Ever since I was a kid, and I found out that things could die, and what that meant, I was not fond of the idea. I tried to fool myself into some non death fear machismo, and tried the intellectual rout of "It's all a natural process, brother.."
To be honest, I still don't especially enjoy the idea of dying at this point. As someone who has knocked on deaths door once, I know what Her place looks like. And no matter how many times I get brought back to that door, all I can think is, "I'm not ready yet! I still have more to do!"
I think, spiritually it's what attracts me to death/underworld/cremation ground Gods and symbolism. Magically, it's what attracts me to things I've termed Life Force Practices.
Every magical system has a base energy that you work with. Most magical systems, especially traditional, indiginous ones, that base energy is Life energy. It's also involved in the traditional medicine of a culture, usually. Those traditional medicines are also at least semi shamanic, and work on preventing illness, as well as curing it.
Your Life Force: What the hell is it?
In Hermetic Alchemy there are three philosophic principles: Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury. These are very deep concepts, and have multitudes of meaning depending on context. These are not the only meanings and interperetations of them. In western alchemy you learn to think on multiple levels in multiple contexts at once.. Sometimes it's the only way things make sense, to be honest. I would say that alchemy has just as much poetry in it, if not more, than it does math.. and it has a lot of math. So put your poet hats on, kids. Hermeticism as I've learned it deals sideways in metaphore. "To grasp the unknown by means of the known" to quote D&P. I'll be following the Alchemical principle with its rough equivilant in Chinese Traditional Medicine, and Ayurveda, India's traditional medical system.
Salt is our material body, and all the things that go along with it. It can also be our Jing, or Ojas, the most gross form of our Life Force. It's nature is Earth and Water. As an analogy it would be mud or marsh water to start. Through purification practices we get it to be more like a lake or a river. Watery with a base of earth, or the deep subterranian pools of water in the lower world. The primordial soup from which we crawled. In the qabalistic four worlds it is the bridge between Assiah and Yetzirah.
Sulphur is our Consciousness, that which burns bright. The "fire in our head." (In traditional northern european medicine and lore, our Life Force is made in our heads)Fire is the transformative element, changing things from solid, to liquid, to gas, based on its intesity or lack. Sulphur is the ultimate Old World flammable substance. Our personal Sulphur, is what harnesses that transformative fire. It's the promethian, luciferian element. It is also our Shen, and Tejas, the must subtile part of our personal principles. The pure Light and Space of the overworld. In the four worlds it is the bridge between Briah and Atziluth.
Lastly we have Mercury, aka Qi and Prana. Mercury is both watery and airy at the same time. Like steam or clouds. Like the Divinity Himself, our Mercury is messenger between consciousness and carnality. It's the most malliable of the three principles, and the one most used in energy work, magically. The life nurturing wind and rain of the middle world. Wind is a good word. Prana and Qi mean those almost exactly. Our own word, Spirit also means wind. Wind, Breath, Cloud, even Storm sometimes. Somewhere, aeons ago, a swirling soup of simple proteins and minerals swirled upon it's solid foundation, gasses were churned, heat and light reacted to make weather.. storms formed and lightening struck! Viola! We have Life. An electro-chemical soup of spiritual becomming. In the four worlds it is the bridge of Yetzirah and Briah.
Now we have the three ways Life Force manifests in us as human beings. Breif analogical definitions. Being full of Life Force makes you more alive, and lacking it makes you less alive, and eventually dead. There comes a point of diminishing returns, as your body can logically only survive so much wear and tear. Also, you can only grow so much as a being while in one physical body operating in time and space.
Some side notes: Life Force, it seems, in Bardon's system is a function of the Earth Element. He regards only Fire (The Electric Fluid) and Water (The Magnetic fluid) as true elements. Air is the Neutral fluid that mediates and seporates Fire and Water where they come togather, and Earth is the Electromagnetic Fluid that gives life and manifestation. Essentially if you dont have enough Earth in you, your elements start to dissapate, and you die. This system is similar to the northern european system, where in the beginning there was Fire and Ice, which collided and made Steam, and out of the Steam emerged the Primordial Cow (A potent symbol for earth, indeed!)
In all the systems that I have studied personally, if you have no Life force, you start the death process, and you start to fall apart. Organs fail, mind unravels, and you return to the elements energetically, much as your body does physically. In Taoism you are a one time only act. Your Hun (heavenly) and Po (earthly) souls, if not fused by a development of your Shen (consciousness) through spiritual work part ways and rarely recombine in the same way. In becomming an Immortal through Taoist alchemy, you fuse your purified self togather, and live on as a God, or Pratyekabuddha. Some say it's the desire and the illusion of seporateness itself that goes on to reincarnate.. Hell if I know to be honest. Even if there is no linear reincarnation, where I hop from life to life, the urge of Life itself to develop, grow, and refine itself goes on. Life always goes on. It's why I love when grass pushes through concrete!
Now the rules, as I've been able to observe them:
1) What effects one part, effects all parts. In purifying one, you work on purifying all. In polluting one, you work on polluting all.
2) We are all connected in our Life Force. In purifying yourself, you radiate that purity. In polluting yourself, you radiate that pollution. Those who have done work with both Angels and Terrestrial spirits will know how true this is. In the presence of an Angel you are made more angelic, in the prescence of an earthly spirit your carnal passions are intensified.
3) Regimen's can be made to purify each, on its own, each with the conjunction of others, or useing one to purify the rest.
In the following installments I'll be going over ways to harness and purify the principles, and generally make a person more lively.