A very brief analysis on the theory of fire from an Ayurvedic and Jyotish perspective:
Fire element has lately been on my mind. Mars has been strong in Scorpio, its own sign, the last couple of months, and even now, in Sagittarius, it continues to be strong.
My own inward pitta has been quite high, befitting the transits, a surge in thinking about fire has flowed forth, and my appreciation of the special place of fire has increased. I hope to show you why.
The five elements in the theory of yoga, Ayurveda, and Jyotish are
I have written before of how the knowing of them is at least equal in beauty, power, and insight as knowing the periodic table.
There are three pitta planets in Jyotish:
The chemistry of combustion is relevant here.
According to the linked material, combustion can happen in only two ways:
1. the relatively unusual method without carbon, used with rocket fuel, e.g.
Here, vata is completely transformed to pitta (the combination of water and fire). Since space element is on both sides of the equation, in effect, air is transformed to pitta.
2. the more common method with carbon, used with charcoal, e.g.
where z = x + y/4.
Here earth and air are completely transformed to air and pitta. Since air is on both sides of the equation, in effect, earth is transmuted to pitta.
Thus, only pitta represents transformation itself.
Kapha can not be transformed into Vata, nor vice versa.
Earth and air can become pitta through methods 1 and 2 above, but again, not vice versa.
Pitta truly is at the apex of the equilateral triangle representing the three doshas of vata, pitta, and kapha.
It is appropriate then that the tantric symbol for fire is the triangle.
which even looks like a flame.
We see this everywhere.
To be sure, fire is needed for any transformation, and transformation is
The heat is tamas, Mars. That is why Mars is a tamasic graha.
The light is Sun. Sattva. That is why the Sun is a sattvic graha.
The flame itself is highly movement-oriented, and rajasic, movement for movement's sake, and may be represented by Ketu.
Thus, pitta represent all three of the mahagunas of sattva, rajas, and tamas.
Finally, to increase your own pitta, including sadhaka pitta of brilliance of the brain, know that fire requires the twin fuels of carbon and oxygen, of earth and air. (Space as well, but that is assumed and everywhere in the equations, unchanging, unmoving, perfect, and everywhere.)
Increase your pitta by eating well (the fuel of carbon) and breathing well (the fuel of oxygen).
Everything else will surely take care of itself, the flames moving to a dance of their own accord, transforming you in a way you can trust, in a way that is uniquely complete.
Thus, only pitta involves the totality of life, the totality of the material universe, of all five of the five elements, as well as all three of the mahagunas.
Fire is life.
Perhaps this is why the all-important first word of the Rig Veda is agni, flame, and perhaps this is why Dr. Lad says that agni, our own inner flame, is our life, its measure, its potential, and its meaning.
This is why one must attend to one's own inner pilot light, one's cellular agni, so that the flames of perception, transformation, and power are lit appropriately. Do you feel your agni may be low? No need for worry. There are herbs for that.
This is really easy! The walnuts and rosemary are said to be so good for the brain, and after eating this, it sure feels that way!
Ingredients (all organic):
1 medium-large butternut squash
4 - 6 oz. goat cheese
2 - 3 oz whole walnuts
1/2 - 1 oz rosemary sprigs
3 to 6 tbsp. ghee
1/2 lb. of dates
Preheat oven to 395 degrees.
Slice off the ends of the cleaned squash. Then, slice the squash in two longways, and then for each half generated, slice in half again.
Clean out seeds and strings. You may want to save them. (See postscript.)
Arrange the squash pieces in a baking dish. Dollop the ghee on them. Align the rosemary sprigs on top. In the sides of the dish, add walnuts.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes in the oven. While it is baking, de-pit the dates and crumble or cube the goat cheese.
After the 45 to 55 minutes of initial baking, pull the squash pan out and add the dates and cheese. Return to the oven for 5 minutes only to melt the cheese, or you can just let the dates and cheese stay firm without this last melt.
P.S. You can toast or bake the squash seeds and extra walnuts separately with a bit of ghee and salt and pepper for 10 minutes for a fun snack for the next day or as part of hors d'oeuvres for this meal.
A Let's Wing It Production.
Organic Soy Flour
Organic Coconut Flour
Ghee or Oil
Organic Vanilla and/or Almond Extract (optional)
Organic Raisins (optional)
Organic Almond Slices (optional)
Mix about 1 cup each of the flours. Then include about 2 1/2 tbsp of yeast (if you are at altitude - less, I think, if you are not). Add about 1 cup of yogurt, 1 - 2 tbsp ghee or oil, and the 1 egg if you are doing that, along with about 1 tbsp of the extract(s). Mix in about 1/4 cup of the sugar and raisins and/or almond slices each. Knead using your favorite method, by hand or in a bread maker.
Add water if it is too dry and extra flour of your favorite type if it is too wet. Making some previous loaves is probably the best way to know if either of those are happening.
Bake at least 1 hour and 15 minutes on light setting in the bread maker if that is what you are using. If you are using an oven, use the equivalent temperature. Godspeed in trying to find out what that is. (I think it might be around 350-375 Fahrenheit.) If you are going this route, keep an eye out for done-ness as soon as 45 minutes in.
Let substantially cool before slicing.
This was baked at medium color setting in a machine. Although the crust is a little darker than I would typically like, it was not really too dark. There is honey on the bread in this picture.
I did this quick project for a friend who wanted to know the best place to put her dollars to get the most protein.
The raw USDA source data can be found here.
Some immediate surprises:
Download the spreadsheet here:
Here is a super popular, quick and easy, New Year’s Day/Dal meal. It actually has been voted in as a weekly Saturday winter dinner at my place, because it is so good. It takes 20 minutes from top to bottom, and costs perhaps $5 for 4-6 servings.
Basically we’re matching up haluska, an Eastern European staple, especially on New Years’, with a side of spiced black eyed peas, popular in the American South on that same day.
They go great together, and your grandma may be proud.
8 oz. wide or curly egg noodles, dried
one medium head of greenish-white cabbage
one medium organic yellow onion
4 tbsps of ghee or oil of choice (I think Sunflower works well here) – I know that sounds like a lot, but you’ll appreciate it later
Bring 2 quarts of salted water to rapid boil. Add only the noodles. Boil for 5 minutes uncovered. Strain. Set aside.
Chop the cabbage and onion into little strips. Sautee in the oil or ghee on medium, stirring frequently. You want the onions to get translucent and perhaps carmelized a bit.
Add 1 teaspoon good (like Celtic) sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Add the noodles and stir thoroughly.
Open 2 cans of Organic Black Eyed Peas. :) (Hey, it’s the holidays. I think it’s ok to take this time-saving step, but if you want to avoid the can, even though you can get them lined, by all means, soak some dried peas the night before, and boil for 1-2 hours in salted water to go the real old old-fashioned route.)
Heat. Add 1 teaspoon dried basil and 1/2 teaspoon bay leaf powder (powerful stuff – I grind my own.) Stir well.
Serve haluska and black eyed peas together with organic sour cream ready to mix on the side which is quite essential!
The high quality spices are of course what give this meal great praana, precious always, but especially while shivering and hunkering in the cold season.
sweet= oil, ghee, noodles, basil, bay leaf, peas
sour= pepper, cabbage, sour cream
pungent= pepper, bay leaf, onion
bitter= cabbage, basil, bay leaf, peas
astringent= cabbage, onion, peas
It is said that the Gods rejoice when a person keeps a vow.
Here is mine, after seeing the movie, Food Inc.
I will only buy the following items, ideally unprocessed, organic and very local when available:
A local seller on Craigslist is allowing me to get a $20 breadmaker in very good condition. That will allow me to take care of breakfast, with good chai on the side. Toasted homemade bread with local butter and farmer’s market peach jam doesn’t sound like scrimping to me.
Let’s see. What else?
For more good ideas and recipes, see http://cookforgood.com/
For more on the why, once you’ve seen the movie, check out the local action at Boulder County Going Local.
all ingredients are organic, most are from the Farmer’s Market; serves 8
perfect for the late spring (Hemant) melting period
3 tablespoons ghee
8 young onions
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons black salt
1 big soup/stock pot
Slice onions thinly and caramelize in the ghee, salt, and pepper for 5 minutes. Then reduce heat.
4 large or 8 medium white turnips; greens removed and saved
1/2 gallon milk
1 pound asparagus
Slice turnips into thin rectangular cubes. Add to caramelized mixture. Stir 3 minutes. Add all of milk. Stir while saying mantra. Turn heat to medium.
Chop turnip greens into small strips and add to the pot.
Allow milk mixture to bubble. (It may take a while.)
After breaking the ends off, chop asperagus into 1 inch long sections. Add to pot.
2 teaspoon dried sage
4 teaspoon dried dill
4 tablespoons pine nuts
3 cups potato flakes
Add all 4.
With soup simmering, add flakes, and stir again well. Serve when all vegetables are cooked through.
Makes you feel terrific.
Representing The 6 Tastes (approximately)
Sweet: ghee, milk, pine nuts, sage
Sour: asparagus, black pepper
Bitter: turnip greens, turnips
Pungent: black pepper, onions
Astringent: asparagus, turnips, dill, potatoes
When I was in my late 20’s, I became naturally involved with raw foods, where my diet consisted of fresh, blended, sprouted, or dried fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables.
I became beautiful. I became pure. I received spontaneous marriage proposals and offers of modeling.
I want to write here why I ended that, before it ended me. By now, I only eat well cooked items, and it has everything to do with Ayurveda.
Late 20’s was an interesting time. I had entered Ketu dasha (Ketu natally in the the tenth), the time of letting go. I certainly did that, but it was also a time of amazing realizations.
For example, classical yoga asanas (postures) would suddenly appear in my heart and mind without any prior exposure. Lacking a yoga mat, I would do them on my open futon, not knowing what I was doing, but doing it well.
After breaking up with my partner of three years I was alone and relished it. I re-evaluated everything with respect to the new body knowledge of “release (asana) is good (Ketu)”.
I led a simple life, then a simpler life, then one of extreme simplicity. I sat on the ground, ate out of a single jar with a single spoon. (Fork tines felt too violent in my hypersensitive body. And chairs with their 4 pointy legs seemed like they hurt the ground and interfered with my connection to it.)
Freshness, purity in my food and water became the focus of my days. I was a quick 2 block bike ride from Whole Foods and soon my oversized bike baskets were filled with gorgeous fruits, sopranic greens, novel grains. My limited money was devoted almost wholly to this.
My eyes started turning from dark brown to greenish blue.
There is actually a type of saddhu in India who lives on only fruits and vegetables. I can see the power of this approach. Looking back, my body was never more sensitive, more aware, more pure, but what was ethereally wafting IN the temple? Alas, just the same me. Finally I realized I couldn’t get rid of that me, and that ethereal essence is the most important thing of all.
How did I begin this journey? One day, I was hypnotically drawn to the book Raw, on the cooking shelf of the local bookstore. With the same fervor that I brought to exploring The Moosewood Cookbook in college, I made every recipe in that beautifully designed book.
I believe that was in May, Colorado’s most outrageously colorful, delightful month. High on the lightness of this food, I felt the blueness of the sky sparkling everywhere overhead, the mountains in the distance were emitting a motherly type of gravitation, birds were out, saying hi.
The sun seemed like it went through and enlivened every cell of my ever thinning body.
Always interested in being active, I found my every step, every turn of my bike wheel, and every breath to be joyous and yes, pure.
I also was deeply alone, and it was great.
I hadn’t received instruction in meditation, but something like meditation would happen spontaneously throughout the day, like the yoga postures earlier. Some kind of innate intelligence was taking over, and I found I could not only trust it, but it was giving me ideas and answers that were consistent with the few Great Teachers that I knew of, such as the Buddha and Jesus Christ.
I was in a swirl of sensation and the foodie in me kept experimenting. My favorites were greens and sprouts. I looked on the internet for hours each day, mostly reading about other raw foods recipes.
There was a raw foods conference in Portland. It was a little pricey for me at $50 but I saved up for a bus ticket and went. My sister, who lived there then, really wanted to host me, to take me to the famous Powell’s Bookstore and a small Thai restaurant nearby.
I wasn’t really interested, relishing my singularity but I felt I should honor my sister, my singularity hadn’t yet turned selfish, and my 17 year long Mercury dasha had not been that long ago, so I had a modicum of interest in books still.
Mostly I chose to share in my sister’s sensibilities and gifts with culture and the written word. I think I looked at raw foods books and their allies in permaculture farming, societal idealization, and so on.
We then went to the restaurant. I had a few grains of cooked rice, the first cooked stuff I had eaten in months. My energy for lack of a more appropriately powerful and encompassing word sank down my spine immediately. I felt very sick.
My sister’s feelings were hurt that I did not enjoy this special meal more.
I left in a dark haze and went to the conference.
There I became happy again, surrounded by people who seemed much like me. I tried jackfruit for the first time and sipped on young coconut. Everyone seemed to be at the same vibration as me.
I met a resplendent young fellow named Tre Arrow. He was quietly and shiningly absorbing all that was around him. We exchanged numbers.
I went home. Fall and then frigid snow set in, Vaata season in our high desert microclimate. In the next two years, I started wigging out, lost my reason, lost more pounds, lost friends, but found Ayurveda, what has become my Great Love.
Dr. Lad would read my pulses at this time, and declared me to be a “4+ Vaata”, compared to what for me should be a 3. Vaata, the cause of disease, was running rampant through my system. I didn’t know yet what havoc it would bring.
I was hard, certain, about continuing raw foods. I was boiled down to my essence and wanted to stay that way.
The other students, amazing people really, couldn’t relate to me, barefoot, eating dried dates like a chipmunk outside in the wind and cold of winter in minimall Albuquerque.
Resisting the comforts and teachings of the Vedas that were all around me, I grasped more tightly to raw food, my only passion, my necessity. (People said I looked wonderful though.)
I could not focus on the teachings. My years of singularity made relating to people, especially such awesome respectable people, very very difficult. Their own sensitivities made me realize my seeming ridiculousness and so my grasp tightened onto raw foods, furthering the cycle of separateness.
I was all Air and Space. There was nothing for the teachings or the other students to grab onto, and frankly I was attached to how free I felt. My ego felt I was doing the right thing, and I was very attached to my singularity, my own sensations, my ego. To other people, I was barely there, figuratively and literally.
My thoughts were like a plastic bag in the wind. Yet, the remnants of my prior clarity and what I got from Dr. Lad’s teachings at least gifted me one certain electric meta-certainty: Ayurveda is true, all of it.
Extremely scared, I knew I was becoming Ayurvedic. I had been so great, I thought. I knew that I would change, but to what, to whom?
The old fashioned Indian way:
Get Red Label Tea (available from Indian shops incredibly cheap) or any other black tea to your liking. There is one brand in a yellow and green bag that begins with a D that is the cheapest of all, and my favorite by taste. (Really, old India.) Also, I understand that Rooibos (a healthier red noncaffeinated) tea is good.
Mix Homemade Chai Masala. This can include:
Ground Cardamom Seeds
Green Cardamom Pods
Ginger, fresh if possible
Be creative here. The right balance depends on your dosha, the season, your vikruti, many other things, so just try a balance. You can always adjust it later. Fresher spices are better. You don’t need much.
2 (American sized) servings:
Boil 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon tea, and 1/2 teaspoon chai mix for 4 minutes.
Add 1 cup milk and 2 tablespoons sugar (preferably sucanat; I even once used raisin juice successfully). Bring to a boil (watch carefully so that it doesn’t spill over), reduce heat and allow to simmer until ready to serve. But really, the boiling points are essential here to give a full body.
A bonus is that with boiling, the tea leaves get saturated and heavy and hence, sink to the bottom of the pot.
Avoid tea bags. To my senses, they just color the water with a dusty pretaste of the potential power of the spices.
Don’t get me started on the mixes used in coffee shops. Yech.
Everybody likes authentic chai and it’s pretty easy.
This recipe is as simple to make as it is satisfying.
It is a big hit and something of a conversation-starter!
5 parts of coconut milk (not coconut water)
Heat on a stove at medium low until it starts bubbling a bit.
1 part sugar, preferably sucanat
Stir until it has dissolved. Take off the stove.
1 part mung bean flour
You’ll need to stir slowly and completely to get the fine flour to mix in.
Add a good deal of ground cardamom, but not too much. (For 1 liter of coconut milk to start with, I add 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom.) Same thing goes with some high quality vanilla.
Allow to cool before serving.
Vaata and Pitta decreasing, Kapha increasing.