Founder’s Day – 5 January 2024

Greetings to all who have come to share this special day with us!  As one of Thea’s early students I’ve been asked to share a few experiences about that time: ‘the Founding of Skambha’.  

The story starts on a wintery day in 1985, 8 February to be exact, when I met Barbara White, who lived in the same small village as I, in upstate New York. She had studied with Thea (we called her Patrizia then) in the late 70’s, early 80’s at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. I spent an afternoon with her, in her kitchen trying to stay warm, as she told me the story about their early days together.

I found it all very new and fascinating: Thea’s 9 month (occult) ‘initiation’ with the Mother while living in Rome, her arrival ‘at the Mother’s feet’ in Pondicherry, in Sept 1971 with her seven year old son. The Mother’s passing was on 17 November, 1973, Barbara informed me. Her knowledge went to Patrizia, so that by the end of 1974 she had the outline for her visionary book, The Gnostic Circle. It would be the foundation for all the yoga that was to come.

Barbara and I talked a long time. I left with all Thea’s books tucked under my arm, and dived into my new reading, it was another world.  I was turned upside down. Later I wrote a letter to ‘this Patrizia’, and sent her a small donation. I told her I was thinking a lot about world peace and conducting weekend workshops at New York University’s School of Continuing Education on this topic.  The world was in the midst of the Vietnam War, I was very upset by the nightly news of mounting deaths coming from that part of the world.

Some weeks later, I received a letter from her, from India, thanking me for contacting her. The letter was short, and I found Thea’s first words to me deeply stirring:

‘Dear Patricia, Since Barbara went to America I have been kept up to date on what is going on there. So much activity. I have seen that if one is not poised rightly, any action – be this for war or peace – only results in an ever increasing perturbation. 

Poised in the true centre, of oneself, of the Earth, then we are instruments through whom the Divine Will can manifest and bring about change. Surely you must have asked yourself many times, why is it that our best concerted efforts change nothing, in particular of the society and world in which we live?

That stable, immutable point at the centre. From there the true Power arises which brings change. The centre of Dynamic Peace.’  Yours, in truth, Patrizia

‘Poised in the true centre of oneself and of the earth…  instruments through whom the Divine Will can manifest…’. How to do that?  A correspondence started (1).  I thought I was doing God’s will,  if there was a God, I really was not sure at that time.

Slowly our letters took me into the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, who  Thea called the 9th Evolutionary Avatar (meaning that he was in the line of Shri Ram and Shri Kishna).  The Supreme Being is involved here on our Earth, in matter; evolution is the way this consciousness is released. I was to discover that humankind is in a stage of transition,  and that we move toward a greater perfection –  this mental consciousness is not the end. In fact, there is much more to come, and it was possible for me to begin to enjoy this higher vision, now. 

Thea had been a renowned astrologer in Rome, she had an intuitive feel for the art, as she said, it was so much more than ‘jyotish’/prediction.  The 12 signs of the Tropical Zodiac, the hieroglyphs and their special arrangement in the circle, tell the story of the birth and evolution of our earth. They were a cosmic script for our forefathers. In Thea’s words: ’Man is given in this unique mandala the knowledge, as within, so without… this cosmos is a perfection in its workings…he looks to the heavens and sees himself.’(2) 

Thea no longer called herself an astrologer. It was the wide world of cosmology  that interested her, the journey of the earth and her people, the unveiling of the soul of the earth.  Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s yoga was only the first stage; Thea’s job was to root their vision into the earth, to describe ‘the rise and establishment of the gnostic society’.  I came to see that the involution of the Supramental consciousness into material creation  was actually causing the breakdown I was witnessing around me. My suffering and anxiety was a result of resistance to the unknown, to the new consciousness now evolving on earth.

                                          The Mother told her disciples (in 1969)  that there is a new world being born …                                                                                                             it is not the old world being reborn, it is new, new, new.

At the time I found Thea and her books (or she found me!), I was age 51.  Thea showed me my place on The Gnostic Circle – at the six point (5 + 1 = 6 in theosophical addition). The events of my life were being influenced by the 6th planet, Saturn, so it was just the right time! I had passed through the ‘asteroid belt’ at age 49½,  and through Libra, the 7th astrological sign, at 50.  In traditional astrology, Saturn is the end of the journey, signifying death. But our Earth has expanded by three planets: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. In this new cosmology, Saturn, the 8th sign opens  the way to the last and highest quarter of the circle, to that part of the journey known in Vedic tradition as Sat-Chit- Ananda.  

And so indeed toward the end of that year, around October 1985, a special opportunity opened for me. Here is what happened:  Silva Storai, Thea’s friend in Kodai, heard about a plot of land for sale, bordering the river in Pettuparai, a small village about 18 km away. Patrizia had left the Ashram in 1980 to enroll her son in the International School in Kodai. They were living in a small rental near the school and she was eager to find a permanent place to live and set up her research centre.

On 10 December, Thea and her student, David,  went to see the new land; on the same day I sent a check hoping she would be able to make a purchase. Soon  some good news arrived. Thea thanked me for my ‘offering’, my readiness to be an instrument for the Divine’s work in the world. Because I was so new to this ‘yoga’, she didn’t think that I could yet understand how important it was for her to purchase this land. She explained it in the following way: 

 

‘…We are starting out with twelve acres, but it seems that the land will finally consist of sixteen acres – four square, like the city of Revelation. And actually this is what the development is all about: to build the City. The ‘construction work’ of the temple, what was allotted to me to do over these past five years in Kodai, has been accomplished. In perfect timing because the twelve petaled Base (the Mother’s symbol) has been ‘installed’. The physical representation of that are those twelve acres, and the permanent Base. But there is so much to all this, because it represents a formidable threshold that has been crossed in the work for the world. The ‘closing of that hole’ and the provision of a solid upholding Base to support the core means that there is no longer any wastage of energy. It means that the void is filled, that great omnivorous Underminer. I don’t think I can express adequately to you the profound significance this has for the world ( 21 January, 1986).

Ten days later, came more good news. The exchange rate was rs. 12.31 /dollar so she had extra rupees for expenses, Thea writes, and she continues:

‘We are the proud possessors of 12 ½ acres…next week we will purchase 5 more acres… not bad…  My rational mind has not had time to put a damper on the whole affair. I have just had to follow my intuitions and feelings about the rightness of the land for this permanent centre.  If I had been allowed time to reflect on the impossibility to build for Lord knows how long, I probably would have got cold feet.  Well it is done.’               (31 January 1986) 

Being a foreigner, Aeon Trust had to be formed to purchase the land. A few weeks later Thea writes: ’…despite all the bureaucratic business, …everything has gone very smoothly, and fast… the land was purchased, the Trust formed (5 January) and today, work has begun on the land… just imagine how lovely that long driveway will be winding down into the property, as you descend you have different views of the waterfall.

Thea was excited about the possibilities in her new land: ‘I tell you, the place is a landscaper’s delight: it has every type of landscape compacted into these 12 acres, steep beautiful rock outcrops, slopy flat land, and all converging on the river and waterfall…

I think the temperature in Pettuparai (where the land is) must go from 20 degrees C to perhaps 24 degrees in summer.  It is decidedly warmer than Kodai, there is more jungle shola (forest). David bought some nice saplings from Coonoor… I intend to plant the one jacaranda sapling on Friday, the Mother’s 108th birthday, because the hills of Rio de Janeiro are just full of jacaranda’s with violet flowers. The color of the vital…         (19 February, 1986).

Sometime later, Thea wrote to her new Aeon Trust Board of Directors that  it gave her great pleasure to present the Progress Reports of 1986,  with the special focus on the founding of the permanent site for Aeon Centre of Cosmology (ACC). First of all she points out that the location is a very sacred place and propitious for her work, that it is not an ashram, not a conventional educational institution. It is a centre of cosmological/yogic studies, ‘where people may come who are interested in the new consciousness that is manifesting on Earth, a place where they can come into contact with the living essence of that Consciousness and learn to become channels for its expression in life.’

She tells her Board that the focus of ACC is on an ‘applied cosmology’, she underlines the word. It is a centre where students will study, practice and apply Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary Supramental Yoga to their lives and the life events of the world surrounding them. 

She explains that because the work is so new, it is now unveiling itself, it is not possible to compare ACC to other models: ‘we are hewing a path’… we are discovering and disclosing a completely new path, a ‘new way’

Thea closes her first board report ‘with blessings’. She announces the name of her new land and describes its meaning: Skambha,

‘…that Support of the World, sung of in the Arthavaveda, that cosmic pillar, that axis mundi. When all else falls and collapses, Skambha shall ever remain.’

*

What a journey this has been! To all who celebrate with us today here at Skambha – cheers! To old friends and new friends, and fellow students on the way –  our appreciation. To a generous donor, whose ‘surprise’ contribution to Aeon Trust has made it possible to share and celebrate this year’s Founder’s Day with all of you – our thanks too. 

We are, as you may know,  also experiencing a very important celestial occurrence. As our planet makes her annual journey around the sun, she goes through different phases. On January 4 – 5, we are in ‘perihelion’. Starting at the December Solstice and over the next 15 days our physical earth makes her closest approach to the Sun in her elliptical orbit.  The gravitational pull of the sun causes the Earth to draw nearer; we receive more sunlight. Our entire earth is affected, not just one or two hemispheres. Our full globe receives the rays of the Sun during perihelion. 

Our forefathers knew this phenomenon well; across the globe most early civilisations planned their calendars and their festivals around the earth’s journey around the Sun. Uttarayana, the northern path toward the Sun was considered auspicious – full of light; Dakshinayana, the southern path – away from the Sun –  was gestational,  a time to prepare to receive the light.

Most of Thea’s yoga, her books and teachings, focus on ‘updating’ this journey and the festivals derived from the cosmic harmonies of the solstices and equinoxes (3).  She saw that the key to the higher vision contained in the Tropical Zodiac had been lost over the ages. Lest we have any doubt about why she had taken birth in this lifetime, she told us, it was to update the knowledge that had gone underground in India (Bharat – soul-centre of our Earth). The core of that knowledge was contained in the Zodiac.

She told us she felt very fulfilled after writing Ganga, it was sort of an ‘act of completion’. 

After all, my own birthday, 5 January, is written in Ganga’s measurements!’ she proclaimed (4).

*

References

(1) Some of the early letters were recently published under the title, The Sacred Fullness, letters from Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea) to a new student, 2023.

(2)  Symbols and the Question of Unity, 2nd edition 2020, p. 19.

(3) https://www.aeoncentre.com/theme-12-one-journey-one-calendar/.

(4) In 2015 Thea wrote a small monograph, Ganga, soul of Indian culture, her descent to earth. Using her Cosmic Ruler, a tool based on degrees of longitude, Thea demonstrates how Heaven descends to Earth – through Ganga (see monograph, pp 10 – 11) and flows out to the world on entrance into Capricorn – Makar Sankranti, the December 21/22 solstice.  No longer is the Ganga ‘myth’ a quaint tale carried over from the dark ages; through her updating process Thea shows how it can form a new area of study based on the cosmic harmonies and the Tropical Zodiac. The myth of Ganga’s descent is based on higher knowledge, there is nothing of superstition therein. This is the key to renewal of the Dharma.

In this graphic Thea highlights three reference points:  Gaumukh (12 degrees Capricorn), where the source of the Ganga is located, Mt Kailash where Ganga ‘alights’ (15 degrees Capricorn) and   the flow of the Ganga into the Bay of Bengal (0 degrees Capricorn). Each of these points of descent correspond to a Calendar Date:  Ganga’s descent to earth, her ‘alighting’ corresponds to 5 January, Thea’s birthday.

Patricia Heidt, PhD, Director, Aeon Centre of Cosmology.