Just got back yesterday after a weekend in the “City of Brotherly Love.” I had never spent any time in Philly before so I didn’t really know what to expect, or if it really was a “City of Brotherly Love.” Happily, I came away from the weekend feeling that it is the truth. My hosts, John and Dhyana Vitarelli, are very warm and welcoming folks, both Italian. A month ago Dhyana gave birth to Loraine, usually shortened to “Raine”, and the Vitarelli’s now have a newborn as well as three dogs—two pugs and a Boston terrier-- and five yoga studios. They were incredible gracious as hosts, providing me with a cozy place to stay, chauffeur service, many wonderful meals, and a fabulous assistant for the weekend—my old friend David Garrigues, who is now based in Philly. David was certified to teach by Pattabhi Jois in 1996, so he was a little over qualified to be my assistant, but he humbly assumed the role of the second banana and offered his loving support throughout the weekend. David has a soft spot in his heart for me because I met him when he was first starting the practice during a Pattabhi Jois tour in 1993. According to David, I was the only one who would answer his seemingly endless questions. David also treated us to a kirtan on Saturday evening, gave me a rare Hanuman poster, and gifted me his latest CD—“Bad Man Bhakti”, with a great picture of Ganesha riding a skateboard on the cover. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but David is an excellent musician and sings with real devotion. On my last night in Philly I was treated to the best pizza in town at a place called Tacconelli’s Pizzeria—an old, family owned business where you have to call in and reserve your dough ahead of time. It was the best pizza ever!
Coming up on Sunday this week is the Pentecost, the Latin word for an ancient Jewish holiday called Shavuot, or the “Festival of Weeks”, which celebrates the giving of the tablets to Moses on Mt. Sinai, fifty days after the Passover. Much later, the Pentecost came to be associated with an event that coincided with the Apostles celebration of Shavuot, ten days after the Ascension of Jesus in what was known as the Cenacle, or Upper Room in Herod’s Temple. This is described in the Book of Acts:
“When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Will God lay some new commandments on us on this day? Will we be visited by tongues of flam and speak in tongues? We do have an interesting conjunction of the Sun and Mercury at 4:20AM PDT on Sunday in the Nakshatra known as Rohini, “the Red”, linked to the bright star in Taurus called Aldebaran—the most feminine, receptive, and productive of all the asterisms and the home of Brahma Himself along with the Prajapatis, the progenitors of the Universe. Rohini is the daughter of Brahman and a woman so seductive that the Moon never wants to leave it as it transits all the Nakshatras. Could be a good day for the Atman (Sun) and the Buddha (Mercury) to come together .