From the Desk of Gryphon M.
In the course of human (or non-human, for that matter) events, not one single great accomplishment has been achieved alone. No invention, heroic act, inspiration, work of fiction or non-fiction, etc. has every been the work of just on person. There are always assistants, helpers, people who motivate or challenge, teachers, even students. Einstein had Nathan Rosen, Edison had Nikola Tesla, Madame Curie was tirelessly assisted by her husband, Pierre (who initially took all the credit), even Lord Byron had Polidori.
Recently, I had the good fortune of attending several of the Baroque Professional Institute's summer music programs at Oberlin College. Good music, even better company (wink), and just a downright enjoyable experience. If you happen to live close enough, I highly recommend you take the time. Admission is only $10.00. Unfortunately, the series only lasts a short time.
When speaking of how we perceive the intangible energies of the metaphysical, we tend to fall back and use the word "see". Now I realize there are those who do "see" in what they can only describe as a physically visual spectrum when describing such things. However, I do not think I am overstepping any consensus when I say that for the majority for us we do not "see" in the same manner as I see my laptop computer sitting in front of me right now.
In these cases "see" is merely an easy descriptor for how we perceive the spiritual, metaphysical, subtle, etc. It is why I choose to use the term "perceive" or "experience" and not "see". I feel that "perceive" gives a more adequate explanation of the experience. It does not narrow it down to one sense, but instead provides the notion of it being a synergy of senses (some beyond the standard 5).
Throughout my metaphysical journey I have heard people describe all manner of sensations when describing their experiences. For some it is a sound, for others it is tactile levels of hot, cold, or vibration. One of the more interesting examples was a woman that I knew who would experience smells and tastes. These scents and flavors would translate for her into emotions and remind her of experiences in her own life. This particular individual was blind and had been so from birth. Her sense of smell and taste were very keen.
Personally, I describe my experience by saying that "it is like I am seeing with a different pair of eyes". Well, what the heck does that mean? When I look at a person or thing that I am about ready to sketch their/its energetic nature, I of course see the person or thing sitting there with my eyes. I do not see lights of colors or auras or shapes superimposed over them of running through them. I see the person, but on another, completely separate level, perhaps through the mind/spirits eye, I perceive another image in a completely different part of my consciousness.
All of the shapes and lines, and colors, and forms have meaning. The image tells a story and the closer you look at the individual bits the more detailed the story gets. I liken the whole image together as a rune or glyph. To draw it has power. To speak its pronunciation has power, to understand its deep meaning has power. We are, each of us, a combination of archetypal energies and for me, they are expressed in this fashion.
I then do my best to translate them onto the two dimensional realm of art on paper. Some subjects have utterly surprised me. Unfortunately, being human, I am prone to occasionally judging a book by its cover. Its always a lesson to me when I find my preconceived notions are completely wrong. Just this past May I drew a young woman whose person I had completely misread. To me, her expression and body language appeared arrogant and assuming. Once she asked me for a sketch and I looked inside, I found pain, and joy, and discovery, and worry, and a hundred other beautiful things. How wrong had I been... and how glad I was to be corrected.
I try to capture as much of the motion and nuance as I can, but some gets lost in the medium. I am told I do a very good job in this translation process... but I know I could do better with different tools. And this is why I now have a Kickstarter. I want to bring my game to the next level. I want to create art that has as much as a three dimensional depth as possible. I want to merge the artistic with the diagnostic.
So, tell me, how do you perceive the spiritual, the subtle, the metaphysical energies that surround and comprise all things? Leave a comment and let me know.
The term itself, while drastically redefined again and again, most likely comes from the Vedic Three Bodies Doctrine (Vedanta) which describes a layer of being much less substantial than the flesh as Suksma (subtle, unmanifest) Sarira (body). Over the years it has risen from time to time in Western literature from the middle of the 1600's to modern day. The term became widely popular among the spiritualist movement of the 1800's from which we take our nebulous usage throughout the New Age movement of the 1980's to the 2000's.
The Subtle Body has been pigeon holed by nearly as many authors and practitioners as there are pigeons. Unfortunately, being a non-physical energy not yet quantified by science (and perhaps never so), trying to hammer this other-worldly shaped peg into an earthly shaped hole just does not seem to work well. And this is why I keep saying we will "sort of" and "maybe" define it.
As a side note I would like to share a little experiment I was witness to; At a previous House Kheperu Gather, Michelle Belanger and my friend Ges (as well as several others) decided to test the effect of subtle energy using an electronic true random number device. The device generates a stream of random numbers between two set parameters. The calculated mean should remain a relatively flat line on a graph. The idea is that if something is influencing reality in the vicinity of the device, the flat graphed line will show uncharacteristic peaks and/or valleys. While Ges was out of the room, Michelle set down energy lines. Ges was then invited back in to see if he could find them using the device. In short, he did. Is this proof of what is going on? No. Is it a reasonable show that something is going on? Yes.
Being a member of House Kheperu, I fully embrace that whole "Seek Your Own Truth" thingy. My definitions based on my experience work for me... and I am always willing to allow both those definitions and experiences to be fluid because as Kenny Chesney says, "Reality ain't all it's cracked up to be". Honestly, it a good thing to embrace in any event. Allowing for multiple realities to be correct keeps us from falling into the I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong trap.
Uncle Al (Aleister Crowley) called the Subtle Body the "Body of Light". This offers connotations of glowing insubstantial energies and perhaps that is exactly how he perceived it. The system of Chakras which can number from 3 to several thousand (though the commonly accepted number is 7) describes centers or nodes of vital energy and the lines of spiritual energy that connect them. The vastly higglety-pigglety body of knowledge surrounding the term "Aura" is so diverse that I wont even try to give it an explanation. It is enough to say that one could spend a lifetime garnering sources of study on this topic and never have enough time to get to them all.
So, when I use terms like "Subtle Body" and "Subtle Energy", I am talking about many things all combined... thought, emotion, personal history, psychology, spiritual existence, Higher Self, ancestry, past lives, future lives, etc. It's all a tapestry woven together of many colors and different threads and multiple patterns. Every shape, color, pattern, and texture has meaning. What you "see" and experience may not be what I "see" and experience because our realities are not the same. Hopefully, our realities share enough in common that we can agree on common interpretations.
I look at it like a combination of diagnostic tools all rolled into one... a holistic approach, if you will. In comparison to the medical field, why only use an MRI to diagnose an issue. Why not a CT and an X-Ray and a blood screening and an Ultrasound and whatever else you have at your disposal as well. Take a look at the whole as well as the individual parts from as many angles as you can.
To me, Subtle Bodies and the Subtle Energies that they and all things are composed of are like complex sigils that when interpreted, tell the story of the whole being or thing. I see and interpret these sigils and then I create art. Over the years both my skill at interpreting these sigils and transcribing them into art have grown. My understanding of the complex symbol set I experience has become more detailed.
I have created dozens of works of art based on what I see. I call them Subtle Body Portraits. To date they have been rendered as two dimensional images on paper using various types of colored ink. The limited capacity of two dimensions does not do justice of a system that exists beyond three. This has led me to the desire to take my art into the digital world. Therefore I have started the Subtle Body Project Kickstarter (see the link at the top).
I could go on and on about the history, cultural usage, ritual practices, amusing anecdotes, etc. that surround this topic. In fact, eventually, I will scrape all of these blog entries together and combine them with other essays I have written, collaborate with some other very talented artists and writers and perhaps produce a book. I'll keep you posted.
NEXT ENTRY: Just how does a Gryphon see the Subtle Body
(in which I share an amusing story about Michelle Balenger)
If you do not get the above reference to Babylon 5, shame on you! Go educate yourself and know the wonder of truly good Science Fiction.
In any event, welcome to the Subtle Body Project blog.
Here I will share the experiences, stories, insights, knowledge, mistakes, etc. I have made along my journey. What journey, you ask? Specifically, along the path to greater understanding of the subtle body, subtle energy, art, and my own inner tides that interpret these things.
Sounds pretty lofty, no? I assure you that with each hard won nugget of "greater understanding" come three more questions to answer, three more mysteries to unravel, and three more quotes that contain a series of three witty statements... In short, if you think you have learned it all, start over, because you are wrong.
NEXT ENTRY: Lets define the Subtle Body (sort of)