Before preparing for your meditative practice, consider the spiral for a moment. It is a shape that repeats throughout nature. Our bodies are made up of the spiral double helix of DNA. We live on a planet that has spiraling storms called hurricanes and tornadoes. The nautilus shell is a spiral, as is the ram’s horn and the snail’s shell. The spiral is a motif used in the religious practices of aboriginal cultures throughout the world. Even the galaxy in which we live is a giant spiral 100,000 light years wide. The spiral is one of the most predominant, and beautiful, shapes in the universe.
Time is also a spiral.
The path that is the Way of the Druid grew out of the ancient Druids, but it is not identical to the path that the ancient Druids walked. Likewise, the path that the ancient Druids walked grew out of even older spiritual practices of pre-Celtic peoples. These spiritual practices have ebbed and flowed throughout the history of the human race. They have emerged again and again, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of its former self. They have retained some of the flavor, history and traditions of their earlier incarnations, while progressing with the times. The path that we now call the Way of the Druid has ebbed and flowed in cycles throughout the history of the human race.
A spiral contains elements that are both linear and circular. Think of a spiral staircase. As you climb, you continue to rise in a linear fashion, yet you circle around and around the stairs in order to do so. The journey of the Way of the Druid is also a spiral, drawn in time. Druidry rose and fell nearly two thousand years ago. Druidry of that time existed in a world without electricity, industry, or modern agriculture. Life in that world was nasty, brutish and short. The Druidry of that time was quite a bit different from the Druidry of today. Some of those ancient practices, like human sacrifice and foretelling the future by reading entrails, are ones we would have no desire to revive. Other practices, such as a reverence for nature and learning, we wish to retain and honor.
As we circle the spiral staircase of time, there will always be patterns of progress and regress. This is the cyclical nature of all things. This is the cyclical nature of the Way of the Druid as well. Each time we cycle through regress and back into progress, we rise a little higher on that staircase. Many of the things we take for granted today would be looked upon with awe by the ancient Druids. Imagine how a person of the first century would react to so simple a thing as a cell phone!
So the human race has progressed technologically. But as we have progressed through technological advances, we have regressed in our way of being one with Nature. Modern Druidry is a way for the Wheel to turn once again towards progress in our relationship with Mother Earth. As we make that turn, we once again rise a little higher on that spiral staircase of time. If you have decided to walk the path and climb the spiral stair with us, you are helping to restore the planet. By restoring the planet, we restore ourselves. By restoring ourselves, we are made whole.
Imagine you met someone who had never tasted chocolate. Could you describe, using only words, the experience of eating a piece of chocolate to this person?
Now imagine you meet someone who has never been in love, or has never been loved by another. Could you describe to this person what it is like to love and to be loved?
Obviously, you can describe these experiences all you want, but until someone has eaten a piece of chocolate or has fallen in love, your description is only going to be a vague approximation of the actual experience.
The Way of the Druid is a Mystery Path. Some call it a “Mystery Religion,” but I don’t like the word “religion” because of the connotations it carries in our current society. But whatever you call it, the experience of mysteries is central to the idea of the Way of the Druid as a life path.
When I mention to my friends that the Way of the Druid is a Mystery Path, they picture dark rituals in moonlit Groves, where secrets are whispered, not to be revealed under pain of death. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
It is true that the Way of the Druid has many mysteries, but this is not because of any need to keep things secret or hidden from the general public. The mysteries are there because they are things that cannot be expressed in mere words. These things have to be experienced firsthand in order to understand them, in much the same way that the only way to know what chocolate tastes like, is to eat a piece of chocolate.
Another reason for some mysteries in the Way of the Druid is the simple fact that some of the more advanced knowledge is not easily accessible by novices. Think of it as trying to teach an infant to use a pistol. It would obviously be dangerous to do so, because the infant has not reached a point of development that would allow him to handle a handgun properly.
So there are mysteries in the Way of the Druid that are only taught when the student has reached a point of development to be able to safely handle the knowledge. This is not done out of a need to deliberately conceal anything. It is done to protect the student from progressing too far too fast into areas that could be potentially dangerous for their present level of spiritual development.
The goal of the Druid is to always seek the imbas…that source of divine inspiration that connects us on a spiritual level to all that is. It is the ultimate mystery. It cannot be described to those who have never experienced it, but those who experience it for the first time know exactly what it is. That is the essence of mystery. That is the essence of healing.
When I was a child, about seven years old, I dreamed of King Arthur and Merlin. I remember one Thanksgiving when I was awarded the wishbone from the turkey. My sister and I made a wish, and I got the winning end.
What I’d wished for was a castle. I ran outside, and in the innocence of my youth I actually expected to find a castle in the back yard. I was actually disappointed when I didn’t find one. We lived in the country back then. As I walked down the dirt road trying to hide my disappointment, I looked into the field next door to my family’s house. There was a grove of trees in the middle of the field. The grove had been covered over with kudzu. I’d seen that grove hundreds of times, but this time I saw it with new eyes. Something about the way the kudzu grew on the tallest trees looked like a castle turret. As I looked again, I began to see a fortress wall. The more I looked, the more my imagination transformed the kudzu into a castle. Right there before my eyes, my imagination had allowed my wish to come true.
To me, this is how all magic works. We don’t do magic to affect change in our external environment. We do magic to create change within ourselves. The rituals and tools of magic work to evoke change within us so that we may see things in a new way. The magic is always there, all around us. We simply have to change ourselves in order to be able to see it. If the way we’ve been seeing things is causing us to feel stress, or pain, or worry, then magic is the means by which we may heal ourselves so that we may begin to see the world in ways that do not hurt us.
Before beginning to learn about the art of meditation, it is first necessary to define what we mean by “meditation.” In essence, meditation is an exercise designed to create an altered type of consciousness for a specific purpose. Meditation involves using your will to alter your mental state by slowing down and paying attention.
Several studies have indicated that practicing meditation can actually change the physical structure of your brain. A 2011 study by Britta K. Hölzel and several other scientists revealed that meditation causes changes in the density of gray matter in areas of the brain responsible for judgment, emotional regulation, and serenity. This study demonstrated that these changes can take place in as little as eight weeks. Such studies indicate that by simply altering your consciousness, you can affect physical changes in your body. The implications of this are tremendous for those interested in healing and magic.
For the purposes of the Way of the Druid, there are two types of meditation: Active and Passive. Passive meditation involves simply paying attention to the moment by focusing on something neutral such as a candle flame or your own breathing. It has no goal other than to help you to ground and center, and to relax and calm yourself. Active meditation, on the other hand, is more of a directed meditation designed to achieve a particular purpose. Color Breathing for healing or the Druid’s Egg would be examples of active meditations (these meditations are discussed below).
To begin exploring the different types of meditation, we’ll start with the techniques of passive meditation. Passive meditation is a preliminary to any meditation activity, as it is necessary to ground and center through passive meditation before beginning any active meditation.
A passive meditation involves grounding and centering yourself by focusing all of your attention on a particular stimulus. This stimulus could be almost anything, but traditionally the breath itself is chosen, because while you may not always have a candle or a mandala upon which to focus your attention, you always carry your breath with you. Centering involves letting go of the cares of the day, setting all other concerns aside, and simply focusing on the present moment. Grounding involves getting in touch with the telluric energies of the Earth. The Tree of Life Meditation outlined in the Active Meditations section below may help with grounding.
There are five types of breathing used in Druid meditations, but all of them involve focusing as much attention as possible on nothing else but the breathing. As you meditate, notice how the muscles of your abdomen move. Feel these sensations in great detail. Pay attention to how the air flows in and out of your mouth and nostrils. See if you can detect any minute changes in consciousness when you inhale or when you exhale. Set your thoughts and feelings aside and focus only on your breathing.
Sometimes people with limited experience in meditation believe that the goal of passive meditation is to stop thinking. That’s not exactly the case. The idea isn’t to stop thinking altogether, but to disengage from the thoughts and feelings that can act as barriers to achieving higher states of consciousness. You always have a thought stream in your mind. Even your dreams are a type of thought stream. If you picture your thoughts as a river flowing through your mind, then the goal of a passive meditation isn’t to dam up the river and stop it from flowing. The goal of a passive meditation is to simply stop swimming in the river for a while, and to climb out of the river, sit on the riverbank, and watch it flow by.
By climbing out of the river, you leave doing mode and enter being mode. Entering being mode involves setting aside any thoughts about the past or the future, or any feelings that you have to do something, and paying attention only to the moment. Picture ripples on the surface of a lake. Each ripple is a thought. The goal of passive meditation isn’t to make the lake disappear. The goal is to sit quietly until the ripples calm and the surface of the lake becomes as smooth as a mirror.
This focus on the thought process teaches us that we are not our thoughts. We are something else entirely. For example, suppose, during a meditation, that you make it a goal to totally stop your thinking process. You manage to sit quietly without any conscious thoughts for several minutes, but then you gradually become aware that you have begun thinking about something. Your immediate reaction might be, “Oh no, I’ve started thinking! I need to stop that!” The question here is, “What part of you recognized that you were thinking?” It couldn’t be your thoughts, because that’s what you noticed in the first place. So it must have been something else.
This something else is what we call the True Self. It is the internal observer that teaches us that we are not our thoughts. The True Self teaches us that if we have thought or feeling processes that lead us to results that we don’t want in our lives, we have the ability to change our thoughts to something more productive. If I have a negative thought about myself, I can choose to identify with that thought, and therefore act in negative ways, or I can access my True Self, and realize that a negative thought about myself is just a thought. It isn’t who I am unless I choose to believe that it is.
So if there is any goal to a passive meditation, it is to quiet the thought stream so that the True Self can speak. It is to become a vessel that can then be filled with the quiet voice of our own divine selves.
To begin a passive meditation, find a comfortable position, free of distractions, either sitting or lying down. Align your spine so that you are free of any stress points. If you are wearing any tight clothing, you may wish to loosen it. It is best to practice this meditation at least an hour after eating, as digestion tends to interfere with relaxation. When you find your comfortable position, you may find it helpful to close your eyes. To begin, first center yourself. To center yourself, let go of the cares of the day by turning your attention inward. Focus on nothing but the sensations of your breathing. To allow yourself to just be, gradually become aware of thoughts and feelings you may be experiencing. In the being mode, we realize that just because we are having thoughts and feelings, we do not have to act upon them. The goal here is to allow the True Self to come forth.
Notice the sensations of your abdomen as it rises and falls with each breath. Turn your attention inward as you focus only on your breathing. You are not trying to go any place; you are not trying to do anything. You are simply present in this moment, observing your body as you breathe. As you continue to focus only on your breathing, you may notice that from time to time your mind begins to wander. This is only natural. It’s what minds do. Be aware that if your mind wanders, you don’t have to follow it. Simply wait for your mind to return to you by continuing to focus on your breathing. If you do notice your mind wandering, don’t consider this to be a failure. If you start judging yourself for allowing your mind to wander, such thoughts are simply more thoughts, and one of the objects of a passive meditation is to calm your thoughts so that you can just be. If you find yourself having thoughts, just return to your breathing and allow your mind to come back to you by returning your attention only to your breathing.
As you continue to breathe, remember that there is no past, there is no future. There is only this present moment. Allow yourself to be in this moment, here and now. Any time your consciousness wanders, return to the now of the present moment. To end the meditation, gradually expand your awareness. If you are sitting, allow yourself to become aware of how your body makes contact with the chair. If you are lying down, allow yourself to feel how your body contacts the bed or the floor. Continue to expand your consciousness outward until you become aware of your immediate surroundings. When you feel you are ready, slowly open your eyes and return to yourself. Conclude the passive meditation by taking with you any insights, thoughts or feelings you may have gained in your practice. As you end this meditation, open your eyes while remaining calm, yet alert and relaxed.
There are five basic types of breathing used in both active and passive Druid meditations. These are: Quiet Breathing, Deep Breathing, Fast Breathing, Breath of Fire (Dragon’s Breath), and Breath of the Sea. Instructions for each of these types of breathing are discussed below. Different types of breathing are used for different purposes. You may experiment with each type of breathing to see which works best for you. It is possible to use several different types of breathing during the same period of meditation. For example, when doing a grounding and centering meditation, I typically begin with Quiet Breathing, followed by Deep Breathing. If I am in particular need of clearing my head, I then go into a period of Dragon’s Breath, followed by more Deep Breathing. I then return to Quiet Breathing before concluding the meditation.
This is the type of breathing we do naturally when we are not consciously focusing on our breathing. It is regular and even, not requiring any effort or concentration to achieve. This type of breathing works well for starting or ending a meditation, but it doesn’t allow for the rich oxygenation of the blood, and therefore of the brain, that comes with Deep Breathing.
Deep Breathing is done by filling the lungs to their capacity. To do Deep Breathing effectively, picture a tube of toothpaste. If you were to empty a full tube of toothpaste, you’d start at the bottom, rolling it up and squeezing out all the toothpaste as you go until reaching the top. Likewise, to exhale during a Deep Breath, you would start with the lower reaches of the abdomen, pushing the air out there first, then through the lower chest, then through the upper chest. Finally expel any remaining air by rapidly contracting the abdomen muscles.
To inhale in Deep Breathing, reverse the process above. Take the air into your upper chest first, then your lower chest, then your upper abdomen, and finally into your lower abdomen. It may help to visualize the air as colored light entering your body. In fact, in the Color Breathing meditation later in this chapter, we will do just that. As the air enters and leaves your body, focus your attention on the sensations you experience along the way.
Deep Breathing is a slow and deliberate method of breathing. People experienced with this technique can slow their breathing to no more than two or three breaths per minute. This type of breathing is used to achieve clarity, serenity and calmness.
Fast Breathing is rapid, deep breathing. Extended use of Fast Breathing can lead to hyperventilation due to hypoxia. Therefore Fast Breathing is best used in short bursts of no more than thirty seconds to one minute of duration. The purpose of fast breathing is to clear the throat and nasal passages, often in preparation for Deep Breathing or Breath of Fire.
Breath of Fire (Dragon’s Breath)
The Dragon’s Breath is a special type of Deep Breathing. You begin the Dragon’s Breath by inhaling using the Deep Breathing breath. As soon as your lungs are completely full, rapidly exhale. Think of blowing out a candle. This rapid exhalation should be audible. Dragon’s Breath begins slowly, and then gradually speeds up. When done properly, The Breath of Fire should sound like a locomotive gaining speed. Do this for three sets of nine breaths, pausing briefly between each set.
The Breath of Fire charges the entire nervous system, leaving you relaxed yet energized. It should be used whenever a major undertaking is about to take place that will require a lot of energy work. This is especially useful before conducting either public or private rituals.
Breath of the Sea
Breath of the Sea is accomplished exactly like Deep Breathing, with the exception that you hold your breath at the peak of each inhalation and exhalation. Picture a wave braking; note how it hesitates for a moment before it breaks upon the shore, and you’ll see where this technique gets its name. Experiment with holding your breath for short counts at first, then gradually build up to longer counts. Try not to exceed a count of nine beats when holding your breath. When I do Breath of the Sea, I start by one Deep Breath, followed by a hold for a count of one. I then exhale and hold for a count of one. On the next breath I hold for a count of two, then three, and so on until reaching nine.
Breath of the Sea is especially useful for relaxing and meditating after a period of exertion such as exercise, walking, or doing energy work.
As you experiment with the world of meditation, try each of the breathing techniques above with each of the meditation techniques outlined in this chapter.
Practice all five types of breathing while doing various activities, and while meditating. Are there particular types of breathing that seem better suited to certain activities? Which type of breathing works best for your own personal meditation practices?
Active meditations are self-guided meditations done to achieve a particular purpose or end. They are a type of self-hypnosis. This section outlines several types of Active Meditation. As you practice these different types of meditation over your year of Druid apprenticeship, try to meditate at least twice a day. It may be helpful to start your day with a period of passive meditation, followed later in the day with an active meditation suitable to the day’s activities. For example, if you plan to do energy work that day, a Tree of Life meditation may be helpful. If you wish to protect yourself from negative influences, a Druid’s Egg meditation might serve its purpose for that particular day.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to do too many different types of meditation in a single day in an attempt to master them all. You have all the time in the world to learn. Slow down, focus on the moment, and experience each thing that the meditation has to teach you in the time that it chooses to reveal itself to you.
As you learn each type of Active Meditation below, match one of the five breathing techniques to that particular meditation. I find that Deep Breathing works well with the Body Scan, and Breath of Fire works well with Meditative Walking. This may or may not be the case with you. Experiment for yourself until you find combinations that yield results that are important to you. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. All that is important is what is right or wrong for you.
We will cover nine types of Active Meditation in this section. There are many more types of active meditation. Their number is only limited by the creativity and resourcefulness of the individual. The active meditations outlined below will give you a good basic grounding in active meditation. From this base, you should be able to create your own Active Meditations to suit your own purposes.
The nine types of meditation covered below are: The Tree of Life, the Druid’s Egg, the Sacred Space, The Cave, Meditative Walking, Meditative Body Scan, Meditative Ritual, Meditative Healing, and Past Life Regression.
Tree of Life Meditation
Begin this meditation by finding a comfortable place, preferably outdoors. If you have developed a relationship with a tree, and such a tree is nearby, sit comfortably underneath it, with your back resting against the tree. If you must do this meditation indoors, sit comfortably in a quiet area. Before beginning this meditation, center yourself by emptying your mind of all distractions. Start with a few cleansing breaths, then proceed into a brief period of passive meditation before moving on. Do not proceed until you feel that you are centered. This centering exercise is preparation for any Druid meditation.
Begin the Tree of Life meditation by thinking of a color that gives you peace and serenity. This should be a color that brings you happiness, joy, and relaxation. Now visualize a small sphere of light in this color, radiating from your solar plexus, just above your navel. Picture this light flowing downward, out of the tip of your spine, into the earth below you. See it branching off like the roots of a tree, drawing strength and energy from the earth. With each breath, you are drawing more energy out of the earth.
Your spine is becoming the trunk of a tree…the Tree of Life. Feel the energy rising from the ground to become part of your being. This is called grounding, and is the beginning of any meditation. Feel the energy rise through the trunk of your spine into the crown of your head. See the energy as colored light, bursting forth from the top of your head. The light energy emerging from your head is branching off in all directions, reaching out to touch the heavens above with each exhaled breath.
Watch the energy rise far above you, like the branches and leaves of the Tree of Life.
How far does your energy reach? Can you reach the stars? Can you reach into the Land of the Young? See the light energy flowing within you, uniting the realms of earth and sky. Feel yourself becoming a part of all that is. You are merging with the life force of all existence. When you feel you have reached Unity with the Tree of Life, meditate on these questions:
How am I like all that exists?
How am I different?
How can I be more at peace with all that is?
What teachings do my senses give to me?
What teachings do my dreams give to me?
How closely do my dreams match my reality?
Can I bring my reality into closer harmony with my dreams?
Meditate on these questions for a time. When you feel you are ready, you may begin to close the Tree of Life meditation. To close this meditation, note any insights you have gained. Now see the roots and branches of energy slowly returning to the center of your being. The energy of the life force is not leaving you, it is simply concentrating itself into your center of being.
When you have returned to this world, open your eyes, and take with you the lessons you have learned from the Tree of Life meditation.
The Druid’s Egg
The Druid’s Egg meditation is done as a way of protecting yourself from negative energies. A Druid’s Egg is also one of the tools described in the section on Tools of the Druid. While doing the Druid’s Egg meditation, you may wish to hold your own Druid’s Egg in your hands as a focal point. If you do not have a Druid’s Egg stone, then you may hold another stone or any other sacred object you wish to hold as a focal point. Some have held an actual egg. This is an especially powerful technique when done at Ostara. A group Druid’s Egg meditation ritual for Ostara, using real eggs, is followed by a communion in which each egg is ritually eaten.
To begin the Druid’s Egg meditation, start by centering and grounding yourself with a brief period of passive meditation. Sit or stand in a comfortable position, holding your Druid’s Egg in your outstretched hands, palms upraised and cupped together. Your hands should be even with your solar plexus (the third, or yellow, chakra). Start by visualizing a yellow light emanating from your solar plexus and into the Druid’s Egg in your hands. It may help to close your eyes while doing so.
Now picture the light expanding from the egg and radiating all about you in an egg-shaped bubble. This egg of yellow light is protecting you from negative influences and harmful energies. See the light slowly expanding from the egg to finally meet itself above your head and below your feet. Visualize the entire process and see the light in your mind’s eye every step of the way. When the Druid’s Egg is complete, and you are safe within its protection, meditate for a time within it. Visualize the energy of the Druid’s Egg staying with you and following you as you go about your daily activities.
When you are finished with the meditation, come back to yourself, leaving the Druid’s Egg shell of energy intact about you. Place your Druid’s Egg stone or other talisman into your crane bag. For added protection, carry your talisman with you for the rest of the day.
The Sacred Space
Find a comfortable position, free of distractions. Now close your eyes. Breathe in and out in a calm manner, focusing on your breath. As with any other meditation, begin by grounding and centering. When you are grounded and centered, begin Deep Breathing. Feel your breath enter into your body and down into your lungs. Follow it as you exhale. Focus on nothing but the sensations of your breathing.
Now, think about your favorite color, or any color that makes you happy. Think of a color that has warm, peaceful associations. Picture a glowing light that color. The light is flowing into your fingers and toes, bringing relaxation with it into your muscles and limbs. Follow it as it moves past your wrists and ankles, past your knees, into your shoulders and hips, and finally into your torso, bringing peace as it goes.
When you are fully relaxed, see a dot of colored light before you, the same color you saw a moment ago. In your mind’s eye, watch that light slowly expand to fill your field of vision. Allow that peaceful light to fill you and to embrace you. See yourself swimming in light, floating in serenity. As you float in the light, zoom back a bit.
The color you see before you is an object. It could be a thing, an animal, or a person. The object is something that causes you to feel happy, safe and secure. Focus on the object and allow its peacefulness to embrace you.
Zoom out a little more. The object, person or animal is sitting somewhere. It can be an indoor scene or an outdoor scene. The place is somewhere that you feel at ease, calm and serene. Look around you. Remember the color, the object and the scene. Take a mental snapshot of your surroundings. If your mind begins to wander during this meditation, return to your snapshot, and focus on it. Notice each detail of the scene you have pictured. Free your mind of all other thoughts. If a thought comes to mind, don’t worry. Just note it, and let it pass on by like a leaf floating downstream. Don’t consider it a failure if thoughts come to mind. Simply note the thought, let it go, and then return to focusing on your mental snapshot. If a hundred thoughts rise up, then let those thoughts go a hundred times. You are not your thoughts.
See your thoughts as waves upon the ocean. Dive below your thoughts to find your true self beneath the waves. Pay attention only to the moment in which you find yourself…this moment, right now. Don’t worry about the past. The past is gone, like water flowing downstream. Don’t worry about what tomorrow may bring. There is no need to borrow trouble from the future. There is no past, there is no future. There is only this moment.
When you have completed your mental snapshot, store it in your mind. This is your internal Sacred Place. You may return to it at any time you feel stressed out and in need of calming. You don’t always have to experience the same color, or the same object, or the same place. Choose whatever works for you at the time.
This visualization exercise is a preliminary for shamanic journeying, so the more you are able to practice it, the easier your experiments with shamanism will be.
Although our minds take in about 2 billion bits of information per second, we are usually only conscious of about 4000 bytes per second. The purpose of the Meditative Walking exercise is to learn to train your awareness by becoming conscious of only one thing at a time. By paying attention only to the moment, you learn to let go of anxiety about the past, and worries about the future. It is preferable to do the Meditative Walking exercise outdoors if possible, but you may also practice in an indoor space if necessary.
Start by standing in a comfortable position with your hands hanging loosely beside you. Now look at the ground about five or six feet in front of you. Don’t focus your eyes on anything in particular. Just allow your eyes to relax. Center and ground yourself before beginning to walk. When you are ready, slowly lift your right leg in preparation for the first step. Focus on feeling the activity in every muscle of your right leg as you move. Can you distinguish among the different muscle groups as you lift your leg? Don’t hurry the step. Just allow yourself to experience the
Meditative Body Scan
The body scan meditation trains our focus so that we may become more aware of what we may be experiencing at any given time within our bodies. This meditation also allows us to become more accepting of any sensations our bodies may be giving us. If we are experiencing any discomfort or tension, research has shown that greeting such sensations with an open and accepting attitude is much more effective than trying to fight or control these sensations.
It is best to wait at least an hour after eating before attempting to perform the Body Scan. The process of digestion tends to go against relaxation.
To prepare for the Body Scan meditation, wear loose, comfortable clothing, and take off your shoes. Find a place where you will be free from distractions for the duration of the meditation. It is best to perform this meditation while lying down, although you may try it from a sitting position if necessary. If it is possible to lie down, do so now, spreading your arms and legs comfortably. You may use a pillow under your knees, lower back, or any other place you may need extra support. Make sure you are as comfortable as possible before continuing.
Now that you are comfortable, remember that as you do this exercise, when your mind wanders, gently return your thoughts to your breathing and to your body. Don’t get caught up in trying to do this the “right way.” All that matters is that you are doing it.
When you feel you are ready to begin, first center yourself by taking a few deep breaths. As you begin, focus on your abdomen as it draws air into your body. You may find it helpful to picture the air as a colored light or as a white light, entering into the center of your being. Allow the air to warm and relax you as you continue to breathe deeply.
Now focus your attention only on the toes of your left foot. It may help to curl your toes a bit in order to keep your focus there. Now relax your toes. Notice any sensations you may be experiencing in your toes. Are they hot or cold? Do you feel any stiffness or tension? Can you describe the sensations you feel? Is there any discomfort there? If so, is it a sharp discomfort, or a dull one? What happens when you focus your attention on the discomfort without trying to fight it?
As you continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, allow your attention to move slowly from your left toe to your left ankle. Repeat your observations there. Is there any discomfort in your left ankle? Are there any pleasurable sensations there? Is it relaxed, or tense? Can you greet the sensations from your ankle with open acceptance?
Breathe in and out as you move your attention from your ankle to your left calf. It may help to contract and release your left calf muscle. As you release, feel your calf relaxing. Notice the sensations there as you continue to breathe in and breathe out.
Follow your attention now as it moves to your left knee. Notice the sensations there. Accept any discomfort or tension, or any pleasurable or relaxing sensations, before moving on to your left thigh. If you notice your mind wandering from your left thigh, that’s fine. Just continue to breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth as you wait for your thoughts to return.
Now slowly move your attention and your awareness to your lower stomach. Feel it rise and fall as you breathe. Take note of any sensations you find there in an open and accepting manner. As you gradually begin to move your awareness up the trunk of your body to your chest, can you feel your heart slowing down as you enter a deeper state of relaxation? Continue to feel all the sensations coming from your chest area.
Now move your attention to the fingertips of your left hand. If it helps to focus your attention, curl and release your fingers, noticing how your fingers feel as you do so. Slowly allow your attention to move to your wrist, then your left upper arm, and into your elbow, and finally into your shoulder, noting any tension, discomfort, or pleasurable and relaxing feelings that you may find. Greet all of these sensations with openness and acceptance.
Now bring your attention back to your chest as you slowly direct your awareness to the base of your neck. Feel how it connects to the floor. Gently and slowly clench your jaws, then release, noting the sensations as your focus moves slowly up your face to your nose. Can you feel your nostrils flare as you breathe in and out? Now scan the top of your head. What sensations do you find there? Pause for a moment and picture your awareness hovering over your entire body. Feel all the pressure points where your body makes contact with the floor.
Now take a few deep breaths, and focus your attention on your right toes, repeating the exercise. Flex your toes if necessary to redirect your attention. Now move on to your right ankle. If your mind wanders, simply wait for it to return as you continue to breathe in and out while experiencing your right ankle. Now move on to your right calf. Now move on to your right knee. Now direct your attention to your right thigh. Allow your focus to come back to your stomach, then your chest, accepting whatever sensations you may find as you go.
Now direct your attention to your right fingertips, then to your right wrist. Now to your right upper arm, moving on to the right elbow, then the right shoulder. Continue to allow your attention and your awareness to travel up the right side of your body until you again arrive at the top of your head. As your awareness moves out of the top of your head again, feel all of the sensations you have become aware of during this exercise. Allow all of these sensations to fuse into one complete whole: Your body.
All of the feelings you have experienced in this exercise, the discomfort and the tension, but also the relaxation and the pleasurable feelings, are all a part of you. Greet them with calm and open acceptance. Know that all of these sensations are like waves in the ocean. They come and they go like the tides of the sea. They are not good, nor are they bad. They simply are. Accept all that you feel as a part of you. Your body will be with you for your entire journey in this life, so befriend it and get to know it with loving acceptance.
As you allow your consciousness to return to your entire body, pause for a moment to breathe in and experience your entire being, enjoying your body for what it is, and enjoying yourself for who you are.
The Cave (Conquering Fear)
This meditation will help you to overcome fears, stress and concerns. Perform this meditation with the lights turned low, or off. If may help to do the meditation in a dark room with a single lit candle. As usual, make sure you are not wearing any restrictive clothing, and make yourself as comfortable as possible, preferably by lying on your back with your feet about shoulder width apart, and with your arms by your sides, palms turned upward.
Before you begin, hold in your mind an image of the fear or stress you are planning to let go of. Picture it within you. It is there, but it cannot harm you. It may help to picture the fear as a small ball of smoke resting in your abdomen.
Begin the meditation by grounding and centering. Continue deep breathing until you are completely relaxed. Once you are relaxed, picture yourself walking through a brightly lit forest. Engage all of your senses as you walk. Picture the flora and fauna of the forest. Inhale deeply and appreciate the fragrances on the breeze. Note what sounds you hear coming from the woods. How does the sunlight feel upon your skin? How does the earth feel beneath your feet?
As you walk through the woods, you come upon the entrance to a cave. The walls of the cave are covered with a glowing, luminescent moss so that you can see your way through to the center of the cave. The floor of the cave is covered with this moss as well, and as you lie down in the middle of the cave floor, the entire cave glows with a blue-green light. You can see that the cave is composed largely of crystals, and the light is bouncing and refracting off of the crystals.
As you lie in the floor, return to the fear in your stomach. It is a small ball of smoke. Examine it in your mind’s eye. Does it have any features? What color is it? What is its shape? Thank it for serving its purpose, but tell it that since it has fulfilled its function you no longer need it.
As you lie there on the cave floor, inhale deeply, and then exhale slowly. As you exhale, picture the fear, as a cloud of colored smoke, leaving your body with your exhalation. As you complete the exhalation, see the fear as a faint cloud rising to the ceiling of the cave and slowly dissipating and evaporating.
Lie quietly for a few more moments in the cave, allowing its cool blue radiance to bathe you. When you are ready, make your way out of the cave and back into the forest, once again noticing the flora and fauna that come to greet you as you walk.
You may return to this cave at any time when you feel the need to release any fear, worries, anxiety or stress.
Past Life Regression
The Past Life Regression meditation is a longer, and more involved meditation. You should have experience with all of the meditations preceding this one before undertaking it. Since this meditation may stir up deep emotions, it is recommended that you do not attempt it when you are depressed or anxious. Wait to do this meditation when you are calm and serene, and undisturbed by life’s twists and turns. Before you begin, ask yourself why it is important that you do this meditation, and what you hope to learn from your past lives. How will this knowledge help to enhance your current life? What do you hope to gain? Keep these thoughts in mind as you do the meditation.
Prior to beginning this meditation, you may also wish to invoke a God or Goddess, such as Aengus, a shamanistic God, or Arianrhod, the Goddess of rebirth and reincarnation. You may also ask for the watchful protection of your own sacred Ancestors. Ask them to help you, protect you, and guide you as you journey between the worlds. Call upon their archetypal energies. It may help to review the Basics of Shamanism in the next chapter, Vision Seeking, prior to attempting this meditation. Pay particular attention to the section in the next chapter entitled, The Silver Web.
This meditation is written out in script format. You may wish to record it, then play it back and listen to it as you meditate. Alternately, you may have a trusted friend read it to you as you sit or lie comfortably.
I am lying comfortably, feeling the energy enter my body in the form of my breath. My breath is a colored light. I am scanning my body, feeling it relax inch by inch as I enter into a meditative state. I will remain relaxed yet alert. My body will remain peaceful and calm as I undertake my spirit journey, and it will be here for me when I return.
I am lying on an ocean shore, neither in the water nor out of it, but in the in-between place where the sea meets the land. When I am ready, I will see a boat on the shore before me. The boatman helps me into the craft and we set sail. As I float upon the waters, I feel the gentle rhythms of the waves rocking the vessel, and I sink deeper into the trance.
This tiny ship is my safe place. If I feel the need to return to it at any time during this meditation, all I have to do is will it to be so, and I shall return.
As we sail, up ahead a wall of mist gradually appears. The boat enters the mists. As the craft enters more deeply into the mists, my vision gradually fades until I see nothing but the mist surrounding me. I look down to see my hand, but my hand has disappeared. I slowly become aware that my whole body has disappeared. I have left my physical existence behind. I have become pure consciousness.
I call upon my consciousness and use my will to part the mists. As the gateway opens, I see before me the Spiral Castle of Arianrhod. It sits upon an island surrounded by the moonlit sea. The calm waters reflect the light of the stars so that there is no horizon. The Spiral Castle and the island upon which it sits appear to be floating freely in space. Only the sound of the waters gently lapping at the boat let me know that I am upon the sea.
The boat reaches the shore, and I step out onto the island. Before me, there is a shimmering staircase leading upward into a tower. Above the tower I can see the full moon illuminating the ground below. With my new spirit body, I place my foot on the first step. The stair lights up, giving the appearance of being made of crystal. With each step, the stairs light to guide my way. As I climb the glowing crystal staircase, I engage all of my senses. I note the staircase in every detail. I listen for sounds. I notice the fragrance of the stairwell. I feel the way my spirit body makes contact with every surface.
As I continue to climb, with each step I achieve a higher level of consciousness. With each step, I gain more awareness. When I arrive at the landing at the top of the stairs, I am fully awake. I am fully conscious. I am fully alive!
Before me is a door leading to Arianrhod’s inner chamber…the timeless place. I reach out and open the door to see Arianrhod sitting before me in the center of the circular chamber. She is sitting at a spinning wheel. Luminescent silver threads emerge from the wheel in all directions, weaving a three-dimensional web of life. I am now in the spirit world, the place of no place, the time of no time.
As I walk towards her, she looks up and smiles. With every step I draw closer to her. With every step, I realize that there is no separation. There is no soul but the One Soul. As I approach her stool, I reach out to take her hand and suddenly realize that it is my hand. I find myself sitting on her stool, and I realize that I am her and she is me.
I sit at the spinning wheel, watching the luminous silver threads spanning out from the wheel in all directions. Each thread represents a life path. Each strand is another cord of choices and probabilities. I focus my awareness for a moment and I realize that all of these lives are my life. I have come here to experience what has been before, and what will be again. I allow the threads to sing to me. Eventually a thread changes appearance so that I may select it. This thread is different than all the others. It may be different in appearance. It may be different in touch and texture. It may even vibrate with a melodious sound. However it may choose to present itself to me, I know that this is the thread I will trace. In tracing the thread, I will be guided to the answers I seek.
I wait until the thread reveals itself to me, then I take it in my hand. As soon as I touch it, I begin to travel along it effortlessly. As my consciousness travels down the thread, I gradually become aware of the experiences of this life. I become aware of whether I am male or female. I become aware of whether I am human or some other living creature. I become aware of my age, and the world I am now living in. I look around and see the landscape. I become aware of the things that lead me to happiness in this world. I also become aware of the things that may lead me to sadness in this life, and to anger, and to love, and to pain and to joy.
I pause for a moment to allow the experiences of this world to wash over me and to soak into every fiber of my being.
As I experience this world and this life, I allow my consciousness to form a vision of the knowledge I am seeking on this journey. I use my mental energy to send this request into the world I now occupy, and wait for this place and time to show me what I have come here to find.
When this world begins to answer my request, I take note of all of my surroundings and everything I am experiencing. I notice every detail, no matter how small or insignificant it may appear to be. I store these memories away to take with me on the journey back.
When I feel that I have learned what I came here to know, I once again picture the silver thread in my mind. As I form the picture, my consciousness latches onto the thread and begins to move back to Arianrhod’s chamber. When I return, I will take with me the knowledge I have gained here.
Presently I find myself back in Arianrhod’s chamber, carrying with me the wisdom I gleaned from another life. As I find myself on the stool before the spinning wheel yet again, I pause to remember that although each of these threads represents another life, and that although there is an infinite number of threads, they are all me, and I am all them.
Secure in this knowledge, I once again allow myself to become a separate entity from Arianrhod. I pause to thank her, and pass through the door, remembering that I am always welcome here. I can return any time I wish to explore many lives in many worlds.
I make my way down the spiral staircase to the waiting boat. Entering the boat, I set sail and return again to the Mists of Manannán. As I focus my will to part the mists, I allow myself to slowly return to my body. As the mists part, I begin to feel my physical body return. As the ship draws nearer to the shore, I become more and more aware of my body. As the vessel lands, I exit the boat and lie once again on the shore…on the place that is neither land nor sea. As I feel the warm sands caressing me, my consciousness fully returns. As my soul returns to my body, the sands beneath me dissolve, and I find myself lying at the place where I began this journey. I can feel it all around me.
When I am ready, I will open my eyes, feeling fully relaxed, yet alert, remembering the knowledge I have gained from the Spiral Castle of the Lady of the Silver Wheel.
When you have finished your journey, you may wish to eat. Journeying in the spirit burns more energy than you may be consciously aware of, so replenish yourself. If you need to write down what you have learned, do so now.
A meditative healing ritual involves breathing energy into your own body, then breathing the energy out while directing it onto the person being healed. This meditation can also be used to direct healing energy in your own body, or in conjunction with other healing practices. You may find that it helps to direct the healing energy with a wand, or with your hands by touching the other person, or by touching yourself in the afflicted area if practicing on yourself.
The Healing Meditation is conducted in two parts. The first part involves Color Breathing. The second part involves Healing Touch.
Color Breathing is accomplished by first engaging in a brief period of Passive Meditation to center and ground yourself. When you are grounded and centered, begin Deep Breathing while visualizing the air as colored light entering into your body through your lungs. Picture the light in one of the colors listed below. Each color has its own unique healing properties, so visualize a color appropriate to the task you are attempting to accomplish. As you inhale, picture the colored light branching out from your lungs and slowly radiating to all parts of your body. The idea is to do Color Breathing until you feel that your body is saturated with the colored energy light. When you feel that you are full of this energy, move on to Healing Touch.
Healing Touch is accomplished by either laying your hands on the afflicted area or directing energy to that area with a wand. It is not necessary to actually touch the person. There may be cases where actual physical contact is not possible. In such a case, you may still direct the energy through your fingertips and to the person by holding your hands a few inches above the injured area. Once your hands are in place, continue Deep Breathing while visualizing the light energy flowing out of your fingertips and onto the wounded area. Continue for as long as necessary, or until the energy is depleted. Continue for a cycle of at least nine breaths. If you feel the energy is depleted, stop and do more Color Breathing in order to recharge, then continue until your intuition tells you it is time to stop. If you are practiced in many types of meditation, you will develop a sixth sense about how long to perform such a healing ritual. Your own body will tell you when to stop.
The following is a list of colors and their healing correspondences. When practicing Meditative Healing, match your Color Breathing to the properties of the color you are visualizing:
Red: This color is associated with blood, romantic love that stirs the blood, heat, anger, and passion. Use Color Breathing with red in order to address illnesses of the blood, or passionate emotions, or romantic problems.
Orange: This is the color of balance between the reds of passion and the yellows of intellect. Orange is the color of wisdom. As such, it is useful in healing mental problems. It may also be used to increase immunity and sexual potency. Orange is the color associated with digestion, and chest and kidney problems.
Yellow is the color of mental clarity and intellect. Yellow is the color of the Sun, and it is linked to the solar energies and therefore to the source of creation and growth. This color is used to bring clear thinking and concentration, and to help heal depression and anxiety, and to bring order into chaotic situations.
Green is usually considered the color of nausea, but it is also the color of rebirth and fertility. You may use green to help assure a pregnancy, or to help with the delivery of a healthy baby, or to stimulate new growth in a wounded area.
Blue is the color of calmness and serenity. This makes blue a good color for reducing fevers and for protective healing. It may also help to calm the mind and to reduce anxiety and worry.
Purple lies between the red of passion and the blue of calmness. This makes purple an excellent color for healing emotional problems. Purple’s healing influence is also good for reducing pain and working with bones and deep tissues.
White is the color of the Goddess. White light is composed of all the other colors blended together. This makes it an excellent all-purpose healing color. Its association with the Goddess makes it an excellent color for regaining balance in the body’s systems. It is also associated with hormonal work.
The idea of a meditative ritual is simple, yet powerful. The idea is to conduct a ritual while in a meditative state. Most Druid rituals incorporate a time of silent or guided meditation before the main ritual takes place. If you are leading a ritual for one of the High Days or for another occasion, you may use this time to prepare yourself for the ritual to come by placing yourself into a meditative state.
A good visualization for this exercise would be to picture the telluric and solar energies weaving into balance. The telluric energies are the Earth energies that rise up from the ground, and the solar energies are those energies generated by the Sun. When these two energies meet, the creation of all things is possible. Another way to picture it is that the telluric energies represent the dark emotional powers of the unconscious mind, while the solar energies represent the powers of rational, conscious thought. When the two are in balance, wisdom is achieved.
As you participate in your Meditative Ritual, focus on your breathing, and move from one phase of the ritual to the next. As you move through the steps of your ritual, direct your attention to each detail of each step. Don’t move on in your mind to the next part of the ritual until the part before you is complete. Allow your mind, body, spirit and emotion to absorb the meaning from each portion of the rite. Think of it as a Japanese tea ceremony, where the grace of a ballet dancer or a swordsman is applied to the task of making a cup of tea. See yourself as a dancer and allow your body to move gracefully while your mind remains at peace and focused only on the task at hand. Allow your spirit to reflect the lesson being taught and learned in the ritual. See the whole ritual as a moving, physical meditative exercise, like Tai Chi.
As you draw the ritual to a close, take a few deep breaths and return to yourself. You may wish to offer a short, silent thanks to your God or Goddess.