Before I begin, it will be important to define the terms of both magick and embodiment. From my studies of yoga, tantra, magick (/ other esoteric philosophies and arts), my de-mystified definition of magick is this: the willful direction of energies with the intention of changing reality.
This is not "hocus pocus". Admittedly, ritual often is highly creative, right-brained, meaning not limited to the logical mind. Ritual is art. For the person designing rituals, it does not necessarily need to make sense. We grow up in a society based on left-brain thinking. To a certain extent when you hear people talking about Patriarchy these days, part of that discussion on an underlying level is that we are too left-brained, too logical, not addressing other intelligences that exist (including emotional intelligence which we only have recent language for). Yoga often does not speak of or address magick openly, but Tantra does. I am ten years a tantrika, so my opinions and definitions are not based off some recent whim or one book. My explanations and understandings come from over a decade's worth of intersectional research and personal application as I have consciously traversed my spiritual path. Magick can include artistic ritual but it doesn't have to.
Magick could simply be setting intentions. (read "setting a goal") and regardless of couped ritual or not, taking actions (as mundane as making a phone call) to achieve set goal. Another de-mystified example could be this: you want to lose weight so you decide to modify your eating habits and work out to lose 5 pounds before the end of the year. "Well, anything could me magick then!", you might say and I would reply "Yes, all actions are works of magick." It's about bringing ideas into physical form.
I explain magick only as far as I must in this post so you understand the title of "the magick of embodiment". Let's move on to the next definition.
Many things could be embodiment. Very simply we could say that when we laugh, we are embodying an emotion that results in what we call joy or happiness. We could say, that any movement art practice is working on a form of embodiment. This I would agree with. Deliberate movement of the body is definitely part of what I am calling "embodiment". However, I would like to extend the definition to this. Embodiment is manifesting that which inspires you into your physical form through movement.
This captures the spirit of the word and the concept better in terms of what I am expressing in this post. If you are inspired to "be strong" (like an athlete or warrior), you may be attracted to weight-lifting, therefore develop an embodiment practice of weight-lifting exercises to achieve a body that reminds you of the idea of "strength". You may even find that a particular exercise exemplifies your perceived version of "strength" and by doing that exercise it starts to define an aspect of you. Literally, through building definition within your muscle structure, you reflect to the outside world a collective symbolic agreement of "strength". You have embodied this characteristic. You have brought an idea into form and changed reality; your reality and also the perceptual reality of those around you.
Now adornment can work the same way and so fashion or style are also magickal (reality changing) workings. I think we have all seen this work throughout our lives by our own initiation or people we saw who have changed their "look". Someone morphs from a preppy "goody two shoes" to a "goth" kid. Although adornment works toward your intention of expressing an idea into the world (look at the colors chosen by political parties or sports team fans), it is a lesser step of bringing idea into form. Let's use sports as an example, as it is currently football season as I write this. You can wear a jersey for your favorite team and people will understand that you are a fan of that team. Not all people will want to look like an athlete or football player but if you wanted to actually embody the spirit of a football player, you would need to possibly work out more and bulk up to make people feel as if you carry the football player "spirit".
Ideas we could say are part of the imaginal realm. You might even consider them then part of the spirit realm. They are in an unseen dimension of a collectively understood (yet rarely discussed) reality. Think about the word inspiration which is derived of inspire, and inspire is derived of the word spirit. So it is not a far stretch then to say that embodiment is about bringing a spiritual quality or essence into your "being" to evoke a certain perceptual response in yourself and others.
Embodiment takes more energy than simply dressing up because it requires more physicality and movement. Yes, it takes movement to put on a shirt but I am talking about exercise, a pose, a dance, a breathing exercise... It is stronger because it requires more sacrifice. I understand that adornment can take HOURS (i.e. for cosplayers or the correct hair and makeup and picking out of the most appropriate fashion for any look) but embodiment requires the sacrifice of sweat. It excites the cells and neurons more. It might tear muscles or overwhelm you with oxygen. If a consistent practice of adornment was measured against a consistent practice of embodiment, I believe the embodiment will always win. "But what about beauty?", you say. Beauty doesn't require makeup, hairspray, or sequins (although it can certainly help). Though to give some credit to beauty fanatics, adornment can often be a nice and actually very strong addition to physical embodiment.
Now let me share what I am particularly giddy about. Although I started a nonprofit twelve years ago, it has only been within the last year that I have realized how magickal embodiment is and therefore how it could bring awareness to campaigns while being part of my spiritual practice. I call this and now teach "spiritual/ soul-based artivism". For example, I am part of a campaign to reintroduce the majestic and iconic Scarlett Macaw back to a peninsula in Costa Rica where they had gone extinct. I have taken some known yoga postures (aka "asanas") and modified them slightly to express more of the spirit of the bird. I wanted to embody the idea of wings. Thus the first asana is "Spread Your Wings", while the bottom picture and asana is meant to evoke a sense of a bird in flight. Have I nailed it? Well, that could be argued. If I had another photoshoot I would modify these asanas t slightly but practices are always... practice. We refine and crystallize ideas over time. You may notice that I am also using adornment with my hair color, scarlet macaw yoga pants and matching sports bra. This is a piece of artivism after all.
I could have made these artivist inspired photos more dance-based bursts but I chose to use yoga asana because long holds are challenging. They require strength and deep breathing, two qualities necessary for the campaign as it is a minimum of a 10 year dedication for those of us closely working on the project.
I wanted to make this asana artivism to give supporters of the campaign another way to support. If they wanted, they could add to the collective energetic (magickal) working of the campaign or just have a new idea to experiment with for their own asana practice. It was also meant to inspire yogis or other movement artists. To show them how they could take their movement art further into the realm of art or art activism (artivism). This could be applied to those who focus on adornment as well. I spoke about this some in my Medium article "F Selfies, Embody Art".
IF this post has inspired you in any way and you would like to talk about it or share it with others, I ask three things. 1) That you please credit me as this has been a work of personal inspiration. You can simply say that you have been inspired by the yogini/tantrika/artivist, JIVANA. By giving credit to me, you give credit to Spirit which inspired this knowledge through me. 2) You check out the campaign 3) If you want to use this picture that you credit myself, my photographer, and my digital artist. Credits are below the photos.
And now I give you directions for the Scarlet Macaw Reintroduction Artivist Campaign Asanas.
"REINTRODUCE THE SCARLET MACAW" EMBODIMENT MOVES
Both asanas below will be started in a standing position. You can start sitting down and making your way up, or simply by standing up to start. If you choose to sit, then I encourage you to "play" and discover your way up to standing with intentional movement linked to your breath. Some of you will have ideas based on previous yoga classes where you might come onto your hands and knees, push yourself into downward dog, and either step or hop to standing or do a vinyasa routine first before coming to the front of the mat. If you have no idea what I am talking about that's okay, play.
You will always want to do exercises on both sides of the body so you stay balanced.
ASANA 1: SOARING MACAW - (This is a modification of what is often called "High Lunge").
1) Come to a standing position.
2) Lift your arms straight above your head.
3) Step back with one foot. For now, we will start by taking a large step back with the left foot.
4) Lunge into the front leg while pressing back with the heel. Your right leg will be in lunge and the front of your body will be facing forward so sqaure your hip bones and your shoulders to the front of the mat. Look down to make sure you can see your foot to ensure that your knee is stacked in a 90 degree angle to your foot or your knee is just slightly pulled closer to you. If the knee is over the foot (meaning you look down and can't see your foot) then you will be putting too much pressure on the knee. You may be on the ball of your back foot. That is good, stay there.
4) Bring your arms back straight behind your bum.
5) Open your heart. Roll the shoulders back and squeeze the shoulder blades slightly.
6) Soar with your heart. Lead with the heart to lift up and out of your lower back.
7) Come to the ball of your front food (if you feel stable).
To come out, reverse the directions. I'll be making a video in the future about how to go deeper into this pose, get more stretch, and options to get in and out of it.
ASANA 2: SPREAD YOUR WINGS (Modification of the asana "Proud Warrior")
1) Come to standing position.
2) Lift your arms straight above the head and step back with one foot. For now, we will start by taking a large step back with the left foot.
3) Lunge into the front leg while pressing back with the heel. Your right leg will be in lunge and the front of your body will be facing forward so sqaure your hip bones and your shoulders to the front of the mat. Look down to make sure you can see your foot to ensure that your knee is stacked in a 90 degree angle to your foot or your knee is just slightly pulled closer to you. If the knee is over the foot (meaning you look down and can't see your foot) then you will be putting too much pressure on the knee. You may be on the ball of your back foot. (Yoga sometimes calls this "high lunge").
4) Turn the back foot to a 45 degree angle. So turn the left foot heel to a slight diagnol. This will open your hip. (Yoga sometimes call this "Warrior I")
5) Move your arms from straight above the head to a "T" position. The arms will be be in a seeming straightline with your shoulders. Palms face the floor. Roll the shoulders back. Keep your tailbone tucked by engaging the low abs and inner thighs and bringing the knee in an outward direction away from the midline of your body. Lift up with your heart.
6) Reach forward with the front arm.
7) Reach again, dip down slightly and then reach up with your front arm and arch back as you look at top hand.
8) Lift your back arm off of the back thigh.
9) Spread your fingers and breathe.
To come out, reverse the directions. I'll be making a video in the future about how to go deeper into this pose, get more stretch, and options to get in and out of it as well as the addition of "mudra".
NAMASTE (The Divine Light in Me Sees and Recognizes the Divine Light in You)
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