INSIDE THE FERTILE DARKNESS THE LIGHT EMERGES...
At the Winter Solstice on December 21, the darkest point of the
year, ritual and celebratory fires are lit across the Earth from Yule
logs in Northern Europe to the five-day fasting and fire ceremonies of the local Chumash in Malibu. There are more cross-cul-tural rituals, celebrations, and festivals around the Winter Solstice
than any other time of the year.
It was merely a generation or two ago in the United States that
the solar-lunar light and a living flame was replaced by an electric switch. We cannot just erase the memory of the fire we have
been tending to for over two million years. We have a biological, cultural, and spiritual connection to this turning point as the
changing sunlight we receive through our eyes reaches our pineal
gland to harmonize our biorhythms with the increasing light. We
are born from a primordial fire started 13. 7 billion years ago of
which the elementary molecules of our body are still alive from
this original creative explosion. Fire is at the center of our origins,
our extraordinary solar system, and in our ancestral fire-keeping.
At the point of greatest darkness, the living flame speaks to our
The agni—sacred fire—within the roots of yoga in Tantric and
Vedic culture symbolically has two faces: one creative, the other
destructive. Agni ignites both cellular metabolism and our mental,
emotional, and spiritual regeneration, bringing inspiration, passion, and new life to every aspect of our being. Agni is also the
force of purification—the dissolution of old cells and old ideas to
make room for the new.
In the unbroken continuity of Yagya, the Vedic and Tantric fire
ritual that has been offered for at least 3,500 years, we find the
connection of our microcosm to the macrocosm. The fire altar is
in the shape of the Vastu Purusha, or cosmic soul envisioned as a
human body with the central fire as the heart and all of the planets
and elements as the limbs. Fire is again at the center of this altar
and of our journey around the extraordinary fireball of our solar
star that has been circling for over 4. 5 billion years. >
TENDING THE INNER FIRE AT THE SOLSTICE
AND COMING INTO THE NEW YEAR
BY SHIVA REA