Tim Miller on the rare Venus Retrograde, and why it’s time to start meditating

Tim Miller is back to what I think of as the core feature of his Tuesdays with Timji blog: making sense of the night sky for us.

As I’ve heard it, Tim got interested in Vedic Astrology as he was struggling to figure out why his Ashtanga practice could vary so much from day to day. As is clear from hearing him talk or reading his blog, he’s expanded his knowledge of the skies beyond just the Vedic perspective.

Earlier this week, we had a rare occurrence: Venus going retrograde — and something even rarer on the figurative horizon (or is it literal in this case?). Here’s Tim explaining it:

This phenomenon occurs approximately every 18 months for about six weeks at a time, so, in relation to the other planets, which turn retrograde more often and stay that way longer, this is a relatively rare occurrence. … On June 5th the Sun and Venus will be conjunct, and from some vantage points, Venus will appear as a small black dot moving across the face of the sun for about seven hours. This phenomenon (such a close conjunction of Venus and the Sun) has not occurred since 1882 and will not happen again in our lifetime. Venus will then gradually shift to the other side of the Sun, reappearing on June 13th as the “Morning Star” just above the eastern horizon before sunrise. In the Mayan culture, this transition of Venus from an “Evening Star” to a “Morning Star” symbolizes the rebirth of Venus after spending some time in the underworld.

Tim goes on to explain what you might want to avoid and what to expect during the next six weeks. He also lays forth the meaning of this weekend’s new moon:

The New Moon on Sunday May 20th occurs at 4:47pm PDT in the Nakshatra known as Krittika. Krittika means “the one who cuts”, and is related to the English word “critical”. Krittika has a piercing quality which seeks to get to the root of any situation and which can sometimes come across as perfectionism or fault finding, but is very effective in cutting through the bullshit and getting the job done.

What this means in the Confluence household, I think, is this: We need to quit dawdling and get to meditating as yet another part of our preparation for our end of the year Yatra.

In other words, it is time to cut through the bullshit reasons we have not to sit our asses down and quiet our mind. To which I say: Crap.

Posted by Steve

Tim Miller tells us: There’s a lot going on in the sky right now

The skies are up to their old tricks, as Tim Miller informs us in this week’s Tuesdays with Timji post. And what might seem bad, could really be good; and what would seem good, well, it might not be.

That’s just the way of things, right? And thus — it’s best to let your ego go so you remain less affected. Here are a few excerpts:

Just in case you missed the news, Mercury, that old trickster, turned retrograde yesterday morning and will remain so until April 4th. The gift of Mercury retrograde is to slow us down a bit with unforeseen difficulties and delays, so we don’t just go on charging blindly ahead in our lives, sometimes to our peril. It is a time to work on completing unfinished business in both the physical and emotional realms, to reflect on the recurring patterns (physical, mental, and emotional) that sometimes create havoc in our lives, and to make some course corrections. This is a wonderful time for Swadhyaya (self study), for reconnecting with the sacred texts and recommitting ourselves to our Sadhana.


Jupiter’s influence, in many ways, is opposite to that of Venus. While Venus transmutes spirit into matter in a scattering and dividing process, Jupiter strives to return us to a state of unity and wholeness, to transform materiality into spirituality. Jupiter is completely unified with the ascending evolutionary force, fully surrendered to the Divine Will. His every action demonstrates his concern in the welfare of others and the evolution of humanity. Jupiter is called “Guru”—the dispeller of darkness.

You will have to click on the link to find out whether Tuesday turned out to be a good day — with darkness dispelled — for Tim.

Posted by Steve


This week’s Tuesday with Timji is a revealing one

After his break — well, hard-working break — in Tulum, Tim Miller is back with a very classic Tuesday with Timji post. Lots of astrology, plenty of Hanuman and a few self-revealing words:

The full moon today at 1:54 pm is in the nakshatra called Ashlesha—the “entwiner”– symbolized by a coiled snake and ruled by Swarpa, the king of the Nagas (half serpent/half human creatures). Ashlesha is related to the Kundalini Shakti, the latent energy coiled three and a half times around the sushumna nadi between the muladhara and swadisthana chakras. This nakshatra gives us great appetites in the physical and emotional realms, making us gluttonous in regards to food and insatiable in our sexuality and our desire to entwine ourselves around others, sometimes in an emotionally manipulative way.

You will have to read his post to find out what this has to do with Hanuman, Sita, Rama and Ravana. I do love the way he both tells this story and how he relates it to each of us. It is worth checking out to get a little taste of that. I will give a quick spoiler: Everything works out. But not without a lot of suffering.

I will give away his revealing detail, though:

At the risk of revealing more of my self than I should, I’ll let you in on a little secret–Moon in Ashlesha is of particular interest to me because this is my natal moon position. Of all the nakshatras of the Zodiac, this is considered to be the most challenging. If not for the intervention of yoga in my life,

But not the punchline. You’ll have to go to his post to find out what would have happened.

Posted by Steve

Tim Miller on Mars Retrograde, a small class and agni

Very quick digression before we get to the main event.

One of the little joys I’ve gotten from this blog has been how it has forced me — perhaps I can put that more positively and say, “instilled discipline” — to follow the five Confluence teachers more closely.

And so I’ve read things by and about all of them. It has helped me develop a sense of them, a picture, my own particular portrait. It may be far off from the truth, but it’s something, and it is something against which I will be able to measure them in March.

Tim Miller was no stranger, luckily enough. And I had been reading his “Tuesdays with Timji” well before this blog began. That doesn’t make them any less wonderful. They are particularly so when they crack the window on Tim and provide a sense of his sense of humor, his humility and his perspective on himself.

This week’s does that — and much more. I’m just a sucker for the “oh, that’s so Tim” moments. Such as:

This morning at 7am, like every Tuesday morning at 7am for the past thirty years, I rolled out my yoga mat in preparation for doing the First Series. Typically 20-25 people show up to do it with me—today there were 8. “What’s going on?” I wondered out loud. “Where is everyone? This is really bad for my self-esteem—normally I have a 10 person minimum,” I joked. (two more students did show up a few minutes later) Then I remembered that Mars turned retrograde yesterday evening, so I could blame the energy of sinister planets rather than thinking that I’m losing my appeal in my old age.

That’s right, folks. Mars has turned retrograde, again — and will in fact remain that way through and beyond the Confluence.

It’s not all bad, though, as Tim’s post points out. If nothing else, it is a great excuse to re-read the Ramayana.

But first, make sure you read Tim’s latest. And watch your agni!

Posted by Steve

Tim Miller explains his focus on astrology

I’m not sure longtime Ashtangis need this explanation, but if you are new to practicing Ashtanga or new to all things Tim Miller, it might be helpful. I know I sort of “got it” when it was explained to me why Tim has become such an expert on astrology (the Vedic astrology part I intuited).

Here he is from this week’s Tuesdays with Timji:

Soon after I began to practice yoga 34 years ago, I began to notice that the same practice, done on different days, was a very different experience.  Some days the practice was fun and seemed almost effortless, and on other days, everything hurt and it was a torturous experience from beginning to end.  The cause of this variability of experience was unclear to me.  It didn’t necessarily seem to have anything to do with the amount of sleep that I got, the purity of my diet, or the general state of my relationships.

Wait, wait… so what was it? (I’ve kind of ruined the punch line, right?)

Seeking more clarification about this mystery, I began to learn about astrology.  Over the years it has become a hobby of mine and, nowadays is often a subject of my blog.

There you have it. Tim goes on to give a terrific little primer (I think really helpful for newbies, which includes me still) on Vedic thinking on the stars and a little glimpse into some fun coming later this week.

Posted by Steve

Tim Miller: 2012 ‘should be a very interesting year’

In his first Tuesday with Timji post of 2012, Tim Miller welcomes the looming end of the world:

Personally, I would welcome the end of life as we know it on planet Earth, providing that means an end to a world dominated by greed, exploitation, callous and shallow behavior, violence, selfishness, insensitivity, rampant materialism and superficiality, and the beginning of a world characterized by mutual respect, cooperation, generosity, kindness, compassion and love.

OK, so that’s the fun part. (Of note: I’ve not quite bought the Mayan calendar end of the world predictions.) There’s also plenty of import. Here’s some taste, but really you need to surf on over to the above link and read it all:

This week we come to an official conclusion of the holidays on Friday January 6th with the Feast of the Epiphany—also known as Twelfth Night and Three Kings’ Day…. Epiphany refers to the appearance or reappearance of something that was previously hidden from view. It is a day that has particular significance to me because it marks the anniversary of my first yoga class in 1978, when my own immortal soul made an appearance after many years of being ignored and unrecognized. The Feast of the Epiphany is a day associated with the giving and receiving of gifts—gold, frankincense and myrrh, for example. In my case it was the gift of yoga, the gift that keeps on giving because it is something we can give ourselves every day.

The full moon on Sunday January 8th falls in the nakshatra called Punarvasu, consisting of two bright stars in the constellation Gemini known as Castor and Pollux…. The symbol for Punarvasu is a quiver of arrows. Punarvasu’s quiver represents the resources at our command, but these are not normal arrows. They are considered to be like the Divine Astras used in ancient times, which magically return after fulfilling their mission, conveying the idea of renewal and regeneration.

In other words, we have what we need to get us through 2012. We just have to have the wherewithal to use them wisely. And that’s where the yoga helps.

Posted by Steve

Tim Miller offers a painful lesson in Karma

This week’s Tuesdays with Timji’s is a painful one.

That becomes pretty clear when he opens with this line from Patanjali:

II.1: Heyam dukham anagatam—Avoid the suffering that is yet to come

Tim then relates a story that probably had a lot of people cringing (although I know of one fellow Tulum retreater who might have been having mixed emotions, and she knows who she is!). It ends with Tim in a dentist’s chair for the worst of all dental procedures.

His lesson: “My lesson for this last Mercury retrograde is, “Stupidity should be painful.””

Take a look on over there for all of it, including a reminder that Christmas cheer is important.

I have to wonder if somehow he didn’t pay for his positive spin on this Mercury retrograde? More Karma, maybe, or the planets just having some fun at his expense?

And, not that the student should ever make suggestions to the Guru, but — most humbly — might I note:

Tim, more Hanuman Chalisa for protection! I just read the tale of how Hanuman saves the planets from Ravana, who is trying to stop their movement in order to place them in more auspicious alignment for his final fight with Rama. Hanuman flies in and saves the day (as always) and thus all of the planets offer him praise and boons, meaning Hanuman devotees get special protection from the planets’ ill effects. It isn’t just Saturn and Mars.

As if I need to remind Tim of that!

Posted by Steve