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23/12/13

Aligning with Nwyfre: Yoga for Druids - Crescent Birch Grove, OBOD

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CRESCENT BIRCH GROVE, OBOD

Aligning with Nwyfre: "Yoga" for Druids by Barb (Presented at the OBOD East Coast Gathering 2011)
Id like to take a few minutes to go over what we are going to do this morning in this workshop. I will take us through a series of postures some of which will call us to focus on the flows of Nwyfre, some that will call to mind aspects of the Druidic worldview and Druidic imagination and even ancient Celtic history, and at least one pose that highlights the sacred geometry of the human body. I will take you through all the poses once while giving tips about how to hold the pose as well as the background meaning of each. Every pose comes with a mental exercise and both are equally important. Then we will go through them again without all the explanations so that you have more time to focus on the mental exercise that goes with each one- and I will remind you of those when we get there. Some of our poses will help us focus on Nwyfre and Id like to first cover some of the understandings and assumptions that underlie our work with Nwyfre: 1) What is Nwyfre? John Michael Greer does a good job of explaining

that there are 3 principles of existence: Nwyfre, which is the life force- the force in the universe that enables life. Calas, which is the physical matter; and Gwyar, which is flow. For instance, my body is Calas, the movement of my body is Gwyar, and the force that makes me alive is Nwyfre. 2) The Druidic worldview says that the spirit and physical worlds are fully and completely integrated: there is no dichotomy in existence, only how they manifest themselves is different. The ontological, or essential, reality is that the worlds are completely integrated and Nwyfre is the life force that enables life to be in all worlds. Spirit is life and the force that enables that spirit life is the very same force that enables our physical and spirit lives. This is very important to keep in mind when working with Nwyfre. 3) W e can become sensitive to Nwyfre and we can even direct it in certain measure. Lets do a little demonstration to help us understand how we can be sense the presence of Nwyfre: Rub your hands together vigorously to get the blood flowing, wake up our nerve endings and open our hand charkas. Now, let your hands dangle while you gently shake them. This also gets the blood moving along. As you become more sensitive to Nwyfre, you wont need to do this preliminary part anymore. Now, hold an imaginary balloon in front of you. Keep your hands on it but keep your hands relaxed, not tensed. Focus on the balloon. Start to move your hands just a little away and back together again- this is a very small movement. Can you feel the balloon? As you pull your hands apart, does it feel like you are pulling taffy? What you are feeling is the life force energy that is in and surrounds your hands. We can also direct Nwyfre. For example, if you focus and place your intention as such, you can direct it when casting a circle. When you point with your hand, your finger, or even use a wand to cast a circle, you are directing Nwyfre to concentrate along a circular line to give life to your circle so that it actively protects and blesses all who are within the circle. This is why your intention when casting the circle is very important.

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Aligning with Nwyfre: Yoga for Druids - Crescent Birch Grove, OBOD

4)

Finally, we are going to work with Nwyfre currents and there are 2 primary ones that I need to make sure

you know about before we get started. One is the Telluric or Dragon current. This is the Nwyfre current that rises from the earth beneath us and flows upward. The other is the Solar current that descends from the sun or sky and flows downward. We will be directing these currents through ourselves in various poses that we do. Are you ready? Lets get started! Spread out so that you can extend your arms out to the sides without poking or touching anyone. Make sure there is enough room in front as well as in back of you, too. Lets take a few deep breaths and make sure we are relaxed. Inhale deeply, exhale. (3x) AWEN The first pose is very simple and its called the Awen pose. Stand with your feet together, hips tucked under, tummy gently pulled in to support a straight back, shoulders square, head high and arms held out at about a 30 degree angle. Our torsos make up the vertical line in the Awen symbol that represents the equinoxes, and the arms each represent the solstices. Just as the fire of the sun is at the top of these three rays in our Awen symbol, so is our head at the top of our arms and the rest of our body. The Celts loved the head and greatly prized the development of the mind through study, imagination, and as the receptor of inspiration. Awen has been called the fire in the head and in todays vernacular we say its the light bulb that goes on, the brilliant idea. So, just as the suns rays shine on the earth, so does the fire in the head transmit that inspiration through our bodies creative work, out into the world around us. As we stand in this pose, open yourself to the solar current of Nwyfre entering through our crown chakra, the top of our heads, and coming to rest in the center of the head as yellow light. A soft but energetic sphere of yellow light. Chant Awen 9 times (or as much as you want). ELEMENTAL CROSS AND PART ONE VITRUVIAN MAN The next pose is only a slight movement from the first but has a different purpose. If anyone you know has ever said Honey, you are not the center of the universe, this next pose should disprove that theory. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, hips tucked, tummy in, spine straight, shoulders square and head high. Start with focusing on the solar current coming down in through the top of your head, flowing through your body down to your feet and out into the earth. This creates a vertical axis through your center that goes equidistant up and down out to infinity, or if you prefer, to the edges of the universe. (By the way, there is no up or down in space. Up and down are concepts we developed because we experience gravity and that defines an up and down for us.) Now, extend your right arm out and visualize a line flowing to infinity out to your right; and flowing equidistant out to your left (hold your left arm out). This creates a horizontal axis that intersects with the vertical one. Now, to make our position in the universe 3D, imagine a line emanating straight out in front of you from just above your heart where the other two lines intersect, and a line flowing out the back of you from that same spot. Voila! You are now at the center of the universe. Spend a moment to sense what that feels like: You, at the very center of the universe. The second understanding of this pose is one of sacred geometry. We felt ourselves at the center of the universe but lets now focus on the center of ourselves. Marcus Vitruvius Pollo was an Italian architect who made a comment that Leonardo da Vinci wanted to test. Vitruvius, as he was known, said that a perfect circle could be drawn around a human with the navel as the center of that circle. What Leonardo found was first of all, a perfect square could be drawn around the human. One fourth of the way up the body were the knees, half way up the body is the hip, or, to be exact, where the penis attaches to the body (he was using a male diagram). Three-fourths of the way up, are the nipples (again, on a male), and the top of the head reaches the top of the square. Going from side to side, onefourth of the way in is the elbow, half way in is the sternum, three-fourths of the way out is the other elbow. You can test this yourself buy bringing the tips of your fingers together in front of your sternum. We fold very neatly this way. PART TWO VITRUVIAN MAN As far as the circle theory goes, Leonardo found that a perfect circle could be drawn around the human with the navel at its center if the pose is thus: raise your arms so that your finger tips are at the level of the top of your head. Spread your feet out a bit but imagine that you are standing within a wheel; your feet are not flat on the ground but out a little. Now isnt it interesting that our navel should be at the center of this circle? Theres really no biological reason why this absolutely had to be so. Isnt it interesting that the reproductive organs are neatly placed on our bodies at the half way point and the mark on our bodies? We will look at the significance of the placement of our knees in a little bit. But for now, focus a moment on this symmetry. I believe that our human form is sacred, just as other life forms are sacred and if it is, then what significance is placed on these central or geometrically significant points? Our navel, our genitals, our nipples. Think for a moment, of how those are used for human life and whether you think of this design as sacred as well. DRAGON POSE
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Aligning with Nwyfre: Yoga for Druids - Crescent Birch Grove, OBOD

The dragon pose: feet shoulder width apart, knees bent a bit- place your weight on your heels, not your toes (this is to prevent knee stress)- arms bent like you are holding a log in front of you or a couple of dragon eggs, or a damsel in distress. Dragons are the most magical creatures in Celtic mythology. Merlins first appearance is as a young lad who is brought before a king. The kings people were befuddled as to why they couldnt successfully build on a piece of land. Merlin tells the men to dig deeply on that troubled spot and when they did, they uncovered an underground lake. Merlin instructed them to drain the lake and when they did, two dragons, a red and a white dragon rose and did battle. In this pose, we are like the dragons rising up out of the drained lake. This pose is inspired by a statue of a dragon in Wales. Its a power pose. Power not only because it takes power to hold ourselves in this position, but also because symbolizes something rising. In this posture, we fortify ourselves for that which we are raising in our lives. Holding this pose requires determination. What are you raising in your life? To what do you want to add the quality of determination? Or what are you doing that you need power and determination for? WARRIOR POSES Its no secret that Druidry developed out of a warrior society. While Druidry today advocates peace, we dont need to deny our ancient roots history and culture. Today, we all take positions that are defensive or offensive in nature, even on a daily basis. By offensive, I dont mean that we try to offend anyone; I mean that, at times, we need to be proactive in getting done things that are necessary. So now we will use Gwyar, the principle of flow, to make the various warrior postures. As we change from one posture to another, we focus on the flowing movement to make each transition smoothly. Warrior at ease: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, hips tucked, tummy pulled in, spine straight, shoulders square and head held high with pride. (The Celts were and are proud people.) Warrior defense left: Right foot back about one natural steps distance, right foot pointed out at a 45 degree angle. Right knee bent, left leg straight out in front of you, foot facing forward. Keep your weight on your right heel (not toes). Left hand up as a shield with arm fully extended in front of you; right hand in a fist down to your right side but held out at about a 30 degree angle, elbow straight (like we did with Awen). Warrior offense right: Shift weight to your left foot, bending the knee and straighten your right knee so that your torso moves forward. Balance your weight on both feet, keep you spine straight and your torso upright, not leaning forward. Lower your shield (left hand) so that it rests at a 30 degree angle to your left side, and raise your spear (your right handed fist) directly out in front of you. Warrior at ease Warrior defense right: shift the posture to be a mirror image of the Warrior defense left. Warrior offense left: shift the posture to be a mirror image of the Warrior offense right. Warrior at ease KNIGHTS POSTURE We won the battle- yea! And now we will be honored with knighthood. Right knee down (or your left if necessary), back straight, and you can place your arms either at your sides, or your hands on your left (or right) thigh. Use your right lower leg to help you maintain balance by shifting it at an angle that allows you to stay steady. The Song of Roland, written around the year 1100, enumerated the vows of knighthood and they included: protect the defenseless, eschew unfairness and deceit, persevere, and at all times speak the truth. Of the 17 entries in the code, 12 relate to chivalry and honor, not combat. This is not a posture we often assume in todays world but I think it should be. This is a posture that points to honor in two directions at once: ones own honor and honoring another. A knight is becoming a knight because he or she is being honored for a great deed. I want to be clear this is not a posture that is meant to cause or reflect humility. Those in power have long encouraged those without power to humble themselves repeatedly and thats a misuse of power. Rather, this posture is to recall to mind our own sense of honor. Focusing outward, we can take this posture when we are asking the gods for help in growing our garden, addressing a tree spirit, or simply when we are in awe of the land before us as a profound way of paying homage and honoring our Mother Earth. Spend a quiet moment honoring the Earth, or whatever part of Her you have connected with most lately. CAULDRON OR CERNUNNOS POSE

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Aligning with Nwyfre: Yoga for Druids - Crescent Birch Grove, OBOD

Another tenet of the knight was to have faith. We can have faith in a variety of things, but one thing that is documented on the Gundestrup Cauldron, a Celtic artifact from the first century BC from an area in what is now Denmark, is a figure archeologists usually agree is the god Cernunnos. This posture mimics his pose on the cauldron. Sit and bring your right heel close to the core of your body (or the center Leonardo would say), bring your left heel close to your right shin but not touching- leave it open. Keep your back straight. Hold your hands in fists facing forward and lower arms pointing up with elbows bent close to your body. In his right hand, Cernunnos is holding a torc; the symbol of high rank in society worn by chieftains, queens and kings, warriors, and of course, the bards, ovates, and druids. In his left hand he holds a snake indicating his lordship over the animals. We do not claim such lordship but we can claim solidarity with the animals and indeed all of nature. A common sign today that people use to indicate solidarity is the fist held thusly. Using this pose, with arms at a relaxed bent, while we lean against a tree or anywhere out in nature, is a good one when pondering our solidarity with other tribes of creation. Consider your own solidarity with the natural world. Consider your role as a leader. How can you exercise leadership in solidarity of other Earthly tribes? THE MAGE OR MAGICIAN This next pose symbolizes and reminds us of the integration of the physical and spirit worlds. Feet shoulder width apart, hips tucked under, tummy in, spine straight, head held high. Stretch the right arm up and the left down so that from finger tips to finger tips your arms make a straight line. This is the magicians traditional pose on the tarot and it has a meaning. All systems of magic are claimed to function by the following formula stemming from at least the 4th century BC: What is the above is from the below and the below is from the above. The work of wonders is from one. What exists and happens in the spirit world affects the physical world, and what exists and happens in the physical world affects the spirit world. What we say and do matters in uncountable ways. It doesnt mean we have to be perfect or neurotic about our every thought, word and deed. But it does mean that what we do has an effect on more than meets the eye. We can use this pose in brief meditation to help us to reflect on the source of our intentions and our will before we carry out something new and to keep us aware of this integrated reality of the worlds. WORLD TREE From the magician we can easily move into the World Tree. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hips tucked under, tummy in, spine straight and arms out above your head with open hands and spread fingers. Again, this pose reminds us of the integration of all worlds. The roots are firmly planted in the Underworld, the trunk is in the physical world, and the branches support and carry the spirit world. Yet it is one tree that is present and lives and grows in all the worlds. So, plant your roots from the bottoms of your feet deeply into the ground beneath you. Imagine the roots penetrating deeply and just like roots of the tree, you naturally draw up energy from the earth into your body. This does not take effort to accomplish, you need only to sense it. The telluric current is flowing and you might want to picture this as a blue light moving up into your body. The trunk of your body continues to bring up this energy and blue light just as xylem, special cells in the tree, bring raw materials for nourishment up from the roots to the leaves. Now focus on the solar current entering you from above. Where you do feel it entering? Your hands and arms? The top of your head? Just as phloem carries the newly made energy food that the leaves produced down into the rest of the tree to be used for growth and healing, the solar current enters our bodies, and I like to think of it as warm yellow light. Take a moment to sense the flows of both telluric and solar currents, xylem and phloem, coursing through your body, shining with light. I like to let the two colors blend and create a healing green light within. After you spend your time in this pose, gently bring your leaves down, and withdraw your roots from the earth. Take a moment to refocus on the physical body once again. Working with these currents is big stuff. Always withdraw your branches and roots before leaving this meditation! CRANE OR HERON POSE In the Battle of the Tuatha de Danann, Lugh hopped on one foot with one eye closed chanting a spell while the Tuatha de battled to keep their land. In Celtic folklore, Fynoderee on the Isle of Man is an enormously powerful being who has one eye and one leg. He has a terrific, natural energy and devotes himself with single-minded enthusiasm to any task he is asked to do. When we assume this pose, we need this same focus of energy simply to maintain the pose. This pose is great for bringing yourself into the here and now. When you are distracted or cant concentrate, use this pose to narrow your focus. (And if you can eventually incorporate a magical chant while maintaining this pose, you can be confident you have a really good sense of balance!) THE TRIBE Here is the final pose. Everyone come together in a circle and hold hands. Feet firmly on the ground, hips tucked in, tummy in, spine straight, and head held high with pride for all that you are. This is arguably the most important pose of all and its called The Tribe. Our Tribe helps define who we are and who we become because its in our interactions
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with others and the world around us that we discover ourselves. We treat others the way we do because of who we are, not because of who they are. Choose your tribes well and cherish them because even in tough times, if we adopt a high-minded and large-hearted posture, we grow in wisdom and love. Thank you all for participating in this workshop! For more on the Elemental Cross, see J M Greers book The Druid Magic Handbook. For more on sacred geometry, see Stephen Skinners Sacred Geometry. If you havent already, search the web for the Gundestrup Cauldron, the Dragon Pose (not much there but what I could find I used for this pose which was actually created by a hedge Druid names Gwas), the Song of Roland, and anything else that you have an interest in. I made up the Awen and Warrior poses, copied others (like from the cauldron, Leonardos drawings or the knights kneel, etc), or simply made use of common poses weve all done in the past. Feel free to experiment and create your own poses!

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