Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Triad of Meditation and Imbas

The meditation practices that I personally follow and teach to my students are based on several time honored techniques that originated in the earliest Indo-European cultures and the writings about them that survived or were maintained in Vedic, Hindu, Buddhist, European and Irish traditions.

These forms of meditation can basically be identified as a triad though they all originate from a single, inner source in a person known as imbas.  Imbas is also said to come from the gods as the well of inspiration, knowledge and creativity.

The three ways for achieving imbas: to focus exclusively on an object and its parts until it is completely known to the exclusion of everything else; to immerse one's self within a sound or chant until its source comes from one's center as a fire in the head; to cast away everything that is imagined or thought until the darkness yields to the truth of light.

The first pathway to imbas is based on what is already known as its beginning:
  • Teinm – breaking or cracking
  • Laegda – Pith or marrow
  • Touching a wand or staff to an object and determining its inner secrets
It consists of focusing on an object and recalling the linked Ogham keys to its existence in the lore. Nothing else is permitted to intrude into the focus of one’s attention regarding the object xxxxxx The Seer, Druid or File would touch an object with their wands and focus intently on it while seeking its secrets as to its origins, its history or its owner. After this period of intense focus, the diviner would then provide specific answers from all of these sources. This is known as Teinm Laegda (Cracking the Shell or Breaking Open the Pith) which is another way of saying that the contact with the object through the focal point of the wand, or the realization of it through intensive and exclusive focus, and it alone, is an opening to truth and the process of creation. As such, the Seer is able to see beyond present boundaries into its past history and even its voice. The resulting chant of revelation (dichetal) is found in its true name which is revealed by the wand or staff; discovered by the mind’s awareness and sung out through the chanted announcement of the Seer. Teinm Laegda is an opening of a doorway to knowledge into unknown realms through focusing on an object and breaking its outer shell, thereby revealing its inner secrets.

The second pathway to imbas is the corollary of the process of intensely focusing on an object with the intension of cracking its protective shell:
  • Dichetal – Incantation or hand
  • Chennaibh – Pertaining to the head, the tips of the fingers or the bones
Dichetal do Chennaibh involves building up a creation from an abstract concept into something more concrete. As such, it involves a process of solidification for that which is insubstantial into something that is real, hard or objective. This creation of objective matter from concepts and descriptions is very similar to consctructng an “energy ball” in one’s hands. The shaping of real from subjective is usually accomplished through visualization, chanting or sounds (like drums or beats). The sound or the chant can be an internal one that is amplified or increased through the process known as super positioning. This is a way in which waves are synchronized in their frequency and start points, so that they occur at the same time in a cyclic fashion. When light is handled in this manner the process is known as lasing (for laser types of effects). A tremendous amount of power can be generated in this way and when it is focused through the mind and will of a seer, then it can create something from almost nothing. Its onset and delivery is like the waves and contractions occurring in the womb for every birth. It produces a “fire in the head” and the birth announcement of this creation is called Dichetal do Chennaibh in Irish descriptions and texts.

Another way of taking the insubstantial and creating a substantial awareness is to quiet the mind and self and then to touch an object or sense it with the hands. The tingling and fields on the edges of anything are a psychic impression of the energies that have been captured on its surface. These are detected and amplified faithfully so that the signals are true and clear above the noise of other non-related matters. Placing the fingers or the thumb in one’s mouth and instantly chanting an answer. Rather than opening a door or cracking a shell, it creates an opening doorway where none previously existed. It is one’s pathway into a created world. It is a creation of something from many parts. It is the act of detecting and transferring the essence of an idea into one’s awareness through touch, and then recreating it through inner/outer song and the wavelike power of repetition.

The third pathway to imbas is literally creating something from nothing. It is the journey to nothingness that must be done so that one can stand at the crossroads of creation for the eternal self; the source for reality; the home for everything:
  • Imbas – bas – hand or top (im – between)
  • Forosnai – Lights up, shines, illuminates
Imbas Forosnai is a complete break with the existing self, the will and the confines of personality or ego. The Seer meditates in a dark and protected place with the hands placed over their eyes to make a pathway between touch and sight that leads into the darkness; journeying down into nothingness. In such a nowhere place one simply is or is not ,and exists or does not exist. There are no physical parallels or metaphors to adequately describe this place or process other than to say that it is like being born. It is a creation or a new awareness of the self beyond conditioning. As such, it is surrounded by indescribable mysteries that could generate madness in a person. Many have journeyed to the top of Dinas Emrys (Snowdonia or Mt. Snowden in Wales)[1], while others have become submerged into the depths of Domnu, only to return to this world as madmen or geilts. Those who successfully return with some kind of ability to reconnect with reality are called Draoith, Filidh or Fáidh in Irish traditions. Otherwise, the journeyers have had their minds so shattered by the experience, that a go-between is required for them to be understood in normal society. They speak to the visions and the realms that have captured their minds, yet they cannot channel or translate their meanings. Even with expert interpretation, their visions are poorly understood.[2] This is the mystical task of all Seers to be able to describe and to quantify the unknowable in ways that could safely inspire others to touch the same knowledge or knowing experience. The ultimate in finding such knowledge is a kind of Death and Darkness to Illusions and Thoughts that Brings Light and Knowledge along What-is-Really-There surrounding the so-called real world. The real world and other realms are accessed from that place like library books or I/O ports in a computer. It is a kind of transportation hub and phone exchange for knowledge and truth. The gifts of this sort of imbas or enlightening experience are psychical in their manifestations in present reality, thoughthey tend to ebb over time to the point that sustaining them required periodic journeys back to the No-Place for a renewed opening of being.

The three forms of meditation that enable access to Teinm Laegda, Dichetal do Chennaibh and Imbas Forsonai occur in a hierarchy of body, mind and spirit. The first uses a physical object as a source and focus. The second uses the hints and suggestions of thoughts and patterns to create a doorway into new worlds. The last is a complete abandonment of body and mind for the spiritual truth that sometimes only comes at death. It is the death of the influences of body, mind and spirit in a surrender to the higher awareness that can only be empowered by spirit alone. In Druidic traditions, mediation and awareness are ranked according to weight and power: the most powerful forces are spiritual, followed by thoughts and supported by the body or form. The heaviest and confusing awareness is the physical body which is overwhelmed at times by the senses and emotions. Chaotic thoughts and ideas confuse the mind when they are not harmonious. It is only the spirit that truly flies above the muck and the quagmires that are body and mind. In the practices of the past, many  forms  and techniques were established to give students and masters alike a chance to subdue the body and to discipline the mind so that one’s true power could be discovered and released through the spirit.

[1] Mount Snowdon is one of the main attractions for walkers visiting the area, and the National Park Authority maintain a train service, and 6 paths up the mountain. Llanberis is one of the longest routes up Snowdon, and this ten mile trip will take around 6 hours. Classed as a ‘moderate’ walk, it has views of the mountain railway and Padarn Country Park, and also takes in the Ceunant Mawr Waterfall, a conifer plantation, and a large rock called Maen Du’r Arddu. Legend has it that anyone spending the night under this rock will awaken as a poet or madman! (
[2] John Michael Greer: “The approach to meditation that has been part of Druid traditions since early in the Revival echoes other meditation methods in many ways, but there's one significant difference. This lies in the attitudes toward the thinking mind. Most systems of meditation teach the student to stop thinking altogether, by using mantras (special patterns of spoken sound) or symbolic visualizations, or concentrating on thought-stopping paradoxes such as the koans of Zen. This is effective enough as a way to achieve meditative states of consciousness, but too often it has the awkward side effect of producing mystics who can reach profound spiritual states but can't think clearly.” (

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