energy work

Answers to Questions 1-17-13

questionThis week I only got a couple questions, but they were interesting ones. One question that was asked was if you try to sublimate negative possibilities via lucid dreams, you also risk losing positive situations attached to the negative possibility. Is there a way to keep the positive possibility while getting rid of the negative situation? I'll admit that I don't use lucid dreaming for this kind of work, but I do have a process I use where I create a field of probabilities, with one in particular representing the possibility I want to manifest into my life. Instead of choosing to experience the negative possibilities, I remove them from the field of probability by turning them into potential energy that feeds into the one possibility I want to manifest. That possibility contains what I want to manifest, which can include all those good situations. I figure I'm not missing anything if I'm creating the reality I want to live in as opposed to avoiding realities I don't want to live in.

The next question: What are your thoughts on materializing aura into tangible forms (also known as flaring energy constructs)?

I'd call this a glamour, because that's what I think when I've done energy manipulation along those lines. I'd never heard of the term flaring before the question was asked, but it essentially involves causing a visible materialization of subtle energy. Whenever I do a professional speaking engagement, I manipulate my aura to actually light up and also to draw people toward me, what I call a glamour. So I think it is possible. I think it has limited uses, and I'll admit I mainly use it for the public speaking because it works great to help create an environment where people are engaged in the talk. I've never really seen the point of doing anything else with it, because there's not much else you can do with it.

The Final Question: I'd be interested in hearing of your experiences (if any) with the aggressive sceptic types. Any bullying/ridicule?

I've actually had this experience with people in the Occult and Pagan community, as well as the occasional skeptic. In regards to the experiences in the Occult and Pagan communities, its mainly been around my choice to integrate pop culture into magic. Thankfully it's slackened off for the most part and nowadays people seem more interested in the topic and applying it to their spiritual work. How I dealt them was to write a couple books on the topic and keep doing my own thing.

And once in a while I've gotten a visit from an aggressive skeptic. Earlier this summer I had such a person making a pest of himself. He wanted me to prove that magic (the sword and sorcery kind of magic) existed. Sad to say I let him down because I don't believe in the sword and sorcery kind of magic myself (but if I could throw a fireball, you better believe I would). With those types you're dealing with people who have a preconceived idea of how they think magic should work. They've bought into the Hollywood version of magic and they desperately want it to be real because they feel powerless. They take that feeling of powerlessness out on people by becoming cyber bullies. In that case I simply addressed the question after ignoring him wasn't working and off he went. It probably also helped that I banned him and found ways to cut down on his ability to contact me. I didn't want to waste anymore time or energy on the person than I had to.

In my experience you can't put too much energy toward the skeptics. They want proof, but they aren't willing to do the work themselves to discover that proof. You're better off ignoring them or letting them see the hard truth...that the magic they want doesn't exist. Real magic isn't parlor tricks, after all.

Do you have a question you want to ask?

How I do healing work

My approach to healing is multi-layered. When I am working on a person I am working on the physical body, as well as the energetic equivalent, and on the emotional level as well. But more specifically I am working on the area of the body that needs healing.

I'm a reiki master (something I don't discuss much), but one of the problems that I've always had with Reiki is that its energy that is channeled through you and its not necessarily a precise experience. Its useful in its own way, but my approach to healing is about precision.

When I heal I work with what I might consider to be lines of force with the person. Some might call this meridians and that would be accurate as well. Some of the healing work involves pulling negative energy out of the person. I'll feel a string of negative energy and I'll start pulling it out and away from the person. Then afterwards I'll replace it with healing energy. While I'm doing all of that, I'll also communicate with the cells of the affected area, so that on a physiological level healing is also occurring. There may not even be a real difference beyond that of perception. One thing I would acknowledge is that my approach to healing is based in part on framing the healing work in a way that is conceptually sound to me. In fact, with healing and magic in general, I think this is true. We draw on a model or conceptual framework that allows us to understand what we are working with and develop a process around it.

With all that said, whenever I do healing work on someone I check in to see if their experiences match what I'm doing. I'll share intuitive insights that come up in regards to emotional issues around the healing I'm doing and see if what I'm getting is accurate to what the person has experienced. The verification that people provide is what tells me the healing is working and that its not all in my head. Their experience and resolution is the result that I'm working toward with the healing.

I do find that approaching healing work as just a physiological issue or an energetic issue isn't the best approach. Incorporating an understanding of emotional stress and trauma seems to be an important part of the healing, so that even if I'm healing a physiological issue, checking in on the emotional level can actually be conducive to helping with the healing of the physiological issue. I think the reason this is the case is because the experience of a health issue brings with it not just the physical symptoms or energetic issues, but also emotional patterns that may need to be explored in order for a person to fully heal.

 

A recent healing experiment

One of the areas of magic that I find most fascinating is healing work, especially the healing work that is challenging and can't be resolved right away. Currently I'm working on an injury my wife had received years ago from a car accident. She experienced really bad whiplash that damage one of her nerves and ended up getting a Titanium plate inserted into her neck. Nonetheless her neck is consistently sore and tense, as is her upper back. It's the kind of challenge I like because I know it involves some detailed work that doesn't deal with even just the physical issues, but also underlying energetic and emotional issues.

I've been working on her for the past few weeks and we've already seen some changes in her energy level and in her muscles, in terms of the stress and tension that is in them. And not surprisingly, I've also helped her work through some emotional tensions that have been locked into the tension and stress she's feeling, including working some of the trauma of the accident that she hadn't faced.

My techniques have included a combination of Taoist massage and energy work, as well as using energy techniques of my own invention. I massage her neck lightly with the tips of my fingertips, while also pushing energy into her neck in order to start dissolving the tension. I pull out unhealthy energy and then replace it with healthy energy, using a pulling technique I've come up with. I've also synchronized our breathing while I'm doing, to put her into a mild meditative trance that allows her to focus on any emotions that come up as I'm working on her. Consistent work has made her muscles much looser, but I'm careful about it, because I am working with her neck and there's ten years of pain and tension that I'm dealing with.

While I'm working with her, I'll sometimes bring up impressions I get from the work I'm doing. A Few days we talked about the accident and how she felt afterwards as a result of impressions I was picking up. This proved to be helpful for her, allowing her to release some of her anger and fear from that experience.

Initially when I worked on her, it made her neck hurt more, which makes sense because we were starting to release both physical end emotional toxins. She's noted that after I work on her there is a release of physical toxins. We're making slow progress, but I figure if I consistently work on her I'll be able to get rid of the majority of the trauma over the next month.

Travels into time

I went into my ritual room day. I'd fully cleaned it yesterday, and I was ready to get started. I place different pictures and statues of Elephant around the room, including a poster of Elephant made by Ravenari that Lupa got me as a Christmas gift. I dressed in my ritual garb, including a necklace for elephant and a bracelet of elephant hair. I put on my robe and ritual pants I have. I placed all my time magic tools in the center of the room and then sat down and when ready touched each painting for each of the time and space entities I'm working with and asked for an audience with them. I then unlocked my memory box and used it to travel into the spider web of time and meet Elephant, Thiede, Purson, and the Spider Goddess of Time.

First I apologized to each of the entities in turn. I haven't done much in the last with this working, partially because of having a house guest in my ritual room, but in some ways moreso because of ongoing business busyness. Needless to say something I've realized is that I don't want to sacrifice my spiritual life to my business life so I'm working on trying to get a better work-life balance into place.

After that the spider goddess directed me to look into a window she presented me. When I looked into it, I saw images of the coming year, different moments that could occur. She told me she was giving me some information that would be useful for specific moments coming up, and that I'd have access to it when I needed it.

After that I did a meditation with Elephant, a recap of what we'd been working on before, i.e. learning to be present in the present, but also some further direction in terms of some personal issues I'm working with right now that have illustrated to me how much I sometimes invest my attention into possible futures. The direction boils down to a realization I had earlier today about the awareness of an energetic blockage and how I could stop feeding that blockage by learning to see how it showed up in my behavior to encourage situations that I didn't necessarily want to deal with. If I could dissolve the sensation of the blockage it could help me with the tension I was feeling. Elephant explained that the same awareness of that tension could be used to also get focused on the present moment...so we'll see what happens with it.

In other news, here's a couple of links to a podcast interview of me and Lupa and a book review of Multi-Media Magic

Interview with Erotic Awakenings about Kink Magic

A very good and balanced review of Multi-Media Magic.

Update on energy work

I've been continuing to do the fusion of the five elements practice each day. I've been noticing both physical and energetic results. Tighter stomach, and more physical energy, and a sense of greater well-being, as well as more energy to work with. What I like about this technique is the emphasis on the integration of physical awareness with the energy work. It's more of a centering and grounding technique, but the centering and grounding occur in the body and via the cycle that is created by doing this technique. I'll soon be back to where I was with it before, but without all the energetic baggage. In fact, that's probably what I note most...no blockages, more flow, more focus, and more awareness. I'm looking forward to integrating the Kan and Li work with this technique. I've got a feeling that all I will be integrating will prove really useful from both an inner alchemical methodology and also toward becoming more healthy.

Changes in my energy since the elemental switchover

Since I switched over from the element of Emptiness to the element of Time, its been interesting to track other people's awareness of that switchover, as well as starting up a new program of energy work. When I was doing the Emptiness working, my energy was heavy, depressive...I was busy working through all of the blockages and issues in my life. Toward the end of the emptiness working, my energy began to change. I was cleaned out. When I switched to Time, my energy felt different. Different people told me I felt lighter, and I was also a lot happier (and have been since then). Lupa said she noticed a webbing of sorts emanating from me. At the same time, because the emptiness working had cleaned me out, it'd also cleaned up a lot of energetic structures in me. The Spider Goddess of Time told me that I needed to stop using the old daily meditations I was doing and switch to the Elemental fusion system that Mantak Chia has written about. The old practices worked with an energetic body that had been there prior to the culmination of the emptiness working, but with my energy changes so much, I needed to develop a new practice that accounted for that.

For the last couple weeks I've been working the elemental fusion technique each day. I'd tried it before and used it for a little while, but the difference now is that I really don't have any energetic blockages getting in my way. The energy moves differently, but I also realize why the Spider Goddess wants me to bring this technique into my daily workings...it'll keep me cleaned out, because that is its purpose, while also helping me build a new and different energetic body.

Energetically I feel different...I feel so clean. There's no weight on me, no feeling of emptiness that comes across in a way that is hurtful to me. I can still feel some emptiness, but I'm at peace with it. The elemental fusion work, in the meantime, will allow me to continue with my inner alchemical workings, without the baggage that was previously attached.

Into Time and Space

After I finished my emptiness ritual and had cleansed myself of the paint, I moved right into the ritual to accept time as the new element. I put on the bracelet of elephant hair, and the elephant necklace and put before me the painting to elephant. I asked elephant if elephant would allow me to enter the gates of time and was told yes. Then I evoked Purson and Thiede as my guides through the silver web of time and space. I did an exercises of putting increments of time into each other until the increments become meaningless.

I opened the memory box, which is my gateway to the silver web and put both my hands on its sides. And I traveled along the silver web until I came to the center, where the Spider Goddess of Time awaited me. She held up the book of her mysteries and said, "It's good you have this back, now paint what I show you."

I pulled out my paintbrush and waters color and painted a web of time. Just one colors, lots of silver-gray...I asked her...was this really it? And she told me that my perceptions of time were too limited by human made standards of time. That what I painted wasn't even so much a symbol as a way of relating to time and space, a way of moving past the linear perceptions and measurements that mark time by human standards. She told me that this year would be a move away from the mystical path I've been on, back to more of a focus on magic, but also a focus on changing those limited perceptions on time...that all the material she'd put in my path the last couple of months was partial prep work for the workings ahead.

And with that, she stopped my hand, looked at my work and said, "Start with this and see what it teaches you."

Then I closed the gate to the silver web of time and gave my thanks to Thiede, Purson, and Elephant...and to her, the spider goddess of time. And so that's the beginning into the element of time.

The Spider Goddess of Time Sigil

Running energy with someone

The other night, I had a friend over and we did some energy work together. Her energy is very intense. She's done a lot of work with the Tantra system of energy work, which means it's got a fair amount of kundalini energy being packed, but her personal energy is also a very intense kind of energy. We ran energy together and I put a minimal amount of my own energy into the cycle, enough to contribute, but not so much that I was trying to vie with her energy. I wanted to feel her energy and how it works and also just flow into the cycle...gradually building up to a place of mutual comfort. I find when running energy with someone, it's good to flow with the energy. Don't fight the direction. Let it establish itself and then move with it. By doing so, you'll get a lot more out of the experience. Additionally, add energy gradually. Don't try and overwhelm someone. Finally, if after you've energy with someone, you feel a bit weird...meditate on it...work through the feeling and assimilate the energy or return it to the person.

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Assorted matters

I've been feeling a bit stagnant in my magical practice lately. I've been doing my daily rituals, my emptiness working, and even have been involved in a economic activism experiment I hope to post about soon, but being at Heartland did remind me of how important it can be to get out of the usual patterns and push yourself into some new places. I have to admit my emptiness working has perhaps caused some of this feeling of stagnation. To some degree everything in my life feels empty at times and it can be hard to face that.

At Heartland, I ended up doing a fair amount of energy work with one of the people I met there and it reminded me of some of the practices I've done in the past with energy work, so today while having a conversation with Lupa, I asked her to run energy with me. We both noted that the energy between us felt strong and steady, speaking to a strong connection between us. I'd run energy with other people and found different variations, which seemed to speak to the connections I felt with each person. I may be trying more of this as a way to ground my awareness into the connection I have with a given person.

Also at Heartland, I ended up picking up some clothing, which included Hakama pants and a black vest with colorful patterns on it. When I combined the vest and pants with a mesh shirt and my black hat I found I'd created a ritual garb for myself, which very much invoked my connection with Xah. I've already got some ideas on how I can enhance that ritual costume further, which I'll be trying out soon...both for magical work and also for another type of scene. I want to play to my roots as a ceremonial magician more, albeit with my own flair and imagination. It's been a while since I've used some of the more ceremonial aspects of my magical practice, but I think it will be a fun challenge for me.

Book Review: Mapping the Dharma by Paul Gerhard

I found this book to be very readable and easy to follow. I really appreciated how it was set up to explain Buddhism in a very approachable manner, with clear and concise explanations of what Buddhism is about. While I'm already familiar with Buddhism, the author's way of explaining the core concepts and different components of it really helped me understand a lot more about Buddhism. I came away with a much more solid understanding of Buddhism, its practices and how I could incorporate it into my life.

5 out of 5 meditators

When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by By Jeffery Masson and Susan McCarthy

This was a thought-provoking book about the emotional lives of animals and how much we take for granted by trying to assume that only humans can feel emotions. The authors provided a wide variety of anecdotes from their own experiences as well as the experiences of others. They show that animals can feel emotions and also interact in a variety of ways that go beyond traditional scientific reports on them. This book also raises some important questions about how we treat animals. My only complaint would be that at times the authors are very biased about how they feel, which consequently tones down some of what they attempt to convey to readers.

4 out of 5 animals

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Elemental Emptiness Month 6: The Hermit and Fear

3-15-09 I'm in a foul mood tonight. I essentially got told by my spirit guide for this working (one of them anyway) that I have to step up and face my fear of being alone, and accept the very real possibility that I may always be alone. He feels that this fear and the desire that goes along with it is holding me back from a lot of things I need to accomplish. I can't even disagree with him, because I see his point. He's right...this fear is holding me back and he's pointed out that I need to work with the Hermit to deal with this fear...and I don't want to. I feel really resistant and angry, because I just don't want to go into this space. Yet I know I need to. This fear goes hand in hand with my fear of being consumed by my emptiness. I deal with one, I find the way to deal with the other. And I will do this, but tonight I just feel...angry, vulnerable, and yes, very, very alone. In some ways I'm finally realizing just how much some of my desires have lead me to attachments, which have held me back...and I feel pathetic for letting it happen...yet also realize a profound point I read just yesterday. "Thou are but mortal" I am mortal...I have my weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and attachments. And that's part of the human experience...accepting that what you may want, etc., may never ultimately occur. It's a place I don't want to go, but I have to.

3-16-09 I started work with the hermit today and he wasn't pulling any punches with me. He spoke with me about my fear of being alone and showed me the connection to my fear of being consumed by emptiness. Then he pointed out that a big reason the Sith mythos had come up a lot in this working is because of that fear, reminding me that the character of Darth Vader had his fall because of his inability to accept his fear, while acting on it. He asked me at the end if it would really be so bad if I did realize that I am alone in certain fundamental respects. I have no answer for him, but I do acknowledge just how much that fear has fed into expectations I have about relationships I get involved with.

3-17-09 Today the Hermit showed me how my fear of being alone links into the fear of being consumed by emptiness. The latter fear is fear of the loss of ego/individual personality, but the former fear is linked to the latter in the sense of not having anyone to connect with, in order to anchor that identity and also to stave off the emptiness. Convoluted? Yes...but interesting as well, because it does show how one fear can be linked to another or as Tsultrim Allione put it, how one demon is a relative to another demon.

3-19-09 Last couple of days has been crazy busy, so I ended up jotting down keywords to remember for this part of the post...On Tuesday, in therapy, got into a really long conversation, which essentially boiled down to me recognizing some very fundamental issues about my feeling of disconnect with Lupa. What I realized is that sometimes I don't really feel she connects with me on an empathic level. And to be fair to her, I know sometimes I don't, because I'll get caught up in trying to find a solution as opposed to actually listening to her and what she has to say about a situation...as well as showing empathy for what she is feeling in that moment. And this issue extends fairly deep into our communication with each other. Sometimes she feels that when I tell her about some technique or experiment I'm doing, that there's an expectation that I will want her to do it, while I actually simply want to tell her about something I find interesting. Realizing this, as well as realizing how this disconnect has occurred in other areas of our communication has given me a better perspective on how to handle communication on my end. I've caught myself several times starting to offer solutions, and stopped myself from doing it, realizing that I wasn't listening to her like I really needed to. So I'm going to work on being more empathetic in my listening with her and with others.

The other day, after a date, I felt a large sense of emptiness. I'd had a wonderful time, really enjoyed my date, but I felt empty afterwards and I felt unsatisfied on some deep level, and I realized it had nothing to do with the date and everything to do with how I've approached relationships. And in fact the Hermit and Xah agree.

I've been asked by the Hermit whether I really know what enough means when it comes to relationships. What, he asks, is enough for you? When do you feel satisfaction with the relationships that you have? When do you stop seeking and start appreciating? And my answer is that I've never really stopped at all. I'm terrified I'll miss out on an opportunity with someone if I do say enough...and yet I am missing out on my relationships with the people I do have in my life. I am missing out on those moments of intimacy and connection, because I am so busy trying to attain some "ideal" relationship, some perfect union...and never really stopping to see if I could already have it, or better yet, simply acknowledge what I do have and feel grateful for having it. If you always seek and never stop, what do you really have in the end? That's what the hermit has asked...Both he and Xah point out that my fear is stopping me from enjoying a lot of my life as much as I could and also stopping me from getting to a lot of pursuits I could be doing, because of how much energy I'm putting into searching for some ideal magical partner.  Today a friend pointed out that if I stop looking and just be still, maybe what I've looked for so much will finally manifest. And maybe it will, but whether or not it does, I'd like to actually stop and appreciate what I do have...

3-21-09 The last few days I've been watching/observing/monitoring my awareness and I've recognized that sometimes I get really caught up in seeking, in trying to find a person, so caught up in it that I don't enjoy the moment I'm in. Catching myself in this behavior is unpleasant...It's not a behavior I care for, but consciously acknowledging that part of me is always trying to find someone to fill me up is important. The hermit tells me that this is where so much of my energy has gone, and I see it, in my awareness of this seeking on my part. I've always tried to find something in someone else to fill me up, to somehow complete me, yet nothing I've found has ever done that.  I'm reminded of a scene in one of my favorite fantasy books, where the character has just killed his mistress and his cousin who was sleeping with his mistress, after discovering that they were sabotaging his company. He is called out by his best friend on the fact that he finds yet another woman desirable. That friend tells him that he's really just trying to fill up something in himself with those people, but not looking within himself at all. And that sounds like me (sans the killing part). I've looked and looked and looked...I've caught myself wondering if such and such person was going to be the magical partner I was always looking for...and I've neglected in the process some of the most important relationships I do have.

It's hard to admit that, and hard to face the fact that some part of me has been so desperate to fill myself up with something and that I've looked for so long to other people, put so much of my energy to finding someone, without really asking myself why or what it was accomplishing. Recognizing this is the first step and recognizing how it's tied to my fear of being alone and being consumed is also part of why I've looked so much, to find someone who somehow takes all that fear away. But no one can do that for me, except me. It's time to stop looking so much and start appreciating what I have and also find in myself, the resources I need to handle my fears and the emptiness.

3-22-09 The Hermit is the seeker, which is ironic I guess, but in a ways perhaps not, because who better to know when to stop seeking than the seeker? Well he seems to know that anyway. I'm still learning that I don't have to continue seeking, that it might be unhealthy to do so. I'm also learning to let go of the past...because what was can sometimes hide what could be.

3-24-09 Therapy today provided useful for externalizing some of my internal stream when it comes to how I deal with romantic possibilities. The fact is I've devoted a fair amount of mental and emotional energy to finding the idealized one...right down to fantasizing what it would be like to date this person or that person. I've caught myself doing it a few different times this week and when I catch myself doing it, I don't punish myself, but instead ask what it is I really see in that person that makes me think whatever it is I'm thinking. And usually it's illusion of some kind or another...little hopes flittering about, but not with much in the way of substance.

The other thing I've been realizing is that I can give myself permission not to have sex or be involved with someone just because that person feels interested in me. I haven't always realized that...or rather I haven't always had good boundaries about it. I've felt that if someone showed interest, I should show interest in return, even if I wasn't really interested, because maybe I'd miss out on an opportunity or maybe this person would be the idealized lover. Needless to say, this kind of choice or behavior on my part isn't exactly healthy and has hurt some people as well as myself in the past. So realizing I can say no, realizing I don't actually have to sleep with someone is really powerful. I can say no...I can choose to let an opportunity go by and better yet I can simply appreciate the person as a friend, instead of having to make her into a lover.

3-27-09 "You live too much in the future" I was told that last night by the Moon Goddess. In meditating with the Hermit today there was some agreement, a noting that looking toward the future so much is its own sign of seeking for something to fill me up, and again the question, "When is what you have in this moment enough? When do you know you have enough?" I'm left with no answer, because I don't know. I just realize that both the Moon Goddess and the Hermit are right. I do spend a lot of time in the future, as opposed to just appreciating the present. And I recognize how much that behavior has created my seeking, as well as feeding my fears when it comes to being alone. I realize that part of me seeks stability, seeks some kind of grounding in the relationships I have with people, but also attempts to fill this void up within me with those relationships, while not actually standing still and being present in the moment. I suppose I always looked to the future, because in the circumstances I grew up in, I always wanted to get away from the present I lived in. Now though, I don't know if that's so wise or helpful...when is this moment enough?

3-29-09 We went hiking today and while we were hiking I experienced my fear physically. I could feel myself shaking a bit. I felt this fear and I realized it was the experience of the fear I feel on a really deep level. This fear pervaded every part of me and when I felt it, I recognized it as that fear of being alone. I also recognized it as what has motivated me so often to focus on the future, instead of living in the present. That fear has pushed me to try and stabilize my life with relationships or plans that allow me to predict and control the future and consequently the present as much as possible. The key word is control. I'm sure I'm not alone in doing this, but I don't think it's been so good for me or others. I reflected today that marrying Lupa was motivated by fear of her leaving. By marrying her, I made her a more stable part of my life, insured she'd stay in it longer. I didn't live, in the moment, with her. I didn't experience the present as it actually occurred, because I was so busy trying to plan it, and project my expectations into it. When I realize all this, I don't try to judge or blame myself. There's not much use to doing that. Instead, today I felt the fear and I talked about it with Lupa and I acknowledged how I felt about spending so much time planning my future out so much. I don't like how it makes me feel. I don't like planning my relationships so much. So I'm going to do my best to live in the moment, and accept it for what it is.

4-01-09 Therapy, yesterday, proved helpful in further exploring the fear I mentioned above. A lot of what I came to realize/process is that the fear arising out of my early childhood no longer serves a purpose in my life and actually distracts me from being present with myself or anyone else. I catch myself daydream, flitting into the future a lot. It's startling to recognize just how regular this activity is...and underneath recognize the fear that informs it. My fear doesn't need to define my relationships, if I don't want it to, or me. In therapy I discussed how I've been recognizing this fear of being alone, of being consumed by my emptiness as something which has made me plan out so much of my life in order to create an illusion of safety and control for myself. It's terrifying to give up that safety and control, but exhilarating as well, because if I'm not holding on so tight, then perhaps in letting go I can really start to appreciate the opportunities and situations for what they really are, genuine moments of being present and alive and with myself and anyone else I happen to be with in that moment.

4-3-09 This seems to be rather accurate about my life, for the moment. Or rather it's another message which correlates with messages from other independent sources. Then again...if you look for a pattern long enough, you're bound to find or create one. And this is a bit new agey.

4-5-09 As I continue to sit with my fear this month, I find the emptiness less harsh than before. By burrowing down so far into my own issues, and into the feelings which inform those issues, I've also set free a lot of the emptiness within me. There are days where I can barely feel it, where it's just a ghost of how it usually feels. I don't pretend that the emptiness will go away, but I will admit, not feeling it as much is something I wouldn't mind continuing to feel. Yes I wish to be more comfortable with it, to accept it for what it is. Sometimes I'm not sure if I can do that, and other times I think I can.

4-6-09 And then there are days, like today where I feel really empty, hungry, desperate...where it seems like nothing I do makes that emptiness feel better. The hermit and I talked about this quite a bit in my meditation today and he noted that it felt as if I was trying to run from my emptiness, by doing any and everything I could not to feel it. He's absolutely right...yet nothing I do takes it away, and in some ways it only deepens it. I feel like a shriveled husk today.

4-7-09 In therapy, we ended up getting into an interesting discussion about the history of some my methods for dealing with feelings of emptiness. Aside from coming away with an appreciation of just how much I have changed as a person, as well as recognizing that I have developed healthier methods for encountering my emptiness, I also realized I am at the right place, right now, to work with the fear I feel when it comes to sitting with my emptiness. I'm encountering layers of progression in this work...Obsession to surrender, anger to compassion, fear to whatever it may or may not lead to. There is evolution here, even if at times I have trouble recognizing it.

4-10-09 In therapy, something we reviewed was some of my sexual behaviors and while I've already in some ways realized this, the following clicked into place in a way it previously hadn't: I use sex to escape my emptiness. Not all the time, but it is a way for me to establish a sense of identity, or rather reaffirm that identity, whilst also feeding my emptiness something which isn't me. I know I've said that one way or another before, but it made more sense this latest time...it's realizing that just like when I used to be a cutter, where I'd use pain to deal with my emptiness, so too has sex been another way to deal with that feeling and fear of emptiness. Not the best way, not necessarily healthy, but what I developed as a way to cope with that fear. But I don't want to do that anymore and so I'm continuing to use the feed your demon technique to help me process how I relate to my emptiness and my fear. Here's a quote relevant to this topic from Toward a Psychology of Awakening by John Welwood:

"When we have shut fear out of our awareness, it remains frozen deep within the body, manifesting as background anxiety, tension, worry, insecurity...Seeking a "fix" cannot lead to genuine healing because it keeps us in the same mind-set - wanting our experience to be other than it is - that created our dis-ease in the first place. Our natural healing resources become mobilized only when we see and feel the truth - the untold suffering we cause ourselves and others by rejecting our experience, thus shutting down our capacity to be fully present. When we recognize this, our dis-ease starts to become conscious suffering. As our suffering becomes more conscious, it starts to awaken out desire and will to live in a new way."

I would have to say that this accurately represents my process right now. I am realizing that the "fix" is just causing me and others more suffering, and also realize that to truly relax into my being involves actually experiencing the emptiness, the fear, the suffering and being present with it as it is, so that I can discover how to live in a new way where I'm more aligned with the harmony of my life. Needless to say reading this just makes some of my experiences sink in even more, for recognizing just how much I've run away from feeling my fear and emptiness, or tried to, and ended up suffering more for doing so.

4-11-09 Sometimes it really does take some hard realizations to make you realize that what you are doing doesn't work. A moment of clarity arrives and you are present in that moment and you realize: This behavior is helping me, it's hurting me and everyone around me. It's just deepening the suffering I already feel. That's what this month feels like for me. In another way, I feel like I am all consuming being that offers nothing back to anyone, beyond my own detritus and rot. I'm so busy consuming, so busy trying to fill something up, I haven't stopped to feel what it's doing to me or note how it's killing me. In Toward a Psychology of Awakening, Welwood essentially says that you don't really become conscious until you actually feel what you're stopping yourself from feeling, and allow yourself to experience for what it is, instead of how you interpret it.

4-12-09 I've always found it amazing how I read exactly what I need to read, as it applies to this amazing journey I'm on, called Taylor's life. As I continue reading Toward a Psychology of Awakening, I've come across some more information about emptiness and all this work I'm doing which tells me that I'm definitely on the right path for me. Welwood says,

What shuts down the heart more than anything is not letting ourselves have our own experience, but instead judging it, criticizing it, or trying to make it different from what it is. We often imagine there is something wrong with us if we feel angry, needy, dependent, lonely, confused, sad, or scared. We place conditions on ourselves and our experience.

He says of Emptiness:

Emptiness is a term that points to the ungraspable, unfathomable nature of everything. Nothing can be grasped a solid object that will provide enduring, unshakable meaning, satisfaction, or security. Nothing is ever what we expect, hope, or believe it to be...Emptiness-the ungraspable, open-ended nature of reality-need not be depressing. For it is what allows life to keep creating and recreating itself anew each moment. And this makes creativity, expansiveness, growth, and real wisdom possible.

When I read both of these quotes, I recognize several things. First, I recognize how resistant I am to feeling emotions such as fear or sadness. Not that I can't feel them, but that I have resisted feeling them so much. Second, I recognize that my perception of emptiness has sometimes been exactly what has created so many problems for me. My fear of being consumed, instead of really being acknowledged by being felt, has been run from, abstractly approached, and other suppressed. So today, in meditation I did something I've never really done before. I allowed myself to fully feel my fear and just feel it, without judgment, without interpretation, without running. And eventually I realized it wasn't that scary to feel, and that by feeling it, I might just find some closure on some of the wounds I've finally been facing in this year's work.

4-13-09 Today when I started to distract myself from feeling my fear, I stopped and asked myself to just feel it. And it feels like a heavy weight in my stomach. Feeling it was feeling a sensation of turbulence, of dis-ease...Yet as I sat with it, the turbulence did diminish a bit. I just held my space instead of trying to find a way out.

4-15-09 I did some breathing meditation tonight and felt it begin to dissolve some of the fear, loosening up structures of tension in my body. It was a subtle, and deep feeling. I also did some thinking today about the relationships I've been involved in for the last six or so months, i.e. the potential lovers and such and realized that on some level or another I saw some patterns, which made me wonder why I'm attracting those patterns into my life, as well as what I can do to stop attracting those patterns in my life. I looked in myself and acknowledged that my insecurities are as much an attractor to certain people as the rest of me is. Continuing to work on and work through my insecurities is already yielding some good changes in my life, so this is just another layer to add to that.

4-17-09 This month was probably the hardest month of this working. Today the moon goddess and I talked. We'd had an argument, and we ended up working it out, but in the course of that I talked about how for a very long time I've operated out of a scarcity mentality. And at the root of that scarcity mentality is my fear. This month, for me, has been about realizing just how much my fear has informed my actions and choices, when it comes to romantic relationships, business, and life in general. This month I dealt with fear in a variety of forms: competition, jealousy, and being consumed by my emptiness. And I realized I made a commitment (actually a number of them, but this one was fairly recent) from a place of fear, from trying to secure a stabilized identity/future/whatever...but in the process missing out on living in the moment. My fear has motivated me to rush into and through relationships instead of just experiencing them in the moment...and I know that I need to slow down and live in the moment.

Living in the moment means embracing my fear, actually feeling it, living it...accepting it. Today, instead of trying to run away from my fear, I just sat with it, felt it in my body, and let it express itself. And I was scared, terrified...and free. I'm going to keep working with fear for a little while. It's only the last few days I've tried to be present with it, so I'll keep trying...see what happens...and know that all this shadow work is leading me to a better place...I'm rotting...but I'm also being refined.

energy work and meditation update

I've been continuing to read up on and pursue the Qigong energy work and breathing practices I've been learning. I'm contemplating adding Tai chi to the mix, and not the Tai chi you think of being done in the park , but the traditional martial form of Tai chi, which while still soft, emphasizes the use of the five elements as part of the martial form of Tai chi. One of the local members of GEM is connected to someone who teaches it from that perspective. For me, it would be an excellent opportunity to start incorporating moving meditation and martial arts into my meditation practice, which has intensified even more as I continue my emptiness working. The moving meditation would add an additional layer to my work, as it would incorporate my body even more into the meditation, while also challenging me to get more into the integral energetic workings that I'm starting to experience more of, as I continue the current meditative work. As is, a lot of the energy work I'm doing is continuing to allow me to get to the core of my emotional responses, reactions, and triggers. The work isn't easy (as you'll get to read tomorrow evening when I post my latest elemental emptiness update), but it is worthwhile. I feel more at peace with myself and others than I ever have, and whilst I am still very much experiencing some tumultuous times, I am also finding my responses are changing, which makes those times easier to navigate through.

I have to admit I haven't posted as much lately about my spiritual work as I have in the past. Then again, I also haven't been writing nearly as many articles or a book on my spiritual work either.  Some of this is because I'm going through an intensely personal time of change and development in my spiritual path. Some of it is simply because I'm in the process of researching a really big project...Every time I think I've taken a step forward, I find more information I need to research and experiment with (but there is an end in sight). Some of it is reflective of changes occurring in my life, specifically my focus on building and running my own business and pursuing being self-employed full-time, and some of it is simply experiencing the moment without having to catalogue it as much.

Still, I will say that I am actively working on a co-written project with Bill Whitcomb, have another possible co-written project with Vince Stevens, which is just about finished with the outlining stage, and yes I also do have my big solo project which is still being heavily researched (and will, when finished, providing what I hope will be a radical change in how people understand magic). And in the meantime, you've got this blog with the occasional updates I offer.

Some insights into Taoist inner alchemy

I'm reading Qigong Meditation: Small circulation by Yang Jwing-Ming. I'm finding this book to be really useful in further refining my understanding of Taoist energy work, particularly on one issue which concerns the retention of semen. If you've read any of Mantak Chia's work, Chia argues that it's absolutely essential to retain the semen during sex in order to avoid losing your energy. I've never been fully satisfied by Chia's explanation, mainly because I haven't fully understood the correlation between the loss of semen and the loss of energy. However in Yang's book this correlation is explicitly explained in a manner, which explains what the issue is, and also adds a further step to the process of refinement. Yang explains that when the semen is full the hormones stimulate the brain and generate sexual desire, which in turn energizes the person...and that the goal of the inner alchemy is to actually transform the semen into Qi (or raw energy) Having sex too frequently can deplete the amount of semen available to convert into qi, while not having it too frequently actually slows down the production of semen...so it seems having a somewhat active sex life is actually important for the inner alchemical conversion process.

When the semen is turned into qui, it can then be used to nourish the body. In fact, what is called marrow washing is essentially a process of taking converted qi and using it to heal/regenerate the body.

The explanation offered does provide some insight into how Taoist inner alchemy works, and specifically what the function of semen is for the energy work being done by the male (though you rarely find much written in regards to the female). I'll be sure to update readers further as I continue reading and/or trying out the techniques in this book.

Thoughts on energy work

Very recently I had an experience with energy work which really amazed me, because of how subtle it was and yet how how powerful as well. It was a case of someone taking over an interaction and showing me how I was actually over-extending myself instead of allowing myself to flow into the moment. This person showed me this a few different ways and each time I was amazed because I realized how much, even now, I sometimes put too much energy into an interaction and end up unbalancing myself.

I've actually started re-reading Relax into Your Being by B. K. Frantzis, and it seems like a good time to re-read and re-mind myself of the principle of flowing into energy. I've recognized before the value of flowing into a situation, but even so it's easy to forget sometimes in little ways. I enjoyed the reminder because it did show me some areas I can improve on with my energy work and also intimacy. Learning is always an experience to be cherished.

I think what I really learned last night is that sometimes to really experience the energy of a given moment, you've got to let go of your preconceptions and desire to control and just be...and let that speak for itself.

Review of Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione.

This is probably one of the most elegant and useful processes I've found for doing internal work. She bases it off of the Chod ritual done in the Tibetan Bardo and Buddhist systems of work, but makes it sufficiently culture free so that anyone could use the technique and get the concepts behind using the technique. Additionally the technique is broken down into a five step process, which is easy to do and definitely produces results, while also continuing to build upon the internal work you may already be doing. Pick this book up, because it will definitely put a new twist on your dysfunctions, and also help you move past them.

5 out of 5 demons

A day of ritual work

Right now Portland is experiencing an unexpected snow storm, which has pretty much shut down the ability to travel in the city. I'm not one to spend my time idly, however. So I decided to do some ritual workings today and have another I'll be joining astrally later tonight for the solstice. I first decided to the second invocation of Atem from Meta-Magick: The Book of Atem by Phil Farber. In the second invocation you create a magical circle in which you anchor specific attributes of attention, passion, fitting, trance, language, and making into the formation of the circle. These attributes are used to form the entity of ATEM. By anchoring the attributes into a physical space, the magician not only creates ATEM, but also utilizes a physical space for Atem and the associated entities of the attributes to reside in. It's a clever approach. I like how it ultimately utilizes the physical environment of the person to create a space where ATEM resides, strengthening the connection it has with the person working with it.

I also did another space/time Tarot invocation of my future self, as well as the evocation of Thiede, Purson, the spider goddess of time, and Xah. I've thought about the role those entities have in this type of working. Thiede is my Space/Time guardian spirit, Purson is finder of potential, and the spider goddess is the weaver of those possibilities into reality. Xah, as my personal Daemon, is both the future self I invoke and also the fox spirit that walks alongside me whenever I walk the silver strands of the web of time. With this working I did my invocation and evocations and then invoked Xah, entering into a trance wherein I could interface with all of the entities while letting my future self shuffle the cards of the second deck. It felt odd to shuffle the cards and yet be in a trance...the movement was much less directed, so the shufflking continued for a while...It actually helped increase the trance. The working itself showed me the steps I needed to take...a lot of it being confirmation of some situations in my life...so I think for the meantime, I'll likely hold back on doing further space/time tarot work until those situations are fully taken care of.

Tonight, I'm going to take a ritual bath and use music, chanting, and trance work to synch in with the solstice working...and enjoy relaxing in the comfort of my home while doing it.

Energy work as extension instead of contraction

I've started reading Tai Chi Dynamics by Robert Chuckrow, who is a physics professor and explains Tai chi in terms of physics. It's quite a fascinating book and I'm really intrigued by his explanation of how to work with the muscles of the body, because I think it aptly demonstrates how energy work is approached, in terms of attempting to force it to go somewhere as opposed to flowing with it. With contractive muscular force, a lot more pressure is put on the muscle to perform an action. Weight lifters tend to use their muscles in a contractive way. Obviously this can make them very strong, but it also decreases the flexibility they have. Also muscular contraction can only be done for a short time because of the sharp build up of lactic acid.

With extension applied to the muscles, the muscles are stretched in a way that is natural to them...they are kept relaxed instead of contracted. Muscular extension allows a person to perform longer...the lactic acid doesn't build up as fast.

I tried one of the exercises he includes in the book. You relax an arm that you have extended in front of you as much as possible. You gently squeeze your fingers as if you were holding a ribbon in your hand. You then replicate this motion in the muscles in your arm. It's a very subtle movement, and different from how I normally move my arm. There's not as much effort involved, and at the same time it does seem that the chi or internal energy is freed up...it flows more. I will continue working with this to see what I can do with it. Chuckrow notes that when the muscles in the body aren't using contractive force, they become relaxed and the body acts like a container of fluid. Pressure is increased equally across all parts of the body.

Personally I find this fascinating. Having done a fair amount of Taoist breath work, I know that the fire breathing is similar to the contractive use of muscles...sharp and contained. It seems more powerful, but the water approach is more like the extending of muscles. It gradually builds up the force and it can be sustained much longer.

I've only read part of the first chapter and I can already say I really like this book. Check it out if you get a chance!

A Book Review and some book suggestions for Energy Work

I'm starting to read Tai Chi Dynamics by Robert Chuckrow. It was a review copy sent to me by YMAA Publication Center. It does look to be an intriguing book, where the author's background as a physicist is employed to explain how Tai Chi works. I'm intrigued already and will report on it as I continue reading it.

Since I started reading this book and it deals with Chi, or energy, and also because the other night I did a couple of breathing exercises with a student which is designed to use energy in particular ways, I thought I might put up some books suggestions about energy work for those who are interested in the subject.

Embryonic Breathing by Yang Jwing-Ming: An excellent book that does a lot to explain the theory behind chinese energy work. A must read book for anyone getting involved in Taoist energy work techniques. He only presents two breathing techniques, but does an excellent job of describing the techniques.

Awaken Healing Energy Through the Tao by Mantak Chia: Chia's take on Taoist energy work, for beginners. He provides some good explanations, though he can be preachy.

Fusion of the Five Elements by Mantak Chia: Utilizes the Microcosmic circuit, but adds in some elemental correspondances for recycling negative emotions. Really useful exercise. I haven't found his later fusion books in the series as helpful, but I will work with them a while longer before passing final judgment.

Breathing, Chi, and Dissolving the Ego and The Great Stillness by B. K. Frantzis are two excellent books on energy work that focuses on dissolving internal blockages and sabotages

Real Energy By Isaac and Phaedra Bonewits: It mostly presents a theoretical consideration of different models of energy work...mostly from a western perspective.

Energy Work by Robert Bruce: Has good exercises for beginner to intermediate energy workers. Also presents some intriguing possibilities around the sense of touch.

Psychic abilities and The Psychic Self-Defense personal training manual by Marcia Pickands: Presents some good beginner exercises for energy workers

The Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon: Some excellent exercises for energy work and also for honing your skills in magic in general.

Hands of Light and Light Emerging by Barbara Ann Brennan: Mainly focused on using energy work for healing both physical issues and psychological issues. Definitely worth picking up. These were the first books I read on energy work back in the nineties.

Inner Alchemy by Taylor Ellwood (Me): Focused on a physiological exploration of energy work and how it can be used for healing as well as communication with the body.

There are many more works out there. I have some I've yet to read or study, but I'll include mention of them on here, as I get to them. There is some intriguing writing in Biology and neuroscience that relates to energy work, which is also worth checking out. I might write that up sometime.

For my own efforts in energy work, I'm continuing to experiment with the emptiness meditation which focuses on the energy of emptiness as well as the feeling of it. And as always I'm continuing my own reading, research, and experimentation in a few other directions.

Review of The Magic Language of the Fourth Way by Pierre Bonnasse

I initially found this book to be really intriguing, particularly in terms of how Bonnasse presented the concept of observing the self as the self is reading. I think it’s a good point to make because people can be resistant to what is read. However, the first half of the book didn’t live up to the potential expressed in the introduction. It came off as pretentious and somewhat confusing. I’ve been told that the confusion is characteristic of Gurdjieff’s works, so I wasn’t entirely surprised to find it in a disciple’s work, but I think that confusion detracts from the overall message that the author is attempting to convey.

The latter half of the book improves when the author focuses on explaining the enneagram and concepts of language and magic and how those relate to the Gurdjieff philosophy. I particularly found the focus on vibrations to be interesting and insightful.

What might’ve helped with this book was some exercises that readers could do in order to implement the theory into action. While I found this book interesting and a somewhat decent introduction to Gurdjieff’s philosophy, I was disappointed by how confusing the book could get, as well as the occasional pretentious holier than thou attitude conveyed by the author. This book could be worth picking up if you want to learn a bit more about Gurdjieff or want to examine how language is treated in his system of philosophy.

3 out of 5

The Emptiness Working Month 1: Rotting

In the first three weeks of getting involved in the emptiness working, I've already had so much come up. Just as the elemental love working was intense from the get go, this working has also been intense from day one. A lot of this first month has involved dealing with insecurities. Insecurities about myself, insecurities about my relationships...The gateways into emptiness. In this first month, I've suddenly found myself surrounded by potential love interests and yet none of them really manifested into anything concrete. It was if I was given a tiny taste, a few drops of water, but then it was taken away. And the ache, after it was taken away was sharp and discordant because it emphasized what was not there. In each case I met people who I could be very interested in, even feel a bit of NRE for and yet there would be something which just didn't quite work...something about each person or situation which said, "This can't happen right now." And I felt each time a sense of loss, a sense of emptiness, because I would get excited, get a taste, and then...There's a pattern there, and yes there is emptiness in that pattern.

Another way emptiness manifested into my life was through realizing just how much the guilt over last year has changed how I approach situations with people. When I was told by someone how much my actions had hurt that person, my wife, and I...and when I saw some of those same patterns repeat themselves, I realized on some level that my focus on my own desires, without any real sense of awareness for how others felt or would be effected, had caused the pain that the people. And when I looked back at not just my recent past, but also much further back, I saw that same pattern and it really hit me how much I had hurt other people because of my selfishness. I carried that guilt with me through most of this last year's elemental working...and I've carried it into this year's working as well. In an argument with my wife, it came out in a way I didn't expect...it came to my awareness, when I realized how much I didn't want to see someone else carry a similar load of guilt. And I see it in how much my actions have changed now, when it comes to people coming into my life...how much more cautious I am. But realizing how much that guilt has changed has left me feeling very sad and alone as well. We bear the weight of our crimes, but sometimes that weight sinks us, and I have sunk further into my emptiness.

And then there was the car accident, which while not horrible, nonetheless brought a sense of mortality with it, and a reminder of a much younger time and a much worse accident.

Finally, to some degree everything has lost some of it's lustre for me. At the core of myself, I feel a dull pain, a haggard kind of awareness. I feel all the cuts I've ever given myself over the course of the years. I feel all these emotions, the anger, the fear, the hunger...all of these emotions which has lead to an experience of emptiness and I realize I need to feel these, feel how I get into the emptiness before I can let go of those triggers. And some part of me feels as if it is rotting...I am in the putrefaction stage of alchemy...desiccating, decomposing, returning to the rich hummus of the Earth...part of the cycle of life, where something falls apart, in order for something else to replace it. Occasionally I look at myself and all I see is what is falling apart...The illusions feel away and what was underneath is not so pretty. I feel like one of the dragon snakes...bloated with all these emotions, growing fat on my own fear, only to have it fall away to revel the rotting core underneath.

And throughout all of this I have felt the Emperor's hand on one shoulder and Xah on the other, one whispering of how to use my emptiness, how to use my emotions and feelings to go and further into a state of mind that while very observant, is also very empty, very dark, and very alone. And XAH tells me, that the fox is about illusion but also uncovering the truth beneath the illusion. Both tempt me...both are dangerous to me in their own way...but the emptiness itself is it's own temptation. the gateway is open, and as I work through these feelings that lead to emptiness, it beckons to me...

Occasionally, I've felt moments of oneness with the emptiness, of a kind of peace. It's a rare feeling. And when I feel that way, the energy of emptiness has interwoven itself into my own energy...my hands have grown very warm, warmer than other times I do energy work, and the world has actually become crystalline...everything stands out in sharp relief...perfect.

*********

I went to a fetish event tonight. What waste of time. I've actually noticed that such events tend to enhance my feeling of emptiness and aloneness. I think it's because what I see is something I would enjoy, but it lacks something I'm looking for and so consequently all I really see are people going through the motions. Or perhaps I'm just consoling myself by saying that and really not admitting that what I feel is a terrible sense of loneliness that these events evoke. I see what is had and yet I cannot seem to have any of it. I look at these people and I have nothing to say or to offer. I realized something very important about how I handle social situations. Unless there is a very specific purpose to the event, it's hard for me to feel comfortable enough to initiate conversation. I'm great at in-person networking where I ask what do you do? But asking that at a fetish event does not exactly make one interesting...maybe I should start asking: What fetish do you do?

A friend of mine said, tonight, that she rarely feels the emptiness because as a priestess she is a vessel for whatever she works with. I'm not a priest. I'm a magician. I occasionally with entities or deities, but I am not filled by those deities. I'm not sure which of us is better off: Her being filled with whatever, good, bad, or otherwise, or me, empty, a person stumbling around, looking for something to fill that emptiness, which never quite gets filled.

At some point though (and this point incidentally is like now) you realize you can't fill it...that in fact maybe the point isn't to fill it. Emptiness can be about acceptance, as much as it can be about what is lacking. I can look at what I don't have and be filled with bitterness, anger, and fear, or I can accept what I don't have and let it go into that emptiness.

I've been experimenting with several meditation techniques in regards to emptiness. One I've done at fetish events, is to simply sit down and start meditating using Taoist breathing techniques and circulating the energy. This can lead to a very observant and mindful state of mind, and the emptiness ends up being channeled into energy I can feel...it becomes a current.

The second technique is one I've started adopting in the last couple of days. I go upstairs with a pillow. I have a blanket there...no heat on. I lay down initially in a pose which resembles the hanged man. One leg extended, the other bent, with the foot, placed beneath the other leg, arms outstretched, one eye open and one eye closed, One looking to the future, the other eye looking to the past. I eventually have to shift my legs...I'm still very flexible, but I can feel my age and it is uncomfortable to keep my one leg bent for a long period of time. This meditation can easily last an hour minimum, as it is very much a fluid state of being and one spread across time. Incidentally if you do this meditation, make sure no one disturbs you. The consequences can be unnerving as your sense of time is stretched out all over the place.

You basically end up drifting across time during this meditation. At the same time, all those feelings of emptiness just end up getting accepted and flow away into the river of time. I not only come away with an altered state of mind and a subconscious awareness of what to do next, and even some conscious manipulations of time, but I also come away a sense of great calm. Undoubtedly I'll be doing this meditation more, so keep your reader eyes peeled. I look into the past and the future. I am not present, because present doesn't exist, yet I have presence in all things and none, everything and nothing.

********

The last week has continued in a similar vein to the rest of this month. As I work with this element the past has been dug up. That's where the emptiness began, so it's fitting I go to the root of it in my explorations of this element. I use my meditation technique on days when the emptiness particularly feels present, so that I can work with that feeling, even as I extend my mind across time into memories of future and past.

The Emperor

In the course of getting involved in the Emptiness working, I've had an intriguing encounter with another pop culture entity, namely the Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, aka Darth Sidious. It probably didn't help that until a couple weeks ago I was playing The Force Unleashed, wherein the character appears, but even so the appearance of this entity in the Emptiness working is appropriate since a lot of the emotions I'm dealing with would fall under the "Dark Side" of the spectrum. I am of course aware of just how treacherous and power hungry this particular entity is. Yet in dealing with the emotions I've encountered, he's been a quiet presence occasionally offering advice...though I have yet to shoot lightning from my hands. His advice has mainly consisted of allowing myself to feel the emotion and give it expression in the act of feeling it. For me the giving of expression to those emotions has involved some opening up, but also the dissolution of the meotion by feeling it, and the adding of that energy to the feeling of emptiness, which provides a sensation of a neutral mindset, with an enhanced awareness of my immediate environment as well as the patterns of behavior and action that people are involved in. Obviously this a bit different than how the Emperor is portrayed in Star Wars, and yet it seems appropriate. The emperor is a manipulator...to be an effective manipulator he needs to be able to observe others dispassionately...he needs to be able to be empty at times. While I don't intend to become a manipulator, I do know that learning to be comfortable with emptiness is learning to be comfortable with achieving a state of mind that flows with emotion, but doesn't let the emotion take control.

This has also lead into a new direction with my energy work: Learning how to dissolve my emotional energy without automatically cycling it via a Taoist technique. Instead, I'm dissolving the energ and settling it into the feeling of emptiness itself, which ends up actually infusing the energy into me. When working with energy like this, I feel the energy settle into a vast river or stream that is within the emptiness.

I am continuing to work with the Taoist styles of energetic work, but I also think there is some value toward what I'm exploring through the emptiness working. I'm also starting to realize just how much I need to make certain changes in some plans I have for the future...I have so much to share.

Book Reviews and a meditation on Emptiness

Book Reviews: Grammar for the Soul by Lawrence Weinstein While not a typical book that one might associate with spiritual techniques, this book proved rather intriguing because the author examines how punctuation, tenses, clauses, passivity, etc is used in language to communicate and also empower an individual. As someone who consistently is interested in exploring the connection between language and spiritual techniques, I also found this book useful for considering how I could not only improve my writing, but also improve the efficacy of my magical workings when it came to using language.

Each chapter is only a few pages long, but the author manages to include a lot of information as well as samples for how grammar can be used to empower and communicate, as well as create personal change. The author's narrative is friendly and approachable. I didn't feel lost in a sea of grammar rules. If anything, I felt that I could easily navigate grammar's laws and use them to my benefit, both for my writing and my sense of self.

If I have one quibble with this book, it's that the author didn't include exercises for the reader. While the examples he used were illustrative of how to improve one's writing skills as well as how to use writing to effect personal change, the lack of exercises can keep the reader from realizing the book's full potential, unless they are already active writers. That said, I'd give this book a 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: The Mind and the Brain by Jeffery Schwartz and Sharon Begley

This book was probably the most fascinating book I read about neuroscience and that's saying something since I find all of them fascinating. In this book the author explains neuroplasticity and how it continues to work in the brains of an adult as well as a child. The author also reviews many of the neuroscience experiments and projects done by various people as well as how those projects have confirmed the efficacy of mindful practices in controlling our habits and thoughts.

What I found really fascinating was how the author's work with OCD patients help them overcome that affliction by learning how to rewire the thought patterns. Equally interesting is the focus on how we can deliberately change our brains not only to heal, but also to continue sharpening our skills. For people interested in the intersection of neuroscience and magic, this book is a must read. 5 out 5

*******

A Meditation on Emptiness

Last night, while at the Deacon X fetish event, I again felt myself feeling empty...I think it was a continuing realization that with everything going on there, I had a sense of loneliness, a sense of not feeling satisfied...a realization, again, that this emptiness is not something that can be cured by the presence of anyone person...that it is something that can be ignored or sometimes not felt, but it is still a fundamental part of life. I felt a moment of anger and frustration...part of me wanted to walk out and just keep walking...but instead of doing that I sat down, and start a Taoist breathing meditation, opening myself up to that feeling of emptiness, accepting it. As I breathed I circulated my energy into that feeling of emptiness and felt my emotions swirl into the energy until I felt very calm. And I felt the emptiness reach out and start teaching me something I could do with the circulating energy to not only calm myself, but direct the emptiness I felt. I directed it into my hands, which I would later put to good use at said event ;)

Still what I came away with is that emptiness can be worked with...not just felt but worked with, which will make the oncoming elemental year very interesting indeed.

The process of internal work

I think the hardest aspect of internal work is when you face the root of the issue that you're working on.. On one hand, you now know what you're really dealing with. On the other hand, you're also faced with the question of, "Now what?" I was thinking of that today as I walked around the local park, working through an issue that I've been struggling with the last couple of weeks. I generally find in doing internal work that there are four stages that occur. The first stage is a sudden realization that something is bothering you. You can't quite pinpoint what it is that's bothering you beyond dealing with the immediate experience that you're involved in. That immediate situation is really just a symptom of the actual problem. It definitely needs to be addressed, but chances are it's based on a behavior pattern that can really deep into the past. It's a reaction to the original core issue...but you don't know what that issue is yet...you can identify characteristics...I feel jealous about X or this made me angry, which comes in handy later on, but the symptom is just that...it's a symptom...it's pain's it's something sending a message that something is wrong. Once you've dealt with the symptom, you still have a ways to go.

Stage 2 is digging. You start comparing the characteristics of the latest situation with the characteristics of previous situations where you suspected you acted in a similar manner. For instance, if you found yourself competing with someone because you felt jealous, you would look in your past for related incidents with other people. By finding a relationship, you could then begin to trace the issue back to the root cause of it.

Stage 3 is discovery of the root cause, or if you will the root emotion. For instance, just because you feel jealousy in incidents where you compete with someone, you shouldn't assume that jealousy is the motivating emotion. Remember, it's a symptom, so while jealousy is an emotion in its own right, it may just be a symptom of what you're feeling at your core. Perhaps, for instance, you are competing and feeling jealous because you really want to feel acceptance from other people. Acceptance is definitely not the same emotion as jealousy, but it can inspire jealousy depending on how acceptance is obtained. Once you know what the root cause is, you're at the now what stage. You've identified the root problem, and you're consciously aware of it. Congratulations! But now you have to figure out what you will do with what you've discovered. This can be hard to figure out, because you're also facing what really motivates the behavior you want to change and facing that root cause can be a bit of a doozy.

Stage four is figuring out what you'll do now that you know what's motivating your behavior. You've got a few options:

A. Do nothing. This might seem like the easiest, but unless you are completely comfortable with the behavior and the consequences that result from it, this will come back and bite you in the ass until you decide to really make a change.

B. See a therapist. Working with a therapist can help you explore these issues safely with another person present. Also the therapist will to some degree hold you accountable to make a change. This option can be combined with option C

C. Utilize a form of mindful awareness to consciously monitor yourself. This is greatly enhanced by pathworking, meditation, energy work, or some other form of internal work. This can be done without option B, though I'll note this can be tough work and will challenge you because as you dissolve the issues, you also leave room for more subtle issues to rear their head. I recommend that if you choose to do only this option that you also make sure that you know you can stop and see a therapist at any time. Don't go deeper than you are comfortable with. I will note that using meditation and mindful awareness for the last three and a half years has definitely helped me dissolve a lot of unhealthy behaviors, but it's been intense work and sometimes fairly wearing. I know what keeps me focused on doing it is the awareness that as I continue to do this work, I am getting healthier and happier and I consciously know what informs my choices.

I am still doing a lot of internal work. The stages I described here, are pretty accurate to the kind of work I've been doing. Internal work isn't necessarily glamorous or something very overt. It doesn't require much in the way of magical tools, or sigils, but the payoff I think is that you are more conscious of your choices and can control yourself more readily...and the need to do magic to solve problems actually goes down because you're no longer acting out your unhealthy behaviors.