Sivananda Ashram, Paradise Island, Bahamas
I am in a fine wine shop where the owner has arranged a display of rare French vintages at amazingly affordable prices. I have never heard of some of the chateaux and some of the names are distinctly un-French. I start making a collection. However, my beautiful companion wants something else. "Ammonite". I hear her whisper the word to the proprietor, who takes her into another room. I am intrigued. This is definitely another kind of spirit.
My sense of intrigue lingered on waking to the sound of the waves outside my room at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas where I am teaching this week.
At home I have an ammonite - the spiral fossil of a mollusc from the time of the dinosaurs - presented to me by a French archaeologist after I dreamed the site of a paleolithic menhir he was able to locate for me.
I did not know until just now that the ammonite is also a most sacred symbol of Vishnu. It is held to resemble the Sudarshana Chakra, the formidable discus weapon in his fourth rear hand. There is also a myth that Vishnu once took the form of an ammonite (shaligram) from the Gandaki river while waiting to release a goddess from a curse of mortality inflicted by the rage of another goddess.
There is no French wine for me at the ashram, but other kinds of spirit seem to be infusing my dreams. I dined last night in the Vishnu House with the outside wall painting you see here. I'm not much of a yoga guy, but I do have a soft spot for blue gods.