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
- 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.
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.