The Terma Tradition

Female_Wisdom_YESHE_TSOGYAL_2From the Tantric tradition of pre-patriarchal Tibet (in the Tarim Basin) emerged Yeshe Tsogyal (8th century) who taught  the “Terma” tradition. Yeshe, recognized by many to be a female Buddha and the “Great Bliss Queen,” was the consort of Padmasambhava, reputed to be responsible for the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet. Buddhism and shamanism arose out of this area of the world. Terma is a Tibetan word for text or sacred object hidden for safekeeping until the time is right for them to be used for the benefit of sentient beings. A “terton” is someone who finds a terma.

The I Ching, or “Book of Changes,” is a divination system which also originated in the same region. Terence McKenna’s research revealed it to also be a lunar calendar and a detailed structure elucidating the properties of time.

According to McKenna, the creators of the I Ching had a very sophisticated understanding of time. He believed that the I Ching is to time what the periodic table of elements is to matter. The creators of the I Ching had a sophisticated understanding of time as a cyclic phenomenon with distinct qualities. Certain times have certain qualities, meaning certain times would be more or less propitious for certain activities.

My definition of time is a collection of discreet and separate spirals that sometimes overlap and intersect. These moments of intersection can be resonant with one another. When they are, we can affect time and make intentional changes. My research leads me to believe that priestess-diviners through the ages knew how to access all the spirals of time and used this mechanism to leave themselves termas for future divinations.

I believe Terton Women—priestess-diviners—of the past left “notes to themselves” in time to uncover in future incarnations. There is a thread of termas left in the layers of time from and to priestess-diviners.
~Theresa C. Dintino

Sources: Terence and Dennis McKenna, The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens and the I Ching