Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's Spring! And Holi!

Vernal Equinox, March 20, 2011 at 4:21 PDT.

This year the Vernal Equinox heralds the first day of spring on March 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm PDT. The term equinox originates from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because at the equinox the hours of daylight and night are equally long. As the Sun crosses the celestial equator on the Vernal Equinox, day and night are momentarily equal and balanced. The spring equinox is one of the four great solar turning points of the year: spring equinox, summer solstice, fall equinox, and winter solstice. The solstices mark the most and the least daylight in any given year, whereas the equinoxes mark momentary equilibrium of light and darkness, or Yin (dark) and Yang (light).

In Taoist philosophy the Winter Solstice is considered the most Yin day of the year, and the Summer Solstice is the most Yang. The Equinoxes are tipping points in that the light (yang) is increasing (spring) or decreasing (autumn). These four points are illustrated in the hexagrams of the I-Ching, the Book of Changes. Winter is associated with 2 K'un/The Receptive (six broken bars - most yin), Summer with 1 Ch'ien/The Creative (six solid bars -- most yang), Spring with 11 T'ai/Peace and Autumn with 12 P'I/Standstill. The hexagram T'ai denotes a time in nature when heaven seems to be on earth.

The trigram of heaven (yang) is placed beneath the trigram of the earth earth (yin), and their powers unite in deep harmony. Its meaning: Heaven exists on earth for those who maintain correct thoughts and actions. . . By maintaining your focus on moving upward toward light, clarity, and purity you can reach great heights. Like a seedling pushing through the soil, up and around obstacles, its shoots reaching upwards toward the light, we too may focus on new growth and goals for the new year. Use the equilibrium of the Spring equinox to bring T'ai/Peace to the heart so that clear intentions are projected in accordance with heaven. What is planted now will come to fruition at the Autumnal Equinox.

All across the world, the Spring Equinox marks the beginning of a new year, the return of life. It's the time of year when the planting begins, when people and animals come outside more enjoy the fresh air, and when we all reconnect with the earth again after the long, cold winter. Festivals celebrating the renewal of life include Ostara, Easter, Passover, and Holi.

This year the Hindu festival of Holi begins with the full moon on March 19, 2011. Also known as the festival of colors, Holi is a springtime celebration associated with abundance and renewal that welcomes spring. It is celebrated by playfully throwing colored powder and water on friends and family.

The colors of Holi represent the blooming flowers of love and nature, and mirror the joyfulness of the season. This celebration of the Colors of Unity & Brotherhood is an opportunity to forget all differences and indulge in unadulterated fun. It has traditionally been celebrated in high spirit without any distinction of cast, creed, color, race, status or sex. By sprinkling gulai, colored powder or colored water on each other, all barriers of discrimination are blurred and everyone looks the same. Universal brotherhood is reaffirmed.

Holi commemorates a legend involving an evil king named Hiranyakashipu who forbade his son Prahlad from worshiping Vishnu. When he realized that his son ignored his order, Hiranyakashipu challenged Prahlad to sit on a pyre with his wicked aunt the demon Holika who was believed to be immune to fire. Prahlad accepted the challenge and prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika was burnt to death, while Prahlad survived without a scar to show for it. The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi. According to some accounts, Holika begged Prahlad for forgiveness before her demise, and he decreed that she would be remembered every year at Holi.

Bonfires are lit for Holi that symbolize the victory of good over evil and the triumph of light over darkness. The Sun has just slipped into the nakshatra Uttara Bhadrapada. As I mentioned in my previous post, this this lunar mansion is paired with Purva Bhadrapada and together they are known as the "scorching pair" and are depicted by a funeral pyre. It consists of two stars, Pegasi and Andromedae which form the two legs of the back part of a funeral bed. Uttara Bhadrapada signifies the release of bondage, the release of kundalini, the release of life through death, and ultimately resurrection to one's true self. I'm sure it is no coincidence that the colorful and fiery festival of Holi occurs under the full moon of these nakshatras.

This year many Holi celebrations are being toned down in honor of those suffering from the aftermath of last week's massive earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan. It is an interesting theme of surviving the fire through faith. Perhaps Holi should be celebrated as a demonstration of unity for our Japanese brothers and sisters. I can't help but think that this Holi may be more significant since we have begun the Universal Underworld of the Mayan Calendar, as interpreted by Carl Johan Calleman. It is time for us to see all the colors that connect us, and release and heal the shadows that divide us.


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