Rebecca Somerville explores an ancient practice with a message that resonates more loudly every day - heal nature and she will heal us.
"This was my situation, similarto that or any peasant from the High Huallaga region,a situation of total despair... I first wanted to trythe effectiveness of Homa therapy on the panama evil[a stronger fungus than black sigatoka] which was makingmy 10 hectares of plantains disappear. All agronomists,agricultural specialists et cetera kept telling me thatthat particular sickness has no solution because thefungus lives in the soil of cultivation. I thought ifmany experts tell me that nothing can be done what canI, a simple peasant who lives off his land, do?"1.
The Peruvian farmer had acceptedan offer to trial the effects of an ancient Vedic practiceknown as Homa therapy, to save his crops. This studywas one of many carried out by the Peruvian governmentand its scientific bodies in collaboration with a volunteergroup of Homa therapists from the US. The farmer's testimonial,describing the success of Homa therapy in reviving hiscondemned crops, can be found at www.terapiahoma.comalongside scientific reports endorsed by the Peruviangovernment and examples from numerous local people andmedical practitioners who claim that this ancient Indianpractice, that restores balance to the environment,has improved the physical, mental and emotional wellbeingof those who inhabit it.
The farmer continues...."Firstthey installed the Homa resonance point, and once Iwas trained, I began to practise the basic fires ofHoma therapy. After only a week I began to observe thatmy plantain trees began to develop very green, healthyleaves. I continued to practise the Homa fires, especiallyagnihotra, which is the fire performed at sunrise andsunset, plus the application of agnihotra ash wateras a solution to all my plants. After four months ofapplication of Homa therapy, all pathogens disappearedand a total rejuvenation occurred in all crops, witha subsequent increase in all products - with biggerfruits of more weight and size, better taste, colourand texture. The vegetative cycle was shortened in eachof the plants by 40 per cent."
These are extraordinary claims, madeeven harder to fathom when you begin to bend your mindaround what Homa therapy is and how it is performed.It is described by Lee Ringma, cofounder of Om ShreeDham Homa Therapy Teaching Centre in the Hunter Valley,as a "super science" - one that is yet tobe understood by modern science (except for the obviousand measurable results that the therapy yields) becauseit is so far ahead of its time; one that produces positivebenefits with no negative side effects for the practitionerand the surrounding environment; one that works at ahighly subtle and sensitive level and relies on precisiontiming and execution to be fully effective.
Homa is the body of knowledge handeddown from Vedic times that specialises in fire and resonanceto benefit the environment and an area's "mindset".It thus acts as a communication tool between the physicalworld of matter and the spiritual dimension. Like manyaspects of yoga and Ayurveda, it is one of the many'revealed' sciences of that period - meaning that someonein a state of deep meditation intuitively discoveredit and then tested it to confirm its relevance and usefulnessto humanity.
Agnihotra is a specific Homa practicethat connects with the principle lifeforce (prana).This practice is precisely designed to harvest lifeforcefrom the sun at dawn and dusk when it is most abundantand accessible which has a harmonising effect (witha vertical reach of up to 12 kilometres into the atmosphereand a horizontal reach of up to two thirds of a kilometre)into the surrounding environment.
The good news is that everyone canlearn to perform it to enhance health and the energyin their homes and communities.
Vedic practices in the modern world
Agnihotra is performed at sunriseand sunset because at these times, there is said tobe a 30 second window of opportunity to draw in thesun's prana. Vedic knowledge understands that not onlyheat and light and the measurable electromagnetic spectrumemanate from the sun, but also lifeforce. Before applyingscientific theory to this idea, which would argue thatthe sun's energy is light years away and can't be instantlysummoned to earth, it is useful to question the contextof our thinking. As beings who are preoccupied withlife at a physical level, we often misinterpret (ormiss completely) all of the activity that is occurringat the more extreme and subtle levels of life. Evenwith the aid of electron microscopes, Hubble telescopes,machines that measure gamma rays, microwaves, beta andtheta waves et cetera we are still only measuring physicalphenomena - for example, we can't explain how a clairvoyantcan read another's thoughts, or how our bad moods ornegative thoughts directly impact ourselves and ourenvironment.
We know that physically, the sun'slight is practically ancient by the time it reachesus but what about the energies that work on more subtlelevels (like prana), free of the burden of physicalmatter? We can accept the anecdotal evidence of thousandsof people worldwide, that agnihotra works, but to understandhow it works we will either have to cultivate our ownsensitivity through meditation or wait for science tocatch up. According to Lee Ringma among many others,our earth is vulnerable now and we don't have time towait for answers that are acceptable to the rationalWestern mind. Meanwhile, we might have to have to entertainthe possibility that our ancestors weren't simply wavingsticks at the sky in a na.ve attempt to appease theGods when they performed their various rituals, butmight have actually figured out a way to work with thelaws of nature and "supernature" to keep thecycles of life in balance.
Our ancestors, however, believed incorrespondences - as above, so below - why? Many culturesand spiritual groups, including the Hermeticists, Hindus,Kabbalists, Buddhists, American Indians, shamans ofall cultures, and indigenous groups all recognised thatcorrespondences exist to connect on a level of realitywith another. To access the spiritual realm, you haveto work with its counterpart in the physical realm.
Universal elements are related - forexample, fire (agni) is the central theme of the sun,metabolic energy that digests food and transforms matter,heat, light, physical fire, mental energy and all thingsthat contain a large component of fire element suchas ghee, copper and a triangular or pyramidal structure(pyramid - from 'pyr' meaning fire in the middle). Thesun symbolises consciousness, the sun's energy illuminesthe moon and gives life to our planet, just as our innerconsciousness illumines the mind and gives life to ourbody.
According to yoga, Ayurveda and otherIndian wisdom traditions, the day has varying biorhythmsthat are suited to different activities. We recognisesome of them - for example that absorption takes placeat night. In Ayurveda, this idea is fine-tuned - absorptiontakes place during a specific (vata) period from about2am-6am. Vata is seen as the physical correspondenceof prana, its more refined counterpart. Agnihotra isprobably performed at dawn and dusk because these arepeak times when absorption of prana is most opportune.
The agnihotra fire is built insidea copper vessel with an inverted pyramid is used toattract the prana. An inverted pyramid or triangle representsthe feminine principle that is receptive. The use ofspecific sound vibrations (mantra) that have an affinitywith the sun and with the time of day, serve to focusthe energy of the vessel and amplify it. The fire mustbe prepared so that it is burning at an optimal levelright at the time of sunrise or sunset (the 30 secondwindow), at which time the mantra and offerings of riceand ghee are performed. When the timing is right, tremendousamounts of energy are said to gather around the agnihotracopper pyramid - a "magnetic-type" field,like a protective atmosphere, is created.
The residue ash from these fires iscollected and dissolved in water to apply to crops andto drink for its health benefits. It can be used oncrops in lieu of fertilisers and pesticides with remarkableresults - producing plants with greater yields, morerobust constitutions, sweeter tasting produce, moreabundant growth and improved reproductive cycles.
Because humans are inextricably linkedwith their environment (physicists would argue thereis little to differentiate the two), a healthy environmentbenefits those who live in it.
Dr Luis Vera from Guayaquil, Ecuadoris an epidemiologist who also works with psychologyand alternative medicines. He has been testing the effectsof agnihotra in treating infections, insomnia, psoriasisand life-threatening illness in some of his patients.The site www.terapiahoma.com quotes him as saying, "Weare using Homa therapy in high risk patients with problemsof contagious infections and degenerative pathology.We have had some cases of patients who suffered frominsomnia for long periods of time and the results ofapplying agnihotra ash has been spectacular. "Adiabetic patient's foot was saved using agnihotra ash."We applied agnihotra ash to the lesion, causedby the lack of circulation and irrigation of the tissue...Applying the agnihotra ash, the toe began to be irrigatedcorrectly and the patient is recovered from his problemsnow."
Dr Walter Vasquez Duarte, medicalsurgeon specialising in gynaecology and obstetrics,Lima Peru noted similar results." I have 20 yearsof experience as a graduated medical doctor. My firstimpression was to practice Homa therapy at home. I hadbeen practising for one and a half months. I inviteda number of colleagues to my house and the Homa experiencehad a big impact. Then we did the Homa therapy sessionsduring four weeks, in total more or less eight sessionsin the Clinic Pablo Bermudeza, where I work. The testimonialsof the people who attended were eloquent. 99.9 per centof the patients improved their capacity to sleep. Thosewho suffered from insomnia slept sometimes too much.Their state of mind and mood had improved, their gastritishad disappeared, their backaches had disappeared. Infact, everyone manifested an improvement in their qualityof life, as well as in spirit, vitality and their capacityof attention. Little by little healings which didn'thave an apparent explanation could be observed."
Most of us have trouble believingin things we can't understand until, that is, we seethem for ourselves.
Lee and Frits Ringma run Homatherapy workshops by donation through the Homa TherapyAssociation of Australia.
The opening quote from the Peruvianfarmer was signed by the chief of Leoncio Prado-PadreAdad area, Special Project High Huallaga, Department ofthe Presidency of Peru.