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“When the sun and moon have set together, along with all of the light that emanates from them, that Night of Shiva (Shiva-Ratri) arises with a luminescence that cascades forth as the radiant light of his very being.”
-Shri Shri Utpaladeva, 10th century Tantric Saint of Kashmir (translated by Christopher Tompkins with gratitude)
February 26, 2014

Dear Friends,

We are in our last few days in India. Shivaratri, the all-night festival for Siva has begun. My birthday is on the eve of Shivaratri this year and will be right on it when I turn 50 in 2017!!! We are in Varnasi for my first time surrounded by "Bom Bolenath" as Shivratri pilgrims are making the parikrama around this city which is the body of Siva in microcosm. We will be staying up tonight to go to the Drupad Mela - all-night festival of Drupad (one of the oldest music-song forms). My friends know I am a crazy Drupad freak. Then tomorrow we go to one of the oldest Siva temples in Khajuraho all-night for Shivaratri. I was wondering to myself when we will sleep and the answer from within was, "don't worry about sleep, focus on waking up".
So it is true at special times energy comes in different forms.

So I am bathing with my beloved Demetri in this grace-filled moment and radiating this light that embraces totality of life here to my friends, family, brothers and sisters and teachers on the path. Bom Bom! Enjoy Shivaratri!

We are waking up on this winding path together.

You were in my prayers tonight on the Ganga.


Baby Shiva

Maha Shivaratri Offering

The rich will make temples for Siva.image
What shall I, a poor bhakta, do?
My legs are pillars,
the body the shrine,
my heart the inner sanctum
my head a tower of gold.
Listen, O lord of the meeting rivers,
the things standing shall fall,
but the moving ever shall stay.

—Basavanna, twelfth-century bhakti saint

Tending the Heart Fire Book Excerpt: Shivaratri

imageThe word tapas can be translated as “burning, unwavering devotion,” and “transformation through dedication.” In tending the Heart Fire, a tapas practice is anything you dedicate yourself to for a cycle of transformation. Maha Shivratri is a tapas-oriented, nightlong festival that has been celebrated for thousands of years by hundreds of millions of devotees of Shiva around the world.

Held on the night before the new moon in the month of February–March, Maha Shivratri honors the night (the word ratri means “night”) Shiva performed the tandava nritya—the dance of primordial creation, preservation, and destruction—and the night of the marriage of Shiva and Shakti. Householders stay up through the night chanting mantras, bathing lingam forms, offering puja, and in meditation for the Mahadev, King of the Yogis, Lord of the Dance, bathed in the light of lamps burning ghee. Devotees fast on water, milk, fruits, kitchari, or special fasting foods from sunrise until dawn the next day.
Maha Shivatri is considered an auspicious time for women. Married women pray for a long, prosperous marriage and the well-being of their husbands and sons. Unmarried women pray for a husband who is like Lord Shiva—spouse of Kali, Durga, and Parvati—considered the ideal husband for his devotion, virility, and loving, enlightened, wild, and fun ways of being, and for his ability to transform poison into nectar.

This festival is an outer and inner pilgrimage, the tending of the lamp fire and the fire of consciousness through the night. All yoga practices are said to have emanated from Shiva, particularly those having to do with internal transformation, and Maha Shivratri is a vigil of awakening consciousness.
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