An Indo Hellenic Ritual Story, 2009 -2022
Aavaahan and Sthaapan of Mitera Dimitra
“To all you deities, who inhabit this city, these hallowed lakes and groves, I pray that you attend on us with favor and support. If it should be that we are taking this initial step for the purpose of guarding against treacherous falsehood, not practicing it. Grant me the strength Goddess, to whom I ask, to whom
I pray, extend your assistance to me.”
Adapted from a prayer by Titus Livius, Roman historian from Patavium.
“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth- penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words.” Joseph Campbell
The tantric tradition of Kerala is a highly sophisticated system for generating deities. This is based on Parashurama kalpa sutras. It is being maintained even to this day, in temples and sacred ceremonies in Kerala. After being initiated into a section of this, many years ago by Brahmashree Easwaran Namputhiri of Vedira mana, Manakada Trivandrum, I have applied this technology successfully by divine grace to the upasana or spiritual discipline for bonding with many deities of mainstream Hinduism via study, personal behavioural modifications and rituals. This is the first time I have applied the same to Hellenic deities. I chose to work on primarily, Goddess Demeter as revealed through the hymn composed by Omeros (Homer). It is the Goddess on the City Seal of Petaluma, where I live now, that provided the ignition key. In many ways this is the most difficult upasana that I have gone through. The selection of deities that represent specific energy fields that occupy the vertex of a triangle or where the tip of a lotus petal lies, is a very delicate process. At every step I had to check the validity of what I am doing. I would proceed only when confirmations came from Mother Nature, or from events, no matter how long it took.
This journey having completed in September 2022, can now be shared with those who are desirous of knowing what it takes to bond with deities, whose origins are ethnic, non- prophet based and solidly bound with Mother Nature. In order to reap its fullest rewards however one must make efforts to adhere to honesty within oneself, at the same time move within the rails provided by direct initiation and training from spiritual lineage holders. For this reason, I have not shared the details of the ritual guide here. If and when I find mumukshus (earnest seekers) I would be very glad and gratified to share this upasana, but first they must possess the arhata, deserving of reception.
DEMETER WORSHIP HISTORY- Some Highlights
Installation of a temenos (altar, shrine) to The Homeric Demeter, under the Strawberry Tree, sacred to Ermes. Inclusion of Omeros, Apollonios of Tyana and Demeter with Persefoni within the temenos and also Athena and Artemis. A clock with the 12 Olympian gods, guard the entry to the temenos. Then followed installation of the granite yantra to Demeter and the associated deities and mortals primarily based on the Homeric Hymns. The yantra idea was conceived on October 10, 2014 at 4am. The Upaasana Paddhati, i.e. method of discipline and worship, has been annually observed since 2013 and the canvas yantra was sanctified for 3 days at Elefsina, Greece in October 2017. A few ritual objects are impregnated with energy. Here is the list.
1. The canvas yantra to Demeter and other deities, made by Lia May Byrd.
2. The granite stone yantra of the same made in Kancheepuram, India, with the help of Shanthi Chidambaram
3. A paper yantra to Persefoni, the nymphs and winds made by Lia May Byrd.
4. A glass yantra which I made for Persefoni.
5. A bana lingam stone from the Narmada river, India, that has a multipurpose use while chanting in Sanskrit and Greek.
6. A cinnabar ore from a rock store in Northern California, that has a multipurpose use, when chanting in English.
Oct. 26 2015 Petaluma
Besides all that went behind my coming to Petaluma and settling down here, the ignition key to the worship of Demeter looks like began in December 2009. Strange, I moved here in Dec 2009. A prayer I had written by hand to Ceres, has the date Dec.15 2009. I remember moving here around the end of Dec.2009. At any rate, I figured that the seal of the city of Petaluma work/ involvement began long before I bought this house. The first act of devotion was keeping in the apartment at Mark West, pictures of Demeter and Ceres in my puja armoire.
Coinciding with this move to Petaluma was the arrival of the sculpture of Shaakaambari from India. Computer teacher Robert Caruso took care of Her until I moved into my house. Many devotees in the US and other parts of the world did likita japam (writing mantras) of the Durga mantra, for all to go well towards the establishment of this shrine. I too wrote on Durga, Demeter and Ceres. Then in 2010 I felt that during the auspicious time of Navaratri festival in Fall, I did not want to do the usual observations which I had been doing since the 70s. Instead, boldly I decided to worship Demeter. The only remnant ritual from the previous observation was to read the Devi Mahatmyam.
To Subhashini, dance teacher, performer and director of Natya Leela Academy in Portland, who looks upon me as a mentor, I shared my thoughts regarding the universal truth/ fact in the story of Demeter and Persefoni and its continued relevance to this day. Perhaps this would make a good dance drama I told her. In March 2012 she spent ten days with me at my home. We worked on the plot, and decided to use instrumental music from various cultures and costumes. On May 11, 2012 close to Mothers Day, in a small amphitheater in Portland, this was performed twice. Suba's choreography was great, the all-girl cast was excellent and the audience were thrilled. It brought tears to some of the men. To me this was yet another proof that I was on the right track.
Indeed, it felt very strange. Greek deities unlike Hindu ones look so human. I set up an altar in the corner of the studio. I planted barley seeds the way we do for Navaratri as the barley also features in Hellenic rituals. The seeds were sown in a triangular form as the letter Delta is the first letter in Demeter's name. This time I spoke to the seeds. " You are going to give me a sign if I am on the right path or not."
Each night English passages taken from the Internet were read and simple worship with lamp, incense etc was conducted. On the tenth day I looked at the barley plants full of amazement. Never in all the years of observing Navaratri had the plants grow so tall. Almost a foot high. This then was a good sign for me, as to move on this path.
Then on I kept adding more details to this worship. Bought a book on the Homeric Hymns and read the story of Demeter and Persefoni daily during any of the observances.
From 2009 until 2015 so much has happened off and on by way of study, reflection and incidents connected to Her. The internet, books on Greek deities all became rich sources of knowledge. They influenced steps that I was taking towards bonding with the deities. A significant book was the one by Pausanias, 5th century, who wrote on the Geography of Greece. While reading I caught my mind being flooded with a variety of emotions. Anger towards the spread of Abrahamic religions, solely responsible for the massive destruction of so many native belief systems and sacred shrines. Love, awe and respect about the land, of that time period. Imagine bending one's head as you pass a shrine or altar, smelling the incense, hearing the cries and chants of the devotees reverberating in the air. Divinity was seen by them everywhere, like the Hindus.
I began to compile various names that qualify Demeter, taken from sites like Theo. I also noted down all the shrines to her from Pausanias' book. I felt like praising her so I made a list like a namaavali, string of epithets to glorify. Side by side my interest in the Eleusinian mysteries kept increasing. Soon I began to feel tantric connections to this.
In 2013 at the end of Navaratri, instead of worshipping the devi Chandi, I had worshipped Demeter. On October 10 around 4-5 am I had a visualization of a yantra/ padma/ mandala. I knew it had to do with beginnings of a bond to this devata and her story with Persefoni. Though not good at geometry I drew roughly what I saw. This is the second yantra that was revealed to me. The first was one based on saint Aandaal's Thiruppavai. Then my late husband who was good at precision drawing, drew a beautiful mandala which I colored.
A new struggle ensued then on. As far as the yantra was concerned, all I knew was that the center, the bindu was Demeter. From 2013-2014 to the early part of 2015, I began focusing on pinpointing the energies that are to occupy the focus points in the yantra, that is, the peeta shaktis or supportive forces. If we take into consideration to look upon the yantra as a padma or lotus, the term used in Kerala then it would be the core, the inner and outer petals that unfold, while moving out and triggered by the core, in turn triggered by the bindu.
I found myself drawn more to the Greek Demeter rather than the Roman Ceres although they are both present in Petaluma's City Seal. Drawn very much to the Homeric Hymn on Demeter, I would read Michael Crudden's translation aloud daily, during the fall Navaratri period. By the way nava in Sanskrit stands for number 9. Are the 9 days of mourning in Demeter's story, a coincidence ? Numbers 3, 9,12 and 40 are sacred to both Hinduism and Hellenism.
Working out the energy-focusing of deities into the yantra became easier. All except one. The western doorway or bhoopura was not getting filled day after day. One day I swooped mentally onto Iakhos and then everything clicked. Therefore, it showed that to enter this mandala the first energy principle was Iakhos. I do not wish to go into the details any further as " the tongue is restrained by reverence for the gods" as it is said in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Soon the need to materialize this yantra into one worthy of worship became intense. I asked my German artist friend Lia May Byrd to do this. She has in the past done excellent work for me. Twice she made this, one on a ceramic plate as at that time I was thinking of taking it to Greece. Both times there were flaws. Then she made one on canvas. This just needed some minor corrections by me and it looked fine.
My worship had been in English and a little Sanskrit. The need to do the praises in Greek was approached to my Turkish friend Osman Oksuzoglu who has connections to Greek musicians. No help was available as his friends knew only modern Greek. Thus, this agony continued. Then one day I stumbled upon a beautiful English translation of the Hymns, on the internet. The author was one Apostolos Athanassakis. Noted that he was a Professor of Hellenic studies at UC Santa Barbara. Excitedly I remembered that my friend Rohini's son, Deva, had graduated from there. As requested by me, Deva wrote to the Professor about my need and in due course of time, I was able to communicate via email directly, with him. When Prof. agreed to render the praises for me in ancient Greek I was touched as he is a very accomplished and honored scholar and teacher. Extremely busy too. At this time, we have been emailing back and forth. His input is like manna from heaven. The audio he sent as an mp3 is undoubtedly charged with praanic energy. Then began the task of trying to recite it like him.
Boedromion, the Greek month when the Eleusinian rituals took place felt right as a good time for intense worship. I set up a simple altar in my backyard. The yantra was attached to a display board along with pictures of deities and characters from the story. A special libation was performed on Saturday Sept. 12 and then from the 15th I began to mentally slide more and more into bonding with Her. From Sept. 29 to Oct.5 in connection with the commemoration of the Mysteries, I worshipped at the altar. Each day I brought down the board to the altar. Libations of water, milk, honey and food such as spelt cakes, barley, wine and fruits were offered to the appropriate energy fields. Frankincense from Somalia was burnt. Then I had to go to Chicago. While there I still kept reading about Her. Some of the barley seeds that got covered with oil was discarded and pretty soon I found that they grew as a patch untouched by birds.
Then began the observance of Thesmophoria from Oct.24-28. Evenings are when I worshipped ritually. After that I would do mental worship and prayer in my study. One day the anguish became so strong that I voiced aloud " Is anyone out there listening to me? The Persefoni in me is calling like a child to her Mother." Note that if the city Petaluma's name is fancied to be in my mother tongue Malayalam the as a compound word it would be split as Pet - allo- ammaa. This meant " after all you birthed me, mother." I set the praises received from Prof. Apostolos into a melody like the song of Seikelos. So new a language but so right it felt. During the observances I had minimum connection with the outside world and people.
A deep sigh and all is quiet, in and out.
A toddler learning to utter am I, oh Mother.
I know you will bear and perhaps even smile at me.
7.45 am Oct.26 2015
Sept 10 - 2016
Libation Sat.Sept.10 2016
Second Saturday of Boedromion month.
Libation with water was performed to the guru linga from Narmada river. this was kept near the olive bush in the corner of my backyard. I garlanded the olive bush with angel wing jasmine. Lit a candle. As the water dripped from the copper pot I read the Greek praises and it felt right. This linga represented the value of the transmission of sacred authentic spiritual knowledge.
Yantra ritual to coincide with Eleusinia to Megala- Sept 17 to 23.
Perhaps in August 2016 I noticed that wheat (barley) was growing near the Board of Education offices. How did it get there? When that area was being cleared by the maintenance crew, with their permission, I took a whole bunch and stuck it in my Greek vase. Was this a sign from the forces above?
While getting ready with materials for the worship I felt the need to have her picture. So, I found one, a copy of the one found in Knidos, now in Turkey. This icon is in the British Museum. The copy looks very dignified and her looks are turned slightly upwards. A torch is in her right hand, a sheaf of wheat (barley) in her left.
I planted barley seeds that I got from the Indian store. Decided to play Greek music while doing chores during this 7 day period. On Friday the 16th I made a wreath from the Mediterranean bay tree branches from my yard, wrapped red cord and unspun, undyed white wool and hung it on my front door.
I attached the Greek Temple of letters that Shreya made for me to my display board. The yantra was placed flat on the table. My plan of worship was the same as in 2015. This time, it was morning worship, noon reading and mantra writing and evening, contemplation on the display board and mantra writing.
Day 1: When I uncovered the board in the morning, I felt I was in front of a Greek temple. I wore white pyjamas and white kuta. I felt the need to tie red ribbon around my waist and around my head. Immediately I felt a change within me, a readiness as it were. The order of worship was as in 2015 . The additional ritual at the end was to concentrate on the Greek letters. Wrote a mantra for each letter ten times. " hyereyklisto epistoli mitera alpha" which translates as “I salute the letter, mother alpha”. Prof.'s recitation was played. This time the flour for cakes were made from an ancient grain called Emmer.
Woke up too often at night.
Sept 18: Woke up at 7am . All went well. Added penny royal leaves to the ablution water. This is in commemoration of the kykeon drink offered to Demeter by queen Metaneira. A feeling of greater bonding. Went to the adobe shrine to do the Durga minimum prayers.
Sept 19: A day of minor mistakes in the order. Prayed to Ermes before Elios. So I repeated the prayers again. I realized I had not girdled myself. So wore them before mantra writing. Noticed that Shreya had forgotten to put the horizontal line in Theta. So did it carefully with a sharpie. Phew ! Caught it in good time. I visualized in my mind Demeter in a peplos, a beautiful green with gold dots and with a gold border veil. The praises to Demeter as I chant, is becoming more alive.
Sept 20: Realized the significance of the word linga, now applicable as a symbol for Demeter. My worship is now in 3 languages, English, Greek and Malayalam. When I looked at the temple it seemed that the letters were little mothers praising the great Mother inside. Matrika is the Sanskrit word for letters. I love the letter Γ. So much of love flows. Now as I concentrate on each letter, I ring the Tibetan bell once. Felt like worshipping Omeros a lot. Barley grew an inch overnight.
Sept 22 : Nothing special except that from then on when I look at the Greek letters I say " Yaa devi sarvabhootheyshu Yavana-dharma- roopena sumsthithaa. Namasthaisyaiy, namasthasyaiy, namasthasyaiy, namoh namah." I pray to the devi that exists in all entities in the form of the Hellenic (Greek)Dharma. I bow to you again and again.
" Yaa devi sarvabhootheyshu Yavana-lipi- roopena sumsthithaa. Namasthaisyaiy, namasthasyaiy, namasthasyaiy, namoh namah." I pray to the devi that exists in all entities in the form of the Hellenic (Greek) Letters. I bow to you again and again.
Sept 23-27: Still slow in conducting the steps in the right order.
Prelude- months ahead of Boedremion
1. There has been a lull in connection and worship until August. Time was spent more on my upcoming trip and so reading up on museums, towns etc
2. The lack of proper music is a big personal vacuity as the only kinds are folk or Byzantine. Christianity destroyed so much and the Greeks at large have given up their ancient heritage! Neither folk nor Byzantine music helped my devotional needs. This need gets so fully satisfied in Hinduism. Musical and Poetic bhakti in my opinion is lacking even in Buddhism. In any upasana, the individual is a bird. The body of the bird is the sum total of methodology, one wing is Bhakti, the other is Karma, the head is Jnana. The tail is the energy derived from direct initiation from lineage holders. I feel the wing of Bhakti is weak in this discipline because of the lack of appropriate music. So, my flight is unsteady.
3. In assigning shaktis and deities into the yantra, the one area that increasingly felt uncomfortable was the 12 petalled lotus. It was only here that Ceres was involved, for here, actions associated with farming were brought in by me, as on the Internet I found them considered as accompanying shaktis to Ceres. These were all Latin names whereas the rest of the names in the yantra were all Greek.
In reading more about the spread of the Demeter worship lineage, especially into Sicily, I realized that this yantra needed to be based only on the Homeric hymn's Demeter and not Ceres. Worked on removing Ceres from the yantra because the Roman concept of Ceres was inspired by the Greek Demeter. Have been feeling all along that the 12 petals were not quite right for agricultural processes connected with Ceres. This is what I had been praying to, but feeling weak each time. Also, not comfortable with the Latin words there. Any connection to Ceres in the worship part, I felt needed to be eliminated as Demeter should and can stand on her own as it were and so can the Greek language with no Latin intrusion! So, I began to select 12 attributes from the Praises to Demeter that would work like peeta – shakti, foundation energies concept in our tantra.
So the search went on as to what then. The peeta shaktis or foundation energies must relate to Demeter so then I went over the praises and selected 12 names after considerable shuffling. So, as I say each one the aspect highlighted in the story should rise in the mind. So here they are.
1. ΑΧΑΪΑΣ ΘΕΑ Representing the divine energy fit for worship
2. ΣΕΜΝΗ ΘΕΑ ............... the Revered
3. ΜΕΓΑΛΗ ΘΕΑ ................. the Great
4. ΣΩΤΕΙΡΑ ΘΕΑ .................the Saviour
5. ΑΝΑΣΣΑ ΘΕΑ ................ the Queen/ Mistress
6. ΒΡΙΜΩ ΘΕΑ ............... the Furious
7. ΔΟΣΩ ΘΕΑ .................the Thoso, name of her human form in Elefsina
8. ΠΡΑΞΙΔΙΚΗ ΘΕΑ .................. the Exactor of Justice
9. ΩΡΗΦΟΡΟΣ ΘΕΑ ..................the Bringer of Seasons
10. ΠΡΟΣΥΜΝΗ ΘΕΑ ..................... the Bountiful
11. ΕΛΕΥΣΙΝΙΑ ΘΕΑ ........................ Of Eleusina
12. ΜΗΤΗΡ ΘΕΑ ..........................the Mother
4. A gnawing problem from years ago that continues is the blank and bland appearance of the deities as seen in the sculptures. Sad that not just weathering caused their disappearance but more, the aggressive acts of conquering nations and Victorian ideas of beauty contributed to the bland appearance of Greek and Roman statues, that we are now accustomed to. Read about research being done by Dr. Vinzenz Brinkman, on detection of and restoration of color that existed in Greek and Roman sculptures of deities especially. Besides chemical and physical tests on materials infrared spectroscopy is used. I was amazed at not only the colors but also scenes from stories depicted on the clothing. Lo and behold, I visited the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco where an exhibition of Brinkman's works was currently displayed.
I had been off and on turning my attention to ERMES and the important part he played in turning the tide in the story of Dimitra and Persefoni. I cautioned myself that more attention needed to be paid to him. So, at the end of July, I decided that the outdoor worship to Demeter must be conducted in the spot under the beautiful strawberry tree. I therefore cleared that area and had German, the gardener, move the large bird bath that I use for holding the stone for ablutions. Every time I looked there feeling of serene joy resulted. I also placed 3 Asclepias plants there not just for the Monarch butterflies but more for the famous Greek physician by the same name.
Aug. 7, my nakshatra (lunar asterism) birthday for that year. I went to Armstrong Woods to be with the giants who were much older than me and wiser. As I travelled to the waterfall, a juvenile Cooper's hawk sounded and made its appearance on a nearby branch. We watched each other quietly for a while for I felt I was being blessed. I happen to like hawks. When driving on Stony Point Rd. I always see them and bow to them. This year a hawk has made its nest nearby and one afternoon it followed me on Petaluma blvd north.
Aug. 14 at Rohini's house there was talk of the upcoming solar eclipse and about the Mercury retrograde. Returning home, I went on the net to study this retrograde stuff which I knew nothing about. It occurred to me then that Mercury was really Ermes! Quickly I shifted to read more on Ermes. In the list of things in nature associated with him I noticed that his bird was the hawk and the tree was, the strawberry tree. Am I not being led therefore?! Hush heart do not be sad for not feeling you are not doing enough. Just continue no matter what.
I read that Meter (GK- Mycenean) meant measure of grain. If so Meeyatey iti maayaa: Definition for Maayaa as “the one that measures” may fit this too. If so, can Demeter be like Maya shakti? May be Prakriti shakti.
Today was sandhi observance of navaratri. On my way to the shrine with an incense stick I suddenly decided to do incense aarati to the strawberry tree. An act I had never done before. Just as I began, from a distance I heard the voice of the hawk. Since Aug 7 I had not seen or heard from the hawk in our locale. To me Θεός Ερμής just made his presence felt.
ENERGIZATION OF THE STONE YANTRA FROM INDIA
May 7 -15, 2018 Petaluma
Decided to do this while it is spring time here and also before the studio gets to be used for workshops. An altar
was set up in the nook. On the side wall I hung the Temple for Greek Letters. In the center I hung the canvas
yantra. This was the one used in Elefsina in 2017. In front on a table, the stone yantra (copy of the canvas)
designed in India. Then the praanic connection was done according to Kerala tantric traditions.
Sept. 2018 Boedromion worship
On a weekly basis on Tuesdays, I maintained the worship to Demeter just with Maanasa puja.
Sept 22: Cleaning of studio, transference of literature to studio. This time I made up a schedule for morning, noon and evening worship.
Sept. 23: Filled 4 pots with soil. Lit oil lamp and offered storax incense at the Tree Altar. Prayed to all the 12 deities on the clock. As I planted the barley seeds in the pots I chanted Dimitra, Doso, Anassa ainoito. Just as I looked up at the tree and to ask for a blessing and approval for what I am about to observe, I heard a strange bird sound. Then it flew over the tree. It was not any bird I had seen here before. Could not tell what it was as it flew so fast. Once again when I looked up, the tree branches began to sway beautifully. I established a thyrsus using a bamboo pole courtesy of Greg, wrapped ivy and fixed the pine cone on top. Set up a spot for Ekati outside the studio door.
Sept. 24: I got all utensils and materials cleaned and ready. Hecate 's altar was established right outside the studio door. Rested that afternoon on the lounge in the backyard, as advised by Samara my massage therapist. This relaxing was a first time for me. Watching the bees, birds, plants and the sky relaxed me very much. I had been suffering intense muscular body aches especially in my right arm. A scrub jay made its appearance on the almond tree under which I lay. A young one it seems by its plumage. It came close and closer to me and then flew away only to come back again. After a while as I almost dozed off, I heard crows cackling and looked up to see a white hawk that they were after. A signal from Errmes? As I turned over to look at the strawberry tree now loaded with flowers and fruits under which the temenos has been set, I saw bees galore and a beautiful monarch. There is certainly something so meditative when it folds its wings and imbibes the nectar.
Read a portion of Prof.A's Homeric Hymn to Demeter.
Sept.25: This morning after my regular prayers I made the new Mountain tea from Crete. While it steeped, I went into the studio to contemplate. Hecate's candle gets lit first before I enter the studio. Lit the olive oil lamp, incense and placed a flower in front of the yantra painting. Looking up at the Temple of Greek Letters I lifted the candle to each one as I uttered " Alfa miteyra parakalo akouste me. Kane teen parouseeya sou edo", thus requesting each letter to listen and make the presence of the mother energy in them to manifest within me.
Rearranged the area. Moved the Christian section further and placed it by the window between the Jewish and Islamic pictures. It found its correct niche. This also facilitates the elimination of any negative thoughts regarding religious tyranny and conversions while I pray.
I wore white salwar and kameez my attire for Hellenic worship. Then tied red thread around my left wrist and right ankle. I still have the anklet from last year! I brought the covered stone yantra from the temenos into the studio.
A major change I decided was to go from center to out in worship. I remember Thirumeni's son stating that this method though rare is seen in some Vaishnav traditions. I also left a bottle of California olive oil besides the wheat (barley?) sheaves. If vibrations can penetrate water, I thought that they may enter oil too! Check Sept 2017 for the strange story about finding wheat (barley) near my house.
This time instead of using branches of the laurel and twisting them to make a wreath, which never looked circular, I used the leaves to make a thoranam, door hanging. This turned out to be beautiful with red yarn and raw wool hanging from the sides. At dusk, candles were lit in the holders hanging from the strawberry tree.
Sept 26: Each year changes were made. Last night lighting the tea candles was rather messy. The thought of rain haunted me. So, I switched to LED candles that flicker. I moved my mini altar from my Library-PC room that has Omeros, Apollonios and the yantra and placed it on the window above the Christian section. I needed to see the two of them and honor them too! This placing reaffirmed in my mind that the attitude towards the divine, of those days was far superior to the Abrahamic religions that came later.
Today the center to outwards process was easier. Whereas in the other method the peeta shaktis provide the seating of Demeter, here they radiate out into the world from her. Did not the whole story revolve around her?
Offerings were water, honey, spelt cakes made with olive oil, honey, cinnamon, and with sesame, poppy seeds toppings, sweet red wine, flowers, storax, grapes from my grape vine and an olive oil lamp.
I began with Maanasa puja (my body- mind offering and worship) to her. This I have been doing every Tuesday at the temenos in the garden. In doing the panchopachara (offering the 5 cosmic principles ) puja, instead of Sanskrit letter visualization I adopted corresponding sounding Greek letters. Each time I look at the Greek letters, I seem to bond with them more and more, as individual deities or energy fields.
I changed the position of the stone altar from horizontal to vertical, leaning against the wall. Then connected it to the canvas yantra with 2 stalks of barley, just as we use the praanic force of the darbha grass in Hindu rituals. Worked on the Greek Homeric hymns, now adding commas and periods.
Early morning my daily prayers are offered at the Eastern window. After that I come down and light candles and incense in the fireplace area. This morning I uttered these words aloud looking at the pictures of Demeter, Petaluma City Seal and Ceres that is on my mantelpiece. " If my devatas (Hindu ones) are real, so you (Hellenic deities) too must be real."
After the Hellenic rituals in the morning, I would take the storax incense to the Adobe shrine, the sacred grove and the ancestor house.
The night before as I had severe body aches, I did cyclic meditation in the morning before I went to the studio. It certainly helped. My appetite is down eating only one third of what I would normally. Does this indicate that I compensate food for lack of enough spiritual exercises?
Sept. 27: The routine is pretty much set now. In the moving to the outward going ritual the most difficult part is calling Demeter's names in the reverse order, anticlockwise.
A music discovery was fruitful. Found several Homeric and Orphic hymns recited very nicely on you tube. I also found the work of Armand D' Angour who has done research on ancient Greek music. Although his presentation pieces lacked soul, I learned the basics of the hexadactylic meter for the Homeric Hymns.
I gave up listening to romantic Greek songs during this period as it was not conducive to my frame of mind at this time. Besides most of the songs have sorrow as the basis.
I made a beautiful trunk-let for the laurel tree, the largest tree in my garden. It was made in honor of Apollon.
Increased daily prayers for my family as I am not speaking or writing to them at this time. The Sitatapatra chant for Prof. Apostolos is also being done daily. I realized more than ever that in chanting especially for the welfare of another, there can be no room for emotions. Only then will the chant be efficient.
Sept. 28: Why the chant Demeter Doso Anassa ainoito? Homer's hymn on Demeter begins referring to her first as Demeter. Then when she assumes the disguise as an elderly woman in the mortal world, she is Doso. Finally, the last epithet in the hymn is the term Anassa for her. I see her therefore in 3 realms.
She is Doso in Loukika tatva, mortal reality, she is Demeter in Pouranika, legendary reality, and finally she Anassa, the Supreme in Adhyatmika or Transcendental reality.
In nyaasa (gestural mantra anointing of body) I call her Dimitra This was the first time that I successfully visualized the deities and humans in my mind, as I called upon them.
The research done on the very many countries that housed a temple or shrine for Demeter was amazing. Used Mallari ragam in calling the long list of these names that I had compiled to act as the shakti or foundation stance for Demeter. Even though there may be no longer any physical evidences, of many of these shrines, in calling upon them, while offering ablutions of water on the Narmada lingam, I felt I was pulling in the energies that existed and perhaps still exist there. Come to think of it I feel that Christians knew about such energies, that is why they tore down so called pagan temples and built churches on the very spot that Hellenic shrines existed. They were cashing in on the energy that remains there even though the edifices were destroyed.
Sept. 29: Previously when I call upon the Greek letters I would go " Xaire Alpha mitera........". Today I uttered "Xaire Mitera Alpha......." and that felt better. Evening I changed from storax because it was hard to stay awake till the embers die. So, I lit Auromere's amber incense instead. This the same for the early morning meditation in the studio. Notation for the shakti peetas of the many Demeter temples goes SSS= Demeter, M=tees, MPDP=Elefsinas, PPDP= parakalo, DDD M= partey tee sas, RM= teesee, RS= edo. When I chant Praises to Demeter that Prof.A composed I use notes from the melody of Sekilos song. That is pretty well set. Homeric hymn is still not set. The barley sprouts surfaced today, so it took 5 days.
Sept.3: Overnight the barley has shot up to an inch. Quite a bit of reading time on various excavations of pottery, clothing and furniture of Hellenistic Greece. Noted apt quotations by Apollonios and Pythagoras. Had to break my silence when I had trouble with a whirring sound caused by the faulty doorbell.
Oct.1: Today the entire ritual was done with inaudible chants. Concentration was on the stone yantra and not on the painting. However, morning meditation still focused on the painting. Interesting how my 108 japam of Dimitra went with the tick tock of the clock. When the ritual was over and I walked into my backyard, my hearing was so sharp that I could hear even the faintest of bird sounds. More and more I catch myself before and after the ritual requesting the Mother, with greater devotion, to help make this pursuit more meaningful and also help consolidate this with the people of Greece, enabling thus a praanic transference. I prayed that precious Athina will help my secret wish to donate many of my special Indological books to the Athens Center for Indian and Indo- Hellenic studies. Slight disturbances due to the rain and the need to protect the Adobe shrine. Afternoon was very rewarding with the presence of so many birds in my backyard.
Oct.2: Took pictures today as tomorrow is the last day. Today I returned from the Outward to Inward ritual. Somehow, I felt Apollonios backing me up because of his connection to India. By the way he is the image on my PC. So, I get to see to him daily. I imagined Omeros watching and hovering from above, spreading over me like the sky. Introduced aachaman, sipping water thrice with Xaire Dimita, Xaire Doso, Xaire Anassa. Then read the English invocation. I pictured her arrival followed by all the other divinities and humans behind her. They all take their places in the yantra with her in the center. In her presence all are fed with the offerings. She too eats with them. Heavy rains at night, strangely I maintained my calm and did not worry about the vulnerable Adobe shrine. Instead of that I thought how nice it is for the earth and the plants. Both on Monday and Tuesday the maanasa panchopachaara was done concentrating on the approximately equivalent Greek letters.
Oct.3: Last worship day. New offering were 2 pomegranates. The stone yantra with the connecting stalks were taken back to the temenos after the ritual. Not tired at all even after cleaning and putting stuff away. Interesting that throughout this observation, exceptional calm, lack of appetite, staying away from news, email etc yielded many realities that I cannot divulge now.
September 14-22, 2019
C= challenges D= dialogue R= Rituals S= Signals
C: Timing was challenging as the work on the shrine cover has begun. This means quite some noise for several hours. Saw dust from the work falling on my car. So, the first action after my daily morning prayers was to bring the car out of the garage and cover it. New car cover was too difficult to operate by myself. Plus, cannot think of how difficult it would be to cover and then take it off every time I need to drive the car. So back to covering the left side of the car with just sheets. Cleaning the saw dust off the car got to be so difficult that I had to take it to the car wash. Never realized until then how precious this " Maavi" ( the name of my car) was to me ! The inflammation on the inner part of my left elbow, caused by my lifting the legs of the heavy bed, made much of my physical work tedious. I had planned to observe silence and non -communication for these 9 days. Only exception was to text my folks in Windsor each evening to let them know I was fine and minimum conversation with Chris and Aaron who are working on the shrine cover. Called the bank to check on minimum balance requirement.
R: The day began after daily prayers, to listening to Prof.' recitation of the Praises to Demeter, while contemplating devotedly on the picture of the goddess on the Petaluma City seal. Only then was I able to involute into the essential one- pointed spiritual mode flavored with Greece, specific to this ritual. Then listened to ancient Greek music on my I pod while I washed the ritual utensils and dishes. Showered and then lit the lamp in the Temenos in my yard. Storax was waved here and in the studio. Removed all the non- Greek related ritual objects from the area, thus leaving only what was needed for this observation. The Christian and Sufi altar got covered with cloth.
C: Main concern was when to do the major ritual. I decided to do it in the evening as no work will be going on in the Adobe shrine area then.
R: The first ritual in the morning after shower was to call upon/ invoke the energy of the Greek letters as mothers, while contemplating on the special painting.
S: Been hearing the shrieks of hawks in the vicinity for the last 2 days. On Friday the 13th while returning from Mc Near school, a hawk flew very close to me. Hawks as noted in my previous observations signify the presence of Ermes, the messenger.
S&D: My mind was rather quiet as I walked back and forth between the studio and the house. Only thing in my mind was the constant chanting of Dimitra, Doso, Anassa ainoito. This silenced mind stimulated my hearing capacity. I could hear intense and beautiful conversation between little birds. While I was fixing the light holders on the strawberry tree, where the yard temenos is located, a humming bird was hovering around me.
As I chant, I visualize an isosceles triangle, Delta, divided into 3 sections. The bottom plane is Doso, the mid plane is Demeter and the uppermost plane is Anassa. The planes concept is similar to the concept of bhuloka, bhuvarloka and svarloka in Hinduism.
R: On Friday the 13th, I decorated the mantelpiece in the living room with a garland of chrysanthemums. Here I have the pictures of the Petaluma goddess, Demeter and Ceres. I also made the ' thoran" on my front door, with wool, red yarn and laurel leaves according to a Greek custom. I then set the Ekati altar in the porch.
I sowed barley seeds in the ceramic vases that Asha and I had made and set them under the backyard temenos. Priya's vase was placed in the studio temenos.
Got the thyrsus done with a fresh, green bamboo stalk, cut from the shrine area. I also offered some of the cedar, honeysuckle and magnolia branches that resulted from the tree trimming in the shrine area. This was my way of appreciating the sacrifice they had made to the cover.
D: I woke up early morning and saw a star between the moving clouds. Time may be around 4am. As is my habit I began uttering the Tara mantra that requests fullness in knowledge/wisdom and in the remaining lifespan. Then prayed at the east window, where my first prayers of the day were uttered after toiletries. After lighting the candles at the mantelpiece downstairs where a serious of sacred photos are kept, I went to the kitchen to make my morning medicine. While making it, a strong thought hit me. The voice inside of me said " Your puja or worship will not be complete, not until you become Demeter!" Was this not then the profound truth that I received from my precious Thirumeni, Brahmashree Easwaran Namputhiri, many years ago? A truth which I first reacted to as if it was blasphemy but which proved when faithfully followed, a sure method of bonding with the deity that leads to total identity? From him I learned a very complicated gestural and mantra method for this to happen. So, then the question was how can I do that in this worship. Then it occurred to me that indeed there is a mahaavaakya, great maxim, uttered by Demeter to queen Metaneira in the Homeric Hymn, which I had been using, in her Maanasa puja. It goes "Lo, I am Demeter, the honorable, the greatest. The source of help and joy to the mortals and the immortals". I realized that all along I had been uttering this as a quotation and never did identify with the " I " in it the way for full identity. I knew then what I should do. Just as I thought this way, the clock on the range shifted in front of my eyes to 5:00 am. This was a nimittha signal for me, so quickly I took the card that had this quotation written and took it to the mantelpiece to read it while looking at Demeter. This is the first picture of Demeter I chose from my Mark West stay days, to pray to. Just as I was about to read, a messaged issued from the picture. I noticed that her left arm is focused towards her right breast with the forefinger pointing that way. To me then it seemed that with that gesture she brought living proof to the mahaavaakya. In addition, in this picture she directly looks at you. This helps in sadhana. With these steps into total identification, began the use of the manasa puja to Her. This also substantiates the same truth that is in the last line of a Sanskrit prayer that I recite to Moola Durga , particularly when praying in the Adobe shrine. It says " In the end the absolute reality is in' I am the Devi' ". Is that not what the mystic Mansur Hallaj stated when he claimed An-al Hak, I am the Truth ?
R: The left half of the stove was used for my food needs while the right half was used for ritual cooking needs.
C: Used rye to make the cakes as the spelt flour at the store was in very large bags. This meant after the ritual most of the flour would have to be thrown away. Was not too happy with the way the cakes turned out.
R: Evening after showering I went to the studio to conduct the main ritual. Did peeta shakti aavahanam, whereby I call upon the various Demeter divinities that existed in shrines/ temples in many different countries at one time. Current list has 81 shrines. Used the lingam stone from the Narmada river, that has the marking of a chinmudra. This is the mudra held by many Hindu, Buddhist deities and seen even in some ancient Mesopotamian sculptures. In this mudra the pointer and the thumb tips come together and the remaining 3 fingers are held upright. Each shrine’s individual energy was invoked by pouring water on the lingam and calling for their presence in Greek.
C: Just as I finished this I heard a knock on the door. I had left it open for cool air to come in. Hesitated as to what to do. Rang the bell, recited a standard Forgiveness shloka in Sanskrit and welcomed whoever it was. It was Mildred also known as Durga, with a basket full of Indian vegetables. I took the veggies and asked her to take a look at the altar and explained my brevity of words as this was a silent retreat. She bent down humbly at the altar. I kissed her cheeks and blessed her.
R: I realized that this was a Nimittha phenomenon. In this case an auspicious sign. Her name was Durga, the very deity in the Adobe shrine and she brought vegetables. After all Demeter is Aglaokarpos and Aglaodoros. So, Mildred came to me as Shakaambari and as Demeter. I resumed the ritual and completed it. I noticed that the order of offerings was not the same as in the Indian one, but that did not bother me as it felt natural. Making an exception in my communication rule, I did email Mildred with thanks and explanation of the phenomena.
As dusk approached, I lit the LED lights in the strawberry tree. Sent the picture to my family. Proof that I was fine!
R: Morning ritual went very smoothly.
C: Needed groceries and gasoline. Rather hard therefore to maintain absolute silence. Susie, a friend at the market was surprised when I told her I cannot speak much as I am on a sort of silent retreat. Yet while I was helping myself to mushrooms, she asked me not to take from the shelf but rather from a newly opened box. Instinctive kindness of such folks warmed my heart.
At the gas station, my friend Iqbal accepted my brevity in speaking when I said in Hindi that what I was doing would also bring about welfare to the world. He said " I understand".
R: Wanted to offer kykeon but could not find barley flour in many stores. I roasted the barley I had, powdered it, mixed it in hot water and added a sprig of penny royal and offered that. This what Demeter asked for instead of wine from queen Metaneira.
D: Pondering over what the Demeter story personally means to me who is not Greek. and who is a Hindu living in a land dominated by Abrahamic belief, the story of Jesus, Moses, as good as they are, do nothing to help me to connect to creation. In a way Abrahamic religions are isolationist religions, that help in slavishness not freedom. The Demeter story however teaches me the following at this point.
1. In dealing with Loukika or Worldly reality we have to accept the goings about in Nature. Orephoros, one of her attributes as the bringer of seasons, the inevitability of seasonal changes a natural rhythm are what we need to be, in greater tune with Nature.
2. Aglaokarpos, Aglaodoros, as bringer of fruits and gifts, shows that Nature has the capacity to reward us. We too have the capacity to give gifts.
3. The play of divine energy is seen clearly for even though she is Megale Thea , she renders herself as Doso , in order to come down to the mortal world. She thus works her skillful games at Eleusis to finally prove that indeed she is the source of joy and help to the immortals and the mortals.
C: Had to clamp down on unnecessary thoughts by substituting the Dimitra mantra. It sure worked.
D: Nature speaks to us only when our mind is still. Conversations and movements of the birds in my yard became louder and more noticeable. Reminded me of Shelley's line" What is life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare." I have begun to move slower and more deliberate as my mind is so calm with so few thoughts. The 3 Fs in me that I have to work on is, Frustration, Fear and Fury. I am managing this so much better. In sadhana and other such pursuits there must be a persistence born out of conviction not out of arrogance.
Creative solutions need to be sought for unhealthy habits. Mealtimes are very boring for me as I have to sit alone. Often then the radio or TV gets turned on. So, I decided either to sit outside and eat or go up to the computer room upstairs, face the window to see the beautiful hill top views. In doing thus, mealtimes became so fulfilling and peaceful.
Friends are puzzled when I tell them that I am doing a retreat in my home. I live in a quiet neighborhood. I have nature right here in my backyard and the sacred grove. Most of all I figure that I am retreating into myself, my inner essence. I shed all trappings, living, eating, studying, doing the rituals, contemplating on the stories and characters. I reduce my input and output in communication to the bare minimum. For that I need not go anywhere. My vison quests are facilitated at home!
D&R: Being a Hindu I always associated bowing down to the divine, during prayers. When I chose the phrase " may be praised" for the Praises to Demeter, I had in mind the Tamil word "potri". This means laud or praise. Prof. A translated that word into Greek as " ainoito". Now I know why the Hellenes of the old tradition place their arms in an outward stretch when they beseech, pray or sing to the divine. The modern- day Hellenes seem to conduct their worship outdoors. Naturally Nature being everywhere and all around this gesture becomes very appropriate. So now I try to do the same when performing Hellenic worship. Another gesture I have employed after noticing it in statues and frescoes is to have the left arm lifted such that the palm faces the mouth and the right arm is stretched out to the deity while praying. I have seen the right hand held in a chinmudra in a sculpture. So I used this gesture to establish the presence of the various deities and humans in their respective spots in the yantra. At the Heraklion Archaeology Museum I was fascinated by the different ways the arms were held.
R: There is a story in my personal journal " The Divine Web" that led to the acquisition of the red cinnabar rock that I have. So I decided for the first time to use this red rock into the ritual when the invocations were read in English, thus sanctifying this language. I find that reading the Greek invocations was rather mechanical as I could not relate to the words. In order to mean the words with one's whole heart and mind I needed the English. Of course, anytime I used Sanskrit anywhere, it felt so much more complete. So, I decided that I will stick to the English invocations in the morning. Once I used the cinnabar as a focus, all felt right. I was also reminded of the " Omphalos" of the ancient Greeks.
D: Midmorning as I walked back to the main house, I felt a drops of rain on the right top of my head. there were no trees nearby and looking up I saw clear cloudless sky.
D: Reading Prof. A's translation I stopped at where Persefoni goes over what happened at the time of her abduction. Last year I had worked on the nymphs who accompanied her, who then had to be invoked into any yantra that I would come up with. I discovered that being Oceanids, they were associated with specific water formations and clouds. I began then to work on a yantra for Persefoni, again based on Omeros' hymn. The stumbling block in that pursuit was the number of nymphs being 23. Could not figure what combination of lotus circles, triangles and squares would make it exact. Tried different combinations keeping in mind at the same time certain hierarchical considerations.
This morning I decided to go back to that pursuit. I picked up my fat red diary where a lot of information had been entered regarding the whole ritual and the energies. Lo and behold the page I opened up at random revealed Praises to Persefoni from the Orphic Hymn. A sign then for me to go ahead. Around 9: 15 am I got it all figured. I entered a rough drawing into the diary.
The order is taken exactly in the order that Persefoni narrated to her mother. This yantra represents a happy Persefoni and her friends. Later that day I figured that I wished the bhupura square's doors to be occupied by the wind deities.
During the morning worship I could visualize a superimposition of colors from the canvas onto the stone yantra. Colors were beautiful aqua, green and dark blue. When I rested on the lounge in the backyard around 2pm a hawk circled above me three times and flew away. The barley has sprouted.
D: Woke up rather early with a dream where there was a strong friendliness with Demeter. It made the Shri suktam line " Upaithu maam devasakha, " which meant, may I attain friendliness with the devas so real. Began working harder on reading the invocations in Greek. Still rather slow.
A humble realization during the annual Boedromion Hellenic Retreat- Sept 19, 7:20am
The Abrahamic faiths as generally conceived and practiced, got it all wrong about depictions of the divine, in the form of sculptures, paintings icons etc. There is no need here for me to touch upon the human trait of arrogant manipulation that all major religious movements without exception have engaged in.
How beautiful it is to have the capacity to perceive something in creation, or in the world around us, whether it be the sun, storms, forests or even anger, lust or sorrow and then recognize the beauty or the power behind them ! Unlike reformist based religions where prophets came to be, in order to change society, here it is an outcome of a genuine response, that comes from deep within, with no ulterior motive backing them. They were spontaneous. The truths evidenced were enhanced and clothed into legends and stories that indeed had a phenomenal reality and definitely a slim body of historical and geographical reality.
To be able to internalize these truths and stories and then manifest them in the form of artistic creations, solely points to the visualizing capacity of the people, of those days. Finally to facilitate any one to reap the benefits, extract the wisdom, by simply looking at these creations and further more adoring them via rituals, not only solidified the connection between man, his nature and Nature, but also brought great meaning to life and death itself. The truth regarding death was the core of the Eleusinian mysteries held each year in Greece, (ref. Cicero, Laws II, XIV 36, comment on this observation)
I questioned myself therefore, as to how my insides respond personally to symbolic representations as expressed by the two glaringly different systems. Looking at Kwan Yin and Mother Mary I do not feel the same. Although they both represent Compassion. When I look at any Christian saint that intercedes, I do not feel the same. On the other hand, when I look at Zeus and Indra, there is a basic, natural connection. When I look at the Russian goddess Makosh and the Hindu Lakshmi I feel that connection. When I gaze at the early morning sun, a divinity that makes itself present to my eyes, I can call out Surya or Helios with the same ease. Then linking it to the story of the Shinto Amaterasu becomes very relevant to life. The Polynesian Hina, the Greek Selene, the Hindu Chandra are all evident as the Moon. Each winter the story of the Russian Sneguroshka, a recurring event in nature each year, makes more sense to me, unlike the birth of Jesus, a onetime historical event! Reading the Bible, both testaments or the Kuran or even the works of Lao Tse and Confucius, the Zend Avesta or the Tripitaka, as good as they all are, they lack messages or the impact that my deep sub conscious receives from Native American stories about the Coyote, the Crow and the Corn maiden. These symbols and stories that truly reverberate with all cultures, keeps me solidly connected to all things in the universe not just between human to human.
Going along this line of thinking, I do not subscribe to the role of man as a " Steward". By using this word, we imply that we are above creation like a ruler or a king is above in hierarchy. This word is a direct descendant of its Biblical usage and has a hidden sense of arrogance and dangers of abuse and misuse. It is a natural concept that arose out of the thinking that separates the Creator from the Created! It is this arrogance that has blinded us to the valuable teachings that nature has for us. Vedanta philosophy on the other hand clearly explains the role of the Creator, the Creatrix and the Created!
A humble approach in taking care of this world that is shared by others, is called for, as it is a healthier one. I would rather take the attitude that is inspired by Orissa's Navagunjara Bhagavan as featured in Sarala Das’s Mahabharata. Man is a part not apart from Creation.
R: To make the offering smoother I mixed the thick honey with some water.
C: I had dreams that were rather mixed up, but all reflecting scenes from the past. The one feature that highlighted them was a sense of maternal protection I exhibited during them.
R: Once again the morning ritual enabled internal visualization. Interesting how the colors of the yantra changes internally. As I read the praises in Greek, I was able to scan the English on the side, very smoothly. Evening worship was a little tiring but managed with increased devotion.
A Divine happening
D: Been lying in bed going over the ritual as now I have been using English, Greek and Sanskrit. I knew that today a change was called for, but what should it be, I knew not. Off and on the great mahaavakya, the declaration that Demeter utters to Metaneira, used to come into my mind. To me it felt just as important as the Devi Suktam in the Rgveda, the only suktam that is in the first person in the entire Rgveda. It is uttered by rishika Vagambhrini and the devata is Vagambhrini, a female powerful Devata. So, I thought perhaps the entire hymn and ritual centers around this declaration.
So, I uttered it and just as I had finished, I was startled by a strange sound of something falling and rolling nearby. I was puzzled as to what it could be. I got up turned the lights on in the bedroom, looked around but found nothing. Then as I sat on the toilet in the girl's bathroom, with the door open, I looked at the Ganesh on the landing and smiled. A tiny crabapple that I had placed in the crutch of his right arm and curve of his trunk was no longer there. So turned on the hall light and saw it on the floor. Amazing as to how it got off the crutch, moved down to the ledge towards the left side, fell and rolled on to the floor. Another " nimittha". So, I said loudly" Jai Ganesh". This little apple is my proof that I had hit the truth. "Jai Demeter Ma". The happening may be around 5: 43 am or so.
No matter what I had done ritualistically the last few years with regard to the worship of Demeter, there always was a sense of inadequacy. No more ! I have hit the bull's eye. The Mahavakya it is, nothing else matters.
R: A day of rejoicing it was, so I lit lamps in many places. Did the major worship in the morning, this time with confidence and satisfaction. I read the English in silence and followed it with audible recitation of the Greek. Placed the stone yantra in a large bowl and poured libations of water, kykeon, milk and water again.
In the evening I read the praises to Demeter , calling the Shaktis from all the shrines, followed by Manasa puja.
R: Wrapping up time. The strawberry tree, sacred to Ermes, got a garland of chrysanthemums that I wove. All waters from libations were poured to the feet, the roots. All utensils were cleaned and stored. The stone yantra, the Narmada lingam and the red Shri stone (cinnabar ore) were placed in the garden temenos.
D: A great sense of peace and fulfillment achieved as now, what my blessed Thirumeni had said, "You cannot do real puja until you become the very devata that you wish to do the puja to. " became a fact, in this Indo- Hellenic puja. With the mahavakya, the nyaasa and the japam I had to identify completely with Demeter.
All that is left to close this chapter was to go to Greece and train a few Greeks hopefully into this paddhati.
A few days after the observation I began to do the manasa puja to Demeter while looking at her picture on my mantel any time I felt the need. Simple, short and meaningful.
Sept 3-11, 2020
Several days before the 3rd, the Cooper’s Hawk kept appearing on the large Redwood tree in the neighborhood. It would perch there and screech away. Was Hermes reminding me that the time had come ?
Sept 3; Due to setbacks in the digestive system, I needed to see how I can do the early morning meditation on the yantra in the studio, on an empty stomach.
So, in order to test the sincerity of my desire to worship, after the shower I filled a small vial with the filtered water and as I drank it sip by sip, I uttered the mantra, Demeter, Doso, Anassa, Ainoito. The red thread for the wrist and ankle that I chose did not feel right though I tied it anyway. Perhaps because it was not made of cotton. Ekati was established outside the door with just a round rock with her name written on it and lit a tea candle and placed a flower. Above the door the unspun yarn hanging and a branch of the bay leaf was hung. This time whenever I uttered the Greek calling word XAIPE it felt right. It seemed to issue straight from my heart. The order of invocation was all in English, first to the Greek letters, then Omeros, Apollonios, finally the yantra deities. Persefoni’s mandala was hung on the side wall. When I returned to the main house a fragrance issued that I had never before experienced. Amazing that even though I might have spent about 2 hours on this day, my stomach stayed calm. Breakfast was eaten only after this was over. Before the midday worship I clothed myself in the white salwar kameez and tied the red ribbon around my waist and forehead. This was only for the midday worship. The main ritual was the detailed one as usual with prayers and offerings. I was rather at ease perhaps for having done this for so many years by now. The granite yantra was brought from the temenos into the studio. Since it was the first day the preliminary worship of invoking the Demeter energies from many temples that were located in various parts of the world were called upon. This was accompanied by offering water on the granite yantra. The red cinnabar rock was placed in the altar as the facilitator to sanctify the English words used. Then the detailed yantra worship was done. After this was completed, I turned towards the Persefoni mandala. When performing the simple worship, I found myself rather uneasy. Evening I lit just 3 tea candles in front of the temenos under the strawberry tree.
While showering the red thread I had tied to the ankle fell off, so too the wrist one. When I examined the packet from where I took it, I saw that it was made of nylon. No wonder. Desperately looking into the bag containing cotton threads I found just enough to tie this time. I wound it nine times in both areas. Afternoon ritual again went smoothly. The Persefoni part was still left me uneasy. In the evening I went to the studio to light the lamps. I sat in front of the Persefoni mandala, stared at all its individual parts that were meant for the energies and uttered my frustration to her. I then realized the following flaws in the mandala that Lia had drawn and colored for me. This is not the first time that I seem to zoom in on flaws in yantras. I have caught several artists and priests in India and in LA for using faulty yantras and mandalas. These geometric designs have to be precise before they are used for worship, otherwise they can pull in negative energies and or place obstacles in worship.
The petals in the outer circle were all not of the same size.
The bhupura opening in the south instead of being in line with the tip of a petal, was aligned to the space between 2 petals.
She had drawn around the circle what looked like blue waves.
Essentially it showed she had not followed what I had roughly drawn for her and had added waves, that was wrong by yantra rules.
No wonder I had trouble with invocations. Perplexed by this situation I was left to figure a solution. I then remembered the tiny pomegranate that Prof. A had given me that I had brought to the US. He had given me a big one that he said was for Demeter and the smaller one for Persefoni. I gave the bigger one to someone in the hotel for fear that US customs would seize and discard it. I moved the mandala off the wall and put it away. I placed instead on the altar, the dried pomegranate fruit from my backyard temenos. This was to represent Persefoni.
Sep 5: Lit storax incense in the morning. Felt the ambience of Greece in the atmosphere. During the midday ritual I played Eirini’s reading of the Greek invocations composed by Prof A. Her sweet voice and crystal, clear diction added to my love for this ritual and the deities. I accompanied her voice with minimum gestures. At the end when I did the fruit offering, I spoke to Demeter in Tamil and asked her to humbly accept all that I had done. Suddenly a jasmine fell from the stone yantra to the floor. This was her answer, a nimittam. I placed the flower in my hair. While trying unsuccessfully to draw Persefoni yantra, I realized that she was perfectly content to be part of the Demeter yantra where she had a place with other deities associated with the Homeric hymn.
Sept 6: This morning I was greeted by the chirping of birds near the feeder, by the calls from the hawk and by a flight of geese cackling their way across the sky. This being a Sunday, I made a nice beaded garland for the Mediterranean bay laurel tree in honor of Helios. The temperature rose to 102 in the evening and so could not sit in the studio to read. Just lit the lamps.
While blowing through a paper pipe to get the charcoal disk to burn well, I thought of Hephaistos and prayed to him. Received an encouraging email from Prof. A. Even from Day One when I contemplated on the painting of the Temple of Greek Letters, I visualized Demeter sitting on a throne, inside. Today I visualized her sitting on the throne, with Persefoni kneeling by the side, on the floor, looking at her mother. Today’s cakes came out good. I used Italian flour, ghee and salt. Made rotis and coated them with more ghee. Then topped with cinnamon powder, poppy seeds and honey. Once again it felt so right and uplifting, to listen to Eirini’s recitation of the ritual prayers. This time I followed her reading with silently looking at the English.
Sept 7; The routine is getting easier. Began watching Vlassis G. Rassias’ (of YSEE.GR) you tube talks. Today the light and air felt strange due to the effects of fires and smoke.
Sept 8: While studying Rassias, I found it easier to turn the sound off, as he spoke in rapid Greek. Just read the English subtitles and also took notes.
Sept 9: Much ease in lighting the hanging lamps on the strawberry tree.
Sept 10: Today when I was doing the Manasa or Mental puja to Demeter I concentrated on the yantra intensely. I looked at it for about 10 minutes and then closed my eyes and focused on the stone yantra. I saw myself transferring the triangle and circles on to the stone. What happened when superimposed on the stone, is given herewith.
Each triangle was bigger.
The colors were different from the canvas one.
Seemed like fine colored particles of light made up the triangles in the yantra.
After lighting the candles on the tree in the evening, I made a garland of roses, that grew near the back fence. I ended up doing the cleaning today itself. Usually I had been doing it on Day 10. I placed the Persefoni mandala back on the wall thinking perhaps I can do some ritual during the upcoming Thesmophoria. From now on, the Demeter one I felt it should be called a yantra or padmam, Kerala style, while the Persefoni one will be referred to as a mandala, more like in the Tibetan tradition.
THESMOPHORIA Sept 29, 30, Oct 1, 2020
As I could not draw a proper mandala for Persefoni and needing a mandala, a unique solution came to me. On a new glass cutting board I stuck glass pebbles of varying colors placing them correctly in geometrical positions corresponding to the painting. Clouds - green, 12 petalled lotus- blue, 8 petalled lotus- amber, triangle white and bija in center dark blue. Turned out very beautiful.
Below the mandala on the wall, the altar had a picture of Persefoni and in front of the picture the glass mandala. In front of that, the small pomegranate gifted by Prof.A.
Ritual was done only once in the morning.
Ritual: Prayers to the temple of letters, then to Omeros, Apollonios and Demeter. Lit the main Demeter lamp. Then the small lamp for Persefoni. Manasa puja to Persefoni. Took dhyaana word pattern from the Demeter ritual. Drew energy from picture to the glass mandala. Clouds and Nymphs received water and milk offering. Persefoni received water, milk, fragrance, flowers, incense, lamp cakes and fruits. Final waving of light to all.
Sept 22-30, 2021
Sept 21: Placed a new cover over the temenos (altar) under the strawberry tree. Hung candle lamps from the branches. Sowed barley in concentric circles. The studio was being remodeled so I fixed the old PC room where I sleep now, as the place for the rituals. I was concerned about the efficacy of this year’s worship due to my health situation.
Sept 22: Car issues put time constraints on my worship schedule. First act in the morning was to pray in the Adobe Shrine. Around 10 am I initiated the usual routine. Shakti libation to the stone yantra. Listened to Eirini, my Greek teacher’s Greek recitation of the ritual invocations while contemplating on the canvas yantra. Transference of the canvas yantra formations on to the stone yantra via visualizations was smooth and amazing. Offered water, kykeon, wine, cakes, milk and honey. In the evening it was hard to light the candles that were recessed in the holders, so changed to LED lights the next day. Established a small altar outside the front door for Hecate.
Sept 23: Prayed at the Adobe shrine. Felt light headed. Did the ritual with English invocations addressed to the cinnabar ore, which received all the ablutions. Transference of vision from canvas to stone yantra happened. Not as strong as last time. In the evening LED lights worked good in the holders for the tree.
Sept 24: Too many visitors and many trips to studio for the remodeling, so worship conducted only in the evening. Read Professor’s translation.
Sept 25: Ritual late afternoon due to visitors in the morning. Greek invocations listened to while offering. It was smooth and fulfilling. Health set back with an IBS flare. Read Kephalos’s article on Eleusis and an article on Samothrace. Wrote to the anthropologist Wescoat, Emory University, associated with the latter dig.
Sept 26: Same as yesterday. Oiled the stone yantra to see the etchings clearer. More devotion today. Greek praises getting easier to remember.
Sept 27: Same as yesterday with Greek invocations.
Sept 28: Found Homeric Hymn to Demeter on the Net. It had the Greek, English transliteration and English word to word translation. Check big fat red book for link. Cross checked with Prof’s translation. Some differences evident.
Sept 29: Very smooth ritual. Found Orphic Hymn to Athena Pallas on you tube with lyrics. Check red book.
Sept 30: Culmination ritual and also day for clearing everything. Did Manasa (mental) puja with great satisfaction. Persefoni’s stuff was not removed in order to observe Thesmophoria later. Felt very strongly that I received all that I needed from this path that began in 2009 and suspected that this is the last time I am doing this observance.
September 10- 19, 2022
Sept 10: Cleaned the temenos under the strawberry tree. The tree is no longer lush like it used to be. Feel like it is getting old. Lit a candle and burnt storax in honor of the Hellenic deities. I had some doubts regarding what I should do this year as they say ‘Siddhi’ Fulfillment and Success in this path was attained last year. Once inside the house, which smelled of storax, I looked at my phone. Nikolaos had sent me a short video of Prof, singing to and rocking his granddaughter Zoi Apostalia. So, knew that this was an auspicious sign, something has to be observed, but what? Ilahi session had to be conducted this day, surprisingly easy it was.
Sept 11: Core session today, so once again I offered only simple prayers, candle and frankincense this time near the temenos.
Sept 12: Set up 3 simple altars in the PC room. Brought in the Narmada river lingam and the cinnabar ore.
Sept 14- Sept 18: Extremely simple daily worship sometimes in Greek, sometimes in English. Morning meditation and evening manasa puja. Temenos had candle and incense. Confirmation came clear on this day that I have completed this path.
Sept 19: Plan to go to Greece got cancelled however made a solid detailed plan as to how to document this journey of walking on an Indo Hellenic Path.
List of Temples to Demeter
Cited in Pausanias’ geography of Greece, a 2nd CE work.
Argos, Alimus, Prospalta, Phyla, Myrrhinus, Themistocli, Kephisi, Anthiu pigadi, Megara,Karias, Alcatheos and Nisara.
Pirea, Philasia, Kelea, Musia, Pelasgos, Tavros, Ilea, Buropordos, I’dra, Ermionis, Pron, and Lernas.
Amyclea, Thereas, and Kenopolis.
Olympia and Chamayne
Patras, Aygnios, Bura and Mousion.
Pheneus, Kyllene,Thaliades, Onsium, Basilis, Myropolis, Phaedrias, Akhasesias, Mt. Igalia near Phigalia, Tegra and
Plataea, Seolos, Potnias, Thebes,Korae, Kaberi,Stiris,Phaleros, Aiginia, Sikyonia, Phlous, Mykeneas, Troigenos, Didymos and Pellas.
Agrigento, Paestum, Selinunte, Randazzo and Albanella.
Pergamon,Knidou, and Priene
Alexandria and Sinkefa
Altar in Santa Rosa
Praises to Demeter
Gratitude is owed to the following
Brahmashree Easwaran Namputhiri, Professor Dr. Apostolos Athanassakis
Eirini Karatzaferi, Lia May Byrd, Shanthi Chidambaram,
Shreya Chidambaram, Seth Howerton
The City of Petaluma