A Guest Post By:
Anna Anima Mundi
***A VERY SHORT BIO***
Anna Anima Mundi is a licensed massage therapist, reflexologist, Reiki master/teacher, and high priestess in the Western Mystery Tradition. She is fascinated by the intersection of mental processes, physical processes, and spiritual states of being. A devotee of Isis and Thoth, she perceives Their intelligence in science and medicine as well as metaphysics. She lives in eastern North Carolina with her husband and priest and several fur kiddoes.
Contemporary Paganism is well-known for holding the natural processes of the Earth in high regard - of seeing Spirit in Earth. And as the chant goes, " Earth my body / Water my blood / Air my breath and / Fire my spirit." Unlike many other religions, we regard our appetites for sex, sleep, food, and play as avenues to the Divine, not barriers.
As a massage therapist, I have come to understand the Power and Potential inherent in every human body to help access the realms of the Divine more fruitfully. Meditation, focus, raising "energy" to empower magick, are all physical processes that take place throughout the whole body, not just in our heads. Devoting a bit of attention to the body's needs will yield huge dividends in the quality of one's magickal Work. We take care in choosing athames, herbs, incenses and the like; but the most important magickal tool happens to be the Earthly home of our spirit - the body!
Our root traditions of 50+ years ago actually validated the human body as magickal instrument. Of the "Eight Paths to Power" described by Gerald Gardner, many emphasize the physical: breath control, the dance, chanting, etc. But our modern practices often do not utilize these effective tools-- perhaps because of the physical ills that a modern lifestyle brings? A sedentary, indoor, fast-food lifestyle impedes the free flow of physical vitality that assists our spiritual activities; chanting, dancing, breathwork and the like become difficult and unpleasant. Happily, this can be corrected fairly easily for the purposes of magick.
There is another aspect to this picture: while the body affects our magick, magick and the Power it employs also affects the body; it's a two-way street. And, not always for the better: psychic work is well-known to be exhausting, and intense magick can cause unwanted physical symptoms or even actual illness. Anyone who does a lot of psychic, energetic, or magickal work should pay close heed to their body's needs, because they will surely change.
With this in mind, here are some "first steps" to helping our bodies become effective magickal tools that work our Will:
Movement. Being sedentary stiffens the extensive web of tissues that connects our skin, muscles, organs, blood vessels, and bones. These tissues (the "fascia") naturally have a jelly-like quality and are actually considered to be a "liquid crystal." These tissues are currently being studied by scientists as the matrix that carries the chi that acupuncture affects! Stiff fascia stagnates our energies very quickly, in multiple ways. Here are two simple ways to reverse this:
(1) Once or twice a day, and especially before you meditate or do any kind of magick or ritual, take five minutes and move all your joints through their range of motion. Start by rotating your ankle about five times to the right, and then an equal number of times to the left. Point your toes and then your heels an equal number of times. Move up your whole body and explore all the ways each joint can move. Do not force anything, but do try to move to the full extent that each joint can. If you have a painful joint, go easy on it. You will feel more energized, and this will increase the effectiveness of your metaphysical work.
(2) Explore bending and stretching. When you stretch, go only to the edge of discomfort. Take a breath, and as you exhale, see if you can go just a smidgen more. Then slowly move out of the stretch. Keep in mind that there is no competition! if you can only bend a tiny bit, that's okay. It will loosen tissues and unlock stagnate energies.
If you are very serious about your magickal practice, consider adopting a yoga practice. After all, it was invented to help the body access metaphysical states more easily. You do not have to be young, thin, strong, and flexible to do yoga. Find a 10-minute beginner's sequence online or check out local studios. Even twice a week can be effective. Qi gong is another practice highly suited for magicians.
Hydration. You do not have to drink tons of water every day to be healthy. However, you do have to drink more water than coffee, tea, soda, etc. Water helps keep that liquid crystalline connective tissue soft and pliable and able to convey magickal Power. Also, magickal energy runs "hot" and increases your need and thirst for water. (This includes energies such as Reiki, too.)
Proper food. There is no one, right magickal diet. The best overall magickal diet is the one that makes you feel the best. For some people, this may be vegetarian. For others, it may be low-carb/meat centric. Do not let ideology stand in the way of finding out what's right for you.
Doing a lot of magickal or energy work will often cause changes in your body that may impel you to alter your diet in unexpected ways. You may develop food sensitivities, such as to grain, dairy, certain fruits, or preservatives and other food additives. You may have cravings. You may suddenly be unable to tolerate meat or some other food - or you may need more of it to ground or rebuild tissues. This is not necessarily a sign of illness but of increasing sensitivity on all levels - from psychic to physical.
You may want to experiment with your diet to induce psychic changes. Eating meat does not mean you can't be psychic, of course - many great magicians and psychics are omnivores. But it is true that the quickest way to increase sensitivity is to go veggie for a few days. Vegan is better; raw vegan makes one even more sensitive. This is the big reason why magickal orders will have you fast before an initiation - it literally makes you more open to the subtle forces they are invoking into your aura.
Breath. Blood carries Power. Breath fuels Blood. Altering your breath is the quickest way to altering your consciousness. Deep belly breathing engages the calm-inducing part of your central nervous system, and energizes you simultaneously. It can change and harmonize brain waves. A few minutes every day spent doing comfortable belly breaths will make you healthier and happier. Conversely, the shallow breathing many of us adopt engages our adrenal glands to pump out stress hormones. From a magickal point of view, belly breathing and simple (but profound) techniques such as four-part breath or alternate-nostril breathing will clear and focus your mind and immediately engage that magickal state of consciousness.*
This essay is just a very tiny summation of body/magick interaction. A whole book can be written about it (and in fact, one well-known occultist is doing just that). These easy body-centric practices will help you with grounding, raising energy for spells, chakra work, and all your other magickal endeavors. Happy magicking!
* You can google "four part breath" and "alternate nostril breathing" for instructions on these techniques.
I’d just like to say that there is really some good stuff in there. Also, I could not agree more that working with the body and the energies thereof are essential to the Work of the Craft. After all, the body is one third of the ole mind-body-soul triangle.
Once again, I just want to say thanks for writing this. Thanks. It is appreciated.
“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”