Sustenance: Life Force

There is an ancient fragment of pre-Christian Irish poetry called the Cauldron of Poesy which I have spent many hours over many years studying. Like most things we call wisdom literature, it continues to speak to us today, if we listen.

The Cauldron of Poesy is really a way of looking at the human being.  It teaches that every human being has three energy centers which it calls “cauldrons”.  The first is the Cauldron of Warming found in the lowest art of the abdomen, below the navel.  As long as the human breathes, it is upright, and burning with the life force that sustains the body.  The second and third energy centers are a little less obvious and a little more inviting to consider, although that first one is what makes everything else run!

The second is the Cauldron of Movement found in the center of the Chest near the heart. The third is in the top of the head, called the Cauldron of Wisdom.  The Cauldron of Poesy says that when a human being is born both of these are upside down and inactive. As the the human being grows and lives, however,  the experiences of sorrow and joy begin to awaken these cauldrons, turn them over and cause them to begin to spin and generate energy of their own.  The cauldron of Wisdom, in our heads, connects with the Wisdom of the Universe, of the gods, of all that is and brings it into our awareness for our use.  The Cauldron of Movement draws the Life Force of the Cauldron of Warming and the Wisdom of the Cauldron of Wisdom together into our hearts and empowers us to live, love and make our way or our vocation in the world.  It is sometimes translated as the Cauldron of Vocation.

My Cauldrons meditation is to sit and become aware of the Life Force that resides deep down inside of me in my Cauldron of Warming and to give thanks for it.  As long as it bubbles and boils, I live!  And then, I consider the sorrows and joys that have tuned me to wisdom, that have tuned me to life and love.  And, I give thanks.  I ponder my current sorrows and joys and and begin to imagine how they are fueling the work of the life forces that sustain me now and into the future.  And, I give thanks.

Bob Patrick

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3 Responses to Sustenance: Life Force

  1. Lydia says:

    Very inspiring!

  2. Roy Reynolds says:

    Bob, Thanks for this description of these three centers. They have many different names, because I think they are recognized as primal centers in us humans in wisdom traditions around the world. For example, the Wisdom of Warming is also the “Hara” or “Tantien” in Japanese/Chinese spiritual traditions. In recent inter-spiritual dialogues of late, these three cauldrons are being referred to as (from the lower to the higher): “the belly,” “the heart,” and “the mind.” I am finding these referenced in several sources. Rudolf Steiner spoke of them (following this same order, but as activities) as “Willing,” “Feeling,” and “Thinking.” I have noticed that several current spiritual practices point to this commonality of the three centers. Thanks so much for giving us a Celtic version of that wisdom.

    Roy Reynolds

    • Bob Patrick says:

      In full agreement, Roy. It delights me to see this kind of internal wisdom showing up in multiplicities through so many different cultural lenses. I first encountered them through Eastern traditions, but it was especially gratifying to me to discover this source from Irish/Celtic tradition of which I am a son. When something shows up so often in such varied ways I come to see it as the work of Spirit making its way through all the filters. Even that Spirit comes in so many names. In joy, Bob

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