The terms Od and Odic Force entered the language of those natural scientists who were examining the electro-magnetic energy fields of the human body in the 19th Century. Named for the Norse god Odhinn, this force was first discussed by Baron Carl von Reichenbach in 1845 as a kind of life force or vital energy and perhaps regarded as the Western scientific approach to those eastern concepts such as prana and qi. Unlike prana or qi, however, this energy was not intrinsically connected to the breath. That being said, Rechenbach believed that this force could be emanated at will from the mouth, as well as the hands.
Both eastern and western systems agree in recognising a main current of magnetic force corresponding to the central line of the body. Qabalists call it the Middle Pillar. (Fortune and Knight, 1998)
Body of Light
In discussing the Middle Pillar technique of the Golden Dawn, we offered some brief look at this neglected area of occult study. What was once thought to be a new science has been relegated to pseudo-science and quackery, while the value of the studies in these fields has been tossed out with the bathwater.
Indeed, to those occultists of the mid-twentieth century, working with the ‘etheric double’, ‘subtle body’, ‘astral body’ or ‘body of light’ was an essential part of the training. Dion Fortune wrote a good deal on the subject, whilst Crowley dedicates a part of his magnum opus to the topic, stating emphatically that “The first thing to do, therefore, is to get the body outside your own.” (Crowley, 1998)
While the notion of developing the Body of Light, or Astral, occupied the 20th Century occultists, folk custom had its own long tradition of such works. As the post Theosophist, post Golden Dawn magicians emphasised their work with reference to the eastern methods coming in from the Orient, old pockets of Britain retained some folk tradition relating to the same. For example, both Crowley and Fortune make mention of the Astral Body’s ability to perceive the Astral realms and advise developing the Body sufficiently to ‘see’ with Astral eyes. Meanwhile, folklore makes reference to the ‘sight’ and seership, the ability to perceive fairy and elf beings, as well as the ancestors.
The mystery you speak of is that of the Broom. It is the basic magical and mystical practice, and corresponds to the exercise of the qabbalistic middle pillar.(Cochrane and Jones, 2002)
In this quote, we find yet another snippet of support for the basis of Cochrane’s group utilising a technique of ‘energy’ work, combining meditation, breath and visualisation to charge the individual. Cochrane makes frequent comparison in numerous sections of letters where he talks of this together with Kundalini and the method of “approaching the altar”(Cochrane and Jones, 2002). In describing the technique of the Broom, Cochrane goes on to inform Norman Gills that the key is the transmuting of the sexual impulse “into the higher grade energy sensation, feeling and thought”(Cochrane and Jones, 2002). It is pertinent that Cochrane regularly uses the same way of explaining this to his correspondents, that of how a cow looks over its shoulder to regard an approaching person, seemingly borrowed from letters attributed to the Old Man of Westmoreland. According to Cochrane, this bovine clairvoyance appears to be due to the alignment of the seven along the spinal column in order to divine, presumably working with its Astral Body.
In one letter to Norman Gills, Cochrane goes on to reference the Broom and approaching the altar, giving instructions that a keen eye will observe some interesting correlation. In his book Qabalistic Concepts, the magician and friend of Cochrane, Bill Gray refers to a Qabalistic technique of visualising energy moving in a zig-zag pattern through the body and corresponding to each of the sephiroth of the Tree of Life. This technique is known as the Flaming Sword, or Lightening Flash, and Cochrane goes on in his letter to give a close approximation of this technique, which is represented in a version below. It is interesting to note that Cochrane then takes the energy moved down the body, in a spiral rather than a zig-zag or lightening strike, and raises it to the perineum which corresponds to the Broom and broomstick riding and the seat of Kundalini (Cochrane and Jones, 2002). It is also worthy of remar that Cochrane and his team regularly make mention of a technique they call the Sword and Broom, signified by the symbol of the crossed sword and broomstick indicating an entrance across the threshold of the compass round. As Bill Gray notes, the successor to the Flaming Sword is the Serpent Path “where the creature is shown crossing every Path in sequence on its upward journey”(Gray, 1997). That Cochrane was familiar with at least the basis and concept of the technique can be identified by his remarks in letters to Bill Gray where he discusses Dion Fortune’s Mystical Qabalah, a book in which she specifically discusses the Flaming Sword.
Now it seemed reasonable to earlier thinkers that if Lucifer had been hurled out of Heaven like a lightening flash… it was only justice if he showed us the way back eventually. In his serpent form, he appeared to be doing just that. (Gray, 1997)That Bill Gray, in his later works, goes on to identify a Luciferian element as the descening light and ascending serpent, is testament to his work with the Clan of Tubal Cain and Cochrane. It is unsurprising to those students of these works to see the fallen angel identified thus, and indicating the magical practice whereby we may charge the Astral form.
We know that Cochrane mentioned the Middle Pillar, and was familiar with Dion Fortune’s Mystical Qabalah which mentions the descending light through the Tree of Life as the Flaming Sword, or Lightening Flash. Being a development of the Qabalist works of the Golden Dawn, it is a meditational device that has palpable application. That Cochrane would have known it, either through his own keen study, or from Bill Gray, it would apear that it may, in some part, influence his Sword and Broom.
Oh Aspirant. Let this be a sign unto thee. For the Flaming Sword and the Serpent of Wisdom shall be the symbol which shall procure thee admission. (Regardie, 1986)
Within Qabalistic Concepts, Bill Gray leaves a further tantalising hint, this time with regards the Leaf Mask Prayer. When discussing techniques of using the Tree of Life superimposed over the body, Gray suggests that it may be patterned upon the face. Kether, he says, is the centre top of the forehead, left and right eye Chokmah and Binah respectively, left ear and right ear Chesed and Geburah, Tiphareth beneath the nostrils, Netzach and Hod at the left lower cheek and the right, Yesod the lips and Malkuth the Chin. Comparing this to the Leaf Mask Prayer is quite insightful.
The Flaming Sword follows the path of the divine energy or light through the creation, causing each emanation or sephiroth upon the way. Thus, it moves in a zig-zag pattern as it progresses through the needful journey, starting at Kether, Chokmah, Binah, Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malkuth. This force might be regarded as the Od, that force of the All Father in his aspect as descending ight bringer, and ascending serpent.
The (Flaming) Sword
- Envisage a star above your head, brilliant and shining, expanding and growing. Take the time to visualise this bright light. Observe whether you are growing nearer to it or if it is expanding and reaching you.
- From this star, light appears to be falling like a shower of sparks which cluster to the left hand side of your head, gathering as a ball of light.
- This light passes through the head and collects at the right hand side.
- Moving in a spiral motion, this force enters the right shoulder where it meets the neck and forms a ball of light that fills the left shoulder.
- From there, the light moves across in a brilliant indelible path to the right shoulder.
- The path of light continues until it reaches the area of the solar plexus where it expands into a ball of light which incorporates the heart.
- Travelling across the body, it collects at the right hip.
- Moving to the area just above the genitals, the light settles and draws itself to a sphere before…
- …the light force travels a perfect path to the perineum, where it terminates in a ball of brilliant light like the one above your head.
- Keep the visualised image of the path and the spheres in focus as the sensation of the Flaming Sword and the descend of the light surges through you.
The Broom or Serpent
- The energy moves spiralling downward until it exits the left foot in a clockwise motion before forming a pool of light.
- Meditate upon this fluid light, pooling about your feet as the Well of Wisdom. Take as long as it takes and then, when inspiration hits, feel the force move directly up the right foot, spiralling anti-clockwise to the large star gathered at the perimeum.
- Focus your will upon this energy centre, willing it to rise and waiting for the serpent to awake and ascend.
Cochrane, R. and Jones, E. J. (2002) The Robert Cochrane Letters: An Insight into Modern Traditional Witchcraft. 1st edn. Edited by M. Howard. Capall Bann Publishing.
Crowley, A. (1998) Magick: Liber ABA Bk. 4. 2nd Revise. Samuel Weiser, Inc.
Fortune, D. and Knight, G. (1998) The Circuit of Force. Thoth Publications.
Gray, W. G. (1997) Qabalistic Concepts: Living the Tree. Red Wheel/Weiser.
Regardie, I. (1986) The Golden Dawn. Revised. Llewellyn Publications.