Writing this in the fringes between velvet dark and not quite brilliant dawn.
Listening to ancient Sanskrit chant emanating from the speakers of my laptop. Primal and progressive all in one here and now moment. Such is the feeling that comes when one reads Lilith; a journey through time and space; the earthy and the ethereal. Breathing in the aromas of incense, cinnamon and cardamom, mingled with the gastronomical mouthwatering scents of the Italian Market in iconic South Philadelphia, the reader is conveyed nearly at the speed of thought, with the heroine and her motley crew of companions. Some are visible, others in the recesses of her mind. All have some basis in reality. What is that anyway? Is it only what we can touch with our five senses or does it move beyond into dreamscape and vision? Modern-day mythologist Ambika Devi takes the reader on a journey that in ‘real time’ spans a day in the life, but could just as easily take a lifetime to experience and glean meaning.
Herself a fusion of grounded and mystical, astrologer and yogini, Ambika Devi, has an impressive background as yogic scholar and teacher both on and off the mat. She has immersed herself in the worlds of chanting and drumming; heart chakra/throat chakra rhythm in motion that feeds her soul. My first encounter with her; more than two decades ago, although we have not met physically in this lifetime, was through her drumming, back when she was known as Amy Ford. Influenced by various cultural traditions, her drumming transports the listener, just as her words gather the reader up on their ample backs to be ferried back and forth across boundaries of the physical and spiritual.
She bases the story on three classic tales: The Myth of the Divine Feminine, the Myth of the Divine Masculine, and the Myth of Creation interwoven with her Master’s Thesis. Lest you think this is a crackly- dry scholarly cerebral exercise, you are in for a delicious surprise. As I read, I found myself laughing with delight as I imagined one of my favorite authors Tom Robbins ticklingly whispering in Ambika Devi’s receptive ear. Shades of Jitterbug Perfume meets Still Life With Woodpecker in its sacredly profane/profanely sacred verbiage scattered throughout. Although in parts, it may feel like a hallucinogenic trip into psychedelia, it arrives by way of more natural means. Autobiographical and symbolic, the book was inspired by events in her life; which are woven into metaphorical meanderings. This is the mark of a talented storyteller. Ambika Devi is indeed that.
By Chance encounter or Divine appointment, Lilith meets Don in The Italian Market which feels like a portal into other dimensions. They themselves embody the Sacred Feminine and Masculine and are explorers in the desire to comprehend the mysteries of gender and relationship.
“I know,” Lilith said after she caught her breath. “I get it—we humans can search and crave and devour, but unless we desire to merge with the great ocean of the divine bliss, we stay hungry. So, therefore, if we build up the ideas of relationships and tear them down when they appear to not be what we want, we are left with the rubble of destruction. The demolitionleaves the ground more conceptual, and, like insects, we humans yearn to reestablish and rebuild.”
“When two people come together the relationship they form becomes a separate entity. It has a life and breath all its own. Unfortunately, no one is ever taught this. Most people figure it out the hard way, living the archetypical roles necessary for the evolution of the individual soul. The sooner we understand this, the quicker we cease making mistakes. Couples experience a quantum shift when they wake up to the fact that their union is a third being.”
The Sanskrit name Ambika Devi reflects the Divine Mother Goddess and she embodies that essence in her daily life. It is that nectar which she sweetly pours into this book which you will find yourself wanting to alternately sip and savor and drink down in great gulps, licking your lips with a satisfying sigh.
Namaste, Om Shanti, Jai Ma.
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Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons
Photo: Courtesy of the author