Spring Festivals

Welcome to the Spring Equinox and Holi, Aries Solar Festival, Libra Full Moon Festival March 21, 2008 edition of the SatyaCenter newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editor, Curtis Lang. It’s a busy week!

Thursday March 20, 2008 is the Spring Equinox, which occurs at 1:48 AM EDT. The Sun enters the sign of Aries the Ram. This week we celebrate major festivals in the Mystery school traditions of both East and West. Friday is Good Friday, and also the Hindu Feast of Holi. This Sunday, Easter, is the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection.

Billions of Lightworkers, meditators, and men and women of good will simultaneously celebrate this joyous week, creating a beautiful global mosaic of prayers, positive energies, affirmations, sacrifices, and offerings of all kinds that will envelope the world in a vast (Easter) egg of light, forming a suitable energetic crucible for the forging of a new community of all humanity. Nine Hundred Million Hindus will celebrate Holi and 2.1 billion Christians will celebrate Easter. Countless others will celebrate the coming of Spring in a variety of ways.

The Spring Equinox is a time of equal day and night, striking a cosmic balance between the feminine and masculine forces of yin and yang.

For millennia the Spring Equinox has been celebrated around the world as a festival of Resurrection, and it marks the start of the astrological New Year in both East and West.

Holi and the Festival of Colors

This Friday we celebrate the ancient Hindu Spring Festival of Holi, which commemorates the victory of Lord Vishnu, Sustainer of the Universe, over the dark powers of Hiranyakashipu, the King of Demons.

In his role as the Spiritual Sun of the Universe, who sustains the peace and order of the Universe just as the sun sustains all life on planet Earth, Lord Vishnu is said to have incarnated ten times on the planet Earth, and two of his incarnations were as the solar heroes Lord Ram and Lord Krishna. These two Divine avatars have many qualities that are similar to the qualities of Jesus Christ, the Divine Christian avatar whose death and resurrection we celebrate at the same season as Holi.

In those days, the King of Demons sought to conquer the three worlds, and to displace Lord Vishnu as Ruler of the Universe. Hiranyakashipu performed great austerities and mighty feats of prolonged meditation to perfect himself and to augment his powers. While engaged in these strenuous activities, the Gods invaded and sacked the Demon King’s city and sent his wife, who was with child, to live in the ashram of Sage Narada, the Messenger of the Gods. Narada taught the Demon Queen about the Divine qualities of Vishnu and instructed her in the WisdomSchool teachings of the Hindu Rishis, or Spiritual Masters. The child in her womb, named Prahlad, absorbed all this instruction.

Meanwhile, the Demon King Hiranyakashipu had performed such amazing feats of spiritual endurance that he had received the favor of Lord Brahma, Creator of the Universe. Lord Brahma granted the Demon King one wish. “I wish that I not be killed during day or night; inside the home or outside, not on earth or on sky; neither by a man nor an animal; neither by astra (arrow or spear) nor by shastra (sword or sacred scripture),” asked the Demon King. “Grant me the undisputed lordship over the material world.” His wish was granted.

The Demon King’s power grew great, and he attacked both the heavens and the Earth, demanding that all people worship him rather than the Gods. Neither men nor Gods could harm the Demon King because of his boon from Brahma, nor could anyone determine how he could be stopped from displacing Vishnu as Lord of the Universe, so mighty was his power.

Hiranyakashipu returned his Queen and his growing son to his newly rebuilt city. He asked young Prahlad what he had learned and Prahlad told him about the many virtues of Vishnu and the WisdomSchool teachings of the Rishis.

This enraged the Demon King. Prahlad was so eloquent and so steadfast in his love of Vishnu that Prahlad resolved to kill him. But neither weapons, snakes, nor poison could harm Prahlad, who was under Vishnu’s Divine protection. Finally the Demon King enlisted the help of his sister, Holika, who had a magical shawl that protected the wearer from the power of fire.

Hiranyakashipu asked Prahlad to sit on a pyre in Holika’s lap. Prahlad agreed, asking Vishnu for protection. When the fire started, a great wind blew Holika’s shawl from her, and she was utterly consumed in flames, but Prahlad was protected from harm. When Prahlad emerged from the flames, it was as though a conquering God had entered the realms of death, struggled with the forces of Evil and emerged triumphant, resurrected by a miracle of Divine intervention. All this of course had occurred through the intervention of Vishnu, Lord of the Universe.

The Demon King sent Prahlad to his Demon-teacher, hoping to influence the boy to renounce his spiritual wisdom teachings and take the path of greed and personal power. The Demon-teacher tried to convince Prahlad that acquiring wealth and physical pleasures were the only worthwhile activities for a royal heir, or any warrior. But Prahlad thought to himself: "How can the pursuit of physical pleasures and wealth bring happiness? It will only lead to envy and anger."

Prahlad, the Demon-teacher and Hiranyakashypu were all sitting on the terrace of the Demon-King’s palace at that time. The Demon King lost his temper and invoked his own destruction unwittingly. Hiranyakashypu roared: "Where is Vishnu? If he is everywhere why is he not in this Pillar of my palace? If he is not here then I shall cut off your head with my sword. Let Vishnu, your Lord protect you."

Lord Vishnu had agreed to refrain from attacking the Demon King as part of the boon from Lord Brahma, but Hiranyakashypu’s rash challenge had served as an invocation of the Lord of the Universe, who no longer was bound by the bonds of his agreement with Lord Brahma. Lord Vishnu appeared from the pillar in the form of a Narasimha (who is half-man and half-lion) and killed the Demon King at dusk (which was neither day nor night), on the steps of the porch of his palace (which was neither inside the house nor outside) by restraining him on his lap (which is neither in the sky nor on the earth) and mauling him with his claws (which are neither astra nor shastra).

It is the miracle of the pyre of Prahlad that is celebrated on the Festival of Holi. On the first day of Holi, bonfires are lit at night and effigies of Holika are burnt to commemorate the trials of Prahlad and the triumph of Vishnu over the Demon King. The sacred fires of Holi are lit amidst the chanting of specific mantras intended for the destruction of all demonic forces.

Offerings of wheat and oats were made to the sacrificial fire in honor of Vishnu, marking Holi as a festival of fertility and a time when great care is taken to perform rituals of protection and make offerings designed to insure a successful harvest.

On the second day of Holi, known as Dhuleti, celebrants spend the day throwing coloured powder and water at each other. This playful activity has a spiritual and medicinal significance. The changeable weather of the spring season, alternating between cold and increasing warmth, is believed to cause viral fevers and colds and, on a more spiritual level, to cause disruptions in the smooth flow of prana, or Universal Life Force energy, throughout the body and the aura. The colored powders are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Āyurvedic doctors to restore the smooth flow of prana and ward off potential physical illnesses. Rangapanchami occurs a few days later on a Panchami (fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of the Holi Festival of Colors.

Holi is a venerable and potent festival of regeneration, resurrection, renewal and new life, similar to other spring festivals in cultures around the world.

The Four Great Seasonal Festivals

 untitled drawing by Jane Sherry

All great spiritual traditions that have left written records behind, from the Sumerian, to the Egyptian to the Greek, tell the story of seasonal cycles of birth, growth, decay, death and rebirth, corresponding to the spiritual cycles of the immortal gods and of the immortal souls of men and women living on planet Earth.

In the Neolithic age, prior to any written records, ancient scientists and priests, shamans and priestesses searched the night sky to find “fixed” reference points in the dance of the stars. This map would provide a structure reflecting the harmony of the universe, and provide an understanding of the orderly procession of seasonal change, rain and sun, that governed the yearly agricultural cycles upon which Neolithic communities depended for survival.

This was the origin of both astronomy and astrology, magical and scientific studies that were simultaneously a source of agricultural guidance, divinatory and ritual powers.

The knowledge of the Equinoxes attributed by many scholars to pre-literate Neolithic societies, and evidenced by structures such as Stonehenge, rests upon very careful, long-term study of the heavens and a sophisticated understanding of the Earth’s shape and movements throughout the year.

The Earth wobbles in its orbit around the Sun. This is the source of our seasonal cycles.

The North Pole of the Earth leans toward the Sun for half a yearly orbit, then leans away from the Sun for the rest of our Earthly year. The Northern Hemisphere experiences spring and summer as the north tilts toward the sun, and fall and winter as the north tilts away from the sun.

Twice a year, on the Vernal Equinox and the Autumnal Equinox, the Earth offers half its face to the Sun, and day and night are of equal length.

The fact that the Earth wobbles on its axis as it spins through space also creates the conditions giving rise to the much grander cycle of the Great Cosmic Year, a cycle intimately related to observations made on the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox by ancient astronomers.

The ancients perceived the Earth as the center of the Universe, and took the Sun as their obvious fixed reference point. The astrological New Year began on the first day of spring, the Vernal Equinox, and many of their festivals, designed to invoke beneficial forces that would sustain the universal order and life in their communities, took place at that time.

Naturally, they looked East at dawn on the day of the spring equinox to find which star constellation would “rise with the Sun”. This might give them insight into conditions that would pertain during the upcoming year. What a shock to discover over time that the constellation visible just before dawn was actually moving away, and another constellation was coming into view, very slowly. This process of “moving” from one sign to the next took more than two thousand years. Multiplying the length of time this took by the 12 signs of the Zodiac, they could calculate the exact length of the Cosmic Year, some 25,800 years.

For more information on how this discovery shaped the mythical and mystical traditions of cultures around the globe since prehistoric times, see my article “Spring Equinox, Reincarnation, and The Great Cosmic Year” (http://www.satyacenter.com/spring-equinox-newsletter).

At this time in history, on the day of the Vernal Equinox, the sun appears to us to be located between Pisces and Aquarius at dawn on the first day of spring. This is the scientific explanation behind the expression “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius”.

Esoteric science, as developed in the mystery schools of the East and West and handed down through oral traditions and direct experience of spiritual worlds, indicates that the time has indeed come for a new world culture and a new world hero to emerge.

In the Age of Aquarius, that world hero is no longer a solitary individual god, goddess or Avatar. The identity of that hero is represented by the image of the God and Goddess in rapt, loving embrace. The Divine Lovers represent not only the balance between men and women that will characterize the new Aquarian society, but also the balance between the male and female aspects of ourselves as well as the equality and participation of all men and women in the heroic project of rectifying humanity’s monumental disruption of environmental systems, traditional social structures, and spiritual and religious traditions.

We (Curtis Lang with Jane Sherry) invite you to read our article on “The New Age of the Divine Lovers” (http://www.satyacenter.com/backtogarden8) which discusses this transitional time in history. “Our task in the New Age is to return to the Garden of Eden within us and to restore the Garden of Eden planet around us.”

Full Moon Festival in Libra

 Fern Fronds Photo by J. Sherry

In the Native American shamanistic traditions, this month’s lunar festival is known as the “full worm moon” because this month the ground softens and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. Here in the Hudson Valley, we have seen groups of up to a dozen robins congregating in our back yard during the last four weeks, which means that for these colorful feathered allies, spring is apparently coming early. However the ground is still in transition, some days thawed, some days frozen. The more northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter, and we are hearing crows and many other varieties of birds singing outside our bedroom window every morning at dawn. Some North American Indian tribes knew this as the Full Crust Moon because in northern latitudes snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. Here at our house, the snow has been gone for a couple of weeks and spring fever has seized the household. Our cat Devi has begun literally climbing the walls, and we are shocked that she can jump nearly shoulder-high!

Friday March 21 we celebrate the Full Moon Festival at 1˚31’ Libra, occurring at 7:41 am EDT. The Sabian symbol for this degree of Libra is “The transmutation of the fruits of past experiences into the seed-realizations of the forever creative spirit”. This is an extremely auspicious placement for the Full Moon in Libra, which emphasizes the development of social skills and challenges us to expand our consciousness, open our hearts and act compassionately towards family, friends and enemies alike.


 Full Moon photo by J. Sherry

However, the energies of the Full Moon Festival are very conflicted, because the Moon in Libra is squared by Mars in Cancer and Pluto in Capricorn, and with the Sun in Aries, we have a difficult Grand Cardinal Square in the sky. We are being challenged to maintain the necessary personal boundaries and personal space required for us as individuals and Lightworkers (Sun in Aries) while working increasingly in community (Moon in Libra) to understand the immense task confronting humanity today, symbolized by Pluto in Capricorn. The entry of Pluto in Capricorn signals the need to completely restructure our political and economic structures around the world so that they nurture the vast majority of humanity and so that they nurture the environment rather than exploiting the vast majority of humanity and exploiting the environment for the benefit of a relatively few greedy individuals who comprise the global elites of all countries.

Meanwhile, with Mars in Cancer, retracing its steps after a long retrograde season, we are all feeling drained of energy, depleted as our natural resources and finding it difficult to meet our personal needs, much less engage in the Herculean task of restoring the Garden of Eden planet, Earth.

This year’s Easter Full Moon Festival challenges us at the deepest levels of our being to maintain our balance in the face of challenges to our deepest security issues, and to find ways to be of service in the world that can help the greatest number of those in need without compromising our own well-being to the point that we do harm to ourselves.

We are confronted with a global economy on the verge of collapse, a political system in disarray in America, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa in a variety of ways, impending & increasing earth-changes, and we face global shortages of oil, food, clean water and vital soils necessary to grow healthy foods in the foreseeable future, unless we change our lifestyles, our economic models and our political systems rapidly and thoroughly to accommodate the needs of an emerging 21st century global society where there is no safe haven from worldwide environmental, political and economic problems.

Symbolically, we find ourselves confronted with the spectacle of Prahlad being led to the funeral pyre to sit upon the lap of Holika, a situation of mortal danger for Gods, men and righteous demons alike, indeed for all who dwell in the Three Worlds. Symbolically we find ourselves confronted this week with the spectacle of the crucified Christ, the appearance of the victory of the Dark Forces and the apparent catastrophe of the Death of Love incarnate.

 "The Diver" drawing by Jane Sherry

Fortunately, this Full Moon in Libra provides the sincere Lightworker with energies that are particularly suited to the Great Work, the difficult task of elevating ourselves from egotism to Unity with all of Creation. For it is only by raising our consciousness that we will be empowered to address these problems in our own lives, by changing our habits, our lifestyles and our mental maps of the world. It is only when we have succeeded in sacrificing our own egoistic consciousness, by joining together with our brothers and sisters around the world in a co-operative effort to re-vision and restructure the habits and institutions of global industrial capitalism that we will succeed in our efforts to overcome these tremendous global problems facing all humanity.

This Libra Full Moon reflects light to us from the Sun in individualistic, will-full Aries. It is through the development of our will forces during a long process of individuation that we develop our own spiritual “fruits”, the virtues of love and wisdom. When we have achieved true independence, and are no longer slaves to conventional wisdom, tribal beliefs, inherited ways of thinking, racial prejudices, and religious intolerance, we become like the noble Ram, who is often utilized as the symbol of the risen Christ.

Then we are ready to transmute the many experiences we have gathered along the path of Spirit into the seeds of immortality, by offering our thoughts words and deeds to the Divine, by casting our faults, sins and bad habits into the fires traditionally lit as an integral part of spring festivals in both East and West.

Then, in the Wisdom tradition of the Rishis who make offerings of grain to Vishnu during the festival of Holi, we are ready to sacrifice the fruits of our life experience, the creation of a highly individuated egoistic consciousness, in the flames of Divine love and Divine wisdom, within the secret tabernacle of our Heart of Hearts. We make this sacrifice by opening our hearts, and by patient and persistent spiritual practices over a long period of time, which purify our bodies, our emotions, and our thoughts.

As we open our hearts, we elevate our spiritual center of gravity from the lower chakras, the centers of personal survival, sexuality, and personal power, to the Higher Realm of the Heart Chakra, replacing a three dimensional reality with a fourth dimensional reality.

As we travel the path of Spirit, we obtain glimpses of Higher Worlds, we experience elevated inner states, and perhaps even feel the presence of Universal Life Force energies flowing through our entire being.

At these times, we have succeeded in some small way in the ancient alchemical work of transmuting base elements into gold. When you scrape a dull slab of lead, it will shine with reflected light – for a short time. Then the dullness returns.

Our spiritual practices are designed to scrape the dullness from our minds and hearts. And when we are diligent we successfully alter our everyday experience from the dullness of rational materialism and egoistic self-absorption into a brighter, more reflective substance, which can receive and transmit a much higher energy signature. We become to some small extent mirrors of the Holy Spirit, and when we do we experience true being, joy and bliss.

Yet time after time we fall back from these more brilliant states of being into dull everyday consciousness, and these elevated states of being are then but memories. Yet our practices eventually can transform our hearts completely.

We can purify ourselves in an act of alchemical refinement by exercising our will forces and our discernment to choose forgiveness over anger, understanding over jealousy, courage over fear, joy over despair and love over lust. We can choose a simple diet that is compatible with our body type and in harmony with the environment around us, eating simple foods and renouncing greedy consumption of all kinds.

We can choose to nourish ourselves with the elevated thoughts of Spiritual Masters rather than immersing ourselves in the emotional junk food of soap operas, cop shows, war movies and corporate propaganda masquerading as news. We can choose to associate with friends and companions who share our desire for spiritual advancement. And we can choose to disassociate ourselves from those whose energies impact us in a negative way, by stirring up negative feelings, thoughts and habits we are trying to discard. We can meditate and pray, and we can simply try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

In all these ways we work to remove the negative, dull, leaden properties, or particles from our bodies of light and to replace the negative particles or properties with positive, golden properties or particles. This is the true secret of alchemical transformation.

By consistent practice and the Grace of the Divine, we can transform our hearts and our energy signatures. We can alchemically transmute the lead of egotistical rationality into the gold of Unity consciousness. We can eventually transform our hearts from leaden mirrors that can at best occasionally be cleaned sufficiently to reflect the Holy Spirit in some small way into luminous light-giving Sources of energy, true inner tabernacles lit by undimmable lamps of radiance serving as the suitably purified homes of Spirit.

 "Devote" by Jane Sherry pub. Artforum

Through this alchemical process, we eventually sacrifice the egoistic consciousness within us in order that the Divine within us may be born anew. "Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit." (John 12:24) The karma which represents the fruits of our past actions is thus transformed into the seeds of a new life. This very refined spiritual alchemy is analogous to the offerings of the Rishis to Vishnu at the Festival of Holi.

When we sacrifice the fruits of our past lives, we participate in this way over a long period of time in a personal ritual honoring the death and resurrection of Christ. Then each year, when Easter approaches, we can be sure that the seeds of new life will flower within our newly reborn consciousness, manifest as spontaneous loving acts of kindness, compassionate deeds that can help to alleviate the suffering of our fellow human beings.

The Alchemy of Easter

Now is therefore the time to celebrate alchemy. Now is the time to honor Christ by the subordination of the ego in favor of the Higher Self. Now is the time to demonstrate our willed intent to connect with the Higher Self, Christ Consciousness, through meditation, prayer, ceremony and ritual. Now is the time to surrender and allow ourselves to be guided on the path of Spirit.

On Good Friday, as he hung dying on the cross of wood, Jesus the Christ attained a world-altering spiritual victory over the personal ego which opened for all of us a doorway to the Way, the Truth and Eternal Life.

The Hanged Man, that most daunting Tarot Trump, number 12, symbolizes the difficult process of re-orienting the life force from subservience to the egoistic personality to the service of the Higher Self, The Unity of the Web of Life, and the Universal Source of Creation.

photo of Altar in Church of St. Sava NYC by J.Sherry 

This re-orientation is the goal of all spiritual practices, both East and West. Seekers have used techniques such as meditation, fasting, prayer, ceremonial magic, vision quest, and even martyrdom to subordinate the ego, purge the Self of the mind’s illusion of separation, and attain the unity consciousness that is the fruit of this Great Sacrifice.

The Hanged Man also depicts the crucifixion of the body. This is the card of surrender, the card of death by water.

Those who were crucified normally died a long, slow death from suffocation brought about by the collapse of lungs filling with water, as they found themselves unable to maintain an erect posture, sinking down with fatigue, increasingly unable to breathe.

Symbolically, it was through being filled with the element of water, which represents the emotional power of compassion manifest as unconditional love, that the ego of Jesus died on Good Friday.

Tarot Trump 13, called Death, refers both to physical death and to the death of the egoistic personality, which is an illusory death. For the personality remains after this death, but it is stripped of the illusion of control. The aspirant no longer lives to satisfy individual material desires at the expense of others, or without thought for the consequences of actions upon the larger Web of Life that comprises the great Karmic Wheel of Existence figured in Tarot Trump 10, The Wheel of Fortune.

This is the death by water that is the culmination of the spiritual exercise pictured in Trump 12, the Hanged Man. As at the moment of physical death, the ego is submerged completely in the collective consciousness of humanity and the evolutionary record of all sentient beings incarnating over time on planet Earth.

This is the true baptism of water, and this baptism leads to new life, to a true rebirth of the spirit, the flesh and the soul.


 Deer Skeleton Photo by J.Sherry

The death of the ego is long and slow, and our ability to remain constant during this process of suffering and ego-death is made possible only by a constant renewal of faith. Yet as Jesus the Christ experienced on his cross of wood, every aspirant reaches a point where he or she will cry “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

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