Monthly Archives: December 2011

Vesta in the Signs

Asteroid Vesta is called the “Keeper of the Flame” and is associated with the sign Virgo and the 6th house. The “flame” here is the spiritual flame. Vesta is the guardian of the sacred fire: devotion to the spiritual; High Priestess energy. In pre-Hellenic times, Vesta was associated with unmarried temple priestesses, and anyone who’s read Kenneth Ray Stubbs’ book Women of the Light (or any others with similar ideas) knows that temple priestesses used sexual energy to instruct, initiate, or heal their disciples (most temple priestesses of the time were also skilled herbalists and considered the first doctors and medical counsultants). Sexual energy here is not “just” (or only)  sex, but the creative energy implicit to all human beings. It is pro-creative, life-affirming energy that may be used to make babies, but is also used to make art, great food, beautiful music, stirring oratory, stunning performances, captivating fashion, etc.

Anyway, back to Vesta…By Roman times, the sacred fire of the temple priestesses had been toned down to vestal Virgin energy, where sexuality is foresaken for spiritual commitment. The celebrated and honored full sexuality of the temple priestesses was toned down, made safer, and men became the purveyors of health, medicine, and healing. As such, asteroid Vesta represents the split between spirituality and sexuality, and offers us the sign posts to heal this split if we harness the power of Vesta in the signs and houses.

Vesta represents our capacity to bring wholeness to ourselves, to integrate and focus our sexual energy. Vesta’s placement by sign and by house shows us the energy we came into this lifetime with, and how we can better understand ourselves as temple priestess/vestal virgin*. Vesta can help us heal the split that many experience between sexuality and spirituality.

Vesta

Vesta represents our sacred flame, how we express our devotion to and longing towards the spirit. Connected to fire, she is also connected to passion, joy, to what animates us, to what renews us. She is the spirit of fire and the fire within spirit. She teaches us how to renew ourselves, how healing the split within can transform us, so she also has connections to the sign Scorpio and transformative potential. Thus, connecting to Vesta in your own chart corresponds with therapists, counselors, and healers, those who help to make sense of disparate elements and heal them. Alternative healing is Vesta’s domain, just as it was once the domain of the temple priestesses.

Vesta asks us to reconnect to passion, and to deepen the connection to spirit. Vesta shows where and how we can renew and revive this sacred flame. Vesta represents the search for deeper meaning, and thus corresponds to psychics, healers, the occult, and mind technologies like positive thinking, NLP, and visualization. Vesta corresponds to Wicca and Earth Magic, because Vesta feels the power inherent in all living creatures and relates to and responds to this energy.

The symbol of Vesta is the eternal flame, and even the glyph for Vesta shows this. Vesta lights the way as we commit to inner work, integration, and discovering the power within. Astrologically, Vesta relates to work, devotion, spiritual practices, solitude (Hermit card), sacrifice, and  sexual problems based on fear of intimacy.  She shows you how to bring light to dark places and integrate your shadow. Unskillfully, Vesta can manifest as repression, sexual alienation, inhibition, and overwork when the natural outlets for Vesta are not expressed. Fervent devotion and workaholism: two sides of the same coin?

Successfully expression of Vesta creates a magical energy where we focus our sexual power into creativity, joy, and live a committed life to whatever is sacred for us. Vesta does not require the sexual act, rather the power and focus of this energy towards committing ourselves and focusing on healing both mentally and physically.

Vesta in Aires
Bravery, courage, and impetuosity are characteristics of this Vesta. Vesta in Aires shows others the wisdom of self-care and is a powerful energy for self-healing. Requires independence, and may have difficulty with long-term relationships. Indicates a degree of self-involvement. The Warrior Priestess.

Vesta in Taurus
This Vesta seeks the comfort of home and hearth. A security-loving Vesta, she may not be quick to move, but once settled, she is very stable and dependable. Creates tangible beauty, often in the charts of those who work with their hands. The Earth Mother.

Vesta in Gemini
Knowledge brings power, and only through knowledge of self can Vesta understand and integrate her sexuality. Motivates and manifests by communication, networking, and coordination. Sometimes Vesta in Gemini needs to slow down to reconnect. Intellect can trump feeling with this placement. The Teacher Priestess/Athena.

Vesta in Cancer
Nurtures and cares for those who need it. A natural caregiver who needs to be loved and cared for, or who may withdraw if not acknowledged. Vesta in Cancer has a strong maternal instinct, but needs to learn how to care for self. The Universal Mother.

Vesta in Leo
Vesta in Leo is proud, regal, full of creativity and joy. At best when fully expressed and original, your need for self-expression is higher than other placements. Capable of flowing with great love and enthusiasm. Can become demanding or egotistical if unappreciated. Can be prideful and needs to learn that there is a power greater than herself. The Courtesan/Geisha.

Vesta in Virgo
A strong connection to all living things. Learns from her woundedness and the woundedness of others. A strong healer. Exacting standards may make her rigid, but devotion to service is strong. Can become sexually repressed if unable to meet exactingly high standards. The Nurse/Nun.

Vesta in Libra
The energy of Vesta in Libra seeks to find balance between self and others. Interaction and cooperation bring out her best. A lover of equality, and naturally diplomatic, but may need to be more truthful with self. Needs to learn to do as much for self as she does for others. Desire to please may cause her to be inauthentic and wear herself out. The Stateswoman/The Queen.

Vesta in Scorpio
Passion for transformation and transmutation. Driven to reach the heart of the matter and let go of anything inauthentic. Teaches how to completely merge with others, but balance and moderation may be needed. Seeks depth and intensity in relationships. Learning how to trust and give up control may be key lessons. Persephone.

Vesta in Sagittarius
Constantly seeks truth. Will be driven by the feeling that there is always more to know and experience. Truth-loving, adventurous, and driven by a need for expansion. Beware being so devoted to your higher vision that you become fanatical and alienate others. The Goddess of the Hunt/Artemis.

Vesta in Capricorn
Adheres to the laws of the Universe. Serious, hard-working, aligned with what is real and solid, material. May be a harsh judge, but will not skimp on exacting truths. Rules must be obeyed to create order. Works best in structured and disciplined environments. Justice.

Vesta in Aquarius
Goddess of Change/Chaos. Everything is always changing, so we must adapt. Nothing is permanent. Devoted to a better existence for all on a humanitarian level. Freedom loving and not possessive, may be aloof and find emotional intimacy cloying or overbearing. Oya.

Vesta in Pisces
At one with all living things. Especially suited to healing and helping those in states of confusion or confinement. Sexuality may be devoted to service rather than to any given individual. Magical healing ability, to the point she may not even know HOW she does what she does. Integration of mind, body, and spirit is the challenge of this Vesta. The High Priestess/Intuitive Healer.

*Priestess/Virgin energy here is archetypal energy and has nothing to do with gender.

Learn more about astrology at my new site. I do chart casting and interpretations.

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Hey Yoga Girrrrrl…

This video has been burning up the yoga blogosphere for several days now. Is this a feel-good, “yogis are beautiful” statement, or a satire on what yoga in the West has become, with its high-priced Lululemon wardrobes (eternally popular despite an EEK!, murder, that occured at a Washington DC-based Lululemon outlet) and tony “spiritual” jewelry?

Whatever your opinion, the writer of the lyrics seems to know a thing or two about yoga. Certainly the lyrics reveal at least a degree of familiarity with yogic concepts. Pretty funny stuff either way. What’s your opinion of this video?

You can follow Fog & Smog, the makers of the video, on Facebook.

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From the Archives: Teaching Yoga at the Geriatric Psych Ward

Here is another archival blog post from Metropolitan Observer. I had very recently completed my teacher training and was fulfilling the karma yoga component (volunteering or donating yoga instruction) of my TT. One of the things I found out after my TT was that ironically, it is not easy to donate yoga. Many of the places I called either had no way to accommodate a yoga class, or required reams of paperwork to even begin the process of offering free yoga to a community.

I never continued teaching yoga at the Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, mostly because their volunteer program required a great deal of paperwork and records of immunizations. I know I have had the requested immunizations, but they occurred so long ago that the records are with a doctor I had decades ago, not my current physician. I ended up completing my karma yoga requirements with Hearts of Gold, a program run out of Reflections Yoga for women who live in the shelter system and their children.

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Teaching yoga at the geriatric psych ward, part 1

Last Saturday I taught yoga at the geriatric psych ward (in-patient) at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Part of my teacher training requires I do 10 hours of karma yoga, or donated instruction. Surprisingly, it has not been the easiest thing to set up. You say to an organization, “I would like to donate some yoga instruction” and they say “Great!,” and to paraphrase the first verse of the Yoga Sutras, “and now, the Red Tape.”


Anyway, I managed to schedule this appointment, which was to be an introduction to the ward, a meeting with the recreational therapist there, and a meeting with the volunteer coordinator, and “maybe,” some yoga instruction. Things did not proceed in this manner at all, but that’s ok, because if there is one lesson yoga teaches to its disciples, it’s to not be attached to any expectation or outcome, to be in the present moment.

First of all, the volunteer coordinator wasn’t there. He had the wrong Saturday in his calendar for me, but I found out where the geriatric psych ward was, and I went upstairs, on the off chance he was there waiting for me. The recreational therapist was surprised to see me, said she was expecting me next Saturday. I told her I think there’s been a mix-up. She said yah, I think so. She already had someone lined up for the day, a pet therapist.

I was ready to leave, as she seemed a bit stressed out. When I noted that, and said it was fine if she wasn’t ready for me, she said “oh no, I’m not stressed out!” There was a lot of tension in the way she told me she wasn’t stressed out. Her eyes were rung with blue-grey circles, puffy, darting. She fingered the corner of the paper she’d been writing on, twirled the pen in her fingers, her breath was short. I felt bad. It must be very difficult working in such a setting. How do you not absorb the energy of what’s around you? Not everyone is a sponge like me. Maybe she’s a little less porous and was stressed about something else. She didn’t want the visit to be a waste, so she asked me if I’d want to walk around the ward with the pet therapist, and maybe teach, if things worked out.

The pet therapist arrived with her lovely Shepard-mix Kola, a sweet dog who lets anyone touch her. Therapy dogs have to have a very particular temperament. They can’t be skittish or aggressive, biters or lickers, distractable or aloof. They have to be friendly and approachable. Kola was all of these, the type of dog that lets anyone pet her. As such, she’s a perfect therapy dog. Her big soulful eyes help a lot too.

Not everyone wanted to pet Kola though. Some people seemed afraid, hesitant. Some were asleep. Some were so drugged out that they didn’t even notice. A man sat at a table with his head in his hands. Kola approached and he looked at her warily. Her owner said “it’s ok, she’s friendly.” The man asked “will she bite me?” and the owner shook her head no. The dog slumped at the man’s feet, put her head on his ankle. He slowly, with hesitation, bent down to pet her.

Throughout the ward I could see the tattered remains of life.  Some people were afraid to pet a friendly dog, others were afraid to smile. Some were afraid of whatever they saw in their imaginations, screaming out or babbling. I looked a man in his eyes and smiled; he looked away. My heart ached to see how for some people, smiling is an impossible task. I could see the pain in his eyes, the hesitation in his movements.

In this setting, yoga is not what you’d imagine in one of the gorgeous, light-drenched studios that dot New York City. It’s not an air of incense or sandalwood, Oms resonating through the rooms, lithe and glowing yogis prancing through the halls. Yoga in the geriatric psych ward is a smile if you’re lucky.

After I’d been there about 90 minutes, the recreational therapist, the pet therapist and I went back to the therapist’s office. She had only observed my class, which I’ll write about in another post, but her breathing was different. She said “we could all learn to breathe better, no one seems to know how to breathe correctly.” I know she knows she’s not breathing deeply enough. It must bother her, and at some level, she wants to change it, but she’s not sure how yet, it seems a huge task. But her face was different, more relaxed, a bit more alive. She asked if I wanted to come back again, and I said of course. We scheduled a date in July.

Yoga is so much more than asana on a mat in a studio. Yoga is seeing the pain in others, in yourself, and healing it, breath by breath. Yoga is seeing the beauty and divinity in every living thing, in the broken, ghostly inhabitants of a geriatric psych ward, in the tension of an overworked therapist, in the sweetness of a gentle dog.

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From the Archives: Oh, My Aching Psoas!

Here’s another archival post from my other blog Metropolitan Observer, where I blogged about yoga and other things before I started this blog. If you’ve been following my posts, you may have noticed I’m just a wee bit obsessed with the psoas, a postural muscle that is part of your core and can basically be summed up as “hip flexor.”

Where does the psoas attach? To the lesser trochanter, a knob on the inside of the femur, shown here in the circle.

Psoas attaches to the lesser trochanter.

The psoas is a long, thin muscle that starts in the posterior (on the back) mid-spine and sort of wraps around to the front (anterior) of your body where it finally attaches at the lesser trochanter on the inside of the femur bone.

The psoas is used in hip flexion and extension, but it is so much more than that. It is a highly sensitive muscle that responds to what is happening around it, having led to some writers calling it an “organ of perception” more than a muscle. The psoas plays a major role in both posture and a person’s gait, and changes in these will affect the psoas, as changes in the psoas will affect both of these in turn.

Here’s an article I posted about a year and a half ago where I first began to gain awareness about this fantastic muscle. If you’re interested in learning more, check out another post I wrote, “The Sensitive Psoas.”

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Oh, my aching psoas!

The psoas muscle is not one most people think about, or even know about! But having spent the last two months in an awesome yoga teacher training, I know about muscles I didn’t even know existed! The psoas being one of them. It is a deep muscle that essentially attaches your upper body to your lower body. It starts on your last thoracic vertebrae and attaches to the following four lumbar vertebra. If what I just wrote sounds like Greek to you, the psoas attaches deep within the body, behind your rectus abdominus (the 6-pack muscle), to your middle/lower spine.

Shaped like a hammock or a sickle, it is a spirilic muscle, meaning it spirals. Paula says it is a feminine muscle. In me, today, it is a REALLY sore and stiff muscle. And when psoas is tight, lordosis, or swayback, happens, which I have right now. I’m a mess.

I have this because in kundalini class on Tuesday, one of the kriyas involved scissor kicks for four minutes. I could’ve plugged in more and used my abdominals instead of my psoas (hip flexor) to lift my legs, but when you’re in the throes of kundalini, working through a weird kriya with the intention of releasing negative energy, well psoas be damned! there are more important things to attend to!

But I’m paying for it a bit today. I’m walking funny, I get stiffer the longer I sit at my desk, and I can’t WAIT for yoga tonight to bring some much needed attention to this very stiff part of my body right now. I’ll be doing a restorative class, actually, which holds poses for much longer than in a regular yoga class. I need that extended time in poses to help release this tension. Any movement will be good, but I’ll really benefit from the parasympathetic response that the restorative practice will induce. It’ll also chill me out supremely (parasympathetic response = relaxation response) which is just great as tonight at 9:04pm, we go into New Moon in Taurus and I will appreciate being grounded and calm for my bath-and-gratitude ritual (soak in a bath of sea salt/apple cider vinegar and make a list of 10 things you are grateful for).

Taurus Moon helps us get more in touch with emotional attitudes around abundance. If you are having blockages towards prosperity (however you define that and “what” you are prosperous around), Taurus New Moon is a great time to set an intention for being receptive to abundance! I clearly have an abundance of psoas energy right now, but I am grateful, because I received this due to the determination I practiced kriyas with on Tuesday 🙂

For more info on the psoas, check out this video on MyYogaOnline.com, a cool site with good information for yogis, yoga teachers, anatomy freaks, etc.

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