This groundbreaking documentary presents Kayakalpa, the ancient system of wellness and longevity. Shot in 16mm film and digital video over a period of five years, Investigating Immortality provides valuable insights into the history of Kaya kalpa, gives us an overview of its healing concepts, footage of actual therapy sessions, interviews with prominent Ayurvedic and Siddha physicians and scholars, vignettes of yogis and Tantric mystics renowned for their longevity and the moving real life experiences of people, some with chronic health conditions who have experienced the transformation of Kaya kalpa.

Churning of the Ocean still

Melissae - Priestesses Of The Sacred Bee

Bees are deeply entrenched in the mythos of many cultures worldwide as a symbol of the Goddess or Divine Feminine. As pollinators they are essential to all life, and as such are faithful servants of the Goddess, exemplified in individual colonies by dedication to their queen.

In European tradition, bees are associated with the goddess Venus because part of their labor is the fertilization of flowers, all of which come under the dominion of Venus or Aphrodite. At the temple of Aphrodite at Eryx, priestesses were called "melissae", which means "bees," and Aphrodite herself was called Melissa, the queen bee.

In modern times the practice of mechanizing the production of honey which reduces bees to a commodity instead of the deeply revered and sacred creatures that they have been since prehistory has produced a drastic and potentially disastrous decline in bee population. This disrespect to the bees, symbol of the Sacred Feminine is emblematic of the disregard of the greater Feminine Principle as embodied by Mother Earth which is directly responsible for the planetary crisis we are experiencing.

Part of a larger effort to raise awareness of the plight of the bees, and to reverse the dangerous trend of bees dying in their multitudes is the rebirth of the Bee Priestess tradition of the Melissae. The present day Melissae Ensemble honor the sacred honey bee with songs and rituals dating back to ancient times in the Bulgarian tradition.

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in and document a unique ceremony honoring the sacred honey bee, and thus the idea of Melissae: Priestesses Of The Sacred Bee was born. The video clip excerpt is from the ceremony held at Open Secret in San Rafael California on February 13th 2009.

Jana Mariposa and Karina( Karen) Guggenheim - Melissae Ensemble Principals

Jana Mariposa and Karina Guggenheim met in a Balkan dance line 35 years ago. An instant recognition between them of the transformative power of this ancient music and dance led their inquiry into its cultural origins. Balkan culture and subsequently Bulgarian culture became their primary focus. Through a series of dreams, they understood that they were being called upon to play two of the most ancient ritual instruments.The Gaida (bagpipe), which Karina plays and tupan (2-headed drum), which Jana plays were traditionally played only by men.

In order to grasp the multi-dimensional aspects of this music and culture, they traveled to Bulgaria. In 1983, Karina traveled to Bulgaria and lived there for 18 months. She graduated from the choreography school in Plovdiv and also studied with the local Gaida masters. Jana came over for several months and studied alongside her. Since that time, they have conducted workshops in California, the northwest, the mid-west, and at various west coast camps including Balkan Music and Dance Camp, Lark in the Morning Camp, Sweet's Mill Art Institute, and at the conference centers of IONS and the Ecological Farming Conference and New College of California in Santa Rosa.

In 2003, Jana traveled to Greece and lived on Naxos Island for 13 months, where she participated in ongoing cultural festivals and rituals, performed with her friend Souzana at local events, and studied dance at the Dora Stratou Theater in Athens. She returned to Greece in 2007 for a 6-week stay, which included participation in the Pagan Apokries/Carnival rituals in Northern Macedonia.In 2005, The Institute of Archeomythology invited Jana and Karina to be guest musicians for a 2-week tour of village rituals in Bulgaria. The tour included visits to Goddess worshiping archaeological sites and museum exhibitions featuring artifacts from these sacred sites.

The Bulgarians were deeply honored by Jana and Karina’s devotion to their culture and by their passion for keeping the old ways alive . It was certainly a mutual honoring.The ancient wisdom encoded in the rituals, festivals, music, and dance is very relevant to our current times and challenges. The communal joy from these activities is necessary for the health of the community, and is conspicuously absent from much of western culture. Through their re-creation of traditional rituals throughout the calendar year, Jana and Karina aspire to reawaken a connection to and reverence for nature, natural cycles, and the World Family.