THE GALACTIC BUTTERFLY
madhubani painting by
The fact that a lot of our Yoga poses, Asanas in sanskrit, represent animals is not merely a coincidence. Supposedly, the ancient Rishis believed that naming a number of our asanas for the animals with which we share the world, would allow us to establish a connection with those beings. There is a parallel story in the King Arthur legends in which Merlin decided that, when Arthur was to become King, he would turn him into a mouse, and subsequently each of the other beings in his soon to be kingdom. This would allow him to experience what it was like to “be” each of the beings, and therefore show more compassion toward them as their King. So, the next time your asana practice takes you into an animal pose, such as pigeon, locust, peacock, dolphin, lizard or frog, try and imagine what it is really like to “be” this particular animal. Try and feel a connection and compassion for each of the animals with which we share the world - even if it is just for a moment.
"Yogic science not only provides knowledge about the underlying basis of metaphysical principles and ethical values, but it also provides the necessary tools to completely transform human nature. Its aim is to bring about perspectives beyond intellectual understanding, and to foster experiences that bring life into a new dimension of perception.
The emphasis of yoga therefore is not on the external and perceivable areas of endeavor, which lead to bondage and limitation, but on the inner and intangible fields, which lead to freedom and perfection. It involves the transformation of a limited being into an unbounded one.
Yoga is both a philosophy and a science. The philosophy and the science of yoga are not only intertwined and inseparable, they also reinforce each other. The philosophy emphasizes the existence of the Self within. The science is the method that verifies this doctrine by setting out certain kinds of discipline, certain techniques and practices that enable the emergence of the true being within us.Yoga is the path towards the union of our bounded self with our ultimate nature. This union results in self-realization - Mukti or Nirvana. Through perfect yoga this freedom is attained. Yoga is not something one does; it is the medium of one becoming the crucible of self-transformation. It is not a practice, but a certain way to be. Yoga deepens, broadens and strengthens the visionary power of the mind. It opens the door of that realm of sensing beyond the five senses.
In the yogic scriptures it is said that there were originally 8,400,000 Asanas, which represent the 8,400,0000 incarnations every individual must pass through before attaining liberation from the cycle of birth and death. These Asanas represented a progressive evolution from the simplest form of lite to the most complex : that of a fully realised human being. Down through the ages the great rishis and yogis modified and reduced the number of asanas to the few hundred known today. Of these few hundred, only the eighty-four are most useful. Asanas may be classified as:
1. Meditative Asanas – Asanas are sitting pastures, which maintain the body in steady and comfortable condition. By various arrangement of the legs and hands different Meditative asasnas are formed. The characteristic feature of meditative asana is however, keeping the head, neck and trunk erect. eg. Sidhasana, padmasana. etc.
2. Cultural Asanas : This type of asana involves static stretching, which bring about proper tone of the muscles. They contribute to the flexibility of the spine and render back and spinal muscles stronger. They also stimulate proper working of the vital oragons in the thoracic and abdominal cavities. These are innumerable varieties of cultural asanas which are performed in sitting, lying and standing positions.a. Backward bending asana – Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana, Dhanurasana, Chakrasanab. Forward bending asana – Paschimottauasau, Pada hastasana.c. Sprial Twisting asanas – Ardha Matsyendera asana.d. inverted asanas – Sarvangasana, Sirshasana.e. Balancing asanas – Garud asana, Natarajasana, uttbita Hasta padangusthasana.
3. Reparative Asanas : This type of asanas are performed in the lying position and are meant for giving rest to the body and wind. eg. Savasana, makarasana.Technique and Utility. Every asana has its individual technique. but certain guidelines to be followed during practice of asanas. Although anybody can practise asanas, they become more effacious and beneficial when performed in the proper manner after correct preparation.
Breathing : Always breathe through the nose unless specific instructions are given to the contrary. Try to coordinate the breath with the asana practice.
Awareness : This is as essential to the practice of asana as it is to all yoga practices. The purpose of asana practice is to influence, integrate and harmonise all the levels of being : physical, pranic, mental, emotional, psychic and spiritual. At first it may appear that asanas are merely concerned with the physical level because try deal with the movement of different parts of the body. Actually, however they has profound effects at every level of being if key are combined with awareness.
Relaxation : Shavasana may be performed at any point during asana practice, especially when feeling physically or mentally tired. It should also be practised on completion of the asana programme.Sequence – After completing shatkarma, asana should be done, followed by pranayama, then pratyahara and dharana which lead to meditation.
Counterpose : When practising the middle and advanced group of asanas particularly, it is important that the programe is structured so that backward bends are followed by forward bends and vice versa and that whatever is practised on one side of body is repeated on the other side. This concept of counterpose is necessary to bring the body back to a balanced state.
No straining : Never exert undue force while doing asanas. Beginners may find their muscles stiff at first, but after several weeks of regular practice key will be surprised to find that their muscles are more supple.
Age limitations : Asana may be practised by people all age groups, male and female.
Contra-indications : People with fractured bones or who are suffering from chronic ailments and diseases such as stomach ulcer, tuberculosis or hernia and those recuperating from operations, should consult a yoga teacher or doctor before commencing asanas.A seer named Gheranda has listed the following 32 as the more important of the 84 asanas :"
(1) Sidhasana (Perfect Posture),
(2) Padmasana (lotus posture)
(3) Bhadrasana (Blessed posture)
(4) Muktasana (liberated posture)
(5) Vajarasana (Adamantine posture)
(6) Svastikasana (Svastika posture)
(7) Simhasana (Lion posture)
(8) Gomukhasana (Cow-head posture)
(9) Virasana (Hero’s posture)
(10) Dhanurasana (Bow posture)
(11) Mrtasana (Corpse posture)
(12) Guptasana (Concealed posture)
(13) Matsyasana (fish posture)
(14) Matsyendrasna (Matsyendra posture)
(15) Goraksana (Goraksa Posture)
(16) Pascimottanasava (Posterior-stretch posture)
(17) Utkatasana (squatting posture)
(18) Sankatasana (Contracted posture)
(19) Mayurasa (Peacock posture)
(20) Kukkutasana (Cock posture)
(21) kurmasana (Tortoise posture)
(22) Uttana Kurmasana (stretched tortoise posture)
(23) Uttanamandukasana (Stretched frog posture)
(24) Vrkasana (Tree posture)
(25) Mandukasana (Frog posture)
(26) Garud asana (Eagle posture)
(27) Vrsabhasana (Ox posture)
(28) Salabhasana (locust posture)
(29) Makrasana (Crocodile posture)
(30) ustrasana (camel posture)
(31) Bhujangasana (Cobra posture)
(32) Yogasana (Yoga posture)
These asanas are capable of bestowing supernatural powers on men. Only eleven out of these thirty two have been rated as the leading asanas. In Hothayoga Pradipika, Swatmarama, a disciple of Goraksanatha detailed as follows :
1. Perfect posture (Siddhasana)
2. Lotus posture (Padmasana)
3. Cow-head posture (Gomukhasana)
4. Hero’s posture (Virasana)
5. Cock posture (kukkutasana)
6. Stretched-tortoise posture (Uttankurmasan)
7. Bow Posture (Dhanurasana)
8. Matsyendra posture (Matsyendrasana)
9. Posterior-Stretch posture (Paschimottanasana)
10. Peacock Posture (Mayurasana)
11. Corpse Posture (Savasana)
AUG 21–DEC 12, 2010 KATHRYN SPENCE at Mills College ART GALLERY Oakland, CA
Untitled (Great Horned Owl) - pants, coats, shirts, beanie babies + stuffed animal fur, string, wire - 2006
Untitled (Barn Owl) - stuffed animals, coats, towels, wire, string + thread - 2006
Pigeons - street trash, wire, string, rubber bands + glue - 1997
They are beautifully and surprisingly crafted, transcending their ordinary materials. With bodies made from the leftover goods of a consumer society in overdrive. Like "the pigeons" of 1997 made from street trash, the owls too are made from post-consumer materials. Spence sourced all the fabric scraps from her own wardrobe and from clothing and stuffed animals from thrift stores. (Some of the owls are made from shredded Beanie Babies, which is the only good use I have ever heard of for these "collectible" toys.) Her commitment to use recycled materials stand along side her obvious passion for animals and the natural world. From the same interview as above, she has this to say about her consistent use of recycled materials:
Untitled (Snowy Owl) - stuffed animals, plastic bag, curtains, wire + thread - 2006
"A lot of the clothes were my clothes—coats or pants. I liked the ones that looked sort of natural—like herringbone for the back of the great horned owls. I started ripping up some of my clothes, whatever seemed like an owl to me. There is so much stuff; there's no reason to use new stuff. I feel like I'm helping in some kind of absurd way."
Untitled (Short Eared Owl) - stuffed animals, towel, coat, wire + thread - 2006
Had a little verbal scuffle with a friend tonight over whether this is the finish line of the Mayan Calendar or whether this Calendar end is ongoing right into another cycle thus a beginning, a becoming. I had to retort her facts of finiteness of which she felt she was well informed. Admittedly she threw me off and I was unable to answer without emotion. I was confused by the adamancy of her statement and by the statements in our media in the bigger picture .... so I have had to refer back to my notes on this subject. I just want to clarify to all who may be misperceiving this topic as well because of the sensationalism surrounding the date. Our need to create some Hollywood moment out of what is a never ending story and believing the end of a calendar is potentially deconstructive.
THE TREES WHO TALKED
We speak to you now
As ones, who like you,
Are much younger than
Sustained by the same Water
And the same Sun
And both blessed to be
In this place of wonder,
We have been asked to tell you
To share and celebrate
This Garden with your kind
The Bear brings you power,
The Deer, protection
We, the Trees, standing silently
In witness, give you trust
The Water comes and goes
The Animals are busy
On their own paths
The Mountains, well,
They have other things to do,
Communing with the very forces
That created the face
Of this Earth
We speak to you now as ones
Whose lives come and go,
Much like yours.
You, however, are affecting
How this Garden grows
And that is why we seek
First let's look reversely at when the Mayan's believed the world began, August 11, 3114 B.C. that was sometime around (according to anthropology all the world over) when Paternalistic society overthrew Maternalism as the dominant force in human societies - so perhaps the end of this Calendar simply means a return to Feminine Principles, of love for the planet rather than our current version as domination of Nature.
Yes I agree perhaps we are reaching this new dawn. An enlightenment, a step towards progression, in that humankind would become more aware of their surroundings and the impact that they have on the Earth as well as a higher intelligence, consciousness and a better mindset for helping their fellow human rather than when Mother Nature finally decides to shrug off the oppressiveness that has been created by the children and start anew. I hope we do not just end up living through another doomsday prophecy, going to work or school as usual, looking back on the prophecies and laughing them off. Peter may have cried wolf too often for our cynical minds.
Back to the calendar: Indeed it is cyclical and this new TIME is infinite in its procession as the universe is out there and the planets will continue their rotations around each other.....so just based on that we are not approaching an end but rather a beginning of a completely NEW CYCLE where we will all be the co- creators in our Future and the Universe whether we do so in awareness or unconsciousness is up to us. That's what the Mayans believed. The last 20 days in their calendar transforms us into UNIVERSAL co-creators so therefore that is NOT an ending - how can anyone see it as such?
I was in Guatemala in November 2008 with the intention of learning something more from the locals about this date which is now noted as wrong -as the exact alignment with the milky way is said to take place in October of 2011. So even the date could be off / or debatable but one thing certain is the Mayans keep saying "Be prepared".
The fact remains, the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy is purely based on a calendar which we believe(yes US, colonialists, limited scientists and Gregorian fatalists) hasn’t been designed to calculate dates beyond 2012. Mayan archaeo-astronomers are even in debate as to whether the Long Count is designed to be reset to 0.0.0.0.0 after 22.214.171.124.0, or whether the calendar simply continues to 126.96.36.199.0 (approximately 8000 AD) and then reset.
"First, whenever a calendar comes to the end of a cycle, it just rolls over into the next cycle. In our Western society, every year 31 December is followed, not by the End of the World, but by 1 January. So 188.8.131.52.0 in the Mayan calendar will be followed by 0.0.0.0.1 - or good-ol' 22 December 2012, with only a few shopping days left to Christmas." Karl S. Kruszelnicki -a scientist, who is best known as an author and science commentator on Australian radio and television. He is usually referred to as Dr Karl. He holds degrees in mathematics, biomedical engineering, medicine and surgery. He has also studied astrophysics, computer science, and philosophy. He has worked as a physicist, labourer, roadie for bands, car mechanic, film-maker, hospital scientific officer, biomedical engineer, TV weatherman, taxi driver, and medical doctor. (Click on his name for full article
Please read on this article by Jim Papp back in 1998 who has done the research very ahead of our doomsday media:
"Most of us are not archaeologists or astronomers, anthropologists or astrologers. Yet the majority of what is written about one of the most exciting and relevant subjects of our day - the approaching Winter Solstice 2012 end-date of the Mayan Calendar - appears in words aimed at specialists and couched in language that can be hard to read. This article is written for the Everyday Earthling who may be hearing a lot about the Mayans, their calendars, hieroglyphs and mysterious temples scattered throughout the jungles of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.
Let us begin with some questions. Why is there so much talk about the "end of the Mayan calendar" and what does it mean? Is there something significant we should know about the Winter Solstice date of December 21, 2012? How were the Mayans able to track long periods of time and why would they want to? Why should we care about the Mayans today? Is there anything we can learn from them? I'll begin by sharing how my own interest in the subject developed and go on from there.
I first learned about the Mayans in 1987 from Jose Arguelles' book The Mayan Factor. It was during the months leading up to the event known as Harmonic Convergence that Arguelles, artist and visionary, introduced me to the 20 Mayan daysigns and the thirteen Mayan numbers - and to the wonderfully engaging and mysterious 260 day Mayan ceremonial calendar, called the Tzolkin (pronounced chol-kin). My pursuit of knowledge about pre-Columbian culture had begun.
A great deal of scientific and visionary research work has been done about the Mayans, so I started reading. I learned that the Mayans tracked cycles within cycles within cycles of time. Their calendar acted as a harmonic calibrator, linking and coordinating the earthly, lunar, solar and galactic seasons in an aesthetically simple and elegant manner. The provocative simplicity of the daysigns and the sheer harmony of the calendar drew me in. Then a landmark article by John Major Jenkins appeared in Mountain Astrologer magazine in 1994, revealing for the first time in our era the true meaning of the end-date.
Is there something significant we should know about the Winter Solstice date of December 21, 2012? Yes. On this day a rare astronomical and Mayan mythical event occurs. In astronomic terms, the Sun conjuncts the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic. The Milky Way, as most of us know, extends in a general north-south direction in the night sky. The plane of the ecliptic is the track the Sun, Moon, planets and stars appear to travel in the sky, from east to west. It intersects the Milky Way at a 60 degree angle near the constellation Sagittarius.
The cosmic cross formed by the intersecting Milky Way and plane of the ecliptic was called the Sacred Tree by the Maya. The trunk of the tree, the Axis Mundi, is the Milky Way, and the main branch intersecting the tree is the plane of the ecliptic. Mythically, at sunrise on December 21, 2012, the Sun - our Father - rises to conjoin the center of the Sacred Tree, the World Tree, the Tree of Life..
This rare astronomical event, foretold in the Mayan creation story of the Hero Twins, and calculated empircally by them, will happen for many of us in our lifetime. The Sun has not conjoined the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic since some 25,800 years ago, long before the Mayans arrived on the scene and long before their predecessors the Olmecs arrived. What does this mean?
Due to a phenomenon called the precession of the equinoxes, caused by the Earth's wobble that lasts almost 26,000 years, the apparent location of the Winter Solstice sunrise has been ever so slowly moving toward the Galactic Center. Precession may be understood by watching a spinning top. Over many revolutions the top will rise and dip on its axis, not unlike how the Earth does over an extremely long period of time. One complete rise and dip constitutes the cycle of precession.
The Mayans noticed the relative slippage of the positions of stars in the night sky over long periods of observation, indicative of precession, and foretold this great coming attraction. By using an invention called the Long Count, the Mayans fast-forwarded to anchor December 21, 2012 as the end of their Great Cycle and then counted backwards to decide where the calendar would begin. Thus the Great Cycle we are currently in began on August 11, 3114 B.C. But there's more.
The Great Cycle, lasting 1,872,000 days and equivalent to 5,125.36 years, is but one fifth of the Great Great Cycle, known scientifically as the Great Year or the Platonic Year - the length of the precession of the equinoxes. To use a metaphor from the modern industrial world, on Winter Solstice A.D. 2012 it is as if the Giant Odometer of Humanity on Earth hits 100,000 miles and all the cycles big and small turn over to begin anew. The present world age will end and a new world age will begin.
Over a year's time the Sun transits through the twelve houses of the zodiac. Many of us know this by what "Sun sign" is associated with our birthday. Upping the scale to the Platonic Year - the 26,000 year long cycle - we are shifting, astrologically, from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. The Mayan calendar does not really "end" in 2012, but rather, all the cycles turn over and start again, vibrating to a new era. It is as if humanity and the Earth will graduate in the eyes of the Father Sun and Grandmother Milky Way.
Why should we care about the Mayans today? Is there anything we can learn from them? The trees give us oxygen to breathe and help create the nourishing rains upon which we depend, sustaining life. We are missing these rains in places where the trees have been cut down or burned. Fires begin that nature can no longer extinguish. For the Mayans, trees were intermediaries between the physical and spiritual worlds, and absolutely essential to life. They believed that without the tree man could not survive and that "with the death of the last tree comes the death of the human race."
The ancient carved stones and the stars themselves tell us we are on the brink of a new world age. There is no reason not to take a leap of faith into imagining what may be in store. We may trust that it is time for humanity to awaken into a true partnership with each other, with the Earth, and the Cosmos. By accepting this partnership we may claim our birthright and become Galactic Citizens who care for and sustain the planet, thus sustaining ourselves. This is clearly the challenge of our times. Yet, arriving just in time and on schedule is the Winter Solstice dawn on the day we may remember that we are truly Children of the World."
This article is copyleft 1998 by Jim Papp, Bellingham, Washington 98226 USA. You can email him if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
1987Arguelles, Jose The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology. Bear and Company,
Santa Fe, New Mexico Freidel, David, Linda Schele and Joy Parker BY THE WAY JOY PARKER IS MY COUSIN
1993 Maya Cosmos:- 3000 Years on the Shaman's Path. William Morrow and Co., New York Jenkins, John Major
1994 Tzolkin:- Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies.Borderland Sciences Research Foundation, Garberville, California
1994 The How and Why of the Mayan End-Date in A.D. 2012. The Mountain Astrologer, Cedar Ridge, California.
1998 Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. Bear and Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico MacAdams, Cynthia, Hunbatz Men and Charles Bensinger
1991 Mayan Vision Quest. HarperCollins Publishers, New York Men, Hunbatz
1990 Secrets of Mayan Science and Religion.Bear and Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico