Why did ancient astrologers associate the moon with the mind and the mother? Here I look at some interesting facts about the powers of the moon from various points of view relative to this study of the nakshatras.
"It takes 27 days, 7 hours, and 43 minutes for our Moon to complete one full orbit around Earth. This is called the sidereal month, and is measured by our Moon's position relative to distant “fixed” stars. However, it takes our Moon about 29.5 days to complete one cycle of phases (from new Moon to new Moon)." (url)
Lunar calendars - tithi concept - 28 days of the month
[being researched...to be continued]
Cycles of Growth & FertilityAs archeologists and other scholars of ancient cultures know [I am indebted to Eliade Mercia's research for example], goddesses tend to come in threes. It is understood that the tripartite goddess idea would have emerged from an innate understanding of the moon's power over women's menstral cycle and its relationship to the three fertility phases in a woman's life becoming associated with the moon's phases and deified as maiden, mother, crone: pre-sexual, fertile, and infertile (physically). These correlate with the three cosmic forces of creation, sustenance and dissolution (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva). A society living in harmony with nature would have used the simpler lunar calendar, where the moon's association with timing for all things fertility (whether for procreation, agriculture or fishing) would have been obvious.
The Lunar Influence on the MindSri Jaggi Vasudeva says that full and new moons enhance or heighten what we already are and this is why these dates are special opportunities to become the person you want to be:
Here is an interesting article on Hindism's approach to the moon and mind (link) where fasting and prayer to Vishnu is recommended.
[to be continued]
If the Moon is a goddess then why is Chandra male?
Putting the gender politics aside for the moment, the Governor General Vessel that is the surface part of the Sushumna Meridian is where the yin-in-the-yang upward/counterclockwise flow of energy takes place. In Vedic astrology I think what the Moon really represents is the lunar (yin) aspect of mind (the element of the brow chakra) as an aspect of ego. The brow chakra is the one to conquer in meditation, the one to transcend if your goal is moksha - liberation from suffering, liberation from having to reincarnate in the more gross dimensions.
The Moon in mythology is the ever lustful Chandra, who is equated with Soma, or I would say the pursuit of Soma. He is that part of us that wants bliss, ecstacy - the Ananda experience. Sri Aurobindo explains this clearly in his interpretation of the Rig Veda. Kundalini energy is sexual energy. Kundalini is associated with the sacral chakra and once awakened She begins to rise up the sushumna to meet her Beloved Siva (Consciousness) at the crown chakra, transforming our experience and consciousness every step of the way. This is the real story of the Moon in us - that soulful longing for the Ananda or rapture of enlightenment.
Mantak Chia explains in his many books on Taoist inner alchemy (neidan) tantric practices to transform gross energy into finer energies - from jing to chi to shen at the top of the head. Kundalini takes us there naturally and there are also yogi practices to harness the sexual energy at different chakra points to achieve different effects. Sexuality is an energy that can be used in many ways beyond using it for physical sex. Physical sex is for procreation but the real orgasm is happening way up in the head chakras - believe me, I have three children and I know the difference! Sometimes spiritual seekers get caught up in bliss experiences higher up the sushumna, but they are missing out on the greater experience of ananda. Baba Nityananda is quoted in the Chidakasha Gita as saying Sat plus Chit equals Ananda. Satchitananda is the total experience of union with Source, union with God, liberated from all attachments. That's what mind is looking for.When the mind is active in the world a lot of thoughts and feelings related to the world come. If you look at your life every day you will see how much time is spent in contemplating the objects of your senses, like the objects of pleasure, power and self gratification in the world. Your mind is completely involved in the senses but really there is nothing wrong with that as we have the freedom to do whatever we like in the human experience.The only thing is that it does not allow us to experience constant joy because the mind is fluctuating. Even if you give it pleasure continuously, it will be bored. We can also think that the restlessness of the mind is a sign that the mind is looking for something deeper. Sense objects certainly cannot satisfy it. On this path [towards enlightenment], therefore, the idea is to bring the mind in inward focus. This is the challenge. You are turning the searchlight of the mind inside, and this requires what is called "meditation".Sri Vasudeva, 2004 40 Days' Observance
The mythology breaks it down into the human story, and how we as body-identified, hopelessly maya-intoxicated beings, settle for less in the physical and mental domains. In the mythology Chandra, although he already has the nakshatras as his wives, goes and impregnates Tara (star) the wife of Brihaspati (Jupiter the guru as that wisdom guiding noble ego qualities or devas). Buddha (Mercury as intelligence) is born and Brihaspati in his wisdom accepts him as his own child. The hint in this story is that our brow chakra has three basic qualities: mind, intellect and the wisdom of the inner Guru (Kundalini). Mind is seeking pleasure and looks to the beautiful things it seeks with its unenlightened eyes. Wisdom is all forgiving, seeing the bigger picture. Intellect is "fathered" by both mind and wisdom (but it is our choice to use this faculty wisely, not giving in to the wanton nature of mind). This is how I interpret this parable. (When we interpret mythology through the lens of enlightenment teachings, we begin to perceive the soul of all scripture.)
In another story when Chandra lusts for Rohini (who as GV2 I believe represents procreative power, sexual energy at the sacral chakra level) his death sentence is ultimately reduced to a lesser punishment of having to undergo cycles of life and death, the waxing and waning periods of the moon. This is also the human story, sometimes we go for the gold, other times we settle for less.
What is Mind?It's important to consider how the Moon is meant to reflect or represent Mind. A basic metaphor is that the moon going through its phases begins completely empty, then in crescent form is like a cup and the Vedic mind imagines this cup to contain Soma, the elixir of life (which is actually prana/chi/quadra). As the cup grows so it brightens with additional prana until it becomes totally full (fulfilled). This is an analogy to the soul in its spiritual evolutionary journey.
I think that Vivekananda's definition of the mind (see Welcome page) as the entire soul (senses, thoughts, emotions, intellect, Kundalini, ego - everything in the subtle energy body) is what is actually meant by Chandra in terms of the nakshatras, and not the more limited definition of mind as an "element" as manas associated with the senses and elements.
Here is something I found on Wikipedia referencing ancient deities in the Savitri Upanishad associated with the nakshatras:
1 Prithvi (earth) Agni (fire)
2 Varuna (wind) Ap (water)
3 Vayu (air) Akasha (sky)
4 Yajna (fire-offering) Chandas (poem meter)
5 Stanayitnu (thunder cloud) Vidyut (Lightning)
6 Aditya (Sun) Dyo (celestial space)
7 Chandra (Moon) Nakshatra (constellation)
8 Manas (mind) Vac (speech)
9 Purusha (Man) Stri (Woman)
Notice that manas is a separate category. Savitar and Savitri essentially represent the Sun as an expression Consciousness and Energy, Shiva and Shakti. The nakshatras are clearly then the shaktis (powers) of the soul. What is the soul in this context? Sri Vasudeva teaches that it is an expression of Consciousness in limitation, in contraction because it is unrealized, thinking it is this body or that body, this "I" or that "I". Just as the Moon orbits the planet Earth, so to we the soul orbit our physical body - and the practice of the macrocosmic orbit and its variations up and down the sushumna is a deeper level of this orbiting.
This is another way to think about Chandra, Moon, and Mind.
[to be continued]