Happy Winter Solstice Friends!!!
Holidays have their origin in holy days. They are the way humanity marks the sacred cyclical cycle of Nature. People from all over the world have been celebrating the Winter Solstice since time immemorial. On this shortest day of the year, the sun at it furthest and weakest point from the earth, is a pivotal point from which the sun’s light will grow stronger and brighter. It is the turning point, the turning of the corner, the Romans called it “Dies Natalis Invicti Solis,” The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The shortest day of the year symbolized death to our ancestors and they created rituals and ceremonies to celebrate the Sun and call it back. What follows death, but life and renewal. Farmers killed and prepared the animals, specialty fermented beverages were in abundance, and fall crops on good years were in ample supply. It was a time of celebrating the gifts the Sun had blessed upon humanity, but also wish or prayer for renewal, and the return of the Sun. The Incas celebrated the Festival of the Sun during which a priest would perform a ceremony ” Tying of the Sun” around a large stone the “hitching post” to prevent the sun from leaving. The Greeks, Persians, Romans, Native Americans of the South and North American Continent all marked the shortest day of the year, “the slumber of the sun” as the end of a cycle and the following day as a time of renewal; for some it was New Year.
Ancient man understood well the large and small cycles of Nature, and the Cosmos. Most ancient cultures studied Nature, Astronomy, Astrology so they knew the day and time of year, and when to plant and harvest their crops. Ancient man viewed himself as part of Nature and believed in reincarnation, in the after life. He believed the soul would live on again in this world or in another. He celebrated death because death was as much apart of life as life itself. Death was merely the ending of one cycle and the beginning of another. The ancient Greeks believed the body was a cage and upon death, their souls were freed from the cage… something to celebrate, not to fear.
In this Winter Solstice 2012, there is much ado about the end of the Mayan Calendar. Many people are fearful that the end of the world is near, fearful of death. What is there to fear? A number of years ago I read that some asian or islander cultures kept their ancestor’s skull on a mantle or alter, not occasionally for a holy-day or holiday, but everyday to remind them of death. The article made a huge impression on me and I thought, “What a wonderful concept and pracitce. These people have a much better understanding and relationship with death, and so they have a much better understanding and relationship with life.”
Our Eastern and Indigenous brothers maintained the wisdom and beliefs of our ancestors. They’re connected to Nature, the Cosmos, and to the long and short cycles of life: they are apart of it. Our Eastern brothers maintain their beliefs of life and death, not just with their eyes, what they see, or what they’ve heard since inception, but they believe with their hearts. Theirs is a harmony of mind, body & spirit. The harmony is a result in part because of their cultural narratives, in part because of what they see with their eyes, but mostly because of what they feel. They feel Truth in their bones. When man learns to discriminate, not just with his head, but with his heart, he will get closer to the Truth, and be at peace with his Knowledge.
Western man is disconnected and sees himself standing apart from Nature. He views Nature as something to study, trick, or dominate. When he sees the end, he sees Armageddon. He’s lost his connection to Nature, and to his ability to feel with his heart. He’s forgotten he’s apart of the cycle and that with each birth comes death. He may know it in his head, but doesn’t feel it in his heart. He’s not at peace with his imminent death. Is his dis-ease is tied to his linear view of time? Or is it our laws and customs? Think about it, what happens when someone dies? We call the authorities and they remove our loved one almost immediately. Ok decomposition sets in and it’s not a good idea to have a dead loved one in our home for an extended period of time, but what about 24-48 hours? Why do we immediately remove and hand our loved one’s body over to strangers? Why don’t we prepare and cremate the body? This may sound like crazy talk to you, however, death is as much apart of life as life itself. It is the relationship between presence and absence, the seen and the unseen. Perhaps we would become more comfortable with the unknown, the unseen and the end.
To a yogi, the end of the Mayan Calendar is merely the end of a World Age, transition from one Earth Cycle into another. Mayans, Indians, Native Americans and Western man view and experience time differently. Western man sees time moving forward in a linear fashion. While our Indigenous brothers observe and believe in the cyclical cycle of Nature, that it moves in a circle; there are cycles within cycles that move in a circle. At the center of the circle there’s a stillness, timelessness, and the Eternal Now. There is a lot of peace and tranquility in that world view. As a yogi, it’s easy to subscribe to the Eastern and Native narrative. We see ourselves as apart of Nature, and are very comfortable dropping the physical body. We see the circle and at the center of the circle the stillness, timelessness, and the Eternal Now. If you make it through 12-21-2012 intact, please come and visit us at Pranavah Yoga Studio and become familiar with a yogi’s world view: “fear not, you are not your body; this world, and all the material things are but an illusion.”
Happiness and Peace to All Beings,
Your Friends at Pranavah Yoga Studio