[This essay won the first place prize for our 2020 holiday essay contest.]
My study of Jyotisha was my anchor this past year helping me weather the crazy climate surrounding us all. I discovered this science while exploring Ayurvedic practices. I had a marma massage with an ayurvedic practitioner and as a part of her protocol she explained other ayurvedic offerings. She explained their purpose, how they worked and the advantages to overall health. Those few moments of personalized care were the foundation of a new interest. At the time I was studying herbal medicine and much of what she shared was reflected in what I was learning about herbs. She detailed the dosha Ayurvedic theory and encouraged me to research their properties on my own. That exploration led to more questions and, eventually to a vedic consultation with Renay.
That first teleconference with Renay was surreal, in an enlightening way. She read my chart as if she had known me a lifetime. Listening to her, I felt as though she knew me better than I knew myself. I was intrigued and deeply curious. I have spent a great deal of my life not fully understanding my purpose and have questioned how and why I choose to live as I do. I often wondered why I wasn’t like my siblings and my personality was so different from those closest to me. Renay touched on just a few of these things and I felt a stirring. I sensed she had answers and I wanted more. I knew I had stumbled upon something important for me. I jumped at the chance to continue the discussion and asked for guidance. Renay provided information on how to get started.
When I begin to read Light on Life by Hart de Fouw and Robert Svoboda, I felt as though I wandered into a secret world. The words I was reading felt like they were written for me. The information in the chapters made sense and suddenly I was looking at my world with a new sense of wonder. The planets became real to me. I befriended them. It felt a little crazy when I began conversing with the universe.
Maybe a bit awkward, but not uncomfortable. This reaction was similar to the experience I had when I began the study of herbalism. As I learned about new herbs, and their properties, I sought out places that they grew. It became a part of my daily routine and it continues today. Once discovered, I would sit with the plants, observe them and, yes, the conversations started. Now I had the planets to befriend as well. The pattern of my day was altered. Life became much quieter for me as I relished time spent just listening to my surroundings. The plants, and the planets, both became an important priority. Although I enjoy being social, this study of Jyotish also spoke to another side of my personality. I have always needed quiet time. I think coming from a large family, with very few boundaries, I seek solitude. It was hard to carve out time just for me. This science spoke to that need in me and I began to crave the peaceful feeling I felt while reading and absorbing new ideas.
I was thankful that I discovered this study of all things Jyotish when the pandemic hit. With some experience under my belt, the time was right to fully embrace the subject matter. It was balancing as crazy activities swirled throughout the world. Each day brought clouds of confusion and conflict. It was hard to listen to any media and discussions of appropriate behavior and basic human rights became a daily challenge in conversation. The Jyothisha study of remedies was one of the first practices that came easily to me and I depended on many remedies in the past year. The book, Yoga of the Planets by Andrew Foss, PhD sits at my bedside. Meditation had been a part of my routine for some time and I looked forward to more time on the cushion in the past year. That practice, along with mantra, kept my life flowing peacefully.
I was raised a Catholic but have not been a practicing Catholic for a long time. I missed the ritual, the ceremony and the mystery that unfolds in religious practice. Jyotisha fills that space for me and offers an opportunity for my spiritualism to once again grow. Moments of being still, embracing silence, and studying seemed to provide the avenue I needed to keep my mind in a sense of harmony. It struck me that I had been missing that spiritual connection, that daily practice. Jyotisha has taught me that each day of the week is a gift and each day carries with it very significant feelings. The days are even color coded providing yet another dimension to their significance. I worked at greeting each morning with enthusiasm and energy and hoped it would carry me through the day. As the days passed, that simple practice often washed away the dreariness of being locked down. I cannot believe how I had taken something like the days of the week so for granted. I had never considered honoring them. It was a delight to feel in sync with their energies. It has become almost second nature now. Developing a relationship with Saturn was a priority as I am in my Saturn dasha. It took some time, but I now feel very comfortable with his presence in my life. Considered a fearful planet, I learned to embrace his helpful qualities. I never leave dishes in the sink because of him! Rahu and Ketu are another fascination and I have yet to fully understand their abilities and their energies. When turmoil snaked through my daily activities, giving me pause, I wondered if they were at play.
Despite the upheaval swirling about, I knew I was one of the lucky ones. My home sits on 40 acres and is in a remote area. My grown children are watching over my grandkids. Just into retirement, I am thriving. This pandemic allowed me even more time to indulge my interests. Of greater consequence was my anger toward politics, and our political leaders. I used Jyothisha to soothe my psyche and settle my heart. Political antics, as played out in the media, rattled me to my core. Was this Mars at work? Ever searching, my astrology app is consulted early in my day. I look with anticipation of planetary movement. I watched for signs, often not really knowing what I was looking for but hopeful for some insight. Was all this chaos predestined? The teachings of Jyotisha seemed to indicate that but I was not totally convinced. Believing everything happens as it should, I still have questions. I read Vedas. Of the science I was able to understand, it seemed definite. My part in all of this was to embrace the not knowing and allow the answers to reveal themselves. With hard work, it is just a matter of time. Afterall, I have a strong Jupiter in my first house.
Somedays I am totally confident and feel like I truly understand what is happening in the skies and how planetary activity is affecting me. But other days, I am as confused as I was during my first consult with Renay. As they say, the more you learn, the less you know. I question my abilities to really grasp this complicated subject, but my intention is genuine, and I carry on. Frankly, I doubt I will ever be able to offer anyone else a reading. This study for me is very personal. So much of what I have learned really speaks to me, who I am and what my purpose is. I am planning on a lifelong study with no final exam.
It was that very thought that was running through my mind when I was considering not finishing this essay. As I wondered about the house, distracted and unsure of what I had been writing, I noticed my dining room table, and the blanket of quilt fabrics covering its surface. My sewing machine sits knowing that at any moment I may plop down and put together a quilt square. It has been many months since the top of this beautiful dining room table has seen the light of day. Instead, I leave all my sewing tools visible in case the mood strikes me to quilt. My husband is quite agreeable to this strange process, noting it fits my needs and seems to make me happy. Often, I work for only a few minutes and move onto other projects. And then some days I can spend hours sewing and piecing fabric.
In this passing moment I was struck that I was just afforded another lesson. I just had to be still to see it unfold. A quilt starts with just one piece of thread, just as we are born in one single moment. And we grow from there. Life takes flight. Each of us, individually created, come in diverse colors and patterns just as each of us are born under different planets. Piece by piece, the pattern is revealed.
Understanding how you fit can take a lifetime or it may come together without much effort. Alterations and remedies are available. My goal in quilting is to stay mindful of the process and enjoy each piece I work with. The more patient I am, the better the project comes together. The result is only a small part of the process. The journey to that place is what really matters. Allowing your senses to enjoy the activity, to embrace the creativity is really the best part.
For me this is what this past year has been about. Just like an heirloom quilt, Jyotish was draped across my lap, comforting me, warming my heart and making me feel a bit more secure. Because of this study, I now strive to allow each day to unfold as it will, knowing that there is plan. Moment to moment life changes, as do the skies. Jyotish has taught me to stay mindful, be aware and open to what is happening. I do not have to understand every detail. If I stand as a witness and remain open to the experience all will be as it is supposed to be. This belief has strengthened my health, my heart and my mind. I have stopped worrying about what if’s and why’s. I hold today with respect, honor the past and prepare to the best of my ability, for the future.
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Renay Oshop - teacher, searcher, researcher, immerser, rejoicer, enjoying the interstices between Twitter, Facebook, and journals.