As we journey to Graceland, we are exploring the gifts of the Graces, starting with the youngest of these beautiful Goddesses, Aglaia, the Grace of Radiance, Beauty and Splendor. In the Hermetic magickal traditions, She is the awakener of the Serpent Fire, which is also known as the kundalini.
Kundalini is a term we see rarely referenced in the West before the 1970s. Of course, that was when yoga and other Eastern practices became extremely popular as the mainstream focused on understanding and changing consciousness. Yoga, in particular, with its emphasis on the transmutation of energy to higher consciousness, has been the chief contributor to the cultivation of kundalini and its practitioners have been the preservers of its methodologies since ancient times.
Two of the earliest Western interpretations of kundalini were supplied by the Theosophical Society’s writer, C.W. Leadbeater (1847-1934) and the great psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961).
Jung’s seminar on kundalini yoga, presented to the Psychological Club in Zurich in 1932, has been widely regarded as a milestone in the psychological understanding of Eastern thought. Kundalini yoga presented Jung with a model for the developmental phases of higher consciousness, and he interpreted its symbols in terms of the process of individuation.
However, a closer investigation of mystical literature and traditions shows that kundalini, when understood by other names, is a nearly universal phenomenon. The early Christians might have referred to the concept as ‘pneuma,’ and there are parallels in contemporary Christian charismatic ‘Holy Ghost’ encounters. Religious scholoars also note similarities in Quakerism, Shakerism, Jewish davening (torso-rocking prayer), the swaying zikr and whirling Sufi dancing, the Eastern Orthodox hesychast, the flowing movements of tai chi, the ecstatic shamanic dance, the ntum trance dance of the African Bushman, and Tibetan Buddhist tummo heat.
The Bible makes references to “the solar principle in man,” and similar references come in works as varied as Plato and other Greek philosophers, alchemical tracts (perhaps even being, in fact, the philosopher’s stone itself), as well as Hermetic, Kabbalistic, Rosicrucian, and Masonic writings.
Naturally, this sense of attainment and cosmic awareness is something that we all seek – perhaps it could be said to be the most universal desire of all humanity. But the famed theosophical writer, Geoffrey Hodson warns that this gift is not to be trifled with, nor is seeking it a journey without peril. More about this next week!