A NOTE CONCERNING THE BREATH
By Brian Goldstein
(Frater Achad AL)
Copyright © 2006 e.v.
Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
This note concerns the Breath, and its use in Magick. These are matters of profound importance which, when properly understood, can be of great assistance to you in the Great Work.
As discussed in other documents of the Order, your Body of Light surrounds your physical body. Consider your physical body as a material extension existing within your Body of Light. Your Body of Light has the form of a Sphere. It is also known as the Sphere of Sensation for the reason that you can “sense” through your Sphere. It is through your Sphere that you will come to experience and know the Universal forces which we work with in Magick.
You control the action within and about your Sphere through your Will. You can assert your Will in relation to your Sphere by using the Breath.
Consider, in this regard, that there is a positive and negative pulse to every Breath. These pulses are necessary in Nature to counterbalance each other and maintain Universal equilibrium. Within your Sphere, these pulses can initially be understood by contemplating the movement of two separate circles.
The first circle can be viewed as about the perimeter of your Sphere. As you inhale, this circle is drawn into and concentrates as a point in the center of your Sphere (following the influx of the Breath itself). As you exhale, the same circle (now concentrated as a point) expands to the perimeter of your Sphere (following the outflow of the Breath).
The second circle should be viewed as initially concentrated as a point in the center of your Sphere. As you inhale, this point expands (as suggested by the outward movement or expansion of the chest) to the perimeter of your Sphere. As you exhale, this same circle (now expanded about your Sphere) concentrates again as a point in the center of your Sphere (as suggested by the contraction of the chest).
Meditating on the Planetary Sigil of the Sun, which is a point in the center of a circle, may give you further insight into these mysteries.
Another aid to assist your understanding of these positive and negative pulses, and their operation within your Sphere, would be to extend one hand directly in front of you, and place the other hand on your Heart, so the two form a line. As you inhale, the hands gradually counterchange positions through equal linear movement. As you exhale, they do so again (counterchange positions), and return to their original positions. This would be viewed as just one radius from the center of your Sphere. Your Sphere, however, actually operates and is formed by an infinite series of ever expanding and contracting concentric circles, which are in balance with each other. A great deal can be learned by contemplating the patterns and mysteries of the Breath.
Initially, you can gain knowledge as to the existence and operation of your Sphere through the Breath. You can “blow-up” your Sphere, like a magickal balloon, and give it shape and structure. Your Sphere is your “lens” into the Universe. However, it must be “exercised” (so to say), and purified and consecrated to the Great Work, to make it usable to you in Magick.
Rhythmic breathing, or pranayama, is something which is recommended early in magickal training. It naturally calms the mind and body, and assists the concentration. All you need to do is sit still, in whatever position (asana) you choose (even if you are upright in a chair, feet together and flat on the ground, with each hand resting on a leg, which is called the “God Position”), and breathe in a sustained rhythmic pattern which you find comfortable. Close your physical eyes (if you Will, this becomes unnecessary once experienced in these matters), but “open” the “eyes” of your Body of Light to watch the images projected on the “screen of your mind”. You will learn from this process. Prolonging your meditation for 30 minutes to an hour is recommended once you have acquired these skills, to allow yourself time to “slip” into the meditation and spend adequate time concentrating on the magickal work at hand. It is best to do this (especially initially) in your Magick Circle, formed by the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, and purified and consecrated to the Great Work. The use of a properly constructed Circle will aid your concentration, and reduce distracting influences. However, meditation on the Great Work (even without the physical or mental act of casting a Circle) is always encouraged at any appropriate time.
Certain breathing techniques are recommended. The method of breathing is commonly referred to as “pore breathing”. You breathe through the nose of your physical body. However, in Magick, you also breathe through every “pore” of your physical body and Body of Light. In short, consider yourself completely porous when you breathe. This will assist you in learning to “sense” through your Sphere. It will also assist you in coming to connect with and know the energies you call into action within your Sphere.
As to rhythmic breathing patterns, you determine what is best for you. The Fourfold Breath is recommended in the Neophyte materials. This is a simple pattern, which is repeated, where you inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and hold for a count of four. Other recommendations are given in Part I, Chapter II of Liber ABA: Book 4 and in Liber Ru vel Spiritus sub figura 206 (found in Appendix VII to Book 4) for you to consider. Continue your rhythmic pattern (whatever it may be) for several minutes or until you feel calm and still. Then, proceed with a deep quiet silent breath, which is a reflection of a quiet mind, or as the work requires. The Breath is a symbol of Spirit. By attuning yourself to the Breath with the aid of these exercises, you attune yourself to Spirit and prepare yourself to perform the Great Work.
As suggested above, the Breath can be used many ways in Magick.
When you are in a Magick Circle, which is symbolic of your Sphere of Sensation, every movement you make, and every breath you take, should strengthen the Circle. Breathe order into your Circle. Give it further structure according to the formulae you learn in your rites, using everything you know (omitting nothing). Be conscious of your breath, and use it to aid all of your work when performing rites.
When invoking a force, e.g., an Elemental or Planetary force or a Name, completely inhale the force (represented by a symbol thereof or the Name itself) to bring the force into action within your Sphere, and project the force into action on the exhale (whether you speak or not). Then, work with the force in the intended way. When casting a Circle, this might involve assigning an Elemental force to a particular quarter of your Circle. Other types of invocations may be of a more general nature, when you are filling or saturating your Sphere with the force to learn more of its nature.
When you have invoked a force, the Breath may be used to equilibrate the force. This may be done by mentally spreading and balancing the force about and within your Sphere with the aid of the Breath. Focusing on the patterns of the positive and negative pulses described above will assist the process. Also, visualizing different geometric shapes within your Sphere (especially a Solar Cross of equal arms) can help. As you do so, you will come to further know the force, in a balanced form, which will allow you to more readily call and work with the force in your Magick.
The Breath can also assist in projections. This may be the projection of a force into the Universe or a magickal link. It could also be the projection of your Sphere in a particular direction (e.g., when performing tattwa rites or tarot path-workings, and the like) or to another Sphere or Plane. The Signs of the Enterer and of Silence can additionally be used when performing this type of work.
The Breath can assist you in coming to know the masculine and feminine energies which exist in Nature. This is suggested above. The masculine types are active and outgoing. The feminine types receive and transmit. The different types, which are all aspects or expressions of Spirit, are represented through the Elements and the Planets, and by the Sun and the Moon, the Lingam and the Yoni, the Yang and the Yin, etc. In the Thelemic Pantheon, these forces are represented in the Most High by the God Hadit and the Goddess Nuit. May you come to further know these forces, and the 93 current of this Aeon of Horus, through the aid of the Breath. To do so, find the secret flame of Hadit burning in your Heart. This is the Invisible Light of Kether shining in the centre of the Sun. As you inhale, reach out to Nuit, our Lady of the Stars, focusing on no particular symbol. Your Sphere operates in Her Womb, as pictured on the Stele of Revealing. Feel Her loving embrace all about you. As you exhale, and there is a consolidation of energies within your Sphere, invoke Hadit again. You must be Hadit to invoke Nuit, and Nuit to invoke Hadit. The process is continuous. As you come to understand the union of the two within your Sphere (think of the Planetary Sigil of the Sun and what is otherwise described above), may you come to further know the Strength and Glory of our Lord Ra-Hoor-Khuit, the Crowned and Conquering Child, and may the Light of the Sun shine the way for you to accomplish the Great Work here on Earth!
This brings us to an important part of this note. Take a moment to consider dedicating every Breath you take, from this point forward (or at a time when you feel more inclined to do so), to the Great Work. (You may have already done this in prior magickal oaths, by dedicating your life to the Great Work.) This can be a very powerful “seed” to plant in your subconscious, which will continually bear fruit. It is something that you will likely recall, repeatedly, throughout your life, if you do so sincerely and with a pure heart. It will also assist you in coming to understand that everything you do is in furtherance of the Great Work (as every Breath will be in service to the Great Work), that you practice Magick through the symbols you are given (like your mate(s), your friends and family, etc.) and that there is healing and joy in the work for you, for those around you, and for the entire Universe.
Your work is important. You make a difference. You are here on Earth to perform the Great Work, which is divine by nature. This applies to everyone (no exceptions). Recognizing this, breathe nobility into your work, and go forth, valiantly, to do what must be done. The Great Work is the greatest of all personal adventures. You are involved in a divine-human drama. Therefore, be strong and brave, persevere and, in the Name of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, may you accomplish the Great Work in accordance with the Law of Thelema, which is the Law of Liberty! So mote it be!!!
Love is the law, love under will.
Yours in the Great Work,
Frater Achad AL (Brian Goldstein)
Anno. IVxiv: Sol in Leo, Luna in Leo.