The Use of Crystals and Gemstones in Taoist and Magical lore



A friend asked me for some info on Daoist practices with crystals and gemstones, so the Hat thought it would make a great blog post for all to enjoy, I agree with my head gear on this subject, so let’s dive in.Certain crystals can act as resonators and transducers of electromagnetic energy. All solid matter is composed of atomic particles arranged
is some form of organized crystalline structure called a “lattice” (i.e., its geometrical arrangement). The crystal lattice structure found in minerals provides the stone with great energetic stability and also facilitates the regularity of electromagnetic energy that flows through the stone. This allows certain stones the ability of transforming
and/or amplifying other forms of energy. The Taoist Wu believed that minerals possessed the ability to promote the growth of plants, animals, and humans, or to assist individuals in building up resistance to disease. Wild animals instinctively perceive the state of their own health, and eat earth and drink spring water to recondition themselves. Furthermore, when wounded, wild animals instinctively know which rocks are good for healing, and they rub their bodies against them and wait for their wounds to heal. Even animals bred in farm buildings will still lick stones and eat dirt when released into fields. They instinctively know that they need components from natural minerals for their bodies.
The following is a partial list of minerals used in Traditional Chinese Medicine; these are still being currently used in China because of their medicinal properties.

I’ve compiled this list from Daoist Mineral Magic by: Jerry Allen Johnson
• Ming Fan (Alumen) Alum: This mineral enters into Lung, Large Intestine, Liver, Stomach, and Spleen Channels. It relieves toxicity, kills parasites, drys dampness, alleviates itching, stops bleeding, clears heat, and expels phlegm.
• Peng Sha (Borax): This mineral enters into the Lung and Stomach Channels. It relieves toxicity, prevents petrification, clears heat, drys dampness, dissolves Phlegm, and transforms stones.
• Qing Fen (Calomelas) Light Powder: This mineral enters into the Liver, Kidney, and Urinary Bladder Channels. It relieves toxicity, kills parasites, expels water, and unblocks the bowels and Urinary Bladder.
• Zhu Sha (Cinnabaris) Vermillion Sand: This mineral enters into the Heart Channel. It is used to calm the spirit and treat restlessness, insomnia, and palpitations with anxiety.
• Zi Shi Ying (Fluoritum) Purple Stone Radiance: This mineral enters into the Heart and Liver Channels. It sedates the Heart and settles tremors and palpitations. It is used in conditions of disorientation, insomnia, palpitations with anxiety, or convulsions due to Heart Blood Deficiency or Liver Yang Rising.
• Shi Gao (Gypsum) Calcium Sulfate: This mineral enters into the Lung and Stomach Channels. It clears the heat from the body, drains Fire, and is used to treat high fevers.
• Dai Zhe Shi (Haematitum) Red Stone From Dai County: This mineral enters into the Heart, Pericardium, and Liver Channels. It calms the Liver, anchors floating Yang, clears Liver Fire, directs Rebellious Qi downward,
cools the Blood and stops bleeding.
• Mi Tuo Seng (Lithargyum) Elusive Reclusive Monk: This mineral enters into the Liver and Spleen Channels. It absorbs fluids, reduces  swelling, and stops bleeding.
• Ci Shi (Magnetitum) Magnetic Stone: This mineral enters into the Liver and Kidney Channels. It roots and calms the spirit, and is used to treat restlessness, palpitations, insomnia or tremors, especially in patients with Yin Deficiency and ascending Yang.
• Qian Dan (Minium) Lead Elixir: This min-eral enters into the Heart, Liver, and Spleen Channels. It expels toxins, directs the Phlegm downward, and suppresses spasms.
• Mang Xiao (Mirabilitum) Glauber’s Salt: This mineral enters into the Stomach and Large Intestine Channels. It is used to clear Heat and reduce swelling.
• Hua Shi (Talcum) Slippery Rock: This min-eral enters into the Stomach and Urinary Bladder Channels. It is used to promote urination and drain heat from the bladder. The Taoist wu believed that Talcum is born of the
vapors of the Pole Star.
• Fu Long Gan (Terra Flava Usta) Hidden Dragon Liver: This mineral enters into the Stomach and the Spleen Channels. It is used to warm the Blood, stop bleeding, stop vomiting, and stop diarrhea.
• Zi Ran Tong (Pyritum) Natural Copper: This mineral enters into the Liver and Kidney Channels. It dispels Blood stasis and promotes the healing of the bones and sinews. It is used for relieving swelling and pain.
• Xiong Huang (Realgar) Male Yellow: This mineral enters into the Heart, Liver, and Stomach Channels. It is used to relieve toxicity, kill parasites, dry dampness, and expel Phlegm.
• Lu Gan Shi (Smithsonitum) Stove Sweet Stone: This mineral enters into the Liver and Stomach Channels. It brightens the eyes and removes superficial visual obstructions such as red and swollen eyes, and drys dampness.
• Liu Huang (Sulphur) Sulphur Yellow: This mineral enters into the Kidneys and Large Intestine Channels. It relieves toxicity, kills parasites, tonifies Mingmen Fire, and strengthens the Yang.

Sulphur was used in ancient China to ward off the “Five Noxious Creatures.” In ancient times, sulphur was also believed to be able to force women who have assumed the· form of snakes to revert back to their original shape
and human form. At the Feast of the Summer Solstice (which is also a day when ghosts and demons are considered to be active) powered sulphur is rubbed on the ears and nose of children to protect them from spirit oppression
or possession. It is for this very same reason that sulphur is put into coffins.
The Wu believed that minerals and stones were vehicles through which the Earth’s energy was distributed. Within the Earth’s energetic body, these minerals acted as resonant cells that carried different frequencies of energy.
Some of these magical stones acted as regulators and were there-fore used for balancing energy. Other stones acted
as tonifiers and were used for amplifying energy. Still others were respected for their ability to purge and were therefore used for cleansing and purifying energetic fields.
When a mineral or stone is brought into the body’s energetic field two things will occur. First, the electromagnetic frequency created by the stone will vibrate the body’s energetic fields according to the physical law of resonance. This energetic interaction creates a third (larger) energetic field of vibration. The body’s nervous system then at-tunes itself to the subtle energetic shifts and transmits this new information to the brain. As the brain becomes stimulated, the subtle energetic frequencies initiate biochemical shifts that affect the physical body and trigger emotional experiences. These subtle energetic experience are also known to elevate the awakened conscious mind of a sorcerer and allow him or her to experience higher states of spiritual insight and perception.
The second thing that occurs is that tiny particles of minerals existing within the physical tissues also begin to resonate with the particles of minerals within the stone. This causes the body to believe that it actually contains more of that mineral and react accordingly with additional bio-chemical shifts. For example, if an individual is
holding a calcium-based stone, the calcium particles in his or her tissues will become activated by moving into resonance with the calcium particles inside of the stone. This energetic resonance creates a third, stronger energetic field that carries a calcium based energy signature to the brain.
As the brain receives this information (via the body’s nervous system), it reacts by adjusting the body’s biochemistry, causing it to act as if it had more calcium within its physical tissues. Therefore, the experience of holding a mineral or stone is directly related to its electromagnetic energy signature, and to its effect on the physical, energetic and spiritual fields at which it resonates.
When absorbing the healing properties of the magical stones, gems and metals, the ancient Taoists noted the magical properties of these minerals could be internally ingested through two main methods, described as follows:

The first method used for absorbing a magIcal stone’s energetic qualities was through a visual interactive process. This process Involves the absorption of the gem’s light through the physical eyes. Sacred symbols (such as Yantras) reflect the stone’s planetary energies and can enliven the universal powers in one’s intuitive awareness. Often articles of clothing, armor, jewelry or other accoutrements were encrusted with gems as a means of receiving their power and blessing.
• Gem Elixirs: The second method used for absorbing a magical stone’s energetic qualities involves the ingestion of the gem as living liquid light. The value of the Planetary Gem Elixir lies in its ability to be taken at frequent intervals, infusing the body’s Jing, Qi, and Shen with its subtle trans formative properties over time.
A Gem Elixir is the name given to a fluid that has been .infused with the energies of a particular crystal, eIther through the power of infused sunlight or moonlight. An “Ens” is the “First Extract” of a mineral’s energetic nature. It is defined as an extract of the latent and previously untapped energetic potential of a rock or mineral. Hence the
Ens is also termed “First Matter,” and is believed to be the potency and magical substance of an items first natural life-impulse. The Gem Ens is to the Mineral Kingdom what an Essential Oil is to the Plant Kingdom. Therefore, the Ens is to be sought after above all things in the Mineral World.

Crystals have the ability to absorb negative electromagnetic pathogens, as well as emit pure clean energy. Because crystals have powerful vibrations it is easy to transfer these energetic vibrations into water which act as a condenser. In Taoist Lore, gem remedies (also known as elixirs or essences) were either taken internally as tonics (unless the stone was toxic, and even then a number of Taoists died, so please be careful!), or applied externally and used as energetic and spiritual”enhancers” (sometimes the stones were applied directly onto the skin, or placed in bath water). Before going on an expedition, the famous Mongolian ruler Genghis Khan, would give his soldIers a handful of pulverized rock as a drug for the treatment of arrow and sword wounds, and
a. handful of ground up rock as a remedy for fatIgue and food poisoning. It is also believed that these rock powers were boiled in water, drunk, and used in cooking (known as rock soup, or “.mineral soup”). Also, for hundreds of years up Ill the present time, many of the main components of drugs in Tibetan Lama medicine have been pulverized minerals.
Gem elixirs are liquid preparations that contain the condensed healing vibrations of a particular gem or mineral. Much of the information that exists on the energetic healing qualities of gem stones has been derived from their physical signatures. These include the crystal system or famIly that a particular stone belongs to, its color, composition, and the geologic process by whIch It was formed. With that information in mind, the primary focus for creating ancient magi-cal Gem Elixirs has been on summoning, condensing, and ingesting the most subtle invisible energetic and spiritual powers of a particular stone, as well as the specific Elemental powers that
were called into service during the time of its preparation. Gem elixirs can be used in order to access the healing support of the mineral realm in a very efficient way through their ease and flexibility of application. For example, they can be applied internally or externally, by themselves, or in combination with other vibrational remedies. They are particularly effective when used in conjunction with Plant Elixirs (e.g., Flower Essences), as they help to physically stabilize and root the spiritual shifts in consciousness that are catalyzed by the transformational energies of the plants. I’m in no way an expert on this subject of Taoist and Magical lore about this practice, but find the ideas of gem elixirs quite interesting, so I will share more on this in future blog posts. Stay Gold friends.

works cited and bibliography :, ESSENTIALS OF TAOISM and the Taoist Influence on Herbal Medicine Literature by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon, Daoist Mineral Magic by: Jerry Allen Johnson .

The Use of Crystals and Gemstones in Taoist and Magical lore was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

The Jade Rabbit

We might celebrate all under the sun,
but never forget to honor all under the moon.
The Jade Rabbit who lives in us all.
all that is yin-
woman, mothers, emotion, creativity, intuition, art, darkness
It is a time for poets, a time to remember that all things that come from the dirt make the world function.
This day is close to the autumn equinox: a reminder that light and dark, yin and yang are equally important.
The fields we planted (or words we wrote, money we’ve made) and worked so hard for show their results tonight.
We can not do more then invest the time that it takes to ripen.
No plant ever grew upside down.
No season but autumn came after summer
No pear trees bear apples
Your truth is true, time after time.
Follow that path to truth.
Give yourself completely to your truth, and watch your life shine with bright darkness.
Have a Wonderful Eclipse everyone, and may your Jade Rabbit never go hungry.
jade rabbit

The Jade Rabbit was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

Decisions on Good and Evil….

A fly on the wind

Decisions on Good and Evil, what makes a Luciferian or a Satanist this or that. All points that bring the fools running and the opinions flow like milk from the teat. Now, I’m a Taoist before any other label you would care to hang on my tattered Hat, so my point of view comes from such bias. First eliminate all thoughts of gods and devils.
As a Luciferian the goal is to beyond good and evil. Philosophically, whatever is, is exactly the way it is supposed to be as a result of cause and effect, birth, decay and death, cycles and reversion.
Evil is a construct of man. We place our moral judgement on events and say that such and such is either good, evil, or it doesn’t matter.
Pain is a physical thing. All living beings experience pain of one form or another. Just part of life.
Suffering is psychological. Even though we might be in pain we need not necessarily be suffering because of it.
Evil exists only because man has stated that certain things are evil. If one of these things that has been classified as evil has been enacted the evil has been done.
From my point of view, creation is the same as destruction, birth is the same as death, just changes of name and form.Evil, being just a name or a descriptive then it can only be temporary in nature. For example the evils of times gone past are the accepted norm of today … mini-skirts for example,Is it evil if I ended the life of a living being and ruthlessly chopped it’s limbs from its living body?
That might cause you to react by saying “YES!!”
But what if I am just pulling up weeds from my garden, cutting them up and tossing them on my compost heap?
So “evil” is just a concept of the mind relative to social standards and my world view.laughs at the whole concept of good vs evil. In other words, a satanic or Luciferian perspective is that what’s considered good and what’s considered evil is relative and personal.Dressing it up in a hat and red claws and saying “Look at the evil over there in the night” is a really old trick, but it’s not a trick the LHP will profit from adopting.
By: That Old Diabolist= The Hat

Art; Fly on the wind, Vincent Piazza Copyright 2015

Decisions on Good and Evil…. was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

Demon Study: Samigina (Gamigin)


Goetia – S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904) (quoted)

Samigina's Goetic Seal
Samigina’s Goetic Seal


The Fourth Spirit is Samigina, a Great Marquis. He appeareth in the form of a little Horse or Ass, and then into Human shape doth he change himself at the request of the Master. He speaketh with a hoarse voice. He ruleth over 30 Legions of Inferiors. He teaches all Liberal Sciences, and giveth account of Dead Souls that died in sin. And his Seal is this, which is to be worn before the Magician when he is Invocator, etc.

Pseudomonarchia daemonum – Johann Wier (1583) (quoted)

Gamigin is a great marquesse, and is seene in the forme of a little horsse, when he taketh humane shape he speaketh with a hoarse voice, disputing of all liberall sciences; he bringeth also to passe, that the soules, which are drowned in the sea, or which dwell in purgatorie (which is called Cartagra, that is, affliction of soules) shall take aierie bodies, and evidentlie appeare and answer to interrogatories at the conjurors commandement; he tarrieth with the exorcist, untill he have accomplished his desire, and hath thirtie legions under him.


I’ve worked with this spirit numerous times, and he is always quick to come. External Necromancy and Graveyard workings seem to be his forte. My first calling was quite interesting, as it seemed that I caught him at rest, and he had to take a moment to compose himself. He appeared in the skrying stone on a green field of grass sitting in a wicker chair. A Purple Mountain was to the left of him, and a wooden house with a stable attached to his right.  His appearance was as a Man with a horse head, and from time to time he would reach down from his chair an eat a bit of grass.Very calm and peaceful, in no hurry. We spoke for sometime on the matters of the dead and those who passed on. I asked for a Samhain ritual to call the spirits of loved ones for a Lodge I was leading at the time. He gave me instruction in this, the rite included his calling by the whole group and myself, as well as dream work upon the very same night.When called with the Lodge, he came with no fuss and each member could see him the same way that I have in the past. The rite was quite a success and all received communication with an ancestor. I’ve also called him with questions about past lives, and have received some interesting information about what could have been what I was up to in the 1800’s.I have no idea of the validity of this information and, I have not explored this aspect any further. At times he likes to wear a Smoking Jacket, other times he appeared nude. Offerings of Tobacco and fresh cut grass please him.  His Enn: Esta Ta Et Tasa Gamigin

Sources:, Grimorium Carceris (unpublished)

Art Work: Samagina by; Vincent Piazza Copyright 2015


Demon Study: Samigina (Gamigin) was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

Queens for A Day: A Birthday Tribute Show for Picolla Tushy and May Hemmer! A Burlesque Review by Vincent Piazza

IMAG0530I wasn’t going to go to this show, but at the last minute the Hat and I decided to jump in the car and go to a small Burlesque show put on by Picolla Tushy and the Bluestockings at the Bar Redux. And let me tell you folks something, I’m overjoyed that I did! I was given the chance to meet some fantastic talent in an up close and personal venue, something that doesn’t happen often at the larger shows. Speaking to one of the fans, when asked what he thought of the burlesque revival in New Orleans, his reply was as follows…

And the night only became more fantastic from that point forward. The MC, Ren French,(AKA Buster Reaux)  did an amazing job keeping the crowd entertained with Queen trivia between sets.He is the writer and creator of “The Clifton Monroe Chronicles” and from the small interview I did with him it sounds like he has a number of plays in the works, One that this writer plans on attending and reviewing called “A Crescent City Christmas” ,opening December 2nd 2015 at NOCCA.


The two lovely ladies who this birthday show was put on to honor, Picolla Tushy and May Hemmer both performed with much skill and ribald comic fun.These two Dazzling debutantes are favorites in the New Orleans Burlesque Review, and the upcoming Show,The Demon Boobies of Skeet Street: Sweeney Todd Burlesque, Written by the talented Honey Tangerine , is going to be on my list of things to see and review this October.

Picolla Tushy made a flamboyant splash as Freddy Mercury…

And May Hemmer was elegant and self composed as the White Queen….

I even had the pleasure to meet a performer from my old stomping grounds, San Francisco, named Rasa Vitalia.She  is an award-winning dance performer, vocalist, songwriter, and performance artist, and her sexy scimitar dance had the crowd howling for more.

Honey Tangerine gave us a Blade Runner esque performance that hit all the right chords with the crowd, “The Show must go on”, Indeed…

And speaking of the show going on, even with technical difficulties trying to derail her performance, Ember Blaize still pushed forward and gave us a set that no one in the crowd will soon forget.

Rabbi Meat gave the crowd an eye popping example of feats of strength, done to the sounds of “We will Rock you”, she had the entire audience clapping and stomping along.

I do wish I was able to get a few clips of everyone who performed last night, but this is all I have.If I missed anyone I apologize, but all of the Ladies who performed here tonight couldn’t have done a better job or gave such a shining example of what Burlesque is all about. Here are a few more stills of Constance Neurd and Sadie D’Amour doing what comes natural for them, and boy don’t they make talent look easy, Bravo Ladies!


All in all, it was a stellar performance put on by the cast and crew of the Bluestockings. I had an enchanted evening and just can’t wait to see the next show by this Burlesque Troupe. I want to thank them for having me and I’ve included all of the Facebook links to the performers below if you care to know more about these talented and high-spirited artists.

Honey Tangerine
Rabbi Meat
Sadie D’Amour
Ember Blaize
Constance Neurd
May Hemmer
Picolla Tushy
Hosted by Buster Reaux ( Ren French)
Queens for A Day: A Birthday Tribute Show for Picolla Tushy and May Hemmer!

Take care everyone, and Stay Gold…

Review by: Vincent Piazza


Queens for A Day: A Birthday Tribute Show for Picolla Tushy and May Hemmer! A Burlesque Review by Vincent Piazza was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

Hexagram 38. Kui, Diversity, Disharmony, Estrangement, A wagon carrying devils

It’s the questions we can’t answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he’ll look for his own answers.


Kui Diversity
— Li Fire
— Dui Lake

Hexagram 38
Fire above
Lake below
Fire, in the upper position, rises upward, and lake in the lower position sinks downward.Therefore, the movement of this hexagram is one of separation. In addition, fire symbolizes the middle daughter, while lake symbolizes the youngest daughter: two sisters who live in the same house disagree.

Separation. Opposition.To squint.To stare. Unusual,

The Statement
In small matters: fortune.

gua38The Gua, Kui, Early Form.

ESTRANGEMENT is the very opposite of family. It can happen to every other kind of relationship as well. A longtime friend suddenly becomes cold. A comrade who usually supports us turns hostile. We seek allies for a
project, but find others against us. Frustrated, we begin to think the worst of others, and we drag out the barricades.
Opposition leads to separation. Separation leads to alienation. If the two sides never build new bridges between them, the separation becomes lasting. Alienation results, and the situation becomes dangerous: No revolution was
ever begun by happy people. Revolts come from the disenfranchised. When Di Xin degenerated into drunkenness and debauchery, ruling by murder rather than reason, others in his government began to oppose him.
King Wen, in a separate fiefdom that still owed allegiance to the Shang dynasty, also opposed the emperor’s moral lapses. Both Di Xin’s more enlightened ministers and King Wen first tried to change the situation diplomatically. But as communication with Di Xin became more difficult, opposition grew. The Shang dynasty might not have been overthrown by the Zhou had Di Xin heard what was being said and had he worked to remedy the difficulties of estrangement.
Opposition. Separation. Alienation. Once these three factors became overwhelming, there was no saving Di Xin .
Opposition can be positive if it is managed correctly. Democratic government incorporates opposition. By having at least two sides ruling, there is a constant struggle within the government to find the superior choice in any situation. Excesses are balanced, and the government is animated by the opposing forces. Just as it takes two people to move a teeter-totter, it takes at least two political parties to make a democracy work.Such embracing of opposition implies that the best results cannot be gained by one person’s judgment. We do not trust any one person or any one political view to lead our country. We want opposing sides in balance against one another. This system is not perfect. It can also degenerate into estrangement, and the inherent inefficiency of human endeavors can sometimes dominate the process. In the long run, however, there will be progress. If we delve deeper into this hexagram, we will find that it has multiple meanings, like the other hexagrams, and that these meanings must be understood simultaneously. Opposition, separation, and estrangement can refer to the separation of things. They also refer to the very yin-yang dichotomy that underlies all assumptions in the Changes. Thus, opposition, separation, and alienation can refer to separation or can refer to the inherent tension that animates all things. Nevertheless, we have to know what to do in the time of estrangement. The Statement tells us that this is a situation where the forces of separation are dominant and we can succeed only in small matters. We have to accept our circumstances and work within those limitations.

The Image closes with the timeless observation that a leader can never truly be like the masses. A leader is different—strange—but that is the way it is. Although we must work with others, we must remain individuals and continue to cultivate our personal excellence. Frankly, people can turn on you at any time. The risks for a leader are considerable. If you must lead, fulfill your responsibilities but realize that you must maintain your own resources
should you and the multitude one day part. Fire above the lake means that there are times when the leader must separate from the gather throng below. Fire above the lake also means that when the opposing forces of a society are
joined (as the lake pools all streams), wisdom rises like the sun. Only then is there a chance of some small success in the time of estrangement.Devils in a Cart

As I consulted the I-ching today, My changing Line was:

■ Top yang : Disharmony results in isolation ; see a pig covered with mire, a wagon carrying devils . First you
draw the bow, later you put the bow down . It is not an enemy but a partner . Going on, it is fortunate if you
encounter rain.
At the extreme of disharmony, the mind of Tao has been long buried away, and people don’t pay attention to it; this is disharmony resulting in isolation. With the mind of Tao buried away and the human mentality taking charge of affairs, the influence of habit becomes one’s nature, and doubts and ruminations come forth by the hundreds; this is being like a pig covered with mire, a wagon full of devils.
If you want to restore the mind of Tao, it is necessary to first understand the human mind. But to understand it, it is important to see it :Seeing it as a pig, as devilish, is truly seeing the human mentality and how injurious it is. Once you can see and understand it clearly, your former use of the human mind without understanding is like first drawing a bow, while your later ability to understand and restore the mind of Tao is like afterward putting the bow down. Without the human mind, you don’t see the mind of Tao; without the mind of Tao, you cannot know the human mind. Using the human mind temporarily to restore the mind of Tao, even though the human mind is
the chief of villains, it is also the chief in merit ; it is not an enemy, but really a partner. Once the human mind is seen and the mind of Tao is restored, at this point if you empty the human mind and activate the mind of
Tao, and go on to solve disharmony, then yin and yang combine harmoniously. It is like encountering rain, which washes away the filth of all the pollution of the past, so one is restored to original wholeness and soundness . What can compare to that fortune? This is taking advantage of the time to solve disharmony, inasmuch as disharmony must ultimately be reconciled. So, using the Mind to kill the mind….I may have left you with more Questions then Answers with this post, but that will help you more then me laying it all out for you. Stay Gold….

Art work; A wagon carrying devils , Copyright 2015

Sources: The complete I ching : the definitive translation from the Taoist Master Alfred Huang., The Living
I Ching By: Deng Ming-Dao, The Taoist I Ching Translated by Thomas Cleary.

Hexagram 38. Kui, Diversity, Disharmony, Estrangement, A wagon carrying devils was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

Taoist Meditation Advice: Tips and Tricks

cephalopod meditationsAn Adept in another tradition asked me for some Taoist Meditation advice recently, so I thought it would be best to share a few tips and tricks here for the rest of those just starting out with some form of Taoist deep breath work.

• Prior to practice, remove all jewellery, watches and glasses, and loosen belts and collars. Avoid any constrictions against the surface of the body, especially the waist, and avoid any synthetic materials that might insulate you from the earth’s electric field.
• Whenever possible, practice outdoors, preferably barefoot, or in socks or leather shoes. Allow maximum exposure to the ionizing element of wind, water and sunlight, but avoid exposure to cold breezes. Practicing near abundant vegetation is very beneficial because plants enrich the air with oxygen and exude their own variety of Qi. That’s why urban Chinese like to practice in public parks. When indoors, practice near an open window in a well-ventilated room.
• Timing is important. By far the best hours to practice breathing are between 3:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., when positive Yang energy rises most strongly in the atmosphere, and between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., when cosmic Yin energy switches over to Yang. For best results, practice twice a day: first thing in the morning, before breakfast; and last thing at night, before bed. Do not practice within the first hour after a meal, and avoid all cold drinks for at least 20-30 minutes after a session. Deep breathing packs warm energy into the ‘Sea of Energy’ below the navel, and a cold
drink tossed on top of that can cause severe conflicts of energy.
• Pregnant women and people suffering from any sort of fever or internal bleeding should not practice deep breathing.Do some form of natural stillness meditation instead.
• Keep spine erect but not rigid at all times. Cramped or stooped spines block energy along the spinal channels, thus preventing free flow of energy from the sacrum up to the head. It’s especially important to keep the back of the neck stretched, for that’s where energy enters the brain from the lower centers. The proper way to stretch the back of the neck is to draw the chin inward towards the throat.
• Eyes should be kept unfocused and half-lidded during breathing in order to avoid visual distractions. Direct eyes loosely towards the ground or floor a meter or two in front of feet. Internalize attention by mentally visualizing the region of the navel and the organs behind it.
• Shoulders tend to hunch during the final stage of inhalation, which tenses the neck and blocks energy flow into the head. Be sure to keep shoulders loose, relaxed and low throughout the session.
• Keep lips closed but don’t clench teeth. Tongue should be kept firmly pressed against palate, behind the upper teeth, throughout the exercises.
Raising tongue to palate stimulates secretion of saliva from two ducts below the tongue. This is called ‘sweet dew’ (gan lu) and should be swallowed because it contains highly active enzymes of great benefit to the stomach. However, any mucus coughed up from the lungs or drawn down from the nose should be spat out, for unlike saliva mucus is a waste product. The tongue against the palate also forms a bridge connecting the two channels of the Microcosmic Orbit, which meet at the roof of the mouth. Unless the tongue is firmly pressed against palate, energy has no avenue for crossing from palate to throat.
• Focus ears on the internal sounds of breath and heartbeat rather than letting them distract the mind by listening to external sounds. Try to practice in a quiet place without artificial external noise, although the natural sounds of wind, water, birds, etc. can actually help harmonize the spirit. Some adepts use earplugs to help internalize awareness during breathing and meditation.
• By exerting a bit of conscious control over the nasal apparatus, you may greatly enhance deep breathing. During inhalation, deliberately flare the nostrils wide open. This increases the intake of air and enhances its turbulence within the nasal passages, permitting greater extraction of Qi.Note how animals distend and contract their nostrils rhythmically with every breath, ‘testing’ the air as they ‘take’ it in. Owing to the atrophy of nostril muscles in civilized man, breathing is inhibited. Conscious flaring of the nostrils also helps focus mental attention on the breathing process.
• At the core of the entire breathing process lies the mind. The mind is a slippery little devil with a very short attention span and a strong penchant for drifting aimlessly in ever-shifting seas of thought and fantasy. Chinese Taoists call it a ‘playful monkey’ and Indian yogis compare it to a ‘wild horse’ that refuses to be tethered. We already know that ‘spirit commands energy’. Therefore, if the mind is ‘absent’ during breathing exercise, energy has no commander and strays about aimlessly, scattering and leaking instead of gathering and circulating. Recent studies in mainland China show that when deep breathing is performed with the mind firmly focused on a certain part of the body, that part registers a strong electric charge and grows warm. This accords well with the findings of Dr Chang Rui, director of the imperial medical institute during the Southern Sung Dynasty(1127-1279):
“Mind is the leader of energy. Where mind goes, energy follows. When a certain part of the body is ailing, use the mind to draw energy to the affected area and it will correct the condition.”

Taoist masters refer to the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body as the ‘Five Thieves’ of breathing and meditation because they literally ‘rob’ you of the mental attention required to command breath and control energy. Adepts must therefore learn to ‘imprison’ the Five Thieves internally by consciously directing sensory awareness inward and focusing on organs and energy centers rather than external objects.

Do not be discouraged if at first your mind keeps galloping off in all directions. It’s much like raising a child: you must apply a balanced blend of discipline and patience to the task, day by day. Soon you will learn your own personal tricks for controlling your mind, such as ‘bribing’ it to shut up for half an hour in exchange for the promise of a favorite indulgence later. When you start feeling heat in certain organs or parts of the body and energy tingling up
the spinal channels into the brain, it means that you have begun to achieve unity of mind and breath, spirit and energy. Ultimately you will be able to send energy coursing to which ever organ, gland or limb requires therapy simply by focusing mental attention there as you breathe.
The harmony of mind and breath is the fundamental key to breathing exercise and energy control. Without clarity and presence of mind, breathing becomes no more than a hygienic physical exercise that tonifies lungs, massages organs and assists circulation of blood. In order to reach the stage of practice in which breathing is used to assimilate, gather and distribute energy throughout the body’s energy networks, the mind must be in complete
command of body and breath, and you must be in complete command of your mind.No small task, and we all fail at this, even those who have been doing it for years. I wish you luck and skill with your Practice, and may the Spirits hold you ever in their favor…. Stay Gold.

Art-cephalopod meditations- Copyright 2015, V.Piazza

Taoist Meditation Advice: Tips and Tricks was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand