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Tai Chi | Ancient Art of Being One with Mind, Body and Soul

Tai Chi old art uses light moves that reduce the stress of a demanding lifestyle and improve overall health. Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art based on a series of exercises involving gentle and balanced body movements.

Currently practiced by over 4 million people, Tai Chi enjoys much attention in the scientific literature due to the health benefits it demonstrates regardless of age and physical condition – from young adults to children and the elderly.

Research shows that regular Tai Chi practice can improve a wide variety of medical conditions.

Tai Chi is a practice for both mind and body, with a rather confusing history that has its origins in China 700 years ago.

The legend says Tai Chi was created by Chan Sang-Feng after witnessing the struggle between a crane and a snake, embodying their movements in a fighting style that combines the benefits of both.

For centuries, the art of Tai Chi has been kept secret and transmitted from generation to generation. The progress of the initiates was slow and the masters demanded huge payments or services in return for learning these powerful martial arts.

Tai Chi
To the uninformed, the mere mention of the term “martial arts” evokes images of rigorous fighting and violence. However, in China and other parts of the world, thousands are recognizing the health benefits of a Chinese form of martial arts called Tai Chi.

The wider spread occurred with the invention of firearms, with the martial arts starting to lose ground. The future of martial arts seemed less fortunate, but a big change occurred when they turned out to focus on the benefits to health, inner balance or discipline, and self-control.

Tai Chi is extremely popular in China, where it is massaged daily, often early in the morning in parks and other open spaces. Slow and gentle movements are combined with breathing exercises and a variety of cognitive components, including awareness and visualization.

Since Tai Chi requires very methodical and low impact movements, it is a good practice for the elderly as well as those recovering from illness and accidents.

There are different styles of Tai Chi such as Wu Hao, Sun, and Yang. To perform Tai Chi exercises you must choose one of these forms and learn different types of specific moves and positions.

Tai Chi
Tai Chi: The Art of Transforming Your Body, Mind & Soul

Tai Chi practice has been transmitted to us today through three great traditions:

  1. Chen family style: with combinations of slow and explosive techniques;
  2. The Yang family style, derived from Chen style in the 19th century, with a flowing and uniform rhythm;
  3. The Wu family style, derived from both of these styles, characterized by subtle movements of the wrists.

In addition, there are two less known styles:

Sun, created by Sun Lu-Tang, which combines elements of Hsing i (Xingyi) and Pa Kua (Bagua) with the Tai Chi sequence, and Hao style derived from Chen’s style 19th century, characterized by subtle and complicated circular movements.

There is also the Wudang style created in Hong Kong by a master named Cheng Tinhung, a former Wu school disciple, who did not claim to teach any Tai Chi Chuan style.

Tai Chi offers a number of physical and mental benefits, moderate cardiovascular training, stimulates the immune system, reduces spine degeneration, improves posture, balance, and coordination, reducing the risk of stroke associated with aging.

In addition, any person can practice Tai Chi because it involves some of the mild forms of exercise.

Tai Chi involves the focus of the practitioner to live in the present and to remove the thoughts that might distract him.

In terms of scientifically proven health benefits, there are few practices that equate Tai Chi.

Here are some of these:

  1. Improvements in physical condition, muscle strengthening, better coordination, flexibility and recovery capacity.
  2. Pain and reduced rigidity and increased mobility for those suffering from arthritis
  3. Improving the quality of sleep, mood, and quality of life in general.
  4. Improving the immune system
  5. Reduced risk of falls and fractures, especially in the elderly

TAI CHI CHUAN

Tai Chi Chuan (tàijíquán, t’ai chi ch’üan) is one of the most effective domestic martial arts, practiced both as a defense technique and for beneficial effects on health and longevity.

It is a martial art that has appeared in China for 3-400 years ago. In direct translation, it would mean the Box of Supreme Perfections or the Box of Supreme Harmony; another option is the Taiji Symbol Box.

Has documented for the first time three centuries ago as a martial art praised in the Chen family, a family of small noblemen in the village of Chenjiagou, Henan Province, the first style of Tai Chi being Chen style.

Chen Tai Chi Push Hands
Chen Tai Chi Push Hands

Yang Lu Chan learns the Chen style of the Chen family and then goes on to Tai Chi martial art in Beijing, where he will also teach Imperial Guards, being Tai Chi’s only master of martial arts instructor at the Imperial Guard enlist only the best fighters in China). But it will not teach Chen style, but its own style, including elements from other martial arts schools, thus fondling the Yang style.

From the Yang style, the two Wu styles are then born, and then Sun Lu Tang will combine Xing Yi with Tai chi chuan, setting up the Sun style.

These are the 5 bigger Tai Chi styles in the order of appearance: Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu, Sun. In order of spreading or popularity, the most practiced is Yang, then Chen, Wu, Wu, and Sun. Besides these 5 styles, there are many smaller styles, as well as several sub-styles or schools in the same style.

Presently Tai Chi Chuan has spread throughout the world, and the variety of forms of practice differs according to the goal: increasing the natural force, creating a superior state of relaxation and intuitive response to the outside world, acquiring combat skills and bringing the practitioner in a superior state of focus, discipline, balance and harmony with the Universe.

Tai Chi | Beautiful Art Of Mind, Body and Soul
Tai Chi | Beautiful Art Of Mind, Body and Soul

The benefits of Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan) practice are manifested both physically and psychologically. There is virtually no being structure that is not influenced by Tai Chi Chuan practice.

The results are manifested primarily at the physical level. The body becomes harmonious, well proportioned. It also regulates the activity of internal organs and in particular hormonal secretions.

The balanced combination of the two states – concentration and relaxation, during the Tai Chi Chuan exercise, benefit fully from the central nervous system. Thus, exercising the mind and body at the same time stimulates the cerebral cortex by excitement of certain regions and the protective inhibition of other regions.

This allows the brain to “rest” and frees the cerebral cortex from the ongoing, pathological excitation, which is the cause of certain nerve diseases. This explains why Tai Chi Chuan contributes to the amelioration and even healing of nerve and mental illnesses.

Stretching, spiraling, rhythmic relaxation of the muscles ensures correct blood circulation in all muscle groups, joints and internal organs

Another effect of practicing Tai Chi Chuan is the normalization of cholesterol levels in the blood and, implicitly, blood pressure and the decrease in incidence of arteriosclerosis.

Movement T'ai Chi Ch'uan Form (Yang 24 Taijiquan)
Movement T’ai Chi Ch’uan Form (Yang 24 Taijiquan)

Breathing from the practice of Tai Chi Chuan is natural, abdominal, coordinated with movements, becoming prolonged, slow, deep, continuous and relaxed.

This type of breathing involves the use of diaphragm muscle and abdominal muscles, favoring the most efficient use of the lungs as well as increasing lung capacity.

The use of the lungs to their full capacity benefits pulmonary ventilation and, of course, the metabolism of oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange.

In addition, the increase in lung capacity increases the elasticity of the lung tissue as well as all the muscles involved in breathing, the strengthening and enlargement of the chest, thus preventing the occurrence of a disease associated with aging, such as stiffening and ossification of the chest.

One of the main factors involved in improving the cardiovascular system is deep abdominal breathing during exercise.

The tai chi long form takes physical and mental dexterity to learn and practice.
The tai chi long form takes physical and mental dexterity to learn and practice.

Tai Chi Chuan practice also works in strengthening the immune system. It has been noticed that in general, Tai Chi Chuan practitioners suffer in a much lower proportion of colds, flu and autoimmune diseases.

The correct practice of Tai Chi Chuan allows the elimination of both physical (muscular) tensions and psycho-emotional tensions. Physical suits gained through daily exercise are reflected on the psychic level.

Tai Chi Chuan harmoniously combines the Qigong movement, being considered a dynamic form of Qigong. The strong structure of the necessary body is gained through practices such as the Iron Shirt.

The balance that allows the practitioner to master his emotions during practice (as in a struggle) is acquired through Taoist meditations such as the inner Suras and The 6 Healing Sounds, and the flexibility required for the free execution of movements is achieved through the exercises of Tao Yin.

Taijiquan is a martial art from the family of internal fighting styles (Nei Jia Quan) originating in China.

The name comes from the principle of Tai Ji (the great harmony between Yin and Yang).

The well-known symbol of the dance between Yin and Yang is called the “Taiji symbol”. Therefore, Tai Ji Quan means “the box of great harmony” or “the box of supreme perfection”.

The correct pronunciation differs according to the Chinese dialect in which it is pronounced, namely “tai ji ciuen”, “tai dji” or “tai ti”, but in any case not “tai.” Being an internal style means that it uses energy and relaxation, not physical strength.

This style of fighting appeared within the Chen family. The most popular styles are Yang and Chen.

Yang style was developed by Yang Lu Chan, who learned the art of working for the Chen family but could not become the official follower of the tradition and had to create his own style.

He was also invited to surrender to the Chinese Imperial Court, a testament to his combat effectiveness.

In most schools in the world, Taiji or Tai Chi means a health exercise where the practitioner uses the movement, breathing and vertical position of the column to energize it and make the energy flow better through the body.

Also, for many practitioners, Taiji practice means only a series of slow movements performed by yourself.

For those who still know the old Tai Chi style as martial art, the sequence of movements is not learned from the beginning, it is just a way to train yourself when you are alone. Taijiquan as martial art means:

  1. basic techniques on the spot;
  2. displacements;
  3. more complex techniques and special blows (such as a shoulder blow);
  4. Ground floor applications – each movement has at least 5 or 6 applications in combat;
  5. Tui Shou or pushing your hands – also different as execution what is done in health styles or competition;
  6. the 108 sequence called Taolu;
  7. a breathing technique that I do not know yet;
  8. energy emission techniques that have been demonstrated to me and felt on my own skin, but I have not had the opportunity to teach them.

The Wu Family Style

Wu Tao Kung Fu style was created by Master Hoang Nam in 1962 and represents a synthesis of various martial arts styles he had studied. Following the tradition of the Masters, they do not teach this style to their most advanced and worthy students.

Master Hoang Nam has started practicing martial arts since the age of six.

Hoang Nam was born in Vietnam in a simple people’s family. Uncle Hoang Minh was a Sino-Vietnamese boxing master, and he was the one who initiated the little Nam in the martial arts at the age of six.

A few years later, an early vocation is to beat at the gate of Grand Master Wong Tse who teaches Shaolin Quan in one of the most prestigious schools in the country.

Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan
Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan

Transformed, the young boy does not give up and, for 3 years, returns regularly to the Grand Master. In the end, the latter succumbs to such a tenacity, and decides to submit him to a sample requiring him to sit for 2 hours a day for 6 months, the rest of the day devoted to household chores.

 Despite his small stature even after the local criteria, Hoang Nam will be worthy of the reputation of Master Wong Tse’s school until 5 years later he will be allowed to descend from the mountain, the last test that will make him face the best disciples.

 At 19, Hoang Nam is knowledgeable, recommended by his master, he is studying under the guidance of other classmates such as Phoe Yang of TaijiQuan or Truong Thanh who conveys Vo-Co Truyen, the traditional Vo.

But in 1945 he will know the discipline that will make him known for the first time in Europe – karate. For his war in the country, Japanese officials occupied his family home. He begins to train in martial arts of “war” – karate, kendo, aikido, iaido and bo-jutsu.

They will initiate it in the discipline that marks the aggressive ideology of the conquerors, who were looking for nothing but efficacy. This context of war will leave some traces in the Wutao style.

At the end of the war he attended the first martial arts competitions and has notable results in 1948 at the Saigon Martial Arts Championship. Unfortunately, a new dark conflict ravages Vietnam, shakes society and destroys families.

At the insistence of his neighbors he leaves the country and chooses France as the country of refuge. He arrived in Paris in 1950, where the only known style was Judo.

He will teach in 1953 to a circle of close friends Kungfu TiêuLâm, under the name of “Full Physical Practice.”

Qi Gong et TaiJi Quan
Qi Gong et TaiJi Quan

Not long ago, in 1957, he was part of the technical committee of the “Karate and Free Boxing Federation”, which he presides over with another pioneer, Judo expert, Me Henry Plée.

In the same year, she opens the first official school, which is part of the first generation of European Karate. Along with Karate, Master Hoang Nam also shares his other knowledge: Aikido, Kendo, Iaido and Taiji Quan.

Tai Chi has been described as a “moving meditation” – thanks to a vast literature illustrating its all-encompassing benefits, many now call this practice a “moving medicine.”

Tai Chi can be taught at home or on the Internet, but attending a course with an experienced instructor guarantees you a correct and safe exercise.

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Spirituality

An End of Life Caregiver Has a Message About Death that You Need to Hear Right Now

Speaking from his experiences working in an ER and witnessing death first hand, then going on to work in end of life care with Hospice, Zach Bush MD, shares a few powerful observations about the way we look at death and life.

As a guest on the Rich Roll Podcast, Bush spent considerable time talking about the impending ecological crisis the human race is facing, and how our current course of action will almost certainly lead to the death of our species and of life on earth, he helps us to reframe our concept of death.

“We have the belief, I think in our subconscious, because of the movies we watch, because of the TV shows we watch, because of our big divorce from the death process, it’s become sterilized. You have probably not seen many people die. You have probably not seen your loved ones die. They’ve probably died in operating rooms, or ICU’s… and so very few human beings are now watching this process of death, and its allowed death to be defined as an endpoint. As a contraction, or a disappearance, rather than what I’ve actually seen it to be.” ~Zach Bush, MD

He goes on to point out examples of people have biologically died but have been brought back to life. These are the people who’ve experienced what we’ve come to call near death experiences, a remarkable phenomenon in which people from all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and so on, all share a very common experience.

“And what I’ve seen it to be is a massive expansion, of consciousness, of reality, of awareness, and ultimately of love.” ~Zach Bush, MD

As an ICU doctor, Bush was a firsthand witness to resuscitation of many patients, and he expresses his awe with the fact that the most common thing a patient would first say after being brought back to life was, ‘why did you bring me back?’

“In the hours that follow, they are telling their loved ones, ‘I went into this space, and it was bright white light everywhere, and in that moment I felt completely accepted for the first time in my life.” ~Zach Bush, MD

Now, this is the part you really need to hear right now and share with others:

“I think we’re all walking around right now lonely as hell. And our opportunity to rebirth, because death is not an endpoint, is a transformation moment. It’s an expansion beyond limits of this frail, biological shell that we carry around. And the instant that we step outside of that, we find out that the universe embraces us in every single second of our existence, in complete acceptance of who we are. We are enough, in and of our own identity of ‘I am,’  at every second of every point of our existence.” ~Zach Bush, MD

He goes on to ask a very big question about our existence, that is, what if we need a death moment in order to evolve into who we are really supposed to be?

Watch the short clip for yourself, here, and please share with friends, family, and loved ones.

About the Author

Vic Bishop is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. He is an observer of people, animals, nature, and he loves to ponder the connection and relationship between them all. A believer in always striving to becoming self-sufficient and free from the matrix, please track him down on Facebook.

This article (An End of Life Caregiver Has a Message About Death  that You Need to Hear Right Now) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Vic Bishop and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio and internal links. 

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Spirituality

10 Quotes from Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha That Will Truly Inspire You

Christina Sarich, Staff Writer
Waking Times

Hermann Hesse’s timeless book, Siddhartha, should be required reading for any spiritual seeker. The book is about Siddhartha’s journey as a respected son of a Brahmin. Everyone expects that he will follow in his father’s footsteps. He enjoys an idyllic life and follows the tenets of his religion expecting that they will bring him peace and happiness. He feels the pangs of discontent though, and observes that his father and elders have not yet reached enlightenment, even though they too have followed the instructions of their religion. When starving and naked ascetics cross Siddhartha’s path one day, his journey truly begins. On this endeavor, he comes to a river that teaches him many life lessons.

If you haven’t had a chance to be profoundly awakened by this book yet, here are ten quotes from it that will move you to question your own environment, religion, culture, and relationships, to possibly find something more.

“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.” 

We so often misunderstand the difference between wisdom and knowledge in this world. Wisdom is timeless. It can only be arrived at with discernment and the development of our consciousness to a level that understands paradox and true freedom.

Knowledge simply binds us to erroneous, concrete beliefs, making it nearly impossible to understand the truth of the Universe. Wisdom, however, discloses Truth in ways that cannot even be explained with a thousand books, a million teachings from religious figures, or a hundred million facts memorized and assimilated. Wisdom is so pure, that even language corrupts it.

“When someone seeks, then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.” 

There are numerous literary and mythical examples of the seeker. Joseph Campbell describes the seeker in the quintessential quest for the Holy Grail – a representation of some outer prize that can be obtained with enough valor or sacrifice, but what we truly seek can be found only within our own hearts. When we seek an outside goal, this is an indication that our own hearts long to be understood. Striving for something outside ourselves causes us to forever remain a seeker.

“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.” 

All people, places and circumstances in life are fodder for spiritual advancement. Tears are a spiritual release. Hearing a song on the radio that reminds us of someone is a clue from the Universe to send that person love and compassion. Seeing someone else go through something horrible and thinking, “that could have been me,” is a reminder to be thankful.

Getting stuck at a red light is a reminder to breathe deeper. An argument is a gentle tug from the Universe to look inside yourself. Everything that we experience can help us grow. It isn’t just the positive, airy fairy things that help us grow.

When we do a life review, the times we acted with courage and faced our pain, fear, and sadness will be the moments when we smile the biggest.

“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.” 

This point is described in great detail by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan in their discussion of spiral dynamics. The way they visualize change is in a spiral. Though we may circle around to the same challenges, each time we do, we are higher up on the spiral, hopefully with a higher level of consciousness with which to approach the problem.

Beck explained that if we try to impose our ‘solutions’ too far ahead of the curve the result can be rebellion rather than transformation. Because of this, the authors use the term “more complex” instead of “better” or “higher” to describe humanity’s stages of evolutionary development. Even if we haven’t quit reached the apex of what we can visualize, we have already taken many steps to make a better world a reality.

“So she thoroughly taught him that one cannot take pleasure without giving pleasure, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every last bit of the body has its secret, which brings happiness to the person who knows how to wake it. She taught him that after a celebration of love the lovers should not part without admiring each other, without being conquered or having conquered, so that neither is bleak or glutted or has the bad feeling of being used or misused.” 

Sex is so often a mindless exchange between people these days. It is not an act to be engaged in so recklessly, though. When we share each other’s bodies, subtle energies are exchanged between us. The cultivation of these energies can even be used to achieve higher states of consciousness. When we act as though our bodies are just sacks of flesh, instead of the physical manifestation of energy, then we are missing the point of sensuality.

“It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect.” 

One of my own spiritual teachers once said to me, you only have to learn to love. That is your only lesson while you are here. Even when we think we are loving, there are usually ways that we are not acting, thinking, and feeling from a loving place. This includes how we think and treat ourselves, not just other people.

“My real self wanders elsewhere, far away, wanders on and on invisibly and has nothing to do with my life.” 

Whatever you define yourself as in this life – a father, a mother, a daughter, a son, a husband, a friend, a lover, a worker, etc. – these are only labels. They don’t not encase your infinite soul. You have been all these things and more in many lifetimes, and in many more places than where you are now.

“Opinions mean nothing; they may be beautiful or ugly, clever or foolish, anyone can embrace or reject them.” 

You know that other saying about opinions and asses. Enough said.

“One can beg, buy, be presented with and find love in the streets, but it can never be stolen.” 

With everything that has been taken from us by an evil, destructive, psychotic, corrupt cabal, isn’t wonderful to know that love cannot be traded like a stock or destroyed like gold, faked like paper money, or made to be more, or less valuable at the whims of a few elite. Love is eternal, indestructible, and pure. It is our greatest treasure.

“I shall no longer be instructed by the Yoga Veda or the Aharva Veda, or the ascetics, or any other doctrine whatsoever. I shall learn from myself, be a pupil of myself; I shall get to know myself, the mystery of Siddhartha.” He looked around as if he were seeing the world for the first time.” 

 Every single major religion on this planet has been corrupted. This doesn’t mean that religion has nothing left to teach us. It also doesn’t mean you need to believe in God or be an atheist to arrive at true wisdom, but as long as you are looking to an institution or a person to bring you enlightenment, you’ll miss it.

About the Author

Christina Sarich is a staff writer for Waking Times. She is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet, and her insights also appear in magazines as diverse as Weston A. PriceNexusAtlantis Rising, and the Cuyamungue Institute, among others. She was recently a featured author in the Journal, “Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and Healing Arts,” and her commentary on healing, ascension, and human potential inform a large body of the alternative news lexicon. She has been invited to appear on numerous radio shows, including Health Conspiracy Radio, Dr. Gregory Smith’s Show, and dozens more. The second edition of her book, Pharma Sutra, will be released soon.

This article (10 Quotes from Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha That Will Truly Inspire You) was originally published at The Mind Unleashed and is re-posted here with permission.

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Holy Relics: Miraculous Powers Of Icons

Orthodox Christianity provides the faithful with many sacred objects of worship, especially icons – artistic depiction of holy figures. It is commonly believed these holy relics possess spiritual powers to perform miracles and protect individuals and even whole country from possible danger.

What is holy icon?

An icon (from Greek “image”) is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, where the most common subjects include Christ, Mary, saints and angels. In Orthodox Christianity the icons provide inspiration and connect the worshipper with the spiritual world, sometimes they are called “windows into heaven.”

These objects are important for believers because they depict patron saints, people who are chosen as special protectors or guardians over all areas of life. Traditionally people see them as symbols of how to live a better life. Most of Orthodox Christians understand that they are merely expressing honour and respect for the people and events depicted, and not for the icons themselves.

Since the time of Byzantine Empire the icons had become a major part of worship and devotion among the Orthodox Christianity followers. The walls of churches were covered inside from floor to roof with icons, scenes from the Bible, allegorical groups. Icons were taken on journeys as a protection, they marched at the head of armies, they hung in a place of honour in almost every house etc.

More reverence has been always paid to icons believed to have miraculous origins.

‘Our Lady of Vladimir’

Holy Relics: Miraculous Powers Of Icons

Our Lady of Vladimir

Our Lady of Vladimir is one of the most venerated Orthodox icons. Regarded as the holy protectress of Russia, the icon is displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Patriarch Luke Chrysoberges of Constantinople sent the newly-painted icon as a gift to Grand Duke Yury Dolgoruky of Kiev about 1131. The beautiful image was coveted by Yury’s son Andrei the Pious who brought it to his favourite city Vladimir in 1155. When the horses that transported the icon stopped near Vladimir and refused to go further, this was interpreted as a sign that the Blessed Virgin wants to stay in Vladimir. To house the icon, the great Assumption cathedral was built there, followed by other churches dedicated to the Virgin throughout northwestern Russia.

In 1395, during Tamerlane’s invasion, the image was taken from Vladimir to the new capital, Moscow. The spot where people and the ruling prince met the icon is commemorated with the Sretensky monastery. Vasili I of Moscow spent a night crying over the icon, and Tamerlane‘s armies retreated the same day. The Muscovites refused to return it back to Vladimir and placed it in the Assumption cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. The image was also credited with saving Moscow from Tatar hordes in 1451 and 1480.

One of the most exquisite icons ever painted, Our Lady of Vladimir is imbued with universal feelings of motherly love and anxiety for her child. By the 16th century the Vladimirskaya (as the Russians call it) was a thing of legend. It was even rumoured that the icon was painted by St Luke on the Lord’s table of the Last Supper. The venerated image was used in coronations of tsars, elections of patriarchs, and other important ceremonies of state.

But its most important service was yet to come. In December 1941, as the Germans approached Moscow, Stalin order that the icon be taken from a museum and placed in an airplane and that it be carried around the besieged capital. Several days later the German army started to retreat.

‘Our Lady of Kazan’

Holy Relics: Miraculous Powers Of Icons

Our Lady of Kazan

This miraculous icon of the Mother of God appeared after the fire in Kazan in the 16th century in a rather mysterious way. Theotokos appeared to a nine-year-old girl Matrona in a dream and told her to find her icon on the ashes. This dream was repeated again and again, until the girl decided to go with her mother in search of the icon. And indeed, the icon was found there.

This image of the Mother of God is the most revered and beloved, and considered the ‘Great Intercessor of Russia.’ The icon more than once helped the Russian people in the most difficult times. Its appearance symbolizes victory over the Time of Troubles. Russians thank it for the disposal of Moscow from the invasion of the Poles. Before the Battle of Poltava, Peter the Great with his army prayed to the image of the Kazan Mother of God. The icon was the main patron of the Romanov dynasty. During the Great Patriotic War, this icon was the spiritual driver of the Russian people.

Beginning with Baptism, all the most significant events in life of a Russian Orthodox take place with this icon. It gives a blessing for marriage, helps in work and in everyday problems. Feast days of ‘Our Lady of Kazan’ are 21 July and 4 November.

The Pochaev Mother of God

Holy Relics: Miraculous Powers Of Icons

The Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God

Pochaev mountain is in the west of Kyvian Rus, now in modern-day Ukraine, and it is there in the 14th century, that an appearance of the Mother of God with her Saviour was granted to two monks and a nearby shepherd. After the vision, a single footprint remained in the mountainside, from which a spring emerged. The previously uninhabited mountain became the site of a monastery dedicated to the miracle. Over 200 years later, the monastery was visited by the a Greek Bishop, Neophit, who left behind as a gift, an Icon of the Theotokos from Constantinople. This is the Icon which came to bear the monastery’s name: the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God.

It is believed this icon saved the town from Turkish army’ attack in 1675. After people start praying a vision of the Mother of God appeared in the sky along with an army of angels, swords unsheathed. At this appearance, the defenders were over-joyed, whilst the besieging Turks were terrified. In panic, the Turks fired arrows into the sky at the image but the arrows simply fell back to earth upon the attackers.The Turks turned to flee, and the monastery was saved. The Pochaev Icon produced many other miracles over the years, and is still known as a wonder-working image to this day.

Our Lady of Smolensk

Holy Relics: Miraculous Powers Of Icons

  Our Lady of Smolensk

Another important icon in Russian Orthodoxy is Our Lady of Smolensk. With the population of 200,000 inhabitants, Smolensk was probably the largest city in the 15th-century Lithuania. Three Smolensk regiments proved decisive during the Battle of Grunwald against the Teutonic knights. It was a severe blow when the city was recaptured by Vasili III of Russia in 1514. To commemorate this event, the tsar founded the Novodevichi convent in Moscow and dedicated it to the holy icon of Our Lady of Smolensk.

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