Thursday, February 5, 2009

Druidic Mystical Practice Pt 4: The Elements of the World

The Elements of the World – the Druidic Macrocosm and Microcosm.

The principle that the greater world (in Irish, bith - ‘what is’) - both material and spiritual - is reflected in the personal body and spirit of the individual is an Indo-European universal. “As above, so below; and as below, so above” the old aphorism says, and we can find plenty of evidence for the principle in Irish lore. The Irish poems describe a correspondence between the parts of the natural world and the parts of the human body and mind. These parts are called the duile, which means ‘elements’ or ‘components'. (See Searles O'Dubhain's key article on the Duile here) There are several traditional lists of these symbols. We will adopt a ninefold model similar to those current in Neopagan Celtic circles.
• Crown of the Head - Starry Heavens
• Brains - Clouds
• Face - Sun
• Mind - Moon
• Breath - Wind
• Blood - Sea
• Hair - Plants
• Flesh - Soil
• Bone – Stone

We can, with a little divide these into the Three Worlds so that:
Land: Plants, Soil and Stone
Sea: Clouds, Wind and Sea
Sky: Heavens, Moon, and Sun.

The source of these correspondences, in the misty past of Indo-European origins, is said to be the myth of the First Sacrifice, in which the First Cosmic Being is offered, or offers itself, on the altar. From the death of that First Being, and from its body and spirit, the cosmos itself is created. In some versions of the tale this is also the beginning of the work of sacrifice itself, in other versions the Killing is more like war or murder, but in every case the world is then made from the bones, blood, breath and mind.
This being the case it is true to say that, regardless of our form, we are all made of one substance. From Gods to gardens, from ourselves to the stars and stones, we are all made of the Holy Flesh of the First Sacrifice. This is the archaic root of the later metaphysical doctrines of the Hermeticists, and the macrocosm/microcosm complex seems as Gaelic as it is renaissance Italian.
In the previous stages of this work we have created a Sacred Pattern of the cosmos - the Two, the Three and the Four, and focused and channeled the world’s flow into our own bodies and lives with the Cauldrons. In this stage we seek to realize the unity of our personal existence with the greater existence of the worlds. Our flesh is the flesh of the world, our spirits are the spirit of the world – and so is everything else.
Most importantly, from a mystical perspective, our personal spiritual nature is, at the deepest point, still one with the spiritual nature that infuses the whole of existence. The First Person became Impersonal Mind, by dying, and by living, we participate in that Mind. By entering deep into our own awareness, by moving past layers of common thought and focusing on patterns of holy symbol, we hope to have the experience of the all-mind, to expand awareness beyond our self and name, beyond our apparent flesh into the mind and flesh of the Divine World.
As in the previous stage, in this exercise you will build the pattern of vision, and then spend time in contemplation of the pattern. This stage becomes rather different – it is relaxing, opening and dissolving to the constructed self, where before the work had been about consciously constructing and using the pattern of self. You may find your complex of Fire and Water, Worlds and Quarters dissolving into the pattern of the world, or you may simply leave it behind for a time as your awareness expands past its limits. In any case upon finishing the meditation on the whole pattern, and opening up to the oneness with the Elements, you will return to your pattern of Two, Three and Four, with the Cauldrons, before closing the work.

Stage 4: The Elements
Bring the Powers into balance again in yourself, remembering your detachment, remembering your lessons, gently and firmly bringing the Two Powers and the Three Cauldrons into a balanced flow. Remember the vision of the Worlds, and become aware of your flesh as well as you spirit as you work the Duile Attunement.
By the following charm you will turn your attention to the elements of the Worlds, one element at a time. As you are learning the exercise feel free to take each section as slowly as you like, meditating on the union, the co-substance, of your individual existence with the much greater world of All That Is.
Today I open myself
To the Elements of the World.

The first triad concerns the Land. Feel your solid flesh sharing its substance with the stones and roots and growing things of the Land, letting it become you, and you, it.
Eternal stone my bones.
My flesh the warm soil,
My hair the green bounty,

The second triad concerns the Sea. Feel the processes of your material life as interchangeable with the great ebbs and flows of the endless deep, letting it become you, and you, it.
The sea my blood,
My breath the wind,
Cool moonlight my mind,

The third triad concerns the Sky. Feel your reason and emotion and spirit shining and turning among your thoughts, like the eternal heavens. Let it become you, and you, it.
The sun my face,
My thoughts the clouds,
The stars behind my eyes.

Feel yourself vanishing into the world, and the world vanishing into you, but all the while, your core of Fire and Water, your Three Cauldrons, remain balanced and firm, even as your awareness opens.
All the world is in me,
And I am in the world.

on to pt 5


Ali said...

I'm really enjoying these posts on Druidic meditation. :) I'd be curious to know some of your sources for various mythological and symbolic concepts (especially your references to Irish poetry and the Indo-European creation myth in this post). Also, I had at first thought of a slightly different division of the elements into the Three Realms from the ones you had listed, but then I noticed the triads of the meditation itself do rearrange them from your initial list.

Anyway, looking forward to reading more! :)

Searles O'Dubhain said...

I'm glad to see that this agrees so well with what I've taught and written as well as teach.

Searles O'Dubhain

IanC said...

Yep, Searles, especially the Duile material. I did do my own research, though, looking at Lincoln on the subject, especially. There are so few plausibly Irish symbolic systems that I just couldn't not use the Duile in an attempt at a comprehensive meditative exercise (which I'll be concluding here in the next couple weeks). The Big Exercise is ambitious, attempting to bring all these symbols together in One Big Trance... we'll see whether it's too much for real students.
To Ali, give me a day or three and I'll make a post about sources for the material, though I have been linking to sources whenever possible. I guess I'll go link the Duile to Searle's famous article on the matter.

Stephane Lavoie said...

I seem to have a battle going on within me, the same as some will have when trying to associate the tools with the elements.
Earth to Pentacle, water to Cup, but the 2 other can be debated at length. Does Fire go to the Sword or the Wand; a sword is forged in fire and cuts through air, and Wand/Spear is thrown (air) but also represents lightning (fire)……….

Now, for the Duile. Brain is associated with clouds and mind with moon. They too could be reversed;
The moon reflects the sunlight as you use your brain for reflection.
When you daydream, we say your mind is in the clouds…
Any thoughts???