Mahashivratri means "The night of Lord Shiva" The important features of this festival are rigid fasting for 24 hours and sleepless vigil during the night. Every true devotee of Lord Siva spends the night of Sivratri in deep meditation, keeps vigil and observes fast.
Lord Shiva drank the sins of the world and his throat turned blue. Shiva sacrificed himself for the world. I find it impossible to ignore this resemblance with Jesus. Whoever believes in religional division is seriously mislead. God is the same.
A lot of people in the west understand God/Gods as entities outside of themselves, and then they reject them - oh I don't worship idols", as if anyone has ever said that they were separate from ourselves. It is so much more fun, more engaging and more conducive to learning when concepts and principles are personified, as humans learn best by stories and characters and visual imagery. That is the only reason why the gods were created by the Supreme God. As the Supreme Creater is One and encompasses All, each of the smaller gods who represent certain principles are his embodiments, for those particular principles.
Lord Shiva is Our Conscioiusness, he is mysterious, it takes a lot of studying and practising to understand him, in essence he is Our Highest Consciousness. This teaching was given to me ready, crystalised and I was not able to understand it. Then after months of chanting, reading and meditating on Lord Shiva, I began to understand. At the same time we are all connected with him because he is Our Highest Consciousness, so he is in each one of us.
Shiva rules the Waning Moon, particularly the Last Quarter and the Balsamic Moon. This is the time of reflection, meditation, letting go, releasing, endings... In general, for every problem we have in our human lives, and for everything we want to achieve in our human lives, one out of the two interventions is needed - either to remove/end something or to add/begin something. Lord Shiva rules the removing/ending endeavours. These endeavours are best done during the Waning Moon. So fasting, withdrawing from active participation, reflecting, soothing, healing, eliminating - toxic foods, toxic relationships, toxic anything... sacrificing, giving up, are all activities ruled by Shiva. Shiva is a destroyer, and when he is invoked all of those things we want to let go of, are eliminated very fast. He is not the slow process of recovery, he is the sharp knife of surgery, the final ending of a relationship, the abrupt end to a bad situation. His intervention is so fast that it is actually easy and comforting. That is why when we struggle with ending somthing, and we are emotionally tortured, and feel torn between staying and going, and lack the strength to make that sharp decision, it is best to call Shiva for help. He makes the most drastic changes happen instantly, easily and smoothly. What has to go has to go, some things are never going to work, and Shiva helps us to make that break with the present dysfunctional situation.
So, it makes so much sense that Shiva is celebrated at the time of Waning Moon, the Last Quarter in particular, which is the darkest of the Moon, and which is the time for releasing and letting go of everything that is not good for us. For this reason Shiva is often portrayed with a very thin crescent Moon in his hair, which is the Waning Moon at its darkest.
As Shiva is Our Highest Consciousness, we may end up worshipping him without even knowing, the same way we make decisions based on counsel by our Highest Consciousness without even knowing. Nevertheless, Shiva is very pleased when we do his kind of things, as that is a better form of worshipping him rather than praising him as with other gods. In Garuda Purana it is written that once Parvati asked Shiva how to worship him best and he replied: "My devotee gives Me greater happiness by mere fasting than by ceremonial baths, and offerings of flowers, sweets, incense", once again Shiva asserting his purpose and principles - he does not care about adding things, enhancing things, he is all about removing things. Fasting, giving up substances, people, situations, are all his kind of things.
Unconsciously we can't do more than that in the West because we don't have the Bilva leaves, but in India a person can worship him unconsciously simply by using Bilba leaves for one thing or another. There was a very bad hunter whose occupation was killing animals every day, but completely unconsciously he was using Bilva leaves every day in his routine, and in that way he was performing a worshipping ceremony to Shiva and in that way gained Shiva's love! Shiva said to Parvati: “The hunter was able to enter My abode and ward off death by simple fasting and offering of a few Bilva leaves, however involuntary it might be because it was the night of Sivaratri. Such is the solemnity and sacredness associated with the night”. Impressed by the power of this ritual Parvati spread it to the people and that is how this ritual was established.
Whenever you feel whimsical and irrational in being pleased, either too easy or too difficult, that is a little sign of your Divine origin he he. I just love how the Gods are so particular in the way they like to be pleased and how much they can give for very little, but it has to be the right little. Fast during the waning Moon and you will please Shiva, there is no doubt about that. Or give up something. Every giving up of something pleases Shiva tremendously.
Apart from involuntary unconscious worshipping of Shiva, we can also worship him consciously and ask him, call him to intervene at any time when we need the ending of something. Have no fear Shiva will take away or destroy only what is not good. He will not destroy good. For example if you are in a good relatonship but you are having problems, Shiva is not going to destroy the whole relationship, but will destroy the arguments or the problems. The effect of Shiva's intervention is always the same - restored peace, calmness, release, relief, acceptance, new understanding, renewal, new chapter. After Shiva gets involved, this will always be the consequence. It will never be a bad consequence.
To call Shiva for help use the mantra Om Namah Shivaya which pleases him, your Highest Consciousness tremendously and it comes to the forefront in your life through a person or a circumstance that will make the break that is necessary.
I was told a powerful mantra which expands the Om, into a longer vibration, which is the correct way to chant Om. If you wish to get this powerful mantra it is in my teacher's book The Golden Flute http://enlightenment-meditation.blogspot.co.uk/p/kindle-version-of-my-flute-practical.html. James Bhavaji knows the best mantras, and most of them are in this book.
As Lord Shiva rules everything to do with removal, release and ending, he is also invoked in karma removal rituals. For more info on that read Bhava Jim's book or contact him directly. The rituals in his book are awesome and the results amazingly fastidious - see my fb note on Karma Removal.
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