Today is a very special day to visit the Ashlesha Temple as it is Ashlesha nakshatra. Ashlesha translates to the word Naga (meaning snake). Ashlesha Nakshatra is ruled by the Serpent God, and this is where the shadow planet Ketu is born. It symbolizes serpent-like qualities such as clinging, entwining or embracing.
The temple is crowded and security is tight. No photos are allowed inside. We must stand in a long line for entry and go through a metal detector. The security guard requires me to show him the copper orb and there is a discussion with our tour guide as to its purpose. The Swami who will perform our ceremony is standing nearby and watches with silent interest. I am allowed to take the orb inside.
We sit on the floor in front of a large altar for a long elaborate ceremony. A small group of swami boys in training sit off to the side near where I am. I feel called to energize the essence while it remains nestled out of sight in its own bag. The energy is very strong.
After the ceremony, we stand in line to pass by the inner sanctum. The lights go out and come back several times while we waiting. Along with the loud “snake charmer” music being played, the darkness creates a very electric, mystical atmosphere. We are granted permission by Swami to take one picture inside the temple on our way out. The eerie nature of the temple can be felt in this picture of the Ganesh altar. Swami allows a picture taken with him as well. All others must be taken in the front area with the temple shops.
Upon arriving back at the hotel, I purchase a statue of Nagakanni (queen of the nagas or snakes) at the gift shop in the lobby. I create an altar for her in my room. The Naga energy is prominent in my chart and I am conscious of ensuring that I am in right relationship with it.
The group has dinner together on an outside terrace with a beautiful view of the city. A red full moon rises in the night sky after it gets dark.
The temple for Vishakha is a small temple full of serene, positive energy. It has an open courtyard with plentiful trees and birds. I notice a lot of bird droppings on the ground and am weary about by how dirty it is. You have to watch where you step! The Swami feels quite cosmic with a nice smile and a look in his eyes that is most definitely “out there.” There is a small shrine for the Nagas that is heavily adorned in red cum-cum and yellow turmeric powders. It feels particularly alive with energy.
After the ceremony completes, the group moves on and I remain to sit by the Nandi at the temple door and charge the essence. The Nandi is adorned with a bright red scarf around his neck. I am given two small white mums at the end of our ceremony and I place them on top of the geo in offering. As I close my eyes, I feel the energy very swirling and light. I hear an unseen voice saying clearly, “Start with me. I will open the star gate. I will open the gates to heaven.” I am also reminded of the importance of sound to call the Divine and Deities.
I want to know more about Vishakha Nakshatra and later I consult the Nakshatra book by Komilla Sutton. Komilla writes, “Vishakha has several meanings. Visha means to enter and Kha means the heavens. Vishakha stands for transformation and the aspiration to enter the heavens to connect with the eternal self. Vishakha people are standing at the threshold of a new life. The change is yet to take place, as this is the soul looking from outward to within. It has reached that place in life where there is a great attraction to go towards the inner sanctum, the great unknown. It can throw out both negative and positive issues. There is no guarantee of the experience inside. Vish means poison, excrement and feces. ‘Akha’ means the manifestation. This is the nakshatra where the poisons of past life, of unfulfilled emotional desires and negative aspects of past karma can be stored. Vishakha shows knowledge of toxins of the mind, and of what has been collected through the experiences of many lifetimes.”
I am stunned, surprised, delighted, puzzled, confirmed and acknowledged all at the same time by what Komilla has written about Vishakha and how it mirrors my experience at the temple.
The temple for Chitra is a large and ancient temple, but the inner sanctum is very small and we must go inside in groups. We are guided to look the Goddess in the eyes and she will answer prayers. There is a nice, calm, upbeat feeling. I am sitting in meditation and when I feel to open my eyes I see that yellow mums have been left for me in my lap. I add them to the geo in offering and finish energizing the essence. This is the birth star for our leader and accomplished Vedic Astrologer, Komilla Sutton. I learn later that Komilla has placed the yellow mums in my lap. Komilla and many of the others in the group sit nearby and meditate. The temple is brightly painted with an large, ornate copper flag pole (called Dhwaja Sthambam) at its entrance. This pole is in a straight line with the primary temple Deity. It often has a bell, is decorated for celebrations and is a visual marker to help devotees find the temple. I remember Professor telling us that it also serves as an antenna for cosmic energies. We are given items from the temple and I receive a small red scarf. I plan to add it to the altar in my room or perhaps wrap my Nagakanni statue with it, just as the deities in the temple are adorned with regal saris.
As we disembark from the bus, the group walks toward the temple while Marlene and I head off in a slightly different direction. We sense something calling us to be explored. It is a small yellow-orange hill near a grand tree. It has a path around it and decorations of many sorts. It is obvious by look and feel that it is a sacred site, yet we are uncertain of what it is. We learn that it is a termite hill where the temple Naga lives and is honored by the devotees. The termite hill is dyed yellow-orange with turmeric and several prayer flags are flying. There are many holes at the base of the hill, for exit and entry I assume. While we are quite altered in consciousness from our time communing with the Naga shrine, Marlene and I realize that it is time to move on and we quickly join the group at the altar for ceremony.
Swami leaves the blue iron gate in front to the altar open as he completes the ceremony and escorts the rest of the group to another place in the temple complex. I sit in front of the open gate with Swami’s temple offering plate. I offer yellow and pink flowers on the orb and open to the energy and guidance of Magha. Ancestral wisdom, honoring our ancestors and offering healing to our ancestors are all important to Magha. I am told by an unseen voice that our ancestors go back to star dust. I feel ancestor energy strongly present as the essence is energized. This ancient wisdom has been infused in the Magha temple essence beyond my full understanding.
The Swami from the Kauai monastery appears when I pray for healed ancestors to come forward. He says that it is time to weave a strong thread of light. This requires going back through the DNA to heal the DNA. I am shown that the Nagas will assist. I am aware of the symbology with the kundalini energies. Later I read that all of the 27 Nakshatras link directly to ancient Chinese acupuncture points for raising the kundalini.
I find a metal Ketu symbol laying on the temple grounds as I am leaving. I say prayers for all the ancestors and offer it at the Naga shrine with flowers and a small cloth dyed yellow from turmeric, which is also resting nearby on the ground. I am so grateful for the wisdom of the ancestors and Nagas. I am called by a small quartz stone that I will bring home to add to my ancestor altar built among the lava rocks on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the most spectacular temples in Madurai and one of the most important temples in India. It is believed that Lord Shiva assumed the form of Sundareswarar (the handsome one) and married Parvati (Meenakshi) at the site where the temple is located. Thousands of devotees visit every day and, even so, the temple is well-maintained and clean.
The temple dates back to the 1st century with scholars claiming that it is as old as the city of Madurai itself. However, the temple was rebuilt throughout the 16th century after being destroyed by Muslim invaders. Picture taking is not allowed inside the temple. Instead, I find some beautiful shots of the spectacular temple and elaborate architecture posted on the web.
My geo and crystals are not allowed into the temple so I carry only the essence in the small silk bag. We are allowed to go into the inner sanctum, which is very rare for Westerners. Komilla suggests that I meditate at a place above Nava Graha (Nine Planets) altar. I sit to energize the essence there as others in the group light ghee lamps and circle the altar. The energy is so powerful! Mula Nakshatra is in the center of the Milky Way galaxy and holds fierce Kali energy. It is the energy of Pele, the Hawaiian Volcano Goddess, that I know well. I ask that any remaining unwanted dross in my life be burnt off and sacrificed. When done, I place a flower offering of gratitude in my seat above the altar. As I rejoin the group Marleen sees a small feather floating around me and then it floats off. It is a good sign as a feather represents the realm of Divine Spirit.
Later in the evening I take my new Nagakanni statue to a small Naga temple for a blessing. She seems to come alive for a moment and feels like my child.
The temple for Uttara Ashadha is very powerful in eradicating negative planetary effects and obstacles in child birth and marriage. Uttara Ashadha is also known as Uthiradam. Aadam means that “which existed first.” Because of this, Uttara Ashadha is first among all the Nakshatras. The other 26 Nakshatra Deities offer a special Pooja (offering ceremony) to Uttara Ashadha when the moon is in their own Nakshatra. Legend has it that Brahma visited this temple after Shiva cut off his fifth head. Devotees come to this temple when they need blessings. It is believed that if devotees born with Uttara Ashadha Nakshatra visit this temple often and pray, all of their struggles will vanish.
When we arrive the temple is buzzing with activity. Preparations are underway for an upcoming festival. Women in brightly colored saris are creating ornate Rangoli designs on the temple floor using rice four. Two of the women pause, eager to pose for a picture. The walls of the temple are painted a bright lime green color which adds to the festive spirit. A group of women are taking a lunch break outside sitting together on the ground.
I find a quiet place to sit with the orb to charge the essence. I am given very clear directions that alignment is important for accessing the celestial realm and resonance of Uttara Ashadha. I need to adjust and readjust the direction of the triangles on the geometric orb. I receive guidance about the importance of adding a picture of the orb to the label on the essence bottle. The sacred geometry that is inherent in the orb’s structure imparts a potent cosmic resonance that carries the energies of each essence.
The Akshayapureeswarar Temple at Vilankulam is for Pushya Nakshatra and Saturn. This temple is the place where Saturn was healed from being lame. It was on the day of Pushya Nakshatra on a Saturday that Saturn was healed here at the Akshayapureeshwara temple, granting him full recovery. Saturn is said to still visit this temple regularly to pray in his invisible form. Those belonging to Pushya Nakshatra are advised to pray at the temple for health and prosperity on the day of their Nakshatra and on Saturday, the day of Saturn. It is Saturday today and a very auspicious day for us to visit the temple.
I spent a lot of time at the Saturn altar and energize the elixir there. The devotees visiting the temple are very attentive and interested in what I am doing. I feel a very nurturing and comforting energy. I thank Saturn for the lessons I have been granted. Saturn plays a balancing role for Pushya. Both Jupiter and Saturn influence Pushya creating a balance of restriction and expansiveness.
There is a Goddess temple altar with 10 goddesses sitting on the top. Komilla, our leader, says that you rarely see that. I sit along side a mother and child who are also praying at the goddess temple altar. It is sweet. I pray for my new moon sisters and see all of them there dancing. As I take a picture of the top of the altar, the Sun shines through creating sun rays on the photo. I take that as a good sign.
When we leave the temple there is a vendor outside offering many colorful food items. It is a beautiful display of bounty and nourishment so appropriate for a Pushya temple.