FULL ON Full Moon, Full Mars, Full Lunar Eclipse

FULL ON Full Moon, Full Mars, Full Lunar Eclipse

Tonight’s waxing Moon is leading up to a powerful full Moon in sidereal Capricorn, peaking on Friday, July 27th at 1:21 pm PDT. On the dark side of the earth, this will coincide with a Total Lunar Eclipse peaking at the same time, but lasting in its entirety for 1 hour and 43 minutes, making it the longest lunar eclipse of this century. The full Moon is in extremely close proximity to both Mars and Ketu, bringing forth a lot of internal fire and intensity surrounding and throughout this eclipse.

full blood moon lunar eclipse visibility july 27

Eclipses – Shadow Forces at Play

This is the second of this summer’s series of 3 eclipses, but this one is perhaps the most intense due to the Sun and Moon’s close conjunction with the nodes and Mars. The Sun and Moon are at 10°39’ of sidereal Cancer and Capricorn, respectively, while Rahu and Ketu (the nodes) are within about one degree, at 11°47’, and Mars is at 9°52′.

The nodes wield a heavy influence from this position, and we may feel a deep discomfort in our physical and emotional bodies during the eclipse, but also over the course of days or weeks leading up to it. This is related to the subconscious forces within us rising to the surface, calling our attention to the areas that need the most work. The mythology behind Rahu and Ketu points to “demonic” energy, or negative internal drives that lead us in the wrong direction until we learn to rise above them. The nodes create a lot of confusion, but as these shadows become visible during an eclipse, we have the opportunity to see where the problems lie and make efforts towards change.

full moon lunar eclipse july 27

Capricorn-Cancer Lessons

This lunar eclipse occurs on the Capricorn full Moon, when the Moon is directly opposite the Cancer Sun. During the Cancer Sun cycle we find our strength through our emotional body, and by following the sensations of the heart and our human desire for comfort, love, and care. With Rahu so closely joining the Sun in Cancer, however, emotions can be extremely exaggerated and confusing during this time.

As the Moon waxes into fullness in the opposite sign of Capricorn, our emotional bodies (normally) find peace by embracing structure and responsibility, in this grounded earth sign. With Ketu’s presence here, however, we may feel or see a strong resistance to structure and commitment, as Rahu’s obsessive nature, in Cancer, draws us instead towards emotional intensity.

A great opportunity of this eclipse is to see where and when we let our emotions get the better of us, and also where and when we may need to stand more firmly in our commitments and take responsibility for our actions. The intensity of Rahu and Sun in Cancer can also cause us to have wide open boundaries, while the eclipse of Ketu and Moon in Capricorn shows us where we can use some more structure.

Saturn, Capricorn’s ruler, is always stern and still in retrograde motion, bringing extra cause for serious reflection around these themes. A total lunar eclipse can be draining on the heart, however, so it’s important to be more gentle with ourselves and more inward on this full Moon than we normally are during this lunar phase.

This eclipse will particularly effect you in the “houses” that are Cancer and Capricorn in your Vedic chart, as well as any planets you have there natally. If you’ve not downloaded it yet, you can receive the free e-book with an eclipse forecast for your sign, after joining the free mailing list here.

Eclipse Practice

In general, Indian tradition advises against starting any auspicious activities during an eclipse, or really doing any worldly actions in general if it can be avoided. The best practice is to do some type of sadhana such as meditation, prayer, mantra, or quiet reflection. It is advised not to eat or drink during the eclipse, and not consume anything after that has been left out during the eclipse, as the atmosphere is said to carry a negative energy during the eclipse. The eclipse will occur from 10:14 am – 4:28 pm PDT, with the total eclipse lasting from 12:30 pm – 2:13 pm PDT.

Mars

In addition to the powerful emotions brought on by the solar-lunar-nodal positions during this eclipse, Mars is also bringing a lot of fire by his proximity. His close conjunction with the Moon (within one degree) will bring forth a warrior-like passion. Still moving in retrograde motion, and traveling through his sign of exaltation, we may be experiencing some deep-seated animal instincts arising. Any anger or enthusiasm that has been brewing beneath the surface may rise alongside the shadows of the eclipse.

Mars will have reached exact opposition to the Sun some hours before, so he will be at his brightest as he travels right next to the Moon tonight and tomorrow night. His powerful light shining on us presents the chance to find our inner warrior and use his strength to strengthen ourselves, taking this chance to embrace responsibility, self-discipline, and commitment, as well as to create more structured boundaries around us. The confusion and surprising/explosive nature of Ketu, however, could cause this inner warrior to arise in a fume of anger if we are not careful.

Mercury

Mercury is also conjunct Sun and Rahu in Cancer during this eclipse, as he is stuck in the gandanta zone (the karmic “knot”) at the end of Cancer near Leo. He’s now in stationary-retrograde motion there. This can add an intense strain to communication. Being in Ashlesha nakshatra (the sign of the water serpent and kundalini), there is the potential for sharp poison to come through our words at this time, but also for conversations that lead to real inner transformation.

Shravana

The Moon and Ketu lie in Shravana nakshatra at the time of this lunar eclipse, the sign of listening. While Mercury is in such a challenged but potent position, we should remember that a huge part of communication lies in the listening. Pay close attention to the words you are hearing and the conversations you are having around this eclipse. Furthermore, it’s time to listen deeply with the inner ear, and ask for the great spirit(s) to speak to you and guide you through the shadows that are arising.

Eclipse periods often feel like they are disruptive, because we often hear and experience things that are unwelcome or cause stress in our lives, but these things give us a great opportunity to see where we can create change, and grow into the people that we really want to be. This eclipse particularly shows us where we need to balance our emotions, boundaries, and responsibilities, and also balance the two houses (or areas of life) shown by Cancer and Capricorn in your Vedic natal chart. Our prayers and willingness to inquire and self-reflect around this time can lead to great change and greater balance.

Maha Navaratri 2017 :: Nine Nights of the Goddess

Maha Navaratri 2017 :: Nine Nights of the Goddess

Maha Navaratri 2017 begins today! In this important Hindu holiday, we celebrate the Goddess through “the great nine nights” (nav = nine, ratri = night). This festival will run through September 30th, the first ten days of this new lunar cycle. 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 19th. The celebration is through the “nine nights” of 21st through 29th, and into the eleventh morning known as Vijayadashami, “the day of victory,” on September 30th in some places (because of the way the lunar phases correlate with the solar days… Check the Vedic panchanga for your city to see the exact dates for Navaratri where you are.). 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

Durga-Lakshmi-SarasvatiMaha Navaratri 2016

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, also celebrated as her incarnation of Kali, 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.

Sarasvati-Lakshmi-Kali/Durga

In the Kali Kula (Kali school of worship) in northeastern India, Sarasvati is worshiped on the first three nights, followed by Lakshmi on the next 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 Durga

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 click on Goddess name below), or a more a brief introduction, here:

 

Navaratri 20161. Shailputri (September 20th)

“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.

2. Brahmacharini (September 21st)

The ascetic; tapas, discipline, devotion, strength, wisdom, creative abundance; Good day for fasting and meditation, connection with svadhistana (sacral chakra).

3. Chandraghanta (September 22nd)

Warrioress; protection, courage, grace, manipura (solar plexus); Destroy your internal obstacles by offering them to Chandraghanta.

4. Kushmanda (September 23rd)

Creatrix of the “cosmic egg”; strength, health, happiness, success, relationships; Connect with the vital Sun energy and the anahata (heart chakra) today.

5. Skandamata (September 24th)

“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.

6. Katyayani (September 25th)

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.

7. Kalaratri (September 26th)

“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.

 

8. Mahagauri (September 27th-28th)

“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.

9. Siddhidatri (September 29th)

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. Dive into your own heart to connect with the inner Goddess in the ways that resonate most with you! Here are some ideas to do at home or with a group throughout the nine nights of Navaratri:

Altar

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.

Invocation

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, calling her energy into your life and being.

Journal

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.

Light

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.

Flowers/Grains

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.

Offerings

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.

Fasting

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

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!

 

Personal Vedic Astrology readings and forecasts are available Here.

 

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Healing Eclipse on the New Moon + Maha Shivaratri

Healing Eclipse on the New Moon + Maha Shivaratri

Healing Eclipse on the New Moon + Maha Shivaratri

Sunday begins the New Moon cycle and brings with it a powerful eclipse whose alignment offers some deep healing opportunities. The annular solar eclipse will be visible from much of Africa, South America, and Antarctica, and will coincide with the exact time of the darkest Moon phase at 6:58 a.m PST (14:58 UTC) on Sunday, February 26th. This eclipse occurs with the Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Ketu all in sidereal Aquarius within the Vedic nakshatra of Shatabisha.

Healing Eclipse February 2017 Maha Shivaratri

Aquarius

Aquarius is a sign ruled by Saturn, and it is where we remember something greater than ourselves. It is where we become inspired towards universal service, and to offering effort into society and for the greater good. Saturn, the planet of pressure and time, is aspecting the planets of this eclipse from his recent seat in sidereal Sagittarius, compelling us even more deeply to stand up for our principles and beliefs, and commit ourselves to these through hard work.

Shatabisha

Shatabisha is the Vedic nakshatra that most elicits the concept of healing. It is the star of the “100 physicians” or the “100 medicines,” and is ruled by Varuna, the deity of the cosmic waters. With many planets under the influence of this star, we are strongly called towards our journey of self-healing, trying many different medicines and healing techniques to get there. Having Ketu here, eclipsing the Sun and the Moon, presents the opportunity to go deeply into our subconscious blockages and find release from past karma and trauma.

The Greater Eclipse Cycle

This is the third solar eclipse that has occurred since Rahu and Ketu transited into the Leo-Aquarius axis in January of 2016 (download the Free E-Book and Forecast by Sign for this transit if you haven’t yet!). Throughout this time, we have experienced shadows and blockages coming up around the themes of the Leo-Aquarius axis. On a broad scale, this relates to the balance of personal power and universal service that we play out through society. On an individual level, it has raised questions around the house-themes of Leo and Aquarius in the personal Vedic birth chart.

We have been uncovering layers of our own karma through this time, and discovering where change is needed in our lives–either through a change in our actions or a change in our thoughts. Our personal challenges become most apparent during the eclipse windows, which have occurred this month, as well as during August and March of 2016. Though these windows can be difficult times, the power of the lunar nodes helps us to see where we are stuck. With self-awareness and observation it becomes less difficult, but when we are not paying attention or are clinging to our own attachments, the eclipses can feel like they are wreaking havoc on our lives.

Since this is the third and final pair of eclipses during this transit of Rahu and Ketu, it is a time for really reaching some clarity around the lessons being brought up over the last year-and-a-half. Eclipses do cause confusion and are inauspicious in general, but as we do the work of self-inquiry and practice astute awareness, we can gain insight and more light after going into the darkness of their shadows. The healing power behind Shatabisha nakshatra may present us with some different medicines, or practices, to assist in our evolutionary process, assisting us in learning how to flow better with the cosmic waters.

Shivaratri

In addition to the healing energy of this nakshatra, we are receiving the powerful gift of deep meditation offered by the Shivaratri holiday. Maha Shivaratri (or Sivaratri) is “the great night of Lord Shiva,” celebrated in India and around the world each year on the 14th night of the waning Moon this month. This year it falls on the night of Friday, February 24th into Saturday the 25th, around the world (except for mid-Australia/Japan and Eastward, where it falls on the 25th/26th).

On Shivaratri, it is a common practice to stay up the whole night in meditation, fasting and praying. This commemorates the sacrifice made by Lord Shiva when he kept the poison that arose from the milk ocean in his throat in order to protect the entire creation. In this story, his wife Parvati held his throat to keep him from consuming the poison, and thus this holiday also commemorates the union of masculine and feminine forces, Shakti and Shiva, yin and yang. In many places this is represented by a celebration of Shiva and Parvati’s wedding, and one may see large statues of the two paraded about town and worshiped.

Shiva and Parvati represent the path towards awakening consciousness through the ascetic side of yoga, and the practices of tapas and renunciation. By renouncing food and sleep for one night, particularly on the night of Shivaratri, we can gain some of the benefit of the austerities that these two performed for aeons. Tapas, or austerities, are yogic practices of undergoing difficult situations in order to gain more patience, as well as deeper understanding that we are in fact the eternal soul and not the body-mind with which we normally identify.

On this Shivaratri, as we approach the transformative energy of the eclipse in Shatabisha, the opportunity for overcoming the challenges and shadows of our minds is great. The power of group meditation occurring all over the world also contributes to this. With the energy of Aquarius behind us, let us offer the fruits of our practice towards the peace and happiness of all beings on earth, and spread the benefit for the greater good.

Mantras for Maha Shivaratri:

Om Namah Shivaya (the panchakshari mantra – “I bow down to infinite consciousness”)

Tyagenaike Amrtatvamanashuhu (by renunciation alone, immortality is gained)

Personal chart readings are available to delve deeper into the meaning of this eclipse cycle in your life.

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New Moon in Swati & Diwali Celebrations

New Moon in Swati & Diwali Celebrations

New Moon in Swati

Be careful not to become scattered this New Moon in Swati, on the dark night of Saturday, October 29th (*Times given for North America).

The Sun and Moon will coincide in this Vedic star-sign ruled by Vayu, the Lord of Wind, to kick off the next lunar cycle. The exact conjunction will be Sunday morning (at 10:38 a.m. PDT), with the darkest Moon phase on Saturday night. It will also coincide with a Venus-Saturn planetary war (exact conjunction), so we may feel a conflict between temporary pleasures and long-term goals (October 28-30). Thankfully, this dark Moon night also marks the time for celebrating Diwali (or Deepawali), the festival of light, wherein we celebrate prosperity and light prevailing over darkness! So it’s a great time to shine some light and turn our minds and hearts toward devotional practice.

Potential Depletion

There are a few factors creating the potential to feel scattered at this time, but there’s also a great opportunity to ground ourselves and steady our minds through focus and worship. In addition to Vayu’s influence, we in the Northern Hemisphere have been experiencing the cold winds increasing in the external atmosphere. As we go deeper into autumn, the vata dosha (comprised of air and ether elements) is increasing all around us. With the leaves falling and the weather changing, the process of decrease and sparsity in nature becomes evident. This results in an increase of vata energy, which can cause us to feel restless, anxious, spacey, dry, or depleted. It is extra important to do grounding and nourishing practices during this season, and to eat warm, moist, and heavier foods.***

What’s more, this lunar cycle begins with the Sun and Moon in Libra, where Sun is considered debilitated (not able to express strongly). Sun represents our vitality, energy, physical strength, and also our feeling of spiritual strength and connection with universal source. Not surprisingly, the time of year when he becomes “debilitated,” passing through Libra, is the same time we experience increased vata in the atmosphere and lessened immunity in our systems. It’s the time when we are most likely to catch a cold and begin to feel “spread thin” or “dried out.” While the Sun is in Libra, self-care is extra important. Take some time on this New Moon night to set intentions for how you will care for yourself during the coming cycle.

Another reason Sun is considered debilitated in Libra is because Libra is a sign that is very much about relationships. Sun represents our individual strength, so with Sun in Libra, we are more likely to put more of our attention on others, and on relationships, than towards our own physical health. We may be relating to our own personal power through our relationships during this time, rather than approaching it as individuals. While you are offering your love and compassion to others, don’t forget to nourish the divine within yourself as well, or you may end up feeling depleted. It is also easy to become drained when we try too hard to balance everything, another temptation of Sun in Libra.

Swati Symbolism

Thankfully, the divine universe always seems to offer just the right opportunities for solving the same challenges it presents. We just need to be willing to do the work on ourselves. This new Moon is in the part of Libra known as Swati, “the independent one,” which reminds us of our independent nature, despite the strong emphasis we may be putting on relationships at the moment. This star-sign helps remind us to look for our own inherent power, shining forth like the inner Sun.

Vayu, the wind god, is the ruler of Swati, and can bring in a restless and scattered energy to this star. He is also the father of Lord Hanuman, who is known as the greatest devotee. One lesson we learn from Hanuman is that through loving devotion, even a restless monkey mind can be tamed. He had endless devotion for Lord Rama, which gave him invincible powers to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. Though we all have restless monkey minds at times, if we direct our attention toward love, light, or our chosen deity, we will be able to steady the mind and find immense strength within.

Practice Ideas

Some ways to still your mind through one-pointed focus include:

  • Mantra recitation
  • Asana practice
  • Scriptural study
  • Meditation on candlelight, a statue, or an image

Though a young sprout blowing in the wind (a symbol of Swati) may seem perilous, it is actually growing stronger so as to withstand the intense force of the outer circumstances. Eventually, it could grow into a tall redwood, cutting through the wind like a sword (another symbol of Swati). Swati is also related to the symbolism of a priest, which shows us the possibility for reclaiming both power and balance through devotional or spiritual practice.

kala-sarpa-swati-oct-2016Kala Saarpa Yoga

We may feel extra intensity seemingly out of nowhere, for the next two weeks during which the planets align in a Kala Saarpa yoga. This means that the seven major planets are all in between Rahu and Ketu, the two lunar nodes. This heavy alignment can bring up a lot of shadow work, so it is a good time to engage your toolbox for self-development. With Ketu in Shatabisha, the sign of the “hundred medicines,” alternative medicines and healing modalities can be useful towards this end.

Diwali

With all this energy in the atmosphere, enjoy the opportunity for worship offered by the advent of Diwali! This Hindu festival of light is celebrated for 6 or 7 days, with the main Diwali festival on the night of October 29th. Diwali, or Deepawali, comes from Deepa + avali, “a row of lights.”

Dhanvantari father of AyurvedaThursday (North America) is both Dhanvantari Tryodashi (or Dhanvantari Jayanti, the birth of Lord Dhanvantari), and Dhanteras (a part of the Diwali festival). It is the thirteenth day of the waning Moon in the Vedic month of Ashwayuja. Lord Dhanvantari is known as the “father of Ayurveda” and the “physician of the Gods.” (Ayurveda is the system of natural medicine from India that is a sister science to yoga and Jyotish.) If you practice any healing tradition, especially Ayurveda, this is a good day to give thanks and call in auspicious blessings to your healing path or practice.

Thursday also marks Dhanteras, the first day of the Diwali festival (the Hindu festival of light). It commemorates the day that Lakshmi emerged from the milk ocean. In India, it is customary to purchase metals on this day — anything from jewelry to new statues to kitchenware (excluding iron), as a part of celebrating Lakshmi and calling in more prosperity. The metals can then be offered to your altar and will absorb and amplify the benefits of worship performed over the few days of Diwali.

It is customary to perform a puja to Lakshmi on the third night of Diwali (this Saturday in North America). Goddess Lakshmi represents wealth and prosperity (spiritual and material), as well as devotion, love, beauty, and happiness. Celebrating her on Diwali is a way to call these qualities into our lives.

It is also traditional to light candles throughout Diwali, to remind us of the divine light within. Diwali is also related to the story from the Ramayana about Lord Rama’s return from exile after fourteen years. It thus symbolizes light and goodness emerging from times of darkness. Lord Rama represents dharma, or doing our duty, as well as devotion, compassion, courage, and righteous leadership. Diwali celebrations often commemorate his and Sita’s return to the kingdom of Ayodhya after their exile.

 

On Saturday night as we prepare to enter the next lunar cycle, light a candle! Turn your mind toward the divine so as to focus and ground, through the practices that work best for you. Set some intentions as to how you will practice self-care during this cycle (and be sure to find me on Facebook for a live chat with tips for how to do this!).

Ram Ram, Namaste

***Be sure to Follow me on Facebook so you can tune in for my upcoming Facebook Live talks about the New Moon AND Ayurvedic tips for how to stay balanced during the high vata season!

**Limited requests for personal Vedic Astrology readings before the New Year are now available Here.

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Maha Navaratri 2016

Maha Navaratri 2016

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

 

Durga-Lakshmi-SarasvatiMaha Navaratri 2016

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.

 

Sarasvati-Lakshmi-Kali/Durga

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:

 

Navaratri 20161. Shailputri

“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.

2. Brahmacharini

The ascetic; tapas, discipline, devotion, strength, wisdom, creative abundance; Good day for fasting and meditation, connection with svadhistana (sacral chakra).

3. Chandraghanta

Warrioress; protection, courage, grace, manipura (solar plexus); Destroy your internal obstacles by offering them to Chandraghanta.

4. Kushmanda

Creatrix of the “cosmic egg”; strength, health, happiness, success, relationships; Connect with the vital Sun energy and the anahata (heart chakra) today.

5. Skandamata

“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.

6. Katyayani

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.

7. Kalaratri

“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.

8. Mahagauri

“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.

9. Siddhidatri

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:

 

Altar

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.

Invocation

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.

Journal

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.

Light

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.

Flowers/Grains

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.

Offerings

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.

Fasting

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

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!

 

Personal Vedic Astrology chart readings and forecasts are available Here.

 

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