Category Archives: Alternative Health & Yoga

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

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

Pilgrimage to the Heart of India 2018

19 day pilgrimage to Varanasi, Omkareshwar, Ellora & Ajanta Caves, Maheshwar, Mandu and Indore

20 November – 8 December 2018

Dear Friends,

It’s about time I bring a group of friends to see some of my favorite pilgrimage places in India: Varanasi, Shiva city, the spiritual centre of India famous for tantra and pilgrimage; Omkareshwar and Maheshwar on the Narmada river are major centres of the 3.5 year pilgrimage that sees a steady stream of devotion. Ellora and Ajanta are both ancient monuments of devotion and wonder. We will make a stop by Mandu for a day of cycling, frivolity and wandering thru villages and Mugul ruins scattered across the country side. The final stop will be in Indore to visit a couple important tantric temples and enjoy the comforts of the city before going our separate ways.

The trip will include:

  • Land travel within India, most meals, room, guided tours, yoga & astrology
  • Traditional Hatha Yoga practice including asana, pranayama, mantra, meditation. Bhakti, Raja, Hatha, Jnana, Tantra  and Kundalini yogas will all find expression over the course of this trip.
  • A detailed Vedic Astrology reading and remedy coaching.
  • Six nights in a simple, traditional forest ashram over-looking the  holy Narmada river
  • Five nights in Varanasi over looking the Holy Ganges river
  • A small group of six allows for deep integration of the practices and teachings.
  • Excellent introduction to India for those who wish to continue traveling the country
  • A unique yoga pilgrimage
  • Deep introduction to yogic philosophy and Vedic way of life.
  • Suitable for anyone who is a pilgrim at heart. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary. Sincerity towards the method is the most important attribute.

Basic Itinerary

20 November – 8 December 2018

20 November 2018: Arrival in Varanasi, rest, short evening yoga and meditation next to the river.

While in Varanasi: Morning yoga, site-seeing tours, boat rides, lots of free time, meeting Shiva devotees, astrology charts will be completed for each person.

25 November: Train to Khandwa; bus to Omkareshwar, take rest and get settled at the Gayatri Forest Ashram, easy evening yoga and meditation.

While in Omkareshwar: Two yoga classes per day. Learning traditional stories, parikrama (walk) around the island,  visiting important pilgrimage sites, pilgrims and sadhus. Spending time in nature, swimming, enjoying.

02 December: Jeep to Ajanta. While in Ellora/Ajanta trip we will take our yoga where we can get it. There is often an opportunity to practice among the caves.

03 December: Jeep to Ellora and then to Maheshwar, take rest, get settled in the guest house.

While in Maheshwar: One to two yoga classes per day, visiting special holy sites, boating, swimming, meeting pilgrims, singing, & enjoying nature.

07 December: Jeep to Mandu, cycling/site-seeing, and then jeep to Indore.

08 December: Visit Mahakala and Bhairava temple before departure. The tour will end on this day and departures will go from Indore.

  • Note: let us know if we can help to arrange transport and lodging before and after the trip.

By the end of this trip participants will have gained deep knowledge of Yogic, Vedic and Tantric practice and lifestyle. One will have gained an appreciation for simple, prayerful living and will have a good foundation to continue a personal sadhana (spiritual practice). You will also gain valuable travel experience and a deep humanistic education as we travel on and off the tourist trail thru the heart of India.

Anyone with a sincere desire for self knowledge thru yoga and traditional knowledge are welcome. Yoga classes are easily modified to be accessible to everyone as well as challenging for every level of fitness and concentration. Much of the philosophical content will be organic (arising from the circumstances and questions) so this too will be both accessible and challenging for most anyone.

India can be a challenging country and we will be living very simply as pilgrims ourselves for parts of trip. This simplicity of nature will hopefully counterbalance the sensory and emotional over-load that Delhi and Varanasi are known for in different ways. Travel can be slow and frustrating (most times) and there will a few arduous days of travel, lots of walking, and a group of eight people traveling and living together for 19 days (18 nights). We hope that lots of free time, optional tours and practices, and flexibility by everyone, will allow everyone to get the flavour they are seeking from life.


This package tour includes:

  1. 19 days/18 nights in various guest houses and ashrams may be shared occupancy
  2. Many meals, lots of chai and snacks
  3. Transportation
  4. Vedic Astrology consultation.
  5. Classical Hatha Yoga classes
  6. Guide fees
  7. Additional administrative fees, organization costs, booking fees, travel expenses, baksheesh & diksha donations to temples, pilgrims and ashrams in the name of the group

Total cost: 

  • $1950. A $600 deposit will hold this space for you

Stipulations

  • Limited to six people. Must have at least 4 people signed up by October 1 for the trip to proceed. Full refunds will be given if it’s cancelled for this reason. I expect it will sell out fast.
  • One place will have preference for someone with knowledge in Ayurveda and/or Jyotish and would like to do a mentorship in astrology over the 19 days of this pilgrimage.
  • Unless your seat can be sold to someone else we may only be able to refund 50% of the fee in case of cancellation. There will be an administrative fee retained in any case, but we look vary favorably upon those who find someone to fill their place for them.
  • Bring a friend and save $100 each (not available for early bird pricing). Bring two or more friends and save $200 while each of them save $100.

What is not included, and why?

  • Many meals, snacks and chai throughout the day since you will be on your own.
  • Baksheesh, diksha payments, tips to temples monks, sadhus and service people which are best given by your own heart & hand
  • Flight to India, travel insurance, immunizations are all your responsibility.
  • Souvenirs, personal items, personal travel or personal entertainment.
  • No certificates will be available as this pilgrimage is meant to be a personal healing, learning & potentially transformational journey. If you want a certificate, go to Rishikesh.
  • If you are unsure about what may or may not be included, please ask before departure.

Your host and guide:

Mike Holliday has had a deep spiritual and personal connection with Varanasi, Ganga & Narmada since 2007. He has been teaching yoga around the world for almost ten years and offering philosophical/spiritual coaching and counsel for over half that time. He has guided many people thru Varanasi and well as thru Indian culture and a few have even come to experience the magic of the Narmada river with him. He is an engaging teacher and story teller; a very knowledgeable guide thru the unknown; a sincere, grounded friend and adviser & he has a strong passion for sharing traditional knowledge. He is an off the beaten path teacher who mostly follows orthodoxy but does not not believe it is necessary.

For more information:

  • holliday.michael@gmail.com

Remedial measures, Meditation and the 12th house

One of the most important things we have to keep in mind when we are offering remedies is: Will the client follow the remedy? No matter how good the medicine might work, it’s useless if the client will not follow it. But if we can find remedies that the client understands and has faith in, then they will be much better served, even by an inferior remedy.

I will discuss some of the common remedies and how we can make them suitable for the individual who is in front of us looking for ways to improve their life.

A complete practice of yoga, tantra and kriya with complete devotion in God (otherwise known as ones own infinite nature) is the best remedy for anyone to improve the quality and quantity of their life. However, not everyone is equally inclined and it would be a pretty boring world if we were. With such a wonderful diversity of humans wandering this earth, there is an equally diverse amount of remedial measures; none of which are created equally for everyone.

The secret to the efficacy of any remedy come from the the faith that it will work along with the dedication to following the prescribed activity (resonance). The faith comes from within; from our knowledge and beliefs and how well they match with with the remedy and/or the healer. Faith as understood here is not the blind faith of dogmatism; faith is rather built up thru clear discrimination & personal experience. Faith come only after we have done everything we can for ourselves. We give 100% of ourselves (the combined powers of the body, mind & spirit) and and in return we gain faith. Every spiritual path teaches that if we give everything we have as individuals, then we will be given this whole universe. This teaching does not refer to our material possessions, what we have on the outside, but rather to our internal reality. To receive such blessings we need to focus our will: 100%; focus our knowledge: 100% & focus our activity: 100%. If one is capable of such one-pointed focus then they have already learned that material wealth is actually immaterial.

This principle applies to all healing and all remedies, not just esoteric remedies of yoga and astrology. If you do not have faith and follow thru with your doctors prescription it is not likely to work for you any better than not doing your yoga practices. Research into surgery also suggests that the effectiveness of the procedure has as much to do with the individual on the operating table as it does with the technique the, surgeon or the surgery. Whatever remedy we are given we have to follow it correctly. In order to do this we have to have faith in the remedy, combined with the discrimination that allows us to have faith in the doctor or astrologer who is prescribing the remedy; to say nothing about having faith in our own ability to heal and to change.

Meditation

The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali are really more about what we call meditation and less to do with what most people recognize as yoga these days. Of course meditation should be a central part of the yoga practice all the way thru, but you wouldn’t know that by attending yoga classes in the west that might set aside a few minutes for meditation at the beginning or the end of class.

Meditation is the one thing that scientist and spiritualists can agree on to improve the quality and quantity of ones life. Of course there is not one correct way to meditate. Even within a single spiritual tradition there are numerous methods of meditation. Vijnana Bhairava list 112 different forms of meditation. These are the techniques that are typically accepted in Shaivist Tantra lineages. Buddhism has a whole lists of their own meditations, as does Christianity and Islam and the others.

With so many different forms of meditation going around, as Astrologers (Yoga teachers or Ayurvedic practitioners) we need to be able to offer our clients more direction than merely telling them to meditate. We have to be able to direct them along that path of meditation and suggest ways they might follow for the greatest success in their meditation practice. We might also give them some idea as to what they might expect and experience when they begin meditation practice. Of course, if they have a heavily afflicted 12th house they might want ensure that they have they proper support and atmosphere before beginning their meditation practice as they are sure to face difficulties.

Meditation and Charitable Remedies for the 12th House

The 12th house is the voice of our ancestors, our subconscious mind, our meditation and the kind of sanctuary or enclosure we are most comfortable. 12th house describes our sleep, our bedroom behaviour, how we are behind closed doors & and how we retreat from the world. This is were we de-materialize in order to connect with parallel worlds. We get loss, liberation & moksha in the 12th house.

When I write about meditation in the 12th house I am very specifically referring to that meditation which allows for spiritual liberation. Those who have a strong focus on material gain in life might find it easier to offer charity to these 12th house spirits & rulers. I have included advice on using charitable donations to ease the difficulties of the the 12th house.

Sun

Sun influencing the 12th house will bring ones personal creativity into the back room. Meditation can be very good for these people as the Sun in 12th often relates with lower self esteem in the public realm, but allows their creative intelligence to shine in private sanctuary spaces (in their bedroom; in the ashram). On the other hand, Sun in 12th suggest a diminished ego which can be beneficial for sequestered spiritual life (ashram life). If Sun is well placed here they can attain a central place in the ashram or monastery. They are best left alone for meditation; a super star in their own world. One the other hand, the Sun can cause one to feel some pressure to meditate which can disrupt the meditative experience. Meditation of the universal self or the universal egoity can be effective; trataka or other kinds of one pointed focus (especially on a candle flame or the Sun). One might also want to look into the morning ritual of agni-hotra. Sunrise sun salutations can also be very good. One should also be aware of their contact with the ground and push into it to stand tall or sit tall. Essentially we want our losses to go to the Sun in beneficial ways.

Charity should be offered to leadership events and training, government sponsored programs, charitable events sponsored by ones boss, burn wards of the hospital.

Moon

Moon in 12th house can give occasional meditation, but their practice will be heavily influenced by the movement (waxing & waning) of the moon. Where the moon sits is where we are comfortable so these people are typically comfortable in an ashram setting, foreign place, or in some kind of seclusion. So even if they are not making meditation they will very likely be fairly reflective people and may go away from their family. They will likely have a longing for greater (emotional) connection with their subconscious mind, their ancestral past, and those activities which liberate. This can be quite a spiritual placement if other indications point that way. Meditation on or near water can be very good. One may wish to mediate upon the mother goddesses. Reflection upon ones own emotions can also be a beneficial meditation. It might be difficult to follow a single meditative practice as one will more likely follow their emotions in this area of their lives.

Charity by time or money should go toward orphanages (especially for young girls), parenting programs, cultural events, building wells or other methods of providing safe, clean drinking water as well as programs that focus on the removal or cleaning of wastewater (especially Moon in Scorpio in the 12th) or providing comfort to foreigners.

Mars

Mars is typically the last planet we think about when we think meditation. He’s energy can be difficult to work with in classical sitting meditations. Mars in the 12th house gets moksha thru movement and action and overcoming some challenge; not exactly what you think of when you think about meditation, but Mars can get very nice repose/liberation after conquering some inner battle or competition. Mars likes to feel like he’s risen to the challenge and overcome. Many of the Yogis I work with in Canada have some Mars influence on 12th house combining movement with meditation. His aspect on the 3rd house from here gives courage & on 6th house allows them to take action (especially exercise) to overcome their obstacles. Of course, Mars must be a beneficial planet in their chart.

Modern postural yoga isn’t the only way to meditate with Mars influencing the 12th house. Walking meditation in a scene set by the sign in the 12th house can also be very good. Jupiter’s aspect can help by giving Mars something to believe in, and in some conditions an aspect from the Moon can cool him. Moon and Mars in angles from each other are said to be very powerful spiritual placement. (Especially in women, but men too, Moon in 6th can give foreign husband and foreign lovers.)

Unless Saturn is involved somehow, Mars will not like to follow the same practice all the time which is why a Jupiter aspect can keep Mars from wasting too much time roaming; he likes both direct action (Aries) and in-direct action (Scorpio). He works best within a structured environment (Capricorn) to focus his drive.

Trekking in the areas indicated by rasi can be very beneficial as can retreat centres which offer various activities (determined by rasi, as well as aspecting and tenanting graha). If this Mars tenants the 12th or the 6th house, this person may appreciate the healing benefits of yoga and exercise. Mars in the 9th house aspects the 12th house which can make a spiritual warrior willing to fight for their beliefs. The 9th house will bring some influence of the wisdom culture into their action even in Jupiter is not involved.

Those with Mars in the 12th can connect to their sense of loss and their own subconscious motivations by offering time or money to charities involved with sports, blood banks, engineering projects; one might alos like to give their time cooking for charitable purposes and perhaps one will even come to manage charities. With a well placed Mars in the 12th house one can become very active in charitable events. One may offer their charitable time as a coach or offer donations to support coaches.

Mercury

Mercury is a communicator. If other things point towards meditation Mercury in the 12th house will talk (communicate) about meditation and alternative realities as the voice from the beyond, but the content of Mercury’s communication is based on the influences upon him rather than his own initiative. This Mercury typically has easy access to the subconscious mind which can be beneficial if those spirits from parallel lives are benefic; but if this is not the case and Mercury is experiencing heavy affliction here then one might just as likely go crazy. From a meditation perspective Mercury likes logical analysis, studying, reading, listening when he’s in the 12th house sanctuary space. Mantra meditation might be effective. Concentration, contemplation, or systematically going over the 4, 11, 25 or 36 tattva in ones mind will bring a strong 12th house Mercury great satisfaction, mental peace and moksha. Journaling can also be very freeing for this Mercury

Those with Mercury in the 12th house should offer much support for educational opportunities and to students; summer camps or other types of education which can be fun and games. One should also offer their time and money to literacy programs.

Jupiter

Jupiter’s influence on the 12th house will expand our mind and one will seek and gain wisdom thru meditation. This is an excellent placement for meditation and spiritual life. If this Jupiter is in the 8th house, aspecting the 12th, one may follow tantric techniques of meditation (or as a means to access parallel lives, alternate realities, or other dimensions or lokas). The native may undergo numerous changes in life as many different ancestor guides seek to support deep transformative healing. When Jupiter aspects the 12th house from the 4th house one gets abundant comforts including those of meditative sanctuary. They are likely to have a strong foundation of humanistic or spiritual education. A strong Jupiter in 12th can lead to wisdom priestly roles in the ashram. They will seek moksha thru wisdom, knowledge & expansion. As strong Jupiter here is not likely to need much direction for meditation as their sense of discrimination will be especially strong in this area of their lives.

Those with Jupiter in the 12th house are generally very charitable and have a natural affinity for ashrams, monasteries and those secluded places that emphasis higher spiritual knowledge. These people are often jnana yogis who use knowledge as their means of liberation. They should offer their time and money to support higher education, spiritual events, children, gurus. These people might like to give directly to a church or religious institution or anything that expands the horizons of young impressionable minds.

Venus

Venus in the 12th house will give us a great appreciation for all things foreign and meditative. They will like beautiful ashrams or quite often prefer more of a spa/resort style retreat. They will likely seek moksha thru enjoyment. For meditation it’s advised that one sets a very nicely decorated room set aside for this purpose. Quartz and crystal might also prove beneficial allowing the mind to find release, flowers fine silks and fine art will also bring a soothing influence to the 12th house sub-conscious mind influenced by Venus. Visualization of clear bright light, imaginative vision quests, practices of loving compassion surrounded by beautiful things and feeling oneself to be beautiful; perfumed and all of that. The key to the the 12th house is to give all of this to god and not seek to gain by it in any way. And by gain I mean not only money, but also attention to ourselves by doing these things publicly or talking about our 12th house experiences or sadhana. What happens when we talk the 12th house and seek gain or reputation thru them? We loose energy, vital force. We want to leave our losses behind us, the more we carry them with us the more we are lost to ourselves. But unless the 12th house owner is in the 12th house, we will carry those losses with us somewhere but this is quite another topic.

One with Venus influenceing the 12th house can connect to the depths of the house by offering time or money to organizations for the advancement of women’s rights, artistic ventures (especially music and harmony), family values, genetic research, language programs, negotiations, or any other mission which is to bring people together. Venus rules over the image we project and bringing harmony to the environment she influences. She will like it if we meditate on our senses to give us greater sensitivity and awareness to our experience of them

Saturn

A benefic Saturn influencing the 12th house will allow one to most smoothly burn their meditative karma in a cold, dry place; isolated and alone; sitting for long periods. Saturn’s influence on the 12th house can be very nice for meditation and long periods of silence and stillness. A more troublesome Saturn influencing the 12th house can restrict one from the sort of sanctuary one needs for meditation. They may not have adequate alone time for such practices. For example, Saturn in the 10th house aspecting the 12th house the native may stay up late working and may be the last one to leave the office.

If Saturn is in the 6th house aspecting the 12th house, the worry and tension of life’s obstacles and limitations may keep one up at night and disturb their sleep. Saturn also aspects the 12th house from the 3rd house, which can be nice for group meditation. Saturn’s influence on a person’s 12th house can exert a bit of pressure as that inner voice repeats a narrative of scarcity and restriction. However, this 10th aspect on the 12th house can also make one feel like they have some responsibility for the groups meditative or retreat experience. If Saturn is in the 12th house aspecting the 6th, then one’s own inner voice tends to victimize the native to some degree. On the other hand, this energy can be very successfully to put to use in a ministry of service in foreign lands or isolated ashram or retreat centres for which the rasi, aspecting or tenanting graha will specify.

Saturn promotes renunciation, sacrifice for higher cause, stillness, patience, commitment. He likes his space to be simple and cool with dark blues and purples. He is cautious and slow to change and has an appreciation for structure, repetition like mantra and japa (some Venus influence on such a Saturn can give Hare-Krishna or other kirtan or bhajan paths that are harmonious structured & repetitive), repeat in the same practice over and over again. With positive Mars influence on Saturn you and everything well placed you can get a Ashtanga Yogi with a very structured and challenging practice. These two can become very mechanical; for better of worse.

Saturn generally likes a socially approved practice (Capricorn) or even taking retreat with large groups (Aquarius). If we consider those who have Pisces rising, this puts Aquarius in the 12th house. Pisces lagna may self identify with Pisces/12th house things, so when they go to their 12th house retreats and meditative sanctuaries they may do so in a way that connects them with a large interlocking network and they are likely to occasionally get together for special retreat events including meditation that allows that to harness the group intention and energy. They will seek moksha thru restriction, renunciation & cold harsh structure. Although sitting in meditation may come naturally; access to the subconscious mind will likely take time and technique. There may be many delays, restrictions and setback in ones meditative path; but commitment here will produce results.

Saturn in the 12th will give you a service or manual labour role at the ashram; gardening perhaps. Mars and Saturn together can give a craftsman of some kind, but it has to be a pretty special arrangement between these two to in the 12th house to bring you to an Ashram as they would more likely find less wholesome means of enjoying themselves behind closed doors.

One should offer charitable donations to the elderly, the crippled, labourers, race relations or those organizations whose mission relates with providing structure or administration.

Concluding Remarks

The 12th house can a be a difficult house to remedy because of the inherent loss of connection or control we feel here as our ancestral spirits seek to impose their agenda on us. We appear to be living in a particular time and place, but the deeper truth is that all times, places and dimensions are co-existing simultaneously and we can see the overlap most clearly thru the 12th house. The remedies for this house are therefore to help us feel empowered in those areas where our power (vital force) is being drained.

The Dussthana houses 6, 8 & 12 the areas where we need to be most diligent in releasing our expectations 1. to be appreciated for our activity (6th house), 2. that as individuals we are in control of our destiny (8th house), and 3. that material gain is meaningful (12th house). Every house, planet & sign in astrology is trying to show us the deeper reality of our spiritual nature. These three houses are the more difficult task-masters: loss of autonomy, loss of control, and loss of everything. So, we learn to assert ourselves in some way; we become drawn into looking more deeply into life allowing us to make changes that will allow us greater control over our destiny (9th house spirituality is the wealth of our 8th house research as we have to modify our beliefs to match that new knowledge). The 12th house, our meditative, subconscious mind is the creative expression of the 8th house research into the depths, as well as the place where are beliefs are most comfortable. Whenever we think we have nothing left to give the 12th house shows us where we did indeed still something left to give. In this way we realize the value of what we have gained in this life. Or to put it another way, the true value of all of our hopes and profits and network connections will be seen by how much we have to loose in the 12th house. The more we give of our time and energy and money and service, the more we will most certainly value what we have earned thru the 11th house.

We are our own greatest obstacle to change (the 1st house is 6th from 8th), but we (our 1st house body and personality) is the creative expression of our beliefs (5th from 9th). Our beliefs shine thru our 1st house; they take to the stage, they play. Life is but a play of our beliefs; a speculation of faith. In other words, this life is nothing but the play of Lord Shiva or which ever name or silence you give to God.