Friday, 29. February 2008
Mandala Dance’s

Mandala Dance's primary focus is on healing our relationships with ourselves and the spirit. Enjoy and/or try it by yourself:

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Mandala Dance's: Meditation in Motion (11:51)
Mandala Dance's: Ancient Mural Meditation (04:39)
Mandala Dance's: Dance Under The Tree Of Life (05:45)
Mandala Dance's: Soul Hunting (03:49)

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You insert a meditation disc from your collection into your DVD-player and through your projection device you direct the image onto the wall of your room. The diameter of the image can be comparable to your own height. You become the same height as the Mandala. The room dissolves. Behold your Living Mandala shimmering and floating in space: the Chariot of the Gods, Portals into other worlds of your perception. And then astonishing things begin to unfold - true flight, travel across space and time. You allow yourself to enter into the Mandala. You take firm control over what is happening... Worlds that have become lost to Humanity are newly accessible and open to you. You become the master of Time, a Child and a Wonder of The Light... And all you need is to accomplish all this is: a collection of our Mirrors, a DVD- player, a projector, a cool head and a superheated heart...

A Mandala Dance mobilizes and integrates all your energies. Everything becomes electric. We realize what Chakras really are. The Mandala helps you to feel ways of energy. The Mandala helps you to build the sacred space. You utilize the body as a vehicle to set the momentum in motion. You begin to move like the waves of the ocean, you are drenched in the sea of feelings and emotions. Images like kaleidoscopic murals become vibrantly alive.


More @ Mandala Dance
Category: Art & Visions | Meditation & Mind | Products & Services |




Relax and Refresh your Eyes

These eye exercises will relax and refresh your eyes, strenghten your eye muscles and help you to prevent eye strain and headache.

At first, wash your face and eyes with cold water.
Sink your eyes in the palms of your hands filled with cold water and blink a couple of times.

Massage gently your eyelids and surrounding face.

Palming:
  • Cover your eyes with palms of your hands without pressing eyeballs.
  • Relax your whole body and watch the darkness a while. The darker the better.
  • Try to find a comfortable position when doing this, make sure you are not tensed.
  • Darkened room is a good place for palming.


Look up, hold 5 seconds, relax your eyes. Look down, hold 5 seconds, relax your eyes.
Repeat 5 times.
Blink your eyes a few seconds.

Look left, hold 5 seconds, relax your eyes. Look right, hold 5 seconds, relax your eyes.
Repeat 5 times.
Blink your eyes.

Look up left, hold 5 seconds, relax your eyes. Look down right, hold 5 seconds, relax your eyes.
Repeat 5 times.
Blink your eyes.

Look up right, hold 5 seconds, relax your eyes. Look down left, hold 5 seconds, relax your eyes.
Repeat 5 times.
Blink your eyes.


Rotate eyeballs 10 circles to left.
Blink your eyes.


Rotate eyeballs 10 circles to right.
Blink your eyes.


Cross your eyes by looking at the tip of your nose. Look up at your eyebrows and then back to the tip the nose. Relax your eyes.
Repeat 5 times.
Blink your eyes.


Close your eyes as tightly as you can.
Hold 5 seconds, then relax.


Open your eyes wide open. Hold 5 seconds, then relax.
Repeat 10 times.
Blink your eyes.

Focus on an object (pen, finger ...) a few inches away from your eyes, then focus far into the distance (through window for example).
Repeat 10 times. Blink your eyes.

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Source: Eyesite
Category: Body & Health |




Thursday, 28. February 2008
Anna Mitchell-Hedges and her enigmatic Crystal Skull

A crystal skull is a stone carving in the shape of a human skull. The sculptures vary in size from a few inches to life-size. Some are made of pure quartz crystal, but many are made of other types of stone found in abundance on Earth. Some stone skulls are genuine artifacts from Mesoamerican cultures such as the Aztecs and are known as skull masks or death heads.

But the crystal skulls that interest New Agers are extraterrestrial in origin or come from Atlantis. They allegedly are endowed with magical powers such as the spontaneous production of holographic images and the emission of weird sounds.

Today, millions of skulls, made of various types of stones and metals, are manufactured in a variety of sizes for the New Age paratrinket market, as well as for the museum replica market. And, despite the fact that replicas are easily made and are available from a variety of sources, advocates of the paranormal nature of crystal skulls like Nick Nocerino claim that no one knows how these skulls were made and that they are impossible to duplicate. Nocerino is the founder of the The Society of Crystal Skulls, International. His society uses psychometry, remote viewing, and scrying as part of their research methodology.

More @ The Skeptic's Dictionary


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British Museum's Photo of the Crystal Skull


The myth of crystal skulls as extraterrestrial and extra-powerful seems to have begun with F. A. "Mike" Mitchell-Hedges (1882-1959) and his adopted daughter Anna.
Of all of the crystal skulls, the Mitchell-Hedges skull, the "skull of doom", is probably the most infamous. The skull was allegedly discovered in the mid-1920s by Anna Mitchell-Hedges, the adopted daughter of a British adventurer and traveler named F.A. Mitchell-Hedges. Anna claims that she found the skull beneath the altar of a Mayan temple in Lubaantun, a ruined city in Belize, on her 17th birthday.

Well, here is a new website: The Mitchell-Hedges Official Website, home of the Mitchell-Hedges skull - fill you in on some of the real-life background to the mysterious artefacts.

Don't miss a 1983 interview with Anna Mitchell-Hedges about the skull, the part of Atlantis, and the story of Mike Mitchell-Hedges' life.


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Lady R Brown, Mitchell Hedges, T Gann at Lubaantun


Sir Arthur C. Clarke made the skull into his signature logo for his popular television series, 'Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World'.
Watch here his documentary that tackled the crystal skull:


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Anna Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull: Part 1 (09:59)
Anna Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull: Part 2 (09:57)
Anna Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull: Part 3 (00:37)

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Sir Arthur Charles Clarke is a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, most famous for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and for collaborating with director Stanley Kubrick on the film of the same name. Clarke is the last surviving member of what was sometimes known as the "Big Three" of science fiction, which included Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.
The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation




UPDATE April 16th, 2008:

A new very skeptical feature: Legend of the Crystal Skulls by Archaeology Magazine, Volume 61 Number 3, May/June 2008
Crystal skulls have undergone serious scholarly scrutiny, but they also excite the popular imagination because they seem so mysterious. Theories about their origins abound. Some believe the skulls are the handiwork of the Maya or Aztecs, but they have also become the subject of constant discussion on occult websites. Some insist that they originated on a sunken continent or in a far-away galaxy. And now they are poised to become archaeological superstars thanks to our celluloid colleague Indiana Jones, who will tackle the subject of our research in 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'.
Category: Mysteries & Enigmas | New Legends & Claims |


Winged Sandals

The Winged Sandals site began with a dream. I kept dreaming of an animated version of the Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo where Apollo transforms himself into a dolphin and founds the Oracle at Delphi.

I grew up between Athens and Melbourne and was immersed in the stories of Greek mythology from a very young age. The stories of magical flight, of heroic journeys into the Underworld and of immortal gods captured my imagination as a child.

Classical mythology is truly timeless because it can still create such strong visual imagery in our minds. The images of these characters have always been locked away in my imagination and I wanted to create a project that would inspire children around the world to keep dreaming.

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Greek myth has been passed down to us through ancient vase painting and through oral and written traditions. I chose this subject partly because I knew that the stories of myth would inspire animators but also to use the latest technologies of digital storytelling to let the stories speak to web audiences and inspire a thirst for the classics in a new generation. This content was literally screaming for a chance to be translated onto the web.


The underlying themes of the site were established at concept stage and the content for the site was deliberately chosen to bring out those themes. Melbourne University and ABC staff collaborated to create a strong subtext and metaphor for the site which is essentially: magical flight in the three realms.

-- Rosie Allimonos

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Winged Sandals
Category: Mythology & Epics |


Wednesday, 27. February 2008
Soul Horoscopes from SoulGarden

You have never seen astrology like this. Entering into his third year of soul service, stand up Astrologer, Christopher Witecki reports on up to the minute horoscope and astrology advice for all 12 zodiac signs, five days a week.

First check the AstroWeather for today:




Then choose your Sun Sign from the list.
My sign is Pisces - well, let's see what the stars have to say for today:



Hip & Trendy: SoulGarden!

See also SoulGardenTV's Channel at YouTube.
Category: Astrology & Astronomy |


News & Stories

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Ormus - Spiritual and Medicinal Gold With Incredible Healing Potential
by Natural News.
Ormus, also known as ORMEs, m-state elements, white powder gold, or the Philosopher's Stone, was discovered in 1975 by an Arizona farmer named David Hudson. He discovered some material in his soil that he had never seen before. He laid it out to dry in the hot Arizona sun so he could have it analyzed. What happened next was absolutely remarkable: the stuff exploded in a big flash of light and disappeared! But when he dried it without the use of sunlight it didn't disappear.

Fresh tests on Shroud of Turin
by The Telegraph.
The Oxford laboratory that declared the Turin Shroud to be a medieval fake 20 years ago is investigating claims that its findings were wrong. The head of the world-renowned laboratory has admitted that carbon dating tests it carried out on Christendom's most famous relic may be inaccurate.

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Parapsychology researcher Dean Radin on ESP, spirituality, and how the consciousness of individuals is connected by San Francisco Chronicle.
It often seems like science and spirituality are bitter enemies, incapable of playing nicely together. Scientists are not fond of ideas that can't be tested; spiritual people say that the important things in life are beyond quantifying. But Dean Radin firmly believes that both can get along, at least out on the far fringes where most of his work is done, investigating the extreme reaches of human consciousness.

Archeologists Find 5,500 Year Old Plaza in Peru by ABC News.
A circular plaza built 5,500 years ago has been discovered in Peru, and archeologists involved in the dig said on Monday carbon dating shows it is one of the oldest structures ever found in the Americas. "It's an impressive find, the scientific and archeology communities are very happy," said Cesar Perez, the scientist at Peru's National Institute of Culture who supervised the project. "This could redesign the history of the country."

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Exorcisms May Be On The Rise by CBS News. (WITH VIDEO)
The Catholic Church has always believed in the idea of demonic possession -- of the fight, within the individual, between good and evil, says CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips. The ancient ritual of trying to drive evil spirits formtortured souls was dramatically portrayed by Hollywood in "The Exorcist." The Church, Phillips points out, would rather such graphic religious experiences took place privately.

A Lead on the Ark of the Covenant by The Time.
When last we saw the lost Ark of the Covenant in action, it had been dug up by Indiana Jones in Egypt and ark-napped by Nazis, whom the Ark proceeded to incinerate amidst a tempest of terrifying apparitions. But according to Tudor Parfitt, a real-life scholar-adventurer, Raiders of the Lost Ark had it wrong, and the Ark is actually nowhere near Egypt. In fact, Parfitt claims he has traced it (or a replacement container for the original Ark), to a dusty bottom shelf in a museum in Harare, Zimbabwe.

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David Talbott of Thunderbolt Project presents a ten-minute video as a prelude for an upcoming video project, intended to explain the intriguing "Saturn Theory" which suggests 'prehistoric' art - including artwork on the walls of the caves of Lascaux, France, and Australian aboriginal cave paintings - contains knowledge of plasma and astronomy since forgotten by humanity.

Symbols of an Alien Sky:

Category: News & Stories |


Tuesday, 26. February 2008
Abs Yoga

Here is a way to use powerful yoga poses designed to give you a flat and tight stomach. Your video guide is yoga teacher, Rodney Yee.

Abs Yoga for Beginners:

Category: Yoga & Fitness |


Dreamwork Basics

These dreamwork basics include tips on remembering your dreams and a special method for interpreting them.


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The Stuff that Dreams Are Made by John Anster Fitzgerald, circa 1858


Remembering Your Dreams

In order to work with our dream self we must first and foremost remember our dreams. Often we may wake up in the morning believing that we have not had any dreams. But it is more likely that we have not yet remembered the dreams we did indeed have. Think of the many times you have gotten up and dressed and gone off to work or school and then, out of the blue, recalled a dream experience. Such recall comes suddenly and for no apparent reason. This is one way our dreams come back to us.

Don't feel discouraged if you do not remember your dreams on awakening. Dream recall can come at any time during your day, and you can do many things to encourage better dream recall. We've put together a list of our favorite ten.

Key #1: Get Enough Restful Sleep

Most people need at least six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to experience the highest level of dream recall. We need to go through the ninety-minute sleep/dream cycle several times before we become rested enough to have a conscious memory of our dreams.

With some exceptions, most people who only get four or five hours of sleep each night short-circuit their natural dream cycle. Only you know exactly how sleep much you need. You might want to experiment several nights in a row to discover the optimum number of hours you need to obtain the clearest dream recall.

Key #2: Sleep with Your Head to the North

Sleeping with your head pointing true north puts your body and its corresponding chakra system in alignment with the polar magnetism of the earth. Yogi masters, mystics, and psychics have long recommended this position for healthful sleep. We have found that sleeping with our head to the north strengthens our connection to the higher, intuitive self; promotes the health of the body and the central nervous system; enhances restful sleep; and stimulates the highest and most vivid level of dream recall.

A simple compass can assist you in determining true north in your bedroom. Sleeping with your head to the other three compass directions will also affect your sleep experiences. For example, sleeping with your head to the south grounds you to the earth. This helps to reduce the occurrence of nightmares and invasive dreams. However, the downside of the south position is that it tends to dampen dream recall.

Key #3: Set Your Intentions with an Affirmation

We have discovered that what we pay attention to most often grows stronger and bears fruit. And so it is with dreams. Giving conscious attention to dreams will allow you to receive important messages of healing and wisdom that the hidden parts of you (subconscious, emotional, higher, and soul selves) are trying to bring to your attention every night.

It is especially helpful to use a simple, strongly worded affirmation of intention before you fall asleep at night. Try something like, "I will remember my dreams in the morning." Repeat this affirmation, or one similar to it, several times as you fall asleep.


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Key #4: Keep Dream Tools Handy

Acknowledge how serious you are about your dream worlds by keeping your dream journal or a tape recorder close to your bedside. Then make an inner commitment to use these tools each night. It also helps to have a small flashlight handy when recording your dreams; oftentimes turning on a bright light will drive your dream memories away. A bright light may also awaken you so much that you will find it difficult to fall back to sleep.

Key #5: Give Yourself Extra Time in the Morning

An obvious but sometimes overlooked aid to remembering your dreams is to simply set aside an extra fifteen minutes in the morning for remembering and recording your dreams. Set the alarm fifteen minutes earlier than usual or train yourself to wake earlier so that you don't have to jump out of bed in a rush to get ready for work or school.

Key #6: Keep Your Eyes Closed

Another key to remembering your dreams is to keep your eyes closed when you first awaken to reduce the amount of external stimuli that normally floods your brain in the morning. It also provides a blank screen upon which your dream symbols, memories, and images can form. Finally, it promotes a state of relaxation that is beneficial when trying to access dream memories.

Keys #7 and 8. Relax and Be Still and
Re-Create Your Dream in Reverse Sequence


Remember to keep your body as still as possible as you wake up. Wiggling, stretching, or sitting up can drive the memory of your dreams away just as quickly as a bright light can. Sometimes you may remember only one image or scene upon awakening. Don't worry! If you relax and lay still, you can often trace this one image backward and reconstruct your dream, frame by frame, from the last scene to the middle scenes and, eventually, to the beginning.


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Key #9: Journal Your Feelings, Daydreams, Fantasies

Get into a daily habit of journaling your feelings, daydreams, and fantasies. You might be thinking: I don't have time for this! And it's true, many of us lead extremely busy lives and simply do not have a lot of extra time. But this type of journaling does not require a lot of extra time. Don't feel as if you need to record every event or thought of the day.

Simply jot down a paragraph or two (usually in the evening just before bed), describing any feelings, fantasies, or interesting thoughts you experienced that day. Even just a few words or key phrases will help trigger your memory of an idea or feeling you may want to explore later on. You will be rewarded with deep insights into your patterns and life processes when you connect your journal information to the issues being brought up in your dreams.

Dreams are internal manifestations of our thoughts, hopes, fears, and conflicts. They provide us with a stage upon which to examine our issues from the various viewpoints of our self-segments, and, most important, they often offer us creative solutions to dilemmas -- solutions that have eluded our conscious mind.

Key #10. Create a Dream-Sharing Ritual

Create a morning dream ritual. Make it as simple or as complex as you choose. For example, Linda's mother created a morning dream ritual for her family simply by encouraging everyone to talk about his or her dreams during breakfast. Even if you live alone and have no built-in dream partners, you can still create meaningful rituals. One way is to bring your dreams to work and share them with an interested co-worker. You could also call or email a friend. The feedback we get from interested dream partners can provide valuable insights into our relationships and our inner psyches.

Although all the keys we have discussed are simple, they do require you to change. During your efforts to use these keys, don't become discouraged if you find it difficult to change your old habits to make time for the new activities outlined in the keys. Replacing old habits with new energy patterns is not easy. In order to be successful in changing your habits and installing a new pattern, your desire to work with your dream-self must be strong. The good news is that once you do establish a new pattern, it will become easier and easier for that pattern to take hold. Eventually it will become automatic, and you will gain all the benefit without great effort.

Interpreting Your Dreams: Read more ...
Category: Articles & Essays | Dreams & Sleep |


Monday, 25. February 2008
Angels - How they got their Wings

What part have angels played in western religion?

How did they get their halos and their wings?

And what are they really? Gods or men?


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Beato Angelico, San Marco Museum, Florence -- Click the picture for a larger view


George Bernard Shaw made the observation that "in heaven an angel is nobody in particular", but there is nothing commonplace about this description of angels from the Bible's book of Ezekiel:

"They had the likeness of a man.
And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass ... As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle."

With angels like that, it is easy to see why they have caused so much controversy over the centuries.


Host Melvyn Bragg and his expert guests discuss Angels. The contributors are:
  • Martin Palmer, theologian and Director of the International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture
  • Valery Rees, Renaissance Scholar from the School of Economic Science
  • John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews


If you wish to find out more of this subject,
then listen to this programme in full here (43 minutes):



Broadcast was on March 2005 at BBC 4, 'In Our Time'.
Also available for RealPlayer.
Category: Angels & Heaven | Music & Voices |


Seek not to change the World

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Click the picture for a larger view

~~~ Find Your Inspiration ~~~



Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.
What you see reflects your thinking. And your thinking but reflects your choice of what you want to see.

-- From the book: A Course In Miracles
Category: Poetry & Inspirations |


Sunday, 24. February 2008
Earth pilgrim: A year on Dartmoor

"God is Nature - and Nature is my God."


This unique BBC 2 Natural World documentary reflects on our connection to our natural environment.

This exquisitely photographed film is a spiritual journey into the ethereal landscape of Dartmoor with Resurgence Satish Kumar, the world-renowned ecologist, former Jain monk and pilgrim for peace.

Through changing seasons, Satish walks the moor and explores ancient woods and rivers, which are home to a wealth of wildlife including red deer, emperor moths, starling roosts, kestrels and foxes. His meditations on the natural world are lyrical, uplifting and timely. He offers a very Indian perspective through the changing seasons.

Earth pilgrim: A year on Dartmoor by BBC (Natural World Serie 2008)
Duration: 50 minutes.





Press coverage of Earth Pilgrim:

Soul man by The Guardian.
Satish Kumar has spent much of his life walking the Earth to spiritually connect with nature; now he wants environmentalists and all of us to forget gloomy predictions and follow in his footsteps. John Vidal reports.

Meet the Pilgrim Father by The Metro.
As an Indian Jain monk, I always had a reverential view of nature. But coming to the West, I learnt a bit more Western philosophy and science, and tried to see a balance between the two. There is a value in an analytical, scientific, empirical, evidence-based understanding but there is also a value in human intuition and human spirit. If you can put those two together, then the meaning and the matter become one.
Pilgrim Father full version (pdf)

Day-by-day Celebration of Nature and Peace by Western Morning News.
Practising what you preach isn't always the easiest path to follow, but when it involves walking hand in hand with nature, rejecting the fear and resentment of the average modern existence, and working towards a peaceful world, it could start to sound more appealing than daunting.
Category: Buildings & Places | Monks & Ascets | Movies & TV |


Saturday, 23. February 2008
Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment

Chopra is best known for his spiritual how-to books. Here, he turns to fiction, writing about the life of Prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha.

Chopra divides his book into three parts. The first chronicles the youth of a motherless boy who has a destiny: to be a spiritual leader as foretold by astronomers at his birth. But his powerful father refuses to bow to fate and keeps his son isolated from the world.

In the second part, Siddhartha, now a husband and father, sees suffering and decides to leave his life of leisure and become a monk. Despite extreme asceticism and a duel with a demon, enlightenment eludes him.

In the final section, Siddhartha sees the error of trying to defeat his body and, in one night, achieves enlightenment and becomes the Buddha.

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Chopra's "Practical Guide to Buddhism" at the end were instructional stepping off points, a guide with commentary and teachings on core Buddhist principles. Written so they make sense to the western mind.

A refreshing novel, and an inspiring read!

Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra.
HarperOne, 2007 | PDF | 288 pages | 2.1 MB


Author’s Note:

Category: Books & Magazines | Religion & Early Cultures |


Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tantric Sex

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What exactly is tantric sex? This book explains the way of life the ancients knew and that we are rediscovering. People may be drawn to tantric practices hoping to enhance their sexual satisfaction. But Tantra is much more than a sexual teaching. Tantric practice can transform every aspect of your life, helping you to expand your physical health and vitality, emotional healing and expression, psychic sensitivity, satisfying relationships, creativity, and productivity.

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This book is written in a very clear, detailed and simple manner, so that everyone will understand what 'tantric sex' implies and what it means to live blissfully. You will learn about the different needs you and your partner have and know how to satisfy them. You will be given ideas and tips about how to improve communication and how to make your relationship grow and become 'one' with your partner.

You will find out that sex comes first from the heart and not from our hormones. It will teach us how to make love from our hearts. It will make you realise that sexuality and spirituality are linked.


Complete Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex by Dr. Judy Kuriansky.
Alpha, 2002 | 374 pages | PDF | 7.7 MB
Category: Books & Magazines | Tantra & Kamasutra |


Friday, 22. February 2008
Momote Shiki: Japanese Archery Ritual

On Seijin-no-Hi (Coming of Age Day) in early January in Japan, an archery ritual known as Momote Shiki is held at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo for all those turning 20 for that year.

Here's a short clip of a Shinto Priest shooting the Kabura-ya (whistling arrow):




Related Entry: Asian Traditional Archery


Seijin-no-Hi or Coming of Age Day is celebrated all throughout Japan on the second Monday of January. Throughout the country, similar ceremonies and activities take place among those newly turned 20 such as the wearing of special kimono, going to shrines, attending speeches, and so on. At Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, a unique ceremony takes place that is often overlooked in favor of seeing the kimono-clad girls that populate the shrine on that day.


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Archers in old style kimono preparing to shoot n the archery ritual known as Momote Shiki


Behind the main shrine complex an archery ritual known as Momote Shiki is performed for the good fortune of all those turning 20 and becoming new adults. Archers wearing a style of formal kimono that samurai once wore in olden times shoot two arrows a piece at a central target.


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Archers arriving at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo


The Momote Shiki ceremony is conducted by the Ogasawara-Ryu, one of the oldest schools of Japanese-style archery. The Ogasawara family has long been associated with martial arts training most especially archery. The founder of the Ogasawara line was Nagakiyo who was born in the mid-12th century. He excelled as a mounted archer and was granted the surname of Ogasawara by the Emperor after the name of his birthplace in modern Yamanashi Prefecture.

12th century Japan was a transitionary time. In prior centuries, the Emperor's Court ruled the land from Kyoto. Nobles held the reigns of power but as time progressed they began to lose their power to the emerging warrior class. With the increase of violence, the noble administrators had to rely more and more on the formerly despised warrior class to quell the problems. Eventually the warrior class came into its own in the mid-12th century when the powerful warrior family, the Heike or Taira, came to dominate the Imperial Court.


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The archers wear a style of kimono worn by samurai 800 years ago


The Heike became arrogant in their new found power thus breeding many enemies. War broke out between them and their powerful rivals the Genji or Minamoto clan. The leader of the Genji was Minamoto-no-Yoritomo. Yoritomo destroyed the Heike family and came to rule all of Japan as Shogun. He ruled from his capital Kamakura which lies an hour south of Tokyo by train.

Nagakiyo had been Yoritomo's mentor and instructor in mounted archery. With Yoritomo's ultimate victory, the Ogasawara's fortunes rose. Yoritomo was keen that his warriors keep their martial skills honed even during peacetime. The reason for this and his decision to set his capital in Kamakura far from Kyoto was the precedent set by his former enemies, the Heike family.


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Before shooting, the archers give reverence


One of the prevailing opinions of the day as to why the once powerful Heike family fell so completely was their descent into decadence. They spent more time worrying about their appearance and their poetry ability than they did on their martial skills. One Heike general was famous for abandoning his position in abject terror when a flight of geese so startled him that he thought the Genji were attacking. A great part of this stemmed from the Heike's close proximity to the culture of the Imperial Court.

Yoritomo did not want his followers to become soft and weak like the Heike. He wanted to establish a strong legacy so he set his new capital in Kamakura far from the Imperial Court. Furthermore, he avidly supported the Ogasawara clan in training warriors to maintain their skill and discipline. A number of archery rituals still practiced today were started because of Yoritomo's stern insistence that his followers retain their martial fighting skills.


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A Shinto Priest preparing to shoot a special arrow to begin the ceremony


Archery whether mounted or on foot was strongly emphasized because at this time the much-praised samurai sword had yet to truly come into its own. In Yoritomo's time, the bow was the principle weapon of the samurai and the symbol of his profession and spirit.

Yoritomo's shogunate government lasted until the early 14th century. After his Spartan policies were ignored, the Kamakura Shogunate leaders became lax with luxury and in the end they fell to more determined and stronger enemies. The Ogasawara survived the downfall of the Kamakura shogunate and went on to serve the new shogunate government establish by the Ashikaga clan.


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A Shinto Priest loosens and removes his left sleeve so it will not hinder his shooting


Sometime after the power of the Ashikaga shoguns declined, the warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu established a new shogunate government set in Edo (today Tokyo) in 1603. He requested Ogasawara Tsunenao, the head of the clan at the time, to be a mentor and instructor to his son.

The Tokugawa Shogunate ushered in an unprecedented two centuries of peace. Fighting skills were no longer in great demand; however, practice of the martial arts continued but took on a new form. Archery and other martial skills became less about the physical and more about the spiritual. Archery became viewed as a way to self-improvement; of disciplining the mind and soul.


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The Ogasawara clan continued to serve the Tokugawa shogunate until 1868 when the shogunate was abolished. In the midst of a rapidly modernizing Japan of the late 19th century, the Ogasawara continued to teach their traditional arts. However, since there were no more samurai to train in Japan's new society, the Ogasawara opened their school to the general public.

Today the Ogasawara perform a number of archery rituals throughout the year at a number of shrines. Every spring in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, they perform the mounted archery ritual of Yabusame.


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The Momote Shiki ritual is carried out on Seijin-no-Hi, Coming of Age Day though the ritual predates the holiday by centuries. Momote - means "hundred hands." The ritual is a bit of Shinto mathematics: ten archers at a time shoot two arrows a piece. The number of archers times the number of arrows equals 100. The type of arrow used has white fletching or feather. This is the same type of arrow which is sold as good luck charms at shrines during New Years. The Momote Shiki ritual is the origin of this arrow charm. The Momote Shiki ritual used to be held in private until the Edo Period (1603-1867) when it became open to the general public.

Before the archers begin, a Shinto priest shoots a Kabura-ya, a special red-colored arrow with an turnip-shaped head. The arrow makes a whistling noise as speeds along. The noise is believed to drive away evils from all four directions.


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Archers draw the bow above their heads before bringing it down to aim


The archers wear a type of kimono known as a kariginu. The kariginu was the everyday dress of the samurai of the Kamakura Period (1192-1333) and was based on clothes worn on hunting expeditions. On their head is an eboshi -- a type of hat worn by court nobles in earlier centuries.

The traditional way of shooting the bow is very slow and meticulous. The archers begin by slowly uncovering their left arm and shoulder leaving them and the left side of the chest completely bare. The purpose for this is practicality rather than for ritual purposes.


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Traditional kimono robes are loose and flowing which could easily inconvenience the shooting of the bow. Female archers however do not reveal their shoulders and chest. They put their arm through a specially designed hole on the sleeves of female kimono then tie up the sleeve.

The bow is raised upwards and brought slowly down while the arrow is pulled back past the ear. Then at last the string is let loose and the arrow speeds towards the target. The emphasis of the ritual and Japanese archery in general is not on striking the target accurately but on the spiritual repose the archer achieves and maintains throughout the whole ceremony. Balance is sought between spirit and bow when the mind is empty but not dwelling on emptiness.


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Archers receive a ceremonial serving of sake after the ritual


A Zen Master of the Kamakura Period once wrote:
No target's erected
No bow's drawn
And the arrow leaves the string;
It may not hit,
But it does not miss!


Once all the archers have shot the required number of arrows, they receive a small portion of sake and the ceremony is considered concluded. The health and good fortune of the new adults is thus spiritually assured for the year.


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Source: Momote Shiki by Ohmy News. All pictures © 2008 by David Michael Weber
Category: Articles & Essays | Martial Arts & Combat |


The Celts

Even today, very little is known about the mysterious, elusive culture of the Celtic peoples.

In the same way as all other cultures, the lifestyle of the Celts influenced the structure and beliefs of their religion, known as Druidism. When Anglesey was settled by the Celts in about 100 BC, it became the centre of this religion. It consisted of Pagan beliefs in deities of the Earth, spirits of the woodland, sun gods, as well as elves and demons.

The supreme god of the Celts was Lug, who gave his name to this city of Lyons ("Lugundum" in Latin). Taranis, or Dagada as he was known in Ireland, was the god of the spiritual world. Ogomis, the god of warriors and kingship, was said to have a face which smiled to the right but glowered on the left. Fertility gods and goddesses were abound in Celtic tradition, including Cernunos the Antlered, who was also the god of the untamed forces of nature, and Bridget, the patroness of fire. He was often depicted as being surrounded by deer, serpents and other woodland creatures. A number of animals were seen as sacred by the Celts, including the wild boar. In Gaul, the hunting and killing of the boar stood for the mortal running the spiritual to ground.

Read here a very good short article to the Celts by Megan Balanck.


Here is a nice introduction into the Celtic Pagan Culture. (11:25)




You may also like about the ancient Celts:

OBOD: The Order of Bards, Ovates, & Druids
UK Druidry organization.

Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship
The Irish words, pronounced "arn ree-ocht fane", mean "Our Own Druidism", and that´s just what ADF is - a completely independent tradition of Neopagan Druidism.

Guide to the Druids and Celtic Spirituality
The Druids emerged from the ancient Celtic tribes, at a time when the people had to live close to nature to survive.

Society of Celtic Shamans
Teaching and more from this group of Celtic Shamans.

CELT, the Corpus of Electronic Texts
A scholarly and very comprehensive archive of Celtic texts.


Online Books:

The Religion of the Ancient Celts by J. A. MacCulloch (1911)
This is an authoritative study of ancient Celtic religion, including extensive material on what is actually known about the Druids.

Survivals in Belief Among the Celts by George Henderson (1911)
An extensive review of evidence of pre-Christian beliefs in Celtic culture.

Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions by James Bonwick (1894)
This book reflects a scholarly perspective on the Druids. It ties together many strands of mythology and anthroplogy to shed light on Irish Paganism.

Celtic Myth and Legend by Charles Squire (1905)
A comprehensive treatment of Irish, Welsh, and British mythology, from the ancient pagan pantheons up to the Arthurian legends.
Category: Myths & Sagas | Religion & Early Cultures |


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