Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas and The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice occurs when the sun descends to its lowest point in the sky and is the shortest day of the year. “Solstice” literally means to “stand still”. At the winter solstice, the sun moves into the astrological sign of Capricorn. Here marks the beginning of winter. For those of us in the northern climates, the snow begins to fall and cover the countryside. Of course this time period is celebrated throughout the West as Christmas. The majority of Christians celebrate the birth of Christ at this time of year. Prior to Christianity, the Pagans celebrated the Winter Solstice. The Pagans held that this time of year was sacred as it was the rebirth of the sun or light force. It is the time when the light or day force begins to grow again. There is an interesting correspondence between the Winter Solstice and the birth of Christ. Paramhansa Yogananda, who was one of the first Yogis to bring Yoga to the West, held that Christ Consciousness was something that was inherent in all people. It is a level of consciousness that everyone has the capacity to realize. Christ Consciousness is that inner light of realization that Jesus brought to fruition within himself. Through yogic practices and spiritual development, we all have the capacity to realize the Christ Consciousness. Jesus is not the only Son of God, we are all Sons of God. Jesus said it himself, “Do ye not know that ye are Gods”.

The Winter Solstice is the darkest time of the year. It is also when the seeds of light and renewal are born. It is the time of year when the sun is resurrected and begins to rise again. For most Yogis this is the real meaning of Christmas. It is the celebration of the birth of the inner light of Self-Realization.

There are many interesting rituals that are done at the Winter Solstice. The majority of them have their roots in the Pagan tradition. Most everyone is familiar with the Christmas tree. I have enjoyed this ritual since childhood and loved the whole act of going out in selecting a proper Christmas tree and decorating it with special care. Now this practice originated from an old Pagan tradition where pine trees were brought into the house to dispel evil spirits and as a celebration of the life force that continues through the depth of winter. The symbolism of the Christmas tree is very interesting. From an astrological perspective, trees are ruled by the planet Saturn. Saturn is also the planetary ruler of Capricorn which is the sign that the sun enters during this time of year. One of the ways to get in touch with the natural energy of this time of year is to bring something into your household related to the energy of Saturn. Trees are ruled by Saturn and bringing a tree into your house helps you tune into the energy of the season. It was also under a Bodhi tree that Buddha experienced enlightenment.

During this current age of the Kali Yuga, I think our culture has lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. It has become very materialistic with an emphasis on buying and receiving gifts. I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving and receiving presents, but when it becomes the focal point then the spiritual meaning is lost. The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a great story for the real meaning of Christmas. I think everyone I know as seen this movie many times but I watch it every year as a great reminder to what is really important. In a nutshell, Scrooge is portrayed as a stingy, self-centered person who is mired in the depths of materialism. His only concern is for himself and monetary achievement. He is then visited by three spirits of the past, present and future. He undergoes a spiritual awakening and self-realization. He comes to understand the true meaning of Christmas and carries it in his heart everyday. Like Scrooge, I find it very easy to get caught up in materialism and past karma. There are bills to pay, children to support, and jobs to take care of in order to make a living. Things are not easy. But it is important to remember our spiritual center because that is where all nourishment and fulfillment ultimately comes from.

This time of year is celebrated by the Hermetic Yogi as a Wish Festival. Like the Wish Festival celebrated at the Summer Solstice, we again plant seeds or wishes that we hope for fruition as the Sun rises again. Many people celebrate by placing their wishes upon their Christmas tree with the prayer of peace and goodwill for all humankind.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spiritual Awakening and Relationships

Having a spiritual awakening can definitely change a relationship drastically. A good example of this can be seen in the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Do you remember what happened to Richard Dreyfuss in that popular movie? Before he had seen UFO’s, he was a relatively normal person, and had a good relationship with his loving wife and family. Then all hell broke loose! One day, Richard saw UFO’s and it completely changed his life. He became completely obsessed with unidentified flying objects. He felt called by some higher power to rendezvous to Devil’s Tower for a close encounter with aliens from another world. His wife and family could not understand what was happening to him. He lost his job and his friends. And his wife finally ended up taking the children and moving away.

That is how a spiritual awakening can change a relationship! Richard Drefuss was being guided by a psychic connection to the aliens that he did not understand, nor did his wife and family. Now of course, this was just a movie, but it shows what a revelation can do to someone. And this affects everyone around them, especially their close relationships! For Richard Dreyfuss, his spiritual revelation was a psychic contact with a higher developed civilization. For someone else, a spiritual awakening could be the development of psychic ability, an out of body experience, a divine experience, a miracle or self-realization. But the result can be a complete change of personality. A person may no longer enjoy the same interests, the same foods, and the same friends. Their life can be turned upside down because of a new awareness. This happens to many people who have had a spiritual awakening. For example, the alcoholic who finds new meaning in life through AA, and is no longer interested in drinking. He or she may no longer hang out with their old friends, who liked to party and get drunk. Or the drug addict that finds a spiritual awakening in meditation. He or she no longer needs drugs to get high. They have found a better way! And their life changes, along with their relationships. They will probably no longer hang out with their drug friends, and will begin to associate with new friends who have similar interests. Similar scenario’s happen with couples in relationships, when one person undergoes a spiritual transformation. A person may no longer see the world the same way, and their partner can have a difficult time understanding all the changes that may be happening to them.

Is there anything that can help a relationship where someone is undergoing such a spiritual awakening? I think there is. Most couples should first try going to a psychologist or family counselor. This would be important to make sure that a person was not having a psychotic episode. It would also help their partner to better understand what they were going through.

The other consideration is to seek the counsel of a mystic, psychic or spiritual counselor. A good psychic might have a better bead on what the person is actually going through. A psychologist would be helpful in clarifying a person’s emotions and thought processes, but a mystic or psychic would be better at determining if a person was having a spiritual awakening or paranormal experience. A psychic would be able to tune into a person’s inner experience and determine the cause of their experience. For example, a psychic could help determine if their experience was caused by unresolved issues from previous lives, communication from spirits on another dimension, aliens from another world or a divine awakening. A psychic or mystic would not only be able to help the person better understand what was happening to them, but also help their partner to accept and understand the experience. Better understanding and acceptance will help the couple adjust to a divine awakening that will ultimately bring them closer in their relationship.

One final thing to be aware of is that when someone has a spiritual awakening within, it will bring about change from without. This may cause a lot of problems with friends, jobs, and relationships. I had a close friend, who after a spiritual awakening, began to take meditation classes, yoga and tai chi. She really changed quite dramatically. But her spouse could not handle it. He liked to drink and party on the weekends. And they had done this together for quite some time. Now she was no longer interested in drinking or all night parties. She wanted time for reflection and meditation. She became aware that there was more to life. Her husband could not understand or accept this. He wanted the same woman that he married; the one that liked to drink and have a good time. She was no longer that person. And he hated her for it. They tried counseling, but he was just hoping that she would change back to her old self. Well, that did not happen. And when it did not, he became abusive. She was forced to leave him. And it was best for both of them. He found someone new that did like to drink and party. She became involved with a spiritual group of friends that encouraged her new direction in life.

It is important to remember that your friends and environment have quite an impact on you psychically. More than most people realize. When you have a spiritual awakening, you are like a new seedling. That seedling needs to be nurtured and cared for to develop. If you allow negative people into your garden, they will trample over your seedlings, and damage your development. So it is good to be around other people who will nourish and support your spiritual development.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Mystical Experience of Enlightenment

Do you see the light? Enlightenment is one of those terms that mean a lot of different things to many different people. In the Yogic, Buddhist and Mystical traditions, one of the primary goals in meditation is enlightenment. Enlightenment is notably characterized by the story of the Buddha. Before Buddha was the Buddha, he was known as Siddhartha, which very interestingly means, "One who achieves his aim". The story goes that Siddhartha was a prince having been born into a royal family. He was raised in wealth and luxury. He knew very little about life outside of the palace or about the lives of the common people. When he became older, he wanted to learn more about his kingdom and the people who lived there. He began to travel and learn about the pain and suffering of the many people around his village. He became disillusioned about the life of royalty and began to search for truth. He learned various meditative practices and after many years, experienced enlightenment. Enlightenment is basically the English translation of the Buddhist word, bodhi; which also means to awaken or to know. Buddha means “One who has awakened". To be awakened is to become completely transformed to the ultimate level of reality where there is no dualism, no pleasure or pain, no suffering and no ego. One has become liberated and no longer tied to the wheel of samsara or the cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth.

The Yogic tradition also embraces the goal of enlightenment. Patanjali, who is considered the Father of Yoga, maintained that the final goal of yoga was liberation from samsara through moksha. Moksha is derived from the Sanskrit root, muc which means to “let loose” or “release” and is the liberation from all illusion, suffering and pain. Moksha is the release from the worldly conception of the self or the ego, and the realization of the true nature of the self (self-realization). It is an experience of bliss and joy that is no longer tied to pleasure and pain, and where normal duality is transcended through union with God/Spirit. Patanjali outlined an eightfold process whereby the Yogi can achieve moksha through purification and meditation. The final steps consist of deep meditation into Samadhi where the individual transcends the limitations of the ego and merges into the Infinite source of all being.

The mystical practices of many different religious traditions talk about enlightenment. Enlightenment is derived from the Latin word, illuminare which means “to make light” or in our case, “to make light within”. Enlightenment is considered a mystical experience whereby one perceives inner truth or divinity. There are many different accounts on the experience of enlightenment. From Christian mysticism, where enlightenment is the experience of direct union with God (Of course, Jesus; St. Paul ,St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Kempis….) to Quaker mysticism where one experiences the inner light of God within the soul, to the Hermetic Tradition where initiates are taught to expand their consciousness to God consciousness, to the mystical revelations of the Sufi Tradition, to the Kabbalistic mysticism of the Jewish religion and to the Taoist mysticism of Lao Tzu.

In my own meditative practices, I have had many experiences of illumination. In deep meditation, I can actually see through my inner eye or vision, a subtle light that illuminates from within. It is like someone has turned on a light bulb inside my head which radiates all around me. (It’s interesting that many Christian saints are depicted with halos around their head indicating the divine light) There have been meditations where I have experienced this light and later opened my eyes thinking; ‘maybe it is the sun shining in through the window’. But it was not the sun or any kind of exterior lighting, but the inner light. I have spoken with many mystics who also have experienced this inner light. I think it is connected with the process of enlightenment, but not the goal of enlightenment. Although I have had many mystical experiences, I have not experienced the bodhi of Buddhism, the moksha of Yoga or the divine union with God in Christian mysticism. I do know that this experience exists from deep within my soul, but I have not experienced it directly. So I think that enlightenment is really a process. Through different meditative, mystical and religious practices, we can come closer and closer to the real goal. And that goal is actually not a goal at all (although a goal while you are going there), but is the realization of All that is or Divinity or what the Hindu’s call, Om Brahma Smi, translated, “I am one with God”.

For a complete listing of Christian mystics, see, also see:,,