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Ayurvedic Corner * Thanksgiving Pumpkin Laddus *

I can hardly believe that it’s that time of year again. It’s November and the holidays are just around the corner! For this month’s article, I share a recipe that’s easy to add to the Thanksgiving menu, or any of the season’s potlucks or holiday parties for that matter. Though most people become familiar with laddus from eating at Indian food restaurants, these delicious sweet balls made of a variety of ingredients and flours, are actually prevalent in many South Asian countries. As you know, I love a recipe with a lot of room for creativity and laddus is one of those deserts you can make your own.

For my version, I use white sesame seed as the base because of its powerful medicinal properties. Sesame seeds are rich in protein and essential fatty acids. They contain the amino acids lysine, trytophan, and methionine. They also contain the minerals copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and thiamine (Vitamin B1). According to Dr. Ladd, sesame seeds contain sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes, with a heating and pungent virya and vipaka. They are oily, heavy, and smooth and increase Pitta and Kapha, while decreasing Vata dosha. Let me also add that the black variation of sesame seeds are used widely in traditional Chinese medicine. He Zhi Ma or black sesame seed is sweet and neutral in temperature. It nourishes Jing and blood, and extinguishes wind. It also moistens the intestines and lungs. (Just to name a few of its medicinal properties according to traditional Chinese medicine.) Both of these seeds carry a medicinal punch that you just might need during this holiday season.

Overall, these laddus are light, sweet, and a little spicy. I had your agni or digestive fire in mind when I thought of the spices to add to the base ingredients. Spices such as cardamom, dry ginger powder, and a pinch of black pepper are meant to offset the potential heaviness of the pumpkin

Laddus with a little spice!
and sesame. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Laddus
2 Tbspn Ghee
3 Cups White Sesame Seeds
2 Tbspn Pumpkin Puree (Canned or roasted from a pie pumpkin)
1 Tbspn Ginger powder
1 tspn Turmeric
1 tspn Cinnamon
¼ tspn Nutmeg
¼ tspn Black pepper
¼ Salt
Maple Syrup as needed
Whole pecan to garnish

First, prepare the pumpkin puree. If using canned pumpkin, set the stove to medium heat and pour can into pot to warm. Meanwhile, roast the sesame seeds on the stove or oven and grind to make a powder. Mix ghee and spices, again on a medium heat stove top until well integrated. Mix pumpkin, sesame seeds, and spices together into a bowl. Add maple syrup to make a sticky consistency. Roll into 1 to 1 ½ inch balls and refrigerate for 20 minutes until hard. Serve with a piece of pecan on top.

Melissa Camacho, guest writer, is a licensed acupuncturist and Ayurvedic practitioner in Sedona. To contact her, please click here

The Adventures of Lionheart, Temple Cat * Green Beans for Thanksgiving *

 

It can happen to the best of us.  There was a time when I was younger and my kapha bested me and I admit…I was known as His Plumpness.  Every winter Xena puffs up and she endures kisses and being called  “my little sausage”. From the guru point of view, I could see the writing on the wall. Always hopeful, Jackson would run to the refrigerator whenever it was opened. He followed Uta around in the morning waiting for a treat. He would sit in the dining room and stare at the students eating hard boiled eggs and drool. He cleaned all the cat plates and sneak into the bathroom to see if someone forgot and left the kitty food on the floor. Jackson started to be described as  “portly”, chubby, tubby…his new collar was getting tight and leaving a ruff around his neck when it was taken off at night.
 
Objective scientific data was needed from the scale at the clinic…how much did he actually weigh? It turned out to be a  sacred number …88.8 pounds. Eight is the symbol of infinity. And this was tripled.Time for Jackson to go on a Diet.No more snacks between meals, he lost the second breakfast he had finagled during yoga trainings, his nightly mutton bone before bed. Sitting, lying down or shaking paws on cue no longer garnered him liver bites.  The diet began with a trip to Ace Hardware to get his new expensive kibble Origen’s “Fit and Trim”. His fitness regimen included two walks followed by jogging next to the car on deserted  roads.

 

When the eating restrictions continued for more than a day, Jackson decided to start foraging for food in the wild. Fond of juniper berries, now he would linger and graze from the lower branches on his walks.  He discovered rabbit droppings and began hovering the garden during karma yoga.Three weeks later, he weighed in on the scale at the clinic and… 88.6?!!

 

He Is big boned, has  large ribs and winter is coming. He is a lab-mix and labs are considered to be the bottomless pit of canines when it comes to food. However he is now officially a temple dog and one of his jobs is to role model of the benefits of yoga. Deeper Google research turned up… Green Beans.   Fresh green beans are highly touted for their nutrients:  protein, iron, calcium, vitamin B6, A, C, and K. They are also full of fiber, low in calories and give a sense of fullness and they are the best kept secret for dog weight loss. And if that doesn’t work, there is always the supplement Perfect Model in A Bottle for Pets.  Stay tuned!

 

* Vedic Astrology for November *

The month of November seems to foster more heart-centered activities and activates a wider vision of what could be possible, with Saturn now moving into the expansive and idealistic sign of Sagittarius, along with Venus moving into the positive relationship-oriented sign of Libra. Venus will also be traveling with benefic Jupiter most of the month, adding to more positive connections. The Sun moves out of debility mid-month which increases our sense of confidence. Kala sarpa yoga occurs part of the month of November, which requires integrity in all we do. The malefic planets Saturn and Mars aspect each other, creating lessons of responsibility, maturity, and restraint.

Saturn, planet of discipline and truth, now begins its forward transit through the fire sign of Sagittarius for several years, from October 26, 2017 until January 23, 2020. Saturn in Sagittarius, a fire sign ruled by Jupiter, brings a major focus on knowledge, education, philosophies of life, humanitarian concerns, freedom, ethics, and legalities. In addition, from October 25 until November 25, 2017, Saturn will be moving through the final gandanta degrees of 0 to 2 degrees of Sagittarius. Gandanta degrees are the critical junctures between water and fires signs that can open us to new perspectives and healing if we choose. So in November we can be morally tested as we confront outworn belief systems, begin to live our truth, and trust again. No resistance is the key to working well with gandanta transits. Embracing new levels of understanding motivate us to make wiser decisions for our collective future could be a positive expression of this transit.

In addition for most of the month of November (from October 26 to November 29, 2017) Saturn in Sagittarius will aspect Mars in Virgo, and Mars will aspect Saturn. This mutual aspect between these two planets fuels ambitions. However, we can experience some temporary delays or frustrations in accomplishing our goals with the push/pull energies of Mars and Saturn. The desire for success becomes strong, so we must develop more patience this month. Mindfulness practices, focusing on what we really need to do, and meditation can be helpful. Venus moves out of its debilitated sign of Virgo on November 2, and happily transits its own sign of Libra until November 26, 2017. This brings more socializing and the need for deeper connections, perfect for Thanksgiving which occurs on November 23 in the US. Venus in Libra wants balance and harmony in relationships, but can over-idealize love. Don’t give in just to create peace, as you do not want direct confrontations. We are learning to appropriately negotiate and compromise accordingly with others in a more equal fashion. This transit of Venus in Libra can also increase our desire for artistic expression. Add more creativity in your life, which reduces stress and facilitates healing.

Venus will be joining benefic Jupiter when it transits the sign of Libra this month. Jupiter and Venus are the two teacher planets (Jupiter is the teacher of the gods, and Venus is the teacher of the demons in Vedic mythology), so this combination brings opportunities to expand our knowledge from two difference perspectives or levels of awareness. Hopefully this conjunction can bring about greater diplomacy and understanding in the world. On a personal note, we are more open to creative, social, and humanitarian endeavors. But watch for over-indulgence or excessive spending – be sensible.

The Sun, planet of career, identity, and vitality is weakened in its debilitated sign of Libra during the first few weeks of November. Then, late on November 15, 2017, the Sun begins its transit through its more auspicious sign of Scorpio until December 15, 2017. Previously with the Sun in Libra, we could experience issues with our self-identity, inner authority, and esteem. But mid-month, when the Sun transits the intense and transformative sign of Scorpio, we start to confront the deeper realities of our life and begin a healing and rebirth process if we are ready. In addition, Rahu, the north node of the Moon, is transiting the sign of Cancer, and will aspect (trine) the Sun while in Scorpio. On the positive we can feel more powerful and desire greater success in life, but be mindful of any controlling tendencies surfacing. Be realistic and practical with you goals, and also envision how your work or career can not only support you, but uplift and help others too.

We again experience kala sarpa yoga from November 10 through 25, 2017, when all the planets are placed between the nodes of the moon, Rahu and Ketu. This yoga has been occurring every few weeks since September 2017, and will continue January 2018. This yoga combination affects us on a psychological level, bringing some dissatisfaction and increased sensitivity. We feel we may have less free will, and events may occur that carry a type of “destiny” energy. Kala sarpa yoga is motivating us to fulfill our positive potential in life directly and not fall into complacency or the misuse of our energies. It’s important to be appropriately responsible and kind, and act with the highest morals during this time, or we can suffer. Be authentic and open to new possibilities of growth!

Debra Infante, Vedic astrologer, can be reached at (928) 639-0623 or by email for astrological consultations, either in person or by phone.

The Adventures of Lionheart, Temple Cat – Timelines, Ancestors and Clans

A recent trip to Scotland uncovered previously unknown ancestors in the land of heather, thistle and Highlands cows.
       McLionheart, Chieftan of the cat clan
There in the history books of cat clans was none other than McLionheart, distantly related to the great Scottish hero Sir William Wallace, known as Braveheart from  the 13th century.
 
Throughout Scottish history the gathering of family, friends and neighbors was a way of protecting from invaders like the ever colonizing English and the seafaring Norse traders.  This became the origin of the clan system. In Gaelic, clan means “children” or progeny linking families, cats and dogs together whether related or not.  The role of the designated Chieftan was as a symbolic father and trustee for the families and community.

The relationship between the clan and their chosen chief carried a deep bond of loyalty and trust and gaves a sense of roots or belonging which is the essence and spirit of the clan.

 

According to the stories, Chieftan McLionheart had a great protector and right
McJackson, the chief’s assistant and protector
hand  in man’s best friend, a “dug” called McJackson who took his job very seriously. Wearing his clan tam’o shanter proudly, he guarded and barked in the presence of strangers and visitors until they passed his examination by sniffing. His free time was spent honing his hunting skills, by chasing rabbits and digging for gophers and badgers.
 
The McLionheart tale would not be complete without acknowledging the wee Lady Xena, a first cousin known for her keenly sharpened claws,

A portrait of cat royalty

gentle brogue of a purr and high fashion. In a place like Scotland that is known for raining on a regular basis, like all the time and a wind to boot, knowing how to dress in a blanket with a matching hat is highly sought after skill.

The curious part of the McLionheart clan is how generations can repeat themselves. As a wise proverb says…the apple doesn’t fall far from the ancestral tree.

Ayurvedic Corner ~ Butternut Squash Soup

For October I highlight the beautiful wonder that is butternut squash.  This winter squash is astringent and sweet, with a heating virya and pungent vipak,  Its gunas or attributes include dry, sharp, and heavy.  High in fiber, potassium, iron,zinc, vitamin C and vitamin B6, this orange vegetable is the yummiest indicator that Fall is upon us in my opinion.  Enjoy this recipe from the Seven Centers Ayurvedic cookbook.  Namaste!
The Ingredients and Recipe:
Ghee
2 tsp garam masala
½ tsp nutmeg
pinch cayenne
½ turmeric powder
½ Tbspn ginger root (peeled, grated, and diced)
1 small to medium sized butternut squash (peeled and cubed)**
2 yams (chopped into bite sized cubes)
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tspn salt
2 tspn succanut
½ cup pumpkin seeds
**You can use other varieties such as kabocha, red kuri, etc.
Cover the bottom of the pot with ghee and warm until melted.  Add garam masala, nutmeg, cayenne, fresh ginger, and turmeric.  Warm until fragrant.  (Be careful as these spices can burn with high heat.)  Add the cubed squash and yams.  Stir until cooked with ghee and spice mixture.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer until the vegetables are soft.  Meanwhile, place the pumpkins seeds in a a pan and heat until they become golden and puffed out.  They will make popping sounds like popcorn.  Then set aside in a bowl.  Carefully blend the cooked butternut squash and spices with a hand blender.  Serve hot and garnish with the roasted pumpkin seeds.
Melissa’s Variations
I love using this recipe as a base or spring board for other fall veggie soup creations.  You can add diced zucchini, rainbow chard, and purple or green kale to it easily.  If you add zucchini, I do suggest doing so at the very end after sauteing it  in ghee, cumin, coriander, fennel, and pepper first.  (Zucchini can sometimes be heavy, so we are using the added spices here to help make it easier to digest.)  Or you can add organic pees and corn also at the end of the cooking, as these vegetables cook in a fairly quick amount of time.  Whatever you choose to do, feel free to be creative.  This soup is sure to be a fall favorite!
Melissa Camacho, guest writer, is a licensed acupuncturist and Ayurvedic practitioner in Sedona. To contact her, please click here.

Vedic Astrology for October

A major shift occurs at the end of October, as Saturn, the slowest-moving planet of discipline and truth, moves fully into the fire sign of Sagittarius on October 26, 2017 for over 2 years. For the third time this year, Saturn will pass through the tenuous gandanta degrees between the final degrees of intense Scorpio and the beginning degrees of freedom-loving

Sagittarius, the Centaur 1822

Sagittarius – indicating a final push for significant, deep growth with the release of ancient karma. Then we begin the serious focus on Sagittarius themes of education, religion and spiritual life, morality, business, and finance. Also occurring again the last half of the month is Kala Sarpa Yoga that demands we act with integrity. Mercury is exalted the first part of October bringing more intelligence and better decision-making. Venus and the Sun both begin their transits through their signs of debility, indicating lessons around love, compassion, self-expression, and working harmoniously with others.

Mercury is transiting its exalted sign of Virgo from September 26 to October 13, 2017 which stimulates the intellect and we are motivated to study, learn, and do research. This is a great time to take classes or pursue educational goals. Making clearer choices with greater mental clarity and discernment is possible. Our words, whether spoken or written, have great impact and power now. The challenges with Mercury in Virgo are excessive mental activity, getting over-burdened with too many details, as well as intellectual egotism – thinking you are the only one with the correct answers. We gain through Mercury-ruled practices such as meditation, inner reflection, pranayama (breathwork), and uniting the head with the heart.

 

On October 9 until November 2, 2017, Venus, planet of love, relationship, and healing, will be in Virgo, its debilitated sign, joining exalted Mercury. This connection with Mercury will reverse some of the challenge of Venus in Virgo. Venus in Virgo is very practical and orderly. We become more service-oriented
and may be drawn to a have a healthier lifestyle and reconnect to the natural world.  It’s easier to channel our feelings through the intellect, rather than the heart. We want to analyze our relationships and can become even more critical of others with this transit. Learn to properly compromise, let go of perfectionistic tendencies, and appreciate and value loved ones, are all ways that can bring greater happiness while Venus is in Virgo.
The Sun makes its yearly transit through its debilitated sign of Libra from October 17 to November 15, 2017. The ability to effectively harmonize with others without losing one’s sense of self is a lesson of the Sun in Libra. Diplomacy can be challenged at times as we learn to balance others’ demands. We cannot please everyone all the time, but we do the best to respect others’ needs and points of view in a humble way. Finding our true power and creativity are positive goals with this transit. Meditation and self-inquiry practices are helpful.
During the last two weeks of October – from October 14 to 29, we again experience Kala Sarpa Yoga, a planetary combination that happens when all the planets are sandwiched in between Rahu and Ketu, the nodes of the Moon. The on-going yoga will occur every two weeks through mid-January 2018.  During this time we can feel more polarized, restricted, or think we have less free will. The yoga can surprisingly force things out in the open that are not in our highest good. This motivates us to grow in awareness, letting go of the superficial as we develop a more solid spiritual foundation in our lives. This transit sometimes affects us more psychologically, and increases our sensitivity and vulnerability. Do things that center you – mindfulness practices, connect to nature, do yoga, be creative, listen to your heart and be prepared to grow. Be kind and compassionate to yourself and others. This is a pivotal time that demands honestly and right intentions.
From October 13 to 26, 2017, for the third and final time this year, Saturn, planet of truth, transits 29 degrees Scorpio, a very critical degree that can bring some instability, challenges, and intensity. Saturn was at this degree the first time during the inauguration of the President in January 2017. As Saturn passes through this juncture, between a water sign (Scorpio) and a fire sign (Sagittarius), we experience a spiritual opening to now to move through and release those old wounds, self-imposed restrictions, and worn-out structures that no longer serve us as we move forward. The key is to move through this period with grace, gratitude, and non-resistance. Be self-responsible and honest. We are learning detachment with compassion. If we choose to resist, then we may be challenged.
And at the end of October, Saturn moves to the fire sign of Sagittarius on October 26, 2017 until January 23, 2020. Earlier in 2017 Saturn briefly visited Sagittarius from January 26 to June 20, but now it fully moves into Sagittarius for 2 years and 3 months, a very significant event. With Saturn in the Jupiter-ruled sign of Sagittarius, the focus will be on knowledge, education, ethics and legalities, humanitarian activities, finances, spiritual life and purpose. We want to shift beliefs

contemporary interpretation of the archer

that separate or polarize. Universal principles that inspire and uplift us are also a positive focus now. Sagittarius is a sign that loves freedom and truth, so this transit gives the impulse for greater tolerance of the great diversity of beliefs and religions in the world.  But these ideals may take time to fully actualize as Saturn moves slowly and can sometimes create restrictions to be overcome in order to reach our goals. Other possible outcomes of Saturn in Sagittarius could be attempts to restrict the press or the legal system or even hesitancy to share knowledge that is needed for fear of reprisal. Our morals and value systems are being tested. We are collectively working on our spiritual evolution by realizing the truth. This is a positive transit to serve, volunteer, and bless others, and do so with patience, optimism, humility, and integrity.

Debra Infante, Vedic astrologer, can be reached at (928) 639-0623 or by email  

for astrological consultations, either in person or by phone.

Vedic Astrology for September

Vedic Astrology for September

September is a significant month of major change and personal transformation, with three major planets (Rahu, Ketu, and Jupiter) moving to new signs within a few days of each other, signaling a shift of perspective and focus over the next 12 to 18 months. We also begin a five-month intermittent pattern of Kala Sarpa Yoga in September, a planetary combination of great karmic significance that requires high ethical standards as we open to greater awareness on the planet.

A major planetary transit occurs September 8, 2017 when the powerful nodes of the Moon, Rahu and Ketu, shift signs. The nodes are called shadow planets or chaya grahas, and are connected to eclipse energies. Rahu (north node) will move into the sign of Cancer, while Ketu (south node) moves into the sign of Capricorn, staying in these signs until March 23, 2019. The nodes of the Moon are planets in Vedic astrology, and move backwards through the zodiac, shifting signs every 18 months or so. Previously, Rahu has been in the sign of Leo, and Ketu in the sign of Aquarius since January 8, 2016. Nodal transits can be very impactful, and now we can experience sudden events, life lessons, deep growth, and even some confusion involving the significations of the nodes transiting their new signs of Cancer and Capricorn.

Rahu, a psychological and material planet that rules expansion, innovation, intensity, and desire, now travels the sensitive water sign of Cancer.

Rahu

Rahu in Cancer (a sign ruled by the Moon) brings a stronger pull to be involved in nurturing activities, connect more intimately with family and friends, have a secure and safe environment to live in, and create a deeper bond with nature and within our communities. We see the value in generating more empathy and caring in our world. This is a good transit to transcend our toxic or dramatic emotions in order to experience greater peace in our lives. On the shadow side, Rahu in Cancer can increase challenges we have with family members or it can quickly amplify ungrounded fears, addictions, or worries. Learn to not over-react and be more patient. Instead, transmute these anxious energies into creative and positive projects and develop deeper heart connections.

Ketu, a non-material mystical planet that represents spirituality or moksha, detachment, intuition, hypersensitivity, loss, or rejection now resides in the practical earth sign of Capricorn.

Ketu

Ketu is a planet that asks us to let go or surrender, so in the Saturn-ruled sign of Capricorn means detaching from the desire to be in total control and be less intolerant or pessimistic. Positively, Ketu in Capricorn can help us take a more spiritual approach to our work, as we awaken to the true responsibilities in our life. We feel increased motivations to be of service to those in need. The shadow of Ketu in Capricorn can bring avoidance, not wanting to face life, sacrificing oneself needlessly, or being too hard or critical about life. Ketu in Capricorn can be a highly spiritual transit if you lean to let go of stress and not judge. Bring happiness and gratitude into your everyday life and find joy in the simple things.

Jupiter, the great benefic planet of spirituality, optimism, prosperity, and divine grace, begins its transit through the Venus-ruled sign of Libra from September 11, 2017 until October 11, 2018. The sign of Libra wants harmony and balance, so Jupiter here focuses on the need for peace and idealism. Involvement with humanitarian, charitable or non-profit organizations is highlighted now. This transit can create more opportunities for social interactions or romantic interludes. As both Jupiter and Venus (ruler of Libra) are teacher planets, attaining our educational goals is a possible theme. The challenge of Jupiter in Libra is lack of discipline or being over-indulgent. The highest expression of this transit can emphasize more diplomacy, equality, and fairness in our world. We realize how mutual respect and greater wisdom can bring more lasting peace.

From September 18 to October 1, 2017 we begin a Kala Sarpa Yoga pattern that occurs two weeks at a time, followed by two weeks out of this yoga combination. This “on and off” pattern lasts five months, beginning mid-September 2017 until mid-January 2018. Kala Sarpa means “the snake of time,” which indicates this is a pivotal and significant five month period. We last experienced this yoga in the months around the Presidential election last fall. This yoga combination occurs when all the planets are sandwiched in between the nodes of the Moon, Rahu and Ketu. Psychologically this can make us feel that we have less free will or we may feel a certain “destiny” occurring in the world. With this Kala Sarpa transit we can experience some intense highs or lows, which heighten our sensitivity – so do practices that center you, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, and breath work. High morals, a positive attitude, detachment, along with some common sense are remedies for the Kala Sarpa Yoga combination, which can bring significant healing and increased awareness. We cannot waste this opportunity to gain greater spiritual growth. We are asked to strengthen our inner foundation, evolve, and let our heart be our teacher.

Debra Infante, Vedic astrologer, can be reached at (928) 639-0623 or via email for astrological consultations, either in person or by phone.

Vedic Astrology for August 2017

August marks the start of a significant and busy month that includes a fascinating eclipse season, with a lunar eclipse occurring on August 7 followed by a total solar eclipse on August 21. These eclipses are the big news this month and can bring deep, personal shifts and expanded revelations. Mars, planet of action and vitality, while being debilitated in the sign of Cancer most of August, brings lessons about how we can direct our energies more appropriately. Mercury, planet of communications, begins its retrograde motion in August suggests a time of review and revision. Then Saturn, lord of truth, goes direct at the end of August, bringing increased productivity.

Eclipses are catalysts for change and they can bring significant events into one’s life. Eclipses can reveal truths and break down barriers, helping us to grow. In Vedic culture eclipses are days for spiritual life and inner work, such as meditation, mantra recitation, pranayama, yoga, retreat, and introspection. Traditionally they are not auspicious days for material activities, such as business or financial dealings, as we may not see as clearly now or unexpected issues can surface that we have to deal with. In general, solar eclipses are more potent than lunar ones and can have more of a global effect. Also, three to six days either side of the eclipse date can be unstable, so do things that help you ground and feel supported, like connecting with family and friends and spending time in natural or peaceful surroundings.

The first eclipse is a lunar one happening on August 7, 2017 at 21 degrees Capricorn in the nakshatra of Shravana. Being in the sign of Capricorn can bring a focus on our work, business, the government and service. Shravana nakshatra is about taking the higher moral ground, having good ethics, and re-establishing order and dharma in our lives. We may need to let go of emotional attachments or any activities that pull us down. This eclipse can also prompt us to prioritize our lives, focus on our spiritual side, and decide what is truly important and heart-felt in life. We want to feel hopeful for the future.

The more powerful eclipse is the August 21 total solar eclipse, which will be visible in the United States. The last time there was a total solar eclipse visible across the United States was in 1918!Full Eclipse This eclipse occurs at 4 degrees Leo in the nakshatra of Magha. This nakshatra connects us to other dimensions or higher realms as it is ruled by Ketu, the planet of moksha, which gives a spiritual connotation. Heightened sensitivity or vulnerability can also be experienced during this eclipse. The deities associated with Magha nakshatra are the Pitris, the deified ancestors which brings an opening to heal past ancestral or familial issues. The symbol for Magha nakshatra is a throne, so it carries royal energies, signifying events could surface surrounding a member of royalty or a political leader. And as this eclipse is in the sign of Leo ruled by the Sun, we may experience insights connected to our identity, soul connections, self-esteem, and career choices.

Mercury, planet of communications and travel, will be retrograde in the sign of Leo from August 12 until September 5, 2017. It is significant that Mercury is near the eclipse on August 21 (within 10 degrees) and in the same sign, so lack of clarity, angry words, or misunderstandings can affect our communications during this time.  In general during a Mercury retrograde period, it is wise to be precise with what you say or put in writing. It’s a good time to review your plans and research ideas, back up data, and take time for inner reflection and meditation.

Mars, planet of action and energy, is a major influence the month of August. First, debilitated Mars in Cancer is somewhat close to the August 21 solar eclipse (within 7 degrees), so we must watch for being too impulsive or acting out of fear, which can later bring regret. Stay calm and be mindful.

A few days after the solar eclipse, on August 23 and 24, Mars will be at its exact degree of debility at 28 degrees of Cancer, which is a period to be extra careful in how we assert ourselves with others. Later on August 27 and 28, Mars leaves its debilitated sign of Cancer and enters the fire sign of Leo, where it will immediately conjunct Rahu (north node of Moon) at 0 degrees Leo, which can be quite a combustible combination. This conjunction of Mars and Rahu occurs at the juncture between a water sign and fire sign – called gandanta or “spiritual knot,” indicates we are Celtic Knot working through some ancient and tight karma, possibly testing our power and courage. Watch for increased agitations, rising tempers, or power struggles with others. This is a time to slow down, be neutral, and don’t get overly stimulated or project our frustrations onto others. Don’t let your fears sabotage you. Accept the journey you have taken, and don’t fight what we are here to learn. Be accepting and responsive with others. Be open to direct and channel the powerful energy generated by Mars and Rahu into creative, uplifting activities instead.

Saturn, planet of discipline and truth, goes direct at 27 degrees Scorpio on August 25, 2017, having been retrograde since April 5, 2017. This directional shift of Saturn is occurs within days of the August 21 solar eclipse which may influence Saturn’s direct motion in a significant way.  Issues that have been dormant since April may rise now to be addressed and solidified. With increased effort we find better ways to serve others.

August appears to be a fairly exciting month, but remember your intention creates your reality. Maintain your personal integrity and walk your talk. Be more dedicated with your personal practices. Don’t avoid the challenges, but move gracefully through them. Perform activities that do not create more suffering in the world. Opportunities to grow and expand in awareness are possible.

Debra Infante, Vedic astrologer, can be reached at (928) 639-0623 or by email for astrological consultations, either in person or by phone.

The Ayurvedic Corner ~ Cucumber Carrot Daikon Raita

This month I present a recipe from our very own Ayurvedic cookbook.  It can be found under the “Vibrant Vegetables” chapter.  This recipe was originally created by former 7 Centers Ayurvedic Chef Kevin Afuso.  I chose to highlight this recipe for July because of it’s cooling nature and also because it is easy to prepare without ever needing to turn on a hot oven!

 

Summer is the best time of year to integrate more cooling and Pitta pacifying tastes such as bitter, astringent, and sweet into the diet.  We visit these tastes in the following recipe by way of cucumber, carrot, and daikon vegetables.  I’ve also included my own variations.  Enjoy!

 

A fantastic side dish for both Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine
Cucumber Carrot Daikon Raita 
This recipe lowers Vata, Pitta, and Kapha as a condiment.

 

Ingredients:
Ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1 tsp gound cumin
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup each of cucumber, carrot, and daikon (peeled and grated)
1 ½ cups yogurt (homemade preferred)

 

Warm ghee in a small pan and add the mustard seeds until they pop.  Remove from heat and add a little more ghee.  Add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, ground cumin, salt and pepper.  Saute until fragrant.  Be careful not to burn.  Set spices aside to cool.  Mix grated vegetables with yogurt stir in spices and serve at room temperature.

 

Variations~
As sometimes store-bought yogurt can be extra sour, consider using plain coconut yogurt as a replacement.  This will also lend more of the sweet taste to the overall dish.  (And it is also vegan friendly.)  The other option is to dilute store-bought yogurt with water: 1 cup of yogurt and ½ of good quality water.  Also, consider adding 1/3 cup of chopped fresh organic cilantro.  Cilantro and cucumber are two of the most useful summer ingredients.  They are cooling and they go great with other summer dishes such as bitter and astringent salad combinations.  Furthermore, as mentioned in the cookbook, you can do a variety of vegetables here.  Some of my favorites include squash, golden beets, and purple carrots.
 

Melissa Camacho, guest writer, is a licensed acupuncturist and Ayurvedic practitioner in Sedona. To contact her, please email

The Adventures of Lionheart, Temple Cat ~ For the Love of Food

In Ayurveda each of the doshas have a distinct relationship with food as the nurturance of life. The doshas reflect different  mind and body constitutions made of the five elements known as Kapha, Pitta and Vata. In the summer when the temperatures soar, and the humidity builds for the monsoons, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by Mother Nature. What we eat can make a difference in feeling unmotivated, irritated or anxious. Here at 7 Centers yoga temple, we have “the three Doshas”, their natural tendencies and what they can eat that will bring them into balance.

 

The Anthony Bourdain of cats

Kaphas can be great chefs with their natural appreciation for food as love and nourishment. However there is that little problem with plumpiness as kapha translates to “to stick”. You can see the Kapha dosha in those with the wide pear shaped hips and shoulders. Even a little morsel of a pack rat or a chipmunk can increase the padding and really stick to the bones for longer than wanted. Here are some summer suggestions to keep that Kapha in balance:
– Avoid eating large quantities of food (especially with night time hunting sitting outside the compost bin waiting for mice)
 – Reduce oils, fats, sweets and salt. Increase spicy (pepper and ginger), bitter (green leafy vegetables like chard and arugula) and astringent tastes (pomegranate and figs from the 7 Centers trees!)
– Sweeten with honey only

 
 

President of the Clean Plate Club

 
The Pittas are often gourmands and aficionados of food most interested in eating… they can wolf down a meal in minutes and be ready for more… like dessert or a bone.

An athletic foodie with medium build and muscles, pitta dosha needs to chill out a bit to temper the fire and take a vacation from the chilis, coffee and alcohol!

Here are some summer suggestions to keep that Pitta in balance:
– Increase juicy cooling, foods favoring sweet (grapes, mangos and plums)
– bitter (green leafy vegetables, celery and cucumbers and
– astringent (apple, pomegranate and quinoa) tastes.

 
 
 
 
 

Isn’t someone going to feed me?

Missy Vata dosha with the sensitive stomach and tendency towards excess wind, bloating and vamana from fur balls, favors small plates or known in Spain as tapas  (canapes or appetizers) served every couple of hours.  A natural snacker, the Vata can be satiated by a chunk of tuna, a cocktail escargot, or an anchovy skewered on a long toothpick.

Here are some summer suggestions to keep that Vata in balance:
– Increase oily foods like avocado
–  sweet (ripe and juicy fruits like cherries, figs, dates and pomegranates)
– sour (yogurt, paneer and  cottage cheese) and
– salty (fish, eggs and ghee) tastes.
Can you find yourself among the doshas? You too can restore your natural healthy glow through conscious eating!