Blood Memories book

"Thank you so much for the beautiful reading. I have listened to the recording a number of times, and each time I do, I hear something different, or something else drops a level in my understanding. I was so inspired by your knowledge and clarity that I have signed up to study with you on your philosophy course.” - Fiona C

Get my newsletter... Click here!

For Summer Solstice . . . Yoga or Bhoga?

A few days ago, I received an email from Easy Jet announcing they were back in the air. Good news, from so many points of view. Yet the declaration hit me wrong, triggering a wave of sadness that stayed with me for hours. “Where will you fly to first? the headline enticed, implying a line up of holiday fantasies crowding the imagination. Alluring photos of possible destinations followed . . . Faro, Majorca, Malaga . . . . all just a click away. 

Yes, I know the economy needs to flow again, and I have no doubt that it will. But the rush to return to former ways highlighted to me just what our normal life style signifies. It’s bhoga (or world involvement), a self-perpetuating merry-go-round of experience, by definition incompatible with authentic yoga. And most people can’t wait to get back to it. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting a return to the lockdown we just experienced. My heart goes out to all those who lost their livelihood, to all those who were cooped up in city apartments for months, deprived of sunlight and green spaces, like prison. 

Perhaps because I would have lost my mind in such confinement, the cosmos granted me a kinder lockdown. Isolated in a natural paradise by the sea, I had peace and solitude, trails into the hills to explore and vistas of blue as backdrop to my yoga practice. A weekly delivery of local fruit and vegetables, farm fresh eggs and cheese arrived to my doorstep. I baked my own bread, watched the stars at night, and in over two months spent less than €20 on petrol. The simple life. A beautiful life. Why fly anywhere else? 

Bhoga means worldly involvement. That bit of airline publicity was designed to hook the senses—a salient example of bhoga in action. As Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras explain, the dual aspects of sense experience, attraction (raga) and aversion (dvesa) create and reinforce ordinary mind. Experience after experience pulls us into the cycle of attraction and aversion, out of which identity is shaped and more experience desired. It’s the wheel of samsara, which keeps us spinning round and round. What trip are you taking next? What colour car will you buy? And so on until you die. 

Yoga means world dissolution, the opposite to bhoga. It involves a methodical stilling of the mind, a withdrawing of the senses from all that attracts or repels so that ordinary mind deconstructs. It’s a process by which pure spirit disentangles from materiality, transcending ultimately all limitations of time and space. In the fullness of time, all souls come to yoga. The Vedic vision provides that uplifting reassurance. Moksha or enlightenment is your destiny, so just relax and enjoy the journey. Because actually, the world isn’t such a bad place to pass the time, and we’re here for a reason—to learn something! 

Vedic Astrology studies the deep structure of psychic reality. It provides a road map for the journey—both complete and versatile. If it’s bhoga you care about, it can shed light upon all areas of world involvement—career, family, money, relationships. However—useful as all that might be for the concerns of this life—it’s a diminished application of Jyotish. Jyotish’s highest purpose is yogic. As a vedanga, one of the six limbs of the Vedas, Jyotish illuminates the path towards moksha, transmitting sacred knowledge encoded in the cosmos and guarded by ancient rishis and sages. 

At the time of our birth, tamasic forces draw the soul downwards from more subtle realms to bhu lokha, the earth plane. William Wordsworth’s famous poem echoes this truth, “Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.  . . . trailing clouds of glory do we come, from God.” As the soul longs for experience, it needs to incarnate in a body. Its unique karmic DNA shapes the quality of its desire, and so the particular body, family and circumstances it manifests provide the appropriate context for the worldly involvement it seeks. What happens through time is karma. Action and reaction, the unfolding of desire.You can look at this trajectory two ways. All karma is good, because it’s the lessons the soul needs to learn. Or all karma is bad, because it limits pure spirit in the confinement of materiality. 

To me, neither perspective is helpful unless the next step happens.  Karma is neither good nor bad. It just IS. In an ultimate sense, it really doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that next step, available to you no matter what is happening in the here and now. For every moment provides a doorway to the infinite—always—hidden though it may be by obstacles both physical and psychic. It has the power to transform your life. Sometimes the cosmos aligns to give it momentum. That’s happening now.

On 18 June, Mars, the spiritual warrior, moved into Pisces, place of diffusive consciousness, devotion, and moksha. He’ll be there most of the summer, until 17 August, and then with his retrograde pattern return again in the autumn, from 13 October to 23 December. Mars works harmoniously with Jupiter, the lord of Pisces, bestower of higher knowledge and expanded awareness. Mars ignites whatever he desires with fiery determination, drive and dynamism. In fact, Mars IS desire, ruling bhu lokha and the mooladhara chakra, powerful seats of life-force energy. What happens, do you think, when that primal Martian force activates the otherworldly  medium of Pisces? You can think of it as rocket fuel for the soul’s evolution. 

Mars is the only planet right now who has not just turned retrograde. (Other than Sun and Moon, who are never retrograde, and Rahu and Ketu, who are retrograde most of the time.)  Retrograde planets signify karmic knots usually of long duration, coming forth into prominence and seeking resolution. Retrograde phases indicate an optimal opportunity to deal with unfinished business, maybe carried over from many lifetimes. And forward-moving Mars can provide the impetus. 

Today we reach the pinnacle of high summer, one of the four cardinal points in the annual cycle of light and dark. The Summer Solstice (this Saturday, 20 June) corresponds to high noon in the daily cycle and full Moon in the monthly cycle. Perspectives and priorities all become clearer when flooded with light. Then just hours afterwards, on Sunday morning, 21 June, the Moon will cover the Sun, leaving only a ring of fire around its circumference. This phenomenon, known as an annular solar eclipse, is highly significant astrologically.  

The effect of an eclipse begins to manifest a couple of months prior to the actual event and can linger for even more months afterwards. The eclipse patterns this year have been intense. The last solar eclipse of 2019, occurring at the Winter Solstice last year, contributed to the forces that brought on the pandemic. This one, occurring along the same axis, has given rise to the protests and violence erupting out of deep-seated racial tensions. Both phenomena began at a precise location on the planet but quickly spread around the world. Another total solar eclipse is due in December 2020. Altogether six eclipses are making 2020 a particularly volatile year. The dramatic events we’ve all experienced so far make that clear—and it’s not over yet. 

But no matter how time unfolds, somewhere it contains that doorway to the infinite. At the present moment, it’s opening wide. The steady feature in the heavens right now and for most of the year  remains the Saturn-Jupiter Conjunction in Capricorn (though for a while this summer Jupiter will retrograde back into Sagittarius). Very early every morning when it’s still quite dark, I go out to observe those two giants low in the sky. It’s truly an awe-inspiring sight. In an earlier blog, I wrote about this major conjunction. It only happens every twenty years and marks a significant shift in the patterns of history. For more background, you can read that blog here. In this present context, I want to highlight just one feature, namely, the particular landscape where that doorway lies concealed. 

The deeper significance of astrological phenomena reveals itself through symbolism. Jyotish speaks in two languages, the precise language of mathematics, which gives it its structure. And the evocative language of metaphor, where deeper meaning lies encoded.The medium of Capricorn—through which Saturn and Jupiter express themselves this year—contains a depth of mystery. 

Capricorn is a sacred, enigmatic and sublimely beautiful place. Owned by Saturn, its nature is tamas—heavy, dark and dense. Lord Shiva rules tamas, not because he is tamas, but because he can lift tamas. Shiva brings on the destruction and dissolution that clears tamas, making way for new, transfigured life.  Shiva brings about transformation. The tamasic energy of Capricorn, an earth sign, represents a graveyard—place of death and endings. Dirt is the corpse of all life that came before. It is in itself both the end of life and the beginning. For earth also contains the nutrients necessary so that seeds can sprout and grow. Just as the graveyard is a dank place of darkness and death, so is it also the ground out of which life emerges, as the nature of Capricorn makes clear.  

Though Capricorn is a graveyard, Saturn owned and tamasic, its ground, which is fecund with mystery, keeps shifting. For the nature of Capricorn is chara or moveable, and chara is rajasic. Capricorn—being the place where earth is activated and energised—provides many possible doorways outwards towards the infinite. Capricorn is a dark swampy forest, teeming with myriad life forms, all rushing into the jaws of death. 

Each of its stars scintillates with promise, because Capricorn also embodies the most sublime nakshatras or star constellations. The last three padas of Uttara Ashada and all of Shravana and Dhanishtha fall within the sign of Capricorn, and each is linked in some way to the motivation for  moksha or sound—the most subtle of the elements. These nakshatras resonate with mystical melodies, the music of the spheres, indicating profound study, solitude, nada (inner sound) and transcendence. Divinity resides in the lofty nakshatras of Capricorn.

So the question to ask yourself, to ponder, to meditate upon—-no matter how the tumultuous patterns of 2020 are affecting your life—is this:  Why is God waiting for you in the graveyard? 

Only Lord Shiva understands the real answer, so it’s to him we need to turn, with supplicant minds and open hearts—just like his wife Parvati—who received from him the secrets of yoga for the benefit of the whole world. A potential treasure lies buried beneath the sorrows of 2020, and it’s there in Capricorn where we can start digging for the doorway. 

Om Namah Sivaya 

P.S. I love feedback on my blog!! Please put any comments or feedback you have in the comments section below and not in an email to me. That way a dialogue can form that can be interesting to everyone!  After a week, however, the section closes automatically. I always receive an avalanche of spam (mostly in Russian 🙄) so need to limit the time span the blog is open.  Thank you! 🙏

2 thoughts on “For Summer Solstice . . . Yoga or Bhoga?”

  1. Thank you Marianne your newsletters are a blessing. To understand these Planetary energies and to put into words the forces that are affecting the world really helps me to make sense of the present and to look at this time as an opportunity. It is a pleasure to continue learning this fascinating ancient science with you, I couldn’t recommend it enough for anyone with an interest in expanding their practice and Deepening their connection to this ancient knowledge. And Bhoga what a great term I’ve never encountered before, it explains so much! I am also unsure and not in any hurry to return to a ‘busy’ life. Aoife

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Aoife. It makes me happy that you find my writing helpful. The blessing for all of us here is Jyotish itself! We who study this profound science gain so much reassurance from the insight it gives into our lives, our world, indeed, into the deep structure of reality. And all of us—myself most especially included—are always students before the vastness of this knowledge!
      Yes, bhoga’s a great term, a Sanskrit word meaning the partaking of experience derived from karma, in other words, world involvement. Different philosophical schools give it different slants, but in the context of yoga it’s the obstacle. The 8 limbs and the levels of samadhi involve total deconstruction of the “separate self”, whereas world involvement is all about experiences, by definition involving subject and object.
      It’s perfect too that bhoga rhymes with yoga and for us English speakers suggests “bogus”. Great word!

Comments are closed.