Beltane is one of the four great Fire Festivals ( in the fixed signs of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius). In the ancient Celtic calendar, Beltane is celebrated to ushering in the light half of the year, a time of fertility and abundance. In the standard calendar, Beltane is May 1. Astronomically, Beltane is May 5. Celebrations include bonfires lit to honor the solar god Belos, rites of cleansing and purification for prosperity. Also going out in the woods ( in the olden times!) to collect flowers, symbol of the richness of Spring!
Here i include an image of the Maypole. During this festival boys and girls would dance in opposite directions holding the end of a coloured ribbon of the Maypole ( symbol of fertility) so weaving a multicoloured tapestry around the pole. Hope you will dance with your loved one(s!) and offer them flowers to honour this day of renewed abundance in Love!
Beltane used to mark the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire, or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush; a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells.
Apart from the “Samudra Manthan ” ( the churning of the milky ocean from which both poison and nectar emerged – read article ” The Night of MahaShivaratri” MArch 2011) there are other popular stories that inspire the festival of the night dedicated to Lord Shiva.
One of the most popular legends of Maha Shivratri is that of the marriage of Shiva and Shakti. The day Lord Shiva got married to Parvati is celebrated as Shivratri – the Night of Lord Shiva. It tells us how Lord Shiva got married a second time to Shakti, his divine consort. There is another version of the legend, according to which Goddess Parvati performed austerities and prayers on the auspicious moonless night of Shivratri, for the well being of her husband. Believing in this legend, married women began the custom of praying for the well being of their husbands and sons on Maha Shivratri, while, unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal partner.
Where is the location and what is the physical counterpart of the elusive Ajna and Sahasrara Chakras ( the two main head’s energetic centres )? And how do we access and stimulate them? Two extremely powerful yet simple Yoga techniques that help you locate the two upper chakras are Shambavi and Kechari Mudra. Both are described in two ancient treatises of Hatha Yoga, the Geranda Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The fact is that the language of the Seers was purposedly esoteric.
With this and the next article I will try to map both Shambavi and Kechari Mudras from yogic into modern , tangible and scientific language. Let’s start with The Ajna Chakra – third eye – and Shambavi Mudra.
Winter Solstice, 21 December 2010, is the festival of the “rebirth of the light”. This year on the 21 December Winter Solstice we see two other astronomical conjunctures: Full Lunar Eclipse and Full Moon! Rebirth that is accompanied by a state of heightened awareness and connection with our emotions.
Winter Solstice is celebrated in many cultures as an important date as the Sun reaches its minimum in the Northern Emisphere and it’s the shortest day ( in terms of daylight ) of the year. As we get to solar minimum we approach an important transition that is the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. It’s a time of stopping and restarting. Continue reading “Winter Solstice 2010: Lunar Eclipse and Full Moon!”→
Diwali, or Deepawali (literally translates as rows of diyas – clay lamps) is the Hindu festival representing the uplifting of spiritual darkness in the souls of people. It is a 5 days festival centred around the new moon phase of the auspicious month of Kartik, which is late October/November. Diwali falls 20 days after Dusshera (the last celebratory day of NAvarati) and this year Diwali is the 5th November.
Diwali also marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and on this day Lord Ganesha, the auspicious elephant-headed Hindu god, is worshiped. Ganesha is the ruler of Mooladhara Chakra (energetic centre at the base of the spine) of the New Year! Continue reading “The lights of Diwali!”→
My first encounter with a Mala ( Indian rosary) occurred over two decades ago, when i started my practice of Kriya Yoga. A Kriya is a very specific breathing technique through which you uplift prana-shakti ( life force )into sushumna nadi ( the main channel for subtle energy) from the base of the spine to the top of your head. Keeping count with the beads allows you to forget about the counting and immerse yourself into the practice ( performing Kriyas or chanting Mantras for example ) .
A mala consists of 108 plus one bead call the SuMeru (literally translates as the central world mountain, or the axis around which everything else revolves!). Continue reading “Beads of Awareness!”→