I’ve Drunk Your Poisoned Nectar: Writing with the Goddess
with Shankar Narayan
Hinduism’s Goddess tradition is arguably the most ancient among those of world religions, dating back many millennia. More powerful than her male counterparts Shiva or Vishnu, the Goddess in Hindu mythology embodies the energy that animates all of creation. Whether known as Shakti, Durga, Kali, Uma, or by her thousands of other names, she encompasses within herself all aspects of the godhead—creation, preservation, and destruction. She slays demons amid oceans of gore, enacts cosmic transformations, and dispenses unending compassion for her devotees. She is the divine feminine, yet transcends gender, matter, and time entirely.
In this part-generative, part-analytical class, we’ll take a deep dive into the Goddess’s rich mythology and philosophy, deepening our understanding of the Goddess’s many aspects. Along the way, we’ll do deep reads of varied selections from the millennia of writings she has inspired—including scripture, poetry, treatises, and more. And we’ll use this rich inspiration to write our own Shakti-animated pieces.
This course is for writers in any genre, of any experience level, and of any (or no) particular spiritual or faith background. Writers will leave with a Goddess-inspired writing toolkit, including resources for doing deeper dives into this inspiring mythology, many new writing starts, and a new community with which to continue their exploration.
This course is about:
- Providing a systematic introduction to the many interesting and contradictory aspects of the Goddess
- Situating the evolution of the Goddess within a long history of social conflict and development, including within current conceptions of gender diversity and feminism
- Writing together with this energy and sharing in non-judgmental space where the artist’s choices are supported and respected
- Creating a community of writers that can energize and share and support one another, both within and outside class
- Beginning or completing 1 to 2 new pieces of writing each week
Weekly Zoom Meetings
This class includes a two-hour weekly Zoom component. During that time, we’ll review, analyze, and discuss key selections from Goddess-related texts while building a supportive community together. We’ll also engage with and freewrite in response to unique writing prompts related to materials covered that week. At least three such prompts will be provided each week, and students are encouraged to write in response to at least two of them.
We will meet each Wednesday from 8 to 10 PM Eastern time / 5 to 7 PM Pacific time.
Mahadevi: Intro to Hinduism; intro to various Goddess aspects; history of the Goddess
Aditi and Durga: The Vedic Goddesses and the Devimahatmya, part 1
The Matrikas: The Devimahatmya, part 2
Sati and Parvati: The Goddess in Shaivite perception
Lakshmi and Saraswati: The Goddess in Vaishnavite perception
Draupadi and Sita: The Goddess in the epics
Radha and Vithai: Village Goddesses
Kali and the Mahavidyas: Tantric Goddesses