(Prose) The Traveling Cosmogony by Alaya Advaita Dannu

Photo Credit: Unsplash // Edited by Alaya A. Dannu
Photo Credit: Unsplash // Edited by Alaya A. Dannu

There are three devotional practices that I engage in every day. I will share the details of one of them, since it is the most striking and public display of “How” Goddess spirituality and activism.

“… you’d have to find the primordial waters of creation… … that is where I come from, that is what created me. I am from the Oldest of the Old. She/The Waters created itself from itself and then brought forth the sun. So light came from within darkness. … a nebulous space, mostly red in color, where stars were being created… … moving within this space is like swimming in water, only I am swimming amongst stars. A large eye appeared, manifested from the red gases of the nebula. In this eye – within its pupil – I can see more universes held within it… I reached out to it… … small stars swelled within it and fell from the Eye, floating/gravitating towards me. The Eye cried tears of stars… they clustered onto my fingertips, spreading out into a thin layer of light on my body… I was pulled back to fertile ground.”

Every morning that I awaken is a revival of beginnings. In honor of this eternal repetition, and eternal duration, I set in motion a series of movements that embody the story within the opening passage.

This passage was created by combining segments from a couple of dreams I’ve had over the span of two years. Each dream portrays a part of the cosmogony of the universe and life within it.

As an oracle, it is part of my duty to uphold and maintain the cosmological story of creation and rejuvenation through daily devotional practice. If I am going out into the world to be amongst people – regardless of the duration – I am to adorn my face in a very specific way. If I am to remain within my current accommodations, there is a minor modification that is allowed.

The full adornment is as follows:

I wear a bindi at the Ajna chakra – the Third Eye – in a position that is in alignment with the starting point of my eyebrows. I use gold pigment to draw a line from the top of my forehead to the tip of my nose; this line also goes through the third eye. Using the same pigment, gold lines are drawn above each eyebrow, short strokes are placed beneath the lower eye lid going from the outer corner of the eye towards the nose; a short line is also drawn at the crease of the lid from the inner part of the eye, outwards towards the corner. At the corner of each eye, a small jewel is placed. Black eyeliner is used to outline both eyes.

While this may seem like a lot of “make-up,” I assure you, it is simply a story that is very effective in its telling. Here is how the story is being told through each piece of adornment:

The Primordial Waters of creation is represented by the Sole Eye – the Mother Goddess – which is further represented here in the Third Eye; the gold that is drawn through it represents a star, the sun – or, the light of vitality – that was brought forth from within the Goddess as the Waters. The gold that adorns the eyes and eyebrows represents two different states and aspects of the creative power of the Waters, embodied in the sun and the moon. The sun and moon appeared AFTER the spark of vitality [life] came forth: both representing the Eye in two different states of being during the process of creation and after creation.

The jewels at the corner of the eyes represent the tears shed by the Eye in the form of stars, which provide the blessings for life to flourish. Lastly, the eye-liner simply acts as a spotlight and focal point. In the world, eyeliner is used to enhance the eyes; here it is used to enhance the effects of the cosmogony being “told.”

The modification for this practice omits the gold altogether, and utilizes the bindi, the jewels, and a pranam to the Waters [a movement based prayer]. The spark of creation is embodied in the act of moving.

In the event I lapse in my practice – not being in the proper state of mind or being – sickness ensues. I become physically ill if after three days I have not completely resolved whatever it is that might have caused a dissonance within. This may sound extreme to some, but this is truly the case. If it is disrespectful to approach an altar or step into a sacred space without the proper state of mind or being, then it is improper to engage my daily practice while out of balance. And if it is required of me to share this creation story, day in and day out, I most certainly have to be presentable the way SHE deems it necessary, in order to do so correctly.

This practice was impressed upon me over the course of eight years, culminating in what I’ve described above. It wasn’t a simple “Ah ha” moment that led to adorning my face: it was years of apprenticeship through the wearing of a veil, daily dream practice, and an ongoing devotional dance practice that led to the revelation of the facial adornment, and why it must be worn daily. This is one display of what I like to refer to as “Eternal Duration, Eternal Repetition” – the ongoing retelling of how things came into being, as a means to rejuvenate the space [and people] around me, wherever I go.


[Editor’s Note: This essay is included in She Rises: How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality?]

Read Meet Mago Contributor Alaya A. Dannu.