Cauldrons of Poesy, Inspiration, and the Self

The beginning of all experience is the body/self …
My experience is that the body and the human mind/spirit are the primary vehicles through which awareness is expanded and manipulated.  Gods,Entities, Spirits, Ancestors, or whatever you wish to call external archetypes/thought forms can help – but all of the tools necessary to develop ourselves internally and externally are part of the human experience.  Beyond religious dogma and mythology we have the inherent ability to extend our perception and exacerbate our own spiritual evolution.
In the spirit of that idea another personal meditative practice of mine incorporates the Cauldrons of Poesy.   The Cauldrons of Poesy hypothesis comes from the 7th century, probably earlier but that’s when it was written down; it’s a Celtic idea revealing that each person has three Cauldrons/Wells of inspiration that exist within.  These Cauldrons turn and overturn, fill-up and empty depending on the persons disposition and life challenges.  I would recommend reading the poem which documents their function, but to understand or practice this meditation it isn’t necessary.
The Practice
The goal with this meditation is to turn the Cauldrons upright.  The intent is to fill the Cauldrons one by one with light or with the water of inspiration and have them feed and flow into one another.   When this is accomplished you will feel an intense energetic fire originating from the internal location of the Cauldron.  This idea plays well with my Runic and Odian practices as Odin is the master of Inspiration and the Runes are a system through which Inspired wisdom is gained, Wells/vessels/cauldrons also play a large and important role in Norse cosmology.  The lore of Odroerir, poetic excitation and deep occult wisdom gained from Kvasir also come to mind.  The CoP idea is also, obviously, derived from Celtic sources and therefore, perhaps, historically may have been utilized by the Paleo-Pagan Celts, or at least understood in some fashion and sits well with the spirit of Druid Revivalism.
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The first Cauldron is the Cauldron of Warming (incubation) and is located in the area of the belly.  This Cauldron is fundamental to Health and Body Constitution, and in a healthy person is upright, in the sick it is turned and unable to refill or hold its contents properly.
The second Cauldron is the Cauldron of Motion (Doing or Vocation) and is located in the chest.  This Cauldron is said to be turned on its side in most people, but fills and moves upright as artistic mastery or creativity is achieved or sought.
The third Cauldron is the Cauldron of Wisdom and is located in the head.  This Cauldron is upside down in everyone, but turns as one learns and develops ones reasoning and gains knowledge. I understand this Cauldron as being filled when a person uses knowledge patiently, applying wisdom and experience gained from life lessons, wisdom that usually comes via introspection, reading, studying, or the challenges of personal development.
Being that I work within a Runic paradigm I associate Runes with each of the Cauldrons.  Laguz is associated with the Cauldron of Warming, Eiwhaz with Motion and Raidho with Warming.  Why do I associate these Runes with the Cauldrons?  These three represent the three worlds for me; Underworld, Midworld, and Upper World.  You could certainly associate Ogham or even Tarot symbolism with the Cauldrons, or simply use the cauldrons on their own.  I merely use Runes because they hold the lessons of the Cauldrons within them nicely, they are not meant to supersede the Cauldrons power but only to summarize it.  I visualize the Cauldron as either bearing the Rune on it’s side or reflecting the Rune in its waters or light once it’s filled.
The Meditation
+ Get into your usual mediation posture, whatever that may be.  Achieve a state of calm and relaxed breathing.  Your breathing should be seen as coming up from your feet or originating in the belly, filling the belly first then the lungs.  The out breath exits as normal through the head.
+ As you breath become aware that with each breath your groin relaxes, the lower muscles of the abdomen also relax the more you breath and you come to realize that the earth supports you.  You no longer need to hold your tension in this area, but you are allowed to relax it and the belly region. As you breath through the following steps the earth will supply some of the energy to fill the Cauldrons, but not all, you should utilize the earth to kickstart the process but not sustain it.
+ The Cauldron of Warming > You will begin to visualize the Cauldron in the belly, seeing it as upright but empty.  The more you relax the belly and abdomen region it will begin to fill with Light or with Inspiration, with each breath the volume increases.  This may be a slow process, but as you fill it and your breath becomes more pronounced in the belly region, you will begin to feel the Fires of Being ignite and intensify in the region.
+ Once the Cauldron of Warming is filled the light will spill over and up into the middle of the chest where you will begin to visualize the existence of the next Cauldron.
+ The Cauldron of Motion > You will begin to visualize the Cauldron in the chest. Your breathing now should begin in the belly and rise smoothly into the chest and out with very little effort.  As you breath you are still fueling the Cauldron of Warming, but now that it is full the Light/Inspiration spills upward to fill the Cauldron of Motion.  As the Cauldron of Motion becomes more concrete you should feel the Light or essence of Inspiration begin to coalesce within the vessel.  As with the Cauldron of Warming it should flower with radiance and the Fire of Being and be physically felt. Take your time filling it don’t rush, allow your breath to enliven the area with energy and life.  Stay at this step as long as it takes to feel the Cauldron come to life, or just to enjoy the energy.
+ The Cauldron of Wisdom > Begin to visualize the Cauldron in the head.  Your breathing should now be a steady stream, a rythm that should be steady and calm.  We still breath into the belly fueling the Cauldron of Warming, which spills upward into the Cauldron of Motion, and now overspills into Cauldron of Wisdom.  As it spills upward the Cauldron in our head takes shape and the energy begins to fill it as well.  Again, don’t rush allow the energy to spill from one Cauldron to the next, and enjoy the effervescent feeling that comes from sitting, breathing, and living.
+ Once you have enjoyed the cycle of filling the cauldrons and the Cauldron of Wisdom is filled the overspill will exit out the top of the head.  With each out breath the life essence/Inspiration will flow out of the head like a fountain of light.  You can either see it as showering over the body and covering the body with light and energy, or it can spill up into the cosmos marrying earth and sky which each breath.
+ Ending the meditation begins by no longer filling the Cauldrons.  No longer are you pulling energy from the earth or from your base, the Cauldrons are full and they no longer feed each other.  Stop the flow of energy from the head and see the energy as being retained internally.  I’d recommend to touch your forehead to the ground to actively ground the self and cutoff the expelling of energy, this is a very effective way to eliminate energy drain and keep your power/energy/Life essence internalized.
+ Take a few breaths once you open your eyes and think upon what you accomplished.  The Cauldrons should be remembered as being upright and filled with your Life essence/Inspiration.

Awen, Odin, and the Ravens

In John Michael Greer’s The Celtic Golden Dawn, a simple ritual is presented utilizing the Awen as a replacement for the Cabbalistic Cross section of the LBRP.  The version presented in the book (page 31) is an inspired bit of Celtified occult wisdom that replaces the Golden Dawn/Hermetic ritual with Celtic names and phrases.  Even though I enjoyed Greer’s Celtic Golden Dawn creation I found it far too heavily inspired by the Hebrew Cabbala for my taste and stopped after working my way through the Ovate Grade.

However, being the Druish sort of fellow I am I still use the Awen attunement/empowerment ritual with a slight twist.  By substituting the Celtic words and phrases for more Odian ones I can marry my Runic religious work with my Druish eco-occult philosophy.

My Awen empowerment rite

Keep in mind that Greer’s Awen or ‘Rite of the Rays’ version of the Cabbalastic Cross is identical in spirit to the Golden Dawn version; the occultist is trying to empower herself and attune to the powers within and without. This practice can be done as a daily empowering yogic performance or as a beginning and/or end to ritual or meditation.

Stand facing North (or East).  Achieve a state of calm and begin to imagine yourself as large and towering into the sky.  Raise hands above your head and reach for the glowing essence of the sky.

  1.  Bring hands down to the crown of your head bringing between them the cosmic  power of the sun and sky, moon and stars.  Vocalize “Muninn” as the light falls into the crown of your head.
  2.  Bring hands down before your forehead, the light follows your movement filling your head, thumbs barely touch the skin. Vocalize “Lyke” as the light cascades down to your feet and into the ground.
  3. Extend your right arm down and slightly diagonal away from the body.  Vocalize “Odhr” as the light in your head flows down to your hand and beyond.
  4. Extend your left arm down and diagonal away from the body. Vocalize “Ond” as the light in your head flows down to your hand and beyond.
  5. Bring your arms up to cross your chest.  Vocalize “Huginn” as you marry the cosmic power within your arms and body igniting the internal self in radiance.
  6. Sweep the hands back down diagonally and end by Vocalizing “Awen” once, twice, or three times.
  7. Take some time to digest what you’ve done and experienced.  Three breaths usually is enough to end this practice with respect for yourself and the energies.

What does it mean? This practice brings you in touch with several Odian views and energies.

Muninn means Memory and is one of Odin’s ravens. To the Runester Muninn is a matrix of lore and mystery, ancient wisdom that bubbles with Rune knowledge.  Even though in this practice the wisdom is coming from above it should be perceived as coming from the multiverse and therefore all around us from all points of perception.

Lyke (Lik) is the body, the sacred vessel of existence, sometimes associated with a Ve or a sacred area.  This is one of the gifts given to man by Odin in his tripartite form as Vili-Ve-Odin or Lodhur- Hoenir – Odin.  Ve (Lodhur) gifted the physical body to man to understand and interact with the worlds.

Odhr is thought to be the force of inspiration, the fury of being.  This was given by Vili (Hoenir) to man and is the root of the name Odin.  Odin is the god of furious wisdom and inspiration – we too were given that power.

Ond is the divine spark of life the breath of existence.  This was given by Odin to man.

Huginn means mind (will) and is Odin’s other raven.  Very simply Huginn is the will of the occultist.  Muninn comes from above moving downward, Huginn comes from below and within moving upward.

This act is a powerful realization that the Runester embodies the nature of Odin and is not a subservient recipient of these life gifts but is instead a powerful ally and partner in the unfolding of the multiverse.  The Runester is not a worshiper of Odin per-say but through acts such as this is seeking to walk the same roads as Odin and establish her own Will by winning Rune wisdom.

If one wishes to take this Awen/Odian empowerment further the occultist can imbue the practice mentally with Runes as well.  The Lyke stage can be likened to the Aett of Fehu (Fehu-Wunjo); the Odhr stage to the Hagal Aett (Hagal-Sowilo); the Ond stage to the Tyr Aett (Tyr-Odal).  I see the Runes extending within my body into the respective area of attention > The body, the right arm, the left arm from top to bottom.

This form of body attunement can offer much in the way of meditation and ongoing speculation.  Try it for a few days and see how you like it.

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A scribble of the Odian Awen

Druish and those Druids

I’ve been doing tons of soul searching these days about this Druish (Druid) thing –   Is it important to have in my life? And why? And what does that mean?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is important in my life and not in the way that it has been previously.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that for me Druidry is not a Religion in and of itself, at least not to someone like myself who practices a very Heathen/Norse Religion.  For me Druid/Druish goes beyond any kind of specific tenet or dogma or even mythology.  It carries with it a history of Nature, Truth, and Mysticism that has a definition hundreds of years long through many varied changes, organizations, and minds.  It’s difficult to say for me that any particular era in that long history is any more relevant than another…

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I’ve been trying on the operations and rituals of a few different Druid groups. Most have very Wiccan-esque, Golden Dawn inspired aspects that just don’t sit well with me.  I mainly stick with a Fire, Well, Tree composition as the basis for much of my religious work, which stems from studies of Indo-european mytho constructs.  I’m just not well suited to a Hermetically inspired religious framework I’m finding, so most of the revival era Druidisms are not cutting it.  More than anything I’m personally finding that Druidry is not a central focus of my practice but an addition.  My practice is not going to change drastically and if you’ve read my Morning Devotional posts you’re more or less familiar with it.  I am very happy with my Religious practice as it is and I’m not going to pepper it with components that don’t jive with it such as directional honorings or elemental correspondences or cabalistic craziness.  I’m still working on a personal definition of Druid –  but Nature, Truth, Mysticism (a definition that sat well with me some 10-15years ago) pretty much sums it up,  though one of Peace, Knowledge, and Power sounds good too. Those definitions don’t contain a ‘this is how Druids do ritual’ or this is what they believe slogan, it merely holds a philosophical outlook.

So where does that leave me.  I think it leaves me with RDNA, or it’s like; A non-hierarchical, non-dogmatic, and a very non-specific form of Druishishness that is not Revival based, but is Reformed and open.  The one thing I didn’t like about ADF is that it calls itself a Religion ” ADF will be a Neopagan religion..,” in the words of it’s founder, Isaac Bonewits.  I can respect that vision, but it’s not what Druid means to me.

I’m left wondering still if I need to belong to or support a Druid organization or if my current practice is enough.  Druidry does not modify my practice but energizes it, it is not a practice in and of itself but a mindset…in the end perhaps it really doesn’t matter one way or another.

 

Contemplation of Continuance

My ADF membership is up next month.  I’m going on eight years of membership with the organization known as Ár nDraíocht Féin, but I’m not a joiner by nature and when confronted with the request to update my membership I pause and reflect.

Me (gray shirt)+ the Grove Organizer of EDPG @ ADF/Grove info booth PPD 2009

Have I grown as a religious person because of membership?

The short answer is yes.  I have been challenged by the organization and I think I may have challenged it along the way.  My practice is more focused and deeper because of my stay with the ‘Druid’ organization.  I am more pious, more devoted, and more fruitful in my practice.

Is ADF an organization that does good?

If I’m a member of something I damn well feel that the org should be good.  And I mean that in every aspect…It must be good for the membership as a whole and it must be good for the person.  More importantly it must be good for the religious community and not just the ‘Pagan’ one.

I have found ADF to be overall good.  There are always those who rock the boat, who place self above  the whole, and who may seek ambition in spite of the general good…but overall my experience with ADF has been positive, and I do believe that its members seek the highest good and progress for others.

Have I learned?

Yes.  I completed the Dedicant Program a few years into my membership.  In my mind the DP is one of the best learning programs in the ‘Pagan’ sphere of education.  ADF does not seek to bolster it’s own hypothesis of  what ‘Paganism” should be, instead it presents courses that require academic and scholarly brashness.  Certainly there is a bit of ADF attitude involved in the programs – it’s liturgy is somewhat specialized, but it is also an example of the academic evolution one sees in the organization.  The honesty of the training and the work involved in accomplishing ADF’s offered courses is stellar and comparable in my mind to college level research and course work.

My plan was and still is to continue my studies with ADF – moving toward clergy or initiate status when time permits.

Is ADF fun?Copy of adf-roots-enc

ADF holds the ideal of openness in ritual and grove conduct.  This allows for gatherings of friends and strangers alike.  Like our ‘Pagan’ ancestors ritual is open and calls the people of a community to worship and renew bonds between people, the land, their gods, and ancestors.  In this case ADF excels in bringing people together and also therefore in respecting the fellowship and differences that can be highlighted by such ventures.

The rites I first led were ADF inspired within a small grove, in fact some of the largest rites I’ve attended were ADF rites under a blue sky in the light of mid-day.  I was proud to be a ‘Pagan’ in those rites, and I still am because of ADF’s need to serve the community in the open, not arrogantly displaying their faith but honorably devoted to ancient truths and wisdom once again explored and acknowledged.

Yes or No?

In the end I will rejoin.  Though I don’t call myself a Druid, ADF is more about honestly looking toward the Indo-European mindset and practice.  It is not beholden to it however, and the organization does allow for the wisdom that modernity has given to humanity.  I think it does good, and I think there is more to learn within the organization that perhaps I would not learn outside of it.

Response to an Intro to Magic: Magic(k) in the Grove

Read Ian Corrigan’s post here: Introduction to Magic

As a practicing ADFer, or Druid as they (not necessarily I) label it, this article by Corrigan really hit the nail on the head.  It explains alot of things that go on in an ADF/Druidic style rite that many probably don’t necessarily understand.

ADF rites do not seek magic(k) as the reason for ritual gatherings.  Our actions, within our liturgical design, do not have as their sole purpose the working of Thaumaturgy or magic(k) for magic(k)’s sake.  The role of Druids within ADF and those who celebrate with us is to exist with the gods, ancestors, and wights for a time.  This is made possible by the offering of gifts to such beings and in return accepting their gifts in return.

This way of conducting ritual does not necessarily preclude magic(k)al operations most “Pagans” would recognize it merely negates the redundancy of it’s use.  As Druids we are communing with the gods/ancestors/wights, or simply the Kindred, in order to establish links between the folk and their gods and to also reinvigorate the fabric of the cosmos.

Magic(k) then becomes a personal tool used outside the scope of established ADF ritual gatherings.  This is not a bad thing in my opinion.  Magic(k) while a powerful tool for transformation and arguably very powerful in group situations, is also an Art worked well in the solitary sphere.

In fact I would say that the role of the Druid/Gothi/Priest of the ancestors was to work his/her Will through private Thaumaturgy, building a report with the Kindred while learning to navigate the subtle worlds of the mental/spiritual/physical mysteries in order to better serve the village/community when gathered together as a whole to worship and enliven the cosmos about them.

To the Gathering

Faith and Title: What I don’t want

After reading John’s fantastic post “Why we need a statement of Pagan “first principles” over at the Allergic Pagan, a great blog by the way, I felt the need to spew about the nature of Paganism as a defining word.

What frightens and annoys me the most about modern Pagans and Neo-Pagans:

The need to be labeled

The need to be justified

The need to be heard

There are other things but these three things are at the top of the list.

The need to be labeled is something that we’ve picked up from other religious systems and communities.  We have to be different and we have to be uniquely apart from the rest.  “Our faith is different and we have to prove it!” the Pagans say with fists clenched – But who are the Pagans?  What would they be wearing, what symbol sets them apart, what tenets do these monolithic Pagans hold dear?

Why do we need to label ourselves? And what if the labels we pick fail to describe anything at all?

The trend I’m seeing is that people who would have considered themselves Pagan ten to fifteen years ago, and even five years ago, are now choosing to leave that term behind.  I see this happening not because the terms Pagan and Neo-pagan fail in their description but because Pagan is now a label growing on it’s own and moving at  incredible pace outside of the control of those who had once chosen to incorporate it.  This effect is a kind of cultural engine not only changing the community under it’s banner but  the Religious world in which its bubble of uniqueness exists alongside other bubbles.  So, then you may ask, shouldn’t we mold Pagan into a term that is ours to define so that others don’t use it incorrectly?

John Hagee recently used the word Paganism in connotation with the evils of environmentalism (his words)..along with a host of even more blatant falsehoods about Buddhism and Islam.  Here’s the problem with labeling an entire conclave of religions under the banner of Paganism.  It’s generic and the term becomes misused – Pagan is not only a noun but an adjective that describes a type of belief and not a specific one.  The difference Pagans have with their self described label as compared to other faiths is that an individuals Paganism may be a complete 180 from her neighbors.

My conclusion is that the only thing the label Pagan does is obfuscate the sincerity of Joe the generic Pagan’s path.  We want labels because we live in a world that demands concise material to hold onto and understand.  A Christian believes in Christs redemptive properties, a Buddhist believes that Siddartha Gautama reached enlightenment and thus so can she, a Muslim holds that Mohammed is the Prophet of Allah.  Unlike Christians, or Buddhists, or Muslims there is not one thing that we all can agree on, because Pagan is not a term like Christian or Muslim, it does not say to those outside of my community that I’m an Odinist or that I’m a follower of Artemis or that I don’t care about divinity at all, nor does it specify my practice limiting it to one set of beliefs or delusions.  But, don’t all Pagans consider the Earth sacred?  No they don’t, again Pagan has no central dogmatic principle…even though our “leaders” have tried extremely hard to provide one.

More opinions to come…

A kind of Magic: Followup

Wednesday night I held an ADF/Druidry style rite.  It was for the local group of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, who are mostly Wiccan.  Due to some rain and wind that rolled in just as we were about to setup, the rite was moved indoors.  About twenty people gathered in a sitting circle around the cauldron of fire and the bowl of water that served as the Well.

It went well.  My rite included many of the ADF norms and followed the COoR pretty well.  The only things I left out were the Gatekeeper and full honorings to the Kindred.  My inspiration for the ritual format came from two ADF scripts  concerning Full Moon rituals: #1  and #2

 
POHANSKÝ MĚSÍC by MIROSLAVA ZAPLETAL

The reason for leaving these out was a personal choice.  I felt that since this was meant to be an Esbat ritual, honoring the Full (harvest) Moon, it wasn’t necessary to call upon the Gatekeeper to relay our actions and part the veil between worlds.  As the Moon (Mani) is seen in Midgard as well as all the other worlds I felt our deeds and words would be readily seen and heard.  My decision to leave the Gatekeeper out naturally led to my decision to leave out offerings to the Ancestors and the gods…not because these aren’t important, but because the focus of the rite was specifically geared toward the Full Moon and Mani’s immediate and very timely effects.

We did honor the Landwights (nature spirits) simply because no rite in my opinion has any standing unless the local spirits are accepting of what is taking place.  We also honored Mani, as the Moon, being that the rite was Heathen in its cultural focus.

Three people volunteered to take up the roles of Warrior,Bard, and Seer.  They did a wonderful job.

Here’s a bit from the ritual script:

We gather as a people, as the folk of this land and place To honor the passing of time, the culmination of deeds and actions.

To begin anew.

 We gather this night, on the night of the full moon to honor Manni, he who travels the dark sky, who travels the day and reckons time, to stand within the light of mystery and the light of magic.

From the Alvissmal Manni is named;

‘Moon’ with men, ‘Flame’ with gods,

‘The Wheel’ in the house of helheim;

‘The Goer’ to the Jotuns,  ‘The Gleamer’ to the dwarfs,

and whome The elves name ‘The Teller of Time’.” 

I developed a short meditation, not unlike the Two Powers meditation, meant to meld within the participants the power/blessing of the land and Landwights with the magic and mystery of the Full Moon.   This was followed by a time of personal offerings and magic.  Many chose to participate in this, and the words of those offering sacrifice into the flame were incredibly moving.  Followed by the Omen and then the return flow of the ‘Waters of Life’.

It was a good night.

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Listening to: Medwyn Goodall – [Spring #01] Fresh Is The Morning [foobar2000 v1.0.2.1]
via FoxyTunes