Who is Shiva?
Shiva is Mahadev, the greatest of all the devas (Demigods). He destroys the material world by performaning his Tandava dance therefore he is Nata
Raja (the king of the dancers). He is austere, appearing out of the cremation grounds with ash all over his body. Snakes intertwine around him because he is completely aware of wisdom and knowledge. Shiva is constantly mediating and holds a japa mala (chanting beads) as he performs his Sadhana (spiritual practice). Whose name does he chant? He chants Krishna's therefore Shiva shows how to be austere and unafraid of His shakti’s potency Maha Maya (great Illusion, Durga/Kali Ma). He shows how to traverse this material realm.
What is Shiva?
Shiva can also be translated to pure consciousness. Therefore, Shiva could be everything. This is a more impersonal way of viewing the concept of Shiva but both exist simultaneously.
If you truly want to connect with Shiva you must go through His Shakti first. It’s all about the feminine and masculine merging within and without. Shiva also guards the Rasa dance as Gopeshwar Mahadev in Vrindavan at Vamsi Vat. If you want to understand the esoteric meaning behind true union, you must go through Shiva first.