The Balinese New Year and Pisces.
Growing up I was raised to see Astrology as a fringe culture. New Agers who believe in just about anything.
In much of the rest of the world astronomy and the symbolism of astrology dictate the cultural calendars and ceremonies.
I remember the first time I put two and two together and realized the Jewish Holiday of Rosh Hashanah always falls on the Libra New Moon.
A fitting time for the Jewish New Year, a time of harvest, of balance, of trying to find a way to walk with the Mystery.
Here in Bali, the New Year falls on the Pisces New Moon and today we prepare for Nyepi.
Pisces is always the hardest sign for me to grasp.
It is said to relate to dreams and dreamers, artists, mystics, those who look at the world and see it slowly dissolve, moving between dream sequences.
Its very definition defies explanation as it is meant to invoke the unknown, the mysterious, all that is beyond the everyday concept of “me,” “I,” “us.”
The symbol of the two fish forms the most concrete statement about Pisces. Two fish, swimming in two different directions, often said to be Venus and Eros, tied together.
There is polarity in the world of dreams and there are the drives to connect, to bring the differing pieces back together.
Pieces that are in fact already interconnected.
Nyepi and the burning of adharma.
Today (the day before Nyepi) they burn statues or ogohs-ogohs of adharma.
These statues are believed to represent the chaotic and more malicious forces of nature. They soak up these “potentials” if you will.
Since time or kala is infinite and power or buhta expresses itself in infinite ways the less savory sides of nature are bound to happen. Through ritual and ceremony the Balinese act to bind these shadowy forces of buhta-kali or adharma.
Similar offering are found around the world such as the offerings to Ha Shem and Azazel during the Jewish high holidays.
In many of the ancient traditions, it is believed that humanity has the role and responsibility of tending the potentials of reality. Cultivating the good or order (Adharma) and mollifying or banishing the destructive or chaotic (adharma).
Here in Bali, they do this through art, (a Piscean pursuit) ritual, and offerings as they parade through the streets, playing their gongs as young boys bang on tin and lids and metal pots.
They drive away the chaos, an idea often associated here in Bali with ego and the false belief that we are separate from each other. The ceremony thus draws people together to acknowledge their oneness.
Tomorrow, after this day of noise, comes a day of silence.
People don’t leave their home. They won’t light fires to cook with, turn on lamps or television, even the airport shuts down.
My friend says the stars are beautiful as the whole island observes the night in silence.
Most people fast, relax, meditate.
They come together with their families in the quiet, sharing space and experiencing the counter side of the noise they created the day before.
Pisces and Nyepi a dream of transformation.
I can’t help thinking Nyepi is the perfect way to capture the two fish.
On the day before Nyepi we see the writhing of the waves, the monsters that drive people apart: greed, apathy, jealousy, anger.
The ways the conditioned world runs away with us.
Here we do battle with these parts of self and the realities of the world. We dream the dream of adventure and activity, parade around with our demons and try to find the ways to put them to sleep.
We are called to come together, to recognize that we are one, to add our voices, our hands, our lives to the work of bringing order, calm, a realization of our personal responsibility to cultivate a better world.
And then, after working through the dreams of tidal waves, burning away the illusionary currents of selfishness and adharma beneath, we rest, we delight in the silence, in the calm of a world ruled by Dharma.
This is a moment to breathe. To delight in the calm and gather our strength because we know more chaos will come. Adharma is a natural process of existence and so we rest for a day and then take up our call.
What about you?
What gets in the way of you living your Dharma? Your role in the Dream?
This isn’t a tiny dream, a Freudian dream, the repressed wants of the id or ego but rather a Cosmic Dream, one that recognizes you are interconnected with the environment, the people around you, the world and Mystery.
What ceremony can you use to invoke a deeper understanding of this connection? To burn away your demons and take a moment to catch your breath before you rally yourself to do the work of Dharma and make the world a better place?
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