The Life Is In The Breath

Good Morning and Welcome to VOXHERMES!

This is the third chapter of our work on exploring the practical applications of esotericism to our daily lives and why it is critical, even foundational, for any metaphysical or spiritual benefits we hope to attain.

The meaning of “metaphysical” is simple: that which is beyond the physical. Though our understanding of what constitutes the physical world is constantly advancing, we could just as easily define metaphysics in two additional ways: an understanding of the relationship between subjective and objective experiences, or (as we define parapsychology) the study of phenomena that are not understood by current scientific knowledge.

This phenomena is not “supernatural,” that is, existing outside of nature; rather, it is understood to be an area of nature of which general knowledge is not had at the current moment. This is what is meant by the alchemists who refer to themselves as the “handmaids” of nature or “philosophers of nature.” It was this same natural philosophy of the sixteenth century that would give rise to the scientific revolution during the early modern period of the seventeenth century.

What constitutes “spiritual” is, however, a different matter. There is no fundamental agreement. For our purposes we will consider three definitions:

  • Spiritual, from the Latin word spiritus, related to the breath, or energy of life (herein, both subjectively and objectively).
  • Spiritual defined as the science of understanding one’s own mind.
  • Spiritual as related to a certain élan, or emotional vitality, such as “team spirit” or a “vigorous spirit.”

The Science of Breath – The Energy of Life

The Sphere of Yesod on the kabbalistic Tree of Life is said by several modern authorities to be ruled by the Element of Air, and by that we mean several things:

  1. Our unconscious is the organizing principal of our life.
  2. The cycles of ebb and flow, as understood by the process of inhalation and exhalation (as well as the cycles of the moon across the month and year), are the foundation of our awareness.
  3. The magical tool attributed to the “Element of Air” is incense, or the sense of smell and the information that it registers. The part of our brain connected to the sense of smell is among the oldest parts of brain and can instantly call up memories, another function of Yesod. However, as we know from scientific research, personal experience, and occult tradition, the memories associated with smell are conditioned by our earliest experiences in the presence of specific odors.
  4. The energies of life are inseparable from, and may be identical to, the organizing principle and breath itself, manifesting cyclically for us as individuals as well as larger organized units.
  5. A healthy sense of smell is a sign of a healthy brain. The physical brain is also associated with the Moon and Yesod in Kabbalah.
  6. This cyclic organization is studied energetically in the body through: respiration, pulse, biorhythm, brain waves and states of consciousness, life cycles of an organism, and biological aging. These cycles are also understood and expressed through astrology, including planetary hours and the Elemental cycles in Indian, Tibetan, and Chinese schools of the Elements.

We know that breathing affects our states of awareness as well as our overall physiology. Breathing is the link of life, as we are only one “inhalation” away from death. Breath is the key to health, physical and mental strength, longevity, both subjective and objective psychic phenomena, and mastery of one’s own mind – and, thereby, Self-Realization (realization of one’s s/Self) and Illumination. Knowledge and application of this breath, or spirit, is the vital or life-giving principle in all esoteric work: ritual magic, alchemy, or astrology. The more you know and understand these functions of “Air” or “Spirit,” the greater will be your ability to express the deepest part of yourself, and thereby link your microcosm with the macrocosm in an effective and efficient manner.

From a different perspective, if you cannot control your own mind when seated in the quiet and privacy of your own room, how are you going to control the great forces of the cosmos, let alone the malefic and destructive forces so many would-be magicians seek to conquer? If you are riled to anger when cut off in traffic or ruffled by long lines at the grocery store, where will you get the courage and patience to confront demons of the Abyss?

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