Tag Archives: steampunk druidry

Steampunk Meditation for Self- Transformation

Today’s post is a guest blog sent to me by Alison Leigh Lilly…. take note all ye members of the Secret Order, for if we had a required reading list, this would be on it…

A Steampunk Meditation for Self-Transformation

(Translation with Commentary by Alison Leigh Lilly)

The following is an excerpt (translated from the original Irish Gaelic) from the recovered manuscripts of Madame Fáine Collwaters, renowned Irish occultist and Druidess of the late Victorian Era and protegée to the influential Welsh antiquarian Edward Williams. I have done my best to include notes and references wherever necessary to aid the clarity of the text. Inline notes are set off in [[double-brackets]], with additional explanation in footnotes.


Induced Vision of Alchemical Transmogrification (In Alignment with the Triple Springs)

The Triple Springs[1], being the centers of energetic rotation located along the vertical axis of the practitioner’s core, are periodically stimulated through induced vision and breathwork as necessary for the transmogrification of diluted spiritus into the concentrated metalliferous earth (ie the lapis philosophorum)[2] sought by the Masters of the Druidic Arts through the alchemical processes detailed herein. Though there are those who adhere with marked imprudence to the now repudiated philosophy of the Southern Schools[3], this Adept obliges the practitioner to be guided by the wisdom of the Holy Agencies in pursuance of the Work, and to be satisfied with no baser influence than these that can be trusted in perfect confidence.


[1] What are the Triple Springs? Although the recovered manuscripts are far from complete and I have been unable to find any single, conclusive description of the Triple Springs among the documents as yet, my impression is that these “centers of energetic rotation” are similar to what we might now call “chakras.” This concept of there being energy centers in the body is found in many different spiritual traditions, including the chakras of Hindu metaphysics, the dantian (also known as the Three Cinnabar Fields) of Taoism, and the Three Cauldrons of Poesy described in ancient Celtic poetry. Descriptions of the Triple Springs elsewhere in the collected manuscripts of M. Collwaters suggests an alignment which places the lowest Spring just below the navel, the middle Spring in line with the heart in the center of the chest, and the highest Spring on the brow or crown of the head.

[2] This is a reference to the Philosopher’s Stone, which in the writings of M. Collwaters is often depicted using various metallurgical metaphors, including silver, brass, copper and iron, as well as other alloys, in addition to the more traditional gold.

[3] Here M. Collwaters seems to be referring to a rival occult tradition, named only as the Southern Schools throughout her manuscripts, though scholars have reason to believe this was in fact a veiled reference to the obnoxiously patronizing opinions of her ex-husband. Elsewhere, M. Collwaters notes the Southern Schools’ view of the Triple Springs as “mills” or “keys,” denouncing these descriptions as vulgar and overly passive in their depiction of the Springs. In Manuscript A2, for instance, she writes, “The depiction of the Spring as a key on which an external hand might exert the necessary pressure to turn the spirit according to its will is deeply problematic, as is the view that the Spring may be made to turn as a mill turns, neither giving resistance to the channel in which it moves nor participating in that movement. Rather, the Spring is a vessel, an axis of stored energy, an agent of compression and expansion that involves itself in the activity to which it gives rise by the nature of its composition and material being.” There is some debate over her exact meaning here, but I tend to hold with the view that M. Collwaters sees the Triple Springs as physical as well as metaphysical centers in the body, which the practitioner must work with as an artist works with the nature of (and works within the limits of) a physical medium, rather than expecting to be able to exert complete control over the Springs as though they were merely abstractions or ideas solely in the mind. This view seems to be confirmed by the fact that she regularly encourages the reader to approach the “Holy Agencies” (a term she uses interchangeably for the Triple Springs) as active, creative beings in their own right, which can provide guidance and instruction of their own to the earnestly inquiring practitioner.

The induced vision is as follows:

The practitioner — calm of mind and with the inner eye turned to gaze idly upon the workings of the Triple Springs within the body — observes the Bright Fires of the Sky descending in a cascade of white gold. This white fire engulfs and warms the body, beginning first with the Spring of the Sun [[that is, the highest energy center, located on the brow or crown of the head]]. The Spring of the Sun, stimulated by the circulation of white flame, fills with radiant energy. The practitioner feels the stimulation of this Spring as a gradual rising tension [[as though a spring wire were being wound and tightened inside the body of a clock]]; however, this tension is not that of anxiety or discomfort, but the calm, warm pressure akin to a suspended high-pitched musical tone. As this bright, warm pressure builds within the Spring of the Sun, it flows through the Spring and into the rest of the body. The practitioner observes this process gently as white flames slowly consuming the body: softening the muscles and bones and tendons of the head, the neck, the shoulders, the back, the torso, arms and legs, all the muscles and tendons including those of the wrists, fingertips, ankles and toes. The practitioner observes calmly as the white fire spills over through the Spring of the Sun, filling the mouth and throat with warm, gentle pressure, softening and melting the lungs and heart, the stomach and all the organs, heating the blood and flowing through every pore of the skin until the body is engulfed entirely in a white radiance centered on the suspended Holy Agency of the Spring of the Sun.

In this state of intense heat, the practitioner observes now the Dark Waters of the Sea ascending in a rising tide of silvery black. These black waves flood and cool the body, beginning first in the Spring of the Moon [[that is, the lowest energy center, located just below the navel]]. The Spring of the Moon, stimulated by the circulation of black water, fills with restful, dark energy. The practitioner feels the stimulation of this Spring as a gradual increasing tension [[as though a spring wire were being wound and tightened inside the body of a clock]]; however, this tension is not that of depression or lethargy, but the calm, cool pressure akin to a suspended low-pitched musical tone. As this dark, cool pressure builds within the Spring of the Moon, it flows upwards through the Spring and into the rest of the body. The practitioner observes this process gently as dark waters slowly flooding and cleansing the body: softening the muscles and bones and tendons of the lower back, the thighs and calves of the legs, the upper back and chest, the shoulders, arms and wrists, all the muscles and tendons of the body up through the neck and bones of the skull itself. The practitioner observes calmly as the black waters spill over through the Spring of the Moon, filling the stomach and internal organs, softening and purifying the lungs and heart, cooling the blood and flowing through every pore of the skin until the body is flooded entirely with a cool, dark tide centered on the suspended Holy Agency of the Spring of the Moon.

In this state of balance between the Spring of the Sun and the Spring of the Moon, the alchemical process begins, giving rise to the Vital Energy of the Land. As the mingling of fire and water produces steam, the practitioner works with the energies stored in the two Springs to open and transform the third, the Spring of the Earth [[that is, the middle energy center, located in the center of the chest in line with the heart]]. The practitioner observes as the Springs of the Sun and Moon unwind and release their tension, rotating together to turn the center Spring between them [[as though along a gearshaft inside a clock]]. The practitioner feels the stimulation of this Spring as a gradual thickening energy, as the Breath of Life emerges through the mingling of the Holy Agencies of the Sun and Moon. Through the Spring of the Earth, stimulated by the spiraling circulation of Bright Fires and Dark Waters, the practitioner directs and communicates the Vital Energy in order to shape and move the Red Ore — either through physical gesture or through the guidance of the inner eye. Through the crafting and movement of the Red Ore, both inner and outer transmogrification occur as directed by the will and intent of the practitioner and communicated through the agency of the Triple Springs.[4]

[4] This last paragraph requires some further explanation to clarify M. Collwaters’ meaning. After circulating energy through both the highest and lowest Springs, these energies are visualized as meeting in the center, in the Spring of the Earth located in the chest, and mixing together to produce a third kind of energy: the vital energy or “Breath of Life” (in this case, visualized most likely as steam), which is the lifeforce of the physical world. The Breath of Life is associated with both the lifeforce of living things (such as plants and animals), and the animating force of the earth itself and the metals which are mined from it. The Red Ore which is shaped and transformed by the Vital Energy is the physical body of the practitioner herself. Alternately, the same technique can be used to “charge” another physical object (most likely a talisman or other symbol crafted out of metal, stone or bone). In either case, the physical object becomes a “gear” which is “turned” by the combined energies stored within the Springs that has been gradually built up and then carefully directed and released, and in being turned in this way, the will of the practitioner influences the world around her. This entire process can be imagined as similar to the act of winding up a clock which is then set loose to tick on its own until it winds down, or using steam-power to drive an engine or even to produce electricity which can then be transmitted (or “communicated”) through physical wires. From a metaphysical perspective, we think of this exerted influence as “spooky action at a distance,” or in other words, magic.

Exactly how the Vital Energy is used to shape and move the Red Ore is open to interpretation, but M. Collwaters seems to suggest that this can be a matter of actual physical movement and gesture (for example, physical exercise of the body, a kind of Victorian Yoga, or the crafting of a physical object or tool), or through creative visualization (ie “charging” an object or the body itself). One way to use this technique as a visualization might be the following: The practitioner raises their hands, palms facing inwards, about one foot apart and one foot in front of the body on level with the chest, elbows slightly bent, as if holding a basketball ready to pass. They visualize the Vital Energy flowing out through the palms of their hands as steam which condenses and thickens into a kind of red molten metal or ore which is soft and malleable to the touch. The practitioner then visualizes molding this red energy into a particular shape or symbol which represents their intention or the desired result of the meditative work. At this point, if the practitioner has chosen not to work with a physical object, they can either “absorb” this symbol back into themselves through the Spring of the Earth, or they can “release” this symbol by visualizing it dissipating back into steam as they slowly move their hands farther and farther apart in a gesture of opening and release.


A place to stand

Being a solitary Druid feels a bit wrong for a lot of us. I tried it, I didn’t like it. Being a Druid definitely has a collective quality about it, and comes with a side order of feeling a need to belong. Mind you, that’s generally a human thing, we all want to fit somewhere. Writing about exclusion in Druidry I got a lot of responses both here and on facebook, from people who do not seem to have a place to stand.

Yesterday I took the plunge and offered something I’d been contemplating for a while.There is now a proper and permenant page for it here https://druidlife.wordpress.com/secret-order-steampunk-druids/

The Secret Order of Steampunk Druids is neither secretive nor very orderly. It may help to be into either Steampunk or Druidry, but the only qualification for membership is wanting to be a member. The only requirement is playing nicely. Believe what you want to believe. Practice however you practice. Talk about it by all means. Accept that other people may be different and that’s their business, and all shall be well.

I’m not going to set up any kind of online chat space because those seem to be places where people with too much time on their hands try to tell other people how to be Druids, and frankly that’s all very dull and it would be more fun to communicate by other means. In person is nice.
I’m barely going to run this at all, but if anyone fails to ‘play nicely’ I shall come round and raise my eyebrows at them until they reform. Probably. Or I’ll just giggle at them, but those of you who already wanted in are deeply splendid individuals so I doubt eyebrow raising will be called for.

If you need a place to stand, if you need to be recognised and to belong, and this seems like a space, claim it. If the idea of revival revival inspires an impish grin to form upon your features, hang around. There was so much energy, craziness and creativity in revival Druidry, it would be fun to try and reclaim that without all the fibbing about where it really came from.

In the meantime, initiate yourself with a nice cup of tea, or similar, and perhaps a bit of cake, feel free to contemplate what you might want to wear, and where you might take this, let me know if you are playing, and if you need to, give yourself a title. As a general guideline, the less you know about Druidry the more outlandish your title should be. People who know their stuff should have quiet, self effacing titles.
Our two major tenets are warmth, playfulness and comedy our three, three major tenets are warmth, comedy, playfulness and a strange devotion to Professor Elemental, Lord Summerisle, no, four…

And if you do see Professor Elemental when you are out there, do consider it your proper business as a Steampunk Druid, to follow him round singing songs from The Wicker Man. If you don’t know any, just hum…