~ Happy Solstice ~
May the Sun’s Light Illumine the Gifts in your Heart
Let’s chant the Gayatri Mantra as the sun returns to gradually lengthen these blustery winter days! Over the ages, the sun has been revered as the source of all light and life. The planets in our Solar System revolve around it, reflecting its light. As the source of light and life, the Sun has been central to a cosmic spirituality that is both ancient and timeless, which have served as the basis of many of the world’s religions—unbeknownst even to many of their adherents. For some this reverence continues today, as people around the world celebrate winter holidays including the Solstice. The candles and light found in many traditions honor this creative source of inspiration and light: the Sun. The Gayatri Mantra, a Hindu Chant that honors the sun as the source of light externally as well as internally, can also be used to guide one from darkness toward more light during the long months of winter as well as any time one could use such support.
The sun has many names, all of them presumably pre-historic in their origins. The ancient Greeks called it Helios and the ancient Romans called it Sol, both of which derive from the same Proto-Indo-European term. The Latin word Sol developed into Sole in Italian, Sol in Portuguese and Spanish, and Soleil in French. Modern English word Sun evolved from the same Proto-Germanic form that today is Sonne in German and Zon in Dutch, related to Sonne and Sunne in Old and Middle English, with similar forms found in other ancient Germanic languages such as Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old High German and Gothic (1).
Many ancient cultures, including the Essenes, Hindus, Sumerians, Egyptians, Native Americans, Inca, Maya and Chinese referred to themselves as the “Children of the Sun” or “Children of Light.” Not only did they honor the sun historically as the source of all life, they feared the times when the sun did not shine brightly and devised rituals to keep it shining. Celebrations were created to honor its transit across the sky. Unfortunately, it seems that the deeper meanings inherent with this time of year elude many in modern society.
The journey of the sun through the sky (or rather our planet’s journey around it) can be marked at four distinct points in time and space which mark the movements of the earth around the sun and the sun’s varying influence over light and darkness, day and night, and the passage of the seasons. These include the spring and fall equinox (when the lightness of day and the darkness of night are equal in length), and the summer and winter solstice (a time at noon when the sun is at its highest (summer) or lowest (winter) altitude above the earth’s horizon). Historically, marking these dates provided helpful guidelines for livestock breeding, as well as the planting and harvesting of crops in many agricultural cultures. For those in northern countries where winter was long, dark, and very cold, the Solstice provided an uplifting marker halfway through this challenging season. Today, many consider the Solstice as a form of sun or agricultural worship or write it off as a simple pagan celebration related to the seasons.
One might wonder, however, what caused tribes to construct elaborate structures in more ancient times- that apparently reflect the pattern of our planet in orbit around this life giving ball of gas known as the Sun? It is estimated that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of stone circles, temples, and secret inner rooms that aligned with the sun at its four major annual stages. These huge structures can be found across Europe and Britain, in Egypt, North and South America, Easter Island, Australia, Asia, and many other parts of the world. Some of these sites have endured as the most enigmatic and mystical places in the world, and remain some of the most advanced sites astronomically, mathematically, architecturally, and spiritually in history. Still today, in a modern world that can seem quite distanced from natural and cosmic principles, these sites echo a Golden Age of knowledge and spirituality dawning from the depths of our pre-history. (2).
A story in ancient Hindu texts depicts the Sun’s movement through the Celestial Realms as a chariot drawn by seven horses. These seven horses are said to represent the seven spectrums of visible light. Seven is also found in the movement of matter from space to earth, which is of seven densities; the notes of the musical scale; the ancient belief that the solar system floats amidst the seven Lokas, or planes of consciousness; the seven days in our solar calendar representing the seven planets of the Solar system; and the seven tissues that comprise the human body, according to Ayurveda, the Hindu Science of Life.
According to Vedic Astrologers, “The Sun is the self that is connected to God, the Soul. The Sun is described as the Soul of the universe, representing the life-force on earth which sustains everything. Thus, every heartbeat, thought, inspiration, act of photosynthesis or anything else real or imagined on Earth is considered to be fueled by the Sun's power. From this comes the energy of confidence and power, consistency and inspiration as well as our inherent capacity for truth and transformation. As the main source of light, other planets merely reflect the Sun's Light. It is the ONE that connects all things - the ocean of life that is our true nature. As such, it illuminates the path of truth, giving the strength to sacrifice our smaller desires so that we may purify and reclaim our Self as the highest truth.
The solar ray is linked with the innermost essence of the human individual, our Soul. The Sun is the "Silent Watcher" of every human being. It is vitally concerned with the well-being of the soul, never interfering in its activities but always ready to assist when we are willing to receive its guidance.”( 3). This is why the Gayatri Mantra, which invokes the healing and transformative powers of the sun, is considered to be one of the most auspicious Hindu chants, suitable for chanting with any planetary shift or cycle, according to my Yoga Nidra teacher, Sreedevi Bringhi.
The word Gayatri (which represents the primordial aspect of the Mother Goddess) means to go beyond, to transcend the three gunas (Tamas, Rajas and Sattva – discussed in an upcoming blog) or aspects of our personality. When one chants the Gayatri Mantra he or she is asking to be guided and inspired by something which is beyond the intellect – by spirit, good will, love, or God depending on your views of what that might be. Honoring the Sun as the source of both that outer and inner illumination, the Gayatri is considered to be the power that can overcome and destroy all sins and sorrows, so chanting the mantra supports one in overcoming adversity.
The Gayatri Mantra tells us that:
1) There is energy present everywhere – in everything and inside oneself.
2) One can channel this energy to gain pure, enlightened intelligence.
3) One is and always will be a part of this powerful energy and should therefore try to take advantage of it.
It is a chant of surrender, asking that the light of the sun, which is inside of us and all around us, purify us and be used for the greatest good.
Regardless of religious heritage, this light is a symbol of the eternal quest for knowledge and truth, and can be used to support us as we attempt to rise up from the darkness of ignorance which has led to countless wars and other troubles over the years to a place of more light and more love. Just as a Menorah or Christmas Tree brighten the homes of many during the darkest months of the year, you too, regardless of heritage can visualize the returning light heralded by the Winter Solstice to be a light from above spreading out over each of us, over the entire earth, acknowledging that “as above, so below” as you chant the mantra to enhance it.
My hope for all of us is that we can surrender into this eternal light, allowing ourselves to be filled with it, and letting it shine out in everything we do, every thought we have, every action we take. May this light fill our hearts and illumine the gifts of our soul. That is my wish for this holiday season, which for some began with Hanukkah in November this year, for others begins with the Winter Solstice and extends through Christmas into the New Year.
Namaste: The Light in Me Recognizes and Honors The Light In You.
2. The Path of the Spiritual Sun by Belsebuub and Andrea Pritchard
Greetings, One and All!
As I sit at the computer on this cold and snowy December Day, I am reminded of everything I love about this time of year. While the roads are slippery, and the dog gets cold on our walks which become shorter because of the weather, it seems as if the earth is cozy under its blanket of snow and I notice that there's a quietness that surrounds us. I love the opportunity to "turn the fire on" and find ways to bring more light in as the days grow shorter. One way we are doing that in the studio this year is through our Holiday Bazaar.
We have nine fabulous artists on hand who will showcase unique and very beautiful products that are perfect for holiday gifts as well as for personal pampering. Find gifts for your children's teachers, for your colleagues or boss, and for your best friend as well as yourself at this event. We hope you'll join us and share the joy these artists bring through their work. Stop by with a friend, meet new friends, enjoy a sweet treat and learn more about what we offer at Mountain Wisdom Yoga while supporting local businesses with your holiday purchases. We thank you for your support!
Blessings to all during this joyful holiday season. ~Sharon Harvey Alexander www.MountainWisdomYoga
Information about the Artists
Host: Mountain Smiles Yoga Studio is a quiet, comfortable place where one can learn about yoga at their own pace. Participate in weekly group yoga classes, sign up for seasonal guided relaxation practices, or come in and explore private issues in body, mind or spirit with Sharon Harvey Alexander, a seasoned Yoga Teacher, Yoga Therapist and Health, Wellness and Lifestyle Coach. Sharon has been exploring yoga for close to 25 years and offers compassionate, insightful and supportive teachings designed to bring out the light in each individual. At the Holiday Bazaar, you may order exquisite Essential Oils from Snow Lotus and Yoga Bolsters and other props from Hugger Mugger at discounted prices as well as purchase gift cards for classes and/or private therapeutic sessions through Sharon.
Other Vendors include:
Jenny Knuth with True June Jewlery. TrueJune jewelry is meticulously crocheted by Jenny Knuth in Boulder, Colorado. Her products include easy-to-wear crocheted necklaces in a variety of styles from simple to showy as well as holiday garlands, bracelets and more. Using classic glass and gemstone beads, her unique designs look delicate but are created for effortless, everyday wear. Perfect for yoga, they can withstand water, sweat, and chlorine and need not be removed on a daily basis. Almost weightless, you won't even know you have one on, and most have no metal parts so are hypoallergenic. All this, without compromising on beauty or adornment. Enjoy the simplicity of pure glass and stone. Delicate yet durable, rustic yet refined, from simple to showy, it's handcrafted jewelry that goes with YOU. If your life takes you many places, you'll find these designs both practical and pleasing. Yes! You can wear them to the office, at the gym or to yoga class, in the pool, on the beach, at the club, in the garden, or even while mucking out the barn. Why not? TruJune’s philosophy: Whatever you do, be true to yourself––and look great when you do it! Find Jenny’s products at TrueJune.com.
Melissa Beckwith of Melissa Beckwith Designs is a ceramic artist who makes beautiful hand-made and very functional pottery in Louisville Colorado. The majority of her pottery consists of wheel-thrown kitchenware. Glazed with a variety of aesthetically pleasing, water-tight glazes each ceramic piece is unique, durable and pleasant to use for eating and drinking. The pottery is food-safe and microwave/dishwasher friendly. Melissa believes in creating art work that people will love to use in everyday life - a cozy mug to savor coffee or tea from each morning or an ice-cream bowl to cradle in your hand as you enjoy each sweet bite. Check her out at www.melissabeckwith.com
Body Care by Shaman Lisa features aroma art soaps hand-crafted by Lisa M. Gillespie of Boulder, CO. Lisa uses her background in design and the healing arts to create hand-crafted pieces of personal art with a practical purpose. She says: "I want to give my customers a feeling of indulging in a personal spa day every time they use my products. I want people to fall in love with the entire experience: the scents, the appearance, and the feel of the bar." Unlike commercial "bars," these soaps contain NO chemical preservatives, petroleum-based oils, artificial ingredients, synthetic colors, or fragrance oils. Each soap is hand-wrapped in gorgeous, handmade paper with special detailing, making Shaman Lisa products not only a special personal treat, but also a wonderful gift!
Lora Terres, Dilp.Ac., has been a Licensed Acupuncturist since 1990, specializing in compassionate and comprehensive health care. Lora's unique style of healing therapies of acupuncture, functional medicine, and Chinese herbal medicine bring about a high level of wellness. She introduces clear and simple changes for a healthier way to live, honoring that mind, body and spirit are all one in Chinese medicine. Lora is offering a $10 Ear Treatment session to those attending this special holiday fair. Auricular Acupuncture is one of the more widely used microsystems within Eastern Medicine and is quite effective at balancing the energies of the body, useful at this time of year or any time.
Emily and Kelly Tarantini of Orion's Tale Unique Designs are a mother/daughter team, originally from Venezuela. Kelly, the mother, is a Floral Designer and is currently the Regional Visual Merchandiser for the Furniture Row stores. Emily is an Interior Designer and continuing her education at CU Boulder in City Planning. They both have design in them and have a unique product line based on recycling and reusing materials to create unique designs. They stick with green products and reduce waste by giving abandoned products a new life. Their main focus is repainting salvaged furniture, creating handmade greeting cards and framed original art and floral arrangements in recycled vases. Their product store is a high-end second hand boutique featuring lovely refurbished items and a philosophy based on green living and giving items second chances. Learn more at www.orionstale.com/blog .
Waleska Lopez is a Spiritual Consultant born in Caracas, Venezuela who has lived In Boulder for 14 years. She uses her knowledge of Feng-Shui and Vastu (the ancient Indian Science of Architecture and Spatial Design) to support the creation of harmony and good flow of energy in living, work and play spaces. In addition to making beautiful charms, Waleska offers consultations, performs sacred ceremonies and house blessings, and offers courses on manifesting through mantra and chanting. She will have her handmade charms for the balancing of Feng-shui and Vastu and a handmade card game for sale at the the Holiday Bazaar. The charms include gemstone sun-catchers made with gemstones and Swarovski crystals that are energetically charged for enhancing prosperity, healing, protection, harmony and love. The card game, called TAT SAT and featuring Gods, Goddesses, Archangels and other spiritual beings, has been lovingly designed and painted by Waleska and her three daughters. It is fun for people of all ages to play – adults, teenagers, children will learn about deities of different traditions.
Arielle Schwartz of Soul Fire Jewelry Designs has been designing jewelry as a form of creative expression for many years. Soul Fire Jewelry is wearable art that enhances ones inner light, illuminating the natural beauty of the human form. As a clinical psychologist, yoga instructor, and mother Arielle balances the demands of a busy life by making time to devote attention towards her creative side. This offers time to reflect and inspiration that comes from the colors and shimmering of the gemstones used in her designs. Arielle’s intention with this work is that the soulful and heartfelt feelings that go into the creation of each piece of her art bring joy and peace to the wearer.
Willow Arelena, visionary artist, psychic reader and Archetypal Energy Psychotherapist, is the author of TAROT OF TRANSFORMATION tarot deck, and SEASONS OF THE GODDESS book. Willow is also the founder of Dancing Willow Tree Mystery School. Willow will be offering her visionary art prints and plaques as well as the tarot deck, and goddess book. She will also be available for psychic energy and oracle readings. “My passion at Mystic Life Design is to assist people who are struggling to transform both their inner life and outer life according to their soul’s purpose. For the inner life I offer insight and clarity through psychic energy readings, psychotherapy, tarot, goddess work and classes. For the outer life I offer visionary art, graphic design services and promotional coaching for the “manifesting mystic” – and will be offering energy readings at the Holiday Bazaar.
Valerie Schultz-Gonzalez, owner, designer and healer at La V comes from a long line of Curanderas in Mexico, and has studied the magic and practices of traditional cultures from many lands. She blends this magic into her supercharged jewelry that are indulgent and designed to awaken the love and light within you (including prayer beads, earrings, waist beads) and her supernatural shea butters, mood mists, and bath salts. You will find tagua seeds, gem stones, pearls and African Trade Beads inspired by both magical Teotihuacan and Mali experiences as well as the unique Baobab tree in her jewelry. For Valerie, the healing path came naturally and led her to become a Japanese Reiki Master and Yoga teacher. Through her business, La V, she offers spiritual empowerment tools and services that connect you to your Divine Self and Infinite Potential. Learn more about her strong Curandera intuition that has been made even more powerful by Reiki as well as her Chakra-n-Soul clearings at the Holiday Bazaar. Be FULLY YOU, with La V.
Lisa Griffin Seidel from Arvada, CO is a yoga teacher and creator of Catspaw Cushions, a Colorado based company that makes locally-handcrafted meditation cushions as well as yoga and home accessories. Lisa’s colorful and comfortable products include zafus (meditation cushions/yoga props) and eye and neck pillows with removable covers that can be heated or cooled as desired for maximum effect. All are made with soft and delightful fabrics and are easy to use. Learn more at catspawyoga.com.