Winter Solstice

Tonight is the night of the Winter Solstice which marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. As soon as tomorrow the Sun will begin to move from its lowest point in the Northern Hemisphere and each day will gain a bit more daylight.

For centuries various cultures have observed this day with celebrations of the returning of light.  Solstice is celebrated around the world – the Polish celebrate Gody, in Pakistan they celebrate Chaomos, Guatemala celebrates Santo Tomas and across the world people will be lighting candles and fires in celebration.   Our own culture is known for celebrations throughout the month of December and light is a symbol of the holidays.  Chanukah is known as the Festival of Lights, Christmas is filled with symbolic decorations of lights, Kwanza includes a  Kinara (candle holder) to hold the 7 candles of the season (Mishumaa).

The dates vary as we move through this season but the actual date of when the longest night is known and that date this year is the evening of December 20th.  As we are all part of the universe there is an energetic significance to working with the energy of the Solstice.  It is beneficial to find a few moments to be with this energy and to participate with the millions of people across the planet who will be involved in ceremonies.

There is high level of suffering, stress and fear throughout the world as we end 2016.  A few minutes spent a meditation will help to ease anxiety.  Lighting a candle along with soothing music while mentally celebrating with positive minded people throughout the world will add to a more humane and loving vibration.  It will be a benefit individually and can serve as a prayer for the world.

The Sun in Jyotish represents the soul of human beings.  The soul which is not hampered by the fears and aversions of the ego.  The soul never wishes harm on others and can guide us through the darkest of night – all we have to do is to be mindful of its existence and give it some attention.

We can take a few moments to close off the left nostril and breath only through the right nostril as that will stimulate the” pingala nadi” which is the energetic solar channel running through our spines.  We can write down our fears and aversions and offer them to the fire of the Sun.  We can do physical yoga or simply dance to music.  No matter what we choose to do we can do this knowing that the Sun, which represents light, is gaining in strength and that we can gain strength as well.

The Sanskrit word for the Sun is “Surya” (Sooree-ya) and for those who like to chant “Om Surya” can easily be chanted as a Solstice celebration.  Those who have experience with the Gayatri Mantra can chant it as the Gayatri is considered one of the best Solstice mantras. It is a long mantra which can be downloaded if you do not know it or have a copy of it.  Krishna Das fans can listen to Shri Ram Jaya Ram (Ram is a word for Sun).  Any technique can be chosen as long as the goal is to add to positive energy and allow the strength of joy to into our lives.

I hope that you can take advantage of this night of the Solstice and let the energy carry you through the Holiday Season and into the New Year!



Kindness Is Stronger Than Anger

Anger is loud and outwardly active which seems to have an immediate effect on others. The awful effects of anger does not, despite outward appearances, render it stronger than kindness.

It only takes a bit of observation to see that even if angry people seem to win and have gained all of the toys life has to offer their faces are often ravaged and devoid of any peace or true happiness. Doctors keep many of them alive for a long time but it is often only with the help of medications and various surgical procedures because while they are busy accumulating power, things and living with the analgesic action anger has on their emotional pain their bodies, without the intervention of modern medicine, are rotting.

We will not observe the same in the faces or bodies of people who know that kindness is actually the stronger force.  A kind person’s face will often show the signs of suffering turned into compassion. The faces of kind people will exhibit the peace that comes from not living a life filled with animosity towards their fellow human beings. There will be no fear etched on their faces because they do not live a life believing that everyone wants to take something from them or prevent them from possessing what they believe is theirs by entitlement.  Kind people, of course, suffer but they know that we all suffer and, while their’s might be unique to their circumstances, in the end it is a shared suffering on this journey of life.  This alone makes it easier for compassion to be present in their lives. They are not afraid to smile at a stranger, stand up for the less fortunate or cry for the suffering of others. Angry people are too afraid to exhibit kindness because it will open their own hearts to buried emotion and they would rather destroy someone else than to face their own emotions.

Kindness does not make anyone weaker. It does not, despite the current belief, mean we have move to the shadows and let the angry bullies dominate.  Kindness in adversity is strong and, just like a forest ravaged by an angry fire, in the end the seeds of kindness will renew the soil which appears to have no life. Even if at this time it appears that kindness is a losing strategy it is important to remind ourselves that if we are strong enough to open our hearts to kindness we are strong enough to stand up to anger because in the final analysis anger is an act of emotional fear.  It is a good time to bring the truth of kindness out of the shadows and stand strong against the anger of weakness.



Venus Enters Capricorn

Venus just entered the sign of Capricorn (12/2/2016) a friend’s sign. He will be well-placed until 5/31 when he enters Aries for one month and then he will enter his own sign of Taurus on 6/29 and then moves into Gemini (another friend’s sign) on 7/25 and will stay there until 8/20 when he moves into the sign of Cancer.

The constellation path of Venus for approximately the next seven months is well-needed good news.  He, of course, will not take away all of the bumps in what is promising to be a difficult journey we are taking together during 2017.

Many people know Venus as the “planet of love” and that is one of his qualities. Venus, in Vedic Astrology, is known for much more than love and even the love for which he is known is not the love of Valentine cards and sexual desire – it is the love which is the opposite of fear and/or hatred.  As we move through this time period and watch the old forms of spirituality fade we are often left with love being the only proof we have of a higher source of being.  That is the love which Venus rules.

Venus is also known as the keeper of the “shastras” which are the books and teachings left for us by wisdom teachers throughout the history of mankind.  Venus, as the keeper of the shastras, is also known as the teacher of the “asuras” – the mythological beings who can be used to explain the negative traits of humanity or even as those who infused human beings with the qualities of fear, hatred, violence, greed, etc.  The planet Venus has to be stronger than a Valentine card to be in charge of taking on the asuras and protecting our wisdom teachings.  Venus is known for being a cloudy and storm filled planet which means that while his placement is favorable for the next seven months or so that does not mean that we are entering a sun-filled rose garden. But it does mean that we have the higher teachings as we push towards love instead of fear-filled hatred on our side – despite the storms which are surrounding us.

Venus, on a physical level, rules the circulation system of the human body and all of the problems and attributes that our physical circulation involves.  On the level of yoga Venus is the planet which rules the fourth chakra (Anahatta) which is the chakra that balances the lower three charkas with the higher three chakras.  The lower three chakras are generally concerned with our physical existence while the upper three chakras play a role in our spiritual understanding and energy. Since we are spirit encased in a physical form true health and harmony comes by balance of the lower and higher chakras in the fourth chakra.  The fourth chakra resides in the center of our chests and is considered to be of the air element which when balanced will give greater compassion along with expanded awareness and peacefulness.

It is important to remember that Venus is the teacher of the “asuras” and is not the wimp that so many believe is a quality of compassion.  Learning, growing and standing up for truth are all part of the lessons of Venus and it is important that all of the action be taken with the calm and rational energy of both Venus and a balanced fourth chakra.

A simple and powerful way to work with the positive side of Venus for the next seven months is through a mindful approach to the energy (circulation) of the fourth chakra. Every chakra has what is known as a “bija” or “seed” sound which will activate the positive energy of each chakra.  The sound for the fourth is “yam” (it is said not like the vegetable but with a soft “a” – so soft that it almost sounds as if there is a soft “h” attached to it “yahm”).  One can sit down to meditate for a few minutes and chant yam silently or aloud with a focus on the center of the chest.  Visualizing an emerald green light in the center of the chest and placing the hands directly over the chest will also work to enhance the balance and harmony of the heart-centered fourth chakra.

Finally, the Sun and Saturn will be dancing together until the 15th of December which is a rather negative and fearful energy.  However, for most of us the Holiday season should actually turn out to be more enjoyable than we anticipate and certainly we can start working with the new Venus energy to ensure that we end the year on a more positive note.

This article was not edited by my good friend Laura Cerenzio – all grammatical errors are mine :-).