Gemini Full Moon Offers a Fresh Start

Gemini Full Moon Offers a Fresh Start

Gemini Full Moon Offers a Fresh Start

The full Moon occurs in sidereal Gemini tonight! The exact full Moon time is 6:34 am EST on January 12th. This full Moon falls in the Vedic nakshatra of Punarvasu, a constellation of renewal. Meaning “good again,” or “more light,” this is a great nakshatra to connect with as we begin the new year. This star-sign comes after the stormy and turbulent nakshatra of Ardra, and represents the calm after the storm. Many people experienced 2016 as especially turbulent (and many astrological alignments contributed to that!). Now is is an excellent time to be reminded of the rebirth that can come after chaotic times.

Punarvasu can be identified in sidereal Gemini, around the stars Castor and Pollux. The preceding constellation, Ardra, is ruled by Rudra, a fierce form of Shiva. He reminds us of the destructive powers of nature, and challenges us to find peace and consciousness amidst turmoil. Punarvasu comes after Ardra, and signifies the return of light. During this time of year we begin to feel the light of the Sun returning after the December solstice, as the seasons begin to wax in the northern hemisphere. The deity for this nakshatra is Aditi, a fertile mother-goddess. After the rains, the ground becomes moist, lush and ready for new life to begin its journey upward.

What have the intense rains of winter watered in your life? What has been destroyed by them, creating space for something new to be planted? Where have you nourished the grounds thus far, and what do you desire to grow this year? Now is a time to rise up and connect with your intentions, offering your vision forward and finding the light after the wreckage. The Gemini full Moon offers a fresh start. This is fitting as it coincides with the start of the New Year, and also with Makara Sankranti (January 14th), a Hindu holiday celebrating the return of the light when the Sun enters sidereal Capricorn.

Both Gemini and Punarvasu are strongly dual in nature, enabling us to see both sides of a situation. In Western lore, the twins, Castor and Pollux are found here. In Vedic mythology, Gemini is called Mithuna, “the pair.” The two figures were seen in Vedic times as a male and a female, representing the yin and yang aspects of existence, and the dance between the two.

Gemini reminds us to be open, curious, and playful. The full Moon here offers a contrast to the strongly opinionated and purposeful energy of Sagittarius, where we began this cycle. Under a Sagittarian influence, we move and act closely in alignment with our beliefs. This can sometimes lead us in the right direction, but sometimes can lead us into dogmatism or over-zealousness. Gemini reminds us to remain flexible, and allows us to change directions if we want. The light of the full Moon here illuminates the amenable and resilient side of ourselves, and aids us in going with the flow and adapting to life’s circumstance. This lunar cycle teaches us to move with purpose, while at the same time reminds us of the need to stay open.

The energy of this month may be very tough on relationships, as we’ve had Venus, Mars, and Ketu joining together in Aquarius for the last couple of weeks. All three remain here for another week more to come, and Venus and Ketu stay joined through the 27th. Ketu with Venus brings up doubts and shadows around relationships, while Mars adds a level of passion and intensity that can result in arguing or fighting. Ketu also has the potential to break things and set us free from the past. If you’ve been trying to move forward from something or someone, this could be the time. If you’re trying to hold something together, be aware of the added challenge that is coming from this alignment. With these planets in Aquarius, work on aligning your relationships, pursuit of happiness, and actions with your highest goals. Service to society or a greater cause will help you to work with these energies now.

We’re nearing another eclipse cycle, with the nodes eclipsing the Moon and Sun (partially) on February 10th and 26th. This is the last full eclipse cycle with the nodes on the Leo-Aquarius axis. If you never read the report for your sign about this, download the free e-book now. The coming eclipse cycle is a final time to get a really good glimpse of our shadows around power and service, and particularly in relation to the house-axis aligned with Leo and Aquarius in your Vedic chart. If there are lessons you’ve been trying to ignore for the past year, don’t pass up this opportunity to pay attention to them and make some changes in your life, whether internal or external.

At the end of the month, on January 26th, Saturn will enter Sagittarius for the first time, after a 2.5-year transit through Scorpio. This will bring big changes in where and how we approach our long-term goals, and where we feel acute pressures in life. Then on the 27th, Venus will transit into Pisces, where he’ll remain exalted for four full months, including a 6-week period in retrograde motion. This has major impact potential for relationships and how we approach happiness in general. Stay updated to get the upcoming forecasts for your sign on both of these major transits!

Personal 2017 Readings are now available, as well as Eclipse Readings. If you’ve had a reading from me previously you can order the full session or a 30-minute session for either or both of these. Happy New Year!

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Harvest Moon and Lunar Eclipse of September 16th

Harvest Moon and Lunar Eclipse of September 16th

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.

Harvest Moon

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.

Harvest Moon and Lunar Eclipse of September 16thWhat 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.

Harvest Moon and Lunar Eclipse of September 16thAs 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.

330px-ekapadaSince 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.

2016 Rahu-Ketu Eclipse Forecast for the 12 Vedic Rising Signs

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Powerful New Moon, Solar Eclipse, & Maha Shivaratri

Powerful New Moon, Solar Eclipse, & Maha Shivaratri

This coming New Moon on March 8th packs a powerful punch, bringing with it a groundbreaking total solar eclipse. This will be the first in a series of eclipses to occur with the lunar nodes, Rahu and Ketu, on the sidereal Leo-Aquarius axis. The nodes moved into these signs at the end of January and will transit here until August of 2017, affecting us deeply in whatever areas of our lives are influenced in our personal charts. We will experience 3 eclipse cycles (pairs of eclipses, one solar and one lunar) during this transit–one now, one in September, and one in February of 2017. (Don’t miss my Free E-Book with lots of info on this transit and how it will affect your sign!)

This solar eclipse on the New Moon will set the tone for a tumultuous lunar cycle. The New Moon cycle begins at 5:54pm PST on March 8th, in sidereal Aquarius. The total solar eclipse (peaking around the same time) will be visible from Southeast Asia, most of Australia, the South Pacific and Indian Oceans and Hawaii. The effects will be most perceptible in these areas, but everyone will feel the disturbance at some level.

Solar Eclipse Path Map March 2016

“Total Solar Eclipse of 2016 Mar 09,” Public domain, NASA.
Attribution: Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC (image cropped from original)

During the eclipse, the Sun’s light will be blocked out as he and the Moon align with Ketu, who casts a shadow of self-doubt and criticism on the planet of vitality. The results will be feelings of confusion and disconnection from our sense of strength, individual power, and our connection with Source (all things represented by the Sun). This is adding to our already diminished sense of personal empowerment that can come while Sun is in Aquarius, the sign of service and humility.

This solar eclipse, as well as the lunar eclipse to follow on March 23rd, will bring up a lot of our personal shadows around the quest for equilibrium between universal service and self-empowerment. This theme will continue through the broader year-and-a-half eclipse cycle we have entered.

At the time of the eclipse, Mercury and Venus join the Sun, Moon, and Ketu in Aquarius. This will add Ketu’s feelings of confusion, doubt, and aversion to our collective emotional body (the Moon), to our intellectual and analytical side (Mercury), and to our desirous, pleasure-seeking nature (Venus).

Don’t be surprised to see a chaotic departure from inner peace, rational thinking, and cooperative behavior around this eclipse.

new moon solar eclipse chart march 2016 Vedic Astrology by Somya DeviThis could be aggravated even more by Jupiter and Rahu, who oppose this New Moon cluster from Leo. Their conjunct energies are causing folks to become more and more amped up and self-righteous over their principles and beliefs. (Polarized election madness!) Saturn aspects the duo from his menacing position, joined Mars, in Scorpio, which puts the pressure on even more.

Mars casts his aspect onto the stellium in Aquarius. This could throw some fuel on the potentially explosive fire of transformation that is happening there with the eclipse. Mars in Scorpio gives us the chance to bring forth our warrior-like courage, which we will need in facing all of the disturbance and potential change arising.

This eclipse occurs with Sun, Moon and Ketu in the Vedic nakshatra called Purvabhadrapada. This star-sign falls on the constellation well-known as Pegasus (on the stars Alpha-Pegasi and Beta-Pegasi), bridging the Aquarius and Pisces regions of the sky. As such its symbol is a funeral cot, or bed, related to the fire of purification. This helps to prepare us to enter the darkness of the unknown to be met in Pisces.

The eclipse here will drive us strongly towards purification and transformation. This is for our higher purpose and spiritual development, but it may not be without some difficulty. The deity for this nakshatra is Aja-Ekapada (“the one-footed goat”), who is related to Rudra, a destructive aspect of Lord Shiva. This star is associated with darkness and black magic, which lays the groundwork for a very powerful eclipse.

Eclipses are times when we can literally see shadows in the sky, and they are opportunities to see the ugly psychological shadows lurking in our own subconscious. These need to be uncovered and released so we can free ourselves from them. This is a very important time to do sadhana (spiritual practice) and Self-inquiry, so we can know ourselves better and become enlightened by this gift of seeing what is normally in the dark.

Shiva Shivaratri Vedic Astrology SivaratriThis opportunity is amplified because Sunday night (Pacific, Monday in India) brings the Hindu holy time known as Maha Shivaratri (“the great night of Lord Shiva”). This is the most auspicious night to offer oneself into spiritual practice, in worship of Divine Consciousness. It is typical to stay up all night, fasting and engaging in worship such as mantra, chanting, meditation, and puja. With the eclipse so close at hand, this is an extremely potent time to call upon the light of consciousness and purification.

In Vedic tradition it is thought that the negative energy of the nodes pervades the atmosphere during the time of the eclipse, and it is therefore best not to eat or drink during this time. (The eclipse window is from 3:19pm to 8:34pm PST.) It is also best to refrain from looking at the eclipse directly, or being outside in its atmosphere, especially if you are somewhere the eclipse will be visible.

One more thing to add to the mix on this powerful New Moon: March 8th is also International Women’s Day! Let’s use this transformative time to honor and elevate the sisters, mothers and daughters of this world!

 

As a special gift to help you navigate through this time, I’ve put together a Free e-Book on Rahu, Ketu, and the Eclipses for the 12 Vedic Rising Signs , which includes a forecast for your personal sign!

Eclipse periods are some of the best times to book a personal reading to help you to understand your personal karma and to process the energy brought up by the nodes.

 

Top Image Credit: “Eclipsed? Not totally” by James Jordan, CC license Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Solar New Year; Full Moon in Ardra Nakshatra

Solar New Year; Full Moon in Ardra Nakshatra

Happy Solstice, Full Moon, Christmas and New Year!! The winter solstice on December 21st was the turning point in the annual Sun cycle. It was the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, as the Sun reached the furthest point in his southerly course as seen from Earth. From now forward we experience the return of the light, as the Sun begins his northerly course and daylight hours get a bit longer each day. The winter solstice and the days around it bring a still point before the new beginning of the annual solar cycle. This is similar to the still point that we experience each month before the New Moon begins the lunar cycle, bringing with it renewal and a fresh energy for that cycle related to the position of the planets at that time.

sagittariusThe December solstice passes while the Sun is aligned with Sagittarius constellation and the core of the Milky Way galaxy, in the Vedic constellation or nakshatra called Mula (or Moola). Sun is also in Mula on this coming Full Moon (December 25th!). Mula literally means “the root” (muladhara = root support) and represents the energy of roots — origins, deep meaning, and life rising out of the darkness. The deity for Mula is Nirriti, a dark goddess who relates to death and destruction.

"Mula" by VenoThis symbolism reminds us of the great opportunity for spiritual growth associated with this part of the sky and this time of year. It is when we let go of the material that we can begin to pursue deeper spiritual meaning (and then light can dawn!). With the physical death that occurs in nature at the end of the solar cycle, we are offered a moment for stillness and contemplation. As daylight begins to return, we can recognize that the physical death of winter is actually just a period of transformation–that life continues and grows again each year with the coming of the new cycle.

The Full Moon occurs in Ardra nakshatra (within the constellation of Orion, near Gemini) on December 25th at 3:12am PST. The brightest moonlight of the cycle is on the night of December 24th! Ardra is often translated as “moist,” “fresh,” or “green,” and represents the energies both of destruction and renewal. Its deity is Rudra, a destructive and stormy form of Shiva. The symbolism of the storm also illustrates both the purifying and nourishing power of rains, which wash away impurities and feed the seeds and soil to allow new life to sprout.

The alignment of the Full Moon in Ardra and the Sun in Mula offers great opportunity for transformation, rebirth and renewal. It is not surprising that this occurs around the time of the solstice, and the holiday of Christmas. The prevalent energy of Ardra, however, is its intensity, which may be a quality we feel during the transformation and rebirthing happening at this time. Whatever storms have been brewing in your life or nature, you may feel a peak in the upheaval around this Full Moon.

Allow the winter storms to aid in your own personal renewal and refreshment. This is a good time to witness and accept the death of stagnant and collapsing energies from the last year and last season. Let loose on the reins and let all your endeavors rest for a moment while you enter the void before new beginnings. You can align yourself with the pure and mysterious energy of this space through practicing meditation. What is washed away in the storm will be composted and recycled, later to become the fuel for your new endeavors in the coming year. Allow yourself to pause and sit with the stillness, and discover its deeper meaning as you connect with the root of your own heart. This quiet moment of listening will help your desires and purpose to become clear, so that you can enter the New Year in more alignment with your goals and dharma.

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Enjoy this magical time of winter stillness. Happy Solstice, Full Moon, Christmas and New Year!

Navaratri: The Nine-Night Festival of the Goddess

Navaratri: The Nine-Night Festival of the Goddess

For the first nine days and nights of the waxing Moon this lunar cycle we celebrate Navaratri (starting October 13th in North America). Literally the “nine nights,” this is a Hindu festival dedicated to worshipping the Goddess, Devi, in her many forms, for nine days and nights. There are nine forms of Durga that are typically celebrated each day. We celebrate the power of Shakti, the sacred dynamic feminine principle of divine energy. We pray to her to help reveal and remove our shortcomings, bestow blessings, and confer wealth and knowledge. Navaratri worship can include many forms of puja (ritual prayer). These can include creating a special altar to the Goddess, and making daily offerings including flowers, food, incense, light (a flame), ghee, as well as prayer, meditation, mantras and bhajans (devotional songs). The Devi Mahatmyam (a.k.a. Chandi Path), the story of Durga, is a traditional text to read throughout this festival. Occurring in the fall-time in India and the northern hemisphere, this Navaratri also coincides with the harvest season, and is a time to give thanks for the abundance of the harvest and pray that it carries us through the winter season.

Goddess is worshipped over the nine nights in the form of nine incarnations of Durga (Navadurga). These are Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri. Below are the stories of these goddesses, how to worship them, what they represent, as well as what colors and planets are associated with the nine days of Navaratri.

In many places, worship is dedicated to Goddess as Durga, Lakshmi and Sarasvati, for three nights each. Durga helps us to destroy and remove negative tendencies in our minds and hearts, cleansing them of impurities that create obstructions in our spiritual and material pursuits. Lakshmi helps us to cultivate positive qualities, like compassion and devotion. She helps us to achieve spiritual and material prosperity. Sarasvati assists us with learning and attaining knowledge and wisdom, through the illumination of consciousness. She relates to prana, the vital breath, often associated with chi or life-force. Through our devotion, service, practice, study, and meditation, we allow prana to flow freely and enter a state of peace, bliss, and oneness. The tenth day of Navaratri is known as Vijayadashami, the day of victory, and is a time for auspicious beginnings after emerging from these nine days of worship and union with the Goddess.

May your connection to the Divine Mother and Shakti within deepen and blossom during this time. Jai Ma!

 

First Day of Navaratri: Goddess as Shailputri
Tuesday, October 13th800px-Shailaputri_Sanghasri_2010_Arnab_Dutta

On the first day of Navaratri, On the first day of Navaratri, we honor Goddess in the form of Shailputri (a form of Durga), the “daughter of the mountains.” In the story of Shiva and Shakti, Shiva’s wife first incarnated as Sati, but Sati ended up sacrificing herself in a ceremonial fire because of her father’s (Daksha’s) disapproval of her husband. It was foretold that she would be born again to a father who respected the divine ascetic, and thus she reincarnated as Parvati, also called Hemavati (the daughter of Himavat, personification of the Himalayan mountains), or Shailputri (literally “daughter of the mountain”).

Shailputri rides a bull, Nandi, and carries a trident and a lotus in her hands. She rules the Moon (Chandra) and wears a crescent Moon on her forehead, just like her consort, Shiva. She is the mother of Kartikeya and Ganesha, and thus represents creative energy. She relates to the muladhara (root chakra), where we begin the journey of awakening the divine energy within, in the process of letting it rise into union with divine consciousness. It is good to concentrate on the root chakra today. Shailputri is a fitting goddess to worship for initiations and auspicious beginnings, and for the first day of Navaratri, as we are beginning the process of awakening Shakti. Devi’s color is red, which can be worn on all the nights of Navaratri, especially tonight.

 

Second Day of Navaratri: Goddess as Brahmacharini
Wednesday, October 14th

brahmacarini meditatingOn the second day of Navaratri we worship Goddess as Brahmacharini, she who practices penance. Another form of Parvati and Durga, Brahmacharini is the form of the goddess who endured tapas or austerities (penance) to win the heart of Lord Shiva (representative of sublime consciousness). As he was an ascetic dedicated to austere meditations in solitude, the high-born Parvati forsook her father’s wealthy abode and chose the sadhu life of self-discipline and renunciation in order to attain spiritual growth. She went to live in the forest, enduring the elements, forgoing food and water, and meditating for eons. Brahmacharini is depicted in bare feet, holding a japa mala (prayer beads), and a kamandal (a simple water-pot, often carried by sadhus), and wearing rudrakshas (the bead related to Shiva and renunciation).

Although fasting is a suitable practice for all nine days of Navaratri (some fasts include milk or milk and fruit), it is especially potent to offer oneself to Goddess by fasting today. By worshipping Brahmacharini through simple offerings, prayer, and our own self-discipline, she blesses us with emotional and spiritual strength, and the ability to persevere through hardships. She represents and offers us loyalty, devotion, and spiritual growth and wisdom. She rules the planet Mars (Mangala), the planet of strength and courage, who assists us in overcoming weakness and practicing yogic discipline. The term brahmacharini also refers to female renunciates in the Hindu faith, who choose a life of tapas (austerity) and dedication to the Lord, rather than worldly life. The color to wear for the second day of Navaratri is royal blue.

 

Third Day of Navaratri: Goddess as ChandraghantaChandraghanta_Sanghasri_2010_Arnab_Dutta statue
Thursday, October 15th

On the third day of Navaratri we celebrate Goddess as Chandraghanta, a powerful form of Durga. She wears a half-Moon (Chandra) in the shape of a bell (ghanta) oh her forehead. Riding a lion or a tiger, she has 10 arms in which she holds many weapons, as well as a japa mala, a lotus, a kamandal, and mudras (hand-positions) offering blessings and protection. Posed as a warrioress, she is ready to destroy the obstacles and enemies of her devotees. She rules the planet Venus (Shukra), and is truly a gentle goddess. Chandraghanta is full of love and compassion, and wants to bestow happiness and prosperity on those who worship her. This form of the Divine Mother brings us courage as well as grace and beauty. Worshipping her helps to remove suffering and to grant us serenity. The color to wear for the third day of Navaratri is yellow.

 

Fourth Day of Navaratri: Goddess as Kushmanda
Friday, October 16th

kushmandaOn the fourth day of Navaratri we celebrate Goddess as Kushmanda, the power of Shakti that created the universe. It is said that when there was only darkness, Kushmanda smiled and the universe was illuminated. She is known as Adi Shakti, the first Shakti, creatrix of everything. She resides in the center of the Sun (Surya), and creates his bright light from her “cosmic egg.” She is radiant and glowing, and spreads warmth as well as vitality to her devotees. Kushmanda rides a lion or tiger and has 8 arms, holding many weapons, as well as a lotus, a japa mala, and a pot of honey or divine nectar.

Worshipping Kushmanda helps us to feel the spark of divine existence that radiates from the Sun to and through us all. She helps us to attain strength, good health, happiness and spiritual illumination. She is said to bestow siddhis (special powers) and thus can assist us in achieving success in many areas of life, including wealth, material comfort, and relationships. The power of the Sun enhances our positive and sattvic qualities through our worship of Kushmanda. She relates to the ahahata (heart chakra), and as such we should remember to approach her and make offerings from the purity of our hearts. It is common to wear green on the fourth day of Navaratri.

In some areas where Navaratri is dedicated to Durga, Lakshmi, and Sarasvati for three nights each, today begins the worship of MahaLakshmi. After calling upon the energy of Durga for three days to destroy our demons (shortcomings, false beliefs, and external obstacles), we now invoke Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity. She helps us to attain both material and spiritual wealth, including virtues such as devotion and compassion. Through worshipping Lakshmi and seeking her benevolence, we call forth the benevolence from within ourselves which will bring joy and happiness as we share it with others. Similarly, the warmth and energy of Kushmanda and the Sun is meant to be shared with others from the heart, which will help us to find ourselves in a kingdom of love and light.

 

Fifth Day of Navaratri: Goddess as Skandamata
Saturday, October 17th

Goddess-Skanda-MataOn the fifth day of Navaratri we celebrate Goddess in the form of Skandamata (literally the “mother of Skanda”). Skanda is a name for Kartikeya (also known as Murugun and Subramanya), the brother of Ganesha (both sons of Shiva and Parvati). We see Skandamata depicted holding her young six-headed son, as well as holding lotus flowers and keeping one hand in a blessing mudra. In worshiping her we call forth the protection and care that the Divine Mother has for all of creation, as all are her children. She blesses us with bliss, happiness, and motherly love, as well as nourishment and good health.

Kartikeya is the Lord of War, the leader of the army of devas (Gods) who fight the asuras (demons) in Hindu mythology. In the stories, the demon Tarakasura was tormenting all of humanity, and it was destined that only Lord Shiva’s son would be able to kill him and save the world. Shiva had renounced everything and was lost in meditation, however, after the death of his first wife, Sati. The Gods devised a plan and ensured that Parvati was born (a reincarnation of Sati), and followed a path that would result in Shiva’s emerging from meditation and remarrying. When they finally married, Shiva and Parvati ended up making love for millions of years while the world awaited their savior. Eventually, the fire deity, Agni, snuck into their cave in order to steal the seed that was needed. It was so hot that he could not hold it, however, and dropped it in the river Ganga (another manifestation of Goddess), who deposited the infant Skanda on her banks where he was found and nourished by six women (thus the six heads).

The demons represent the ignorance which gives rise to all human impurities and misfortune. In worshiping Skandamata we also worship Skanda and receive his blessings, including protection from harm and victory over our enemies, both internal and external. Skandamata relates to the vishuddhi (throat chakra), meaning “pure” or “undiluted,” showing that we can attain purity and realize infinite blessings through her worship. She is rules the planet Mercury (Budha), the planet and deity of communication and the intellect. The color to wear for the fifth day of Navaratri is grey.

 

Sixth Day of Navaratri: Goddess as Katyayani
Sunday, October 18th

B-KatyayaniOn the sixth day of Navaratri we celebrate Goddess in the form of Katyayani, the warrioress who destroyed Mahishasura (the buffalo demon). Mahishasura had been granted a boon (unbreakable wish) from Lord Brahma that determined that no man could kill him. Thus, when he was terrorizing the earth and heavens, the Gods summoned Goddess Durga to come and save them. This form of Durga is named Katyayani, for her father Katya, a devoted sage who did rigorous penance in order to have Durga take birth as his daughter. Katyayani takes a fierce form of the Divine Mother when we call upon her to destroy our demons, including both internal negativities and external obstacles to material and spiritual success. She relates to the ajna (the third-eye) chakra, where we draw our concentration during worship today.

Katyayani relates to fervent devotion, and it is told that she was also worshipped by the Gopis of Vrindavan, who called on her to help them win Lord Krishna as their husband. It is said that worshiping Katyayani will help in bringing a good relationship and marriage, as she bestows the strength to remove obstacles. She also rules Jupiter (Guru), who represents husband in a woman’s astrological chart. Jupiter brings grace, expansion, and optimism, just as Katyayani helps us to fight sorrow and fear. Katyayani is related to fragrances, and offering her incense and other aromatics is a good practice to include in worship today. Through healing scents she helps us to fight disease and improve health. She holds both a lotus and a sword in two of her hands, and holds the other two in mudras offering protection and blessings. It is common to wear orange on the sixth day of Navaratri.

 

Seventh Day of Navaratri: Goddess as Kalaratri
Monday, October 19th

B-KalratriOn the seventh day of Navaratri we worship Goddess as Kalaratri, a dark and fierce form of Durga. She has wild black hair, dark complexion, three red eyes, and flaming nostrils. She rides a donkey, and carries a sword and a cleaver in two hands, while her two other hands are in mudras offering blessings and protection. “Kala” refers to time, darkness, and therefore death. “Ratri” is night, and the presence of this goddess signifies a night of facing death and darkness. She reminds us that these are parts of the experience of life. By facing these aspects, and by worshipping Kalaratri, we can be freed from the pain and suffering associated with them. She is by our side bravely and compassionately as we face the morbid and terrifying aspects of existence, and helps to destroy our fears and weaknesses, giving us great strength.

She is an expression of Kali, whose fearful form was birthed from Durga’s third eye when Durga needed more strength and ferocity to fight the demon Raktabija. She is also called Shubhankari, she who does auspicious deeds, and reminds us that we have nothing to fear from her, and nothing to fear, ever. The compassionate energy of the Divine Mother is always working through all parts of creation, even in the processes of destruction. Kalaratri rules Saturn (Shani), who also represents time and ultimate death, and offers us the opportunity for expanded consciousness through meditation on these inevitabilities. By worshiping Kalaratri on the seventh day of Navaratri and meditating on her deeply, we connect with the sahasrara (crown) chakra, and the barriers between mind, body, and spirit begin to dissolve. She blesses us with happiness and courage, helping to remove sadness, pain, and fear. It is common to wear white on this day of Navaratri.

In some areas, the seventh day of Navaratri begins the worship of Sarasvati. Having worshipped Durga and Lakshmi for three days and nights each, to remove obscacles and obtain spiritual wealth. Now the devotee is ready to receive knowledge, which comes from Sarasvati, the goddess of learning. In other schools of worship, such as Kalikula in Nepal, Sarasvati is celebrated for the first three nights, followed by Lakshmi, and the last three nights are dedicated to Kali.

 

Eighth Day of Navaratri: Goddess as Mahagauri
Tuesday, October 20thmahagauri

On the eighth day of Navaratri we worship 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, 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 only 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. By making offerings to and meditating upon her, we can begin to go beyond our attachments to the mundane details of life and purify our connection with spirit. The color to wear on the eighth day of Navaratri is pink.

 

Ninth Day of Navaratri: Goddess as Siddhidatri
Wednesday, October 21st

siddhidatri_navadurga_the_nine_forms_of_goddess_wk89The ninth day of Navaratri is of utmost importance. On this day we worship 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. But it is said 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 her depiction, Siddhidatri sits on a lotus or a lion and holds a discus, 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 worshipped 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. The color to wear on the last day of Navaratri is sky blue.
The Tenth Day of Navaratri: Vijayadashami
Thursday, October 22nd

The tenth day of Navaratri is known as Vijayadashami, the day of victory. After calling upon the Divine Mother’s presence and qualities to arise from within us for nine days and nights, we emerge victorious, basking in Her light and virtues. This is an auspicious time for beginning new ventures, especially creative and spiritual pursuits.

Jai Ma Durga!

 

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