Working Magic with the Two Powers
Working Magic with the Two Powers
(Note: This is a transcription of a workshop given at Wellspring in 2005)
I've presented these workshops in a systematic way in a workshop format for the general public. These are exercises that I've been working on in my personal practice and teaching kind of on a piecemeal basis in the grove for years and in the course of putting together my forthcoming new edition of Sacred Fire, Holy Well, I've tried to assemble them into an orderly file.
So we're going to try to work our way through some of those. We don't have to view a lot of these exercises in a deep trance fashion, although I want to take a few minutes, once I've talked for a bit, and we'll find a comfortable physical position for ourselves and get ready for the work.
What we will be doing is working with the ADF notion of the Two Powers, which I'll talk about in a minute, in a pretty straight-forward Neo-Pagan, post-Yoga, post-"energy flows in the body" conception sort of way. I have to give a big disclaimer, from a scholastic viewpoint, because we're nowhere in terms of knowing whether the ancient ones in Europe did work of this kind at all.
I can handle the assertion that the ancient ones in India or China were doing this kind of work at the time that we're usually looking at: what we think of as Classical Indo-European Pagan Days. But I cannot demonstrate that people in Europe, even in the Greco-Roman world (much less the Celtic or Germanic world) were doing this kind of energy work.
So this is very much modeled on a post-Golden Dawn, Chakras and energy flows kind of sense, although I have tried to set it in a symbol system that makes some sense to Celtoids. We'll talk our way through that a little bit and then we'll meditate our way through it a little bit.
Let me continue my lengthy round of disclaimers by saying that I don't mean to present the energy pattern models that I'm going to be presenting as objective or authoritative. I'll talk about my sources for them. We actually have something like a source for one of them. From there we'll go straight to the actual meditation and moving the energies and the blocking.
When we began doing ADF liturgy, back in the day, Isaac prescribed the Tree Meditation as a way to ground and center in preparation for ritual. Grounding and centering in preparation for ritual was kind of invented by the Western Magical Movement in the early 20th century and perfected, I think, by Neo-Paganism. The ceremonial magicians didn't teach themselves to ground and center and make a network of energy within the body before beginning their work. That was not part of the Golden Dawn system, not something that Crowley would have taught and not something that Gerald Gardener taught.
When I began learning Witchcraft in the 1970s, the phrase "ground and center" didn't exist in the vocabulary. It was invented in the early 1980s right around the time of the Festival Movement start. All of that said, we're straight on the origins. And everyone who knows me around ADF knows that I'm a big proponent of this sort of thing, so I just wanted to make it clear that that's where we're coming from. This is a modern invention grown out of our generation's experiences with Yoga and Thai-Chi and Eastern energy movement systems, primarily.
So Isaac recommended the Tree Meditation as a means of grounding and centering. A vision first published by Starhawk, I'm almost certain, in Spiral Dance, although it'd been around awhile before that. And when you do the Tree Meditation, the notion, which is literally in its simplest form to envision yourself as a tree (with roots that connect to the Waters and you raise your arms above your head, do the actor's exercise of being a tree), that is probably where it all started.
The notion of a dual flow of energy in the tree of waters rising up through the roots and the light of the sky shining on your leaves just becomes self-apparent. We began to have a discussion that some people found it odd to turn into trees and then move around - a serious cognitive dissonance when asked to powerfully envision themselves rooted and standing strong and then be asked to move around. That's a special technique in magic; we're not even going to get to moving around today; we're going to stay seated.
But that kind of led us - especially me - over the next couple of years to kind of abstract out from the very literal image of turning into a tree this notion of the Two Powers that we draw into our body through the breath and through visualized contact with earth and sky. So now it has become very firmly abstract in the way that it's being taught now. Many people liked it better. Many people said they missed the literalism, truth to tell. Both can be applied, certainly. But we're going to be trees with hands and thumbs in this exercise, so we're going to stick with the abstracted Two Powers approach.
I'm not speaking with a general audience, so I don't have to explain the Two Powers in great detail. The Underworld Power and the Heavens Power - that's what we're going to be working with. From a practical magic viewpoint, I see the Underworld Power and Heaven Power related very much to a formula you can call "Incubation".
Celtic poets' Incubation of Inspiration, in which a Celtic poet goes into a darkened cave or cottage, closes the door, lies on a prepared bed, and - in one version of the tradition - puts a medium-heavy rock on his or her chest to lie in meditation. I can't help but imagine the heavy rock mandating breath control - to have a rock heavy enough to mandate "willed" breath. It's about the only trace of pranayama I've been able to find in the West (in Irish stuff).
In that darkness, which is like the darkness under the Earth, a nutrient soup, where everything that has passed away is all dissolved. And from that nutrient soup, everything that will come to pass is rooted and draws its components and nourishment. In that dark, the poet finds all the elements of his poem, and maybe a skilled poet was actually assembling it consciously during those hours, composing it in his mind, but the notion was that the business was completed when, after the set period, the door of the chamber would be opened and a ray of light would enter the chamber and, as it were, crystallize the poem. Allow the poet to step out in that ray of light and speak his more-or-less oracular poetry.
But that notion of the waiting dark from which we draw components and the energizing light that enables us to turn components into specific events is, to me, an available practical magic formula in the Two Powers. I'm working on ritualizing that with the two simple tools of the log and cauldron, incidentally, but we.re not going to do any of that to-day.
Today we're going to do the energies in the body, and in order to approach energies in the body, I'm blatantly working off the notion of Chakras and we'll be working with three centers in the body: the Head, the Heart and the Loins, which comes from the Cauldron of Poetry material.
There's a trace in Irish lore of the notion of a set of energy centers in the body. And it's found, at least, in a specific piece of poetry called The Cauldron of Poetry. It proposes three cauldrons in the human self/body/spirit - let's just say "self" - that determines the level of poetic inspiration, understanding, and wisdom - and really, physical strength and health and life - in the human person.
Those three cauldrons are: in the loins, in the belly, the Cauldron of Warming, it.s best translated. In the heart, the Cauldron of (let's use the translation) Vocation - some say Movement (but "calling" and "responding to calling" is in the connotation of the Irish word, and so is "movement"). So we can say Vocation or Movement for the cauldron in the heart. And in the head, the Cauldron of Wisdom (or Inspiration - the word translates either way).
The lore says (or, this specific poem, the medieval Irish poem), that these cauldrons are either inverted (that is, they can hold no substance), half upright (so they can hold some substance), or fully upright (so they can be filled). And the lore says that in all of us, the Cauldron of Warming is born upright. The Cauldron of Warming, if you will, is the biggest of the three cauldrons - I can't help but see them that way, like stacked Tupperware. The Cauldron of Warming is the furnace of the body's self-content. It provides our physical life. It strengthens our body and gives us vigor. And everyone is born with that cauldron fully upright and able to be fully filled.
The Cauldron of Vocation is born in some people half-upright and in some people inverted, the lore says. But everyone, as they gain a little wisdom in life, that cauldron becomes at least half upright if you don't grow up to be a fool, the poem says. And the way the poem puts it, it's by the experiences of life that these things are turned. It's by the experience of the joys and sorrows of life.
And this was advice to warriors and farmers from the poet; maybe we can imagine that among the poets there were more deliberate methods of turning the cauldron. I've decided to imagine that here for the next hour. And the Cauldron of Vocation is ability to perceive beauty and sorrow - what you might call human cognition above an animal subsistence, clod farmer sort of mind set.
The Cauldron of Inspiration is born inverted in a fall. Only the great events of life turn it. The joy and sorrow that arises from Love, the joy and sorrow that arises from Religious Experience (as it puts it in the poem), the joy and sorrow that arises from Battle (which is also mentioned) - are things that can turn the Cauldron of Inspiration to be able to receive the juice (the Imbas which I think is the combined misty mead that you get where fire and water meet).
So we'll be working with those three centers in the self, and we'll begin by just visualizing them all upright (by way of encouragement). And of course, the notion is that when all three cauldrons are fully upright, then you have a person filled with the Imbas able to speak in that oracular, poetic, tongue-that-cannot-lie sort of sense that you hear about in the tale. What we might call a modern Celtic Magician - as if that traditional construct had anything to do with what we call Magic in modern terms.
Take a minute and make your body happy. (If it takes more than a minute, do something else.) Of course, we want - if you can get it - your back straight, your feet planted square on the ground - or of course if you can sit cross-legged, that's a very good thing (I always like doing this cross-legged).
I always run into a certain set of people who feel embarrassed about envisioning roots growing out the base of their spine when they sit cross-legged (we'll ask Dr. Freud about that). And that visualization isn't really necessary. We'll try something different than any tree'ish thing at all for our primary work.
Now I do want to say that we need to go into somewhere between a light and medium trance for this work. You can continue to work eyes-open or eyes-closed at any time. In the medium term, I think we should learn to do this kind of thing with eyes open because it's hard to move the tools on your altar around with your eyes closed. We can learn to do this eyes open, and it's fun to do the visualization eyes open, because that's chance for special effects.
Eyes open here to think about the work before we do a little more.
You might find it useful to press your hands together to close the circuit that you opened... by flowing energy into them... And as you balance in yourself... for this time... at rest.
Two Powers Variations
All right, so that's the fully detailed Two Powers, as we call them. That position, that location of the Caher Draoi is different in its way from an Inner Grove or Staging Place that you go to, because it's fully right here in the material world. The notion is to bring the energies into the material world in this model, rather than move ourselves closer to the interior world.
Having done the big thing first, there are some detail exercises that may be too boring for me to run through, but let me talk about some good exercises to do with the two powers for training. These are the kind of exercises straightforwardly that people who work in other energy-based systems have always done (four elements stuff, etc.).
In fact, it owes a debt to Franz Bardon, and since I'm annotating my debt to greater occultism in this workshop, I'll mention that Franz Bardon had a wonderful book called Initiation into Hermetics, which basically taught everyone in Western occultism how to move energy. He was a German occultist of the middle twentieth century.
Q: Have you ever swapped the heat and the cold, such as swapping cold earth power/hot sky power for hot earth power/cold sky power?
A: It's certainly doable, such as volcanos, hot springs, swapping them during the dark/light halves of the year.
Q: Is being part of the Caher Draoi like aura work?
The concept of the aura is built-in in the human sensorium. We live in a 360-degree bubble of sensation, so you can't help but symbolize that in various ways.
In a private ceremony, that caher draoi ought to encompass your ritual space - so that the fire in your centers is symbolized by the fire in the center of your personal ritual space, with the well and the tree tying it all together.
That all makes so much more sense when you're doing solitary magical ritual, and it's so much easier to do because you only have one brain and one set of overlapping circles. We won't get in this hour workshop to merging our Caher Draoi into one big bubble, but you can try that at home any time. And it's supposed to be what happens when the group mind is created, if you will.
But as to basic exercises, for instance, a good simple training thing to do would be to fill yourself entirely with the underworld power, and meditate on the impressions it gives you. Or fill yourself entirely with the sky power, and meditate on the impressions it gives you. That's another workshop - I have two long meditations on that, actually. And you should be careful with that, too, as doing a One Power meditation can have unexpected results.
Yes, my notes say: always begin and end with balance meditation. Observe the results, is exactly what the notes say. When you start fiddling with this stuff, something will happen. There's just no question about it. If your goal in life is only to live a balanced, happy, thriving life, then you don't need to approach sorcery very much. Or practical magic. Any adventure carries risk, and magic is definitely the adventure end of spirituality.
You have to accumulate each of the two powers individually. My notion is that once you have that plasma, you're in green lantern land. You can, by visioning skills, shape/combine that (it has to be tri-essence rather than quintessence); you can shape that stuff by vision and will, in whatever way is true and real for you and isn't too wacky (unless you like wacky things...).
(By quintessence I mean "five" essence, or the result of 4 put together, and by tri-essence I mean "three" essence, or the result of 2 put together.)
Q: What if the Water and Light are the Two Powers...?
Well, then the result is their combined... the stuff you pour out of the cauldron after you've alchemized it for a few months... or their offspring... In this case, we're talking about aiming for results in the world, so we want to get an output from the two powers. So for instance if you need to protect yourself, you could harden it up into mirror or harden it up into a brick, if that's not too impermeable for you.
Dord Draoí - The Druid's Fortress, the Inner Sanctum, the Invisible Chat Bowl.
You've probably heard me use the phrase Dord Draoí and I'm going to keep using it because I like it. Draoí just means magic. In this context we'll just use its medieval sense of just plain magic. But Dord Fiann was the "Fiann buzz" (it's usually translated), "the warrior's buzz," the humming, roaring (we don't know what it was) sound the Fiann liked to make in context with their war magic.
Q: Is "buzz" the actual translation in academic literature?
So, Dord Draoi, literally, the "druid's buzz," or the "magic's buzz." It really describes energy work. The "druid's intonation" we get out of Dord Draoí. It actually provides a vague hint in Celtic lore of the notion of intoning for power. If Fianns did it, its certainly possible that druids did it before them. We'll believe they did for the next half an hour.
If it doesn't come naturally: I'd only tell you never to think of it as singing. It's neither entertainment nor melody. It's just about making a noise to move the energy in your body. And it makes the body vibrate - it creates a physical component to the extent that it is an anchor.
You can, for instance, get into the habit of imposing a set of symbols into that Dord Draoí for yourself, just by way of preparation. It can become totally identical to an Inner Grove. Here we get into Upanishad land, from my previous discussion, where you can find yourself placing the fire of your Dord Draoí chapel in your physical heart - envisioning it there - and the well perhaps in your physical loins, and the tree growing up through it all with whatever that mysterious thing is in your head.
There's a number of useful visualizations. One visualization I really like for protection work is a combined visualization of the Cloak of Brigh and the Spear of Lugh. If you work with those two powers, you can create for yourself - you can surround your entire Brigh - I like to think of the Cloak of Brigh as starry, because I think she borrows it from Danu, who I think is the Ocean of Space, (lurking Thelema probably).
In the traditional lore of protection and healing things, there is the Brat Brigh. We can envision that starry cloak of Brigh falling across our shoulders, if you like to be literal, or surrounding the Caher with a starry protection through which nothing could pass if it weren't let. And the fire of the sky can be shaped into the Spear of Lugh, which as I see it faces in all directions, or it's just set over your head. I use that as my most common, ordinary protection spell, which for me usually involves airline beers as a physical component.
We have a traveling charm we use over the car whenever we take a long drive, and the Cloak and Spear are my main vision for that bit of protection. But that sort of thing is where you can go, starting from the Caher Draoi (in Irish it's caher, but when you hear them say it, it's 'caer' - the first time I heard a guy saying it in Ireland, I thought they were speaking Welsh, but it has an H in it in Ireland).
There are several ways to use the two powers for healing. In using the two powers for healing, first you learn to charge objects with the two powers. Charging an object is really just a visualization. I think of it sometimes as creating a spirit body for the object. It may be presumptuous of me, but I'm far from sure that things have spirit bodies unless intelligent beings make them. Maybe there are beings besides us that are making them, but I'm far from sure that they evolve without intelligent help.
So sometimes I think of charging as creating the inner world counterpart - especially in objects that humans have made. So, for instance, if you're making a wand or a cauldron or a talisman, or something that is human artifice that is made from things that may once have had an animus at some point, but one wonders how it gets one if it's been chopped up and reshaped by the human power of shaping. That is in some way what we mean when we charging an object with the powers - so it appears in the inner world. When you open your innerworld sight, its there because you've created it on the inner as well as on the material plane.
So in using the two powers for healing, for instance, the underworld power I think is used to dissolve and cleanse. It can also be used to enhance and refresh well-being. Don't ask me yet for a system of analyzing people as to whether they're deficient in fire or water - in a long-term use of this - that has to grow (so let me know what you find out). But use the water especially to cleanse and purify ill. But as always something has to come in to replace it. And the sky power can burn away ill, and you can apply the sky power in that sort of way.
You can obviously use physical fire and water as conveyances for your power of fire and water. My opinion about ritualistic vs mental-only magic, is that mental-only magic is convenient (because you don't have to have a toolbox) and useful for advanced practitioners. But I think even advanced practitioners are likely to get a better result by grounding the work in a material symbol.
As always I think the business is bringing the spirit through into the common world. That's what we're doing - we're bringing spirit from the un-manifest into the manifest world, so using a manifest symbol at the bottom end of the spout is, like, waving a sick person with material water while you flow the underworld power through them, and catching that water in a basin and carrying it out to some large receiving, dissolving body of water is a fine ritual approach and is made juicy by the use of the two powers hypotheses. Folklore attempts to trick the mind into doing it by the traditional folklore tricks of having to go out into he graveyard at midnight, but we're trying to do it in a more conscious way.
And especially in healing, let me say that when you have done as much work as you think you're going to do to drive the illness out, or when you feel you've succeeded in driving the illness out, the sky power is especially important for restoring the natural pattern of the target.
If you will, without the sky power we'd all dissolve into puddles of our component elements. So it's the sky power that enables ourselves to remember what to be as we slough them off every seven years. You know how the body is this meat machine that sloughs off its outer parts and grows new parts that look just like it, only older.
It's the power of the sky - and if we could only have all the power of the sky we had when we were one... They're only a bag of cells after that - see they've lost their sky power and return to their component elements. So the target needs to be filled with that sky power in order to restore the basic pattern of health in the target in a healing situation.
You can apply this kind of two powers work to the work of seership. That Caher Draoi gives you a mountain top and a place where you can put your ear to the rock wall to see and hear what might be going on. They say that Math ap Mathonwy could see and hear the voices of his people on the wind. In each of us, this process of the fire and water mixing and making us and our minds and thoughts is happening on all the time. It's just kind of diffuse and unmanaged in folks that aren't consciously managing it.
Maybe it's us - maybe geniuses are doing this unconsciously anyway. What that means is that our thoughts are always kind of drifting away from our aura on that mist that we produce by the union of fire and water. They're always kind of in the air in thin streams that braid and mix through the world and help to create that strange web of telepathic things among humans that if you could cash in on it you could get rich (it never really seems to happen).
Maybe by sensitizing our aura of mist at the edge of that Caher Draoi where the water and fire join and automatically produces that mist that interfaces out with everything else, we can listen for streams of those voices. In the same way all beings are rooted in the underworld power. And the vibrations of our thoughts and deeds resound, if you will, down in those waters and also flow in streams.
It's really the underworld power that makes that connection possible, even though I gave an airy metaphor for it. But it's really that drifting, braiding, chaotic nature of the underworld power that makes thoughts flow like that. If it were all ordered then it would all just be crystaline and motionless.
It's the looseness of water that makes the mist work in that way. You can envision that in an underworld setting as well. You can descend through your wellhead into the pools of water underneath and see if you can 'taste' the thoughts of others flowing in the underworld waters, or feel the vibration of distant deeds. It's an axis of possible seership models.
And I didn't really write about using it for attack and defense. There are some schools of modern magic that enjoy magical combat just as a skill-sharpening occupation. I don't think we'll take it up this year. Next year's warrior games could include zapping, wand-waving...
I didn't do as much practicum as I thought I might. Questions or comments?
I would say that the exercise described is about maintenance and recapitulating cosmos in the self. Accumulating power for practical magic, I think you want to hold that power in the head until you are done. Rather than complete the circuit, you actually want to make a little fjord of power in you for as long as you can find for it.
Q: What about the microcosm-macrocosm relationship?
We agreed yesterday that Microcosm/Macrocosm was a perfectly Indo-European notion. Reflection and correspondence in Microcosm/Macrocosm are inescapable. Just because it's in hermetics, doesn't mean we have to reject that one!
Q: Why not use the Sun as the sky power?
I tell you that when I do ritual under the sun, I make the sun the source of the sky power. But the sun is not always present visible. Sometimes we're on the opposite side of the planet from it, at night. A conceptual and abstract point in the center of your inner sky is always available, does not vary based on your rotation on the planet.
At night, I've used the moon. When I'm under clear moonlight, I've used the moonlight. I'll always tie it to a local, physical event when the local, physical event is clearly true and real for the participants. When I'm forced by a gray sky or nighttime or just the lack of an obvious material symbol to do something else, that's what I usually choose to use: the star.
Q: But aren't planets visible at night showing a reflection from the sun?
Feel free to use the sun as the primary. It's the heart of our solar system - there's no problem with it really. In some ways I'm trying to reach deeper. In some ways I'm trying to create an image of going past.
You've heard me use the phrase "our common sun and moon" When I'm doing the rising toward the inner light, in a little more detail than I did today, I sometimes use. "Rise above the hall of our building, high above the blue air and cloud, even above our common sun and moon, shines the center of your inner sky." I'm going for that sense of mystical distance. There's absolutely nothing wrong with using the sun at all times, if that's your preference. Works perfectly well in the solar system we live in.
Thank you very much!
(For more of this material please see Ian Corrigan's druidry books on lulu.com)