"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." - Philippians 4:8
The meditation of the Secret or Inner smile is an age old practice that has powerful effects on the experiences had during the process. The way it is taught through Tantric circles is a little different than the way it is taught via other sources (Mantak Chia for example). What we should consider is that if A=B then B=A. What I mean by this is that emotional/psychological states are influenced by the levels of essence and vitality in the body, with certain states tied to specific organs and glands. If this is true then the practice of adopting powerfully positive emotional/psychological states will also have an effect on the levels of essence and vitality in the body. This pervades throughout the entire body due to the ability to rewrite information coded within the DNA strains found within cells and results in a much greater sense of well-being and inner harmony.
The practice begins, like most other meditative practices, with the feeling of deep relaxation. Here the practice of "relaxation response", used by many hypnotherapists can be very useful. It is important to understand that eventually, we need to be able to enter a state of sleep paralysis if we are to approach the inner sanctum. This makes the body itself the temple (and Alchemical Laboratory) in which we work. In this temple, we have the outer temple/lower cauldron, the inner temple/middle cauldron and the Holy of Holies/upper hidden cauldron (original cavity).
Now that we have entered the Temple/Laboratory, we begin to fill it with positive intent. The key here is not to think about the feelings, but to actually feel them. After-all, knowing about happiness is nowhere near the same as actually being happy ;) I'm sure we all understand this.
throughout your body and into your head. Fill your entire body with this feeling. Walk through and light every corner of your inner temple with this energy as you breathe deeply. Once your entire body is full of this feeling, allow it to fill with the pool of saliva in your mouth, swirl it around and swallow it down. Follow the energy to the lower cauldron where it mixes with the previous feeling of confidence, making a new sensation that is a combination of confidence and ecstasy. Breathe this new ball of light/energy through your orbit. Inhaling the powerful feeling up the spine, and exhaling it down the front.
down where it mixes with the previous feelings. This merges the 4 intents into one. Take this new intent and breathe it through the orbit for a few cycles.
This method will help to rewrite the information within your cells, and within your psyche to carry powerfully positive states. In time this will become a sort of "white noise" that exists behind all other meditations, and even your daily interactions will have to take place on the psychological/energetic landscape of your Inner/Secret Smile.
This practice gets more powerful over time. Enjoy it, Love it, Share it with EVERYONE!
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"That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below"
- Emerald Tablet
For ages, the Sun and the Moon have been used as symbols of the masculine and feminine principles as an expression of polarity. The interaction between these two forces are said to give birth to the many manifest things, but the harmonization of them reveals another principle. They have been mystically represented for ages as deities, or as a Solar King, a Lunar Queen, with the Star always being hinted at indirectly.
In Western Traditions they are often referred to allegorically as pillars. This along with the use of other symbolic representations allow for the Alchemist to pass along teaching that are dense with multilayered meaning and use. For the use of Internal Alchemy, these refer to (among other things) the three channels symbolically related to the Sun, the Moon and Star (or Lightning).
While philosophically this can refer to many things in existence, which any good symbol that is meant to convey a universal principle should, internally these principles are depicting aspects within ourselves. We see this hinted in the many different traditions that attribute the Sun and the Moon to the eyes. For example, in Shinto there is the myth of the deity Izanagi, which after entering the underworld came to cleanse himself in a river. When he washed his face, the deity Amaterasu (Sun deity) was born from his left eye; Tsukuyomi (Moon deity) was born from his right eye; and Susano-O (Thunder/Storm deity) was born from his nose. Here we see a connection between the three depictions of the Sun, the Moon and in this case, Lightning as depicting the three energies, each being attributed to a deity.
Energy Channels as the Sun and Moon
"With regard to the human body, one's own body is a whole Heaven and Earth, and also contains the Sun and the Moon. The body is Heaven and Earth; Water and Fire are the ingredients; and the cyclical movements of the Sun and the Moon are the Fire Phases."
- Wang Jie (14th Century) Commentary on the Mirror for Compounding the Medicine
When working with the three channels of the body, it is important to remember that it is more beneficial to be focused on the internal sensations than the abstract ideas. While the abstract ideas link many myths, legends and religious iconography, these symbols and details of the myths become more important later on in the process. For now it enough to understand that the effects of stimulating the Solar channel works on the masculine traits such as expansion, activity, protection, heat and movement while the Lunar channel works on feminine traits such as contraction, receptivity, rest, coolness and stillness.
The center channel is accessed only by the balancing of the two polar channels. Without this balance, one channel will inevitably be dominant over the other. The polar channels are used to stimulate the center channel, so once the two are in balance you will be able to work more directly with the “Middle Pillar”, or center channel. This is an important distinction because there are many who take up practices that are designed to work with the center channel, but do not do the work to make the center channel accessible. This is one major reason they don't get the results the practices are meant to have.
Solar and Lunar Channels in Taoism
On a physical level, the Microcosmic Orbit works a balance between the two main nervous systems, the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain, brain stem and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which includes the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. The central nervous system receives and records all the information gathered through the senses and governs our conscious thinking processes. The peripheral nervous system governs our sensory and motor functions. By moving the energy up the spine and observing the effect with the mind, then lowering the energy while being aware of the sensations of the body, we create a balance between the two systems.
In our modern Western society, we have been taught to believe that the mind and body are separate. We have been raised to believe that thinking is of the mind and feeling is of the body. However there is no real mind body separation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine, the kinds of thoughts and emotions can be traced to specific organs. Often people who tend to have stubborn or angry dispositions are treated for ailments of certain organs. As their treatments take effect, the disposition changes.
To assist in the connection between the two channels (Governor & Conception Vessels), the tip of the tongue is placed on the roof of the mouth, which also makes a connection of mind and body. Later the placement changes depending on the particular work, but for now place the tongue behind the teeth.
Stage 1 - Guiding The Energy With The Body
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth, just behind the front teeth to close the circuit. Relax the muscles of the body so that it feels as though your skeletal frame is holding up your body like a coat hanger, as opposed to your muscles. Relax the inner organs so that you feel the weight inside the body sinking.
With each inhale raise the hands and the energy as you rock forward on your feet. As you exhale bring the hands and the energy down the front of the body as you rock back onto the heels. Continue for as many cycles as you can mindfully maintain.
Stage 2 - Guiding The Energy With The Eyes
Continue with this for as many cycles as is comfortable, rotating the eyes up the left as you inhale and down the right as you exhale.
The rotating of the eyes is a closely held secret technique that is common throughout many cultures around the world. In the book, Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality is says:
“Roll round the positive yang and negative yin (i.e. the two eyes) to shake the brain in order to pull out from its center spirit which has developed and will then emerge from the mysterious gate”
Chi’ien Feng Lao Jen said: “The sun and the moon when turning round unite positive yang with negative yin so that a glorious light emerges from the center of the brain. If you only gather the outer alchemical agent during the “inner copulation” of the male and female principles and do not gather the inner alchemical agent during the phases you are like a cart without wheels or a boat without rudders.”
Stage 3 - Guiding The Energy With Intent
Then exhale and follow the swallowing feeling with the energy, moving it down into the dantien/hara (lower abdomen) and back down to the perineum. As the energy moves down, bring your conscious awareness to the internal feelings of the body.
Repeat this cycle for as long as is comfortable.With each inhale, bring the energy up into the head and be aware of any changes in color, or any movements against the back of the eyelids.
Make your exhale is about twice as long as your inhale. This is to correct the imbalance of a primarily externally aware life, and direct your awareness inwards. At this stage it is important that you are able to feel the energy moving throughout the entire orbit without any gaps in the sensation. If you find that there are areas of the body where the kinesthetic sense of the energy is lacking, go back to a previous stage of the practice.
Solar and Lunar Channels in Yoga
In Yogic traditions, the two polar channels are related to the left and right sides of the body as well as left and right hemispheres of the brain. The right channel is called Pingala Nadi and is connected with Solar energy. The left channel is called Ida Nadi and is connected with Lunar energy. Fire is the elemental energy of the Sun, and Water the elemental energy of the Moon. The two channels are used to create a balance between stimulation and sedation in the body as well as regulating the chakra that exist in the central channel called Sushumna Nadi.
Once the energies are balanced the center channel is opened, which stimulates energy to rise within this channel and stimulating the chakra to open like a blooming flower. The opening of the center channel and activating of the chakra spins the energy. This forms a toroidal vortex of energy that flows with its central core within your body, and forms an electromagnetic field traditionally known as the human aura.
While this energy is always there to some extent, the purification and full activation of this energy is referred to as a spiritual awakening, and in Yogic traditions described as awakening Kundalini. The imagery of Kundalini awakening is depicted as a serpent, or two serpents moving up a rod or up the spine. This imagery has been used all around the world in virtually every culture.
On a more physical level, the two channels that form the left and right channels are connected to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, while the central channel connects to the central nervous system and the vagus nerve. The Chinese orbit connect to the spinal tract with the central nervous system along the solar channel, and the peripheral (and specifically the vagus nerve) along the front for the lunar channel. Keep in mind, although these channels connect to the nerves, it would be a mistake to say that they ARE the nerves.
Seen from this perspective, the practice of balancing the two channels could be seen as the balancing of the stimulation between the two nervous systems. In our everyday society many people suffer from an overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous systems, which have damaging long term effects, and is a symptom of prolonged stress.
Long term effects of an overstimulated sympathetic nervous system (stress) include the narrowing of perception, loss of cognitive processing, hyper-vigilance (paranoia), slower reaction time, loss of peripheral vision (tunnel vision), loss of night vision, loss of depth perception, impaired near vision, loss of fine and complex motor skills, inhibition of organ function in the stomach, large and small intestines, increase in heart rate and blood pressure, increase in respiratory rate, breaking down of glycogen by the liver, weakening of the immune system, constriction of blood vessels leading to organs, weakens adrenals and more.
Some of the more common complaints that accompany the stress response from an overstimulated sympathetic nervous system include insomnia, headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, malnutrition, stiffness, aches and pains of body and joints, memory loss and poor muscle motor function.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Stage 1 - Alternating With The Hand
Hold your right nostril closed and inhale slowly and deeply, feeling the air as it enters the left nostril and filling the left channel. Visualize the left channel filling with light so that at the end of the inhale, the entire channel is filled with energy and light.
Switch nostrils so that the left is closed and exhale through the right nostril. Visualize this energy moving from the left channel to the right channel and you exhale through the right nostril.
Then inhale through the right, filling the right channel.
Switch nostrils again so that the right is closed and the left is open and exhale, bringing the energy from the right to the left channel. Continue this for several breath cycles, alternating the energy from the right to the left channel as you breathe.
Stage 2 - Alternating With The Hand And With Mudra
Pinch the nose so that both nostrils are closed for a count of sixteen seconds, while bringing the energy from the left channel to fill the center channel. Then release the right nostril and exhale for a count of eight while bringing the energy from the center channel to the right. After you exhale, follow it immediately with an inhale, bringing the energy in and filling the right channel. Pinch the nose and hold the breath for a count of sixteen, bringing the energy up the center channel. Release the left nostril and exhale for a count of eight. Continue this pattern for as long as comfortable, maintaining a breath ratio at a 2:6:4, inhaling for four seconds, holding for sixteen and exhaling for eight each time.
Note: As with the Microcosmic Orbit, you can use your eyes (while closed) to help direct the energy. While the energy is moving up the right channel, bring your eyes from looking down and to the right, to the point in the middle between the eyebrows (Ajna/3rd eye center). When the energy is moving to the left bring your eyes down and to the left. The eye movement should move together with the breath, and aids in manipulating the movement of energy.
Stage 3 - Alternating With The Eyes And Will
Begin to develop awareness of the breath in the nostrils. When you breathe in, your whole awareness should flow with the breath from the tip of the nose, through the nasal passages, up to the eyebrow center (Ajna/3rd eye). And when you breathe out, your whole awareness should flow with the breath from the eyebrow center to the tip of the nose (The tip of the nose is associated with the base center).
Become aware of the triangular form of the breath between the nostrils and the eyebrow center. The base of the triangle is at the level of the upper lip, its sides are the right and left nasal passages, and its apex is within the eyebrow center.
First, feel the breath moving in and out of the left nostril, then the right nostril. Then be aware of the breath as it flows in and out through both nostrils together.
Once you are established in this breath awareness, begin to consciously alternate the flow of the breath between the two nostrils and practice it psychically without the use of hands blocking the nostrils. (This is possible by internally switching dominance from the sympathetic to parasympathetic branches at will, which cause the corresponding nostril to dilate while constricting the other.)
Consciously inhale through the left nostril to brow center and exhale through the right, then inhale through the right brow center, and exhale through the left.
This is one round. After completing four such rounds, inhale and exhale through both nostrils simultaneously, visualizing the passage of the breath forming an inverted V-shape.
Continue in this way; an inhale and exhale through each nostril, then one breath through both nostrils. Count the rounds from 100 back to zero. 100 - inhale left nostril, exhale right nostril; inhale right nostril, exhale left nostril, inhale both nostrils, exhale both nostrils 99- repeat, 98- repeat, 97- repeat, 96- inhale both nostrils, exhale both nostrils, and so on.
Revealing the Star - Opening the Center Channel
The Alchemical Wedding
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“Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.”- The Kybalion
'Alchemical Wedding’ is a rare and special Amulet that holds the power to bring peace, equilibrium and a sense of wholeness to those who wear it.
The occult power of the Alchemical Wedding Amulet lies in reaching the consciousness of Love’s true dimension.
The Alchemical Wedding is the union of all opposites, particularly the union of conscious and unconscious, masculine and feminine, positive and negative, Yin and Yang, fire and water. Energy extremes can be challenging on their own, but their union creates harmony and balance in all things.
The sacred Marriage of Opposites, the Hieros Gamos of antiquity, is in fact a conjunction of two elements. One is of masculine nature, represented in this Talisman by the Sun, and the other is of feminine nature - the Moon, both conjoined by means of a third element, Mercury, which is androgynous and does not act directly, but facilitates and tempers the action of the other two.
The Alchemical Wedding Pendant is a powerful artifact designed to truly harmonize and holistically integrate our masculine and feminine aspects, as well as recover our long lost primordial equilibrium of the original androgynous state.
This rare Alchemical Wedding model was created at a most auspicious astrological time, when the Sun is powerfully located in its Home Sign of Leo, the Moon equally powerful in Cancer (also its Home Sign) and with Mercury residing exactly at the mid point between them, acting as a mediator and helping us become conscious of our true primordial nature, which is androgynous and therefore a complete, fully realised being.
The Alchemical Wedding Pendant is composed of two parts, a hollow cylinder (Mezuzah) and a close cap. During the ceremony, the magical components are inserted into the cylinder, the signatures and magic squares of the sun and the moon are inscribed on a papyrus. Additionally, Solar elements are added to help attract the sun energies (24k gold leaf, sun stone, sunflower petals and saffron) as well as Lunar elements to help attract the moon energies (globules of pure silver, moon stone and raw cotton). The pendant is sealed and suffumigated at the end of the ceremony.
The age old saying "Know Thyself" requires us to ask these questions, and through various practices, we come to reevaluate how these patterns are serving us. For any person to truly make a transformation, it cannot come by holding on to old paradigms and patterns that have kept them tied to the same cycles. An Alchemy of the mind must take place so that our fears and discomforts are revealed for what they truly are, and so that we can come to understand where our desires are originating from.
While for the common person, the moving away from discomfort and towards comfort makes up the majority of what the mind is used for, the Mystery Traditions teach that the mind has far greater purpose, one that reveals an inner landscape of awe and wonder.
The 3 Minds
Training the 3 minds
The Four Secret Powers of the Mind
Training of the mind reveals four faculties that are crucial for cultivating and releasing the magical and mystical powers that can be harnessed through the proper application of the powers of the mind. These four secret powers are represented in the Eastern traditions (Taoism) in the image of the Four Celestial Animals (Green Dragon, White Tiger, Red Phoenix, Black Turtle), and in the Wester Tradition as the 4 Powers of the Elements.
In Taoist teachings, the Tao (Source) manifests as a series of polar and dual forces, most readily recognized in the famous symbol of Yin and Yang. Here we find that Heaven refers to Consciousness, Earth refers to the body. Fire is the manifestation of the "Will of Heaven", and so experienced as intention. Water is the experience within the body in the mind, and so associated with attention.
The fusion of the 4 powers is a prerequisite for creating true magical power within the magus/mystic. The magical energies of the Green Dragon (Imagination) and White Tiger (Sensation) must be combined in order to create and sustain the energy body. The energies of the Red Phoenix (Intention) and Black Turtle (Attention) must be combined to create and sustain the Spirit body. The energies of both the Energy body and the Spirit body must combine and fuse as one in order to create true magical power, and awaken to ones true nature.
By using these 4 powers and ascending through to attain direct experience of the 3 minds, we completely transform the very idea of who we are and what we are capable of. Not only do we free ourselves from the cycle of running from pain and towards pleasure, only to find pain at the end, but we are able to fully step into our true identity and fulfill our Higher Purpose.
When we look into the spiritual traditions of history, we find the "Word" to have a central importance as an active component to the creation of Life and the Cosmos. In many of the Creation myths, it is through the Word that the world is brought into manifestation, and it is from this that the spiritual traditions of old formed their Sacred Mantras, Divine Names or Magic Incantations. Again and again, the story is told and retold with different names, different allegories and different symbols, yet one common message; that the Word is an integral part of Creation.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." - John 1:1-3
In Kabbalah and Western Theurgy, specific names are said to rule over various aspects of reality. These names are used as formulas to direct certain currents of this Creative Force, and each according to their nature is able to create change according to the Will. In early Kabbalistic traditions, those skilled in this practice were called "Masters of the Name".
Then there are the 12 simple letters, which are Heh ה, Vau ו, Zayin ז, Chet ח, Tet ט, Yod י, Lamed ל, Nun נ, Samech ס, Ayin ע, Tzadi צ, Kof ק. Each of the 12 are attributed to one of the 12 zodiac signs. Likewise in ancient Arabic, there are 28 letters which correspond to the 28 lunar mansions.
The Creative Process and Alchemy
The three deities (Sia, Heka and Hu) represent a greater truth that has been preserved for ages and repeated in later traditions and religions. While this can be seen in the various Trinities of Religion, in Western Alchemy they are represented by the three Primes; Salt, Mercury and Sulfur. The Salt is the form of creation, and so relates to Hu. Mercury is the energy, or Spirit and related to Heka. Sulfur is the Soul and forms our conscious awareness, and so relates to Sia. Likewise in Japanese Mikkyo there is the Sanmitsu (three secrets) of Thought (Perception), Speech (Energy) and Deed (Actions). These three are again the manifestation of the 3 qualities. When the three are united, it results in an act of Magick.
Again and again the same principle is repeated, hidden as minor aspects and yet pervasive of every tradition.
The Heart and the Soul (Ka)
In comparing these traditions, we come to find that Heka rules the second of the 3 Treasures/Primes of Alchemy, related to Vital Breath, Qi, Prana, Pneuma, Ruach etc. Its center in the body is found in the Heart, and as it governs speech, it also rules the tongue, but is this merely a symbolic relationship? While we can understand the allegory of "speaking from the heart" as allowing our words to express our truth, is it only a poetic relationship between the heart and the tongue?
Manifesting Through the Word
As the many Sacred Traditions have written that the process of manifestation comes through the "Word", we find that in every tradition, spoken word is a central practice. Whether it be prayers, mantras, incantations or invocations, the power of the Word is a process used throughout the world's traditions.
While all of this points to an inherent power of speech, how can this be true? How can there be any power in the words you speak? If there really was power in speech to manifest, why aren't more people manifesting their realities?
The Answer Is - They Are!
The level of consciousness we are able to operate from during the incantation also effects the power given to the words. There are four general levels of speech:
Blessing & Cursing Powers of the Word
"A wholesome tongue [is] a tree of life: but perverseness therein [is] a breach in the spirit." - Proverbs 15:4
"Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." Proverbs 18:21
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." - Hebrews 4:21
"And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." - Revelation 19:15
With this, we can see that the words of our recitations serve as a sword, and the practice helps to polish the heart and mind. This serves to direct the mind to have a sense beyond the physical and into the Spiritual and Divine realms in an existential sense by observing the Mind and the Mental planes as we traverse the planes, into the realms of the Spirit. (For more on the dimensions of the Mind and the Spiritual realms, see our blog article: Alchemy of the Mind)
Secret Method of Empowered Incantations
3: Inhale the Cosmic/Heavenly energy and the Earthly energy through the nose to activate the energetic nature of the talismanic symbol now located at the top of the mouth, on the middle of the pallet.
4: Mix the energy with the saliva and swallow it, bringing the combined energy into your "Yellow Court" area (middle dantian) to mix it with the combined energetic and spiritual natures of the inner elements. In Taoism it would be the Hun from the Liver, Shen from the Heart, Yi from the Spleen, Po from the Lungs and Zhi from the Kidneys.
5: Bring the Divine/Cosmic light up from your lower dantian through the center channel into the middle dantian (Yellow Court) and combine it with the energy of the 5 elemental organ qualities, the talismanic energy, and the breath. Once these four energies have combined, exhale them out the mouth with the intention of the projected sound or spoken word.
6: The projected incantation should include the energetic thought and spirit projected from each of the levels of Speech listed above. This projected incantation should also be combined with a hypnotic influence, which is initiated by voice inflection, attitude, tone, words, mannerism, appearance and demeanor. The power of the incantation would be directly related to the level of mind one is able to access during the incantation.
Throughout history, there have been certain words that have been held to contain special power. One of the most famous is the word Abracadabra (alternately spelled Abrahadabra). The word “Abracadabra” was used as a charm/spell, and is a powerful incantation with ancient Aramaic/Hebrew origins and is rooted in the words “Evra k’Dabra” (אברא כדברא), meaning: “As it shall be spoken, so it shall be created”.
This word was often used to make powerful talismans. Our friends at Telos Magic have harnessed the power of this word. By using a known Qabalistic technique, the spell is enclosed inside an inverted triangle/pyramid shape and is written in a downward converging manner, in order to rid oneself of evil and to act like a funnel channeling the negative energy or illness out of one's body and into the ground by literally causing the disease or the evil influences to be forced out, dispelled and discarded, as the letters activate the charm.
To maximize the protection powers of this Amulet, it is also enhanced by the addition of a Turquoise stone, which is known to be protective from the evil eye, from physical injury and from all kinds of danger.
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In many traditions the liver was considered to be the "seat of the soul", and it is linked to the eyes. This is also the case with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It would be safe to say we have all heard the saying "the eyes are the window to the soul". The question then is why the liver? How is it connected to the eyes?
First thing is first, in the mystery teachings around the world, they each describe that we have 3 "bodies", that are really levels of our Conscious being. There is the carnal soul, associated with the conscious awareness of our "common" state. This is the soul that is associated with the liver. This is why in TCM it is such an important organ for the overall health and wellness of the body's energy.
In Alchemy they worked with what they called "Liquor Hepatis" which means "liquor of the liver", and the alchemists made a perfume of it called "Balsam of the Soul." In Kabbalah this part of the Soul is called "Nefesh". This is also described as being the instincts of the Soul.
The second of the three is centered in the heart, and the third is centered in the mind/brain. You will find these three bodies described in different ways in virtually every tradition.
Alchemy: Salt, Mercury, Sulfur
Kabbalah: Nefesh, Ruach, Neshemah
Taoism: Jing, Chi, Shen
Sufism: Nafs, Qalb, Ruh
Egypt: Ba, Ka, Akh
and so on and so on.
Biologically the liver plays a vital role in the body's ability to provide energy, and purify toxins. Today we also understand that when the liver is sufficiently weakened, it results in "brain fog", or a lowered ability for the mind to function. This highlights primal thoughts and desires due to an inhibited ability to retain higher thought, which is a modern medical way to describe what the ancients would call falling into the animal soul urge. When it is filled with toxins it can be seen in the eyes, often as a yellowing called jaundice.
Then we find the story of the Greek Myth of Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from heaven and brought it down to man. In the myth, Prometheus is punished by being chained to the side of a mountain to have an eagle (the bird that represents Zeus) eat his liver, only to have it regenerate overnight and have the process repeated again. Compare this to the Titan Tityos, who was punished for rape (falling to carnal urges) and chained in Hades (Underworld) to have two vultures (the bird that represents Hades, the god of the underworld) eat his liver, which also regenerated repeatedly.
The Liver and TCM
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the liver is considered to be the General of the body. It is the largest glandular organ of the body, and plays a major role in the general flow of energy (qi). It is also considered to be the ruler of jing (essence).
Because the flow is backward to the natural flow of the center channels (Conception Vessel & Governor Vessel), which typically flow up the front and down the back, along with the natural flow of the liver channel, the energy is redirected inwards. This inward movement of energy and essence causes it to nourish the neuro-endocrine systems which are considered to be instrumental in the spiritual development of Internal Alchemy and symbolized as the 7 metals. It is because this energy is redirected inwards as opposed to out toward the physical use of the energy that we can see the connection between the stories of self sacrifice and the liver.
Laying the Foundation
Over time this link becomes strong enough that the practitioner begins to have images that appear in the minds eye related to the stimulation of certain regions within the body. This is an important development as many of the symbols and allegories are related to the nature of the visions that occur when the appropriate regions have been sufficiently impacted as a way to ensure that only those who actually take up the work can fully understand.
Above this is the ladder, which is symbolic of the spine itself. A quick look at an image of the spine and one can easily see that the vertebrae look like a ladder. In his vision, he saw angels that were ascending and descending on the ladder. This is the visual representation of the energy that is moving up and down the spinal tract as done in the microcosmic orbit during the phase of Laying the Foundations.
When the process of energizing the essence during spermatogenesis is complete, the practice of Laying the Foundation directs it to nourish the brain. The process of puberty itself is caused by an interaction between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. These are considered the master controls for the endocrine system in general and the completion of this stage regenerates the brain and endocrine system, which is the physical component related to what is commonly known as the chakra system in Yoga.
A sexual release would eliminate the seminal fluids and stop the process, and the work would have to begin again. This is why it is written in sacred texts that a man that has "spilled his seed" was not fit to perform rituals in the temple. It was symbolic allegory to the fact that the loss of Essence diminishes the necessary energies to cause the alchemical operations. For women it was during menstruation, as this is the way Essence is lost in women.
Using the Eyes to Circulate the Light
Chi'ien Feng Lao Jen said: "The sun and the moon when turning round unite positive yang with negative yin so that a glorious light emerges from the center of the brain. If you only gather the outer alchemical agent during the "inner copulation" of the male and female principles and do not gather the inner alchemical agent during the phases you are like a cart without wheels or a boat without rudders."
In Taoist Alchemy the eyes are referred to as "the two thieves" and are used to generate and gather the inner alchemical agent. If the positive and negative forces are not sent up and down the psychic channels through various phases of sublimation in the microcosmic orbit, the generative and vital forces cannot be transmuted into the "wondrous light". For this reason it is important to use the movement of the eyes.
This crossing point is where the "Wondrous Light" emerges from, in the central region between the two hemispheres of the brain as in the quote above. By combining the movement of the eyes, which helps direct the energy throughout the body, while also working with the seminal/generative fluids you are able to activate and rejuvenate the brain and body.
The meditation practices allow the brain and body connection to manifest images in the mind, which are the source of much of the symbolic expressions used so heavily in the esoteric traditions during the process.
In ancient Egypt, the sun and the moon were considered to be the "Eyes of Horus". In Shinto Izanagi no Okami purified himself and out of one eye was born a sun deity, out of the other eye a lunar deity and out of the nose (middle) a storm deity (lightning). In Taoism, Laozi transformed his body, and one eye became the sun and the other became the moon. Likewise in Hinduism, Shiva is depicted with three eyes. The two relating to the sun and the moon, and the third is considered the "Eye of Wisdom".
This gives us three places to look in order to find and confirm the Truth of the work; the Cosmos (Astrology), Sacred texts & Myths, and within the body (Anatomy and Physiology).
Join us as we delve into the ancient and mysterious art of Alchemy. Unlock the hidden keys within your own traditions; and look out for our workshops, lectures and webinars on our events page here
Imagine if you will walking into an old temple. As you walk into the temple you smell the aroma of incense coming from a table. On this table there are candles, incense, flowers and other items. Here you have come to the altar, but just what is an altar?
An altar is a place where we come to commune with the presence we call divine, and each of the items we see has a symbolic purpose and representation. In ancient times it was where sacrifices and offerings were left for the divine.
The word "Altar" itself is made of the Latin word for "high", as in a high place. This in itself has ties to the many myths and legends that describe the divine living on a mountain top. Whether it was mt. Zion, mt. Olympus, mt. Meru or any other, these high mountain tops were the dwelling place of the divine. The altar then is a representation of this high place. The shape was often in the shape of a cube, and still to this day you can find cube altars in churches and temples. Ceremonial magicians make use of the cube altar as well, and on the cube you will find the various tools of their craft.
The Altar is You, the Microcosm
"Of the elements of earth is this altar composed. It is the great cube of matter. On or in this altar burns a Flame. It is this Flame that is the spirit of all created things. Man, know thyself, Thou art the flame, and thy bodies are the living altar."
- Manly P. Hall: The Initiates of the Flame
The altar (and the mountain for that matter) are symbolic representations of ourselves in a balanced state, with our awareness drawn inwards to the center, where the flame is set. The offerings of the bull, or a ram are the aspects of ourselves identified with that of Taurus or Aries etc.
Unfortunately, this has been a long forgotten symbol except for few mystics and initiates. It has been replaced by the purely external practices of worship found in the worlds' mainstream teachings of religion. They have forgotten the words:
"Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" - 1 Corinthians 3:16
Cube Altar and the Macrocosm
Whether you choose to follow the idea of Nature and mathematics with the law of self similarity, the religious belief that we were created in the image of the divine, or the Hermetic principle that says "as above, so below", they all support the idea of a correspondence between the microcosm and the macrocosm. This is also true for the symbol of the altar, where we find the cube as a symbol for space itself.
In the book Kabbalistic book Sepher Yetsirah, it describes creation by way of the 22 Hebrew letters. The X,Y,Z (north, south, east, west, up and down) are formed by the 3 mother letters. The 6 directions and the center makes the 7 planes, which are formed by the 7 double letters. The 12 intersecting lines on these planes are then made up of the 12 simple letters. Astrologically we find the 3 double letters corresponding to the 3 qualities of cardinal, mutable and fixed signs. The 7 double letters make up the 7 traditional astrological planets, while the 12 simple letters make up the 12 zodiac signs.
Cube Altar as the House of the Divine
One of the most recognized examples of the cube altar as a house of the divine is the Ark of the Covenant. This altar was carefully constructed and housed within it sacred items. In the Bible it describes this being used by the high priest as a way to communicate directly with God. Solomon's Temple was built to house the Ark within the most sacred space within, the Holy of Holies. The lid itself was referred to as the "Mercy Seat", and was considered as the throne of God.
Similarly we find the most sacred relic of Islam being the Kaaba, the large black cube that sits in Mecca. This cube similarly is referred to as the "House of God", and during prayer Muslims are expected to pray in the direction of this Kaaba. As one of the 5 Pillars of Islam, all Muslims that are able are required to make a pilgrimage to the Kaaba at least once in their lifetime.
The Flame on the Altar
So if we understand the altar as being a dwelling place for the divine and that this dwelling place is within us, it would be reasonable to think that there is a corresponding internal work that goes along with the ritual ceremonies that make use of the altar. On this altar are placed items that are used to invoke specific qualities of the divine. These make up our prayers. The offerings we leave are the sanctification of our resources, our time and our energies to the sole purpose of that prayer.
What have you done with your altar space?