Monday, December 20, 2010

Lead Us from Darkness into Light
And see the Red Moon!

Tuesday is the shortest day of the year - the Winter Solstice.

(Or do you call it the longest night of the year?)

Tuesday is also a full moon day.

And there is a lunar eclipse.

It's the first time in some 400 years that these three things have fallen on the same day.

They say you can see the moon glow a deep coppery red if you look at the right time; starting Monday night at 2:41a.m. East Coast Time, 1:41a.m. Central Time.

This is also the perfect time to go within.

So do some mantra.

Light some candles.

And do your (sitting) practice.

* * *

For those with a more outgoing temperament, the lovely Aurora Danai will host a Solstice event Tuesday night from 9-11p.m. at YogaNow ($5 donation). Details here.

* * *

Here's an excerpt from Richard Cohen's incredibly informative New York Times op-ed piece about the Winter Solstice and its related rituals:

The novelist Alan Furst has one of his characters nicely observe, “the day the sun is said to pause. ... Pleasing, that idea. ... As though the universe stopped for a moment to reflect, took a day off from work. One could sense it, time slowing down.”

Virtually all cultures have their own way of acknowledging this moment. The Welsh word for solstice translates as “the point of roughness,” while the Talmud calls it “Tekufat Tevet,” first day of “the stripping time.” For the Chinese, winter’s beginning is “dongzhi,” when one tradition is making balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize family gathering. In Korea, these balls are mingled with a sweet red bean called pat jook. According to local lore, each winter solstice a ghost comes to haunt villagers. The red bean in the rice balls repels him.

In parts of Scandinavia, the locals smear their front doors with butter so that Beiwe, sun goddess of fertility, can lap it up before she continues on her journey. (One wonders who does all the mopping up afterward.) Later, young women don candle-embedded helmets, while families go to bed having placed their shoes all in a row, to ensure peace over the coming year.

Street processions are another common feature. In Japan, young men known as “sun devils,” their faces daubed to represent their imagined solar ancestry, still go among the farms to ensure the earth’s fertility (and their own stocking-up with alcohol). In Ireland, people called wren-boys take to the roads, wearing masks or straw suits. The practice used to involve the killing of a wren, and singing songs while carrying the corpse from house to house.

Sacrifice is a common thread. In areas of northern Pakistan, men have cold water poured over their heads in purification, and are forbidden to sit on any chair till the evening, when their heads will be sprinkled with goats’ blood. (Unhappy goats.) Purification is also the main object for the Zuni and Hopi tribes of North America, their attempt to recall the sun from its long winter slumber. It also marks the beginning of another turning of their “wheel of the year,” and kivas (sacred underground ritual chambers) are opened to mark the season.

Read the rest here. And practice asteya (non-stealing) - get a subscription!


  1. I was taken aback by the 'Asteya' reference regarding the NYT. How can one steal something that is freely offered? Where is the 'harming' in clicking an Internet link on the public Internet?

  2. Please refer to Friday's post.

  3. With the snow storm, we here in the midwest will not see it.

  4. Paulie Kruuuugman :)8:27 PM

    I am inclined to concur with Kaivalya. But in fact I believe the NYT will do some sort of "metered pay model" or "pay wall" in January 2011.

    If I read your blog should I deposit money somewhere? Has the energy exchange not been fair?

    If I have a truth to share should I put a price on it? If Dharma teaches me techniques which preserve my good health, do I now owe him the equivalent of the doctor's bills I never had?

    Happy Solstice - full moon - lunar eclipse! Ah the weird energy.

  5. Paulie K.8:52 PM

    The first definition of steal on is: to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, esp. secretly or by force. I don't think reading the NYT online without a subscription falls in that category.

    I think to pay for the NYT is good. Once I figure out how to do so- I may do it- though not for the print version- too wasteful.

    Sorry to go off the topic of your blog. Blame the MOON!

  6. I'm far more interested in the interest in an offhand remark (which in this case is a joke that refers to another post) rather than, say, the point of the post.

    This seems to be an ongoing issue here.

  7. Come to think of it, both recent conversations also spring from the idea of stealing.

    What constitutes stealing?

    Eavesdropping is a form of stealing.

    So is reading over someone's shoulder

    Or looking at their iPod without permission to see what they've been playing.

    It's all perfectly legal.

    Does that make it OK?

  8. Paulie K.11:39 PM

    We all know (maybe) that legality has nothing to do with it (segregation laws used to be legal). I'd never look to the U.S. government to figure out what's ok or not!

    In your eavesdropping, reading over the shoulder, and iPod examples, permission is NOT granted by the owner. There is a breach of some sort- of trust, perhaps. There is a lack of honesty. The issues involved are satya and asteya. Maybe even aparigraha- someone coveting that which is not theirs.

    NYT is a website that grants one permission to read the content it produces. All parties involved (the reader and the NYT) are aware of what is going on. There is clear consent on the part of the NYT by offering that content. There's no password requirement. There's no fee requested. It's not as if readers are trying to "get away with something". Readers simply access content which is offered by the owner of that content.

    There's a box on the NYT site right now that says, "Make your home page". That implies to me that the NYT wants "hits".

    If I say, "Here's a piece of candy. I'd like you to have it." and you take it, is that stealing? I'm giving you something and you are taking it. What if Kaivalya witnesses it and says, "CK is stealing!" even if I freely offered without pressure and you freely accepted without pressure or manipulation?

    In the end I think we each do that which brings us peace.

  9. At some point one must ask:

    Am I better off doing my practice and observing a rare astrological marvel....

    Or endlessly debating an aside that was intended as a joke.

  10. according to tim millers moon blog, full moon was dec. 10 & new moon is this saturday. what is going on?

  11. red moon madness!

  12. Paulie K.11:49 AM

    That was a joke? Humor? But this is a yoga blog. You've pulled the wool over my eyes again! (insert whoosh sound with hand sweeping over head in quick motion)

  13. Yes it is a full moon today ,and it's Frank Zappa's birthday. He would have been 70.

  14. hey moll-did you see the zappa show last weekend at the congress? the colonel went & was pretty blown away! they projected frank playing solos & dweezil & the band playing with him!

    mercury in retrograde, too! i thought yesterday was wednesday & went to teach at the wrong location! oops

    sorry to go off-topic
    miss you 2.
    have a lovely holiday :-)

  15. How funny - I'm a day early, too.

    Maybe we can do a Monday practice again in the new year? Or a Bollywood fillum? I'd love to see you!!

  16. The new Farah Khan fillum is at Piper's Alley.

  17. I agree with CK, and I should!, the comments here regarding an offhand remark says much.

    And leads me to this>

    Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.
    Mohandas Gandhi

  18. farah khan film? hmm...must research first. do you know who is in it? i need some bolly relief!

  19. One last bit about asteya and the New York Times.....

    Although the remark was lighthearted, I do think that somewhere there is a link between taking advantage of free online newspapers, and the demise of the Fourth Estate and its ability to keep tabs on government and big business. In other words, harm is being done. Thousands of people are being laid off - including news bureaus around the world and investigative reporters who keep tabs on those in power.

    While it's not the readers' fault that newspapers have not figured out how to capitalize on their online editions or charge sites like the Huffington Post for using their expensive and time-consuming reporting for posts that take a few minutes to string together, the fact that readers do not feel compelled to pay for these articles means they are somehow part of this cycle.

    Perhaps asteya is not the correct Yama to cite. But somehow I feel there is a link - just as there is a link between eating meat and Himsa (violence) - even if you don't kill the animal yourself, you are still somehow participating in the violence and violating Ahimsa.