Adrianne LaBry Smith is a Level 3 Tara Dhatu teacher. She met Clare Woodham at the Monlam in Brazil and these two lovely Taras cooked up a teaching tour for Adrianne this September.
Adrianne writes …
At the request of Tara Dhatu Level 2 Teacher, Clare Woodham, I made my first journey (in this lifetime) to the mystical, magical land of New Zealand, the islands of Aotearoa “land of the long white cloud”. I was greeted with a warm welcome of “Kia Ora” in the language of the Maori, “be well, be healthy”. The New Zealand accent holds traces of British flair and I can’t help but think of that English rock band, the Beatles, and their lyrics:
Roll up roll up for the Mystery Tour… That’s an invitation … Roll up for the Mystery Tour…
With Clare as guide, we set out across the North Island on a Magical Mystery Mandala Tour of Tara Dance; 3 weekends and 2 Wednesdays dancing Tara on 3 coasts—Napier, Kapiti, and Auckland. We lived like nomads, packing up clothes, food, tea, images of our sources of refuge—photos of our precious teachers, statues and thangkas of beloved Tara—water bowls and offerings, brocades, sacred texts and music, and 3 peacock feathers to remind us of our ability to transform poison into wisdom radiance.
The Magical Mystery Tour … Is waiting to take you away…
Transported to the pure realm of Tara’s Mandala. Birds singing, flowers blooming, waterfalls dancing down the hills. Reminders of Her were everywhere, sacred mounds of radiant green, bush forests of refuge. Even the names of the places we traversed were boldly proclaiming her name, Taradale, Tararua.
Imparting a sense of pilgrimage, a special trip was made to Te Henga (Bethells Beach), location of the filming of Prema Setting the Motivation as seen in the video Dance the Goddess Rainbow Essence of Tara. With reverence I recited the Daily Prayer-The Tara I Am and we danced the Prayer of Motivation.
At each location, I introduced myself in the traditional Maori fashion offering my Pepeha. Standing at sacred sites one greets the ancestors of the land by reciting, in this order, the names of the following: a key land formation and a river near your place of origin, your People, your Paternal Grandfather, your Father, your Maternal Grandmother, your Mother, your Oldest Brother, your Oldest Sister, your name, and a greeting offered to all.
And in each place of gathering I felt the welcome of the ancestors and of the living, breathing Taras who call New Zealand home. Our weekends and Wednesdays together felt like retreats. The sincerity and openness of those present providing sanctuary from worldly affairs, allowing for deepening in the practice of taming the mind, refining away the obscurations that veil our true nature.
We set clear intention and made offerings to engage in the virtue of body, speech, and mind, dancing our Prayer of Motivation, Refuge & Bodhicitta, Shantideva’s Prayer, and The 8 Precious Offerings.
We invoked our sources of refuge, visualizing protection for ourselves and all beings as we danced Dukkar and White Tara of the 6 Shields. We engaged in dances to reveal our Tara radiance, manifesting wisdom and compassion for the well-being of all—Tara’s Qualities, Calling Tara from the Heart, The Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara.
The number in our Mandala changed from day-to-day…4, 6, 12. Regardless of the number, with invincible courage the dancers spiraled—joyfully revealing the 21 manifestations of the enlightened feminine. Mandalas of beautifully powerful Taras reflecting a varied array of cultures: The Maori, descendants of the first arrivals; progeny of British, Welsh, Irish, Dutch, Croatian, Indian, French, Greek; more recent immigrants from Germany and South Africa; and visitors from Australia.
They’ve got everything you need … Roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up … Satisfaction guaranteed.
The beauty and welcome of the people, the magic and mystery of the land, the heartfelt intention of the dancers, the power of the practice…was all beyond imagination. Filled and satisfied. May all beings benefit. May all have such joy.