“The term meditation refers to a family of self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calm, clarity, and concentration.” –
The Meeting of Meditative Disciplines and Western Psychology, A Mutually Enriching Dialogue by Roger Walsh (University of California College of Medicine) and Shauna L. Shapiro (Santa Clara University)
The quote above, while sadly ignoring the religious implications many of these described practices, does give us the contemporary secular western viewpoint of what mediation is. Taking this distilled definition in mind, it’s not too far fetched to believe that polytheistic Celtic and Germanic speaking peoples had their own variation of meditative praxis.
The Druids, a favored class among many when extrapolating religious thought and philosophy, may have had contact with various Greek philosophical schools in trade cities. If they didn’t have their own methodology of meditative practices, they could’ve possibly developed their own or adopted a format from different religious/philosophical schools. The possibility however does not guarantee that the Druids would have shared the methodology outside of Druidic or philosophical circles, therefore ambirādetus will be free for all who practice Senobessus Bolgon.
Due to the overwhelming examples of different religions having their own methods, including those in a polytheistic context, this and the former point sets a precedent for the development of a Belgic format (which can be transferred directly into a either Germanic and/or Celtic context).
As usual, we’ll look at comparative cultures to find commonalities that we can introduce and ideally extrapolate a unique approach to concerning meditation.
With Proto-Indo European, it is always a back engineering process to figure out possibilities in regards to religion, culture and linguistics. Though there is no attested or reconstructed methodology regarding a PIE meditation, there are a few innovated versions keeping to the PIE ideology. Ceisiwr Serith’s purpose of the Proto-Indo-European Mediation ritual, as stated in the beginning of the video, is to become aware of theXártus, the pattern of the cosmos. The english translation of the words are:
Here I am. Here I stand. Here, with the Xártus about me. The Xártus pours itself into me. The Xártus fills me. The Xártus feeds me. I live through the Xártus. I live the Xártus. May I truly live the Xártus. So be it.
Each part of the dialogue is a cue which guides the participant in different steps into awareness of the Xártus. The second one of his concerns the practitioner with not only the Xártus but also cosmology of PIE reconstructed religion. It’s longer, but the principle remains the same; become aware of the cosmology, the Xártus and one’s position in it, ultimately realizing that one is in unison with them and not separate, via cues. This would be an example of non-dualistic meditation. These rituals do not explain any prescribed breathing methods but imply a state of relaxedness prior to engaging them.
There are many meditation methods within the religious scope of Hinduism. It can include or be tied into Yogic practices easily. We will look at meditation on Iṣṭa-devatā. Iṣṭa-devatā, in an oversimplified explanation, is one’s personal and/or favorite god.
From Commentary on the Bhagavadgita by Swami Krishnananda
The earlier stages of meditation are objectively conducted as concentrations on what are called the ishta devatas. An ishta devata is our own God, whom we worship and adore. Now the idea of God being something whom we can worship and adore brings into our minds the idea of His location. Though theoretically it is conceded that God is everywhere, the mind cannot conceive this everywhereness. Even when we agree that God is everywhere, the idea of God being everywhere will be a kind of externalisation of form. Even if we think of God as the universal Virat Himself, when we think of the Virat, He will appear to be an object which we are cognising. The necessity to visualise God as an object, or an ishta devata, arises on account of the difficulty felt by the mind in transcending space and time.
Therefore, this attempt at going beyond space and time should not be worked on or attempted in the earlier stages, because it will be a great strain to the mind. We have an ishta devata. It may be our dear God. It may be Rama or Krishna or Devi or Surya or Jesus Christ or Mohammed, or any incarnation. Whatever be the dearest and the nearest and the best that we can think of, that is our object of meditation.
We can see here that one purpose of utilizing the image of a favored deity is to become aware of ‘God’. This method, along with other methods in Hinduism, are recommended to be taught rather than attempted by oneself.
NOTE: These mediations are complex, and the very brief overview doesn’t do the method justice; rather its place here is to set a precedent of finding awareness in one way or another.
One aspect of Iṣṭa-devatā meditation is the inclusion of Japa, which is a mantra or divine name repeated through the process. This may allow the practitioner to connect to one of the divine powers, similar to prayer.
Within the sub type of Hellenic Polytheism known as Julian Hellenism, there is a method called Theoria (which means meditation or contemplation). It is utilized to engage/disengage the mind in order to ‘access realms which are ontologically higher to ourselves’.
There is at least one format for Theoria, which was compiled from writings of Plotinus’ Enneads by Algiz Uždavinys (originally posted on the Hellenic Faith blog by Klaytonus Silvanus);
Step 1: Visualize
Create a mental picture of our whole universe as if it’s in an unimaginably vast transparent sphere, “a picture holding all the things of the universe moving or in repose or (as in reality) some at rest, some in motion”. Each member in this universe shall remain distinctly apart, yet they all are to form “a complete unity so that whatever comes into view, say the outer orb of the heavens, shall bring immediately with it the vision, on the one plane, of the sun and of all the stars with earth and sea and all living things as if exhibited upon a transparent Globe”. Bring this vision actually before your sight and view them calmly.
Step 2: Awareness
Keep this sphere before you, and from it visualize another: “a sphere stripped of magnitude and of spatial differences”. Cast away your “inborn sense of Matter”, being sure to not merely diminish it.
Call upon the Divine Mind, “maker of the sphere whose image you now hold, and pray Him to enter”. And may He come bringing His own Universe, with it all the Gods and Greater Kinds that exist inside it— “He who is the one God and all the Gods, where each is all, blending into a unity, distinct in powers but all one God in virtue of that one divine power of many facets”.
Notice that the Demiurge and all its divine energies and all the creatures and objects and worlds it has created exist together in seamless unity. Imagine the God’s unlimited power and awareness extending to all infinity.
Step 3: Hold
Now bring this vision inside yourself, as if you were being filled with that God. Hold the entire cosmos and all its powers and all its creatures inside your own awareness. You need no longer look outside for a vision of the divine being; “it is but finding the strength to see divinity within” At once you will see an image of yourself, “lifted to a better beauty”.
Step 4: Focus
Let go of the visual images you’ve been imagining, allowing the visuals you’ve been picturing to dissolve completely. Now shift your mind. Immerse yourself totally in the divine presence and sink into a “perfect self-identity”; don’t allow any sense of separateness to enter your conscious; focus only on the living reality of the all-pervading Divine Mind, and at once you will form a “multiple unity with the God silently present”.
Step 5: Return
The Divine Mind is completely present in this moment, and this shall bring you closer to the Nous. You have but to “look again and the same presence is there”.
Inwardly paying tribute to the divine, shift your awareness back to your physical self, and when you are ready open your eyes. It is recommended to do something mundane following this.
One may notice similar methodologies between Iṣṭa-devatāmeditation and Theoria.
Ambirādetus (Innovated Belgic Meditative formats):
We have two formats we can use to develop Belgic variations of meditative practices; One that grants awareness of order in the universe and one that utilizes worship of the gods in an inward sense, which may be thought of as coming closer to Them.
(To perform these, one must be relaxed and stress free)
*Note-There are phrases in place to give cues on what to do. They can and should be repeated as many times needed while flowing into the next step. Every step should be flowed at very slow pace. Allow yourself to feel each step happen instead of merely visualizing them.
1. Close your eyes:Whether sitting or standing in a relaxed but proper posture (no slouching, no physical discomfort or limbs going to sleep), close your eyes to rid yourself of visual distraction. A covering of the eyes can help.
2. Visualize Order: Begin to slowly visualize in your mind that all phenomena around you (physical and abstract) fading into the image of the world tree. Become aware that all actions as they happen and have happened feed the well of chaos beneath the tree, and the well’s waters become nourishment for it.
Say this while visualization and feeling:
English – All Uertos feeds the well. The well feeds Drus.
Gaulish – Ollon Uertī biuotāt uoberon. Uoberon biuotāt Drun
3. Understand: Acknowledge that the nourishment from the actions become the tree and it’s pattern. Every leaf, twig, and branch are the results from everyone’s Uertos.
When at this step, repeat this:
English – All of Uertos is Drus. Drus is Assus.
Gaulish– Ollon Uertī essi Drus. Drus essi Assus.
4.Become: Once you understand that your actions have nourished and become the tree, you will realize that you are a twig on a branch, and that the leaves on it are your Uertos. You are a piece of the great tree, and a piece of the grand order of things. All beings and phenomena are the cosmic order.
When at this step, repeat this:
English – I am within Assus and am Assus.
Gaulish –Immi in Assū etic immi Assus
5. Awaken to awareness: Open your eyes slowly to the realization that you are a twig on the world tree, your leaves are your personal Uertos manifested. Only separate as a piece of the whole. Individual and yet One.
An alternative set of cues/ by Segomaros Widugeni:
*Note-This is done while gazing into a fire or candle.
1.English – The fire is the center of all things. All places are in the fire.
Gaulish – Tenos estî medios alpetânon. Alplatoi sentî in tenê.
(another translation by Edward Hatfield below:)
Aidu essi medion pāpī. Pāpi legos essi in aidū.
2. English – Drus burns but is not burned.
Gaulish – Drus estî in tenê. Drus loxsit extâ noloxsitor.
Drus essi in aidū. Drus loscīt extros ne essi loscitos.
3. English – I am in the fire. I burn but am not burned.
Gaulish – Immî in tenê. Loxsûmi extâ neloxsur.
Immi in aidū. Losciū extros ne immi loscitos (male) / loscitā (female)
4. English – I am in Drus. I am in all places.
Gaulish – Immî in Drû. Immî in alpetânon. I am in Drus. I am in all places.
Immi in Drū. Immi in pāpē legesi.
**To add a Germanic flair/concept to this format, one could sit on a grave-mound or in a grave yard where family remains reside. After all, if you are a but a twig, you are connected to a branch which connects to more twigs and thus family, past and present.**
1. Close your eyes or focus on a Delwâ (Image of god): As with the first format, proper posture along with a relaxed state is mandatory. The focus will be on a personal god, and therefore if no Delwâ is present, visualization of the god will do.
2. Gently think of your god: Do not allow violent effort in this. A personal mantra or the repetition of the god’s divine name will be done while thinking of the god. Think of their qualities and attributes.
3. Flow your thoughts: At times your mind will wander, therefore do not stop the thought from happening. Merely flow it into thinking about your god.
4. (Optional) Perform an offering: This may be done after the ambirādetus of your god.
Before or after ambirādetus, it may be beneficial to practice breathing exercises. This is shown to be an attested practice by Sharon Paice MacLeod:
Poetic schools were still active in early eighteenth-century Scotland as well. Here the poets were described as shutting their doors and windows for an entire day, while lying on their beds to compose their works. They wrapped their plaids around their heads, to further block out the light.” In addition, the students put a stone upon their belly, presumably to help regulate the breath (and a practice known to help facilitate a meditative state).
For our practice, we use Pythagorean patterned breathing (the simplest form being 5-4-3 or 3-4-5). Breathe in for five seconds. Hold for four seconds. Exhale for three. This may be done on it’s own, but it can also be done with an extra step after the exhale; holding the breath while empty for sets 1-10 seconds long. A sample regiment would thus look like:
Breathe in for five seconds. Hold for four seconds. Exhale for three seconds. Hold for one second.
Breathe in for five seconds. Hold for four seconds. Exhale for three seconds. Hold for two seconds.
Breathe in for five seconds. Hold for four seconds. Exhale for three seconds. Hold for three seconds.
Holding on the last step may be done for up to ten seconds (or as many as the practitioner can do safely). It can also be done as a pyramid set, so the practitioner may go down in holding seconds from ten, to nine, all the way back to one.
I have created a meditative movement (as well as a Martial salute, greeting, religious sign, all around symbolic movement) to help with maintaining pace and trance during both Ambirâdetus and Anatlâcerdâ. A very simple movement which is demonstrated in the GIF below. The left hand is bent upwards like spear, while the right mirrors the opposite downwards. Turning both in a sunwise motion (clockwise), while facing the slightly outward, having the spear hands ending in the opposite position. To repeat, the right and left pass each other back to their original starting positions. This ensures that all directions are not missed. This motion is to symbolize the wheel, the cycle of Assus and Anassus (Order and Non-Order), the cycle of the well and the world tree and more.
1. Proto-Indo-European Meditation Ritual; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5Bv3y59_KM&t=3s
2.Proto-Indo-European Cosmology Meditation;http://www.ceisiwrserith.com/pier/meditation.htm
3.From Commentary on the Bhagavadgita by Swami Krishnananda; Discourse 16: The Sixth Chapter Continues – Meditation on the Ishta Devata
4. Theoria – Hellenic Faith https://hellenicfaith.com/theoria/
5. How About a Howe Sit? The Tradition of Early Germanic Grave-Sitting by Patricia Lundy
6. The Road To Hel – A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature by Hilda Roderick Ellis M.A., Ph.D.
7. Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of Traditional Belief, with Newly Translated Prayers, Poems and Songs by Sharon Paice MacLeod(Kindle Locations 1276-1278). Kindle Edition.