Celebrate Life with a Personal Ritual Calendar
How do you organize your relationships so as to maintain integrity while achieving your heart=s desires? One route is a ritual calendar, a calendar of celebration. You start by looking at the total picture, for example pick a period, like a day, a month, a year, and think of it as a total rite. You start by knowing clearly where you are, get a sense of where you want to be, then get to know the landscape you must explore in order to get to your destination, empower yourself so you feel it is possible to get to your ends, then do the work required to get there, communicate with those who may want to participate and help you, be aware of the meaning - the ramifications - of fulfilling the your goals and allow for the unexpected. If you look at your whole life this way you find it is very special ritual with an open-ended form embracing all the other forms and so we focus on smaller more manageable units like a year.
The core of Tantra is the use of the lovers as a symbol for the dualities that are the foundation of all relationships. For each of us the central duality of our lives is the relationship between inner and outer, between our desires and our daily lives. Tantra is very practical compared to many other spiritual paths because it accepts the fulfillment of your desires as a valid aspect of personal growth and spirituality. In that sense it is very modern. You need self-knowledge, focus, sensitivity, and understanding of the world to marshal the resources needed to breath your fantasies into your everyday world, whether those fantasies are the cosmic ecstasy of Tantric sex or the perfect job. The Chakras and the Kundalini form part of a framework that allows you a new understanding of your relationships.
The Chakras can help to focus your attention and ensure you are taking a whole(-istic) approach. The categories are:
In Tantra when we talk about aligning the Chakras to allow the Kundalini to rise, to experience ecstatic boundlessness leading to the fulfillment of our potential, we are describing two things. Firstly, it is a sensation experienced in intense psychosomatic states reached through various rituals, like exercises, meditation and Maithuna (sacred sex). Secondly, it is a symbol for analysing and organizing the resources of any system, even a social organization like a corporation, so as to allow it to reach its full potential. As such it becomes a metaphor in a poetry of consciousness and society allowing us to build a whole language. This language offers us insights into and technologies for exploring and fulfilling human potential. We can apply the Chakra system to all aspects of our lives if we treat it in this more essential way.
There are many ways to approach building a sense of power into the way we conduct our lives. A Calendar of Celebration is a way that helps you to coordinate your spirituality with the relationships that define you in daily life. The special ecstasies of meditation, of the deepest intimacies are brought together with the ordinary ecstasies in a new way to create the self of your desires. Everyday Ecstasies arise when we set our goals and track their achievements in such a way that we feel daily progress and from that a real sense of satisfaction.
Time and space are physical but they are more, they are the principles that organize your perceptions, they are the first Chakra. They are the ground we stand on, the foundation of the self, but a self in the world, a world of relative perceptions. If we are to step beyond that relativity into an identity with the Totality then we must become the Lover. The Lover embraces the smallest aspects of life with a sense of their place in the largest picture. He or She stands within the reality of their everyday perceptions, emotions and thoughts whilst being aware of the totality that goes beyond those limitations, without seeking to escape them in some abstract spiritual realm or feeling.
The calendar is our experience of time, age and space and has been the root of power for mystery schools as diverse as the Roman Catholic Church and the AAssassins@ of Iran (a heretic Muslim Pseudo-Tantric sect from a thousand years ago). The Calendar helps you fit the movement of events and experiences together. The way our emotions, intellect, body and history/karma are given meaning (the sixth chakra). Choosing how you spend your time and who and what can come in your space are at the very centre of personal power, of deciding the quality and nature of your life.
The seven principles symbolized by the Chakras can be applied to organizing your time and space, so you can come to peace with who you are. The first step: embrace the limitations of daily life as pointers to your inner priorities, that is your greatest frustrations are your greatest priorities deserving more energy (read: attention time - thoughts, actions, emotions) in order to overcome the blockages. At its simplest and often most effectively you can dedicate a year or a month (a cycle of the moon) to a particular goal like the solution of a difficult problem in your personal growth, or even a financial target. These two cycles are chosen because they bring you into contact with nature and society. A cycle and half is also a good possibility too, for instance starting on the new moon (a natural beginning point) and finishing on the full moon (a natural high point) half way through the next cycle. This is what lent is for the Roman Catholics. The six weeks is long enough to for achieving high-pressure change at the beginning of your process then going back to a monthly cycle in order to reach your yearly goal. This also helps in coordinating the solar and lunar cycles as there are about twelve and half cycles of the moon in a year. It is a good start at a point that is important to you (and convenient) like choosing the moon closest to an equinox, a solstice (traditional New Year is close to the December Solstice) or your birthday.
It is good to set the start time far enough in advance that you can prepare for it, and build emotional power through anticipation. It helps you be clear about what you want, where you are and to be realistic about getting between.
When the moon goes through one full cycle then you get to experience the problem or desire from the various angles provided by a single biorhythm cycle. If you choose to explore a daily exercise, ritual or the aspects of a problem for a year, a solar cycle, then you get to experience its meaning in different seasons and as it travels through each sign and through all the angles of your Natal Astrology chart (the map of the position of the planets and stars at the moment of your birth). (Even if you think Astrology is hogwash there are seasonal variations in a our emotions that have been scientifically proven, for example the winter downer as a result of changes in the light.) It is as if you are moving around an issue or behaviour and feeling, its significance and effects from every aspect of who you are. If you want to, you can explore the meaning of each planetary cycle in this way, although the outer planets may pose a problem because they take longer then one lifetime to go through a cycle.
A very strong example is the emotional realities created by menstruation for women. If women and their partners can embrace the effects of these physical changes then they can allow for the worse aspects and become aware of the subtle and powerfully positive affects available from them. There are women who would think such a statement is based on naiveté at best, ignorance at worst. But the cycle is not just the difficulties that come with its most obvious, and often painful, peak. The days of retreat forced upon women by their bodies, by nature, can be viewed as sacrifices reminding us of the inescapable power of nature, of the Goddess - a time of rest, contemplation and meditation. Men do not benefit from this reminder, and a woman=s identity is done a great disservice when she tries to ignore or fight the reality of her body.
Sacrifice is a powerful awareness promoter. It is based on the recognition and acceptance of limitation and provides a way of managing it and building a sense of your inner strength. It is a very positive way of dealing with those desires which remain unfulfilled because they are out of the reach of your current resources, whether we are talking about time, money, knowledge or energy. Another aspect is your hierarchy of values. Sacrifice is usually about giving up something that is easy but less valuable to you for something that is harder but more important to you. In fact the easy is often used to escape the difficult. Any high achiever will tell you in their way that sacrifice is the courage to face and take on the difficult. You do, however, need to be careful not to allow it to become a form of self-abuse. Placing the sacrifice into a time limit in the context of your personal calendar of celebration is one way of avoiding this danger.
Every time you choose not to participate in a particular activity, not to fulfil a desire that is important to you, your awareness of the goal is heightened and your sense of the power for achieving your aim is confirmed. The kind of sacrifice may range from something as difficult as choosing not have sex (including masturbation) or giving up smoking to something as easy as not eating a particular food (say, giving up sweets or a kind of meat) or not cutting your hair or looking in the mirror until you achieve you aim. Failing to keep the commitment to the sacrifice may be as important as fulfilling it because of the feelings it brings up, but the commitment you make must be sincere because ultimately you are the only one listening when you make it. The Goddess or God or Mystery-that-is will love you whether or not you fulfil the commitment; it's only your love for yourself that will be tested.
With a calendar of celebration we align the cycles of nature and society with our inner life solidifying and defining ourselves through our relationships so as to engender the power needed to fulfil our desires and to bring about the understanding and peace needed to step into wisdom.
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