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.

Sky, Sea, and Stone

Here’s a bit of personal Rune wisdom.  I look for relationships among the Runes; relationships of opposites, of like themes, relationships that detail a progression from one idea to the next.  If you’re path is Indo-European oriented and not just modern Occult or Wiccan influenced you’re probably not dealing in the paradigm that utilizes the four elements as it’s base.  Instead you’ve probably come to the conclusion that 3 is the magic number, the elemental standard and the idea of 4 was not so much an Indo-European idea but certainly was in use in the ancient middle east and greatly influenced the Hermetic traditions.

The Runes hold this wisdom.  Not just in the apparent setup of the Aetts, which literally means Clan, and displays the common social structure found in many Indo-european cultures; The Aett of Fehu = Farmer (workers, laborers, land-tenders), The Aett of Hagal = Warriors, and The Aett of Tyr = Wise Rulers (Kings, Lawyers, Priests).  If one understands the Runes well enough, they begin to reveal patterns among themselves, these patterns blossom from Aett to Aett, between and among Runes that at first seem to have little in common and are not in the same Aett.

no-y-rune-hafstad

In my previous post A Rune Meditation I discussed one such relationship between Eiwhaz and Jera.  However, other important Rune combinations are found using Runes not in pairs that may contradict each either, such as the pair relationships that begin with Eiwhaz and Jera and working outward through the Rune row, threesome combinations also divulge a deeper knowledge and display a coherence among the Runes that invalidates any inklings of randomness to the order of the Futhark.

A very important threesome in my practice is the Raidho, Eiwhaz, and Laguz threesome.  These Runes are all fourth in their particular Aetts and afford a wealth of knowledge to the Runester.  The complex revealed here in a not so occult manner is the ancient concept of Sky, Sea, and Stone or Fire, Well, and Tree or Upper, Mid, and Under Worlds.

Raidho is the wheel and holds the mysteries of not only travel and change but also the esoteric relevance of Cosmic Movement and the Order of the heavens above, represented by the Cosmic Wheel of the Sun and Stars, order out of chaos.

Eiwhaz is the axis, that which unites below and above, chaos and reason, and all polarities.  It is Yggdrassil the great holder of Worlds, that which extends from the great wells of chaotic mystery and wisdom to the heights of Asgard and the realms of Reason.

Laguz is the water of the psychic current found within mankind and Esoterically represents the Wells of original unbridled and ancient wisdom.   That which is embodied by the Underworld and the water of chaos.

Meditation upon this threesome can be an eye opening experience.  I’d recommend laying out the entire Rune row vertically to begin understanding this threesome better.  A meditation with the three can begin by taking 3 breaths to develop awareness of the Well symbolized by Laguz beneath you, 3 breaths to realize the Tree symbolized by Eiwhaz within you, and 3 breaths to become aware of the turning of Raidho above you followed by 9 breaths to link them together. Breath in bringing up the powers of Laguz (the Well)  through Eiwhaz ( the Tree) to Raidho (the Fires of cosmic light and reason).   The out breath then begins with Raidho down through Eiwhaz and to Laguz.  So awareness of the world beneath, the body, and the head and beyond becomes a powerful tool for self awareness and balance.

Meandering

Last week I created a labyrinth in my backyard.  It’s a simple three circuit labyrinth, very small and simply placed.  I haven’t outlined the whole thing, and I’m not sure if I will or not at this point.

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My simple labyrinth

 

I merely placed large stones at the major points and turns, and hope to be able to ware the grass away where the path has been formed.  So far it’s working out great and I should have a nicely seen path very soon.  My experience walking it so far has been calming.  I find it a very reflective process and even strangely liberating.

Doing research on labyrinth myths and folk beliefs leads one to believe that labyrinths were used not just for meditation and reflection, but also as a way to purge oneself of worry and evils.  In the folk history of nothern europe one finds that these stone labyrinths were used to insure good fishing expeditions by trapping trolls or beings/spirits not conducive to such endeavors.  Literally people would walk a labyrinth to trap a following negative spirit in the center…seems a bit metaphoric doesn’t it.   They can also be, according to some sources, related to seasonal changes, that walking them may have emulated the awakening of the earth goddess in spring and her ‘greeting’ of the sky-god.  This interaction would have been ritualized with a young woman being placed in the center and a boy walking the labyrinth in order to find and claim her to enact the drama of spring.

Again, the benefits of labyrinths seem pretty clear to me; They offer a time of reflection, a time to put aside worry, a time of meditation, and a time of focused seperation from anything and everything else in your life.  It’s no wonder that one finds labyrinths all over Europe, in churches and at sites thought to be sacred to pagans.  Whether or not pagans were using labyrinths prior to Christians in Europe or just alongside them is anyone’s guess, but certainly in the Mediterranean labyrinths were being discussed and utilized well before the Christian era.

some references:

http://www.labyrinthos.net/pagansweden.html

http://www.ukforsk.se/nya/vhm.htm

Portable Rune Magic(K): Sitting within Yggdrasil

Follow up post in the spirit of another : Cosmological Contrivances and Magickal Mechanisms

After having given a quick workshop on the magic(K)al work discussed in my Cosmological Contrivances and Magickal Mechanisms post, I was asked by an attendee for a possible Rune working that accomplished the same goals; that being magic(K) on the fly without any tools but Runes (and a more Pagan rather than Hermetic working).

I’d been working on something like this for some time and had yet to finalize my notes into a coherent system that could be easily worked and understood.  The difference between the Tarot and Runes is a fairly stark one.  Modern Tarot is greatly influenced by Hermeticism and correspondences developed by the Golden Dawn that reflect a judeo-christian/Kabbalistic sensibility.  Runes are a more tribal wisdom, and a more pagan/indo-european tool and esoteric paradigm.  It’s important to be aware of these differences when trying to use either in the way we want to with this practice, as they each require a different approach and outlook.

Donald Tyson puts forward in his book Portable Magic a fast and quick system of magic(K) that utilizes only Tarot as it’s tool.  Tarot is used to create the ceremonial area, to represent all the tools of the magician, and to enable complex workings to be simplified.  The crux of the system is in the Tarot representing the universe by means of the astrological symbolism found within the Major Arcana.  The Major Arcana become the Magicians circle, the Minor Arcana the things the Mage wants to bring into his life, the Aces the altar upon which the Mage works.  Another key component of Tyson’s portable magic(K) is not only the physical working of the cards and their setup, but the Magician is also asked to create a life size Astral ritual area that correlates directly with the physical working so that both are working together.

 

Portable Rune Magic(K)

The ritual area:  The circle is fundamental to Tyson’s system, but not necessarily so to the more Pagan version of his working that I wanted to recreate.  To get an idea of the circle take a look at the picture provided.  We are not trying to recreate the cosmos as Tyson does in his Ceremonial/Hermetic system but instead recreating the Multiverse and it’s many worlds as per Teutonic wisdom.  The Magician sits within his circle, but also within the mandala of Yggdrasil and among the nine worlds.  The horizontal access is represented by Niflheim in the north, Muspellheim in the south, Jotunheim in the east, and Vanaheim in the west.  Asgard, Lossalfheim, Svartalfheim, and Hel should be thought of as vertical.

Midgard is within the circle where the Mage stands.  Jera and Eiwhaz represent Midgard, Jera the turning of seasons and Eiwhaz the Axis upon which the world moves.  Othal is the Magician herself standing upon Midgard in the center of the Worlds.  The Altar is built using the Runes that embody the Aetts and their wisdom; Fehu, Hagal, and Tyr.

 

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Working Area – Yggdrasil

Example of a working

A working begins by laying out your Runes in the pattern described.  Before beginning take a few breaths to reach a calm state of mind.  Realize that you sit before a circle of stones, place the card that is meant to represent yourself upon Jera and Eiwhaz, you are now within that circle, upon Midgard.

Touch each card vocalizing or singing the Rune (exclude the Altar Runes for now), in your minds eye see it rise in light upon the stone.  Once finished pause and reflect on the power of the Rune and their presence around you.  Again touch the cards but this time name the world it represents.  See the circle becoming a living presence, it may take on the resemblance of Yggrdasil – the living tree and holder of all worlds…or each world may take the place of the stones, or the stones may remain – however you mentally or astrally see this just be sure that you realize that the worlds are here and now and you stand among them and before them.  If you are using the Rune Mandala for meditation or contemplation you can stay at this point, if you’re using this practice for magic(K)al reasons you can move on.

The Altar is utlized to realize the Magicians will.  From the remaining Runes choose one (or more for compounding or clarifying the focus) that symbolizes your need or desire, you can also create your desire from paper or draw a picture, or use your imagination.  Before placing the focus of your will (and the reason for the rite) upon the Rune altar touch each Rune of the altar and vocalize it’s name.  In your minds eye ignite the stone altar to life, the Runes alight upon or within it as you sing or say them.

Once the altar is activated your object, card, or imagining will be placed on the altar.  Your focus will be on that item alone, your will should be pushed toward the item with all the clarity you can muster.  It’s important to note that the Magician’s power is not due to the circle or the power of the worlds; the power for this is generated from the knowledge gained by standing within the Multiverse, she is not a slave to their powers but an awakened participant in the Multiverse and it’s creative and pulsing existence.  This is the power of the Runester.

Once you feel that you’ve saturated your desire with your will, cut your tie with the Altar and setp mentally back from the altar and what you’ve worked.  Sit for a moment and gather your thoughts, come back fully into the present moment and where you sit.  After a minute or two gather up the Runes in whatever way suits you.  You should shuffle or toss the Runes together in order to diffuse the energy of the working and to further distance yourself from what you’ve worked as not to drain further energy.

 

 

A Rune Meditation: Eiwhaz/Jera:

I’m going to be writing up some of my Rune meditations.  This will be the first of many in an ongoing series.

The Rune Components

Eiwhaz

The yew is a tree with rough bark,
hard and fast in the earth, supported by its roots,
a guardian of flame and a joy upon an estate.

Eiwhaz is the Rune of the great tree, Yggdrasil, the holder of known and unknown realities, the holder of all worlds, the axis around which everything is rooted and understood.

~

Jera

Summer is a joy to men, when As, the holy King of Heaven,
suffers the earth to bring forth shining fruits
for rich and poor alike.

Jera is the Rune of the harvest.  It is the Rune that underlies the system by which our earthly world is understood – it is the mystery of time and its passage, the effect of planting and reaping, the turning of the seasons, and the movement of our lives through physical existence.

The Practice

Allow yourself to achieve calm, however you do this is fine, allowing the a sense of patience and calm, and gentle time to wash around you.  Find that meditative state that is yours, without pressure, sit and be still.

Breath deep and feel the reversal of that breath – Instead of the breath originating in the head through the nose or mouth – allow the breath to dip low into your belly and feel the breath as growing first within the belly and up to the head.  Relax the solar plexus region – relax the hips – relax the groin – breath deep and slow.

Envision Eiwhaz outlined over your body.  The bottom leg that extends out enters at the base of your spine – with each breath it ignites down into you – down first into your spine then up along it’s shaft.  Travel with your breath, moving your attention into your body along the path of Eiwhaz.

Your in-breath takes you only halfway up the body, and only half way up into Eiwhaz.  Your out breath sees the patterhn through – starting in your chest and pushing out through the top of your head, but not straight out – remember that eiwhaz as another leg bending down, allow your out breath to travel all the way.

Breath in — Breath out.  do this until your presence is focused and in line, until your are the axis of your existence, the power of your world rests in your hands, for you are the axis about which your life turns, around which all your choices spin, around all that you know is possible.

Eiwhaz should be energizing the tip of your spine, igniting the base with a sexual energy.

Jera can now be contemplated as all that is literally around you, all that can be known, the room about you, your job, all that is known through the movement of time.

Spend time in this breathing….spend time understanding the relationship between the Orbit of Jera and the Axis of Eiwhaz.

Be the power of your choices and know that everything which spins around you is merely a symptom of time and now.

Take a few deep breaths to come back to yourself – voice your name a few times – feel the support of the land beneath you.

You are the Axis, you are Eiwhaz.

Meditation: the horror

Something that bothers me is hearing about the difficulty that Pagans, Occultists, Esotericists have with Meditation, or its practice.

I read this all the time, from people beginning Occult programs or Pagan study.  People even use the excuse that they are a specific Type of Psychological personality and just not capable of Meditation.  What a load.

Here’s a news flash:  You can’t meditate because you don’t meditate.  You’ve been so acclimated to a culture that forces you to externalize every compulsion that it’s impossible, or at least you’ve convinced yourself that it is, to recognize that something good can be internally generated.

A moment

Our culture is so divorced from the Body and the Self and the realization that Wisdom first comes from Self, that meditation, the act of Silence and Self contemplation is utterly horrific.  When did the Body and the Self become second?  When did modern culture so annihilate the human spirit that man can no longer look within for a few minutes in his twenty-four hour day just to Sit and be Still?

The reason why meditation is such a challenge is because you’ve been socialized to think that Wisdom always comes from Outside and that it always has to be about the Struggle of Doing.

Meditation, or Silent Sitting, or Contemplative Breathing reminds one’s Self that you are more than the Busy human being engaged in non-stop action, that you are first an individual of immense importance and truth and that also, at the same time you’re probably not that important but just as important as everything else and that’s wondrously important 🙂

In magic(k) focus and intent are central.  Without a practice of Meditation, a Magician is like a wheel-barrow with no handles – you’ve got all the necessary parts but for that which steers the business around.   Meditation helps you understand your Will, how Energy moves, how concentration changes, and how to be Still and reap the benefits of Calm.

Something else I hear is the lovely excuse from Initiates about how they can only meditate when walking or running or engaged in an artistic endeavor.  As a Runner who loves to Run, I can tell you that Sitting meditation is a whole different ball game.  The concentration that comes from endeavor is wholly different than the benefits garnered from Sitting Meditation.

Disagree with me all you want.  I’m sure there are some who’ll read this and say that I have it all wrong.  Somewhere down the line the difficulty of meditation has been internalized and that Initiate/Dedicant was told that it’s fine to not be able to Sit alone with yourself for 10 long minutes – But why is it such a difficult task?  Is it because in that silence there may be things you’re afraid of? It takes courage to Sit with yourself.  All the Stuff , Books, and Wisdom of this world can’t give you an ounce of what 5 minutes alone can give.

The Magicians/Pagans/Mystics/Occultists first stop on the road to learning begins with the Body.

 

With a single Breathe: A ritual in 9

Ritual of 9 breaths (more or less)

This practice was developed as an easy way to align with the “Gates” and the Kindred.  Inspired by the words of Kirk Thomas in his article Make Offerings, Dammit. “I like to compare my relationships with the Kindreds to the process of breathing. As I breathe in, the Gods breathe out. As I breathe out, the Gods breathe in.”

This is nothing extraordinarily new in my opinion, just done in a way that I like.

Light a candle.  My preference is to be at or seated near my Harrow (Altar), but this can be done anywhere as long as the environment provides you the time.

Achieve your calm – that is prepare your meditation state by getting into a rhythm of breathing, sit comfortably.

We are attempting to utilize the concept put forward by Kirk Thomas toward the end of the article provided.  Unlike Kirk, who I believe meant for the reciprocity of breath to be a non-ritualized technique, our focus is going to be more defined and visualized.

Begin by focusing on the Well, once the Waters are visualized properly breathe in and feel the waters being drawn into yourself, don’t rush, but allow the Waters of the Well to slowly creep up into your spine and your legs.  The out breathe is going to feed the Waters and strengthen the Well with your images of what the Well is, and what the Water symbolizes, or perhaps your admiration.  Each breath in strengthens the Waters presence within, and each breath out reciprocates it’s reality.

Do the same with the Tree which surrounds and grows within.

Do the same with the Fire above.

Each should be a pattern of three breaths.  But do more if you wish, for me three is enough unless I’m focusing more on a specific “Gate” and it’s power/symbolism.

The Kindred are done the same way.  Three breaths in and out  for each. Be fed with each breath as you feed them with each exhale.

The Ancestors are all that has come before, the power of your kin, family, and tradition.

The Nature Spirits or LandVaettir are the entities that inhabit Midgard alongside us, both seen and unseen, and perhaps even the land itself.

The Shining ones, the power of the gods/esses.

Take a few minutes when finished to contemplate your actions, emotions, and experiences.  Note down any insights.  Thank the Kindred for their gifts, be thankful for the wisdom of the Fire, Well, and Tree.

Outline:

Achieve calm:

3 breathes (inhale and exhale) for each “Gate”: Fire, Well, Tree

(added contemplation as needed)

3 Breathes (inhale and exhale) for each Kindred: Ancestors, Nature Spirits, gods/godesses

Be thankful.

—————-
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