Reading List, March 2023
Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.
We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.
Image: Cienna Smith
Rasa → Śāntam (शान्त) Peace, tranquility. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: perpetual white Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: light green
Archetype → Lover
Love defies the ego’s instinct to selfishly survive. Love attunes you to another being, and through that experience, it attunes you to yourself with renewed devotion.
This month’s newsletter is curated around the storytelling archetype of the lover. We borrowed the lover archetype from the psychology theories of Carl Jung. It’s an interesting archetype that helps us typify personalities that seek connection through intimacy, attentiveness and enjoying experiences. To those with a dominant lover archetype, experiencing the object of their affection means everything. Profound expressions of love are the signature trait of the lover. We use the lover archetype in stories; sometimes as characters we make—like Kavita—and other times as brand personalities that we create stories for. We find the lover archetype driven to make decisions through passion, and always looking to fill their vast capacity to experience, and of course, to love.
But, stories involving the lover archetype are not limited to learning to love another or the self; this archetype also connects to spiritual love and ecstasy. This story about Kavita was designed to induce two rasas (a state of mind caused by emotions)—śringāra (sensuality) and śāntam (tranquillity).
This reading list will take you through the ideas, incidents, people, films, music and research that inspired us through the making of this story.
When the incredibly talented English musician Ratan Devi—whose real name was Alice Ethel Richardson—married the prolific Sri Lankan writer and philosopher Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, the couple seemed to form a creative powerhouse. But, their promise was short-lived after they formed a friendship with the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley who was dubbed the ‘wickedest man in the world’ at the time. The couple got involved with Crowley’s sex rituals exploring the connection between sexual arousal and altered states of mind, ultimately leading to the destruction of their relationships, exposing the danger of the practice at inexperienced hands.
2023, Ed Holland, The singer and the mystic; Love, Music, and Magick in 1910’s New York. Medium.
1929, Magick in theory and practice by the Master Therion (Aleister Crowley). Crowley, Aleister. Lecram Press, Paris.
Madhura bhava and Veer bhava: In some sects of Hinduism, fostering an amorous relationship with the divine is considered among the accepted forms of worship. Madhura bhava and veer bhava, meaning the state of sweetness and the hero-state, are documented and instructed in various texts of Hindu devotion, detailing poetry, rituals and even warnings for practitioners.
1927, Triveni Journal. Dr. P. P. Sharma. Madhura Bhakti in Devotional Poetry.
Kularnava Tantra. M. P. Pandit. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
Sometimes, humans form sexual fixations with inanimate objects. Often, these objects resemble a glorified version of the human body—like sex dolls, mannequins or statues—and other times, they are objects that spark more abstract desires. Characterized by sexual or romantic attraction focused on particular inanimate objects. Individuals with this attraction may have strong feelings of love and commitment to certain items or structures of their fixation.
Objectophilia. Wikipedia, retrieved March 2023: Object sexuality or objectophilia is a group of paraphilias characterized by sexual or romantic attraction focused on particular inanimate objects.
2022, In Love With A Chandelier, Objectum Sexuality. OMG Stories. Youtube.
2018, Ulrich Pfistere. Divine ecstasy and eroticism in catholic art. München: In Catholicism—and similarly in most other religions— moments of religious rapture or elation, of prophetic inspiration or overwhelming emotion are thought to lead to ecstatic states while encountering divine sublimity. This short paper analyzes the idea through some of the most beautiful works of European religious art capturing divine ecstasy.
2016, Madhura-rati. Hare Krishnas: Krishna is known as a god who accepts his devotees as lovers. Madhura-rati, or attachment in conjugal love, is described as the conjugal relationship experienced between the Godhead and the devotee in Krishna worship. Conjugal love is divided into two classifications-namely, dutiful love as husband and wife and amorous love as lover and beloved.
2006, Divine Intoxication & Rumi. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. Ascent Magazine: Rumi’s poetry touches on every dimension of the love between God and the mystic. This is one of the reasons that makes Rumi’s mysticism so attractive—it’s not simply the beauty of his language but also the emphasis on exalting affections. The lover he writes about is often unnamed and remains between divine and human.
Maithuna. Wikipedia, retrieved March 2023: Maithuna is an idea of spiritual union in tantric practices that involve both physical and metaphysical union, usually without any release of sexual fluids. Tantric teachers and practitioners describe it as a penetration of sexual energy, in which the two opposing forces, the masculine and the feminine, transfer and come to a balance; a sexual union of the subtle bodies.
1981, Under Pressure. David Bowie and Queen. EMI Elektra Records: ‘Because love’s such an old-fashioned word, and love dares you to care for the people at the edge of the night, and love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.’ The song is considered among the greatest musical productions of all time, and a twentieth-century anthem for universal love.
Anandamyi, Wikipedia, retrieved March 2023: Anandamayi was an Indian saint whose spiritual path was defined by the practice of love and joyfulness, known as the path of Bhakti (trans. Loving devotion). Her name—chosen by Ānandamayi herself during the self-initiation into a spiritual journey—translates to ‘joy permeated’. Anandamayi pointed to love as a path to understanding, and joy as a viewpoint toward truth.
1969, My sweet lord. George Harrison. All things must pass. Apple records: George Harrison's ‘My sweet lord’ stands alone in the history of rock music for going against the secular grain as a full-on love song to the almighty. It was written by Harrison in the aftermath of his spiritual awakening following The Beatles’ visit to Rishikesh, India, in 1967 when they were learning from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The song captures what the musician felt as an overwhelming desire to be in union with god—an idea with roots that can be traced back to the eastern concept of monism which talks about being one with the only truth in the world. Peppered with blissed-out hallelujahs and Haré Krishna utterances, the song captures the idea of loving the divine in a way that was not limited to a single religion.
1981, The essence of Yajnavalkya Smriti. Translated and interpreted by V.D.N. Rao, Mumbai: Yajnavalkya was a Vedic sage from c.700 BCE. He recorded observations of his philosophical explorations with remarkable lucidity and he was often overwhelmed by the sheer weight of this knowledge deeming it impossible to originate from his human mind. Therefore, he attributed this knowledge and works to the feminine icon of knowledge—Saraswati. He harboured a lifelong devotion to the goddess, writing hymns of praise to express his bhakti (devotional love) for her. But he considered his intellectual pursuits to understand the human mind and use that knowledge to structure society as the ultimate homage to the goddess of knowledge, and the only way in which he could truly ‘see’ her.
2017, Longing for the Beloved. Mirabai Starr. Parabola: There is a longing that burns at the root of spiritual practice. This is the fire that fuels the spiritual journey for some. Romantic suffering seems central to this kind of devotion. Throughout history, there have been holy lovers who swear by the glorious sweetness that lies on the other side of yearning, when the boundaries of the separate self momentarily melt into the one reality.