It is a busy, dynamic month in the skies above

If you’ve been feeling a little ragged, a little slacked, a little wrung out — look to the skies for reasons why. Tim Miller fills you in via his blog post this week:

Mercury ended its three-week retrograde on February 28th. On March 1st, Mars turned retrograde, followed the next day by Saturn. On March 6th, Jupiter turned direct. This represents a lot of changing of directions of planets within a short amount of time. How does this affect us? Well, I can only offer what I have observed over the past 10 days. As a yoga teacher, people come to me all the time with their physical complaints, but I must say, in the past week, I’ve been hearing more complaining about aches and pains and setbacks in other areas of life than usual.

The one thing I know: All those planets continue to conspire against our making it down to the Ashtanga Yoga Center, as we should be (at least once a month). We do have our eyes on this workshop on April 5, though. But we just need a plain, old visit.

On another front, the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence announced two new lectures during the May event: One by Richard Freeman, the other by Dr. Manoj Chalam. Info at the schedule page.

Posted by Steve

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Mercury Day Poetry: “Spring and Fall”

There’s a little maple tree outside our front door that sometimes has trouble deciding when Winter’s coming. Even in December, Southern California weather never sends a clear message, and the little tree is perpetually confused. Right now, half the leaves have gone gold, and the other half are still green. A few scattered leaves surround it, as if they were reluctant to let go.

If you take a close look at the branches, everywhere it’s pushed out a yellowed leaf, a tiny green bud is already sprouting. It’s made me wonder if the tree has a message for me about change. In that vein, today’s poem is from Gerard Manley Hopkins. In the poem, the poet ponders the lesson of the woods. The little girl he’s walking with begins to cry when she sees the leaves dropping from trees. “That time of year thou mayest in me behold,” says Shakespeare. “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” counters Shelley.

Spring and Fall

to a young child
MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older         
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:        
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Posted by Bobbie

Mercury day poetry: Two Divine Images

And now for something completely different.

'The Divine Image,' Songs of Innocence

William Blake’s most accessible work — I say that with a healthy irony, as “most accessible” doesn’t mean much when one considers “Jerusalem” or “The Four Zoas” — is his collection of shorter poems, “Songs of Innocence and Experience.” You probably know “The Tyger” from your high school English class, although maybe not fondly.

Well, despite what your horrible high school English teacher suggested, it’s great stuff. And there’s no way I can do it justice or provide all the context I’d like. (For instance, they all are engraved / art work, so just the words are but part of the whole.)  Suffice it to say the two perspectives — innocence and experience — give you one filter through which to read the poems.

Here’s a taste. The two “The Divine Image” poems. You can decide if they are meant as a pair. First the Innocence one and then the Experienced.

The Divine Image

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

All pray in their distress;

And to these virtues of delight

Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Is God, our father dear,

And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,

Pity a human face,

And Love, the human form divine,

And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,

That prays in his distress,

Prays to the human form divine,

Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,

In heathen, turk, or jew;

Where Mercy, Love, & Pity dwell

There God is dwelling too.

The Divine Image

Cruelty has a Human Heart,

And Jealousy a Human Face;

Terror the Human Form Divine,

And Secrecy the Human Dress.

The Human Dress is forged Iron,

The Human Form a fiery Forge,

The Human Face a Furnace seal’d,

The Human Heart is hungry Gorge.

Timji on Mercury, saucha and Virgo

Tim Miller’s latest post is up on his Facebook page here.

A quick glimpse:

So we begin by observing good personal hygiene, eating a pure diet, practicing asanas and pranayama and getting plenty of rest. Our health and our perspective both improve. Physical purity is the foundation that allows the continued evolution of saucha in the realm of the Mind and the Spirit. Gradually our Tamasic and Rajasic qualities begin to diminish and we become more Sattvic—letting go of inertia and agitation and embracing well being and peace of mind.

Mercury is still in retrograde until Friday and the New Moon is Sunday, so I may postpone my new program of increased self-discipline to promote the cultivation of saucha until Monday.

Check out the link for it all.

Posted by Steve

Mercury day poetry: ‘Oh Beauty Exceeding’

Close-up of Bernini's great 'Ecstasy of St. Teresa'

Week two in our Mercury day poetry series brings us another Christian mystic: St. Teresa of Avila.

She preceded — historically — our poet from last week, St. John of the Cross. Both weave similar themes and images into their works about uniting with the Divine. What always has drawn me to their work is the tinge of danger, horror or pain they portray. That comes through in the look on her face in Bernini’s sculpture, “Ecstasy of St. Teresa,” pictured to the left. Does that look like ecstasy to you?

In other words, reaching the Divine may not be exactly what we’re expecting.

But that won’t stop us from grasping forth.

Oh Beauty Exceeding

Oh Beauty exceeding
All other beauties!
Paining, but You wound not
Free of pain You destroy
The love of creatures.

Oh, knot that binds
Two so different,
Why do You become unbound
For when held fast You strengthen
Making injuries seem good.

Bind the one without being
With being unending;
Finish, without finishing,
Love, without having to love,
Magnify our nothingness.

Posted by Steve