The Vernal Equinox
Welcome to the March 20, 2006 edition of the Satya Center newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editor, Curtis Lang.
Today is the Spring Equinox. The Sun enters the sign of Aries the Ram.
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.
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 prehistorical times, see my article “Spring Equinox, Reincarnation, and The Great Cosmic Year”.
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”.
Today, at the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius, at the Spring Equinox of 2006, we are surrounded by apocalyptic events and here in America, we live in a country where roughly a third of the people believe in the imminent literal end of the world, as foretold in the Book of Revelations.
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” which discusses this transitional time in history. “Our task in the New Age is to return to the Garden of Eden within us,” this author explains, “and to restore the Garden of Eden planet around us.”
You may also want to read my article on “The Dark Night of the Planetary Soul”, for more information on this pivotal point in world history. As I say in this article, which explains the current world crisis from the point of view of the Wisdom Teachings of East and West, “The social structure of this society is a reflection of this moment in evolutionary consciousness, highly structured, hierarchical, and driven by mental considerations of perceived self-interest on the part of small elites who govern on the principles of fear, greed and obfuscation. However, the next evolutionary step for human beings is to re-establish conscious ancient connections with the web of life, with the extended consciousness of the human over-soul, and with the multitude of spiritual beings in higher worlds, to offer in self-sacrifice their highly developed individuated consciousness to the Higher Self, and to establish the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.”
Spring Equinox Message from Jane
Spring arrives cloaked in a mantle of glittering cold, with sub freezing temperatures & high winds blowing away any thoughts of playing outside for very long. Flocks of birds announce the new season's approach amidst fairy gusts of snow -- starlings spiral above the fresh manured field next to our house. The starlings took a turn on the woody hill behind the house, yelling up & down, their wingbeats rippling like waves through the wind, thrilling our Devi by the glass doors, as she waited, wild kitten instincts intact, though she has yet to go back outside since we brought her home from the rescue shelter.
Beautiful small birds with black & white markings I do not recognize, cardinals & woodpeckers and two pairs of doves have taken up residence in our small back yard. We scatter seed and millet for them so ground feeders and bolder types can feast on the hill or atop our redwood garden furniture.
In spite of the continuing cold, the return of the birds, the bright sun rising higher in the sky & our collective impatience to be outdoors all announce the yearly shift. Two weeks ago, the ground was beginning to thaw, so we scattered red clover seed along the slope & in the back yard, in hopes of coaxing fertility into our poor soils. We hope the cold and intermittent snow has been our friend, directing the seed below and not into the mouths of hungry field mice.
Seduced for a moment by visions of lapis blue poppies, fairy bell flowers, fancy clematis & the fussy outdoor décor in a garden catalogue, I defer to restraint as I see my big box of carefully gathered seeds, and measure that against my garden plans which seem to wax and wane with the moon.
Because we just moved here three seasons back, we will test the soil, and get some help in building up garden beds, digging trenches for wind break hedges between the cornfield & our place and in creating a large perennial flower garden. Then begins the work of inviting in the local Nature Spirits to work with us in this huge endeavor. We have gifts of crystals, Reiki and cakes to offer them, in the ground and around the various garden zones.
I am so grateful that this day brings warm sunshine with the cold air to announce Spring’s arrival. I am so grateful to be alive and present in this mutable time of great changes in the world. I am grateful for the lessons of patience, forbearance, love & grace as they enter my life and continue in their many permutations as I grow and learn, as I change and move forward into new ways of knowing and being on earth.
This day of the Vernal Equinox is a good time to reconnect to Mother Earth with gratitude for her many gifts. It is a good time to reconnect with the sacred during the simple act of eating a meal.
As farmers repair their equipment, take store of their seeds, and make their plans to prepare their fields, we often take for granted that we have a ready supply of food available for us to eat.
Because we live in a fast food culture, with larger & larger urban populations and fewer rural farming communities, we have more and more of an emotional, spiritual and physical disconnect from our food supply, and from knowing where & how our food is grown.
In our last newsletter, we offered some suggestions for you to learn more about your food, with ideas about how you can join community supported food efforts in your local region.
In this newsletter, we begin to address the spiritual component of food. Many of us do not take the time to consecrate our food, to thank Mother Earth for our food, or to offer up the energy we receive from our food to the Divine.
If we offer a meal prayer, it is often a remnant of our religious upbringing, without the further growth in understanding, or insight into why we are taught to pray before a meal.
In my household, there was no prayer said before a meal, because I was brought up with no religion. The only time I vaguely remember feeling gratitude before eating, was probably the few times I ate fresh food from the garden out back, which was only during a couple of years of my youth.
I suppose, when we are very hungry, no matter our age, our upbringing, our religion or culture, we truly feel grateful for the food which is brought before us.
It is my sincerest wish, that we, as a culture, do not wait until we are 'hungry', to experience this gratitude. For as we live our busy lives, failing to find the time to express our gratitude and love for Life in all its many beautiful and myriad forms, many earth species are dying, mutating and disappearing. Our food supply is endangered by corporate greed, by scientific mutation and manipulation.
Genetically engineered (GE or GM or GMO) food crops represent the largest uncontrolled scientific experiment in world history, the outcome of which is totally unknown. The potential environmental, agricultural, political and economic consequences of this outrageous attempt to centralize control of the world's food supply in a small corporate oligopoly are incalculable.
Already we are seeing signs that GE crops are making populations living near those GE fields ill. See the new article, "GM Ban Long Overdue: Dozens Ill and Five Deaths in the Philippines" by Satya Center contributor Dr. Mae-Wan Ho for details.
We need to reconnect with the sacred in our daily lives. It is time to recall that the production and consumption of food is a sacred activity. Agriculture should not be a purely economic activity, because it is so intimately connected with the well-being of the entire human community, and because it is one crucial place where the human community is intimately connected with the web of life, the environment, with Mother Earth. Above all the production of food is a magical act that unites the farmer with the Cosmic Forces of the Heavens and the Earth.
When we eat our daily meals we need to reconnect with these same Cosmic Forces, and with Mother Earth. In so doing, we nourish both ourselves and the Earth.
In today's world, there are so many factors that detract from the nutritional value and the energetic vitality of the food we eat. We consume empty food calories from fast-food meals which are merely attractive industrial packages containing chemicals and sugar, foods containing no life force energy or intrinsic value. We eat with a lack of reverence for the very act of eating itself. We eat to fuel the machinery of the body, so we can use our bodies as instruments for competition in the economic and political warfare called modern civilization. We eat with disinterest, eating in a hurry to get it over with. We eat with guilt. Guilt arises from negative body identity issues such as feeling fat. Feelings of dissatisfaction arise if you are eating in order to feel loved, if you are eating just to fill up the empty space in your heart and in your life. All of these activities further reduce the vital energy we take in from our food, while infusing the food with detrimental energies, arising from negative thoughts and emotions.
Feelings associated with food and with its consumption can impact digestion as well. I am sure you have all experienced a meal during which you have had angry thoughts, or exposure to disharmony, whether with your own family or by watching the evening news during your meal. I am sure you recall, the tight feeling in your 'gut' or the sudden disinterest in your meal. Make mealtime a "safe zone", a time of truce, when disputes and disagreements are set aside, the television is turned off, the activities of the day left behind & instead, mealtime can be a time of real communion. In this way, all will be better nourished.
By making food production and consumption a form of communication with the Divine, we will individually and collectively develop the Will Forces, the Heart Forces & Soul Forces within we so desperately need to strengthen us to perform our task upon the Earth at this crucial moment of cultural transformation -- the end of the Age of Competition, Industrialization and Oil and Global War, and the beginning of the Age of Co-operation, Environmentalism, Renewable Power and Global Community. By being prayerful in our gardens and our fields, in our kitchens and dining rooms, we learn to acknowledge the Divine Spark within all life forms on earth, from the smallest to the most predatory -- humans.
Praying, giving thanks, the simple act of gratitude in our daily lives, provides a path to healing and to wholeness. Thanksgiving is an everyday festival of our connection with the Divine, and thus with our own deepest selves. It is a way to be made aware of our connection with all of Life.
A simple act of Reverence, opens us to Grace, grounds us in the present awareness of our lives, and links us energetically to all with whom we are connected. Gratitude & Reverence open the gate to remembering our Spirit Selves. We pass through this doorway to the invisible world of Nature spirits. When we engage the Spirits of Nature, we further open ourselves to invisible nourishment -- to the unceasing incalculable flow of universal life force energy which creates, which fulfills & which moves through us all.
When we take a moment before we eat our meal and truly feel grateful for the bounty we are about to take in, it will nourish us more thoroughly by uniting us with the worlds of plants and animals, minerals and elementals.
Acknowledging food as sacrament opens new pathways to health & healing, both for ourselves and for Nature. In this way, it is good for the cook to be calm and to be clean; it is good for the kitchen to be clean and organized before beginning to make the meal. All of these acts--first blessing by water, then cooking food with fire, can be another reminder of how preparing our food and our meals, are a ritual act, connected in an elemental way to all aspects of our lives.
Take a moment in preparing your meal to say a blessing over your food, whether cooked or gathered in the salad bowl and this will infuse the food with universal life force energy. Say thanks to all those Life Spirits which have enlivened the food, to all of the many people from farm workers to truck drivers who have participated in the work of growing the food and bringing it to your kitchen.
At the table, thank the cook who prepared the meal, the plants and animals who gave their lives so we could live, and the minerals and cosmic forces that nourished the plants and animals so they could grow strong and healthy.
Praise the fertile soil which was so necessary for plants and animals to live and thrive.
I think if you do this, you will find your food tastes better, digests better & helps you feel more connected to your life. And I know that a meal prepared and eaten with love & gratitude, will not only nourish you but will energize you and enliven your spirit.
If we are able, in small ways each day, to connect more fully to our own soul and to the Heart of the World, we can each contribute more fully to a life dedicated to Love while turning away from Hatred. Then we will be more able to surround ourselves, our friends, neighbors & families & community with the energy of Love. We will be more able to receive love & to give love. This is the antidote to fear, to hatred & to War.
By offering prayers of gratitude when we sit down to eat, we help to move in the direction of reclaiming that which is Divine within each of us. When we acknowledge the Cosmic Forces infusing plant and animal and mineral that constitutes our daily meal, we begin to remember that we too are made of Star stuff.
Most importantly, we are returning the Love we receive unknowingly each and every day and night, from the many elementals, from the Devas & Nature Spirits, and from the invisible spiritual world inhabited by elevated beings of Light, to them all. They in turn are nourished by our love, by our gratitude & through our reverence.We will attract their attention and help in direct proportion to the energy we provide them every day.
When we begin to make the growing, preparation and consumption of food into a sacred act, we can begin to overcome & transmute the feelings of overwhelm, of inadequacy, of helplessness & hopelessness that plague so many of us in all walks of life.
When we say a prayer over our food, it transfers Universal Life Force into the meal, no matter how it was prepared. When we thank the person who prepared the meal for us, we can begin to transform that relationship, whether it is a parent, a mate, a child, or even a stranger. If we begin to acknowledge the delicate relations among all Life on earth, whether it is a field of corn for animals, a field of rye to nourish the ground, even the deer, the skunk, the foxes, the birds, the fish, all of whom contribute to this web, then we begin to heal the global environment energetically. In all this, we come closer to conscious co-creation of the Universal Dance of Life.
Blessing While Cooking
All that I have comes from my Mother.
I give myself over to the pot.
My thoughts are on the good,
The healing properties of this food.
My hands are balanced, I season well.
I give myself over to this pot.
Life is being given to me.
I commit to sharing. I feed others.
I feed She Who Feeds Me.
I give myself over to this gift.
I adorn this table with food.
I invite lovers and friends to come share.
I thank you for this gift.
All that I have comes from my Mother.
By Luisa Teish, from Satya Center contributor Rebecca Wood’s “The Splendid Grain”
Now that I am about to eat, O Great Spirit, give my thanks to the beasts and birds whom You have provided for my hunger; and pray deliver my sorrow that living things must make a sacrifice for my comfort and well-being.
Let the feather of corn spring up in its time and let it not wither but make full grains for the fires of our cooking pots, now that I am about to eat.
This ritual is one.
The food is one.
We who offer the food are one.
The fire of hunger is also one.
All action is one.
We who understand this are one.
The Three Treasures
We venerate all the past teachers
And give thanks for this food,
The work of many people
and the offering of other forms of life.
Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, through thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Meal Prayer from Curtis
Jesus said of the Bread and Wine, "This is my body and this is my blood. Do this in memory of me." Let us say of our daily bread and tea:
"This is my body and this is my blood. As I eat of this food, I remember the Wisdom Teachers of the East and West who have prepared the way before me. I offer the energy in this food which I now receive to them, and to the work of love and light these Teachers know and serve. I recall their sacrifice, and I pledge to work to be of maximum service to the world."
Recipe Links Page
For ideas and recipes for preparing some of the delicious whole foods & meals pictured here, go to our Recipes & Menus page.
Meditation Moment by Caroline Casey
O Great Allies in the Compassionate Trickster Experimental Juju Mystery School --
When Planets station and retrograde, they appear to stand still from the earth's perspective, and then to move backwards. Symbolically, a planet stationing beams down its intelligence, resonates that part of us. And retrograde movement can be thought of as auspicious for any RE activity: reflect, re-connect, redeem. Think of a retrograde planet as a part of us that is going on a Vision Quest to re-claim voice, power, dedication.
Mercury, Thoth, the power of language is now retrograde in Pisces, the realm of the whole big story. The meta story - Scheherazade's frame story, that, indeed all is related.
We remember late great Native American activist, Ruben Snake, who said "here's a little bit of native American wisdom for you - if we don't change our direction -- we're likely to end up where we're headed." Now is such a powerful time for us to re-claim and hone our voices, our irresistible eloquence, because the direction we're headed as a species is so irrefutably cruel and dangerous, that it is increasingly evident to all. As we cultivate our story-telling skills, we increasingly attract opportunities to talk across all social borders, to critique and re-mind ourselves and everyone with whom we speak of how it could be.
John Michael Greer writes that "if you want people to get nothing done but conflict, convince them they are on one side of something", the number two, duality. What the situation then requires is to go introduce the 3rd factor which is the unifying story.
The wonderful tale told of St. Patrick (whose day, so close to the Equinox announces him as a Spring time hero), who upon being given a cup of poisoned wine, holds the cup up to the light. The poison rises to the top, he blows it off like froth, quaffs the drink, and toasts everyone who was trying to poison him, causing the elders to murmur, "ah, a real initiate."
Well, we've all been given a glass of poisoned wine, personally and collectively, at this holy, inward, re-flective, back-stage time,
We invite in the light that can metabolize the poison.
This particular Equinox, circa March 20th, is a particularly strong time of coming back to life, followed so closely by a total eclipse in the middle east (Libya and Turkey) as Pluto, principle of powerful metamorphosis stations on that day. Re-connect with the power of story-telling, bring the old stories alive by fresh language and metaphor. We toss into the spiraling cauldron of this time, all we don't need, all past poisons.
Mercury retrograde now invites us to imagine that we are all pulling back a bow string of which we let the arrow of our desire fly, March 25th - 29th. Mercury will be dancing with Uranus, the unique Compassionate Trickster part of ourselves, who says, "get ready for launch, I will connect each of you to the golden thread of increased synchronicity, and all I want from you is wonder and willingness." We are wondering, and willing. <