The Rhythmic Breath

The Rhythmic Breath is a simple breathing exercise, used as a preliminary to all practical work within the Ogdoadic Tradition. Simply put:

  1. Attempt to count your heartbeats; if this poses a great difficulty for you, as it does for some, simply count in your head. The goal of this practice is relaxation – do not be frustrated if you are unable to hear/feel or keep track of your heartbeat.
  2. Inhale for a count of 6 beats.
  3. Hold the breath for 3 beats.
  4. Exhale for a count of 6 beats.
  5. Hold the breath for 3 beats.
  6. Continue as above: inhale for 6, etc.

6-3-6-3 is the standard, but you may also use 8-4-8-4 – or, if those present difficulty, 4-2-4-2, but the goal should be to move away from this to longer and deeper breaths.

Apparently the simplest of exercises, great care should be taken to master this as it is literally the foundation upon which future work will rest. For example, the instructions for the fundamental techniques of Ogdoadic magick, such as the Calyx, rely on this framework of rhythmic breathing for visualization, gesticulation, and vibration.

As the great systems of the East have long taught, control of the breath goes hand in hand with control of the Mind. For the Ogdoadic student, this takes on special meaning since the “Mind” is in fact the Ruach – the rational self – which is associated with the Pillar of Pneuma (Greek for “breath”), one of the Two Pillars of the Porch of the House of Sacrifice. The other Pillar of the Porch, Sarx (Greek for “body) represents the Nephesh – the emotional-instinctual nature. Together, these two Pillars of Breath and of Body tie in closely with two of the fundamental “limbs of Yoga”: pranayama and asana.

It is very useful while working with the Rhythmic Breath to direct all thoughts on only the flow of the breath in and out of your body. If the mind begins to wander, gently pull its focus back to the breathing. In this way you will slowly be able to still the often constant stirrings of the Ruach and thus render it more susceptible to influences from the Higher Self. To put it another way, the Rhythmic Breath can induce a light trance state, which – when coupled with the Posture – allow for easy transition into the Magical Personality.

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