Category Archives: Alternative Health & Yoga

Narmada Pilgrimage 2020

Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology have been called the three sisters of self knowledge.

Join us February 1 – 23, 2020 for a rustic “old India” pilgrimage thru the sacred Narmada river valley while learning Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology, Yoga, philosophy and much more. This trip is designed for those who have already established a path in yoga or a love for India and what to go deeper into the country and the culture.

We will begin this pilgrimage at the Mahakaleshwar & Kal Bhairava temples in Ujjain, about half way between New Delhi and Mumbai. These are two of the most significant tantric temples in India. From here we will go to Maheshwar to rendezvous with our pilgrimage guides from the ashram and begin the four day walk to the ashram in Omkareshwar.

We will spend a week in a simple ashtam practicing yoga while learning Ayurveda, Jyotisha, Indian cuisine and enjoying the nature, and the ancient pilgrimage traditions that take place on this small river island. This ashram is owned and beautifully maintained by 26 year old Mangala and her mother who took in three orphan girls after Mangala’s own Guruji father passed away. One will find that the women of Narmada are given a somewhat special place in society compared to much of India.

Maheshwar, where we will begin walking to Omkareshwar is famous all over India for Queen Ahilyabhai, who has left a legacy of special services for widows, and community weaving trusts that have strengthened communities thru the empowerment of women. And this area seems to attract many female pilgrims.

From Omkareshwar we will make our way by jeep through numerous significant sights along the river until we get to Amarkantak, the source of Narmada and two other rivers; a village within a forest reserve famous for numerous rare ayurvedic forest herbs and herbalists. We will again spend a week learning about the forest and natural medicine, vedic astrology and yoga.

After a short stop in Jabalpur see Narmada channeled thru marble canyons and visit a special nakshatra garden we will make our way to Varanasi for 3 nights of classical music concert, Drupad Mela; the spectacular Shiva Rathri Festival, and the Kal Bharava temple where we will complete our pilgrimage. The first Bhairava temple in Ujjan is related to Shiva chopping the head off Ganesha and this second one in Varanasi represents the time Shiva chopped off one of Brahma’s heads. These two stories will weave their way thru many parts of our spiritual journey.


The focus of this pilgrimage will be both to offer participants the traditional tools of self discovery: by the end of this three weeks we will develop a great appreciation for traditional Indian culture and the threads which run thru the food, the humans, the forests, the stars and the movement of the planets. The great threads which weave together this tapestry of life.

By the end of the pilgrimage will have a solid base of understanding of Ayurvedic life style and cuisine as well as an introduction to Ayurvedic medicine and the forest medicines of India. We will have acquired a basic understanding of Vedic Astrology, especially as it relates to Ayurveda. We will have also learned an outline of the Shivananda Hatha yoga sequence including meditation, pranayama, sun salutations & 12 basic postures; a sequence which can be easily adapted for all abilities.

This Pilgrimage will not be for everyone, it will be rustic living in old India where they are not accustomed to accommodating western demands for comfort. The ayurvedic classes, the astrology classes will take us deep into a new way of looking at the world and ourselves. Although much of the teaching will be foundational levels, taken together this pilgrimage will open the doors to advanced study as well as a special opportunity for those who have already studied yoga and the traditional Indian sciences to connect with the source of that knowledge thru Shaivism, the purity of Narmada and the meditative intensity of Ganga.


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Mike Holliday will be your guide and contact for this pilgrimage as well as teaching Vedic Astrology & Hatha Yoga. In 2007 Mike traveled to India and dedicated himself to yoga and self realization. His life since then has been pilgrimage and dedication to knowledge and the service of humanity by offering his unique knowledge and experience of India, her culture and her traditions. Mike has traveled extensively off the tourist trails both as solo traveler and as guide. He is travels almost continually throughout India & Canada teaching yoga, philosophy and Vedic astrology.

Brigitte Baur. Ayurveda is “the hands of mother”

Brigitte Bauer will be teaching Ayurveda lifestyle, cooking and medicine. Brigitte has been practicing and teaching Ayurveda lifestyle and medicine in Italy and Germany for over 20 years. She is Certified Ayurveda Therapist and has taken extensive studies in Ayurvedic Medicine from the Italian Ayurvedic Institute and did her mentorship under Vaidya Baghwan Dash & Lalita Kashap at the Ayurvedic Hospital in New Delhi. She has continued her studies in Rishikesh and Orissa in order to support her full time practice in this ancient art. As a mother of three she is deeply dedicated to the concept of Ayurveda as “the hand of mother.”


The cost of this trip including food, lodging, transportation, guidance and guides, trip organization, translation, training and course material is $2890 inclusive of tax.

$1000 deposit will hold your place with the full amount due by January 1, one month before travel.

Not included: flight ticket, travel visa for India, travel to Ujjain and from Varanasi, personal expenses.


This trip begins in Ujjain and ends in Varanasi. We will also visit, Maheshwar, Mandu, Omkareshwar, Jabalpur and Amarkantak in between. Most of the travel will be by Jeep, but we will board one train to take us to Varanasi.

If you have any questions you can contact Mike Holliday by email or WhatsApp.

holliday.michael@gmail.com

+12502666896

http://www.mikessleepingdog.com

Tattwa: A foundation of Indian Philosophy

“Detached from the outer show, he sees the inner essence and recognizes that life is merely the spontaneous acting out of the roll consciousness has assumed in the drama of universal manifestation.” — Aphorisms of Shiva; Dyczkowski

When we look into this philosophical or metaphysical questions of, “who am I?” or “what is knowledge?” and “How do I know what I know?,” or “What is reality?” we often turn towards categories to understand. We break the problem down and we look at ourselves from different perspectives. We see the typical parts of the self that we identify with: I am this body, these emotions, this intellect, this vital force, I am this breath; to say nothing of the host of external identifiers by family, nation, race, religion. Certainly we are all of these things and many more; but we’re much more even than that.

The tattva are a central component of the traditional sciences and philosophies of India. They are mentioned in the Yoga Suttras & the Bhagavad Gita, and one of the core differences between Tantra and Vedanta is the inclusion of 11 extra tattva in the former. It’s also a core concept for ayurvedic or jyotisha understanding of reality.

The tattva are components of reality and show us the course thru which each of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether) follows though our lives to unfold reality through each of our senses and inner faculties of the mind. The tattvas represent both subject and object as well as all of the elements that lie between the subject and object. In short, the tattva are the elements of existence.

Different schools of philosophy have different perspectives of how the tattva fit together and relate with each other but ultimately they all agree that there is a subject, and object, and something that connects the two, and that the tattva make up the basic components of that three part reality.

Two of the most popular grouping of tattva suggest that there are either 25 or 36 tattva though quite often they also refer to the five mahabhuta (earth, water, fire, air, ether)primary elements alone as the tattva.

From these five, they also list the organs of knowledge (the abilities of the senses) as well the elements of the senses. Hearing and sound, touch and feeling, seeing and form, tasting and flavour, smelling and odour. Each of these represent a certain aspect of reality. They also list five ways that our body interacts with the world are also considered elements of our existence: speaking, grabbing or holding, moving in space, procreating and excreting waste.

Raising our awareness to more subtle heights we find our sense of individuality and uniqueness (ahamkara), we can witness our mind weighing options as an indeterminate knower. Its from here that our sense typically reach out to the world in order to determine and define knowledge and our individuality. Many modern people call this “excersising our free will.”

It’s at this level of existence where we find out minds fluxuating, vibrating, moving and changing. The manas and the ahamkara are the areas Patanjali brings our awareness to. For meditation, and to still the vibtations of the mind we are advised to follow the inward course of the tattva rather than the normal outward course thru the senses.

As we continue moving our awarness inward we will come to the buddhi the highest faculty of knowledge that just seems to know things. This is the silent knower who doesn’t argue because it doesn’t have to; the buddhi just knows. The buddhi is always endowed with truth; not necessarily the highest truth, but certainly what is true for the individual soul.This is one of the key differences between the buddhi and the manas. The manas is always seeking truth, usually from the outside world, while the buddhi silently knows the truth emanating from the individual soul.

The individual soul is essentially a combination of the purusha and prakriti. The individual soul, purusha, differs from the individual ego, ahamkara, in that it recognizes the connection between our “thisness” (idam) and that’s “thatness” (aham). The individual ego is that which disconnects our thisness from thats thatness. So, as we continue on our inward journey we do not loose ourselves but rather reconnect to that greater self and the universal purpose for our existence.

However, even when we are living from our ego, blind to the inherent interconnectedness, we are none the less also completing our universal soul quest; nothing can ever knock us from this path. The difference being that the ego has to struggle greatly with the vibrations of the mind always seeking knowedge but never gaining satisfaction. The mind is just vibrating from one thing to the next, from subject to object and back again without finding the source from which both of these emanate.

Once we know we are connected, once we realize our true nature, there is no question, no vibration between this and that; there is just the free and natural flow of karma without trying to hold onto this karma or rejecting that karma.

You will find a list of the tattva with explanations below

36 Tattvas of Tantra
Macrocosmic Universe: ParamaShiva: the great ultimate is said to be beyond the tattva. Tantra specifically, and most other branches of Indian thought usually have some little bit left over in their accounting of reality. There is always some residue which cannot be explained; something which is beyond explanation.

36. Shiva tattva: This is the entire universe in the form of illumination. In the process of manifestation of the world, Shiva performs five crutial functions. Since Shiva tattva is the tread that connects all the tattva, we could say that Shiva performs these five functions thru each tattva as well as to the whole system. Shiva is often identified as Prakash, the light of consciousness while Shakti is Vimarsha, cognitive awareness

  1. Nigraha: the act of self limitation or contraction. Concealment of his true nature.
  2. Srsti: Creation. The act of self manifestation as the world.
  3. Sthiti: Preservation of the manifest world.
  4. Samhara: Destruction, absorption or withdrawal of worldly manifestation
  5. Anugraha: Grace; revelation of his true nature

Pure Elements: the next four elements are elements of the Tantric goddess Usma, who is the embodiment of the internal heating and swelling of creativity.

35. Shakti: Shivas power which is not different from Shiva. This is Shivas power to conceal himself from himself. Shiva is the one who emanates and shakti is what is emanated; the being and the becoming. Shakti has 5 primary modes of expression. The first two are said to be his nature while the following three are the powers thru which he makes his nature known or manifest. Shakti has the experience of aham (thatness).

  1. Cit-shakti: conscious force
  2. Ananda-shakti: power as bliss
  3. Iccha-shakti: power as will
  4. Jnana-shakti: power as knowledge
  5. Kriya-shakti: spontaneous action as power

34. Sadashiva: the universe laying submerged and void within the self experience of the experiencer. Experience of aham (thatness)-idam (thisness)

33. Ishvara: self experience as “I” (aham) and an experience of the universe as a separate object with “thisness” (idam) shining unequally distinct within the self experience. Experience of idam-idam

32. Sadavidya: experience of aham-aham/idam-idam


Vidya Tattvas: these are the tattvas which bind us to our bodily existence.

31. Maya:
Three kinds of defilements:

  1. Aanava mala (mula mala: root impurity): The impurity of individuality, occurring at the first moment of manifestation of the universe as Shiva begins to contract. Shiva’s true power becomes “obscured by the notions of existence and non-existence…” (Aphorisms p15) This impurity begins to take hold as soon as he descends to sadashiva tattva. Two kinds of anavamala: a) veils knowledge of divine awareness, but freedom of action remains intact (for those existents which exist below prakriti) b) leaves knowledge of divine awareness, but veils ability to act freely (those staying above maya tattva).
  2. Maayiiya mala: maya and the five kanchukas. Makes oblivious to real nature. Robs all sign of divinity. Veils only those below Prakriti.
  3. Karma mala: Provides us with physical body. Collective residual impressions from past lives. Once karma mala defiles Shiva in his descent, embodies individuals are created, known as sakalas. There are four kinds of karma: a) Sanchita: accumulated over many lifetimes. b) Prarabha: Created in this current life c) Kriyamana: freedom to change our current life situation. d) Agama: free will to set an intention for future action.

Five Kanchukas:

The kanchukas are sometimes called the five sisters of Mayadevi are like five cloaks worn by Shiva in order to mask his true nature from himself. It’s essentially thru the kanchukas that the all powerful is capable of making a stone so large that even he cannot lift it. He does this by masking his true nature from himself. Once conscious force individualizes itself thru anavamala and maya, it takes on five more cloaks in order to transform each of the five divine powers into five limited individual powers belonging to the individual soul. From this perspective we could say that maya is actually the core of our innermost individual micro-soul; from her we seek out our mega-soul for redemption.

30. Kalaa: Contracted kriya shakti. Limits Shiva’s power and creative abilities so that one cannot do everything. Limits omnipotence and the power of agency.

29. Vidya: Contracted jnana shakti. Limits Shiva’s knowledge so that one cannot know everything. Limits omniscience.

28. Raga: Contracted iccha shakti. Limits Shiva’s sense of fullness and gives craving, desire and attachment.

27. Kaala: Contracted ananda shakti. Limits Shiva in time and space making us subject to change, death and decay.

26. Niyati: Contracted cit shakti. Limits Shiva thru cause and effect, the necessity that one thing follows another.

As Shiva makes himself into an individual in order to express his freedom, he scales back, contracts, or limits his universal power thru maya and the five kanchukas (Mayadevi and her five sisters). This leads to two main kinds of impurity (mala).

1. Paurusa ajnana: innate ignorance regarding the self. We dont know who we really are.

2. Bauddha ajnana: Ignorance of buddhi. We don’t even don’t know that this knowledge is actually inside of ourselves.

Asuddha vikalpas are the ideas, thought constructs, irrational psychological responses that make us think we are this body. Replacing ajnana (incorrect knowledge) with jnana (pure knowledge) is one of the main goals of Kashmiri Shaivism & philosophical and spiritual practice generally.


Atma Tattvas: The microcosmic mirror of the subtle macrocosm described above begins here. What follows are the traits of individuals with limited powers who are distinct from other individuals with limited powers.

25. Purusha: This is the individual soul; the individual subject mirroring the universal subject.

24. Prakriti: Prakriti provides Purusha with everything he needs for enjoyment. The physical body, karmendriyas, jnanaindriyas and the rest of the next 23 tattva. The three gunas (sattvic, tamas, rajas) constitute prakriti. Possessing gunas is a property of being the object of experience which depends on an experiencer. Three modes of activity of shakti are mirrored in prakriti in their limited form: will, knowledge & activity (iccha, governed by rajas; jnana, governed by sattva; and kriya, governed by tamas).
Instruments of cognition:

Also called the Antarkarana/Inner Instrument or Chitta/consciousness of the individual

23. Buddhi – Intelligence/Discrimination. Sattvic
Buddhi is the abode of prana-shakti. From here it flows thru the different parts of the body via the nadis. Locus of every experience. It is considered the contracted power of jnana shakti and thus it’s a sattvic element. Righteousness is said to reside here in the form of our conscious

Five kinds of pranavayu: 1. Prana (moves outward as do the sense organs) 2. Aapana (moves downward as with elimination) 3. Udaana (upwards as with speech) 4. Vyaana (expansion in all directions as does the movement of our limbs), 5. Samaana: (Inwards as when we meditation turning our awareness inward to a center point).

22. Ahamkara – Ego/ I-maker. Rajas.

This is where the ego connects with objective activity attributing the source of thoughts and actions to oneself (ones own limited being). This is the principle of individuality cut off from the higher tattva

21. Manas – Mind. Tamas. This is the place where thoughts are created and weighed against each other. Instrument of rationality. Supervises and controls the karmindriya, jnanendriyas, and tanmatras.
Jnana Indriyas 16 – 20: the sense faculties for knowledge. Representing the sattvic functions of the mind (manas).

20. Sense of hearing: function of the ear.

19. Sense of touch: function of the skin.

18. Sense of seeing: function of the eyes.

17. Sense of taste: Function of the tongue.

16. Sense of smell: Function of the nose.
Karma Indriyas 11 – 15: Organs of action. Representing the rajasic functions of the mind (manas).

15. Power of speech: Functions thru the mouth and vocal cords

14. Power to grasp objects: Functions thru the hands, arms and fingers

13. Locomotion: functions thru the legs and feet.

12. Power of procreation: functions thru internal and external sex organs.

11. Excretion: functions thru the excretory organs of the pelvic bowl especially the anus.
Tanmatras 6 – 10: the five subtle elements. Representing the tamasic functions of the mind (manas).

These are the objects of the sense. The sound itself. The feel of what is touched, the form of what is seen, the flavor of what is tasted, and the odour that is smelled. Tantra suggests that sounds evolves from hearing, and form evolves from sight. This is how the world is projected from within.

10. Sound:

9. Touch/Feel

8. Form

7. Taste/Flavour

6. Odour
Mahabhuta 1 – 5: the primary elements

5. Ether: Expansive, space, emptiness, vacuum. This tattva is not itself manifest, but is the supports the other tattva by providing space for their existence. Symbolized the unseeable, unknowable spirit which both transcends reality and is immanent in reality; permeating every aspect of all that is knowable and not. Relates with the vissudhi chakra.

4. Air: Movement and mobility, dry subtle, rising. It can easily penetrate everywhere (filling the void of space). We recognize it most distinctly in our breath and it is the vehicle for prana, vital energy. Relates with the Anahata chakra.

3. Fire: Transformation, hot, sharp, dynamic. Represents the masculine principle of dynamism, extroversion, passion and aggression. Also relates to the digestive fire and the intellectual fire. Relates with the Manipura chakra and thus with prakash, divine illumination.

2. Water: Fluid, liquid, cool. Represents the feminine principle and is passive and can assume any form. Water purifies and dissolves, and it relates with sexuality and birth. Relates to Svadhisthana chakra and thus represents the flow of linear time.

1. Earth: All of the tattva are fully manifest in earth. It is the most dense, the heaviest, the most solid and grounded of the tattva. Related with Mother Earth principle of patience, creativity, sustenance; as well as the lunar principle of progression, rhythm and change. It’s often said that Shiva loves this tattva the most because this is the limit of his contraction. In it’s relationship with muladhara chakra this is the residence of kundalini.


The connection between the primary elements and the tattva looks something like this.

Ether – Sound – Speech – Hearing — Jupiter — Prana — HAM — Crystal Clear disk — Eyebrows to top of head — Cit — Om hraum sadashivaya akashadhipataye shantyateetakalatmane, hum fhut swaha

Air – Touch – Grasping – Touch — Saturn –– Apana YAM — Six sided/six circles smokey grey or grey blue — Heart to Eyebrows — Ananda — Om hraim ishanaya vayuvydhipataye shantikalatmane, hum fhut swaha

Fire – Form – Locomotion – Sight — Mars — Vyana RAM — Red Triangle — Navel to Heart — Iccha — Om hrum rudrya tejodhipataye vidyakalatmane, hum fhut swaha

Water – Taste – Procreation – Taste — Venus — Udana– VAM — White Crescent moon — knees to navel — Jnana — Om hrim vishnave jaladhipataye pratisthakalatmane, hum fhut swaha

Earth – Odour – Excretion – Smell — Mercury — Samana — Anus — Dhananjaaya: remains in the corpse until it’s burned — LAM — Yellow Square — Feet to knees — Kriya — Om hraum brahmane prithvidhipataye nivrittikalatmane, hum fhut swaha

Photo from Tantra Illuminated by Christopher Wallis

The Shaivist conception of these tattva has Shiva constantly evolving and devolving thru the tattva. Shiva is the eternal subject, the first illuminator, the first enjoyer. His movement thru the tattva an expression of his joy. This movement has many names (spanda, wave, force and it shows his movement from Shiva tattva to earth and back to Shiva tattva. The process of creation and destruction going on continually. But even this is not as it seems. Most of us would assume destruction is happening as Shiva makes his way back to himself, but actually earth will be the first to die. Being fully manifest puts us most solidly in the world of death, sorrow and suffering. This is where all this fire and brimstone of kali and Shiva’s burning ghats comes from.

So, when we turn our attention, thus identifying with the body (the earth), we will surely only know suffering, change, confusion and lack of control. When we turn our attention, and thus our personal identification inwards we limit that suffering step by step. Getting past the mind and the emotional being is one of the greatest hurdles. Only matched by the struggle a young yogi will go thru to get past their ego (ahamkara).

The ego is an important topic for discussion in tantra. Shiva is essentially a supreme egoity; the self of all selves. The purusha is ones individual soul; this is certainly a big part of who we are. And then we have the ahamkara which is who we think we are. These are like three levels of ego: The ahamkara is the ego which is cut off from inner truths; it only sees what is on the surface. The purusha is that ego which understands our connection to the universal. People who strongly identify with their individual soul approach life as an instrument of the divine. This is the beginning of saintliness. But only one who has fully realized their divine nature as all of this whole universe will experience Shiva’s true freedom (svatantriya).

This is a little like saying that there is more than one truth, though they might each seem to be incompatible with the other truths. A big part of our job as yogis is to assimilate such contradictory truths and ultimately experience the illumination of this world thru each lens. It’s not that the world of this body and these sensual desires is not true, but it represents a limited truth; a tamasic, impure truth. The truth of our individual soul is quite another level of truth which represents a rajasic truth, which manages to be both pure and impure. Only the highest truth is truly pure and sattvic, but this does not negate the others. Shiva is fully present in each of the tattva. His illumination shines from everywhere. From whichever perspective we take, we can recognize Shiva and realize ourselves as that infinite being of all being.


Short Bibliography

The Advaita Saiva Philosophy of Kashmir, by Debarata Sensharma

The Philosophical and Practical Aspects of Kashmiri Saivism, By Pandit

Tantra Illuminated, by Christopher Wallis

Aphorisms of Shiva, translated by Mark Dyczkowski

Tattwa Shuddhi, by S. Saraswati (Bihar School)

Vedic Remedies in Astrology, Sanjay Rath

Painting of “Sri Yantra” by Tania Satori (used with permission) see tania_vaculty on Instagram.

Astrology of the Endocrine System

Painting by Tatiana Satori

The endocrine glands of the human body are extremely complex. Vedic Astrology is only recently beginning to tackle these questions. A cursory look at the available literature in published books and on-line leaves me dissatisfied. Some agreement exists for some glands, but others are still a mystery. The more one tries to match it up with myth, philosophy, ayurveda, the chakras, the elements, medical science, planetary rulerships and even western astrology, the more convoluted it seems to get.

There is agreement in some areas and experience and research shows that some theories are working in practice, but even then one has to ask why?

Take the thyroid gland for example. Everyone knows and agrees that the thyroid is ruled by Mercury and the third house. If these areas are too hot or too wet or too windy it can show a thyroid problem. Moon, Venus and 2nd house are also likely to be involved.

Diabetes is typically seen thru Jupiter and Venus. When we consider that the pancreas metabolizes sugars with insulin and fat with glucagon then is seem reasonable that these two sweet lovers would be involved with diabetes. I typically like to see the 2nd house to get a sense of their diet. Jupiter also rules over the liver which is also affected by poor diet: saturated fats and too much heat and toxin like alcohol, coffee, natural and pharmaceutical drugs and tobacco.

Venus rules over male fertility from the testes and Mars rules over female fertility, the ovaries and menstrual cycle. Venus’ popular name in Hindi is Shurkr, which literally means male sperm. It’s common to look to Venus for any erectile dysfunction, inopportune ejaculation, or sperm count issues. And for women it is common knowledge that blemishes to mars will give menstrual problems, red blood cells, bleeding. The angle between mars and moon can also be important for the female’s cycle.

All of the glands have their own effect on our mood, so the moon must always play a role in the endocrine system. We can certainly see how the sex organs give the skin luster as one at the peak of fertility when strong.

The adrenal glands seem to be a mars gland due to the adrenaline and it’s relation with our ‘fight or flight’ response. Mars certainly rules cortisol and relates with the stress hormones in general. But those natural opiods are motivation enhancers like dopamine that lead to and enforce addictive behavior are fully the domain of Venus. When we mix Mars with Venus we increase the risk of addiction but also typically get more active enjoyment in life. There is a strong tendency to engage with the opposite sex, and take other pleasure risks. We see more clearly the connection between the adrenal glands and the reproductive glands (ovaries & testes) and the workings of Venus and Mars. The adrenal glands also sit on top of the kidneys which also relate

The thymus, most notable for immunity must be ruled by the Sun. But once we begin to see things this way than the sun rules over the whole endocrine system along with the moon. We must also consider the strength of the moon and ascendant and well as Mars to know the strength of the immune system to correctly detects, avoid, defend against, or defeat disease and illness of the body. Sometimes I don’t know how many planets to stop at when

This leaves us with the glands in the head: the pineal, pituitary, hypothalamus. These three are a little more complex since they essentially control the entire endocrine system plus most of the major functions of the body. This is where the Sun and Moon certainly play a stronger role. But we must also look carefully at the fictions played by the individual hormones secretes by these glands.

The pineal gland uses serotonin to make melatonin. only secretes a single hormone. The primary function is to control our circadian rhythms and sleep cycles. It connects us to the daily and seasonal rhythms of light and dark. This is the gland they also call the seat of the soul giving us much psychedelic experience by connecting us to our ancient reptilian ancestry. The functions of the pineal are perhaps the most mysterious of all the glands. Sun, Ketu and Mars along with 1st house and Aries must be checked

The pituitary does not get much easier to understand. It can quite logically be divided in between a masculine and feminine expression by the different functions of the anterior and posterior sides of this gland.

The posterior pituitary only stores hormones without producing any of its own. It does secrete anti-diuretic hormone controlling he water balance on the body, and oxytocin which influences uterine contraction and lactation. Moon is obviously influential here. Oxytocin is also the hormone of affection, love and belonging; it’s sometimes called the bonding hormone. It’s a natural inflammatory cooling the system, lowering blood pressure, decreasing blood pressure and cortisol levels in the body; all of which bring about a sense of security, and deep relaxation.

The anterior pituitary is the masculine, productive side of the pituitary. The anterior pituitary produces hormones that regulate the entire endocrine system. Human growth hormone is one of the main hormones coming from here to regulate all areas of growth in the body, including hair, skin, nails, muscles mass, and the size of our body as we grow from fetus to adult. The depletion of this hormone in old age tilts the balance in the opposite direction. Other hormones regulate the thyroid (TSH), growth and health of the hair on the body (FSH), stress (ACTH), fat reserves (lipotropin), hair/eyes/skin pigmentation (melanocyte), the reproductive organs and the libido (luteinzing regulates testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, ovulation) as well as bone density, memory, loco-motor activity and slow wave sleep (all of which are repartly regulated by osteocalcin and cortistatin)).

From this list we get a strong sense of Jupiter energy ruling growth, fat on the body, intelligence as well as contributing to reproduction. Mars certainly plays a role in libido, stress and motor activity. Sun and the moon seem to both be at work here; though many of these hormones must passes thru a kind of incubation period in the posterior pituitary before moving on to their destination gland.

This leaves on the hypothalamus, known as the adviser of the pituitary and these two glands rule over the entire endocrine system. They also call this gland “the seat of prana” as it controls the breathing and the bodily movements that affect breath. It is also considered the seat of emotions as it gives emotional response to sense stimulus (taste, smell, touch, laughter, smiling, frowning, thoughts). I once heard this gland described as a shiva lingam (Jupiter and Cancer). Jupiter is known as the lord of the vital airs; the five pranas, and moon and cancer relate with our emotions. This might also be why GajKeshari yoga (Jupiter in 4th, 7th or 10th from moon (some include Jupiter moon conjunction) might be considered to be so beneficial since it brings some emotional balance into ones life.

We must also take into account the location of the gland in our body. This suggests that the first eight houses (and signs) rule over all of our glands. It also highlights the importance of first house (and Aries) and those most influential glands that reside in the head (in the brain). The thyroid, located int eh throat at the level of the adams apple resides on the boundary of Taurus and Gemini. The thymus in the heart centre which open up the debate between 4th and 5th house for so many health conditions related to the chest and heart. The pancreas fits reasonably well with 6th house (Virgo) which is known to have a strong influence on the stomach and metabolism, but one is tempted to apply the 6th & 7th house to the pancreas and the adrenals. Which leaves the 7th & 8th houses (Libra and Scorpio) with control over the testes and ovaries.

The typical afflictions of the planets must also be applied: Mars’ heat, Saturn’s coldness and vata, Rahu and Ketu hyper and hypo activity which is said to mimic Mars and Saturn. Planetary debilitation, weakness, affliction by natural or functional malefic (owners of 6th, 8th or 12th houses) can all play a role in afflicting a house and planet associated with the glands. For deep seated glandular debility affecting all aspects of life, we must also confirm the debility by sign, house, and planetary karakas from the rising sign, the sun and the moon.

My study of this topic is continuing into the nakshartra. If anyone has any knowledge or ideas about nakshatas influence on the endocrine system I will be happy add that to my survey.

Gland

Planet

House

Pineal

Sun, Ketu, Mars

1st house & Aries

Hypothalamus

Moon (Jupiter in Cancer)

(angle between Moon & Jupiter)

1st & 2nd house

Aries & Taurus

Anterior Pituitary

Jupiter, Mars, Sun & Moon

Posterior Pituitary

Moon

Thyroid

Mercury

2nd & 3rd house

Taurus & Gemini

Thymus

Sun (moon & mars)

(angle between Sun & Mars)

4th & 5th house

Cancer & Leo

Pancreas

Jupiter & Venus

6th house & Virgo

Adrenals

Mars & Venus

6th & 7th house

Virgo & Libra

Ovaries

Mars

(angle between Moon & Mars)

7th and 8th house

Libra and Scorpio

Testes

Venus

7th and 8th house

Libra and Scorpio

There are numerous ways to understand the endocrine glands: by function, location, chakra rulership. I will include these below but I don not believe these correlations are working as well as that expressed above. Some things seem to work, yet there are also deep flaws in some parts of the categorization and in many cases it is not working in practice. One will, however, get much benefit in considering each method, and it’s likey that western astrology has something to offer in this field thru the use of the more distant planets: Pluto, Uranus & Neptune.

Gland

Western Astrology

Dr SS Chatterji

Pineal

Neptune

Moon

Hypothalamus

Moon

Anterior Pituitary

Saturn

Sun

Posterior Pituitary

Jupiter

Moon & Mars

Thyroid

Mercury

Jupiter & Sun

Parathyroid

Venus

Saturn & Mercury

Thymus

Sun & Neptune

Moon

Pancreas

Moon & Venus

Mars

Adrenals

Mars

Mars, Jupiter & Venus

Gonads

Uranus

Venus & Moon

Ovaries

Mars

Testes

Pluto

Venus

And when we go to compare the chakras with the glands we are finding some agreement, but looking at the rules of the sex organs in this chart one must also protest since nobody will ever say that Muladhara rules over the sex organs, nor can one imagine that the sex organs are ruled by either Saturn or Mercury. Good luck in your studies.

Om namah shivay

Gland Chakra Bepin Behari & Frawley Sanjay Rath & T. Subba Rao
Pineal Sahashtra – Crown Sun Sun
Hypothalamus & Pituitary Ajna – Third Eye Moon Jupiter
Thyroid Visshidhi – Throat Mercury Saturn
Thymus Anahata – Heart Venus Moon
Pancreas Manipura – Navel Mars Mars
Adrenals Swatisthana – Sex Jupiter Venus
Sex/Reproductive Muladhara – Root Saturn Mercury

Out of Bounds

Boundary issues are everywhere. How we define our boundaries is one thing; how we defend them is quite another. In this modern age we are seeking to break the boundaries that keep us from living in space. In this world, we find all kind of political turmoil over national boundaries, border disputes, and of course Trump’s Wall. The movement of people displaced by violence has the whole world questioning their cultural boundaries.

Those of us on a spiritual path (a healing path) also have to face this question of boundaries as we work with our students and teachers; and most importantly, with ourselves. Every social interaction faces this question of boundaries.

We typically think of strong boundaries as way to keep people from getting in, but they keep us from getting out. The boundary we put up defines the relationship we have with the other.

As Yogis we are often coached to look in the space between two things. We often call this space “the relationship,” but we could just as easily call it the boundary. I have my boundaries and you have your boundaries; the type and quality of relationship we have depends on how open or closed our boundaries are, as well as on how we approach or cross each other boundaries and the behaviour we exhibit once someone lets us in.

When we speak of boundaries in the healing community we typically use words and phrases like “surrender,” “let go,” “let yourself be vulnerable,” “be open to what the universe has to give;” in other words: “drop all your boundaries!”

From the other side we are told that we are boundless, we should forget everything we think we know and just follow our heart. There is often the assumption that acting like an idiot is acceptable if we are following our hearts (or “living in the moment” as we say). Since it was the divine voice of God commanded, go forth and act like an idiot, we expect to be absolved of personal responsibility.

Modern Tantra is especially vocal about dropping boundaries and the beauty of living spontaneously. It’s also known to be very dangerous since the mix of openness and spontaneity on one persons part is an opportunity for the other to conquer new territory unimpeded and later say that is way given to me them.

This is how the CIA and George Soros “make democracy” and spheres of influence and ultimately destroy countries, cultures and peoples lives. Even when they are preaching peace, love and belonging they are really only looking out for themselves.

It’s not so different from the toxic addictions that seem to alleviate our suffering but really only cast us more deeply into it.

We hear similar stories of toxic healers, Yogis and others who use their position and their skill to drop peoples boundaries so that they can manipulate them for their own benefit.

Manipulation is an ugly word, but it’s not the problem. We stay alive thru this manipulation. Just think of the baby screaming to make momma change the diaper or give some food. That’s emotional manipulation at its finest. The problem is when one acts for their own benefit without consideration or concern for how it will truly affect the other.

Manipulation is just an ugly way of talking about the diplomacy and negotiation that is on going between people and our numerous light bodies; each with their own boundaries and border controls. These boundaries maybe undergoing subtle changes moment to moment; person to person. Mostly we don’t notice this going on, it all happens fairly naturally and most people respect each other’s boundaries. But of course it’s not a perfect world.

Most of us are still fighting battles with this world, blaming others, pointing always at the other as a source of our misery when it’s our personal patterns, habits, mental narratives, and expectations that are the root causes of our suffering. All of these little things build up and define our boundaries.

Boundaries in themselves are not bad. Healthy boundaries actually empower us; it’s the unhealthy, unconscious, unrealistic boundaries that cause problems in our lives that leads us to seek healing.

Almost every human what’s more from life somehow. We want to expand our boundaries to include more land (more material prosperity), as well as our emotional boundaries to feel more vividly this life, and spiritual boundaries to feel more connected to the universe.

The key to such expansion is awareness. First we have to be aware of who we are. This will take us towards our innermost core. It’s a journey that takes us thru the fields of numerous personal identities. As we stare out the train window we see so many selves passing by: I am this, I am that, this I am, I am until we get to that “I” without a second.

After we have merged with the ultimate (or gone as deep as we can) we come back to a personal identity which has been reborn from a spiritual seed. Every breath cycle is an opportunity to realize such merger with the absolute followed by the rebirth of the individual.

Both sides of this coin represent truth, beauty and an expression of the divine. This is why Tantra says that liberation (moksha) is not a separate matter from enjoyment. Our enjoyment should be liberating in itself and liberation itself should be enjoyable. This does not mean decadent. It means that we want all parts of our universal self to enjoy equally. It means that nothing is isolated.

This is where boundaries get tricky. If the truth is that I am one with the universe; completely unbound then any harm at all that I cause to any part of nature will cause direct harm to myself. This is a spiritual truth suggest a greater degree of personal responsibility rather than the sort of careless way we treat objects and that are easily replaceable.

Such a grand sense of spiritual wonder actually suggest that we respect the boundaries between ourselves and the other to an even greater degree, as a way of respecting ourselves.

When we objectify our external experience, we typically see ourselves in this same way. We typically find some version of the conflicted mental narrative that sets man against nature. This boundary is an illusion and sows the seeds of war, pollution and toxicity. This war has been unleashed against the women of society as much as against Mother Nature herself.

Part 2

Truth and reality represent a similar energy applies to different experiences. You could say that both are representative of the absolute. Truth is The expression of transcendental experience and reality is an expression of immanent experience.

To experience transcendence we must realize ourselves as without boundaries. To experience reality we must realize the individual experience that necessarily occurs within the boundaries of time and space; the individual soul, the human body and the body of nature.

We need to know ourselves both ways: we are timeless, but we have also chosen to experience time by thru various limitations.

Being aware of different ways that we perceive time will help us to understand our limitations and who we are in this life and what is our path.

The linear experience of time allows us to logically understand our life: where we came from and where we are going. This allows us to make sense of our experience, and set expectations. When our expectations are too high we find much disappointment; when they are too low, we sabotage our own growth. We should work hard to find the balance in this so that what happens in the future in pretty much what we expect. This sort of time we experience in short duration. Today I have one story about who I am and tomorrow that story has changed, even just a little bit. The experience of time on this level is not absolute truth, but it should be more or less in accord with reality. This works thru our short term. This is one way of knowing the self.

We also experience time thru timeless emotional impressions. This is just the opposite of the mundane stories we are constantly changing and revising and telling ourselves in order to understand reality. These emotional impression have a very strong influence on our linear understanding of ourselves but the impression is often from a different time, maybe a different life-time. Mostly we recognize this thru our subtle gestures we make with our body (the way we hold ourselves) as well as thru the emotional boundaries and defensive (or offensive) strategies that shapes the story of who we are (linear time).

This is where much most deep transformative healing arts work. We seek to tap into that timeless side of ourselves to find the impressions affecting our present life that are holding us back or are simply inappropriate in some way. Typically it’s merely an inappropriate response to some particular subject. Physically we feel it as allergy; emotionally we feel it as trauma. In either case, the reaction is disproportionate with action; the trigger.

This kind of healing is very delicate since to access this memory with awareness and direct intention we need to drop all our guards despite the feeling of impending threat. We need to do this in a safe environment where there is no actual threat. One needs to follow a deep sense of trust and have that trust reinforced.

Just talking or thinking about a traumatic memory will take us into the past, and despite being no actual stimulus being present the nervous system along with the endocrine system will react to trigger some kind of inappropriate stress response (which brings all of our resources to defend against an enemy from another time).

Talking about these traumas and sharing stories, understanding it all as a part of our story is necessary, but as things fade into the past, we also have to be open to changing the story of who we are. It’s not that we lie, but for simple understanding a single traumatic event is lumped into a broader time frame in life thru which we faced learned from the trauma.

When fire burns us it does no good to try to put our every fire. We learn to place certain boundaries between fire and ourselves so that we can still enjoy the warmth and light of fire without getting burnt.

Many people actually find their life paths thru their traumas by turning them into wisdom. This is transformation; turning poison into nectar.

We also experience time thru change. This is where we measure time and our boundaries are measured by resources: life force, energy levels, moods, physical form, the seasons and all these thing we can see changing from day to day; year to year. We might even measure this time by how for we’ve walked or how much we’ve completed. If we are following our life path, we are typically comfortable here as we focus and meditate thru our work. If we love what we won’t actually think of the time here; we will only see time when we look back at the change or are considering some future actions.

A very important concept of time actually combines our awareness of change with a kind of timelessness that we cannot imagine. When we recognize that we are connected to a whole lineage of universal archetypes going back to some unimaginable beginning of time and stretching into some unimaginable future. Here, we find ourselves repeating the the same archetypical patters expressing themselves in a new time and place. Though this sense of time is eternal here, we are capable of making a plan to change the future. This is where we understand ourselves in our connection with the whole. This is our dharma, our truth, our path in life; that path we have be on since the beginning of time; our universal purpose and how we employ that in society.

This is where we need meditation, silence, deep relaxation and contemplation because nobody can tell us who we are or what is our purpose; we can only feel it and know it for ourselves.

This bring me to the final concept it time. Present time; just being here and now. For this we have to be capable of dropping all other concepts of time. We have to have great trust in God in nature. No thought of the past or the future perfectly at peace until some spontaneous activity is provoked. To reach this state we have to know who we are, what our purpose is and have the necessary skills and health to complete our destiny.

We are beings bound by time. By understanding our place in time and how each concept of time binds is in a different way forming different relationships with each other we can then begin a focused course in self realization that will allow us to empower us with healthy boundaries rather than victimizing us they our subconscious patterns.

I am Shiva this world is Shakti

When we say that our true self is Shiva, we are not talking about this self that is body, mind; limiter and ceaselessly changing. This I who is Shiva is the unchanging universal soul which is being expressed not just in this body, but in all bodies as an individual soul. This “I” is the eternal subject. We cannot change what is not subject to change; we cannot purify that which is already pure. There is light, we can see, we are and we exist; this is only subject to acceptance, not change. This topic is hardly even amenable to contemplation. If we can’t even imagine it, it’s best we don’t even consider changing it.

Everything outside of the scope of the Shiva soul is Shakti: our mind and body and all that can be perceived by the senses at any moment. This is the eternal other. Many of us would like to change this. We think we are the body and have control over our body and mind and seek to make changes here, but the truth is that we are all fools. This coming together of soul (Shiva), body and mind (Shakti) is the divine play that we are advised to approach as a witness. This is the field of karma; the interplay between subject and object. We have no freedom here.

But where are we free? Where can we affect change?

In our relationship between the subject and object; in the way we relate not only to the world, but to our own bodies. How do we use what we have to reach out to the world?! This starts with how we relate without own body, our own mind.

We are born from a mother and a father. We had and have no control over this time and place we find ourselves. Even our will is the will of god. If I trace back the origin of this yoga or astrology I practice, or even this writing I am doing now, it all comes back to a will, an innate propensity towards these things. In other words, I didn’t do anything to have any of this; it was freely given to me at birth (all the benefits and all the defects).

This is one of the primary mistakes that most western yogis are making. They think they are the yogi and they pat themselves on the back for the good job they are doing. They do not accept the gift of their body and physical conditioning; they think they are the architect. Small “i” with small minds; they have not even begun to imagine what truth might be. They go around saying how blessed they are without recognizing that every sentient being is equally blessed. They base their blessing on the ever changing material reality; their blessing is not likely to get them thru bad weather as they begin to ask why such a curse. ‘To be’ is to be blessed; to not recognize this is the curse.

When we focus on our relationships with things there is little outward change to be recognized, but inside we will feel it just like we feel anger or sadness or frustration; we will feel peace; we will feel the blessing of existence in every moment thru good times and bad. And this is the sort of change people are really looking for; this is the sort of change that changes everything.

 

 

Ideology

4a1f5-dsc_1055-version2-2009-12-20at09-55-19The main project of yoga is to ground us in reality so that we might be aware of the experience of truth. The truth is now; in the present moment. There is not other reality. The past and the future are merely mirages in the distance. We cannot be sure of either, though on some level, everything that takes form in nature or in our minds has some level of truth to it. As yogis our task is to recognize the truth and keep our awareness fixed there.

This is one of the primary differences between what I would call authentic yoga and and inauthentic yoga; between modern branded yoga and traditional lineage yoga. This is the difference between idealism and reality. You cannot get to reality thru idealism; that’s the first thing that needs to be dropped. Ideology is the mask we hide behind; a popular belief we profess in order to avoid the real work of unmasking ourselves so that we might recognize reality. We cannot even begin to see ourselves thru ideology for it only reflects our fears.

Reality is here and now, naked and vulnerable; a lamb before god. Once one understands that we are always and everywhere at the mercy of time and space, then we can rise above the fear and trembling that keeps so many cowering and gasping to their ideals like a tattered security blanket unable to face the natural rhythms of life and death.

Narmada Pilgrimage: Begins February 28, 2019

February 28 – March 19, 2019 (a similar trip is schedules for early Feb 2020)

Delhi – Agra – Orchha – Maheshwar – Varanasi – Omkareshwar – Amarkantak

India has a great culture of wandering sadhus who have cut themselves away from the mainstream society, organized religion, and material dependence. You will not find them in Rishikesh or Varanasi or any of the cities so full of corruption and noise; they will be in the peace of the forest. They will be in the cities too, but you will not easily find them.

Pilgrimage with Mike Holliday takes us thru key locations along the Narmada river valley as we meet with Sadhus, stay in Ashrams, walk with the pilgrims, while practicing yoga, leaning traditional Vedic Sciences and delving deep into the philosophy. This may also feel like an adventure pilgrimage as we get close to the locals and experience the beauty of rural India.

Trip Includes:

  • 19 nights in ashrams & guest houses around central India
  • Transportation within India
  • Extra guides when appropriate
  • Yoga instruction
  • Astrological consultations

Trip highlights

  • Meditation & Yoga at the Gayatri Ashram on Omkareshwar Island
  • Walking the forests and ancient temples Amarkantak
  • The vibrant intensity of Varanasi
  • Philosophical talks by Mike
  • Experiencing the heart of India far from the typical tourist trails

Note: This trip is partly designed as an Introduction to off the beaten path travel in India. we will travel and live simply as we look behind the myths and the masks that we mistake for reality. We will be walking extensively, living simply (meaning beds and toilets may meet western expectations) and facing cultural expectations much different than our own.

Clothing should be culturally appropriate for ashram living.

This package does not include:

  • flight to and from India
  • Additional travel within India
  • Spending money
  • Personal meals and transport
  • India Visa
  • Vaccinations

Mike Holliday has traveled and studied extensively around India as a solo traveler, adventurer, yogi, pilgrim. He began teaching in earnest in Varanasi India around 2012 at the insistence of his teacher due to students who had begun showing up. He led his first pilgrimage in 2018.

Contact: holliday.michael@gmail.com