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It is in the steep mountains that the vultures have their nests. Vultures focus on both new life and old, death purification, and preparation. It is only after that purification that the soul is made ready for knowledge. Without it, the ancestors may take control of the powers gained and misuse them. Once the ancestor bonds are broken, the dakini can move on to her next role, the raven-headed dakini.
The raven too is associated with death, but in the sense of paralysis of the body during meditation, as the soul exits and explores. It is a simulation of death, not real death. But the path of the soul is true one.
The raven guides the soul through the dark, lower, supernatural worlds. It is the guide for those who die suddenly or by violence as well as those who sleep. In Tibet, it guides those who cannot make it to the burning ground or the place of exposure of corpses. It brings spontaneous and non-institutional exploration to the soul.
It flies in the twilight, calling the soul to explore. The bird images of the dakini are symbolic of the stages of the Buddhist path which must be fulfilled. Yogis can skip them but it is not to their benefit. They just have to return to them and do them later. Dealing with the stages in the correct order is more efficient.
The raven is associated with darkness, but not the ancestral worlds. It goes to the world of siddhis, of supernatural flight and psychic powers. The raven is not dull black but shyam, [a Hindu term for a dark green, blue, and purple color which has subtle, reflective highlights which appear in the black feathers]. The raven is associated with the subtle worlds, reached through the sounds of flight in the winds. The raven is the bird of magic and enchantment.
The yogi should meditate on the raven in a dark, secret place such as a cave or a forest at night.
The dakini comes in raven form to educate the soul about the intermediate realms. The dakini can help the yogi find plants which represent the caverns of power, the pathways of telepathy, and the ways of transforming the emotions. The raven is also the bird of war, and for those who died in horror and despair, she shows the dark worlds. Dakinis work in the whole spectrum of worlds from dark to light. The dakini in the raven form specializes in the dark worlds.
Souls should not seek to dwell in these worlds, but they should know about them. If they do not, then the darkness will force itself upon the soul, for to be only light misses much of the universe. The raven dakini is the face of the other side.
Most sacred texts tell the soul to avoid the siddhis or magical powers, in fear that they may become fascinated by them. This is not good, for souls become captivated by what they avoid. It is comparable to being told to not think about a pink elephant. The image will return in meditation.
So how should the soul deal with darkness? From the raven's perspective, one must fly over both gardens and burning grounds, knowing the nature and expanse of each. The soul must know the paths of the winds as they traverse the worlds, and be aware of all potentials both good and ill. One need not live out all possibilities, but one should know them.
The raven dakini brings supernatural knowledge of death and rebirth, and the workings of karma and curses. Only when the yogi understands them can he or she transcend them and travel on.
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