Maha Navaratri 2016 will be from October 1st-10th, the first ten days of this new lunar cycle. In this important Hindu holiday, we celebrate the Goddess through “the great nine nights.” Goddess, Devi, Shakti, Durga, Divine Mother, the many names and forms all represent the dynamic and fluid feminine power that enlivens all of existence.
She is the creatrix, the warrioress, the nurturer, the purifyer, the protector. While she’s in the innocent and fertile maiden so is she the wise and learned crone. Both the nurturing mother, and the one who gives “tough love.” The impassioned lover, the devoted bhakta, the disciplined yogini. We see Goddess appear through us in innumerable manifestations. Through her many forms she teaches us and offers us countless blessings–love, compassion, courage, learning, discipline, surrender, success, enlightenment, and bliss. This festival is a time for celebrating the supreme feminine power in all her glory, and the many blessings she bestows upon us.
As with most Hindu celebrations, this festival correlates with the lunar calendar, and thus begins on the first day of the waxing Moon after the New Moon of September 30th. The celebration is through the “nine nights” of October 1-9, 2016, and into the tenth morning known as Vijayadashami, “the day of victory,” on October 10th. Worship during Navaratri is most generally dedicated to Goddess in the form of Durga, the demon-slayer, but there is much nuance and variation to practice and forms of celebration throughout India. Above all, Navaratri is a community celebration of the Divine Mother, and the love, abundance and protection she gives.
There are many Navaratri celebrations throughout the year, but the fall-time Navaratri is the most widely celebrated, and is thus called Maha Navaratri – “the great nine nights”. It correlates with the time of the harvest, a time to give thanks for the abundance of the year’s work. Grains and crops are often offered to Devi as part of the celebrations. Ritualistic worship (puja) typically occurs in homes and temples throughout the nine nights and into the tenth morning of celebration.
The Many Forms of Goddess
In Kerala and other places in India, the first three nights of worship are dedicated to Durga (the invincible), the next three to Lakshmi (Goddess of prosperity), and the final three to Sarasvati (Goddess of learning). Durga helps us to destroy and remove the negative tendencies in our minds and hearts, freeing us from the obstructions to our spiritual and material pursuits. Lakshmi helps us to cultivate positive qualities like compassion and devotion, and leads us towards both spiritual and material prosperity. Sarasvati assists us in attaining knowledge and wisdom, through the illumination of our consciousness. She aids in awakening sattva, the quality of purity, and the flow of prana, the vital breath. After removing inner and outer obstacles and cultivating prosperity through virtuous qualities, our devotion, service, and practice help us to attain a state of peace, bliss, and oneness.
In the Kali Kula (Kali school of worship) in northeastern India, Sarasvati is worshiped on the first three nights, followed by Lakshmi and then Kali/Durga on the last three. Sarasvati, Lakshmi, and Kali/Durga (Kali emerged from Durga) are also known as the consorts of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The Goddesses, therefore, provide the shakti to the cosmic processes of creation, preservation, and death/transformation, similar to their male counterparts. Consequently, worship in this manner is dedicated to the cycles of life and Mother nature, through birth, then sustenance, then death. Death is not a complete stop, but allows for the regeneration of energy into a new cycle once again.
9 Forms of Goddess
Throughout India, the nine nights of Navaratri are often dedicated to 9 different incarnations of Durga, allowing the worship of many different aspects of Shakti in a gradual evolution. You can read the stories and significance of these 9 goddesses here, or a more a brief introduction, here:
“Daughter of the mountain”; creative energy, muladhara (root chakra), awakening; Awaken your connection with Goddess today or initiate a new venture, calling on Shailputri for new beginnings.
The ascetic; tapas, discipline, devotion, strength, wisdom, creative abundance; Good day for fasting and meditation, connection with svadhistana (sacral chakra).
Warrioress; protection, courage, grace, manipura (solar plexus); Destroy your internal obstacles by offering them to Chandraghanta.
Creatrix of the “cosmic egg”; strength, health, happiness, success, relationships; Connect with the vital Sun energy and the anahata (heart chakra) today.
“Mother of Skanda/Kartikeya”; motherly love, nourishment, protection, purity; Call on divine truth through the vishuddha (throat chakra), invoking Skandamata to lead you towards victory.
Warrioress who destroyed Mahishasura (the buffalo demon); victory, devotion, strength, removing obstacles; Meditate on these qualities of Goddess through the ajna chakra (third-eye) today.
“Dark/black night,” representing a fierce form of Durga/Kali; darkness, death, surrender, dissolution of pain; Connecting with the sahasrara (crown chakra), remember that Divine Mother offers love, compassion, and many blessings even in hard times. Even in the midst of apparent darkness, and helps us to go beyond the boundaries of the material body-mind and connect with spirit.
“Great white goddess”; detachment, purification, renewal, protection, virtue; Through detachment and devotion, we emerge purified, shining and radiant after surrendering in the dark night. Rejuvenative herbs and foods are good today.
Goddess of “siddhis”; magical, spiritual or mystic powers and blessings, fulfillment of desires, devotion, divine union; Invite Goddess to reveal her presence to you everywhere and in every moment.
Personal Practice Ideas for Navaratri
If possible, it is great to reduce our workload and gather with community at local temples or places of worship. We can also create a little time and space at home and conduct some personal practices to celebrate Goddess energy. Here are some ideas to do at home or with a group throughout the nine nights of Navaratri:
Create a sacred space, a Durga altar, or a Goddess altar. Even if you already have one, you can refresh it in some way or rearrange it specifically for Navaratri. Include images or statues of the Goddess(es) you have a relationship with. This could be according to one of the groups of forms above.
Even if you don’t have much time, dedicate at least a few minutes each day to connecting with the Divine Mother in front of your altar.
Write in your journal about what qualities of Goddess you perceive and connect with. What aspects would you like to strengthen or to cultivate more deeply? Write any and all prayers and offer them to the form of Goddess that appeals to you.
Offer light to illuminate Goddess’s power, helping her to shine more brightly into the world and your life. You can light a candle by the altar and keep it burning when you’re at home. You can even keep an electronic tealight on symbolically when you are away.
Offer flowers or grains (even a small dish of dried rice) to celebrate Devi in the form of mother nature, fertility, the abundance of the harvest, and the cycle of life.
Offer incense, bells, water, or food if you feel called, by placing it on the altar, or mentally offering it to Goddess throughout the day. You can also offer something symbolic of your own work or practice, whatever you have been cultivating for harvest through the year. In offering this you surrender the fruits of your efforts to the Divine Mother.
Some people choose to fast in some variation, if this is something you have practiced before. This might include fasting during the day, fasting with only milk or fruit, or abstaining from alcohol and non-vegetarian foods during Navaratri.
Chanting the Devi Mahatmyam, a verse to the Goddess, is a common practice during the nine-night festival. You can also chant another Goddess mantra or songs that are special to you and your relationship with Devi.
JAI MA DURGA!
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It feels like just yesterday that I was writing last year’s article on the Harvest Moon, reflecting on the contracting sensation beginning to feel tangible in nature, as we slowly move from summer into fall and towards winter. For the last week or so, I’ve been pleasantly aware of the slight briskness in the air and the energetic shifts taking place as we move from the multi-directional activity of summer to the more focused and quiet happenings of autumn and winter. (As a natural introvert, I am actually loving the change and excited to feel the atmosphere settling down around me!) I’m definitely feeling ready for the Harvest Moon and lunar eclipse of September 16th.
The Harvest Moon is the Full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox (September 22nd), and brings with it a few nights of very bright moonlight under which farmers are able to harvest their crops. (The Moon normally rises about one hour later each night, but for this week he will rise only half-an-hour later per day, giving much brighter evenings.) This is also a time where we energetically begin to harvest that which has come from our efforts put forth throughout the year, as we move into a more inward period for the darker months (in the northern hemisphere). It is also a potent moment to offer our prayers and to harvest the bounty of growth that comes with our own self-effort in shadow work.
What is particularly unique is that this Harvest Moon, like last year’s, is also accompanied by a lunar eclipse. The Moon reaches its peak fullness at 12:05pm PDT on Friday, September 16th, and the penumbral lunar eclipse will also occur around this time (at 18:54 UT), but will only be visible from the other side of the world. This eclipse won’t be as spectacular as last year’s Blood Moon, but folks in that area of the world will get to see a slight shadow as the Moon passes through the outer edge of the earth’s shadow.
Lunar Eclipse in Pisces in Purva Bhadrapada
The Sun and the Moon will be at just 0°14′ of Virgo and Pisces, respectively. With the nodes still in Leo and Aquarius, and the Moon not fully established in either Aquarius or Pisces, this is a great time to examine the energy of the Full Moon’s nakshatra, Purva Bhadrapada, as an indicator of this eclipse’s energy. Purva Bhadrapada is a nakshatra (star-group) that bridges the two major constellations, from 20°00′ of Aquarius to 3°20′ of Pisces. This star-sign brings a strong energy of purification, which will help us to harness the already transformative power of the eclipse.
As we move with the Moon from the end of Aquarius to the beginning of Pisces in Purva Bhadrapada, we are in the place where we must let go of worldly activity, service, and socializing and into a place of solitude (meditation, sleep, and, ultimately, death and liberation). Pisces is the last stop on the train of this life, and this nakshatra represents the point in time where we must begin to face the fact that there is a last stop. It is a place where we can begin to embrace detachment, from all our worldly gains, relations, and activities, and connect with the subtler realms of being and spirit.
Accompanied by the energy of Ketu, this Full Moon Lunar Eclipse offers us a powerful chance to cut cords and free ourselves from unnecessary attachments… especially attachments to our own desires and illusions of control. This lunar cycle began with a Solar Eclipse in Leo. With the lustful Rahu in Leo since January, we have been ravenously driven to find and harness a sense of power and control in this uncontrollable world (especially in the area of life shown by Leo in your chart). The Solar Eclipse on September 1st revealed our shadows around this effort, and the illusory nature of power and control. This Full Moon helps us to reflect on and balance that energy, and offers the capacities for transformation and purification towards this process.
Since the Moon is technically just over the boundary into Pisces, this is an 8th-house Full Moon (8th house from where the New Moon occurred), which always adds a reshaping and mystical quality to the energy at hand. Purva Bhadrapada itself brings on energies for purification and transformation, as it leads us from the material world into the ethereal. Furthermore, the deity for this nakshatra is Aja Ekapada, “the one-footed goat,” who is related to Rudra, a destructive form of Shiva. The destructive nature of Shiva is that which allows us to destroy one thing in order for that energy to transform, rise again, and grow into its new phase of evolution. He also offers us the power to destroy illusion and attachment, which is a good tool to have at hand at the time of an eclipse.
We have been doing a lot of inner work this year around the themes of Leo and Aquarius, finding and embracing personal power and self-love, and balancing that with universal service and love for all beings. This eclipse gives us a chance to step back and feel a little more detachment on both sides of that axis, diving back into the deep well of Pisces where all energy flows together back into source. This may be a much-needed perspective given the zealous fervor brought on by the Jupiter-Rahu conjunction this year (January through August), and the heated pressure brought on by the Saturn-Mars conjunction (March through next week).
If you need a break from all of the astrological intensity being handed out this year, I think this is your chance. Shadows do arise during the eclipses, but the more dedicated we are to looking at them and being willing to make and allow change in ourselves, the better off we are after they pass. As the the Full Moon heads into Pisces on this lunar eclipse, allow yourself to surrender to the flow and trust in source. This is the lesson being offered that will help free you from any feelings of chaos or confusion. Your higher power and meditation are of great support now (as always!). You can also connect with the water, study your dreams, and offer your power to your perceived divinity.
More to Come this Month
Venus moves out of debilitation (in Virgo) and into Libra on September 18th, bringing more energy for compromise rather than nit-picking in the realm of relationships. Mars parts ways with Saturn a few days later, as he moves into Sagittarius on the 21st. This should take some of the heat out of the pressure-cooker we’ve been feeling in Scorpio, as we reconsider our long-term goals in that area of our life. On the 22nd Mercury goes direct, but will still be joined with Rahu for two more weeks, so remain mindful of potential stress or confusion in communication lines.
The next New Moon on September 30th will lead us into the Navaratri Festival, a ten-day period for celebrating the Goddess and all her Shakti. Also coming in with the New Moon is a Kala Sarpa yoga (alignment), as all planets cross to one side of the Rahu-Ketu axis. This will affect us for two weeks of each month until January (for the other two weeks, Moon will be on the other side of the axis). This can add a level of heaviness to our general experience, but also ability to see into the psychic depths, as we continue our inner exploration around the Leo-Aquarius nodal axis until the final eclipses of this transit in February.
If you’re still not sure how this Rahu-Ketu transit is affecting you, be sure to get your free gift, the Free e-Book on Rahu, Ketu, and the Eclipses, which includes a forecast for your personal sign. There are also still a few spots available for eclipse readings prior to this eclipse, and in the weeks after, in order to help you integrate the lessons of this period.
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Summer Solstice Sagittarius Full Moon: Roots Run Deep
Roots run deep on this summer solstice Sagittarius full Moon, occurring Monday, June 20th at 4:03 a.m. PDT. This full Moon falls in Mula (or Moola) nakshatra, meaning “root,” a Vedic constellation towards the center of the Milky Way. Though technically in Sagittarius, we locate this Vedic star-sign around the tail of the scorpion in Scorpio constellation. Ketu, the south node of the Moon who helps us to channel our hidden psychic wisdom, has a strong influence in Mula.
Surya, the Sun, is reaching the brightest point on his northern course. Here he will illuminate the emotions of the deepest parts of our soul and psyche, lighting up the full Moon, opposite in Mula. (Read more about Surya and The Summer Solstice here.) The energy of Mula has to do with digging to the bottom to reach the root of things. This full Moon may call you to dig deeper into something you have felt curious about. Research and investigation are well-supported, and you may unearth some undiscovered truths. Now is a great time to begin to deepen your knowledge, especially about things like astronomy or astrology. You can also honor and connect with the energy of this full Moon by working with roots, herbs, or medicine.
Be careful, however, because Nirriti is the deity for this nakshatra. She is a dark goddess who conjures death and destruction. She can help us to get to the root of matters by destroying illusion and awakening buried mysteries. She can force us into deeper states of surrender and devotion by her calamitous influence. She may “uproot” us or something in our lives in order to help us to see what is below the surface.
Alongside her devastation, she offers us spiritual tools to face such transformation. She gives the courage and insight needed to explore our own deep hollows from this tamasic nakshatra. Sagittarius’ ruler, Jupiter, still joins the radical and obscuring Rahu in Leo. This could add some strange energy to our discoveries.
Sexuality is heightened around this full Moon, as we touch base with our primal force, so this is a good time to revisit any tantric practices you have learned. The muladhara (base) chakra, our “root support,” deserves attention now. This will help us to harness Mula’s potential energy on this summer solstice Sagittarius full Moon.
The Moon is almost in alignment with the galactic center in sidereal Sagittarius. Sun and Venus are on the opposite side of the earth, in sidereal Gemini, reaching out towards deep space. There is a high vata nature in this area of the sky, the Mercury-ruled air sign. Be careful not to move too fast or try to keep score in your relationships. Venus is still combust, so the heat of this solstice Sun could make us quick to feel discontent when we don’t get what we want.
The dual nature of this sign will cause you to jump quickly from one desire to another. A partner may have trouble trying to keep up. You might also get exhausted if you spend too much time over-analyzing, or try to accomplish too many things at once. The cosmic alignment is elevating the air and fire elements this month, so take some time to connect with the earth and the water elements to bring yourself more balance.
We feel more heated over personal connections, now that retrograde Mars has moved back into sidereal Libra. This directs some of our energy towards strengthening our connections and working to see how balanced they are, but we’re still not able to assert ourselves in a straightforward manner. Do your best to avoid turning everything into a fight. Mars will begin moving direct again in July.
Saturn is just about opposite to Mercury at the moment, so communication can be slow or strained. We may feel fear or hesitation about expressing ourselves, or may take a more serious tone than intended.
The Mula full Moon is actually a great time to go inward, because this nakshatra is really supportive of meditation. Even though the Moon is full, don’t be afraid to take some time to yourself. Enjoy the radiant power of the Sun shining forth from within you, and remember that he is the planet who brings the opportunity for enlightenment. There is a great potential to illuminate some deep knowledge on this summer solstice Sagittarius full Moon.
To see where this full Moon falls across your chart, and what deep knowledge it makes available to your life, you can request a personal Vedic Astrology reading.
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The ninth day of Navaratri is of utmost importance, and is marked by shukla navami, the ninth tithi (lunar phase) of the waxing Moon this month. On this day we honor Goddess as Siddhidatri, the giver of all siddhis, special powers or perfect attainments. Siddhis are magical, spiritual, or psychic powers, attained through dedication and devoted practice. Through worship and meditation upon all the forms of Durga, culminating with that of Siddhidatri, we can attain perfection and infinite blessings from her. Through the siddhis, all desires can be fulfilled. It is often said that the greatest blessing one can receive is to transcend all desires, or to have one’s only desire be to know Goddess/God.
With the blessing of devotion, through her grace, we can remain peaceful and happy in all circumstances, blissfully experiencing the Divine Mother’s presence in and throughout all of creation, in every moment. In this way the ninth day of Navaratri also relates to the illuminating wisdom of Sarasvati, who is often worshiped over the last three days of this festival.
In her depiction, Siddhidatri sits on a lotus or a lion and holds a discus (representative of the chakras), a lotus, a mace, and conch shell, which she will use to sound the victory we attain through her worship. She is surrounded by and worshiped by all forms of divine beings–Gods, demons, spiritual masters and nature-spirits. It is said that even Lord Shiva received his powers from Siddhidatri. In the divine form that is half Shiva and half Shakti, he is merged with Siddhidatri and known as Ardhanarishvara.
Siddhidatri relates to Ketu (the south node of the Moon), and thus she governs our deep and ancient psychic wisdom. She is a powerful goddess to worship for enhancing spiritual, psychic and energetic healing powers.
Full Article on Navaratri 2017
Shukla ashtami, the eighth tithi (lunar phase) of the waxing Moon this month, marks the eighth day of Navaratri during which we honor Goddess as Mahagauri, the “great white” goddess. This incarnation of Durga is fair, shining and radiant like pure light, representing her purifying shakti. She rides a bull and carries a damaru (a hand-drum) and a trisul in two hands, keeping the other two in mudras for blessing and protecting. She represents compassion, truth, and purity and bestows these on her devotees. Mahagauri is often thought of as the young form of Parvati, and thus worshipers often feed young girls sweets on this day of celebration, to honor the great white goddess.
The story is often told that while Parvati was doing penance to win Lord Shiva, her body became black and dirty. When Shiva accepted her he washed her with the water of the Ganga which made her shine resplendently and become Mahagauri. This represents her power to free us from all pain and suffering and to bless us with auspiciousness and virtues, as those who bathe in the waters of the holy river Ganga are said to be blessed and purified. This includes freeing us from the painful attachments to the material world. As we worship Mahagauri after the night of worship dedicated to Kalaratri, we can see that this detachment and reemergence into the light can come only after facing death and darkness.
This goddess relates to the planetary deity Rahu (the north node of the Moon), who is actually a shadow point in the cosmos and has no physical body. Thus Mahagauri relates to parts of our soul and psyche that are beyond the physical body or chakra system. In our worship, making offerings to her and meditating upon her, we can begin to go beyond our attachments to the mundane details of life and brighten our awareness of spirit.
Full Article for Navaratri 2017