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Siva, holding his trident, rides Nandi; artist unknown

Shiva (also known as Siva, Rudra, and Bhairava or Bhirava) is both the Hindu tradition's creator of life and its destroyer; the deva of yoga and meditation, and consort to Durga, Kali, Parvati, Uma and other Hindu goddesses. His name means "auspicious one" and in the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism, he is worshipped as the supreme Creator. In other Hindu traditions he is regarded as one of the five primary forms of God. Siva is known as a wrathful or destructive god by some, but he is also a giver of life, protector of animals, Lord of the Dance, and an ascetic yogi who is the deva of masculinity, fertility, and sexual union.

Shiva is believed by some Hindus to be a newer name attributed to much older Vedic deities such as Rudra and Agni, both of whom are mentioned in the Rig Veda -- Hinduism's oldest surviving text. As Bhairava, he is shown with a mustache and a frighteningly fierce face, and is the guardian of boundaries. One of the most striking aspects of Siva is the apparent contradiction in his role. As an ascetic yogi he is posed in meditation, married to the fierce warrior goddesses Kali or Durga, and is a lord of death. Yet he is also worshipped as a deva of the household, sharing his home and wealth with the devis Parvati or Uma. He is associated with dance and music in his guise as Lord of the Dance -- wherein he brings all of creation into existence and then destroys it again. There are many altars, temples, and sacred sites dedicated to Siva, but the Siva Linga stone is one of the most common forms of representation and worship. These stones are usually gray or brown, oblong, phallic shaped stones that are naturally tipped in red or reddish brown. They represent the sexual union between Shiva and one of his consorts -- and among Hindu Shaktiites, those who venerate the devis, the red on the tip of a Siva Lingam stone is taken to be the blood of a menstruating goddess. Siva is venerated when in tantric union with his consort the goddess Kali, who dances upon him as he lays on the ground in the form of a corpse (shaiva).

Within the Hindu religious tradition, Siva's major festival is the Maha Sivaratri -- a day and night long event celebrated on the 13th or 14th day of the waning moon in January-February. As a deva who is married to several wives, including Parvati, Durga, and Kali, Shiva is venerated as a husband and domestic consort of shakti by Hindus who create home altars to him, where his image is set up among colors of gold and blue. On the other hand, as the deva of ascetics and renunciates, Shiva has also inspired a number of his devotees to become wandering holy men and yogis, often famed for their mystical powers and psychic abilities. Shiva is often depicted riding his vehicle Nandi, a white bull. Shiva's skin is usually portrayed as dusky or white because he smears ashes all over his body. His hair is usually matted or in dreadlocks, and in some colored images he will have a blue throat, a token of his having swallowed a celestial poison that threatened the creation of the universe. He bears a trident as his weapon, from which he hangs a ceremonial drum, wears or sits upon a deerskin or a tiger skin, and is accompanied by cobra snakes. A waxing crescent moon forms his crown and sits above his brow. He has a third eye from which his power to create and destroy emanates.

Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who petition the Hindu gods and goddesses on behalf of clients may work with Siva when there are pending spiritual and magical issues involving protection from enemies and protection of animals, jinx breaking and clearing up curses, destructionof enemies, fertility, and sexual union and love.


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