The art of reading omens is often considered the domain of shamans and fortune tellers. But the ancient science of Ayurveda teaches that understanding omens is possible for everyone; it simply requires that we open our heart and mind to the non-verbal communication from nature that has existed since humans evolved. In a recent class with the great Ayurvedic teacher, doctor and author Robert Svoboda, he explained how to perceive, without our externalized senses, the shadow cast by a coming event before its arrival.
The Beginning Foretells The Future
In Ayurvedic astrology, the astrologer looks at a person's natal (birth) chart to forecast tendencies and occurrences during their life. In the same way, it is important to pay attention to what happens at the beginning of an endeavor because it indicates what will happen throughout. So when you are trying to make an important decision, or are contemplating a significant question, you can observe the non-verbal signs present in nature at that time to help you figure out the wisest course of action.
Nature Is Always Trying To Communicate With Us
It isn't always evident what a sign means, so it is important not to jump to conclusions when you think you see an omen. Making conclusions involves the thinking mind, and nature doesn't communicate on an intellectual level. Dr. Svoboda reminded us in his class that communication within nature is always happening, we just have to pay attention. So being open to things is the most important aspect to reading omens. Being open means connecting to things that are non-verbal and non-human. Nature is always trying to come to us, so it's better to be still and let it come than to go looking for it.
Sometimes An Event Is Just An Event
Though communication within nature is always happening, sometimes an event is just an event, and not a portent of things to come. If you see a black cat crossing the path, but you're not going anywhere, nor are you asking any particular question, this may just be a black cat on a stroll. Omens are relevant when they occur close to the time that you're embarking on an endeavor, asking a question, or making a decision. And even then, the event should have other events reasonably connected to it. This is where patience comes in. Let the circumstances unfold and give them time to reveal their significance.
It is helpful to know something about astrology when reading omens, because each planet has associated animals and attributes. For example, mercury is associated with the intellect and also with cats. So if you're about to give a lecture to a conference room full of 500 people, and a cat crosses your path as you're walking into the lecture hall, you can predict that all will go well. Last spring, I guest lectured at The Ayurvedic Institute, and I happened to wear a green shirt and green earrings. At the time, I didn't know that green was the color of Mercury, but I soon found out, and indeed the presentation went smoothly, and was well received.
In the ancient Ayurvedic text, the Charak Samhita, there is a chapter on "Messengers" that explains the signs related to the prognosis of a patient. There are many omens for a physician to look for when either becoming aware of a patient's condition, or on the way to treat a patient. These signs also apply to the patient coming to the doctor. It says that if a doctor is breaking or cutting something when learning of or meeting a patient, this is a bad sign and they may not recover.
Sparky, the Barking Dog
There is a dog living next door to my office in Santa Fe who barks at almost everyone walking by because he is bored. What does that mean, I wondered? Is that a bad sign for my patients walking to the front door? My experience has been that almost all of my patients do, in fact, get better with treatment, so I am not going to insist that Sparky be silenced with a bark collar. Sparky is just being Sparky. However, there may have been signs with other difficult patients that I was not paying attention to. Since Dr. Svoboda's reminder that nature is always communicating with us, the whole world feels more alive to me. I am trying to perceive more, and with less. Less grasping, less concluding, less analyzing. I believe that'll shed some light on these shadows of things to come.