One year, and only one year, 1972, Summer Solstice was held in California, in the northern forests of Mendocino County. Even though I had begun practicing Kundalini Yoga a year and a half earlier, this was my very first Summer Solstice. Here are a bunch of photos from then, along with some of my memories. I hope you enjoy!
My husband Danny/Siri Ved Singh and I drove up with a flock of friends, including Susan and James Stewart, Diane Solomon, Laurie (my friend from high school), my sister Guruprem, Guru Gun Kaur, and a few others. (Above are Laurie, Susan and Diane.) I wasn’t sure what to expect, having heard tales of the Solstice held the year before in Paonia, Colorado, but I knew we’d be camping, on silence for 8 days, and spending most of those days doing White Tantric Yoga.
Above: Here are Siri Ved S and James Stewart
Guru Singh & Livtar Singh lead some music.
Below, a group of musicians jams. I think I see Sahib Amar K with her head bowed down, Sherri (singer from L.A.) in striped sweater, and the rest are a jumble.
I’m not sure what we’re all watching here! There’s Baba Singh in the front toward the right. And to his right is Kalista K (from L.A.) Is that Livtar Kaur, also near the front, on the left, with the white bandana?
Above, a supply chain bringing boxes of produce up to the campsite kitchen area.
The Tantric exercises in those days tended to be physically grueling, requiring not just sitting for 62 minutes (which for many, is quite grueling enough) but often involved holding a pose, such as triangle pose, for 31 minutes, or maintaining a repetitive motion, in synch not only with your partner, but with everyone else in the Tantric lines. I think the Siri Singh Sahib probably enjoyed seeing our suffering, not because we were suffering, but because of the blue light generated in our auras as we rose above and beyond the physical, locked into the diagonal Tantric energy, and cleared out entire mountain ranges of, well, crap. Now I can look back and say these were more likely the foothills of crap, since I have since then discovered the Himalayas.
Tai Chi classes were offered on a few days (above).
I think the exercises must have been designed to bring out anger issues. I remember Danny and I kept the silence nearly perfectly, but we managed to have arguments on sheets of paper, scribbling intensely back and forth, throughout the week; we certainly must have gone through a ream of paper. I remember thinking how everyone else looked so happy and positive all the time, and I just wanted to strangle my husband over some small thing; this would be something like doing a Tantric exercise, sitting back to back, and being absolutely certain that he was leaning on me. So I would push back to put him at the correct perpendicular angle. He in turn, was probably certain I was leaning on him… so it went, with almost every exercise. Talk about butting heads! After solstice I talked to a few other people about how Danny and I hadn’t gotten along at all at solstice, and they said they’d had a similar experience.
One of the tantric exercises entailed everyone standing in triangle pose, a field of rear-ends in the air, and screaming and yelling… to get out all pain and anger. That day I was on security duty and didn’t participate. But I could hear the wails and yells echoing through the camp and mountainside. So, yes, I think this solstice tantric had something to do with anger release!
There were many high points, including firewalking (led by those guys in the skirts… who were they?), Tantric under the blazing sun, morning sadhana, and of course, the pit.
The Siri Singh Sahib had requested a large circle be cleared of rocks and debris, and told us all to gather there in our swimsuits. Then the games began. He would call out names, and in they’d go, to the center of the circle, with everyone else around the edges. It was usually 3-4 women and 1 man (I could be wrong here). The object was for the man to stay in the circle, and for the women to pull him out. Let me tell you, this was quite a riot to watch, as we all sat on the sidelines, cheering them on and applauding the victors. Then, after a good number of rounds, the Siri singh Sahib called out, “Ranbir Singh!!!!” (his son, who I think was 17 at the time). And then, “Oh, Sherman Tank! Where is my Sherman Tank?!” and Diana Schnur came into the circle. Lastly his voice boomed, “Bullfighter!!!!” (his nickname for me) and I knew it was my turn. There we were, the three of us in the pit, and Ranbir was determined not to be taken out by two young women. But we were tough and not afraid to get dirty!! We pulled, we pushed, he kicked, he fought, and after a few minutes of ruckus and tumbling in the dirt, we triumphantly dragged him out of the circle, much to the delight of the roaring crowd, and Siri Singh Sahib Ji.
In the background on left, you can see a poster stuck on a pole. This was a print of a painting by Sid Francis (great spirit, highly regarded fine artist, and loving student of Yogiji). It was a graphic, of 6 heads of Yogiji, black and white high contrast reproductions of his famous meditation photo. They were all alike, except the bottom one on the right. In that one, Sid gave Yogiji a smile and a wink. At the bottom it says KEEP UP!!
One thing I did not look forward to each day was breakfast. We were required to eat 2 oranges, 2 bananas (or was it 4 bananas? I remember it being way more bananas than I would normally want to eat) and to finish off a bowl of steaming hot spicy soup. However, this was not the delicious potato soup we enjoy at solstices today. This was a spicy lemon soup, with big chunks of lemon rind in it. This alkaline-forming breakfast was a necessity for the Tantric experience. To ensure that we ate it, Siri Singh Sahib assigned monitors to go up and down the breakfast lines! If ever I have tried to get out of doing something in my life, it was eating this breakfast! There were no Tantric burgers or snacks during the day, and each day I’d sneak aside a banana or two and save it for later.
Above: Siri Singh Sahib and Bibiji on the day of the weddings. In the background on left is Satsimran Kaur.
Above are Danny and me, my sister Guruprem K, and her new husband Brian.
Above are Shakti Parwha K, Yogijji, his father Papaji with the long white beard, and Bibiji.
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