Thursday, April 23, 2020

Energy meditations for bored self-isolators with no occult experience

Continuing in the spirit of my previous entry, here’s another one in the “stuff for the bored-and-anxious folks stuck at home to try” category.

The practices described here actually fall a ways outside of what most folks call ‘Satanism,’ i.e. this sort of thing is not typical either of LaVeyan or Satanic Temple practices.  Having read books in which Luciferians describe doing practices like these, frame it as if they speak as “typical” Satanists, and thereby put forward misleading impressions of what most Satanists actually believe, I would rather not be guilty of the same.

Where the meditation practices described below instead come from is an amalgamation of spiritual traditions drawn upon by diverse authors.  I find it interesting, on this front, that regardless of whether a given “New Age” author is influenced by yoga, qi gong, Westernized conceptions of “energy work” or etc., one finds similar practices, principles and visualizations described again and again.

An orthodox LaVeyan would typically be dismissive of this kind of thing, inasmuch as wishful thinking and practitioner attempts at self-elevation via snake-oil selling are always a potential concern.  And I would argue that inasmuch as the fifth Satanic Temple Tenet references the importance of beliefs having a scientific grounding, the default in that denomination too would appear to exclude practices of this kind.  As a heterodox practitioner and chaos magician myself though, I find that conceptions pertaining to what other spiritual folks often call “energy” can be of use, if kept within their proper context - as I’ll explain more below.

This entry has three sections:

* * *

A heterodox Satanic take on “energy”

What many spiritual practitioners call “energy,” wherein one gets the impression that something distinctly-different from science’s conception of energy is being talked about, has long been something of a complex topic for me.  On one hand, I am by default of a skeptical bent; this, together with my academic background and LaVeyan cynicism predispose me toward thinking that many people delude themselves regarding supposedly-occult phenomena.  On the other hand though, I’ve had experiences that I feel are not adequately described in terms of their meaningfulness-to-me via a purely scientific framing, and which have at the same time been compelling enough in their effects on me to have inexorably affected how I live my life.

This, then, becomes yet one more topic with regard to which the distinction of causal and acausal becomes useful to me.  (Link goes to entry on LaVeyan Greater Magic in which I explained how I personally use those terms.)

As I’m often finding is the case, there’s actually very little to say publicly about the acausal, as all this element amounts to here is: I’ve personally experienced things that I find intelligible to talk to other spiritual practitioners about in terms of “energy,” e.g. chi, prana or etc.; I’m aware of the ease with which this can be dismissed as unsupported and/or delusional by people who have not had such experiences; I therefore have no interest or motivation to explain or defend the “reality” of the experience to such people, because their openness or lack thereof to the acausal being “a thing” has no bearing on the fact that it is nonetheless an irreducible part of my own lived experience as I interpret it.

From a causal standpoint, on the other hand, my take on “spiritual energy” -type phenomena entails the following points:

  • What is being described is a purely subjective psychological phenomena
  • Said phenomena primarily consists in the ability to focus one’s attention strongly and to direct that attention at specific objects to the exclusion of other objects
  • I would anticipate the development of this capacity being beneficial via promoting improved bodily awareness, mental acuity, ability to better control emotions, etc.
  • This is NOT to claim any scientific support for such practices though, but rather to suggest that regardless of what science might or might not find upon attempting to study them, some people may feel subjectively better via doing them

I feel, given the times we are living through right now, that it is important to emphasize an implication of all this: I think people who cite anything pertaining to “spiritual energy” as a reason to ignore conventional scientifically-based medical advice are TOTAL IDIOTS.   I have seriously rage-quit esoteric groups in the past because there are too many painfully stupid anti-vaxxer uber-morons in them, and have zero use for anybody opting for any kind of airy-fairy bullshit (whether Western or otherwise) in place of legitimate medical advice.  On this front, I am pretty sure I am firmly on the same ground as most other LaVeyans and Satanic Temple folks re: if we’re going to recognize the past harms of religious thinking, it’s a fail to then give a pass to “spiritual” stuff that has no scientific backing and is thus no better than religion, or worse yet, deceives the public via pseudo-scientific dress-up games.

At the same time as I say this, though, I also spectacularly fail to get along with that kind of atheist who has to jump in on any/every human experience that isn’t perfectly rational and piss on it just to show off how much “smarter” they are than whoever else is in the conversation.  On this front, I am in agreement with the LaVeyan line re: realistically, humans are not and never will be totally rational; what LaVey approvingly speaks of as “ceremony” and “dogma” I then translate as: “motivation to be our best selves requires not just reason, but also emotional and aesthetic inspiration; emotional and aesthetic inspiration manifest via mythical narrative, ritual practice and other such figurative and metaphorical elements; let’s then judge those things according to the extent to which they succeed or fail at ameliorating the human condition, instead of fixating solely upon whether things are “true,” “valid,” “provable,” or etc. from a scientific standpoint.”

Point being that, speaking causally, the sole claim this entry is making is “here are some practices which I subjectively experience as beneficial to me via feeling more centered and grounded, more in control of my own mind and emotions, more able to get things done via overcoming pointless free-floating anxiety, etc.”  Note then that this is NOT that bullshit some "spiritual" people do where they invoke sciency-or-mathy-sounding claims to make their beliefs and practices sound authoritatively-true-and-valid or capable of bringing about miraculous results, because I hate that shit no less than the average atheist does.

Accordingly, any talk of “energy” that thus follows should be understood in the context of “this not a literal claim about actual energy, but rather, ‘energy’ is just the metaphor I am using to talk about a personal experience that is otherwise difficult to articulate.”  This entry is thus not intended for the kind of person who can’t deal with that sort of non-literal complexity, e.g. the kind of asshole who thinks it’s justified to throw the same shade about “woo” at anyone who ever talks in a vaguely spiritual way, without bothering to actually investigate whether the words being used are actually being used in the way you think they’re being used.  On this front, I have no problem accepting that esoteric stuff is not for everyone, but would appreciate in turn if people would have enough humility to just say “I don’t relate, it’s not for me” instead of having to act like they’re so superior on account of their not-being-interested.

* * *

Two meditation practices: energy-raising and energy-purifying

Moving on to the actual meat here, what I want to describe are two practices that I’ve been recurrently seeing in slightly-different-yet-recognizably-comparable forms in various occult sources I’ve read over the years.  In this section, I’ll just describe how to do them, e.g. as a form of contemplation/mindfulness-oriented meditation; in the section after this, I’ll talk about how they can additionally be integrated into ritual practices such as the banishing that I described in my previous entry.

The general idea is that, as conscious beings capable of self-reflection, and of thereby registering dissatisfaction at the gap between an ideal situation in our minds and the actuality that we experience at present, we occasionally experience two problems, which the exercises that follow are meant to help ameliorate.  Those two problems are:

  1. Malaise, i.e. feeling weaker, less capable, etc. than we ‘should’; we can’t focus on anything at all, inasmuch as it seems too ‘hard’ and we thus feel ‘not up to it’

  2. Distraction, i.e. feeling bored, disengaged, tormented by unwanted thoughts, etc.; our focus is too divided among non-useful things to be of use to us

Obviously, these problems can and often do both have a mundane physical basis, in which case they should be addressed on that level - i.e. if you feel like shit, maybe first-and-foremost try getting more sleep / eating better / consulting a medical or psychological expert / avoiding shitty people / etc.

Nonetheless, I would assert that many people are at least periodically troubled by these conditions in the absence of an obvious mundane physical cause - e.g. you’re eating properly, and sleeping enough, and taking your meds, and promptly kicking losers out of your life, yet things remain dissatisfying on these fronts.  In fact, I am of the opinion that the risk of this occasionally happening is an inherent pitfall that comes with consciousness as such, i.e. if we were just animals at the pure beck and call of our instincts, we would not have either of these problems.  This is not to devalue consciousness, but rather just to make the point that I don’t think what I’m describing here should be difficult for the average person to relate to.

In response then to these two problems:
  1. Energy-raising addresses malaise
  2. Energy-purifying addresses distraction
Each meditation primarily entails a visualization accompanied by breathing exercises.  When I do these, I often further complement them with mudras (yogic hand positions) because I find that enhances my focus, and I will thus describe those too, but I don’t see that part as essential; I offer it mainly because my own experience has been that it may help with the visualizations for those who struggle with them, as I myself did back when I first started trying to actually do this stuff as opposed to just reading about it. 

Accordingly, the only minimal physical requirement here is that you be sitting or standing in whatever is a comfortable position for you.  I’ve done both practices kneeling vs. standing vs. in lotus vs. just sitting on a chair and it’s worked fine for me in all instances.

  1. Imagine that you are standing inside of an equilateral triangle on the ground that’s about 4-5 ft per side, with one point directly behind you and the other two at front + right and front + left.  This triangle on the ground then serves as the base of a pyramid whose apex is where your skull joins your spine.

  2. Breathe in through your nose, imagining that as you do, the triangle glows with energy which then flows up from the ground into your hands and feet, on into your torso, gathering at the apex point just-mentioned.

  3. Hold the breath a moment to focus on the sensation of gathered-energy, and then breathe out, also through your nose, imagining as you do that the gathered energy now flows down through your throat and stomach to settle at a position about an inch below your navel.

  4. Repeat as often as you like.  My own experience is that it takes a minimum of about a dozen breaths to have any minimally-noticeable effect.
Note that while a lot can be done with the variety of ways in which one can more specifically envision ‘energy’ here - i.e. feel free to experiment with what works for you as far as color, consistency and so on - the key thing is that you envision some kind of invigorating ‘flow’ that comes from outside and beneath, gathers at the back of your mouth, and then descends into your lower body for storage.  

The effect of this practice - according both to my own subjective experience and that of yoga, qi gong, etc. practitioners whom I’ve talked to or read about doing analogous exercises - is that it increases feelings of potency and capability, such that if malaise is either preventing you from starting a task that you should start, or preventing you from continuing a task that you are supposed to be getting done, these obstacles can afterward be tackled with renewed vigor.

To perform the mudra with which I accompany this practice:
  1. Place your palms together with the fingers all straight up

  2. Fold all the fingers down except the forefingers and thumbs

  3. Flex your fingers so that the two forefingers point straight up while touching one another, and the two thumbs point straight toward you while touching each other

  4. Hold the resultant position at a comfortable chest level while doing the practice

  1. Imagine that you are standing underneath an equilateral triangle that hovers a few feet above your head, about 4-5 ft per side in size, with one point directly in front of  you and the other two at back + right and back + left.  This triangle in the air then serves as the base of an upside-down pyramid whose apex is at a position about an inch below your navel.

  2. Breathe in through your nose, imagining that as you do, the triangle glows with ‘pure’ energy which then flows down from the sky, following your breath into your mouth and down your throat and into your lungs, then spreading out into your extremities, at the same time as it settles at the apex-point just-mentioned.

  3. Hold the breath a moment to focus on the sensation of gathered-energy, and then breathe out through your mouth, imagining as you do that ‘used-up/polluted’ energy is gathering from all parts of your body into the apex point, then rising up your throat and leaving your body as you finish exhaling.

  4. Repeat as often as you like.  My own experience is that it takes a minimum of about a dozen breaths to have any minimally-noticeable effect.
Note that while a lot can be done with the variety of ways in which one can more specifically envision ‘energy’ here - i.e. feel free to experiment with what works for you as far as color, consistency and so on - the key thing is that you envision some kind of ‘flow’ of cleansing energy entering you from outside and above, and then departing such that it takes away whatever energies are of no use to you. 

An interesting thing to note, however, is that while the energy-raising visualization’s specifics vary widely between traditions, the energy-purifying one tends to be very consistent, with the fluffy ‘metaphysics’ folks describing it no differently from the hardcore black magicians: silver energy in, black smoke out.  I don’t think that means that is the only option, but its ubiquity is so in contrast to other practice details that I’ve seen presented more variously that it seems worth taking explicit note of.

The effect of this practice - according both to my own subjective experience and that of others whom I’ve talked to or read about doing analogous exercises - is that it helps overcome feelings of divided attention and energy-drain, via the elimination of energetic attachments (read: focus of attention) toward things that are unhelpful and burdensome.  Not unlike how ritual magic operates, this obviously works best when accompanied by suitable subsequent action, i.e. if you’re doing this because you’re out of sorts due to reading bullshit on the Internet, and want to feel better instead of continuing to be distracted by said bullshit, don’t immediately follow the exercise by picking up your phone and going back on social media again.

The mudra with which I accompany this practice I find to be extremely effective, but also immensely annoying to try to explain to people, i.e. if the following instructions make no sense, maybe just go look at my Instagram pics of it instead :)  Nonetheless, here’s my best try re: how you do it:
  1. While looking at your palms, touch the pinky finger of your left hand to the ring finger of your right hand

  2. Without breaking the connection just made, bend your left ring finger down to touch the pinky finger of your right hand

  3. Without breaking the previously-mentioned connections, touch the middle finger of your left hand to the forefinger of your right hand

  4. Bring the forefinger of your left hand and the middle finger of your right hand toward you, and touch these fingertips to each other; you should now have four places total where one hand’s fingertips touch the other’s

  5. Flex your thumbs so that both point as straight-upward as possible

  6. Hold the resultant position at a comfortable chest level while doing the practice
Good thing those mudras are optional, yes? :)

Quick disclaimer/reminder before I move on to the last section:  These exercises are primarily aimed at “everything is basically fine on the mundane health front, but I still don’t feel at my best” -type situations.  Don’t expect miracles, then, if you aren’t taking care of yourself to begin with.  A statement of LaVey’s to the effect of “positive thinking and positive action add up to results” comes to mind here - with very strong emphasis on that italicized part.

* * *

Additional applications

The most basic application of the above exercises is just as a form of meditation, i.e. sit and do the thing for 10 minutes; focus on your breath instead of the odd-dozen concerns and problems you can’t actually do anything about at this very second anyway; feel better. :)

I find though that these can also be incorporated into ritual magic proceedings, such as the banishing I mentioned last entry, typically at one or both of the following points in the ritual:

  • At the beginning, as part of preparation for the ritual proper.  Readers of the banishing entry may observe that there’s an initial get-ready step in that ritual that sounds very similar to the energy-purifying practice I’ve just described; the current entry thereby just serves as a more-info-on-that addendum to the previous entry.
  • In connection with the visualizations performed in each of the four directions.  The idea here is that while doing the elemental-themed visualizations described in connection with each direction’s “blessings,” I at the same time do the energy-purifying practice for a few minutes, and then do the energy-raising one after, as this to me makes sense in connection with the “out with the bad, in with the good” drive of banishing more generally.  Thus, there would then be a south-facing fire-energy-purifying followed by fire-energy-raising; an east-facing air-energy-purifying followed by air-energy-raising; and so on, with earth and water.

The latter type of application in particular is where one can get more creative as far as visualization goes, i.e. picturing different colors or sensations of energy for each direction/element/type-of-entity.  My specific details for these vary each time I’ve performed the ritual, but the underlying principles that inspire the details include:

  • South / Fire / Archons = energy in the sense of the power of the will and the passions, striving for the attainment of all of one’s earthly desires
  • East / Air / Fallen Angels = energy in the sense of that which makes one capable of intellectual or intuitive insight, and/or receptive to inspiration
  • North / Earth / Abominations = energy in the sense of that which enables one to keep up steadfast perseverance in the face of adversity
  • West / Water / Ancient Ones = energy in the sense of “rational as I may want to be, I still sense a presence here that is powerful, mysterious and distinctly not-me.”  Or, if putting it that way is getting a bit too mystical for some, one could alternately put it in terms of just having a realistic humility re: humans are not invulnerable and thus are in some sense dependent upon forces outside themselves - which, one could argue, is what is implied via the role the triangles play in the energy-purifying and energy-raising practice anyway.

Combining the practices here-discussed with ritual may not appeal to novices in sorcery inasmuch as it just makes one more thing you have to do/remember.  I do think though that attempting these practices by themselves initially, in order to familiarize oneself with the sensations they generate, can be a useful step for the sort of folks who suffer from “I always feel like maybe nothing is happening” -type insecurities in connection with ritual.  The idea then would be that these are practices that can show you what “something is happening” might feel like, and bringing that into the ritual may then help with its efficacy.

As per so many things occult-wise though, there is always a “your mileage may vary” aspect, and ultimately no substitute for just experimenting to find out what works best for you.  Hopefully though, what I’ve described above will be of use to at least some folks who attempt it.