Mental Discipline

An essay or journal covering the Dedicant’s personal experience of building mental discipline, through the use of meditation, trance, or other systematic techniques on a regular basis. The experiences in the essay or journal should cover at least a five months period. (800 words min.) (WC 1421)

Here are some observations on my meditation experiences as I practiced (and continue to practice) week by week.

I tried to meditate at least once a week, only occasionally did I meditate more than once. The basic meditation styles I used varied from simple counting of breaths just to quiet the mind and focus to more elaborate visual or guided meditation. I did find that the Two Powers meditation is very helpful for ritual work or for something that requires centering and empowering (like a funeral rite I did).

I found that simple breath counting helps with calming the monkey mind. The Two Powers helped me center and focus–the more I did it, the faster I could do it. I also came across a really good guided meditation designed to help someone with their visualizing skills–not just visually, but also smell, taste, and touch; I used the visualization meditation a number of times until I didn’t feel it helped me anymore.

One meditation I learned from attending a pagan/magical convention, Mystic South in its first year, is creating a special little one room cabin in the deep woods where I can interact and speak with gods and goddesses. I used that a few times, but each time it was useful. It allowed me a chance to interact with my patrons, albeit they were usually cryptic and had only a sentence or two for me. Interestingly enough, I never got to see them when they would enter the little cabin because I would be looking into the fire I had lit to signal I was requesting their presence. The most I saw was their hand on my shoulder as they spoke to me.

I do agree with the idea of doing it at least once a week. I usually do my practices on Sunday nights. I usually did it while lying down and relaxing on my bed. There were a number of times I did it sitting or while standing (the Two Powers while standing). I found a difference in how I sensed the energy entering my body in the Two Powers meditation was different between standing and lying down.

I also found practicing meditation as well as guided meditations from online or previously recorded really helped me when adding guided meditation to the rituals I did for my grove. The two meditations that I had planned really had a great impact on the ritual participants. The meditation I threw together when I was had to fill in for the senior druid’s ritual since he wasn’t able to attend worked out okay (went with basic Two Powers).

From this past year’s Mystic South, I took a multi-session course on the Cauldron of Poesy as a Celtic shamanic bit of soul work. I believe thanks to all my meditation work for the dedicant path, I was easily able to visualize the three cauldrons in the three chakra like positions (just below the navel, in the heart area, and in the forehead) in detail even with my eyes open and typing. I eventually will write up something for public consumption of my experiences without directly using the teacher’s own text.

The idea behind the three cauldrons meditation is to check in on the state of your body. The lower cauldron’s status below the navel (the Cauldron of Warming) would give you insight into health and emotional state. The middle cauldron near the heart (the Cauldron of Vocation) would give insight into how you were connecting with the outside world like relationships with others. The top cauldron (the Cauldron of Wisdom) gives insight into how you are mentally. Each cauldron represented in a Celtic shamanic way: lower is sea and the ancestors, middle is land and the nature spirits, and upper is sky and the gods.

The daily cauldron check-in and the shamanic cauldron meditation was utterly fascinating to me and more tangible than any other meditations I’ve done outside of the little cabin meditation—both meditations are extremely detailed in ways other meditations haven’t been for me.

What is fascinating about the body/health/chakra check-in was how you could see how you felt and connected to the gods. In the class, the teacher explained that what the cauldron was made out of, what was in it, and the setting can each give clues to the person meditating if they examine what it means to them. All three of my cauldrons were big cast-iron cauldrons, much like I would imagine Cerridwen would have used. The first is always a cauldron that could hold food of some sort for, in my mind, emotions and health are what you give to others and allow you to interact with others. Sometimes, there would be a ladle and food cooking for when I was in a great place emotionally and health-wise. The second was a cauldron that was surrounded by vegetation and occasionally I could see the reflection of the sky depending upon my angle. When I was feeling closed off, the grass around the cauldron (never lit) was yellow and dried. When I was feeling connected with people, the vegetation was reaching for the cauldron and could almost touch it as well as thriving all around. The third was always a cauldron which has rarely changed any time I checked on it—it was a dark cauldron in the shadows where I could potentially see shadows moving about. The teacher explained that was the same cauldron we can use to interact with the gods, so those shadowy figures I saw were the gods waiting for me to connect with them.

The shamanic cauldron work was helping us experience the cauldrons and, when ready, to enter them either by jumping into it or by finding a way (like a door somewhere) that would allow you to enter the space of the cauldron. Each one of these cauldrons, I placed somewhere in my mental secluded forest space near the one-room log cabin. Upon jumping into the lower cauldron which was near the body of water in my mental space, it was all dark and the guide the teacher explained that would be there was a foggy-like, hooded ghost figure who when I introduced myself and saying I wanted to interact more with the ancestors stated over and over again “Prove yourself.” I took this to mean that the ancestors would only work with me if I kept reaching out to them.

For the middle cauldron which I had in a small copse of trees near my cabin but removed enough so I couldn’t see any signs of my cabin at all, I noticed that the reflection was like a mirror (I guess our relationships are a reflection of our own mental and emotional state). Upon jumping in, I was greeted the guide which was a humanoid figure made entirely from vegetation. What was fascinating to me was that I could understand it without it saying a word in response to my questions.

Finally, the upper cauldron was mentally placed in front of the little one-room cabin (about 30 feet away or so) that I have for interacting with the gods. Upon jumping into the cauldron, I found myself in the cabin. Upon walking out of the cabin, I saw the cauldron in front of me. Jumping in again, I found myself yet again inside the cabin. There was no guide for me that I could see, just a whispered voice that I could only hear when outside of the cauldron, but not inside the cabin since that was where I would interact with the gods and goddesses.

Meditation is a skill like working out your muscles. The more you do it, the stronger said muscles will be. If I had done some visualization meditation work like the Two Powers meditation or cauldron work somewhat recently, any other visual meditation would be relatively easy even if I hadn’t ever done it before. Yet, there can be off days. There were a few times when I struggled to even work through a simple counting breaths meditation. Those were usually because I had a lot going on and my brain would just not shut up.

Without this work in building mental discipline via meditation, I wouldn’t have been able to have vivid experiences connecting with the gods in the little cabin in the woods or been able to easily check in on my three cauldrons while keeping my eyes open and doing other things. It really is an essential tool to master.

My meditation journal is located on another page at