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.

Runes at the Well

Runes are the construct aperture of the metaverse.  Mythologically speaking Odin did not invent them, he discovered them.  The Runes are the mysteries therefore that predetermine the gods, the worlds, reality, being, time, self – all modes of existence.

I’m not naive enough to think that Runes are the sole compass of creation, nor do I hold to Runes, or any mystical tradition for that matter, as being a be-all-end-all defining reason for everything.  In my life I have merely *made the choice* that Runes are a central device that can be employed toward a deeper understanding and conversation with the world and existence.

My thoughts are turning toward the Web of Wyrd and what its context is in regard to the make up of reality.  What is the Web of Wyrd?  First I think to understand Wyrd as a Web is somewhat incorrect.  The Norns do not weave a Web of fate per-say, they inscribe upon stone the choices-fates-doings of beings.  All of this is meshed up together in an intricate pattern of – past – present – future.  There are other beings within Teutonic mythology that do view the fates and doings of beings in the Worlds via weaving, such as Frigg, but the Norns do not.  This of course can be a subject of personal meditation in itself, my view is that the Norns are the rulers of fate – Hamingja and Orlog – what they say goes and is hard coded by them into the fabric of time and space; whereas Weavers, Tranceworkers, and Rune casters utilize tools, actions, or disciplines  which allow temporary reading access to the chiseled Runic etchings of reality the Norns inscribe.  Frigga herself is called a Seeress, this implies to me that she does not control fate only reads it.

Now I’m not about to say that the Norns are real beings that exist to dole out destinies.  Like most religious stuff the Norns are a way to personify the mystery, to give it a relate-able sheen that resembles our understanding of the world.  I’m not one to say the gods are this or that either…so I don’t really get into the nonsense about what the gods are and are not.  I think it’s a meaningless conversation.  What I do think is important is recognizing that each persons exposure to the Mystery and the Truth of existence is going to be different therefore outlooks on gods, spirits, and self will be unique.

The Runes setup a very unique way to see the universe.  The symbols allow us to understand, or at least investigate the way the Teutonic people imagined the universe and how they chose to interact with it.  Runes are all around us, reality is shaped by choices, and the Norns etch upon the surface of the multiverse the results of those choices.  The Web of Wyrd is a Runic fabric that drapes across, among, and within all of time, presence, and being.  Wyrd is everything that sits between and within matter.

The Web of Wyrd is not an ancient saying.  But I do think that it has a place within modern Heathen work.  Certainly the Norns and Runes can be thought of as building blocks; The Norns build a history of fate and destiny for an individual and therefore a society and Runes underlie all of creation and all worlds.  Working within a Rune tradition maps reality in a very hard and foundational way, and this is it’s greatest asset.   Runes are both an esoteric and exoteric system of revelation and hidden knowledge.  This means that within the Rune row one can find steadfast footing in our world, feeding the need to be rooted with a firm grasp of self and place within social structures.  But also the Runes allow for spiritual exploration that can reveal mysteries, coincidence, and occult relationships outside of the mundane structures.

tree

An essay not meant to be educational.  Merely a portion of what’s in my head lately…mostly stemming from my recent re-read of Bates’ The Way of Wyrd.  My review is here:

I think it’s a book that does more harm that good for Heathen spirituality because it’s mostly a Castaneda rip-off with more fiction that truth.  There are some good tidbits…but they are tough to find.  It’s a book I would not recommend.

Power and Posture

Lately I’ve been incorporating Stadhagaldr – or Rune Yoga – into my weekly outdoor runs.  I’ve gotten into the habit of performing the 24 stances of the Elder Futhark at the park around which I run.  Taking a few minutes to pause and stand near one of the older large trees, I establish myself in the area by taking a few breaths and commence with the positions.

For a few years now Rune Yoga has been a staple of my practice, but mainly an indoor one.  Performing this practice outside has allowed me to to garner a new insight from this practice.  Articulating that new insight is difficult, but it has to do with understanding that the Runes at once are both representative of the Mysteries of Self and Soul and also of the Mysteries that concretely expose the practitioner to the wonder of Nature and Universe.

Post Modern/Modern Stadhagaldr

The practice of Rune Yoga has a rich history.  In the early years of the Germanic Runic and Occult revival magicians such as F.B Marby and S.A. Kummer were exploring the practice of stadhagaldr.  Others have proposed that Rune Yoga may have been practiced by the paleopagan Rune magicians as well…this hypothesis is one I’m not ready to agree with, but historical practice is not always the best way to legitimize a modern practice anyway.   There is some evidence that the modern habit of teaching Scandinavian children the alphabet by encouraging them to assume letter postures stems from the ancient practice of stadhagaldr…another factoid I’m not willing to give 100% credence too but interesting nonetheless.

A modern martial arts form has also been established that includes the use of Runes as its basis for technique and form.  This practice is called Stav.

“Ivar Hafskjold learned the essentials of Stav as a young man in the post war period. He later spent 14 years in Japan where he went to advance his martial skills to the highest possible level. When he returned to Europe and settled in the UK in the early 1990s he realised that if Stav were not taught outside of the family it would be lost altogether. In order to ensure the contiuity of the tradition Ivar taught a small number of students who have developed the tradition according to their own needs and talents.”

Now the importance of all these modern Rune techniques is not found in their historical truth or in an implied heritage or tradition.  The importance for me is the realization that Runes are not a stagnant wisdom/mystery and that the establishment of an  individual (unique) practice is vital to the Rune magician, seeker, or practitioner.  Remember that Odin, the primary Rune Magician did not invent the Runes, he “Won” them.  The sincere Runester therefore, in a manner that incorporates a process of intuitive practice via the Self, should consider ways to  emulate the effort of Odin’s winning  toward his or her own Runic winning and WONder.

Jan Fries in Seidways contemplates the nature of Seid – that form of Teutonic magic linked with shamanic activity and the womanly sphere of wisdom.  He postulates that Seid, translated to seeth, literally is a kind of  self-induced shaking.  In chapter 12 of Seidways he lists several effects of Seething or Shaking: To Release Strain and Tension – To Change Perception – To Get Some Rest – For Controlled Muscle Activity – To Stay Warm – To Enjoy Long Trances – To See Eidetic Visions – To Imagine and Visualize – To change the State of the Mind – To Simulate Crisis or Disillusionment; some of these are mundane in their application and others can lead to trance states and visionary experiences.  Fries also talks of friends who use light body tremors in order attune to and to properly see an environments energy or as a way to determine a places sacredness.hagal

The reason why I bring up Fries’ book is because it conforms to my understanding that embodying Runes via stadhagladr can be a powerful component in the manipulation of the physical body allowing for the union of mind, thought, understanding, memory, soul, and deep ancestral wisdom.  There is nothing inherently magic(K)al about this process, it is only a form of thoughtful physical meditation.  But as Fries discusses in his book certain postures may also force the body to tremble, and may therefore effect some kind of change in consciousness.  I have experimented with this hypothesis by using the Runes as Seething instigators but have yet to develop a series of movements or stationary forms that force a lapse in waking consciousness.

Daily Stadhagaldr

The 3 components of successful Stadhagaldr practice are Vocalization – Concentration – Movement

Vocalization of the Rune – This should be done either out loud or internally when assuming the Rune position

Concentration upon the Rune – Fixation upon the Runes meaning and its esoteric and/or exoteric meaning when assuming the Rune form.

Movement – This is obviously the assumption of the Rune forms.

I would encourage any Runester to begin a rigorous practice of exploration with stadhagaldr. Only through implementation and practice does one begin to understand how to propel oneself into the mytho-psychological paradigm associated with the mystery of the Runes.

At times I liken Stadhagaldr to the Yoga of the east, at other times I associate it with a Martial Art form, and quite often I use it in a way comparable to Qi-Gong.  I sing the runes, just hum them, or internally vocalize them; I concentrate on their physical appearance,  or in an attempt to fully embody them I visualize them within me as I form them, and I send them out into the environment to empower, bless, or manipulate an area.

This is a rich subject, one that cannot be fully addressed within a simple blog posting.   To bring this post back to it’s genesis I would say that my effort to bring stadhagaldr into an outdoor and public setting has allowed a much richer and more powerful synthesis between myself and the wider reality.  A Communion with the earth and sky and that which is between seems to make stadhagaldr even that much more focused and intentional.