30 May 2022

Gemini is usually described as having a quick mind, communicative, versatile, curious with a thirst for knowledge… and high intelligence as their superpower. On the shadow side there is talking too much, getting dispersed, mentally hyperactive, gossiping and acting superficially. We spoke to two Tara students to find out more.
Meet Camelia and Howard

Camelia, Tantra 3 London
howard gemini of the month
Howard, Tantra & Shaivism year 3

What are you most passionate about, and makes your heart sing with joy?

I love reading mystery fiction, I love teaching and guiding others to become their most empowered selves.

The Gemini air in me is definitely prominent as travel has always been a big part of my life (I worked in the industry for 8 years) and been to upwards of 60 countries (I want to get to 100!) exploring new places, the diversity of culture, meeting people and wonder at the natural beauty of planet earth. I find being in nature so centreing and at ease. Also being part of a community, sharing in activities, communal eating and I get energy from being around people. Companion comes from com pao (with bread) so it’s meant for sharing.
I’ve danced most of my life and can’t underestimate how good it is for the soul, connecting in the body to music and with the energy of others. It’s uplifting and I can find it very meditative and lose myself for hours in it

What attracted you to following a path of Spirituality and self-development?

I’ve always been drawn to spirituality since my early teens.

My path meandered in many ways for many years but really grew in this area over the past 10 years. In terms of self-development I embarked on Lifebook (a Mindvalley program) a few years back incorporating looking at a different area of your life for each month of the year (4 parts: beliefs, vision, purpose, and strategy). My spiritual path has particularly accelerated the past 3 years being part of Tara, on both Tantra and Shaivism courses.

Where do you feel you are most like a Gemini? Where do you feel you are the least like one?

I love connecting to people and expressing myself. I’m least Gemini in that I don’t change my mind once I set a goal.

Certainly, in terms of communication, my job is as an actor and I do training in business on it. Don’t get paranoid but I’ll be observing every nuance of tone of voice, body language etc…haha! Definitely resonate with versatility, not just in my work but I have a myriad of different interests, friend groups (though latterly I seek solitude a lot more and avoid the madness I used to love). I love learning new things and challenging myself but then on the downside, I often get bored when learning plateaus out and want a new toy so can spread myself too thinly. I can also be impulsive. Being on the cusp I definitely have some earthy Taurus traits..

What are you working on right now in terms of your spirituality or self-development?

I’m practicing Aparigraha – looking into all areas of my life where there is excess.

Certainly patience, equanimity, and looking to include more karma yoga.

What have you found most challenging on your spiritual journey?

Keeping long-term practice.

Whilst I know the theory it’s often hard in practice and can be disheartening at times when you don’t feel progress in some areas and when I don’t do as much practice as I’d like, though I try and tell myself small steps is still moving.

Geminis are known for their passion for reading and being eternal students. What book are you reading now if any, or subject you are studying and what book would you recommend others to read?

I’m reading Ikigai – highly recommend it.

I always have various reading materials on the go. Apart from reading scripts/learning lines each week and keeping up on Shaivism notes, I’m drawn to esoteric texts, currently: The Secret teachings of all ages (Manly P Hall), which I’d highly recommend and a book on geomancy. I read Jesus Christ Sun of God (David Fideler) last year which highlights elements of astrology in the bible as well as Greek gematria and sacred geometry hidden in the parables. A great read!

Also, Geminis are curious, with a thirst for knowledge, and love to use their high faculties of the mind to understand the world and reality…
–Tell us what things you tend to reflect, or explore or be curious about most, and if you can share with us one of the last epiphanies, deep understandings, or realisation you had recently?

The more you embrace all of who you are, the more easy it is to navigate the ups and downs of life

I’m always on the lookout for esoteric messaging hidden in art, literature, film, architecture etc. and I now see many things with fresh eyes, that previously went unnoticed. I’m also fascinated with the beauty of the natural world and happily while away time admiring the sheer wonder of fractals, spirals and vibrations playing out all around us.
One recent quote I saw struck a chord with me:
Nothing in Nature lives for itself, rivers don’t drink their own water, trees don’t eat their own fruit, the sun doesn’t shine for itself, a flower’s fragrance is not for itself. Living for each other is the rule of Nature.

What would you like to tell others about your feelings on being a Gemini sun?

Never ending curiosity, the thirst of knowing things, but not just knowing but really understanding them deeply, there’s that constant buzz almost like a mental activation…. but this comes from your soul, a sort of like hunger, desire for knowledge.

I guess with all signs, embrace the great aspects and the gifts it gives, be aware of the weaknesses, aim for balance with compatibility with others.

What is your life’s motto?

I don’t think is a life motto per se, but when I think I understand something I go and try look for the opposite and try to understand it as deeply as that one, I think that’s where the idea comes of the Gemini contradicting themselves, because we can see so many different angles and understand them and they can flip very easily in different perspectives. There’s always another angle, there’s always more to what I understand… maybe the motto would be what Socrates paradoxiacally said -” I know that I know nothing”

If you do only one thing in a day, meditate.
Smile and the world smiles with you.
You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing

17 May 2022

Dear treasured student,

Aspiration is a fundamental quality on the spiritual path. And while many of us begin our journey full of aspiration and enthusiasm, both can be dampened by the inevitability of spiritual tests and challenges. And, due to the very nature of the spiritual path, aspiration can come in waves. And while it is a constant necessity, sometimes we wish we had a little more.

To celebrate this wonderful quality and engine of transformation, and to bring aspiration back into awareness for the summer, Tara is offering a free place at this year’s summer camp*, June-July 2022, to one student who can demonstrate meaningful aspiration on the spiritual path. We are asking students to submit their entry based on one of the following:

  • Something that illustrates the importance of aspiration for you on the spiritual path
  • Something that demonstrates your aspiration on the spiritual path
  • Something that illustrates the importance of spiritual community and fraternity for you on the spiritual path

The submission can be in any format you choose; a letter, a video, a poem or whatever creative endeavour you come up with. The entries will be judged by a panel of Tara teachers, and based on who they believe demonstrated the most aspiration, desire to be part of a spiritual community and general enthusiasm for the spiritual path.

The competition is open to all Tara members only, including those who have already signed up to join the retreat. And while it would be wonderful if the prize goes to someone who really needs it, the focus of this task is not only the prize!

This task is also a very good opportunity to look at your aspiration on the path – both the highs, the lows, the great things that you have experienced. And also a moment to take stock and see where you aspiration is right now.

From this perspective, this exercise of self-reflection is truly worthwhile, even if you do not need the prize or cannot anyway come to the retreat.


  • Entries accepted from 16th May – 5th June
  • Please send entries to: kieran@tarayogacentre.co.uk
  • The winner will be announced on 6th June
  • One entry per student
  • You are free to choose the format of your entry – article, video, testimony, poem, etc. However, if it is something complex please check with kieran@tarayogacentre.co.uk before completing it to be sure it can be accepted.

* The prize is for a free camping place. If you wish to upgrade to house accommodation you can do so for just £100. All meals and retreat activities are included.

The are 2 forms of knowledge – knowing information about something and knowing where to find information about something.

British Library, Euston, London
16 May 2022

“When oil poured from one vessel to another flows in an unbroken stream, so too, when the mind in an unbroken flow thinks ceaselessly of the Lord, we have what is called para-Bhakti, or supreme love.”  ~ The Yogas and other works, Vivekananda

In this article you can discover:

  • What the path of Bhakti yogi is
  • Famous Bhakti yogis who walked this path
  • How you can prepare for the path of Bhakti Yoga
  • The importance of love and devotion in spirituality

The paths of Yoga

The path of devotion and love, Bhakti yoga, is one of a number of ‘paths of yoga’, with other notable paths being Karma Yoga, Jnana yoga, Raja yoga and Tantra yoga. The literal translation of ‘yoga’ in english is union. Therefore all these paths of yoga strive for the same goal – the union of Atman with ParaAtman, or the union of the individual with the universal, essentially uniting the aspirant with God.  

The different paths of yoga are thus alternative routes to reach the same destination. These different paths accommodate the different inherent qualities, desires, karma and predispositions of the various aspirants who wish to reach this destination of union with the divine. Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and devotion, which is how the aspirants walk this path to achieve this state of union.

 Bhakti Yoga is often cited as the easiest path of yoga because it requires ‘only’ devotion, which is accessible to almost all beings. However, though it may be simple in its nature, it is not always an easy path, especially as it requires an opening of the heart or awakening of the soul to begin.

Continous and exalted remembering

The opening quote above cites the ‘unbroken flow of thoughts’ to the divine. This is a continuous and exalted remembering. All of us will have moments when we remember the divine, the absolute, God; when we pray, meditate, see a beautiful sunrise or sunset, fall in love… These moments come and go and are often triggered by outer stimuli. For the Bhakti Yogi however, this remembering is his permanent state of being. He constantly remembers the divine in each and every moment. He sees God in every being, every animal, every flower. There is nothing in manifestation that does not remind him of God and in no thing or moment can he fail to find God.

“When the soul succeeds in enjoying the bliss of his supreme love, it also begins to see him in everything. Our hearts thus become an eternal fountain of love.”


On the path of Bhakti Yoga the aspirant devotes himself entirely to God, the divine, or the absolute reality. In its highest form, this devotion is pure and uninterrupted. The aspirant sees God in everything, and they see everything in God. They realise that the entire Universe is nothing but love – “Love is God and God is love.” This quote, or truth, revealed in the Gospel of John, shows the universality of this path and of the energy of love. Not restricted to the Hindu tradition, this path is found in all genuine spiritual traditions – Christianity, Islam and so on. It is this love that supports the entire manifestation. It is also the ‘obsession’ and vehicle of the Bhakti yogi.

Unconditional Love

Because the entire manifestation is God, and if he is to love God unconditionally, the Bhakti yogi must love everything in the manifestation, equally and unconditionally. And by loving everything in the manifestation, the Bhakti Yogi likewise loves God. This is a very high level of love that is difficult for the human mind to even comprehend, let alone manifest. But just as the tiny acorn would find it hard to believe that one day it could become a giant oak tree spreading its branches majestically and producing thousands of acorns of its own, so too can the aspirant with a tiny seed of devotion and love within his being nourish and foster that love, until it too grows into mighty branches of unconditional love. Not only sustaining itself but inspiring and nourishing the seeds within others to also grow and become.

In the East there are many examples of well-known Bhati Yogis. Ma Anandamayi, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rumi, and Kadir to name but a few. The culture and history of India provides a highly conducive foundation to this path of devotion. It is something almost inherent in the people there.

St Francis – a genuine Bhakti Yogi

But the path of devotion and love crosses all borders and all time frames. A prominent example in the West is Saint Francis of Assisi. Born into a relatively wealthy family, Francis had all the comforts of the time, and was set for a life of material success and prosperity. But in his early 20s St Francis began to experience visions, and to hear a voice that would alter his life dramatically. He renounced his inheritance, disowned his father and took up a vow of poverty. He devoted his life to God and to spreading the teachings of Jesus. Many devote themselves to God and/or sacrifice material wealth in pursuit of union. But what is often cited about St Francis however is his unconditional love for all beings.

Considered outcasts, even by the Church, St Francis would show lepers the same love and affection as he would a bishop. He bathed and fed them often, and prayed both with and for them. He showed no envy, anonymity, jealously or hostility towards his fellow man. Whenever he encountered hostility towards him his response was always one of love. He even crossed the enemy lines of the Christians into the Muslim camp in Egypt during a bloody war. And while there is no account of what happened there, he returned voluntarily and unharmed, which shows he must have been recognised as a man of love by the Sultan. Otherwise his fate would have been vastly different.

St Francis’s love did not stop at humanity. He is the patron saint of animals and is often depicted surrounded by animals. He saw other creatures as a part of God, and filled with God, and he afforded them the same love and devotion that he did his fellow brothers.

One story describes how St Francis stopped some Friars who were digging up flowers to plant food for the monks. The monks objected, saying that the crops were badly needed to feed the growing monastery. St Francis simply replied, “Let the flowers be, for they are part of God’s creation. The Lord will provide everything we need for us.” Such a faith in God is not possible without unconditional love and devotion. For St Francis all was God and God was all. The sum total of all love is God and therefore we should love all equally and unconditionally.

Walking the path of Bhakti Yoga

Some are born ready for the path of Bhakti Yoga, while others have potential, but efforts are needed before the devotion can truly take hold and effortlessly unfold in the aspirant. The ancient texts thus describe two levels of Bhakti Yoga. The first is Gauni, or the preparatory stages, and the second level is Para, or superior devotion.

The purpose of Gauni is mainly for the preparation of the aspirant for Bhakti Yoga. The supreme love, para-Bhakti, is inaccessible to those who remain impure, and so a process of purification is required. The Vedanta Sutras state, “The attaining of Bhakti comes through discrimination, controlling the passions, practice, sacrifice, purity, strength and the suppression of excessive joy.” Here, comparisons can be drawn with the namas and niyamas described in Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. While the outer application of these ideals is usually focused on nowadays, the inner application is far more important. Purifying the body through bathing is useful, but purifying the mind through awareness is far superior.

“Religious realisation, or para-Bhakti, is possible only when the mind is in a steady, peaceful condition of harmonious equilibrium. It is through this that one may begin to learn how to love the Lord.”

There is also a preparatory stage when entering para-Bhakti, the stage of supreme love. This preparation centres around ‘renunciation’. All paths of yoga include this aspect, albeit in different manifestations. The Karma Yogi must renounce the fruits of his actions while the Jnana Yogi must renounce the entire manifestation as an illusion. For the Bhakti Yogi, he must renounce all that is insignificant in favour of God. This is only a phase or process the yogi must go through, because as we saw above, all is God, even the apparently insignificant.

But until the Bhakti Yogi has truly experienced this realisation within his being, he must constantly renounce that which is lower for that which is higher, or that which is limited for something closer to infinity. For example, on the path of Bhakti Yoga, selfishness would be seen as a form of love – excessive love of ones self, and a very limited and restricted manifestation of love.

The Bhakti Yogi should renounce selfish love and instead embrace a more expanded love, such as love for another human being or a family. This expanded love should include the initial ‘object’, in this case the self, the person. In this way the Yogi truly expands rather than just moving his love.

This renunciation is not a ‘killing’ of something or a struggle. It is actually seen as the most gentle and natural of all the various forms of renunciation. While renunciation may appear to be a sacrifice, what we actually sacrifice is the limitations and chains that restrict the soul, so that it can become free, free to love, free to expand towards infinity and towards God. The only condition is that each sacrifice takes us closer and closer to God.

“The bhakti-yogi should not suppress any single one of his emotions; he only strives to intensify them and direct them to God.”

Once the aspirant succeeds with renunciation in the higher stage of Bhakti Yogi, his efforts then become effortless. He then understands the universal truth – God is love and love is God. But not merely as a mental or intellectual understanding. Rather he feels it deep in his heart as the ultimate truth of the universe. Everywhere he looks he sees nothing but the divine. Every word he hears, comes as if from the divine. Everything he touches is infused with the divine. This is his permanent reality in every moment. And through this universal energy of love that continuously springs from his heart, he is united, he is in yoga with all things and finally, united with God.

Summer Retreat: The paths of Yoga

If you wish to find out more about Bhakti Yoga, consider joining our summer retreat this June. It explores 5 paths of yoga, including Bhakti Yogi. In this way it’s an ideal opportunity to discover which path of yoga is most suitable for you. Details below.

“We all begin with love for ourselves, and the unfair claims of the little self make even love selfish. At last, however, comes the full blaze of light, in which this little self is seen to have become one with the Infinite. Man himself is transfigured in the presence of this light of love, and he realises at the last the beautiful and inspiring truth that love, the lover and the Beloved are one.”

12 May 2022

In this interview, our 4th-year Tantra student Vivienne interviews Tantra teacher Foca Yariv, about death and the perspectives spirituality can bring to the subject, about which Eastern and Western approaches can differ hugely. Foca has spent a great deal of time studying Eastern perspectives on death, to find out what we can actually learn from them.

Foca has held a workshop at Tara entitled “The Art of Dying” almost every year. The title of the workshop is a bit of a loose term, because the workshop is very much about how to live, not only how to die. Based on some fundamental perspectives and ideas found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, or the Bardo Todol, the Art of Dying workshop helps participants understand the nature of death and why the spiritual path could not exist without it.

In this (25-minute) interview, Vivienne quizzes Foca on everything from the Tantric perspective on death to the blockages people face relating to death, to how a change of perspective can fuel spiritual transformation.

While this interview is not a preview of the upcoming workshop, it does provide some hints as to what might be revealed. Listen to the interview, and if you have any questions feel free to post in the comments. We will respond to them!

And if you would like to know more about the Art of Dying workshop, or to sign up, all details can be found here:

Kali, the great cosmic power related to death

“If it wasn’t for death, which is basically the confinement of time, there would be no incentive of transformation. Hence, we can say that this is one of the greatest gifts that is given from the Creator to the creature, because it is mobilising us.”

Foca Yariv, Tantra Teacher
08 May 2022

Stages of Spiritual perfection, in and through love

by Nicolae Catrina

This book could rightly be called a handbook rather than a book. It is a very practical book written by one of the teachers in the Atman Federation. The core of the book is a journey through the 7 stages of love.

These are taken from the ancient Greek language, which has over 40 different words for “love”. In this book, Nicolae describes the 7 stage, some of which we can easily recognise. He also elborates on how we can achieve spiritual perfection using these stages and encouragingly, how we can reach God through any single stage.

It is a great resource for those interested in relationships and looking to transform through love and relationships. It is quite practical and the author gives readers intuitive examples to easily relate to while also providing practical suggestions and ideas couples or individuals can easily implement.

The book is available in the shop in our London centre but there are limited copies available. Grab it while you can….. 🙂

The spiritual guide is the catalyst of practical understandings. He or she mysteriously awakens a superior, supramental and perfect vision in our being.

08 May 2022

Last Saturday (30th of April) saw the inaugural Pilgrimage of the Tara outdoor spirituality group. An initiative formed as part of the aspiration to grow and nurture our spiritual community, the outdoor spiritual group aims to merge the great outdoors with meaningful spiritual experiences. Saturday was the first event and he we have a review of the day from Alberto, a Tantra and Shaivism student who was also one of the organisers.

27 hearts on fire departed from Chartham at 10am, each heart carrying their own longing, their own intimate intention, their challenges and their offerings. We were led by our captain Andrew, who set the tone and shared the wisdom accumulated over years as an ardent pilgrim himself.

The sky was overcast but vigilant. As soon as the sky saw us consecrating the pilgrimage, He started to clear the clouds away. The group walked in mauna, silently tuning into the secret space of our hearts and the egregor of all those pilgrims who had walked the North Downs Way before us.

After our first stop, some maintained the inner and outer silence, while others used the opportunity to get to know one another.

The Sun was now shining in all its glory, and he stayed with us for the rest of the pilgrimage, warming our hearts and granting us the privilege of a tan by the end of the day!

Captain Andrew

Equipped with a compass and map, our Captain Andrew and his loyal Lalla walked at the front of the group, setting the pace and guiding us on our way to Canterbury. Kieran and Eabha walked in the middle of the group, and I was at the back, like a shepherd whose task is to make sure no sheep goes astray. But orchestrating a group of 27 people is not easy! Some enjoy walking fast and some slow.

And some like stopping and admiring every little thing along the way, even if that means separating from the group. They stop to worship every flower, independently of their size and colour, most of the trees, and even seemingly ordinary things that stop being ordinary in such a state of wonder. This special group of transfiguring wanderers was composed of Lia, Howard, Francesca, Jonathan and Cintia, and I was at the back.

As it was supposed to be, we found ourselves separated from the bulk of the group. I was told not to let that happen, but what could I do? How to tell someone to stop admiring a flower and keep up with the others?

Eventually, the group reunited and never split up again. It was time to have some lunch, restore some energies and enjoy the sun.

In a glorious speech, Kieran reminded us of the importance of the spiritual community, or Sangha, as one of the three main pillars of the spiritual path. Yoga practice goes beyond practising on the yoga mat. We are mirrors of one another and each one of us is an example of a unique spiritual practitioner. Sangha helps us overcome the challenges of the spiritual path and keeps the fire of our aspiration high.

We restarted our journey along the picturesque countryside of the Pilgrims Way that links Winchester to Canterbury.

It’s part of the pilgrims tradition to pause at every church encountered in the path, to connect inside again, withdraw in prayer and to remember the purpose of the walk, and so we did in St. Dunstan’s Church, who welcomed us as we entered Canterbury. The city of Canterbury was alive. We resisted the temptation to jump on a boat cruise around the city or to buy anything along the pedestrian shopping street, and made our way straight to the gothic Cathedral before 16:00.

Following the customs, we walked clockwise around the magnificent Cathedral before gathering again to meditate and crystallise the gifts that this pilgrimage offered to us.

The day ended with the evensong, an evening service of prayer and praise, sung by the Cathedral Choir, using the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer.

“It is only a tiny rosebud,
A flower of God’s design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.

The secret of unfolding flowers
is not known to such as I.
GOD opens this flower so sweetly,
When in my hands they fade and die.

If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of God’s design,
Then how can I think I have wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?

So I’ll trust in Him for His leading
Each moment of every day.
I will look to Him for His guidance
Each step of the pilgrim way.

The pathway that lies before me,
Only my Heavenly Father knows.
I’ll trust Him to unfold the moments,
Just as He unfolds the rose. 🌹”

Amazing day and experience. Lots of gratitude for organizing and holding the space for this spiritual journey! Have a great week ahead everyone’

Huge gratitude to organisers for such an amazing day


Fantastic day! Beautiful souls!
Amazing experience! ❤️
Thank you Andrew for organisation and thank you everyone for your presence!


Thank you all, it was a great day!

08 May 2022

The journey with the 10 Great Macrocosmic Powers continues. This month our wonderful Tantra and Shaivism student, Cintia gives us her reflections on a day with Dhumavati:

Like an invisible ghost we realised was always there, we could see the constant silent presence of Dhumavati in every moment of our life… for no second is the same, and when there’s an end, there she is, pointing towards the silent observer in us that is unchangeable

for no second is the same, and when there’s an end, there she is, pointing towards the silent observer in us that is unchangeable…

… and in those moments of the most agonising of pain, when we reached rock bottom, and life seemed to have no way out… Dhumavati came, and in her wisdom, showed us the light at the end of the tunnel. In each women there She resides, in every turn around moment just before – and even after – the fatal fall, then a moment of stillness where somehow we reached a profound wisdom, an incommensurable power within. We cannot explain where it came from, but it is not of this world.

She is also present in moments of profound pleasure, and of happiness, that we tend to want to grab on to and want to make last forever… and as we practised conscious touch and we became aware of her silent, vibrating yet still wisdom, we all seemed to reach a deeper level of our being, bringing us to a fullness of presence that we so easily forget, but that is filled with life, but not quite the way we feel life normally… and with awareness.

The very silent, still, and almost invisible presence of Dhumavait, touched our group of women deeply, and somehow we knew that none of us left that room the same,

The very silent, still, and almost invisible presence of Dhumavait, touched our group of women deeply, and somehow we knew that none of us left that room the same, something had been profoundly changed, but there seemed to be not much we could say about what exactly…

Feedback from the workshop series:

spiritual community of like minded people on a path of transformation

The great goddess Dhumavati – she who conceals all that is unnecessary in smoke. She is found in the great beatific void. As long as we have Dhumavati, we always have hope.