The fires have been raging like never before across these lands. The fires surround our town, though in the distance in almost every direction.
I’ve heard many say they want to escape. Those that have the means to - drive to the coast for fresh air for a day or two, every week or so. Many of us don’t have the means to easily come and go - we make our livelihoods and have our homes here.
In the ancient days and still to this day across many cultures humans prayed to the elements, deeply honored nature and celebrated the seasonal cycles. The earth was considered a Goddess, named Gaia. It was and still is her name.
Divinity was in the rocks and trees, rivers and tides.
Offerings and oblations were made to the sun and moon and waters.
Nature spirits spoke to the maidens as they listened to the sacred springs.
Fire was considered an ally and was reverently tended to and consciously fed the most precious of substances.
We are made up of the elements - the earth of our bones, the water of our sweat and blood, our reproductive fluids and tears, the fire of digestion, the air that flows in and out of our lungs, and the infinite space that holds our cells together.
Even deeper still the yoginis say we are made up of pure consciousness and the energy of undifferentiated bliss.
It’s during times like this that I love to remember the bliss - it helps soothe the desiccating feelings that can arise in the face of rampant fires, smoke-filled skies, dying whales and red tides.
This kind of bliss is not the "it’s all good", "nothing to see here", spiritual bypass - cotton candy platitude flavored bliss. This type of bliss supersedes yum and yuck, good and bad, right and wrong. This is the kind of bliss that has no opposite. This bliss is said to be manifest as the innermost essence of every human being. Just the very thought of that soothes my soul and turns me on.
The tantrik yogis don’t advise simply sitting around navel-gazing waiting to know with certainty that we are at essence bliss before we act with skillful means in the world. We must continue to show up for life and for each other in all the ways we do even in our imperfect folly and ignorance.
So we don our particle masks, go about our days and even meet to practice yoga together.
We’ve been practicing the phoenix mystical firebird pose a lot in yoga these days. It’s a relatively new addition to the open canon, living system that is yoga.
The pose and name came to me spontaneously one day a year or so ago after having spent too many moons under the shroud of smoke and ash that seem to arrive like clockwork in these parts every year now.
In Greek mythology, the Phoenix is a long-lived bird-like creature that rises from the ashes of any situation and takes flight on wings of colored light. In the Hindu pantheon, it is Garuda the eagle-like shape-shifting bird of courage that carries the nectar pot of soma or amrita - otherwise known as the nectar of immortality and divine bliss. I love the paradox that it is flaming sunbird that carries the soma elixir associated with soothing, cooling moonlight. Fire and nectar complement each other.
When life feels harsh or dry or you somehow find yourself in the midst of hotheaded people or situations - try to remember the soma elixir of nectarian consciousness and the amrita bliss of your innermost essence.
Aum shanti, shanti, shanti
To practice, the Phoenix ~ Think Vira 3 with bent knees and arms raised up overhead in a big V shape. Imagine colorful phoenix wings. Fingers flip up like the last flickers of dying flame. Use your imagination to see yourself rising up out of the ashes of your life, fresh green sprouts grow up under your feet and between your toes. Flowers and a sacred grove of trees bloom to life. Feel buoyant with currents of bliss. Circulate imaginary nectar of immortality through your bloodstream and heart. To take it to the next level lift onto the ball of your supporting foot and activate both arches - Take flight!
Come practice with me sometime soon!
You can check out the schedule here