Overview of the Different Energetic Traditions
By Koujiryuu, Solstice, and Prophecy (06.30.04) © 2004 Not to be reposted without permission.
The different energetic traditions are varied, and picking a path of study can be quite daunting to people new to the world of metaphysics and energetic cultivation. In this article, I will outline the differences and similarities between 4 different and often followed paradigms- Qigong, Yoga, Psionics, Low Magick, and High Magick. All of these traditions are powerful when applied by a master, and all of them borrow from each other to some extent. Hopefully, this will be a good "beginner" guide, with the goal being a decision on a path of study at the end.
Qigong: The Art of Breath -Koujiryuu
The first course of study I'll outline is the one I'm most familiar with: Qigong. Also spelled 'Chi Kung', and pronounced "chee*kung", this culturally rich tradition comes to us from Ancient China. "qi" means "breath" or "energy", and "gong" would translate to "work", in the sense of a skill cultivated over a length of time. Despite what some people might lead you to believe, Qi and Chi are not pronounced differently; nor are they seperate forms of energy. "Ki" is a Japanese or Korean term, pronounced "Kee" (NOT "Kye"), and the concept of Ki is generally parallel to the concept of Chi, minus some cultural distinctions.
The Hua Qing Ni says: "How can the universe be alive? Because it is the continual transformation of primal chi, the pivotal energy and living soul of the universe. By understanding that all things in the universe are just different expressions of chi, one can see why the sages have always said, 'All things are one, and one is all things.'"
So what is Qi? Qi could be said to be the vital life force that runs through everything in existance, and holds the cosmos together. Qigong, then, is the art of strengthening, refining, focusing, clearing, and to an extent, controlling this vital breath. Qi runs through a system of channels called "meridians" or "mei" in Chinese, spiraling as it moves to keep you alive.
Through breathing techniques, meditation, and flowing forms, the qi is circulated throughout the meridians to strengthen the energy body. Qigong can be done sitting or standing, moving or still, and ranges from being meditatively pacifistic to outwardly aggresive, in the case of Tai C'hi Chuan. On top of this, there are generally three different distinct classes of qigong. Hard-style qigong is the art of bringing qi out to the skin and strengthening the wei qi, or protective qi centered in the skin, to the point that the body becomes impervious to swords or spears (although not bullets, as the Boxer Rebellion of the 1900's showed us). This is usually called "iron shirt" or "iron body" qigong, and is of special interest to those in the martial arts. Soft-style qigong consists of moving the body in certain patterns while breathing in a certain way to energize the body and promote health. This style is of interest to those with weak or ailing health. Lastly, the most esoteric style of qigong, and the least widely practiced, would be Daoyin (dao*een) qigong. This style originates with ancient Chinese Daoist practices, and focuses on moving qi along the meridians in certain ways to strengthen them. If properly practiced, daoyin is said to eventually bring about immortality.
Overall, qigong is a powerful healing art, with application in martial arts and health fields.
Basic Technique: Pushing Water
Stand with your feet shoulder length apart. Keep your hands loosely at your sides with your palms facing the body. Now, inhale through the nose for four seconds, while bending at the knees and raising the arms to shoulder level. Hold this position for four more seconds, before exhaling out of the mouth and returning to the starting position. Do this with a clear, calm, and focused mind- focus on the dantian, the energetic reservoir about 3 inches below the naval and an inch in. Repeat 27 times daily.
As you can see, this technique exemplifies the best of qigong- those with prior martial art experience will likely notice the "fourfold breath" used in meditation being combined with the physical movement.
Yoga: Inner Bliss and Transcendance of the Cosmos -Koujiryuu
Yoga is a diverse art that is very ancient and often misunderstood, due to popular culture and the preconceptions of the masses. It comes to us from ancient India, where it was said to be handed down to humanity by the Dev Shiva, the destroyer aspect of the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. 'Yoga' is an ancient sanskrit word that means 'devotion'. Yoga is the originator of many paradigms used by practicioners of other arts as an addendum to their unique practice- many Wiccans and Psions can tell you all about the chakras, a concept originally outlined in Yoga, for example.
From the Bhagavad-gita (Celestial Song), an ancient text forming part of the Mahabharata: "One who is free from illusion, false prestige, and false association, who understands the eternal, who is done with material lust and is freed from the duality of happiness and distress, and who knows how to surrender to the supreme person, attains to that eternal realm of the Higher Self. (15:5)"
The practice of yoga is extremely varied- many styles exist, with many different goals and forms. Some of them are: Karma yoga, Jnana yoga, Hatha yoga, Kriya yoga, Kundalini yoga, Laya Yoga, and Sankhya Yoga. The author is most well versed in Kundalini yoga and Hatha yoga. However, the goal of each is to help the personal soul (atma) reunify with the universal soul (brahma), so it could be said to be a more spiritual pursuit.
Hatha yoga is the yoga that most people picture when they think of yoga. It consists of postures (asanas) and different exercises to clear the blockages of Prana (Similar to qi) and allow the soul to become healthy. It is popularly practiced around the world in modern times, and it's benefits to the individual are tremendous. It can be used for anything from helping to cure a bad back to improving flexibility, and is a precursor to some of the "higher" forms of yoga.
Kundalini yoga is known as being the most esoteric form of yoga. It involves seven energy centers in the body, known as chakras, which have specific purposes. Chakra means "wheel" in sanskrit. These energy centers spin counterclockwise with prana, and when a person is sick or distraught, they will begin to slow down. The chakras are as follows:
Chakra, location, color, petals-
muladhara, root/tip of tailbone, red, 4
svadhisthana, sacrum/spleen, orange, 6
manipura, solar plexus, yellow, 10
anahata, heart, green, 12
visshuddha, throat, blue, 16
ajna, brow/"third eye", indigo, 96
sahasrara, crown of head (upper 1/3rd), violet, 972
The main point of kundalini yoga is to raise the dormant energy of Prana-Kundalini up the sushumna nadi (nadi is synonymic with meridian, much as prana is with qi) to the top of the head, piercing all the chakras along the way, and leading to identification with the Higher Self. This is symbolized by the union of Shakti, an avatar of the Devi Parvati, with Shiva at the top of the head, and ultimately leads to the clearing of karmic debt and realization of God-Consciousness.
Basic Technique: Alternate Nostril Pranayama
Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Do this to the count of four seconds. Immediately close the left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger, and at the same time remove your thumb from the right nostril, and exhale through this nostril. Do this to the count of eight seconds. Inhale through the right nostril to the count of four seconds. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril to the count of eight seconds. This concludes one round. Repeat seven times. Focus on the area of the root chakra while doing this technique. This technique stimulates the ida and pingala nadis, and is a technque to energize the kundalini for eventual awakening.
Do not practice this technique if you have a cold or if your nostrils are plugged.
Psionics: The Mind is More Powerful Than You Think -Koujiryuu
Psionics (s'eye*on*ics) is ancient in it's application and use, however it is relatively new in terminology and study. What originally was a term denoting anything of a parapsychological nature has become a term used to generally denote anything of a semi-unexplained, human psychic phenomena.
These include, but are not limited to: telepathy, remote viewing, psychokinesis and telekinesis, astral projection, out-of-body experiences, empathy, psychometry, precognition, clairvoyance, mediumship and clairaudience. Telepathy is mental communication over a distance, at a high level possibly involving speech. It can also be the transferrance of colors, patterns, emotions, or thought. Remote viewing is being in one place and viewing another. Psychokinesis is the mental control of the forces of nature, such as fire, water, thunderstorms, or air, and also includes telekinesis, the mental movement of inanimate objects. Astral projection is similar to out-of-body experiences; the spirit leaves the body and enters a malleable, energetic realm of thought. However, they both may take place in a real-world envioronment, as the physical and astral realms overlap each other. Contact with spirits is possible in both experiences. Empathy is feeling the emotions of others, and combined with telepathy, can result in the transferrance of emotional state. Psychometry includes clairsentience, the feeling of energy, and clairvoyance, the psychic ability to see over distances- the psychic ability to feel, beyond physical senses. Precognition is seeing events of the past or future, or having "premonitions" that come true. Mediumship is the channeling or communication with spirits. Clairaudience is hearing sounds over a distance.
All or some of these abilities can be replicated indefinitely with the correct training. Those who practice these abilities generally prefer to be referred to as "psions", not the more popularly accepted "psychic".
Basic Technique - Zen Meditation:
Among all practicioners of any energetic art, the most widely practiced technique outside of paradigm, belief, or religion is most assuredly meditation. To not include a basic meditative technique in a beginners overview to the arts would be nothing short of ludicrous. Whereas qigong can be applied while moving at high speeds in a combat situation, psionics requires complete and total relaxation. This meditation, originally written by my friend, mentor, and teacher Mystickal Magi, is a great starting point for any aspiring psion to begin to develop the relaxation and concentration needed to consistantly perform any of the abilities detailed above. -Koujiryuu
Imagine a place where you feel safe at any time. Imagine a paradise that only you know about and live to cherish. Picture yourself in that place, and that place all around you. You can feel it, touch it, and even smell everything in and around it. This is your place it is with you and inside you. It is a part of your life.
Meditation is life in this "special" place where no thoughts reside. It is a time when you can go here and feel relaxed. A time where there are no disturbances or outside interferance to prevent you from being at peace. When you meditate you can explore your soul.
There are several "types" of meditation. All can be used for the same or different causes. The first method of meditation that will be discussed is Tathagata Zen. It is a meditation practiced in Shaolin tradition and was taught to the Shaolin by Bodhidharma(Tamo). Although this has a Buddhist foundation don't think that you have to be a buddhist to meditate in this fashion. In martial arts and enlightenment there is no religion. What your personal beliefs are are your personal beliefs and should be regarded as so, and No matter what you believe you are worthy of wisdom.
Tathagata Zen (Ju Lai or Ru Lai Zen): Attaining a Focused Mind
Sit comfortably in any meditation position, personal, or as preferred a lotus position. For those of you who are unsure what the Lotus positions are they are the traditional meditation postitions. They appear similar to sitting "Indian Style" with both hands on either both knees, or cupped in a grasping fashion in your lap.
For this meditation it is required that your body be upright and relaxed. This is so, because in accordance with belief if your back is "slouched" or "slumped" it is likely that an energy blockage may occur in that area. Energy blockages will disrupt the body's natural flow of energy and probably cause discomfort. In order to remain relaxed and calm it is recommended that you tilt your head slightly forward. If it is tilted forward slightly causing a slight smooth curve the rising energy will flow through your head and upper body in a pleasant manner. For this meditation it does not matter if your eyes are slightly open or closed. Now, When you are correctly seated and comfortable, clear your mind of all thoughts. This may be very difficult for a lot of people and will probably take a long time to occur for beginners. If it takes too long, or you grow impatient and stop do not worry. This is a common factor in beginning meditation. After you have cleared your mind of random thought you can begin to gently focus your breathing. Do not attempt to concentrate your breathing into patterns or such, instead breathe gently and be aware of it. Silently count your breathe as you breathe out. Count from one to ten, and then repeat the count in sets of ten, Starting with the first release of breathe, then the second and so on. Don't worry if you miss a number, just continue with the last one you can remember. The amount of time that you spend doing this is completely up to you. After you complete this I recommend guiding your qi (energy) throughout your body. Use any visualization techinique you like. Once you are finished, relax by rubbing your palms together and warming your eyes. This should be done after any meditation or energy guiding excercise.
Low and High Magick: The Dialogs of Causing Change to Occur in Conformity to Will- Solstice, Koujiryuu, Prophecy
"Magick is one of the oldest cultural antiquities, as far as spirituality is concerned. Predating religion, magick is the practice of the belief that one can wield powers beyond that of the human ingenuity; that such powers ebb and flow through this world and that which may lay beyond. The word has more than one origin: in Latin, magnus, meaning power; and
in Sumerian, magus, meaning "wise one". The applicable meaning of the word has changed so many times, that today to use it would be vague and capricious, without stating your intent - be it the Hollywood stage, or some pompish evocation. At one time, anything that was not understood and not clearly done by hand was considered a divine feat, which included electricity and fire. Though very complicated, a brief summary of some of the popular practices is in order. The practice of magick varies from culture to culture, as does the inherrent meaning."
"There are two classes of magickal arts: low and high. Not a manner of rank, but a means of distinguishing the practitioners
style of use. Each style has indefinite practices, as each practice can be personalized or traditional."
"Low magick involves an eclectic array of prayers, potions and charms, setting the theme for one well-known form known as witchcraft. The practitioner of low magick has a free-lance style and may employ many magickal systems to suit their needs. Spells are performed with few materials and little preparation; they are cast with the emphasis on personal intention."
"A few styles of lower magick would be sympathetic magick, crystal magick, sigil magick, elemental magick and chaos magick. Sympathetic magick, being one low form, is the belief that the image of something can be used to influence that which it represents; such examples can include voudoo dolls and good luck charms."
"Crystal magick is another low form, dealing with various crystals and their inherant ability to amplify, augment, enhance, or balance spells, incantations, and the energy body. It is a highly healing art, although it's potency can be used in a multitude of ways. Sigil magick relies on assigning certain symbols a subconscious magickal function and then setting the symbol into your subconsious, essentially allowing subconsious casting of spells; oftentimes, ancient runes are used, and oftentimes this is the ideal magickal system for creating a long-lasting, continuously present effect (e.g. a magickal shield). Elemental magick is the belief in the ability to magickally control or affect the forces of nature through magickal casting. Chaos magick is in essence shamanism devoid of culture; a stripped down, bare bones form of magick bordering on necromancy (the control/summoning of spirits in the realm of the dead), it deals with the creation of magickal servitors; beings that do your magickal being, sometimes in return for something they need (e.g. the life energy, or qi, to exist). Despite it's name, it is a magickal system with set boundaries, like any other, without the overlapping culture."
"High magick is the most methodical of the arts. Pracitioners of high magick depend upon almost theatrical performance of rituals; using the Moon's phases and the Zodiac, the magician casts a spell that can last hours or years. Though all spells can be towards whatever goal the practitioner wishes, high magick traditionally is used as a means of connecting with gods (or angels). It is believed that alignment with the divine forces of Universe will allow the magician to become one with it."
"In my opinion, the description of "high" is applied because of that belief. Practitioners of both styles can incorporate aspects of the other in their workings. It is not uncommon for someone who uses witchcraft to cast magickal circles, or chant the names of dieties, which is generally accepted as being a High technique."
"In the traditional High Magic paradigm, as Solstice said, the goal is ultimately to acheive some type of union with a pantheonistic force, oftentimes the ruling entity of the given religion. Their magic, therein, specifically revolves around the powers and abilities attributed to their god-head, and often involves the use of any servants under that god-head. The most well-known, and arguably best proven to work, of the High Magic paths is the High Magic which resides within the Judeo-Christian Paradigm, working directly with the God-Head Jehova, and exercising the powers assigned therein. This system of High Magic is narrowed down by name as The Great Work (Qaballistic referrence), The Sacred Science (Solomon), and The Veritable Arts/Sciences (Abraham)."
"In these arts, The Magus exercises the power given to man by(originally) Jehova, and more recently, reinforced by the life and commands of their Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. This power is best exercised by the concept that both angels and demons are subservient to the righteous, God fearing man, being as man was created in God's image, and His most favored creation. In these arts, the devils and demons are controlled via the implication of words of power, commonly referred to as God Names, which firstly subdue the desired entity."
"Secondly, the demons are forced into action via promise of punishment by means of some type of more powerful angel, and therein the wrath of The Lord. When using angels, the magus once again relies on the power believed to have been invested in him by Jehova, and once again uses divine names to bring about results, though in a more pleasant manner, being as angels are still to be respected, whereas demons have lost all grace."
"The operation as a whole is enacted by the magician via a ritual setting, which in the least, involves the use of a magic circle, an altar, and the primary Magical Weapons. Realistically, these items reinforce the psychological mood of the magician, strengthening his faith in the operation's successful casting, and therein his magic as a whole. Whether or not the items used have any power within themselves is largely debated in many magical orders. What is known is that they work, oftentimes powerfully so."
Sadly, a "beginners technique" for either High or Low magick is really not plausible. The meditations and techniques outlined in the rest of the article will have to suffice, as there really is no such thing as a beginning magickal spell.
This concludes the article. Thanks go to: Solstice (http://www.psychicbody.com
), Prophecy, Silver_Archer (for doublechecking the yoga section), and all the newbies on the forums- may this article help you, and good luck on whichever path you choose.