I’ve been meaning to do for awhile now.) Namaste-