by David McConaghay
In late April of 2018, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association held it’s 14th annual conference in Plano, Texas. I was there to serve as a volunteer, as a soon-to-be graduate of the Ayurvedic Doctor program at Alandi Ashram, and as a COLORAMA board member.
This was my first time at a NAMA conference and it was inspiring to be surrounded by an international community of Ayurveda enthusiasts and experts. Lots of people get excited about meeting famous musicians, actors or athletes. In this case, I was mildly star-struck when I asked Robert Svoboda to sign my copy of The Greatness of Saturn. Likewise, it was meaningful to share a meal with Amadea Morningstar, having enjoyed so many meals made of her recipes in the past.
After the welcome banquet on Friday night, many of the conference attendees made their way to a nearby theater to see The Doctor From India, the recently released documentary about Dr. Vasant Lad. It was poignant to watch this heart-opening film alongside so many people whose lives have been profoundly influenced by Dr. Lad.
Ayur-celebrities aside, it was of profound practical significance to meet with various members of the NAMA board and staff to explore the near and long-term potentials for Ayurveda in the United States. Of particular interest was a meeting focused on NAMA’s relationship with the state organizations.
Approximately 25 individuals from 9 states and Canada attended the meeting to discuss relevant topics about what it takes to start and maintain a state organization, what is the proper relationship between NAMA and the state associations, and of course, the pros and cons of health freedom laws and licensure.
The first outcome of this meeting is the formation of a State Organizations sub-committee whose purpose is “to support the development of state-level Ayurveda associations and to coordinate with them in order to foster community and avoid redundancy. Ideally, the committee will serve as a center of gravity, encouraging creative cooperation between states and alignment with the NAMA mission."
As it happens, I am the chair person for this newly formed committee, and very much looking forward to helping NAMA and the states work together for the benefit of Ayurveda and everyone involved.
The conference was also full of top-notch talks on panchakarma in the modern world, the Ayurvedic approach to gastrointestinal conditions, and Ayurvedic psychology. I particularly enjoyed Arun Deva’s presentation on Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy, as well as the research posters presented by two students who looked at NOAA climate data to determine appropriate rtucharya protocols for their local environments.
Even beyond the official presentations, the casual conversations between all the practitioners and life-long students were fascinating and uplifting. I came away from the conference feeling a sense of camaraderie that gives me more enthusiasm about Ayurveda in America than ever before.
Next year’s conference will be held at the 1440 Multiversity campus outside Santa Cruz, California. It promises to be a beautiful and intimate setting to explore the theme, “Ayurveda and the Mind.” I’m already looking forward to it, and hope you will consider joining us there.
by David McConaghay
Today is May 10, 2018 and this letter is composed in Boulder, Colorado, USA.
Until May 15, both Mars and the Sun are exalted in the sky, bringing prominence to the fire element. This can bring great clarity, but also a tendency towards explosiveness, which we can see with the volcano erupting in Hawai'i, all the bluster about nuclear weapons and the (thankfully, until now, relatively minor) exchange of rocket fire in the Middle East. Individually, the fire element is associated with rakta dhatu, so watch out for eruption of pitta skin conditions which can arise when our blood is boiling, so to speak.
Last week, Mars moved into the sign of Capricorn, where it will remain in exalted dignity until November. Mars is a tamasic planet primarily concerned with keeping us alive. When it comes to survival, things are very black-and-white — you either make it, or you don’t. Mars is that part of us that will fight for our right to exist.
Capricorn is a tamasic sign, focused on avoiding what might go wrong. This awareness of potential obstacles makes Capricorn skillful in commercial enterprises, as they always have a contingency plan. However, their deep aversion to risk can prevent Capricorn from taking action on even the most robust plan — which is where Mars comes in.
Mars is exalted in Capricorn because it provides the courage and discipline needed to activate carefully laid, long-term plans. The fiery quality of Mars serves as a spark plug to set the machine in motion. Mars represents the courage of a warrior, willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish the mission, and this quality comes with just enough impulsiveness to initiate the proceedings.
Here’s a story to illustrate this dynamic: imagine there’s an attractive person that you would like to know better. They are in your extended group of friends, you’ve seen them before, exchanged smiles, but that’s it.
Every time you see them, you spend the rest of the night thinking about what you’ll say when you meet, rehearsing how it will go. You’ve found them on Facebook and (obviously not sent a friend request; that would be crazy) discovered that they like hiking and live music, just like you (you both live in Colorado, after all). You practice the words in your head, and then out loud. You game plan for all possible scenarios. You're ready for every disaster possible in the context of this hypothetical future interaction.
Now, you are at a party with a dear old red-headed friend of yours, when this attractive person walks in the door. Your ginger friend knows about your crush, knows how perfectly prepared you are for the encounter, and also knows your fear of failure may prevent anything from ever happening.
So what happens? Of course, your slightly insane freckled friend physically pushes you towards your crush, causing you to bump into them and unavoidably engage in conversation. You mention the trail you hiked yesterday, or the last band you saw. Your crush touches your arm in disbelief — they were at that show too! And that’s their favorite trail!
The combination of your preparation and the endearingly spontaneous moment created by your rude (or, funny) friend sets the gears turning and you can make up the rest of the story from here.
You are Capricorn. Your ginger friend is Mars. Your crush relates to whichever house is occupied by Capricorn in your chart. Sam Geppi provides a reliable place to calculate your Vedic chart at this link.
Remember: Mars is in Capricorn from now until November 6.
It will be retrograde from June 27 until August 28.
Now, let’s go through the signs one by one...
Capricorn: Mars is in your first house. This brings the focus to your physical self. Take advantage by exercising regularly, but avoid extremes. Regularity is more important than intensity. Routine and proper technique will help settle any sense of insecurity. Be especially careful of pitta provocation.
Sagittarius: Mars is in your second house. This relates to the organs of the face — particularly the mouth, in the form of what you eat and what you say (life is all about the inputs and outputs). Cultivate discipline with your diet and discussions. Don’t eat out of habit or boredom; don’t speak just to hear your the sound of your own voice. Eat to nourish yourself; be precise with your language. Avoid excess spicy food; be extra gentle with your words.
Scorpio: Mars, your ruling planet, is in your third house, activating egoic desires and the assertion of personal will. This is a time when you can confidently approach big accomplishments, but be careful not to get too grabby about your goals, as that can backfire. When you catch the tiger by his tail, which one of you is truly caught?
Libra: Mars is in your fourth house. First and foremost, be kind to your mother. Then, take time to reflect on how it feels to have accomplished your goals. Did it give the satisfaction you were seeking? If not, what does that tell you about your current ambitions? It may be time to adjust the sails of your ship and reorient your course according to a more appropriate North Star.
Virgo: Mars is in your fifth house. What great promise! Act on your enthusiasm. There is likely to be a new project arising that will pull you out of your comfort zone. I encourage you to allow this alluring idea to take you there. Devote yourself entirely to this fresh creation. Esoteric pursuits such as astrology, palmistry and nature-based healing and spirituality are indicated.
Leo: Mars is in your sixth house and it’s time to get to work. The inspiration and planning phases are through and now is when we keep our noses to the grindstone and do what simply must be done. Cultivate your courageous heart now by embodying the archetype of the father who, like the sun, provides what is needed to nourish life and asks for nothing in return. That being said, be mindful not to burn anyone too badly if you aren’t getting anything in return for your noble efforts.
Cancer: Mars is in your seventh house, bringing the focus to your committed relationships, be they romantic or commercial in nature. You will have greater clarity and sense of purpose in these relationships, which is crucial to your evolution in this lifetime. Get clear with yourself, then approach others with courage and conviction. Don’t let them overwhelm you.
Gemini: Mars is in your eighth house, begging for transformation. It is time to set aside anger and resentment about the way the world is, the way other people are, and refocus the warrior within to focus on deeper questions. Your naturally curious nature can benefit from the courage of Mars when exploring these deeper, inevitably darker realms.
Taurus: Mars is in your ninth house, calling you to apply greater discipline with your spiritual practices. I have often heard my teacher Sam Geppi say, “Religion is what you believe; spirituality is what you practice.” So what are you practicing? Are you practicing daily? Do your habits match your high ideals? If not, you now have cosmic support in making it so.
Aries: Mars, your ruling planet, is in your 10th house. Consistency is the name of the game. If you are ever to achieve the power and prestige you seek and generally deserve, you must learn to consistently funnel your fire in the same constructive direction. It’s like zapping someone in the eye with a laser pointer, obscuring their vision, versus applying the steady, focused laser of LASIK eye surgery, which brings perfect sight. See the difference?
Pisces: Mars is in your eleventh house, calling you to apply your spiritual principles in service of society as a whole. Fight for what you know is right for everyone. There is no time for navel gazing now; the moment is ripe to get out there and instigate change based on your universal sense of right and wrong. If you do, there just so happens to be the opportunity to accrue great wealth in the process.
Aquarius: Mars is in your twelfth house, beckoning you inward. The enlightenment you seek in the world is only truly found within, and the courage you normally display in working towards the benefit of society must now be applied within. Travel abroad, perhaps to an ashram or spiritual retreat where you can evolve in solitude and learn the internal resilience that will allow you to better serve others in the future.
Look for the next edition of Seasonal Astrology on the Summer Solstice. Until then, take care. Many blessings,
From the professional and student members of Colorama