Full Moon Sunday, June 7, 2009 at 11:12 am pdt
The Snana Yatra is a bathing festival celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Jyeshtha (June). Devotees of Lord Jagannath believe that if they make a pilgrimage to see the deity on this day, they would be cleansed of all of their sins. Hundreds of thousands of devotees visit the temple to view the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan, and Madanmohan.
On the eve of Snana Yatra, idols of these deities are brought out and taken in a procession to the Snana Bedi where they are ceremonially bathed with 108 pots of purified water and then decorated for a public audience with the devotees.
This month the full moon occurs in the purifying water sign of Scorpio, in the nakshatra Jyestha. Jyestha means the 'eldest' or 'most senior.' Some scholars suggest that originally there were only 18 nakshtras and Jyestha was the last. I believe it may also have a deeper astronomical reference, like the oldest part of our galaxy.
It precedes Mula, which means "root" and the home of the galactic center. It is the last step before we come back to a rebirth at the root, or Vishnuabi, Vishnu's belly button, the center from which our entire galaxy grew. Depictions of Vishnu, the preserver, often portray him asleep dreaming on the coiled-up thousand-hooded Shesha Naga, with his consort Lakshmi, floating on the Kshira Sagar meaning 'ocean of milk' or Milky Way. The nakshatra Jyestha is ruled by Mercury, which is a reflection of Vishnu. In this representation, Brahma, the creator, is depicted as a child sitting on a lotus that grows out of Vishnu's navel. As Joseph Campbell writes:
Brahma (Ultimate Creator) sits on a lotus, the symbol of divine energy and divine grace. The lotus grows from the navel of Vishnu, who is the sleeping god, whose dream is the universe. . . . Brahma opens his eyes and a world comes into being. . . Brahma closes his eyes, and a world goes out of being.
The dragon slayer, Indra is the deity most associated with Jyestha. As the King of the Gods and protector of heroes, Indra is known for his daring nature, courage, and power, but also for his vanity, pride, and unreliable character. The word 'Indra' translates into 'celestial drop' as he was also regarded as the rain god. Rain was an important factor in the agricultural prosperity of a kingdom. Too little caused drought and hunger, too much caused flooding and sickness. Thus this god was well respected and propitiated.
As god of war and weather, Indra used weapons such as the thunderbolt, bow, net, disc, and hook. The Arohana shakti of Jyestha gives the power to rise and conquer and give courage in battle. Indra's most notable battle was with the asura Vritra, a terrible dragon, who stole all the water of the world for himself. After a mighty battle, Indra sliced open the asura releasing all the hoarded water, and thus became known as a dragon slayer. He defeats the dragon by courage and cunning, and not with one of his many weapons.
The theme of snakes and dragons may be revealed in the symbols of Jyestha: a round earring, ring, or circular talisman that represents the governing forces of the universe, and the world (crown, orb, ring, large hoop earrings worn by kings).
In India the large round earring worn by ancient kings are reminiscent of the ouroboros, a coiled snake consuming its tail, representing ideas of circularity, unity, and infinity. This ancient symbol is found in many ancient cultures, and even today in alchemy, it is a sigel for purification -- the theme of this full moon.
In Western Astrology this part of the night sky used to be part of the constellation Ophiuchus, the serpent holder who may be the healer Aesclepius. Ophiuchus/Aesclepius learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one serpent bringing another healing herbs. To prevent the entire human race from becoming immortal under Aesculepius' care, Zeus killed him with a bolt of lightning (also one of Indra's favorite weapons), but later placed his image in the heavens to honor his good works. ~Wiki
Images of Ophiuchus/Aesculepius depict him resting his foot on Scorpius, the Scorpion. In Greek lore the great earth goddess Gaia sent Scorpius to kill Orion, the Hunter, who had threatened to hunt down all the animals of the Earth. Scorpius stings Orion, who would have died had it not been for the intervention of Aesculapius. Aesculepius gave Orion a sip of the Divine Elixir, revealed by serpents, that restored him to health.
The Rod of Aesculepius is the symbol for the 13th Astrological sign, Ophiuchus, and is often confused with Caduceus of Mercury (interesting since Jyestra is ruled by Mercury). The confusion regarding the supposed medical significance of the caduceus appears to have arisen as a result the military using it for the US Army Medical Corps in the early 20th century -- and may in fact stem from Babylonian symbols depicting Ishtar as 'an awakener of life and vegetation in the spring' -- which is a whole other kettle of fish that I will refrain from discussing, today.
It is intriguing that the 13th constellation is also described as the "eldest" sign both Western and Vedic traditions. Johannes Kepler depicted an allegorical and astronomical Ophiuchus in the drawing posted below. Ophiuchus is also know as the location of the last visible supernova witnessed and documented by astronomers like Kepler in 1604, at the end of the 12 baktun, and beginning of the last and 13th baktun of the Mayan Calendar which we all know resets at the ends of 2012.
As I was looking through images of the ouroboros, I was fascinated with this contemporary one that looks like a worm hole.
Ophiuchus is opposite the constellation Orion, speculated home of our alien ancestors, possible binary twin Sirius, and supposed stargate/wormhole. Could Ophiuchus also contain a wormhole, or be an astrological marker for us to locate one in our corner of the Milky Way? And Ophiuchus contains star systems that are much closer to earth than Orion. In fact one of the nearest stars to our Solar System, Barnard's Star, which was assessed by the 1970s Project Daedalus as a plausible site for a visit from an unmanned spacecraft, is part of the Ophiuchus constellation.
Scorpio likes to go deep into the darkest mysteries and all the diverging avenues, as is apparent in this post. So I say let the illuminating light of the full moon in Jyestha inspire you to dig into a great mystery, purify in sauna,hot springs, or with sacred water, uncover a plot, plan a scheme, give care to elders, or set some grand plan into motion.