We each should be asking ourselves, “How can I get off to a good start this year? …this month …this week …today? Or, we may be wondering how to accomplish something that might seem daunting—beyond our abilities. What to do first?
If you know that your goal is positive, worthwhile, and helpful to humanity and the planet in some way, then Go for it! Your first step should be to fully visualize, or conceptualize your goal. Sunburst’s founder, Norman Paulsen, usually asked for spiritual direction before beginning any undertaking. This could have resulted in a quick Go for it! during meditation, or the need for repeated requests for direction over many months. Timing is everything, and perhaps it wasn’t time to act yet.
When we’re simply thinking of “How can I get off to a good start today,” or “What should I focus on today?” we can usually get a quick answer. Hopefully we meditate each morning and feel inspired. Beyond that, Paramahansa Yogananda stated that we were given rational minds to help us solve problems, and function successfully on this dimension. Give yourself some time to think through what needs to take place.
Setting clear intentions can make a world of difference. Sometimes we add to this a prayer asking for help in accomplishing our goal. If we’re still uncertain that the direction we are about to take is the best one, asking for Divine clarity is a good idea. Sometimes, we haven’t gotten clear direction. Sometimes Spirit wants us to make a decision ourselves—to commit to an action by our own volition. If we are truly wanting to serve the Divine plan, we move forward with a heart that is open to changing course, if it’s needed. Trust that such a needed change will become obvious very quickly.
Sunburst Sanctuary facilitates our getting off to a good weekly start every Sunday. Each New Year finds Sunburst offering a blessing ceremony for our intentions into that year. On January 4th, Saturday evening, we gathered in the Sanctuary Lodge for a fire/seed ceremony. At this event, accompanied by inspired music, we symbolically cast what did not serve us into the fire, and set free our positive aspirations into higher realms. It was a beautiful ceremony amidst friends, old and new, reminding us of our unity with all the love and sweetness within and behind this creation.
Throughout the year, Sunburst offers encouragement for twelve months of conscious living. Each sign of the zodiac offers the discovery of our own “star power,” strengths that we might not know we have. As we each realize the power of our natural divine self, we develop our Divine personality. The result is greater joy and meaning in our lives, as well as making the world a better place.
We end and begin the year in the midst of the sign of “Temperance.” This is Capricorn’s gift, as we celebrate while the Sun transits this zodiacal sign (Dec. 22, 2019 to Jan. 19, 2020). It’s our challenge to be temperate amidst holiday reveling, spending, and consuming. It’s not too late—you can resolve to embrace temperance the rest of this year, and you’ll be thankful you did.
Capricorn is an astrological Cardinal Earth Sign. “Cardinal” means it’s a sign of “doing—active.” “Earth” is the practical, grounded side of this energy. Now the challenge is not to be so caught up in the physical that we neglect the spiritual aspect of this time of year. It’s a wonderful time to “actively” find deep peace within, just as nature is engaged in doing in the Northern Hemisphere. Our energies gather, possibly discovering a more focused, and worthwhile purpose in our lives. Meditation allows our intuition to point out our best direction forward.
Paramahansa Yogananda was born in the month of Capricorn, on January 5th, 1893.
Sunburst celebrates every Capricorn with a Kriya Yoga retreat. It’s a beautiful opportunity to get in touch with your true self, the perfect spirit within your being. We celebrate with some hours of silence, refresh our meditation practice, learn new techniques for spiritual growth, and find that “reset button” to get our new year off to a start full of promise—with worthwhile and appropriate personal goals. Sunburst is also all about new friendships, love, and the kind of spiritual support we each need in a challenging world. Maybe you’ll tune in each month to “Be a Star.”
Story by Craig Hanson • Over sixty people followed Sunburst’s Winter Solstice winding path of renewal. Near the Temple, our Hopi labyrinth was aglow with three hundred colored lights in luminaria. Nearby, a warming fire greeted us.
For the Hopi this pattern represents the Divine Mother. Her arms truly opened before us, as we walked the path in silence toward the center. Releasing thoughts, allowing our Spirits to be renewed, we moved inward, surrounded by other souls taking this journey with us. Arriving at the center sanctuary, I felt at one with Spirit and all the travelers around me.
This year’s winter solstice event at Sunburst fell at the actual time of astronomical winter’s arrival on Saturday night. It was a very special moment to share. We are grateful that the offshore nourishing rains delayed their arrival until after midnight. Now we were fully ready for winter to begin, and for days to grow longer in a new solar year. Rain seen from Temple foyer Sunday morning:
This morning, my husband Al and I were walking home after group meditation around 7:15 a.m. The sun was just coming up at Sunburst Sanctuary. Deer browsed in the meadow, and numerous bluebirds flew across the road ahead of us. But what really caught my attention was all the chatter coming from the birds in a cluster of tall sycamore trees.
“What are they saying?” I asked Al, who kept quiet. “They’re not saying, ‘Look at me!’ because they’re trying to attract a mate. And they’re not saying, ‘Get away from my spot!’ because they’re building a nest.”
Finally, I called my friend and excellent birder, Cary. She answered my questions with: “They’re saying, ‘It’s a beautiful day!’”
I think she’s right. Those birds could also be celebrating the end of daylight time getting shorter. With winter solstice, the days start getting longer, just as winter begins. How curious! This day lengthening continues until summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Sunburst Sanctuary’s standing stones help us celebrate these celestial moments. Of course, the southern hemisphere celebrates summer solstice when our northern hemisphere is celebrating winter solstice.
Around the world in ancient times, many celebrations began that are still held today at or near the winter solstice. Some age-old stories about the rebirth of the Sun are connected to this time of year.
At Sunburst, we enjoy a day of quiet meditation, and an evening of dining with friends (a potluck), as well as physically tracing our Hopi labyrinth. Walking the labyrinth “resets” us for a new beginning, a new year. This is a beautiful experience, walking among the colored luminaria.
This year the moment of Solstice takes place around midnight, when rain is supposed to begin. Perhaps this portends a wet winter. The other amazing occurrence will be an eclipse of the Sun by the Moon on Christmas.
My friend and astrologer, James Kelleher, informs us that our current winter solstice has the Sun aligned with the center of the Milky Way galaxy. “The galactic center isn’t an exact point, but rather an area in the middle of the galaxy, and it will take the Sun a long time to move through this area. This alignment has already been going on for a few decades and will continue for about another hundred years.…
“I think we can say that this event represents a realignment of the world’s collective consciousness with the laws of nature. We are being asked to center ourselves, and remember what is important. The vehicle that is being used for this reminder is the environment of the planet. …The power of destruction is being utilized in order to get our attention. So it is no surprise that we are experiencing the onset of a destructive period for the environment.”
Taking James’ sobering comments to heart, let us each do what we can to help our Earth in 2020.
How fun to take a hay ride on a sunny fall day! Two Meetup groups converged on a recent Sunday afternoon to learn about Sunburst’s agricultural activities. Farmer Sean Fennell explained permaculture’s main principles, some growing practices, and answered questions as the visitors explored Sunburst’s vegetable gardens and fields.
A highlight of the afternoon was meeting the cows, their calves, and some very friendly horses, right in their own expansive pasture. Even the many deer roaming this wildlife sanctuary are aware of the love and goodwill extended toward them.
This day the groups were Santa Barbara Food & Farm Adventures and San Luis Obispo Food & Farm Adventures, organized by Gerri French and Teresa Lees, respectively. Sunburst hosts numerous private groups for their own events, be it an overnight campout, two-week yoga training, music workshop, or non-profit leadership retreat.
Individuals also find Sunburst is a wonderful retreat destination. The Sanctuary offers opportunities for a personal retreat, or participation in a Sunburst-sponsored activity. Weekly Sunday gatherings include an inspiring meditation service (with child care), followed by a vegetarian brunch (featuring freshly picked vegetables), and an afternoon hike (most Sundays). Other types of events range from poetry readings, silent and meditation retreats, to astronomy evenings. Check out the events scheduled for the next few months at www.sunburst.org/events.