Invoking by the Seventh Gate
The Gates of the Elements
The Practice of Druid Magic
This is the final invocation of the Sphere of Protection, done after you invoke and banish by air, fire, water, and earth, and invoke Spirit Above and Below. Spirit Within, in the Druid tradition, represents the presence of life and spirit within everything in the world, including you and me. Where some religions see human beings as something set apart from the rest of the world and equally far from the divine, Druidry recognizes that human beings are part of one great reality, along with stones, trees, gods, and everything else there is. For this reason, the symbol of Spirit Within is nothing other than yourself.
To invoke Spirit Within, remain facing the same direction you faced during the Elemental Cross, and be aware of the six powers you have already invoked—air in the east, fire in the south, water in the west, earth in the north, Spirit Below in the land beneath you and Spirit Above in the heavens above. See yourself in the midst of these six powers, in the place of perfect balance among them. Then say words like the following: “By the six powers here invoked and here present, and in the grand word Awen, I invoke Spirit Within. May the universe within me and the universe around me be in harmony.”
The word Awen is not the name of a god. Rather, it is the great keyword of the Druid Revival, an archaic Welsh word meaning “spirit of inspiration.” Through Awen the worlds came into existence at the beginning of time; through Awen poets, artists, and all other creative people receive their talents; through Awen, magic becomes the art of participation in the great powers of the cosmos. In Druidry it is pronounced in three parts, drawn out like “Aaaaa-ooooo-ennnnn.” The first part, the sound of the Ogham few Ailm, stands for the sky and the solar current; the second, the sound of Ur, stands for the Earth and the telluric current; the third, the sound of Nuin, stands for the individual human being as the connecting link between them.
When you finish the invocation, pause for a time, and concentrate on Spirit Within. Be aware of yourself exactly as you are, and strive to see every aspect of yourself as a vessel of infinite powers. Imagine yourself filled with the pure white light of Spirit Within, and feel yourself in harmony with the whole cosmos. Take as much time as seems appropriate for this visualization. Then say “I thank Spirit Within for its gifts.” At this point, focus on the center of energies at your heart, and proceed at once to the Circulation of Light.
Once you have learned to invoke by all the Seven Gates and banish by the Gates of the elements, you have learned the entire Sphere of Protection ritual. Plan on practicing it once each day for as long as you follow the path of Druid magic. You can also work with the realm of Spirit Within by using the following methods.
Trees and other green growing things form one of the classic Druid emblems of Spirit Within. The reasons are complex, touching on the deep reaches of magical philosophy and practice, but one explanation deserves discussion here. Human beings and trees exchange energy easily and benefit each other in the process. Just as trees thrive on carbon dioxide, which human beings breathe out as a waste product, and produce oxygen that human beings need to survive, so the energy given off by many trees heals humans, while energy from humans nurtures trees. The same is true of other plants, and indeed many other things in the natural world, and an entire system of Druid natural medicine unfolds from the same principle.
Start the exercise by selecting a tree. Some varieties are considered more beneficial to human beings than others: pine, fir, and cedar are held to be best, with oak, beech, and apple not far behind. Elm is traditionally avoided, as its energies are unhealthy for human beings.
You'll need to ask the tree's permission before exchanging energy with it. Like other nonhuman creatures, trees don't understand human language, but they do understand our emotional patterns—often better than we do. Stand before the tree, and ask it silently if it's willing to share its nwyfre with you. Feel for the answer and behave accordingly.
If the tree gives permission, approach it, and come in contact with it. There are two traditional ways to do this. The first focuses the healing effects on your nervous system. To do this, stand or sit with your back pressed against the trunk. You can amplify the effect by putting your left hand on the small of your back with the palm turned out, touching the tree, and your right hand on your belly just below the navel, palm in.
The second focuses the healing effects on the organs of your chest and abdomen. To do this, face the tree with your feet a few inches away from the base of the trunk, then lean the front of your body and your forehead against the tree. You can heighten the effect by placing your hands at forehead level, forming an upward-pointing triangle with your thumbs and index fingers, spreading the other fingers comfortably. Let your forehead rest in the center of the triangle. Your arms bend around the trunk, as though embracing the tree with your elbows.
In either posture, relax your body as much as possible, and feel the tree as a living presence. An attitude of openness, friendship, and affection will yield the best results here. Ten or fifteen minutes of quiet presence next to a large, healthy tree will leave your own nwyfre cleansed and energized, and will do much the same thing for the tree.
As with Spirit Above and Below, the active working for Spirit Within belongs to a more advanced level of magical work and is discussed later in this book.