Celebrating The Rising Light
Welcome to the Candlemas, February 2, 2010 edition of the Satya Center newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editor, Curtis Lang and your co-editor, Jane Sherry.
Today is the feast of Candlemas and Valentine's Day is coming February 14. We dedicate today's newsletter to lovers everywhere and to all those who seek increased love in their loves, and increased warmth in their hearts, during this season of steadily increasing sunlight amidst the slush, sleet, ice and snow of the Northern Hemispheric winter season.
"Candlemas - In The Belly of Winter" by Jane Sherry.
Within frozen depths does warmth stir, and mud rises.
Seeds of air & fire, water & starlight move into the cold and wet places
that awaken from slumber.
Enlivened by bird seed, scattered over my snow cover,
I dream of spring, pulse quickens,
gardens form pictures in my body.
A spark, a heart quickening; fire-seeds
scatter out of my womb into the night,
into the dawn.
The great circle of the year draws around
again, the small flame enters the chamber.
A new year hastens us to wakefulness.
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The Candlemas Festival
Today is the festival of Candlemas, called Imbolc by the ancient Celts. Candlemas is one of the holy cross quarter days of earth honoring peoples, and marks the midpoint between the winter solstice & the spring equinox. It is the time of quickening. It marks the time of stirring, rousing, and enlivening out of the dark of winter's slumber. And this moment brings, within our collective memories, the promise of renewal before the spring, awakening us to the new year. Now is the time when farmers and gardeners envision new cycles of planting. This month, seeds will be planted in greenhouses and on warm window ledges here in the Northeast.
Our bodies begin to stir, although parts of us still slumber in inner soul work. Restless desires begin to form as we watch the birds scatter seed in the snow & mud. During the lulls between winter storms, you can see stirrings of early beloved spring weeds, such as great mullein, motherwort & nettles. Actually, the weather patterns are so disrupted, with so many false starts to winter this year, that our ground has frozen & unfrozen at least three times, I have lost count now. A few weeks ago, I was happy enough to go out to our garden & collect another harvest of small kale leaves, early starts to the lovage leaves, some angelica & bits of thymes here & there and even a bonus cutting of lavender. Since then, the ground has more thoroughly frozen, making further forays into the vegetable bed rather futile.
Birds are much busier flying in and out of their bramble shelters. I've noticed fewer cardinals this year and wonder if they lost some habitat when the new driveway road was put in next to our land. Our kitten has surely grown into a cat & we watch Devi as she hunts birds, thinking they don't notice her as she sits quietly waiting. She is a creature of play and doesn't seem to mind that they always fly away. She is however, and more importantly, a good mouser and I say important, as we live in farm country near fields of corn, where mice love to live. However, as I mentioned to our acupuncturist, she is unable to hunt between walls!
As we eat seaweeds & brown rice, warming vegetable broths & thick orange soups along with the end of the autumn's harvest of roots & winter squash, we start craving the tender greens & fresh wild weedy salads of spring. I did make an amazing hot beet borscht with our vegetables which served us well when we were feeling low energy.
As I dream of spring gardens, snow, sleet, hail & rains fertilize the land. The promise of spring gardens draw pictures in my mind. I smell wet ground, still somewhat unfamiliar and new, in this place on earth I do not yet know with the intimacy of gardening for many seasons.
I dream of where the worms hide under leaf mulch, along with baby snakes under rock walls, barely begun before winter, more falling down, than standing guard over garden beds. Planning for tender turnips, lettuce leaves, mixed with violets, nettles & dandelion as I search out my box of seeds saved from our garden before the move with the additional seeds saved from this place from the last two planting seasons. Planning for a much more serious vegetable garden now that we have gotten a taste of growing so much of our own food. Of course, knowing we can supplement anything we can't manage, makes this daydream so much sweeter.
In fact, at the end of last summer, Curtis & I discussed which vegetables we need to grow more of (greens & beets), which ones we should forget (corn!!), what to grow less of (tomatoes!!!!) and which new ones we should try this year after our success with last seasons' offerings. We made amazing beets pickled with anise seed based upon Betsy's recipe and only wished we had made more! We also pickled the string beans & green & red cabbages from our garden & the cukes from Katie & Chris's farm share down the road.
My own belly stirs with our Mother Earth's as I plan for meals, for love, for creating art & talismans & for poems not yet read or written. We give thanks as the wind howls outside, bringing more snow, rain, sleet reminding us, winter is not yet finished with us. There is still time to dream. . .
The Feast of Imbolc is one of the eight solar festivals of NeoPaganism known to wise women as cross-quarter days, which fall on sacred festival days of the ancient Celtic calendar. Imbolc occurs when the Sun is midway through the month of Aquarius, although it is often celebrated on February 2 as a fixed date, in many areas.
Imbolc means "in the belly" (imbolg) in Gaelic, referring to the pregnancy of ewes, and is also a Celtic term for spring. Another name for this feast is Oimelc, meaning "ewe's milk" in the ancient Irish tongue.
At Oimelc, Brigid, goddess of fire, hearth, fields, cows, craft, childbirth and poetry, is invited into each house and community and devotees ask her blessing during the season of quickening, as days become longer, and we prepare for the ascent of the forces of light, celebrated at the Spring Equinox.
Nineteen Irish priestesses traditionally kept an eternal fire going at Brigid's shrine in Kildare, according to NeoPagan author Z Budapest. Brigid's sacred wells across Ireland gave sight to the blind and healed the hopelessly ill.
In honor of this Solar Goddess, hearth fires were set burning in each home, and each family brought fire to the community's public ceremony, in a celebration of the end of winter's isolation and the beginning of communal preparations for a new planting season.
Irish tradition sets aside February 3 as the feast of Brigantia, celebrating Brigid as the goddess of the all-seeing eye. Solar crosses of straw were brought into the house and hung over the door. The "eye of Brigid" would protect the household from all evil.
Brigantia celebrations are closely connected with activities involving the sacred Rowan tree, known as "the quickbeam", associated with lightning, and also called the "tree of life". In the romance of Diarmuid and Grainne, the rowan berry, along with the apple and the red nut, is described as "the food of the gods".
Festivals occurring at the mid-point of a fixed sign, like Aquarius, are traditionally feasts of prognostication.
One might profit from divinatory readings on the Feast of Brigantia, which is a feast of divination and second sight. The month of Aquarius is the month of the Rowan, tree of the quickening, and of prophetic visions. The Rowan, often found surrounding sacred circles of stone marking mountaintop shrines, is also known as "the witch", or "witch-wand", because branches of the sacred tree were used for divining metals.
The American Festival of Aquarian Prognostication is called Groundhog Day. TV networks gather in Wisconsin to broadcast the yearly ritual when America's celebrity groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, will make a public appearance. If he sees his shadow, it is said that there will be an early spring, and if not, winter will be prolonged.
Here in the Hudson Valley it is a dark, cloudy day, and we are expecting snow, and so any local cousins of Punxsutawney Phil venturing outdoors will probably not be able to see their shadows. This indicates that spring is fast approaching -- for us. There is not a speck of snow on the ground, and temperatures today will hover around freezing. We expect a cold snap next week, but there are no storms on the horizon this Storm Moon. Our neighbors with working farms are quietly complaining that without a thick blanket of snow on the ground, there are no winter sports holidays, and it feels like the farm rhythm has been broken. There are always more chores to do as long as deep snow does not prevent farm families from working away on a myriad of chores they might normally engage in spring.
This Festival of approaching spring is also traditionally a time of preparation for the coming planting season. On the feast of Brigantia, women would gather and ascend to the heavens on magical horses, brooms made of Rowan, Ash and Birch, gathering on the mountaintops to circle and honor the Lady of the Heights, who brought the lightning and storms that would purify the land and quicken the soil in preparation for the spring planting.
Now is the time of purification and preparation celebrated in the spring festivals found in Celtic, NeoPagan and Christian traditions alike. Lent, the next forty days, is the ideal time to begin personal purification in preparation for the accelerated influx of light and life-force initiated at the Spring Equinox and Easter festivals.
On this Festival of the Hearth, purification can be sought by lighting a candle or a log in the fireplace, invoking the Divine, and meditating upon the bad habits, negative emotions, and outdated mental maps of the world we would do well to release in this New Year. Make a list of the elements you are prepared to sacrifice and burn the list with gratitude.
This is the time Christians celebrate the Feast of Candlemas, the day of the presentation of baby Jesus in the Temple, forty days after Christmas, traditionally February 2 in the West and February 14-15 in the East. In America, we celebrate Ground Hog's Day.
This is also an ideal time of year to begin a daily sunrise meditation practice, to synchronize body, mind and spirit with the waxing energies of Great Sol, the main source of Earthly life-force energies. Here's a simple, yet deep five-minute Sunrise Meditation I've adapted from well-known meditations taught by Sri Yukteswar and Drunvalo Melchizedek. It's designed to infuse the soul and body with solar energy, and strengthen the aura.
You may also want to try this powerful Morning Meditation for Radiance and Cellular Transformation offered by agricultural researcher extraordinaire Steve Diver.
St. Valentine's Day has been a celebration of romantic and courtly love in the West for hundreds of years, and a time for soulmates to ponder their great good fortune in sharing an earthly journey that accelerates their spiritual evolution and provides them with countless opportunities to open their hearts and become One with a Love Divine.
This holiday has pagan and heretical Christian origins, and interesting analogies with certain medieval Hindu practices, all of which celebrate the Universal Life Force Energy in its manifestation as sexual union.
In ancient Rome, February 13 was the feast of the fertility god Faunus and February 15 was the Feast of Lupercalia, dedicated to another fertility god, Lupercus. The priests of Pan Lyceus would perform purification ceremonies designed to promote fertility among Roman women. Young priests would circle the city walls with strips of skin cut from sacrificial animals, scourging women they encountered along the way to purify them in preparation for pregnancy. The Latin "februaue" means "to purify" after this "Feast of Purification." Some sources say that the thongs made from the skins of sacrificed animals "which the priests used on the evening of February 14 to whip women" were called "februa".
At Lupercalia, young women wrote their names on slips of papyrus and put them in a box. Then young men would take turns withdrawing the slips of paper, and would pair off for the day with the women whose names they had picked.
In 12th century southern France, "Valentine Clubs" appeared, which constituted a more playful, chivalric, and Christianized version of the ancient Roman fertility festivals.
Every year on February 14th, the Valentines assembled in the local town square, according to John Rutheford's invaluable guide to medieval gallantry, "The Troubadors". Two couples, dressed as Cupid, Mercy, Loyalty and Chastity would lead a parade of couples around the town, accompanied by trumpeters and banner-bearers.
The procession would end at the local Hotel, where the celebrants performed a "mass" dedicated to the worship of Love. At the close of the ceremony, the couples dispersed, and a silver casket containing the names of all gentlemen present was presented to the ladies.
Each lady drew a slip, and Cupid then brought the ladies together with their chosen gentlemen. The newly formed couples were declared Valentines for the year. Gentlemen were required to be faithful to their ladies for the next twelve months, to provide their ladies with abundant flowers throughout the period, to offer regular gifts to their ladies, to escort their ladies wherever they so desired, to make songs and poems or to engage in jousts in her honor, and to guard her honor jealously. Marriage of any pair of Valentines was strictly forbidden.
As we celebrate today's secular version of Valentine's Day, let us all meditate upon the origins of the Feast, and celebrate the mysteries of Love and Life that are the traditional domain of the Goddess and the traditional rewards to those gallant gentle men whose spiritual veneration of the female principle provided entire medieval communities with the blessings of courtly love and chivalric romance, and served as a potent counterweight to the patriarchal, martial values of the feudal society, structured and stratified according to bloodline, personal battle skills and the ability to field a force of loyal soldiers in the quest for ever more lands to govern and control.
If you are interested in finding your soulmate, learning to live compatibly with your soulmate, or in learning to achieve loving Union with the Divine as an individual, you might enjoy learning more about the Spiritual Laws of Love on this St. Valentine's Day.
Jane and I are writing a free online e-book, Back to the Garden: Cultivating Love in Our Lives, and the first several profusely illustrated chapters are online now.
In our book, you will read the true story of the Garden of Eden, explore the true nature of the original sin of egoism, and discover how to surrender to the Higher Self. Find out about the root cause of the war between the sexes and how it is fueled by karma, egotism, and the tragic nature of romantic love. Discover strategies for building love partnerships that last, based upon equality and unconditional love. Learn about the pathway back to the Garden of Eden and uncover the hidden mythology of sexual balance and sexual partnership that provides the spiritual foundation for the dawning Age of Aquarius. It's a Valentine's Day treat for lovers everywhere.
We also invite those interested in finding unusual and delightful Valentine's Day gifts to visit our Crystal Gallery, where we have an amazing selection of beautiful, energetically potent jewelry, gemstones and crystals, gorgeous collector's items which are also Lightworkers' power tools, useful for meditation, crystal healing and protection.
We've got a special section for Gift Items, another for Items on Sale, and a selection of custom-made Jewelry by Satya, designed to our specifications and crafted from hand-picked gemstones selected by Curtis and Jane for their mineralogical value and metaphysical power.
There's something for everyone -- including a special section of jewelry for $50 or less.
All these beautiful gems and crystals have been cleansed and charged with sun and wind, flower essences, Reiki and potent cleansing mantras, then given a Reiki attunement so they will continuously receive and transmit Universal Life Force Energy.
Take a look around our website this month, and have a very happy Valentine's Day!