Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Jesus Christ. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Jesus Christ. Sort by date Show all posts

Paganism & Wicca - Who Is A Goes Or Goetes?

Goes/Goetes (s/pl) is a common Greek term for "magician" that has been around since the start of the Common Era.

  •  "Goes" literally means "howler" and may have originally referred to someone who howled incantations or wolf shamanism. 
    • A Greek ritual healer, a charm singer, a medium, and seer, comparable to what is today known as a shaman, was the original go. 
  • It's possible that goetes had transformational abilities
    • Herodotus speculated that the Scythians who claimed to be able to shift into wolves for a short time were goetes. 

  • The term was later extended to charlatans, fortune-tellers, and mountebanks, as well as professional practitioners of mystery traditions (e.g., Orphic or Dionysiac rituals). 
  • It was also not necessary for the goes to be Greek; the term was later used to any comparable practitioner. 

  • The goetes were characterized by Flavius Josephus, a first-century writer of Rome's conflict with Judea, as persons who perform or promise marvels, including "overpowering the Romans." 

Jesus Christ was regarded as a goete by several of his contemporaries. 

  • It wasn't required to be educated to be a goes in this tradition. 
  • The term acquired lower-class overtones and was almost always used in a derogatory manner, at least according to the documents that have survived. 
  • And the majority of the people serviced by the gos were illiterate. 
  • Goetes' reputation become progressively tarnished. 
  • By Plato's day, goetes were subject to arrest in several towns. 


Related to - Magician, Mountebank, and Strix.

You may also want to read more about Paganism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.

Parapsychology - Adalbert


Who Was Albert Adalbert?

Adalbert (ca. 740 C.E.) was an eighth-century French pseudo-mystic.

He proclaimed that an angel delivered him relics of remarkable holiness from all corners of the globe, and that he could predict the future and read people's minds.

"I know what you've done; there's no need for confession," he'd reply.

"Relax, your sins have been forgiven." 

Adalbert's so-called "miracles" garnered him a lot of fame, and he gave out a lot of nail and hair cuts as potent amulets.

He is reported to have even built an altar in his own honor.

The little biographical material available claims that an angel bestowed magical talents upon him at birth.

Adalbert was accused of displaying a letter from Jesus Christ that he said was given by St. Michael to his followers.

Adalbert was also accused of writing a mystical prayer that invoked uncanonical angels thought to be devils.

A Church synod condemned him in 744 C.E.

After appealing to Pope Zacharius, Adalbert was stripped of his priestly duties a year later.

Later, he was sentenced to a life sentence at the Fulda Monastery.

~Kiran Atma

Yogic Techniques to Improve Concentration

Psychic, Powers, Superhero, Magic, Eyes


A candle flame, the moon, a dazzling star, a mandala, a beautiful flower, or the eyes of a portrait of your guru or a saint are all examples of external objects to which the gaze is focused without blinking and with entire focus. 

To practice tratak on a photo of your guru, Jesus Christ, Krishna, or a saint, sit in a comfortable and relaxed position and hold the photo of your choosing at eye level and one arm's length in front of you. 

With your eyes open, stare at it steadily with full concentration and interest for a minute or two, then close your eyes and envision the face and eyes of the Master, guru, or saint you've been staring at. 

By envisioning these Masters in your spiritual eye, you can tune in to their consciousness. Within the lotus of your heart, feel their presence, love, joy, light, and vitality. 

Remember, no matter how much love you have for the personalized image (saint, guru, deity, etc. ), the object of devotional concentration should always be regarded as just one expression of God, lest we lose sight of the unity that exists behind the multiplicity of manifestations — the un-manifested godhead, that which is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. 

We must move beyond personality worship and form worship to attune to the divine Consciousness that gives and manifests love, light, joy, and knowledge via the form of personality. 


Japa is the practice of repeating any of God's Names in order to cultivate devotion and focus the thoughts on Him. Repetition can be done aloud, in hushed tones, or silently to oneself. Japa is commonly performed using mala beads or a rosary that contains 108 beads. 

The number 108 has special meaning since ancient yogis calculated that a normal individual takes 21,600 breaths in 24 hours; 200 times 108 = 21,600. One hundred and eight is also a spiritual number, as it is divisible by nine. When done with attention and a total surrender to God, mental japa prepares the mind for profound meditation. 

Consistent japa practice cleanses the mind and redirects the flow of attention away from extraneous objects and toward God. Sit in a comfortable meditation position and focus on the heart chakra (anahata) or the space between the brows (the spiritual eye) to practice japa — see page 86. 

The mind may be readily controlled by focusing the thoughts and closing the eyes on the inner spiritual eye. In your right hand, hold your japa mala or rosary. Hold the first little bead next to the bigger sumeru bead between your right thumb and middle finger and recite your mantra once with focus. Continue with the next little bead, repeating the mantra. 

Continue working your way around the mala, one bead at a time, until you've completed all 108 mantras. When you return to the sumeru bead, do not cross it to begin the following round; instead, turn the mala and start from the last bead before the sumeru.


Kirtan, or chanting, is a powerful tool for channeling and focusing the mind's energy inward toward God. Chanting devotional songs stimulates the heart's innate love and dedication. 

It has the potential to arouse in us a desire to know and be closer to God. It provides us a taste of the Self, which is happiness. Chanting also promotes feelings of love, joy, and serenity. 

Ask yourself, "Who am I chanting to and why?" before you begin to chant. 

Chanting is half the fight

This is crucial if you want to transcend your ego. When we chant, we should experience the presence of the Lord in our hearts. 

Chant with love and dedication, and focus your thoughts solely on God. Listen carefully to the lyrics and experience the chants' energy and vibratory force as you chant. 

Concentrate on the spiritual eye (ajna chakra) or the heart chakra with your eyes closed. 

Begin by chanting aloud, allowing the words and rhythms of the chant to fill your body and mind, then progressively lower the volume while increasing the inner experience of the chant until you reach the super-conscious level, when you may transform internal vibrations into spiritual realizations.

These encouraging remarks from a great Master are a fantastic source of encouragement for anybody who is really looking for God.

You may also want to read more about Yoga and Holistic Healing here.

Parapsychology - Who Is Abraxas?


Abrasax was the supreme deity of the Basilidian sect of Gnostics in the second century, who held that Jesus Christ was just a phantom brought to Earth by him.

They thought his name held significant secrets since it was made up of the seven Greek letters that make up the number 365, the number of days in a year.

They believed Abraxas commanded 365 gods, to whom they ascribed 365 qualities, one for each day.

Older mythologists see Abraxas as an Egyptian deity, whereas demonologists depict him as a demon with a king's head and serpents for feet.

Abraxas is shown with a whip in his hand on ancient amulets, and his name inspired the magical term abracadabra.

Further Reading:

Drury, Nevill, and Stephen Skinner. The Search for Abraxas. London: Spearman, 1972.

Kiran Atma

You may also want to read more about parapsychology and occult sciences here.

Parapsychology - Who Was Frater Achad?


Charles Stansfeld Jones (1886–1950), a British magician and novelist who resided in Cana cay and formed the Fellowship of Ma-Ion, used this mystical name.

He was a disciple of the magician Aleister Crowley, who named him his magical child.

Jones is to be differentiated from theosophical writer George Graham Price, who channeled two popular writings under the alias Frater Achad, Melchizedek Truth Principles (1963) and Ancient Mystical WhiteBrotherhood (1971).

Apart from channeling the two works, nothing is known about Price's life.

Bonner, Margerie Lowry said that while working on Under the Volcano, he started to research the theosophists' canon, which included P.D. Ouspensky, Swedenborg, Blake, James, Böhme, and Yeats, as well as A.E. Waite, Eliphas Levi, Madame Blavatsky, and, by chance, Frater Achad. 

Charles Stansfeld-Jones – a white magician and author of Cabbalistic books and treatises under the name Frater Achad – appeared at Lowry's Dollarton shack and began a long friendship with him, during which time Lowry experimented with astral body projection, the I Ching, and Yoga, and studied the Tree of Life, a reproduction of which was hung on a wall in the shack. 

Lowry discontinued his research after months of immersion for fear of "opening doors that should stay locked." [Originally published in Perle Epstein's The Private Labyrinth of Malcolm Lowry. 

Holt, Reinhart, and Winston, New York, 1969.] While Lowry finished the first draft of Under the Volcano in 1940 before meeting Stansfeld-Jones, he subsequently claimed that he met a Cabbalist at a "critical and serendipitous time in the composition of the novel." Since the receiving of the Book of the Law, Achad has been regarded as the most notable Catholic Thelemite. 

This is because Frater Achad converted to Roman Catholicism in 1928, 19 years after entering the A.A. as a Probationer. 

Achad's claim to fame as a Thelemite—and the reason orthodox Thelemites must contend with him even if they believe his curious researches are mistaken or dangerous—is that he discovered the qabalistic "key" to the Book of the Law, prompting Aleister Crowley to rename the book Liber AL vel Legis instead of Liber Legis. 

This finding was recounted in Achad's magical notebook, Liber 31, which was eventually released. 

Crowley used this insight to consecrate Achad as his magical son, as prophesied in the Book of the Law, and to acknowledge his claim to the Thelemic grade of Magister Templi, or "Babe of the Abyss." However, by the 1920s, Crowley had become disillusioned with his son and successor due to some Achad writings. 

Achad's experiment with changing the courses of the qabalistic Tree of Life was documented in his 1922 Q.B.L.; or the Bride's Reception. 

The Egyptian Revival, published in 1923, and The Anatomy of the Body of God, published in 1925, continued Achad's work. 

To put it plainly, Crowley thought such attempts were foolish. 

Achad was also a member of the Worldwide Brotherhood, an esoteric group that claimed to share universal religious and philosophical knowledge, as well as a "true transcript" of the objective cosmos, by this time. 

Many occultists, including Crowley, thought the convoluted UB system was a "scam" or, worse, a cover for the Catholic Church's infiltration of occult organizations (for more on the UB, see the recent article in the O.T.O. anthology Success is Your Proof). 

Many high-ranking members of the UB converted to Catholicism when it was founded by Merwin-Marie Snell, a Catholic comparative religion professor. 

Crowley and Achad ultimately lost communication, and Achad was expelled from the Order of the Temple

Jones, on the other hand, never stopped thinking about his status as Crowley's magical offspring, and Thelema's revelations remained a major element of his spiritual worldview. 

Following Crowley's death, Achad corresponded with Crowley's executor Gerald Yorke in a lengthy series of letters. 

The letters "announced the arriving of the Aeon of Maat" in April 1948, and "from this point onwards the communication contains information recording the development of the new Aeon which Jones had discovered, and exploring its consequences and implications," according to Starfire. 

An Aeon is governed by a central spiritual idea or formula as well as the god-form that personifies that idea, according to Crowley's Thelemic system. 

It lasts about 2,000 years (coinciding with the precession of the equinoxes) and is ruled by a central spiritual idea or formula as well as the god-form that personifies that idea. 

The Aeon of Horus, which began in 1904 with Crowley's receiving of Liber AL vel Legis, is controlled by Horus, the god's crowned and victorious offspring, and will last for thousands of years. 

Yet, like Achad, some unconventional Thelemites have accepted the possibility of a premature dawning of the Aeon of Maat—for example, Kenneth Grant in his Typhonian Trilogies, the Thelemic magical order Ordo Adeptorum Invisiblum, and Nema, whose received text Liber Pennae Penumbra and system of Maat magick is perhaps the most influential result of Maatian speculations. 

The greatest description of these modern currents in theoretical occultism is Don Karr's book Approaching the Kabbalah of Maat

Despite the fact that Achad's announcement of the Aeon of Maat influenced a number of important occultist researchers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, his Maatian revelation does not appear to follow from his books, his Catholic conversion, or his involvement with (and eventual leadership of) the UB. 

To truly comprehend the importance of an early Aeon of Truth and Justice—the spiritual concepts symbolized by the god-form of Maat—one must first understand the qabalistic implications of Achad's 1920s views. 

Among early twentieth-century occultists, Achad is possibly the most pro-materialist. 

Unlike many Gnostics, Neo-Buddhists, and Theosophists of the time, Achad believes in a material universe infused with spirit—sacramentally infused, if you will. 

This is in line with the Universal Brotherhood's philosophical realism principles. 

It also corresponds to Achad's extreme qabalistic theories. 

Unlike other qabalists, Achad's multifaceted image of the Tree of Life's primeval fall and eschatological restoration resembles a cosmic fulfillment process rather than a myth of transgression and forgiveness. 

This is something he shares with the modernist Catholic thinkers of his day. 

Idealism and Materialism must join and go hand in hand if a new Civilization is to be established, argues Achad in The Anatomy of the Body of God. 

The Soul of Humanity is the connection that binds everything together. 

Our physical bodies are nothing to be ashamed of, but they would be useless without the Spirit and Will that give them life and action. 

On the other hand, we should not be so timid and selfish as to want to be re-absorbed into Spirit, as if the whole Creative Plan had been a waste of time and should have never been undertaken in the first place. 

No! Let us offer gratitude in our hearts for both our bodies and our spirits, and let us use both properly and to the full extent of our abilities. 

Over the course of the 1920s, Achad's writings became more oriented on the immanent fulfillment of God's Kingdom, a perspective that would be dubbed "realized eschatology" in Christian theology. 

"We must take into the inheritance of Freedom that has been provided for us in the Father's Kingdom upon Earth," says Anatomy, "and begin to construct a 'Living Temple, not created with hands, everlasting in the Heavens'—on Earth." The rousing proclamation, There is a space reserved for every one of you, Here and Now, finishes the book's introduction. 

Everything has its place when everything is placed in its place. 

Take up your positions in the Kingdom of the Ever-Coming Son, fulfill yourself in the fulfillment of God's Will inside you, and demonstrate to those who are still in the dark outside that there is space for everyone who are willing to maintain their place and stop attempting to usurp others'. 

Frater Achad's knowledge of the approaching Kingdom of God is based on his interpretation of Qabalah's cosmic processes. 

In the orthodox Thelemic schema, the Egyptian deity forms Isis—Osiris—Horus correlate to Binah—Kether-Chokmah—and Tiphereth, respectively. 

Malkuth, the Material Kingdom, is represented by Maat, who completes the four-part sequence. 

The four letters of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, IHVH—Osiris (I), Isis (H), Horus (V), with Maat (final H) completing the sequence—can also be ascribed to the Aeons. 

In most texts on Hermetic Qabalah, the letters of the Tetragrammaton fulfill a cosmic story. 

The fallen Daughter (Heh final) must combine with the Son (Vav) to ascend to the level of Heh prime, establishing the Daughter/Malkuth on the throne of Binah, the Mother, in order to restore the Tree of Life to its pre-Fall condition (Heh prime). 

The Mother then "arouses the active power of THE FATHER, and these twain being UNITED, everything is RE-ABSORBED into THE CROWN," as Achad describes in Q.B.L. 

As a result of Malkuth's union with Kether, the eschatological kingdom is realized on Earth, fulfilling God's goal for creation. 

The salvation economy of Mary, a Daughter of Israel and child of the earth, conceiving the Son, the Christos, by the Holy Spirit, then being joined with God the Father in her Coronation as the Mother of Heaven, may be expressed in the Catholic system. 

Through the inbreaking of the eschatological Kingdom in the event of Jesus Christ, the Son's Incarnation thus redeems Malkuth's material world—represented in miniature by Mary. 

Through the Eucharistic Mass, Catholics engage in this reality—the eschaton made manifest here and now in fulfillment of God's design. 

Many orthodox Thelemites have proposed bizarre explanations for why Frater Achad would ever switch to the Roman Church, including insanity, a desire to convert the Church to Thelema's Law, or being lost in the Abyss as a Black Brother. 

Achad, on the other hand, offers a different reason for his strange conversion: Achad needed to be escorted to the Temple's opposite Pillar in order to discover the secrets of the R[oman] Catholic Church. 

He joined the Church as an orthodox member and obtained his first communion during Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, 1928. 

This step, and only this step, resulted in the start of the Initiations and Ordeals that were to follow, as per Liber Legis. 

(Jones, letter to Gerald Yorke and Albert Handel, May 6, 1948; cited in Hymenaeus Beta, Prolegomenon to Aleister Crowley's Liber Aleph, Second Edition, Hymenaeus Beta, Prolegomenon to the Second Edition, Hymenaeus Beta, Prolegomenon to the Second Edition, Hymenaeus Beta, Prolegomenon to the Second Edition, Hymenaeus Beta, Pro Achad was poised to herald the beginning of the Aeon of Truth and Justice—the eschatological Kingdom realized on earth, glyphed in esoteric terms by the goddess Maat and glyphed in the New Testament by St. John the Divine's vision of the New Jerusalem: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, since the previous heaven and earth had vanished, and the sea had vanished as well. 

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending down from God like a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:1-3) This is the banquet for the bride—the New Jerusalem has come down to earth, the divine has become one with the mundane world. 

"Jones relayed the news of his 1932 Silver Star Ordeal not only to Crowley, but also to the Catholic Church," states Hymenaeus Beta. 

Achad considered his initiations into this new New Aeon as vital to both the occult world and the Catholic Church. 

"He came to believe that the Aeon of Horus was coming to an end, and that a new Aeon of Truth and Justice, ruled by the Egyptian goddess Maat (or Ma), was about to begin." Achad's conversion allowed him to participate in the Church's sacramental life. 

This implies he took part in the Eucharist, with his first Mass being the Christmas 1928 Mass commemorating the Incarnation. 

For Catholics, the Eucharist is the eschatological reality bursting into our current moment, the Kingdom of God made visible on earth. 

The Eucharist is "a guarantee of future grandeur," according to the Catholic Church's Catechism, "a foretaste of the celestial feast to come" (CCC 1323). 

The Aeon of Maat is a "backwards current," granting us a vision of an age in which "we all may become something far greater, something which exists in the form of seeds within us in the eternal Now" (Horus/Maat Lodge FAQ page), much like the inbreaking Kingdom of God, which rushes in from the future to meet us in the present (see, for example, radical Catholic theologian Edward Schillebeeckx's God the Future of Man). 

Unlike other non-orthodox Thelemites who believe in a "double current" in which both the Aeons of Horus and Maat are active at the same time, or those who believe that the Aeon of Maat will arrive too soon to replace the Aeon of Horus, my reading of Frater Achad through the lens of the Catholic Mass suggests that the new Aeon of Truth and Justice is present in the present at the same time as the "force and fire" of the Aeon The Mother's Daughter ascends to the throne, the Father awakens, and the Son of God is born among the people of the world. 

"Kether is in Malkuth, and Malkuth is in Kether," Frater Achad declares.

Further Reading:

Achad, Frater [Charles Stansfeld Jones]. The Anatomy of the Body of God. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1969.

Achad, Frater [George Graham Price]. Ancient Mystical White Brotherhood. Lakemont, Ga.: CSA Press, 1971.

Melchizedek Truth Principles. Phoenix, Ariz.: Lockhart Research Foundation, 1963.

Kiran Atma

You may also want to read more about parapsychology and occult sciences here.

POP YOGA! Yoga in Popular Western Culture


Yoga has explicitly entered mainstream culture in the United States. Every few years, Yoga Journal conducts a survey to gauge the importance of yoga. This is self-serving—the paper wants to know if it has a suitable audience—and the survey model is skewed because it stands to profit from the results. Nonetheless, the findings are eye-opening: according to Yoga Journal's 2012 poll, 20.4 million American adults practice yoga, they spend $10.3 billion a year on "yoga lessons and merchandise, including supplies, clothes, holidays, and newspapers," and 44.4 percent of non-practicing Americans are interested in giving it a shot. In my own research into the cultural past of yoga in the United States, I look at how yoga has been marketed as "Eastern" and mystical; as non-Hindu, universal, and scientific; and as a health-promoting activity.

This 150-year process has aided Americans in envisioning yoga as a secular discipline that has been gendered, culturally classified, and socially classified in a specific manner, free of any religious practices or convictions. This categorization entails both buy-in and push-back, and in this segment, I look at three examples of buy-in and push-back, as well as the resulting tensions and dialogues. Examining the popularity of yoga pants, Christian Yoga, and the Hindu American Foundation's (HAF) protests can demonstrate how mass culture and faith intersect to build pockets of unity and tension.

A pair of yoga pants

In the United States, yoga reveals the blurred boundaries between religious and secular practices (and in fact calls into question the many ways in which religion is defined). Yoga is debatable as to whether it belongs to any faith or whether it may be done by all. These issues will be addressed in the second and third sections of this series. But first, I'd like to look at how many of you might have discovered yoga—the cozy yoga pants that many of us wear even though we aren't practicing yoga.

The material and visual exploration of yoga pants reveals how they reify gender, age, and race categories and normativities. In other words, while yoga is not readily classified as religious or secular, it is more accessible to white/Euro-American, upper middle-class people, and yoga's visual culture in the United States represents and reproduces this construction of yoga. The easiest way to explain this phenomenon is to look at yoga pants in popular culture.

What is the ethnicity and ethnicity of most people portrayed wearing yoga pants if you do a short Google search for “yoga pants” and click on “images”? What part of the body is the subject of most of these photos? How many of these photos really feature someone doing yoga? If you see any pictures that are identical or different in terms of race and gender? What are the costliest and least expensive yoga pants, and how much do they cost? Now, just for kicks, look up “male yoga pants” on Google. What are some of the similarities and variations you find in terms of pant styles, body representation, and pricing? When I do this search, I find that most of the photographs are of white, slender women, with an emphasis on the lower half of her body. These trousers are also short and can cost anything from $14 to $120.

Many of the men's trousers, on the other hand, are loose, but the pictures also depict white, very healthy, athletic men, and the price range is close. Lululemon has been the brand most associated with yoga pants in recent years, owing to their appeal and affordability. It does not make men's yoga pants, but it does market men's kung fu pants. Its yoga pants for women range in price from $88 to $118. As women protested about their pricey yoga pants pilling, Chip Wilson, co-founder of Lululemon, said, "Frankly, those women's bodies just don't fit for it." They don't suit the bodies of those ladies. It's all of the rubbing on the elbows, how much friction is applied over time, and how much they need it.”

As a result, a Lululemon client would have not only a lot of discretionary money, but also a thigh gap. Lululemon would not make trousers bigger than a size 12, according to Wilson, since plus-size clothing needs 30% more fabric. “It's a money loser, for sure,” he said, trying to be sympathetic. I understand their situation, but it's difficult.” Women of color have begun to feature in Lululemon's catalogs in recent years, but the visuals and staff in each of the company's shops make it plain that the target buyer is a white, thigh-gap-thin woman who can afford to spend at least $200 on yoga jeans, top, and bra.

Lululemon's ads (aimed solely at slim women) and high costs aren't the only things that make the brand notorious. Some also questioned its success due to alleged unfair labor practices. Lululemon began manufacturing in a nonunion shop in Vancouver, Canada, in 1998, although it has since shifted all its production abroad, mostly to China. “Third-world children should be able to work in factories because it provides them with much-needed wages,” Chip Wilson is quoted as saying at a business conference in Vancouver. Furthermore, he claims that "ninety-five percent of the factories I've seen in the Orient are much stronger than factories in North America."

“Many people in China come from the western provinces, and their ambition is to work seven days a week for 16 hours a day in order to have enough money to go home with and start a company in five years.” “In Canada, for example, 99 percent of our factory workers are Chinese woman sewers,” he said. They would be furious if you worked them eight-hour days. They'll ask, "What are you doing?" if you just work them five days a week for eight hours. I'm not interested in working with you.' If you just work them for so long, they'll leave at 4 p.m., walk across the street to another warehouse, and work for another six hours. This is in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.” Wilson made no mention of salaries, working conditions, unions, or benefits in his speech. Such marketing policies have sparked controversy, and Lululemon has received negative press as a result.

They also pose a threat to the yoga culture, which is known for being socially and politically liberal. The fact that their favorite yoga pants are made by a self-described libertarian whose labor policies may be construed as abusive has opened the door for other brands. Lululemon does not own the yoga pants market—as our Google search revealed, yoga pants can be purchased for $14, making them affordable to a wide range of people, and since they are comfortable, many women of all ages, styles, and sizes choose to wear them. However, this is not without its own collection of issues about women's bodies. Yoga pants are always too tight, and schools are enacting legislation prohibiting them.

In 2014, officials at Devils Lake High School in North Dakota held a girls-only assembly to clarify the current dress code, during which they demonstrated footage from Pretty Woman to highlight how women can be treated differently based on their clothing choices. This is not the case at Devils Lake High School. Yoga pants and leggings were banned at Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in 2015 unless they were protected with skirt or trousers, as the school believed students should dress more professionally; however, the students were not persuaded. Female students have been advised that their casual attire is a distraction to male students and instructors, and they have responded by demonstrating. “Hundreds of students signed a petition, and some marched—one holding a banner that demanded ‘are my jeans dropping your test scores?'” after a middle school in Evanston, Illinois, outlawed leggings and yoga pants.

To oppose the surveillance and sexualization of girls' bodies, several students launched the hashtag #iammorethanadistraction. Given how disputed female bodies have long been, the controversy over yoga pants is unsurprising, but it does highlight how popular yoga and exercise accessories have been in the United States. Yoga can be done in any outfit—I've seen women in saris do asanas (poses) that I could only imagine. Yoga skirts, on the other hand, have been the staple yoga attire for American women in the last fifteen years. It's almost as if the material and sensation of yoga pants psychologically prepares us for yoga practice and healthier health—or maybe only to be relaxed.

However, we struggle with the objectification/sexualization of the female body in American popular culture, as well as the need to keep the body sacred, as well as reminders that it must be healthy, slender, and shapely. This conversation has found a new home in yoga pants. It's not so much a question about who should and shouldn't wear yoga pants as it is about who should and shouldn't do yoga—and how.

Yoga by Christians

Yoga and Christianity have a long history together. Swami Vivekananda and raja yoga came to the United States thanks to the Unitarians, who founded the World Parliament of Religion in 1893.

They held the International Congress of Religious Liberals twenty-seven years later, and it was through that conference that Paramahansa Yogananda and kriya yoga were brought to the United States. Yogananda, following in the footsteps of Swami Vivekananda, refers to Christian scripture and uses Christian imagery in his Autobiography of a Yogi to position kriya yoga as an interdisciplinary activity. Both Vivekananda and Yogananda came to the United States to collect funds for their ventures in India, and they had to make yoga appealing to Christians and their values while being nonthreatening. Pranayama (yogic breathing) is a form of yoga.


Yoga, especially pranayama (yogic breathing), was a complement to Christian activity rather than a replacement.

Yoga practice in the United States began to move away from pranayama and toward asanas (yogic poses/postures) in the 1940s and 1950s, signaling a shift away from pranayama and toward asanas (yogic poses/postures). Yoga began to make its way into American living rooms in the 1950s and 1960s, thanks to books and regular television shows. Yoga was now a pagan discipline because of market forces. Hindu yogis, on the other hand, tended to advocate yoga as a discipline that was "ident with all of the world's great religions." In the summer of 1971, the second annual Yoga Ecumenical Retreat was held at Annhurst, a Catholic Women's College, where nuns, priests, monks, rabbis, and "long haired young people" all came together to practice yoga based on Swami Satchidananda's teachings.

Sister Maria explained, "Deep prayer often entails transcending the body and the senses." “Yoga is a huge support in this regard. It aids in the relaxation of the body and mind, as well as the integration of the entire person.” Sister Rose Margaret Delaney considered yoga to be a practice for prayer rather than prayer itself: “I don't use a mantra. She explained, "I meditate on the Gospel of the day and use Yoga to prepare myself for prayer." Christians are still using their biblical origins to reformulate yoga today. Many Christians participate in yoga courses at gyms or yoga centers, but others are turned off by the overtly Hindu comparisons, meditation, and chanting. Parishioners at Washington, DC's New Community Church sing "Sha-LOM," not "OM" or "AUM."

Many Christian yoga classes, including Sister Rose Margaret Delaney's, repeat Bible verses during those poses to keep their minds on God and Jesus Christ rather than Isvara, the Hindu Lord of Yoga. The Sun Salutation, or Suryanamaskara, is a twelve-step sequence of asanas and pranayamas. “Sun,” S-U-N, is replaced with “Son,” S-O-N, in many Christian yoga courses. As a result, when they do the twelve steps, it is to prove devotion to Jesus rather than Surya. The teaching of Christian yoga is known as "Yogadevotion" at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Minnesota, and while some participants are suspicious, one of the pastors, John Keller, is positive because "it attracts future converts into the church's doors"; "about a quarter of Yogadevotion students are not churchgoers."

This blending in practices does not sit well for everyone. Many Christian yoga critics are troubled by the combination of Christianity and yoga. According to one critic, using yoga to entice people to church is not harmless, but rather "dancing with the devil." A increasing number of books are advising Christians against combining yoga with Christian practice. “Yoga originated in India as part of the paganism practiced there,” writes Dave Hunt in his book Yoga and the Body of Christ, and argues that yoga is one way the West is being invaded.

Laurette Willis, the founder of “PraiseMoves,” a Christian alternative to yoga, which, along with “Fitness to His Witness,” is a trademarked system of exercise for good health, plus the blessing of Jesus, offers perhaps the most innovative and interesting critique of Christian yoga. Willis, a former "New Age" believer who came to faith in 1987, grew up doing yoga with her mum, but says, "From experience, I can tell that yoga is a risky exercise for the Christian and takes seekers away from God rather than to Him." Willis, like Hindu opponents of Christian yoga, claims that yoga and Hinduism are inextricably linked because all "yoga postures are sacrifices to the 330 million Hindu gods."

Christian yoga, on the other hand, is a "oxymoron" for Willis, who defines syncretism as "an effort to combine contradictory belief, religions, or doctrines." Willis also developed the proprietary "PraiseMoves," which is not Christian yoga but a "Christ-centered approach to the discipline of yoga," as an alternative to Christian and Hindu yoga. Willis claims that, while the class appears to be yoga and is structured similarly to many yoga classes in the United States and India, it is not. Since she's "discovered there's not an unlimited amount of ways the human body can move," she admits that some of the PraiseMoves postures mirror yoga postures, and she tells us that these postures were formed by God, and that PraiseMoves is "a way to untwist these advantageous postures back to glorify God."

Willis' trademarked methodology claims to strip yoga of its Hindu jargon, revealing a fundamentally Christian tradition. The irony of this controversy over yoga in popular culture is that when Indian yogis first arrived in America, they courted Christian yogis. Many Christians today do not see yoga as a conflict; they happily practice it in gyms, church basements, retirement homes, and community centers. Yoga refers to a wider audience because it is non-Hindu, universal, and empirical, as well as a discipline that is sure to improve one's fitness.

Christians like Dave Hunt and Laurette Willis, on the other hand, demonstrate that combining religious, spiritual, or international beliefs and traditions can lead to controversy and discomfort in this region. What effect does yoga have on Christianity? Can it strengthen or weaken Christian commitment? Is it causing Christians to become less religious, or is it allowing Christians to dive further into their faith? Not only Christians debate the purity and roots of yoga; Hindus have also followed this line of investigation in unique ways.

"Take back yoga" and the Hindu American Foundation

Although Christians question whether to practice yoga, a Hindu activist organization claims that yoga is expressly Hindu and launched a "Take Back Yoga Campaign" in 2009.

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a Hindu advocacy or lobbying organization, identifies itself as an advocacy group that provides a radical Hindu American voice. The Foundation engages and educates public policymakers, academics, the media, and the public about Hinduism and global problems affecting Hindus, such as religious liberty, misrepresentation of Hinduism, hate speech, hate crimes, and human rights. HAF stands squarely against hate, injustice, slander, and fear by upholding the Hindu and American ideologies of empathy, equality, and pluralism.

In the last decade, HAF has been involved in several scandals. It objected Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus' National Book Award nomination, claiming it was biased and misleading, and it is the first to speak out when a garment manufacturer or designer uses Hindu iconography in "inappropriate" ways. Most prominently, prior to the "Take Back Yoga" movement, HAF filed a lawsuit challenging the methods used to write about Hindu culture and tradition in California social sciences textbooks. The lawsuit was dismissed in court, but the fight over textbook material in California continues, and the HAF has launched #donteraseindia to raise awareness. The "Take Back Yoga" movement is credited with putting HAF on the map of mass culture.

It all began with a blog post on the HAF blog in 2009 called "Let's Take Yoga Back." Sheetal Shah, a young Hindu-American student, laments in this post that the yoga taught in this country lacks the Hindu mark. She is particularly disappointed that Yoga Journal does not promote yoga using the term "Hindu," that there are no Hindus in her yoga courses, and that she was able to find several yoga teachers but none who were clearly Hindu. How do we preserve and encourage yoga's Hindu origins if most yoga studios don't have Hindu students, let alone Hindu yoga instructors, she writes? Our Hindu forefathers recognized the advantages of yoga and spread the word to the rest of the world. The West recognized yoga, fell in love with it, transformed it into a physical and “spiritual” art, removing all metaphysical connotation, and declared themselves experts. While many non-Hindu Americans are enthusiastic about yoga, the majority of Hindu Americans seem to have ignored its value in uniting their mind, body, and spirit, and have given up their understanding and possession of this life-changing activity.

As a Hindu American, I implore you to restore yoga by reclaiming your expertise in its teaching. I strongly advise you to enroll in a beginner's yoga class at a local studio and to invite your girls, siblings, parents, and friends to join you. Many of our nearby Hindu temples offer free yoga classes taught by Hindu teachers, and some of you might even be attending them... bring a friend or family member with you next week. If you practice basic asanas at home, take an advanced yoga class at a studio to take your practice to the next stage.

HAF responded to Shah's call with gusto. Following Shah's blog post, HAF published a position paper on yoga's Hindu roots in 2009: Yoga is an important aspect of Hindu belief and practice, according to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). However, regardless of religious religion, the science of yoga and the enormous rewards it provides are for the good of all mankind. Hinduism is a set of pluralistic doctrines and lifestyles that recognizes the presence of other philosophical and religious practices. As a non-proselytizing religion, Hinduism never forces yoga practitioners to profess allegiance or convert. Yoga is a path to personal enlightenment for those who seek it. In the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog, HAF co-founder and board member Aseem Shukla engaged pop guru Deepak Chopra in a dispute about yoga's ownership beginning in April 2010.


Underneath Shukla's grievances, one senses the indignation of an inventor who found Coca-Cola or Teflon but failed to patent it, wrote Chopra. Isn't that a petty reason for painting such a bleak picture? When most Indians consider the enormous success of yoga in the United States, they may grin at the glitzy facets of the phenomenon, but they believe something positive is happening overall. Shukla frowns in disapproval at the same scene. Shukla retorted that, while Chopra profits financially from Hinduism (which he refers to as Vedic knowledge) and claims to be an Advaita Vedantin, he does not credit the religion in any of his platforms.

This debate drew the attention of many Hindu bloggers, anti-yoga Christian blogs, and non-Hindu yoga blogs, with each viewpoint siding with Shukla or Chopra, depending on whether they preferred or required Hindu yoga. The New York Times and CNN have published articles highlighting the key actors in this movement as the controversy gained national exposure. Although many people have strong feelings on who owns yoga, the HAF has specifically taken measures to frame the discussion. While it claims that everyone can learn yoga and profit from it, it is adamant that the Hindu origins of yoga be recognized.

The questions become, “Is yoga Hindu?” or “To which religion does yoga belong?” when boiled down and distilled, as Internet discussions sometimes are. Scholars can disagree about the Jain or Buddhist legacies of yoga, or even argue that yoga is more European and imperial than Hindu, but in the end, none of this matter in a postcolonial world where religions are divided. Labels have repercussions in mainstream culture, and the increasing popularity of yoga among Hindu South Asian Americans, combined with the fact that it has been turned into a problem by HAF, has given yoga's name, history, and ownership religion, sociopolitical, and economic implications. The bigger question is why "ownership" is still a concern.

We live in a world where trademarks, copyrights, and phantom mortgages enable people to become billionaires. Religion, culture, and even basic fitness are all impacted by inequality and an environment that prioritizes financial stability and dominance above all else. So, it was only a matter of time before yoga became a battleground for names and histories. Aseem Shukla was referred to as a "fundamentalist" by Deepak Chopra.

Non-Hindu yoga instructors who liberally use "OM" in their teaching are often opposed to the HAF movement, and it is easier to label them as fundamentalists and ignore them than to hold an open discussion about the causes, implications, and advantages of colonization, as well as racial exploitation and power contours. To put it another way, I don't believe we should or should dismiss the debate about yoga's location or possession. Rather, I believe it is a good time for us to reconsider our assumptions about Hindus and Hinduism.

White Europeans and Euro-Americans can appropriate aspects of colonized societies and enforce their beliefs on colonized peoples, some of which have come to Europe and the United States, as a result of slavery, patriarchy, and racism. However, when there are little repercussions for this appropriation and subjugation, as groups respond, they react in ways that seem to perpetuate patriarchal ideals of distinction and roots of faith and common culture. Simultaneously, we should consider other Hindu practices that middle-class Hindus in India and the United States have attempted to neglect and abandon.

Tolerance, karma, dharma, and Brahman are listed as core tenets of Hinduism on the HAF website, but Tantra, sacrifice, possession, mosque bombings, female feticide, or dowry burnings are not mentioned. These are just as important to Hinduism as yoga. Since the Protestant British religious borders never made sense in India, yoga, Tantra, and even Hindu worship spaces defy categorization, belonging, and neat histories, it was perhaps unavoidable that they would defy categorization, belonging, and neat histories. HAF, on the other hand, has opted to focus on meditation, demonstrating once again how yoga has become a part of the religious and cultural landscape of the United States.

conclusion The three references presented in this chapter demonstrate that yoga is a contentious topic in modern America, with debates raging about the manufacture of yoga pants, the bodies of women wearing yoga pants, who can/should perform yoga, and the roots and identity of yoga. These debates demonstrate how blurry and sometimes subjective the line between religious and secular is, and how necessary it is to publicly explore this messiness.

Is yoga a religious exercise or a secular one, and how have yoga pants found their way into our daily secular wardrobes?

Also, how does looking at race, gender, and class reveal how yoga has been sold and created exclusively for one category of people in this country?

Why is it necessary to examine the intersections of mainstream culture, female sexualization, and yoga pants to better understand broader conflicts in American popular culture?

Finally, how and when do sects collide? Is this a US-only phenomenon or a worldwide phenomenon? Finally, who owns culture, and how can we draw the distinction between cultural exploitation and appreciation?

Why do you think yoga is so common in America?

What reasons do you believe are influencing its popularity?

In today's America, is yoga a religious or secular activity? When it comes to yoga, is the line between sacred and secular blurry?

What do you make of some Hindus' claim that yoga should not be segregated from its place in Hindu god worship?

What function do gender, race, and class play in the construction and practice of yoga, as well as other aspects of mainstream culture in the United States?

Is yoga practiced in your neighborhood?

Look for yoga-related advertisements or announcements. Is it promoted as a spiritual practice or a form of physical activity? To whom is it marketed?



 1. “New Study Finds More Than 20 Million Yogis in U.S.,”

2. Harry Bradford. “Lululemon’s Founder Blames Yoga Pants Problem on Women’s Bodies,”

3. “Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Resigns from Board,” Financial Times, February 2, 2015,

4. Scott Deveau, “Yoga Mogul Has Critics in a Knot,” The Tyee, February 17, 2015,

5. Lindsay Ellis, “Yoga Pants Too Distracting for Boys? A N.D. School Cracks Down on Girls,” Christian Science Monitor, October 1, 2014, 350

6. Ellis. “Yoga Pants Too Distracting for Boys?”

7. According to Patanjali there are eight limbs of yoga: yama (moral principles), niyama (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (pure contemplation) (Yoga Discipline of Freedom: The Yoga Sutra Attributed to Patanjali, trans. Barbara Stoler Miller [Bantam, 1998], 52). Only two of the eight, breath control and postures, are overtly popular in the practice of modern Hatha yoga (though there are allusions to yama), partially due to the influence of those that brought new exposure to yoga starting in the nineteenth century. Further, it seems that both pranayama and asana were latched onto by modern yoga “exporters,” for they were easiest to translate into a modern ethos—one that focused on health, control, and ecumenism.

8. Edward B. Fiske, “Priests and Nuns Discover Yoga Enhances Grasp of Faith,” New York Times, July 2, 1971, 35, 55.

9. Phuong Ly, “Churches, Synagogues Mingle Yoga with Beliefs,” Washington Post, January 1, 2006, C1.

10. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, “Stretching for Jesus,” Time Magazine, August 29, 2005.

11. Trayce Gano, “Contemplative Emerging Church Deception: Christian Yoga, Innocent Activity or Dancing With the Devil?”http://emerging-church

12. Dave Hunt, Yoga and the Body of Christ: What Position Should Christians Hold? (Bend, OR: Berean Call, 2006), 23.

13. Laurette Willis. “Why a Christian alternative to Yoga?” http://

14. “Hindu American Foundation,” /about.

15. Sheetal Shah, “Let’s Take Yoga Back,” /19969/lets-take-yoga-back

16. “Yoga beyond Asana: Hindu Thought in Practice,”

17. “Shukla and Chopra: The Great Yoga Debate,” OnFaith, April 30, 2010,