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.

Breathing Sincerity

This post will be a ramble of recent thoughts and reflections on certain practices of mine that have been deepening with time. To include such topics as Taoist Alchemy, Stadhagaldr, non-violence, meditation, and the power of the Breath…I apologize ahead of time for any possible incoherence along the way.

I am a practitioner of Stadhagaldr and that’s where this begins.  After having practiced this form of Rune wisdom for several years now I’ve come to realize that it is not merely a mnemonic device for learning Runes.  It has become a central part of my Pagan practice out of which everything else arises.  In my head, I see it as a form of western QiGong, that branch of eastern Taoist metaphysics that brings energy into the body through movement and stances.  SG accomplishes many of the same benefits for the practitioner, but also some unique ones;

  • Rune memorization
  • Rune activation in the outer world
  • Rune activation in the inner world
  • Focus
  • Body awareness
  • Breath awareness
  • Manipulation of self time

The True Man breathes through the heels, the common man breathes through the throat. (Tao Te Ching 61)

One of the main lessons of SG is that of breath and True Breathing.  Breathing is a way to peace and stillness, to rejuvenation and insight, to calm and active intent. In Celtic lore we have the idea of the Cauldrons of Poesy, points of inspiration and power born into every individual; The Cauldron of Warming, of Motion, and Wisdom.  These points are easily accessible and fill-able through manipulation of the breath, just as in the practice of chakra enhancement or balancing. In Taoist Alchemical texts we also see the Three Treasures of Essence, Breath, and Spirit, specifically Taoism links the activation of these three treasure in the human with the cultivation of Spirit, breath being the sole tool of development.  The Rune Row also has it’s three’s, the entirety of all it’s mystery is found in the order and chaos of three’s..The Aett system is born out of both the physical nature of the world and also the lessons of the multiverse and it’s esoteric components. Breathing becomes a way to activate the body  and it’s points of well-ness that inherently reside within.  It’s not important to realize these three points, but only to understand that breathing moves and passes through the body and invigorates the self in a progressive manner.

With this in mind, I have found that SG is most powerfully integrated into the self when the breath is not constrained.  This means that one should not be focused on deep breathing, or on rhythmic breathing patterns such as 4 seconds in, hold for 2, then out for another 4.  It means allowing the breath and body to determine the need of breathing.  SG then becomes a way for you to train yourself to be conscious of your breathing and not to hold it or force it, but instead to allow it to move through your body with cause when necessary or with unnoticed ease.

The gentle outlasts the strong.

The obscure outlasts the obvious.

The soft overcomes the hard.

The slow overcomes the fast.

Let your workings remain a mystery.

Just allow people to see the results. (Tao te Ching 36)

A lesson gained from this comes also from a previous post of mine on a dream insight I was given.  ” With no enemies, we know peace.” or simply, “No Enemies Know Peace”.  If we begin to cultivate peace within ourselves, accepting for ourselves a non-violent attitude toward our own selves, we can begin to overcome outside violence with others and our environments.  This is predicate upon understanding that violence is not only physical.  We do violence to ourselves with our own thoughts, with what we eat, with our failure to exercise and meditate.  Once one begins to focus on the breath as the beginning of peace with ourselves, we begin to make peace with the world at large.  When we hold our breath and do not allow it to flow our hearts beat faster, stress invades the body, anxiousness escalates.  Learning to release the breath by allowing it to roll untethered is the harbinger of non-violence within and without.

hagal
hagal

Cultivating Power and Peace with Stadhagaldar

My method of SD is to practice it outside whenever possible, the connection to the land can be a vital part of developing internal power and Rune resonance.

My SG practice:
Stand with arms at your side feet hip width apart. Move your awareness into your feet and breath in and out three times with easy steady breaths.  The breath should be thought of as entering the feet and rising into the belly, the exhale then moves up into the chest and out through the top of the head. We want to become the conduit between earth and sky and the breath is how we accomplish this task.
The point here is to become settled with the breath and body, take as long as you need here, evaluate your steadiness and your bodies state of calm.
A single Rune for me has two parts to it’s activation and mingling with the body.  The In breath and the Out breath.  When we form a Rune we become the lesson prevalent in it’s physical appearance, we are literally bringing that Rune into existence, giving it a tangible appearance and feeling in the world and energizing our selves as well.
Fehu for instance, for me, begins with arms outstretched just as it usually appears. My In breath comes both from the feet and from the lower of the two arms – the In breath meets where the staff of the Rune and the lower arm meet – the Out breath leaves the body through the upper arm and the remaining staff out through the head.
Uruz In breath through the feet and the Out breath through the arms back to the earth.
Thurisaz formed by clasping hand before the chest to create the “O”.
In breath through the feet and to the upper arm, halfway down the turn.  The Out breath moves through the rest of the turn and down to the staff, then up and out through the head.  For Runes that bare links and “O” shapes, I feel and envision a magnification of energy in the space.
Ansuz In breath is much like Fehu, in through the feet and the lower of the arms.  Out breath travels the rest of the staff to the head and out through the upper arm back to the earth.
Raidho form has one foot extended before the other and hands clasped at the crown of the head, elbows bent in front of face.  In breath is through both feet.  Out breath is energized by the “O” and visualized as being kept within the torso and head.
I’m not going to go through them all, but you get the picture.  Once you begin to realize that breathing = intention, and the less you try to force it the calmer and steadier, yet more energetic you’ll be you can move on to a more fluid movement with the Runes.  Just remember not to hold the breath, ever, but to allow it to calmly move within the body as needed.