From Stillness, Magic

 My first exposure to unusual practices that one might associate with magic was with the art of Qigong. Which in the greater picture of occult practices, one might term the mastery of thaumaturgy; namely the art of shaping and directing energy with the total power of one’s being. From my experience this is an excellent starting practice for any serious occultist because it doesn’t truly require adopting any particular worldview. At its heart, it is really just the exploration of the potentialities found within the context of the human mind-body-soul complex.
I know that this sort of specificity in labeling and language use seems odd, but I would remind the reader that the very first sorcery that mankind ever conducted was language. Words have power and using them precisely is as important a magic as any I have encountered. At some later time in this over-arching work I will address that statement further, but for now let us focus on this specific topic.
When I first began the practice, like many, I thought that there must be some secret visualizations to master; some secret technique that some hidden few masters knew. Well, there is a technique, but it is not hidden in some visualization, it is hidden in plain sight. You see, all the secrets of magic are found before our very eyes. They exist in the simplest of things and the most basic of practices.
As an example; there is a simple qigong that I teach called Hua Tuo’s cultivation. It begins with the hands in front of what the Chinese call the dantian, which is located just below the umbilicus in the center of the body. It is a field of potential that extends from the center to the front centerline down to the perineum and back to the mingmen, which is a point just below L2 on the lumbar spine. This spherical field is the basis of all of the vital force of being.

This dantian is actually the lower dantian, but when the dantian is referenced without further connotation, this is the one indicated. I will leave off about the other two for now since this is an example and the other two dantians aren’t germane to the study of this particular practice. I have found it curious and interesting that the dantian, and in fact the three dantiens together, find corollary in the Celtic concept of the three cauldrons. Yet again, I am tempted to digress, but the rabbit I currently hunt is slippery and so I shall remain on topic. Rest assured this corollary will also be addressed later, in the over-arching work.
At any case, the hands begin in a palm upward position, and as you inhale, you bring them upward in time with the breathing. The hands arrive at the center of the chest at the end of the inhale. This should neither be too slow, nor too fast. A steady rhythm will be what one looks for; natural and relaxed, but the breath deeply drawn into the diaphragm.
At the pause between inhale and exhale one should turn the palms downward and upon exhaling press the hands down, back to the dantian. There are numerous postural points to address and I shall do my very best to explain them, but realize that the written word is a poor substitute for seeing and experiencing someone who is doing this properly.
I want to apologize for a seeming digression here, but honestly this is important. It is in the experience of this activity that we want to look. Not in our ideas about it. And at first this would seem to be self evident, but my experience is that it is not. You see, when I teach this to people, I always get the same question. What do I visualize? And I truly understand the nature of the question. I asked it myself, often enough. But if you can, please put that aside for now. Not because visualization has no value. In fact, it can have tremendous value. But it cannot teach us, since it is generated from what we already know. And if we haven’t expressed magic as powerfully as we want, then perhaps there is something outside of what we already know, that we can discover, which might lead us to what we are really looking for.
Rather than visualize, what I would do is pay very close attention to the total experience of your being. Breath coordinated with movement, lend the full force of your being to the simple activity and observe intently. There is a lot going on when you have the sense to feel it, the eyes to see it. It is this simple sinking into the practice of it that brings on what we are looking for. It isn’t in what you do, it is in what you are doing. You must lend more and more of yourself to the activity. It is this surrendering the total of yourself into the activity that defines magic. And in the capacity to do this more completely will your magic grow.
Complex formulas and visualizations can only be added to this basic requirement but they do not themselves create magic, and they are not truly valuable until you know how to lend yourself completely to anything. When one can accomplish this, then can one lend themselves to whatever they might visualize and make it so. So, we start with the simplest of movements, knowing that most who see this will quickly want the secret formula, and the formula is its simplicity. And from this simplicity we can create worlds, and bend forces beyond ken.
This seems a denouement to the previous paragraphs and in fact it is. I will address the postural points, and they are important, but the apex of this entire work has been stated. If you missed it, I recommend going back and re-reading before worrying about the particulars of posture. They, like visualizations, are assistants (albeit important ones) to the nature of the practice itself.
The postural points are detailed, but they should always serve to create a relaxed, calm mind and body. If this does not happen, then one has to examine the way in which one approaches creating these postural points. I can recommend not putting your mindstate into the place of being a fixer, but rather an observer that attends to things much as a gardener does.
First one should locate their weight into the load bearing triangle of the feet. This extends from just behind the ball of the foot and to the point of the center of the heel on each foot. We want to distribute weight evenly between right and left feet and be located in that perfect balance point. Unlock the knees and make an equal fold into the inguinal area by unlocking the ball and socket joint of the hip, sinking into the legs. Allow the tailbone to point downward by dropping all holding in the low back. This should give one the sense that they are dropping their entire upper body weight into their quadriceps. This is exactly right, and should one miss this, one should examine why and where the weight is held instead and figure out what activity must be dropped in order to allow this kind of alignment.
One should feel as though the top of the head were suspended by a string that lightly pulls up and the spine should be released allowing the weight to sink into the pelvis structure. When combined with the lower body alignment this should facilitate a deep ability to let go of the shoulders and drop all upper body tension, surrendering it to gravity through the legs and grounding it into the earth.
This practice of standing in this way, observing the invisible but tangible power of gravity and how it flows through the form will facilitate a natural grounding, and can illuminate a good deal about the nature of invisible energies in general, especially ones that can affect physicality. Combining this with a mind resting in the point of the center ensures we can ground energy easily. In time, this becomes so natural to being, that grounded becomes a baseline state to which we return at will from any sort of flights of energy, mind, or spirit we care to take.
My preference when not teaching a class is to do at least 100 repetitions of the hand movements. This allows enough time for me to settle into the practice, quiet the mind enough to observe deeply and begin to sense deeper currents of energy than the obvious ones.
Of course with practice, this awareness and mind state improves, yet more repetitions is always useful. My experience leads me to believe there is no limit to the depth in which these senses can be awoken and deepened. Often, when we would stop is at that point right before something truly amazing is about to make itself known to us. Truly, I have found sinking deeper still into the exercise yields even greater fruit.

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