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Magickal Musings From Infinite Flame

September 18, 2009
Define "wicked".....


Happy Dark Moon

A newsletter on the actual day of the dark moon? Yes! The planets aligned just right and inspiration was there so....ta-da! (patting myself on the back).

Ok, enough silliness. This newsletter was planned ahead of time as I wanted to talk about the Navaratri Festival that is celebrated in India at this time. Subha, one of the ladies I clean for, is from India and last year she had this wonderful altar set up. I asked her about it and she told me about the festival. This year when she mentioned she would be again setting it up, I asked for info so I could tell all of you about it. She directed me to some websites and offered to let me take pictures of her altar once it is set up. I will have those next week when the newsletter gets added to the archive.

The Festival of Navarati

It seems this Festival is known by many names and the traditions vary according to the region. I have summarized and hopefully this makes sense.

The festival of Navratri (nav meaning nine and ratri meaning nights) lasts for 9 days from the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvin and is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu calendar, hence the most celebrated time of the year. Although it has different names in different parts of India, Hindus from all regions celebrate it with great enthusiasm as the conquest of good over evil. This year the Festival of Navratri is from September 19 to September 27. Every three days is devoted to worship of a different Goddess: Durga ( the Goddess of Valor ), Lakshmi ( the Goddess of Wealth ), and Saraswati ( the Goddess of Knowledge). Deity images of Them are created, worshipped and immersed in a sea or lake. During the nine days of Navratri, feasting and fasting take precedence over all normal daily activities. Evenings give rise to the religious dances in order to worship Goddess Durga Maa.

In Gujarat, Garbha dance is performed. In the South, houses are decorated and toys by the name of Bomma Kolam are displayed. Durga has 1008 names or epithets but is worshipped in her nine forms which are sometimes interchangeable since basically they represent only her. The following are the most popular forms of the goddess under which she is worshipped: Durga, Goddess Beyond Reach; Bhadrakali, the Auspicious Power of Time; Amba or Jagadamba, Mother of the World; Annapurna, Giver of Food and Plenty; Sarvamangala, Auspicious Goddess; Bhairavi, Terrible, Fearful, Power of Death; Chandika or Chandi, Violent, Wrath, Fury; Lalita, Playfulness Personified; Bhavani, the Giver of Existence.

In Andhra Pradesh the temple in the house is decorated with clay images of the Deities. A special sweetmeat like laddoosor (sweet rice coloured yellow with turmeric), or khir (milk-preparation cooked in rice) is made every day and after offering to the household Gods, is eaten. Everyone wears new clothes and friends drop in to see the family’s collection of images.

1st - 3rd day of Navratri
On the first day of the Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room and barley seeds are sown on it. These initial days are dedicated to Durga, the Goddess of power and energy. In Maharastra on the first day of Navaratri the idol of Yogeshvari, a benign form of Durga, is installed in the house and the Haldi-Kum Kum ceremony is held. Haldi (turmeric) and kum kum (vermilion) is applied on the forehead and sandalwood paste is smeared on the arms of all the invitees as these are considered auspicious.

4th - 6th day of Navratri
During these days, Lakshmi, the Goddess of peace and prosperity, is worshipped. Every day some water is sprinkled on the barley seeds.

7th - 8th day of Navratri
These final days belong to Saraswati who is worshipped to acquire the spiritual knowledge. This in turn will free us from all earthly bondage. But on the 8th day of this colourful festival, yagna (holy fire) is performed. On the last day, the sprouted barley are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from God. The seedlings are placed on their caps, behind their ears, and inside books to bring good luck. This custom suggests a link to harvesting. The sowing and reaping of barley is symbolic of the "first fruit”. Soon after this festival, the sugarcane crop is harvested and the winter crops are sown.

The festival of Navratri culminates in Mahanavami. On this day Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped.

Navaratri is popularly known as Durga Puja in Bengal. After these nine days comes the Dashami , the tenth day, which is the day of the famous festival of Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami ( the tenth day of victory ). This is the day Lord Rama had killed Ravana, signifying the victory of good over evil. Vaishnavas generally being absorbed in Vijay Dashami rather than Durga puja.


Moon Phases
& Sign

Dark in Virgo:
Sept 18 at 2:44pm

1st Quarter in Capricorn:
Sept 26 - 12:50am

Full in Aries:
October 4 - 2:10am

Last Quarter in Cancer:
October 11 - 4:56am

Credit and

Llewellyn's Witches Datebook for all moon phases

Aromatherapy, An Illustrated Guide by Clare Walters

Magical Oils by Moonlight by Maya Heath

The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses by Deni Brown


co m/kerala-festival-art/

Click on the image to see more pics of Subha's altar. It is tradition to give visitors gifts, so she gave me a bag which included food and vermilion & turmeric powders.

A special thank you to Subha for allowing me to take these pictures and for sharing this holiday with me.

Sandalwood, THE Scent of India

I asked Subha if there was any incense or herb associated with Navaratri, she said no. Then I asked what incense/herb/oil would she say was the most popular in India and before I could finish the question she said “sandalwood”. So here’s some info on THE scent of India.

There are nine species of evergreen trees and shrubs belong to the genus santalum. The most popular is santalum album which is the oil that I am familiar with also. Though originally from SE Asia, sandalwood is naturalized in parts of India and Sir Lanka. The Mysore oil is the best in my opinion. It takes at least 20-40 years for sandalwood to develop sufficient heartwood for oil extractions. Oil is pressed or extracted from heartwood and roots.

Sandalwood is associated with water and the moon. It is used for psychic powers, spirituality, wisdom, protection, calming, wishes, creating harmony and balance. The red sandalwood is used for fidelity, honesty, love and protection . Used in Hindu devotional practices and ground wood provides castemark pigment. It is burned at Buddhist funerals and in Muslim countries it is burned at the feet of the recently deceased to speed their soul to heaven. The wood traditionally was used to build temples (possibly because it repels white ants). It is mentioned in the oldest texts of the Indian Veda (dating back to 5th century B.C.) and has at least 4,000 years of uninterrupted use as an aid to meditation. It was used by the Egyptians in the embalming process. Tantric philosophy recommends it to awaken the kundalini, or dormant energy at the base of the spine. Used in a Hindu purification ceremony on the last day of the year to wash away sins . Combined with rose to make the famous scent aytar.

Medicinally it is fabulous for the skin; it softens dry and aging skin, has a balancing and anti-inflammatory effect on eczema and acne, relieves itching, shaving rash, and can help with dandruff. Sandalwood also stimulates the immune system, good for sore throats and chest infections, especially those caused by staphylococci and streptococci bacteria. One drop can be dabbed neat onto the lymph glands under the chin if they swell during infection and also to help a sore throat. Good for the urinary tract and can be massaged (in a carrier oil) into the kidney area to relieve inflammation and cystitis. In Ayurveda it is a remedy for urinary and respiratory infections, also diarrhea.

Now for the bad news. Sandalwood trees are almost extinct. They are now farmed in plantations exclusively for the production of oil. Put that together with the fact that trees have to be aged before extraction and you now know why sandalwood oil is now very expensive. Over the last two years the price of sandalwood oil has doubled or even tripled. Well worth the expense, especially Mysore, but plan to use sparingly to make it last. And sandalwood is one of the few oils that gets better with age. The scent becomes deeper and more spiritual (in my opinion).

Until next time....
~~~~Rhiannon Rose

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