Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice!

Night to Come, by Aiko Shimada

I wait for the night to come
I wait for the night to come
The darkness brings me light
The darkness brings me light

Stars, the proof
Stars, the proof
Stars, the proof
that I’m there

I wait for the night to come
I wait for the night to come
The light brings me the truth
The light brings me the truth

A Return to the Light -- Winter Solstice December 22, 2011 at 5:30 am GMT

Night to Come is a beautiful song by Seattle singer-songwriter Aiko Shimada, whose poetic and subtle voice evokes the quiet anticipation that many of us feel as we wait for the turning point of the Winter Solstice. Click here to listen:

Like Aiko I too am waiting for the longest night of the year to bring the return of the light. This year the Winter Solstice occurs on Wednesday, December 21 at 9:30 pm on the West Coast. The word solstice comes from the Latin sol sistere which means "the sun stops and stands still" and for a few days around the time of the winter solstice the Sun appears to stand still as its elevation at noon does not seem to change for three days. This moment marks the turning point of yin to yang, contraction to expansion, dark to light in the Northern hemisphere.  It is a time when many religious traditions celebrate and associate the return of the light with the return of the divine.  And thanks to Mayan calendar researchers like John Major Jenkins most of us have come to know that the winter solstice Sun has aligned directly on the Great Rift of the Galactic Center for the past decade receiving galactic evolutionary information and transmitting it to the Earth during the still point of the solstice. This alignment occurs every 24,000-26,000 years as a result of the precession of the equinoxes.  According to Jenkin's hypothesis, the Sun precisely aligns with this intersection point next year at the winter solstice of 2012, which he believes the classical Mayans anticipated as a signal that heralds the end of a world age and a spiritual transition for mankind.

In the Vedic tradition the Galactic Center is called Brahma, the creative force, or Vishnunabhi, the navel of Vishnu, and is the location of the central galactic Sun, whose influence emanates from the stars of the constellation of Sagittarius and the nakshatra of Mula meaning "root" or root star. Like the root system of plants and trees, this nakshatra also symbolizes all sorts of hidden things, realms, and events.  The deity associated with this nakshatra is Nirriti, the goddess of destruction who gives Mula the power to break things apart, barhana shakti, perhaps esoterically representing the black hole that many astrophysicists suspect is hidden inside the core the Galactic Center.   Nirriti is also connected with the goddess Kali as one aspect of the mother-creator-liberator deity.  She is said to live in the south, considered the land of the dead.  Thus it is intriguing that the Winter Solstice, the moment the Sun begins to head north, is under the influence of Nirriti for 13 days due to our current place in time and space -- the Kali yuga.  During this two week period Mula presents opportunities to return our attention to the divine light and to expand our consciousness, but we must surrender and let go of what is not working, leaving it behind in the land of the dead, in order to receive the galactic light and to allow new life to emerge.

It is believed by many traditions that a central Sun at the Galactic Center emits waves of energy that direct the evolution of consciousness.  As David Frawley describes in his book The Astrology of the Seers:
From the galactic Sun emanates the light which determines life and intelligence on Earth and which directs the play of seven rays of creation and the distribution of karma.
Hindu depictions of the Vishnunabhi portray Vishnu floating on the great cosmic serpent, Shesha, who floats coiled in the universal ocean of space as seen in the video above and illustration below.  This immense serpent holds all the planets of the universe in its hood and constantly sings all the glories of Vishnu from its many mouths.

Brahma (Ultimate Creator) sits on a lotus,the symbol of divine energy and divine grace. The lotus grows from the navel of Vishnu, who is the sleeping god, whose dream is the universe. . . . Brahma opens his eyes and a world comes into being. . . Brahma closes his eyes, and a world goes out of being. ~ Joseph Campbell

Other accounts suggest that when Shesha uncoils, time moves forward and creation takes place; but when he coils back, the universe ceases to exist. Shesha also means "remainder" as in that which remains when all else ceases to exist.  In my last post I shared a video that described how some scientists believe that space-time itself is expanding and creating more space between galaxies. This video portrays the fabric of the universe as an undulating field of what physicists term "dark matter" that reminded me of a great cosmic serpent (1:58 - end).

Like mysterious dark matter, much of the light of this central Sun does not exist in visible frequencies, but has a special effect on the Earth that is transmitted across the cosmos -- perhaps in the waves of serpentine dark matter.  Depending upon where our Sun is at in its long orbit around the galactic center determines how well this cosmic and divine light is received.   Frawley writes:

When the Sun is on the side of its orbit wherein its dark companion (binary star) comes between it and the galactic center, the reception of that cosmic light appears to be greatly reduced.  At such times there is a dark or materialistic age on Earth.  When the Sun is on the opposite side of its orbit and has an open reception to the light of the galactic Sun, then there is a spiritual or Golden Age on Earth.  Humanity then acts in harmony with cosmic intelligence and with the Gods or Divine powers that are its functionaries and emissaries.  The Sun's dark companion thus appears to possess a negative magnetic field which obstructs the cosmic light of the galactic center from reaching us on Earth.  Thereby it creates certain cycles of advance and decline in human civilization.

These cycles of light and dark periods on earth are called yugas or world ages: Satya meaning "truth" or golden age, Treta meaning the "third" or silver age, Dwapara meaning the "second" or bronze age, and Kali meaning the "first" or iron age. While there are many variation on the details, the basic concept is the same. The Manu Samhita fixes their duration at 4000, 3000, 2000, and 1000 years for a total of 12,000.  Two cycles of the four ages make up the 24,000 year precession cycle, a descending and ascending group.

During the ascending half the Sun moves towards the place in its orbit that is closest to the Galactic Center and during the descending half the Sun moves toward the point where it is farthest from the Galactic Center.  Currently it seems that we are deep in the Kali yuga, although the great yogi and teacher Sr. Yukteswar taught that we are at the beginning of the Dwapara.  Many researchers believe it is this alignment of the Winter Solstice Sun with the Galactic Center over the past decade that marks the shift of this world age from Kali yuga to Dwapara yuga -- or as some like Jay Weidner suggest marks the hyperspace shift of this age from Kali yuga to Satya yuga (click here and here for more).  Thus the Winter Solstice marks a moment in time when our Sun may be receiving information more clearly to bring the slow harmonization of humanity with the Divine as directed from the intelligence at the Galactic Center.   Many hope and believe the dark night of consciousness is shifting to a new era of light and ascending consciousness.  Thus the eve of the Solstice is a great night to sit in meditation and listen to the cosmic messages being transmitted by Shesha's song.

Devayana and Pitriyana

In addition to the galactic alignment, the winter solstice also marks a shift in divine energies expressed in the natural rhythms of the earth. The cycles of solstices and equinoxes mirror the world ages and effect consciousness here on earth.  In the Vedic tradition, the year is divided between the influence of the Devas ruling the first half of the year from Winter Solstice to Summer Solstice, and the Pitris ruling the second half from the Summer Solstice to the Winter Solstice.
When he [the Sun] turns to the North he is amongst the Devas and protects them; when he turns to the South he is amongst the Pitris and protects them. ~ Shalapatha Brahmann

Uttarayana is the six-month period when the sun travels towards the north on the celestial sphere and Daksinayanas is the six-month period when it travels towards the south.  Thus the year is divided into two paths called the Devayana (northern) and Pitriyana (southern).  
The Devayana, or the path of light, is the path by which the Yogis go to Brahman. This path leads to salvation. This path takes the devotee to Brahmaloka. Having reached the path of the gods he comes to the world of Agni, to the world of Vayu, to the world of Varuna, to the world of Indra, to the world of Prajapati, to the world of Brahman. This is the path of light; this is the path of freedom; this is the path of liberation. The Pitriyana path, or the path of ancestors and darkness, leads to rebirth. Those who do sacrifices to gods and other charitable works with expectation of fruits go to the Chandraloka through this path and come back to this world when their fruits of Karmas are exhausted. There are smoke and dark-colored objects throughout the course. There is no illumination when one passes along this path. It is reached by Avidya or ignorance. Hence it is called the path of darkness or smoke. The dark path is to the Pitris or forefathers. In this path, sadhakas do the Karma of sacrifices or charitable acts with expectation of fruits. This is the path of Bondage.  Click here for more.

The path of light leads to the world of Brahma, the Brahmaloka, Moksha, or liberation from the karmic bonds of reincarnation; whereas the path of darkness, sometimes called the path of man, leads to the world of the Chandra, the moon,  Samsara and the world of births and deaths. According to Sri Swami Sivananda:

Knowing the nature of the two paths and the consequences they lead to, the Yogi never loses his discrimination. The Yogi who knows that the path of Devayana or the path of light leads to Moksha (Karma Mukti) and the path of darkness to Samsara, or the world of births and deaths, is no longer deluded. Knowledge of these two paths serves as a compass or beacon-light to guide the Yogi’s steps at every moment. 

The path of light may also be viewed as a celestial road and the Devayana is also described as the akash ganga or celestial Ganges River.  In fact there are similar traditions from other cultures throughout the world that identify the Milky Way as a path used by mystics to access the realm of the gods, in other words a celestial path with a door in the Great Rift. The Cherokee Indians of America consider the Milky Way to be the pathway of the departing souls, and the Chinese have a description of a celestial river which corresponds to the Milky Way.  As our local Sun is sometimes described as a microcosmic symbol of Brahma, its entry into the Great Rift of the mouth of the Milky Way, the akash ganga, at the Winter Solstice and beginning of the Devayana may indeed suggest that we are all about to embark on the path of light.

The solstice still point occurs at 9:30 pm on Wednesday December 21, 2011 for those of us on the West coast.   At that time the Sun's constellation, Leo, will be rising on the eastern horizon in the nakshatra of Magha whose ruling deities are the Pitris, the ancestral fathers and protectors of the path of man, under a perfect trine from the great benefic Jupiter in the light nakshatra Ashwini whose ruling deities are the Ashwini Kumar, the twin healers who can bring life to the dead.  For me this is another thematic clue, albeit one related to location, suggesting that path of man will be coming to path of light.  We on the West coast may be the light bearers to our communities. According to the shamanic traditions of the Maya, Hopi and Inka we are about to evolve into a new species of human that Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D describes as homo luminous, light man. In his book The Four Insights he writes:

According to the prophecies of the Maya, the Hopi and the Inka, we're at a turning point in human history, a period of great turmoil and upheaval in which a new species of human will give birth to itself. We're going to take a quantum leap into what we are becoming, moving from Homo sapiens to Homo luminous – that is, beings with the ability to perceive the vibration and light that make up the physical world at a much higher level.

In addition the waning Moon will be in the sign of Scorpio in the nakshatra of Vishaka, which many of the readers of this blog will recognize as one of the portal asterisms associated with many of the astrological charts created to understand the Mayan calendar.  The 16th nakshatra Vishakha  is called the "star of purpose" and spreads across the two constellations of Libra and Scorpio and is thus called 'two branched' or 'forked.' Thus is often depicted as a large tree with forked and sprawling branches that provide protection and produces fruit as it ripens with age. This celestial Tree of Life represents the process of reaching and attaining one's goals. The ancient Maya also believed in a Tree of Life that was connected to Hunab Ku, the creative center of the Universe in Mayan cosmology. As you can see from the image below, there is a similar design for ascending and descending of life and consciousness as the four yugas.

There are two other symbols for Vishakha that are also quite intriguing: a potter's wheel and a triumphal gate adorned with leaves. The potters wheel symbolizes creativity and the cycles of time needed to build it. The Bible is full of references to the potter and clay and how God created or prepared the earth, the clay, before he formed man:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground. ~ Genesis 2:7.

We are the clay, and thou are Potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. ~ Isaiah 64:8b

A triumphal gate is structure that can be swung or drawn that reveals an opening which may be an entrance or an exit. Could this gate imagery associated with the nakshatra rulers of this year's solstice Moon suggest that an energetic doorway may open for us to triumphantly pass though and travel along the path of light into the Milky Way? According to some interpretations Vishakha's triumphal gate comes not only with a celebration of success, but also with a promise of challenge. It symbolizes an ending in its attainment of a goal and the beginning of a new one. Like the eternal cycles of the Mayan Calendar, each end marks the beginning. Some New Age writers have suggested that the sudden disappearance of the Mayan culture was due to their departure through such a portal or star gate. Could this happen on a grand scale? Will a door open? Will you walk through it?
All creation is the interweaving of cycles. From Galactic manifestation to subatomic waves, the universe is a vast spectrum of cycles. The ancient Yogi's experienced the underlying unity of all cycles as the breath of Brahma and the universe as the rhythm of the life breath of a single harmonious Living Being. The cycle known as the in-breath of God, its exact still point is heralded by the return of the Christ consciousness and the end of the Mayan calendar. We have been experiencing the out-breath of Brahma. The period of no-time will arrive in December of 2012. It is the point at which the in-breath begins, at which the expansion within the cosmos ends and all that has been expressed outwards begins the long journey of moving upward to return to the Great Creator. ~ Bruce Berger, Esoteric Anatomy

As the final exhalation of this season releases all that which no longer serves us, notice the moment of stillness created during the solstice before the next inhalation.  Let BKS Iyangar teach you the power of just one breath to bring the light back into your body and life.