Trí Coire Fórsa
Three Cauldrons Qigong
When one has drunk the cold cup of the moon’s intoxication, one thirsts for something beyond one’s self, and the mind flows outward to a natural immensity; but if one has drunk from the hot cup of the sun, one’s own fullness awakens, one desires little, for wherever one goes one’s heart goes too...
~ W.B. Yeats
Trí Coire Fórsa
Three Cauldrons Qigong
To become empty is to become full. The overflowing cup is your birthright. The beauty of that birthright is encoded into your blood and bones. You are the Holy Grail. You are the sacred Cauldron of Plenty and the Cauldron of Renewal. While all the trauma and darkness that exists in this world will try its hardest to thwart you from embracing the wholeness and the embodiment of a thriving, radiant, and healthy life, none of it can touch you unless you allow it.
Braid the Celtic knots of your soul into the heart of the Earth. Let the Light of Erin illuminate any darkness and clearly indicate the path ahead. Anchor in deep to the rich earth, the ogham forest, and the endless expanse of the sea. Lyr and Manannán wait at the edge of all things with their magical crystal boat, Sguaba Tuinne ("wave-sweeper"), and their hurds of white foaming horses to convey you off to the training grounds of the immortals in Magh Meall. Erin and the sovereign goddesses of Ireland are pregnant with the true essence of your soul, ready to birth it into the world. And the sídhe are gathering over the mountains, pouring down the ravines and crevices in rushing winds and rains, laughing merrily as they run to the sea and wash the shores of the mind clean and free.
This is an invitation extended from the heart of the Green Diamond, the sanctuary of the immortals that lays just across the veil at the heart of Ireland.
Trí Coire Fórsa agus Trí Thonnta
If we accept the invitation from the Green Diamond (the sanctuary of magical Ireland), then there is a beautiful pathway to cultivating a deeper relationship with the immortal essence of Ireland and the Light of Erin. I have briefly introduced the splendor of the Three Waves of Manannán (Trí Thonnta), also frequently referred to as the Three Waves of Ireland (Trí Thonnta na hEireann), for several years now. So let us go deeper.
The Three Waves are acknowledged in the Irish archives at least back into the 12th century (likely into the ancient oral traditions) and refer directly to several coastal areas of Ireland that are known for large sea swells or super waves.
The first of these waves is Tonn Rudraidhe (pronounced “ton rury”), located geophysically in Dundrum Bay on the coast of County Down (Ulster), in modern day Northern Ireland. This wave is invoked by the great Wonder Smith, Goibniu, of the Tuatha Dé Danann from his home on Slieve Donard to help cool his forge and wash clean the chaos of the world.
The second wave is Tonn Tuaithe (“ton tooha”), in the North Atlantic Sea at the mouth of the Bann River near Derry, also in Ulster. While tuaithe in modern Irish means “rural”, it also contains the same root as the Tuatha, and thus could refer to the heart of the community or tribe. This wave helps to cool Lugh’s heat when he get “the fire in the head”.
The third and final wave is Tonn Clíodhna (“ton clee’eh’nuh”), which is found in Glandore Harbor in the west of County Cork. Clíodhna is an ancient regional goddess that is often referred to as the queen of the sídhe of Munster. She may be a fractal of Áine, or perhaps even be her sister. This wave purifies her temple and home.
The beauty of these three waves is that they are powerful aids in sweeping clear malevolent forces not only from the sanctuary of Ireland, but also from a ritual area and from our personal space. We can observe them symbolically every time a wave washes against the shoreline. And from a practical perspective, according to Ella Young in her Celtic Wonder Tales, each of the waves plays a crucial role in protecting Ireland and sanctuaries for Beauty in general.
The first wave (1), Tonn Rudraidhe, is frequently referred to as the “black wave” or the “red wave”. This wave, coupled with the strength of Lugh and the Spear of Victory, sweeps back the chaos of the world, and corresponds to the dark waters furthest out to sea in. The second wave (2), Tonn Tuaithe, is the “seafoam blue” or green wave. This wave, coupled with the strength of Manannán and the Sword of Light, is connected to the heart and community, and associated with the waters closer to the shore where they take on the colors of the stone and sand. The third wave (3), Tonn Clíodhna, is the “white wave”, or wave of purification. This wave, coupled with the Light of Erin and the Stone of Destiny, is the heart of the sanctuary and innocence – where all of our souls hail from before they are entrained to the hardness and madness of the world. This wave is observed when the waters of the sea crash against the shores becoming the temporary white foam – the mixing of water and air.
Each of these waves is thus part of the power and Deep Beauty of Ireland - and beyond to all shores. Yet there is a further mystery waiting to be unraveled or followed like a Celtic knot: each of the waves also has an inverse reflection or a source place: the coires. In the Irish language, a coire is a type of cauldron. More specifically, a coire is a cauldron carved out of a geological structure by powerful water – specifically a river, stream, or ocean current. Through the research conducted by Caitlin Matthews and many other outstanding Irish academics, one can easily track a deep connection between a coire and a tonn, or between these cauldrons and the great waves. A tonn is the direct result of an ushering forth of life force, or fórsa, from a coire or source, across given space and medium (such as water, air, or solids). Whether we are looking at plate tectonics and tsunamis churning storms and super waves like the Three Waves of Ireland, or robust communal or personal practices – the relationship of a tonn to a coire is directly connected.
As the macrocosm is directly reflected in the microcosm, the three waves or cauldrons can also be associated with the human body and energy centers. Caitlin Matthews and several other Irish scholars have translated a gorgeous poetic treatise, The Cauldron of Poesy, from the 15th century that is attributed as far back as the 7th century AD, and even to Amergin, the Milesian ollamh, during the invasions of Ireland in the Mythological Cycle. Recall that Amergin was the chief druid (ollamh) of the Milesians when they settled Ireland. He met with the three surges of the ancient sovereignty goddess(es), Ériu, Banba, and Fódla, when he was first exploring Ireland. Each of them asked that he name the island after them respectively. In this metaphysical treatise, The Cauldron of Poesy, Amergin describes the mystery of the human body as containing three cauldrons or coires.
The three cauldrons are respectively named Coire Goiriath (Cauldron of Warmth), Coire Ernma (Cauldron of Vocation), and Coire Sois (Cauldron of Knowledge). Through association, the three coires can be connected to the Chinese dantians, of which there are also three. The first, or lower dantian, is the house of jing, and correlates with Coire Goiriath, or the Cauldron of Warmth. The middle dantian, or the house of qi, is synonymous with Coire Ernma, the Cauldron of Vocation. The upper dantian, or the house of shen, directly equates to Coire Sois, or the Cauldron of Knowledge. Similarly, they are also connected to pairings of most of the chakras: the root and sacral chakra (Coire Goiriath), the heart and throat chakra (Coire Ernma), and the third eye and crown chakra (Coire Sois) respectively. The relative positions of the Irish cauldrons or coires within each person determined the overall health of a person as well as the state of their mind and psyche, and thus their ability to send forth energy, or fórsa, as waves, or tonns, of energy into the world around them.
In The Cauldron of Poesy, the bard Amergin shares some of the deeper meaning or alchemy of the relationships between the three coires in the human body. It follows similar principles as the dantians in the Chinese tradition and chakras in the Vedic tradition. Essentially, if the lower chakras and dantians are out of balance, then the upper ones are likely to be out of balance, or not function at all.
According to the ancient Irish wisdom teaching, every person is born with their Cauldron of Warmth (root and sacral) upright, which promotes growth in the body, ability to work/play, and enhances the capability to learn as a child. Like jing in the Chinese tradition, Coire Goiriath harbors the sum total of life force that a human is born with – poitéinseal (potential and power). This is energy can be lost if not channeled, protected, or disciplined. A great example is withholding physical orgasm (release of sexual fluids during intercourse) to maintain the jing for other purposes. According to Chinese tradition, we are born with a finite amount of jing. In the Irish-Celtic tradition, poitéinseal is also something that can be lost or become atrophied if not channeled appropriately. Poitéinseal is finite. Once it is lost, it is gone and almost impossible to reclaim it without stealing it from another being.
The Cauldron of Vocation (heart and throat/voice) can only be properly filled and oriented after each person has done the necessary work of turning it from its original position on its side. This is done through discipline and practice – creating the ability to sustain higher thought and conduct life in a strategic fashion that is life affirming. Further, in unenlightened or corrupted people, Coire Ernma is completely upside down. It is turned on its side in people who practice the divine arts (bards, poets, priests/priestess, bards, etc). For the skilled and illuminated, this coire is completely upright and therefore contains an abundance of the elixir of life (fórsa) and the Light of Erin. The position of the Cauldron of Vocation (upside down, sideways, or upright) determines a person’s level of skill and ability to navigate the world on all levels. The Cauldron of Vocation does not yield proficiency until it is turned upright (or sideways for those rising from trauma) through Deep Sorrow and Deep Beauty, or the ímbas of ecstasy – the keys to the Summerlands. Proper orientation of the Cauldron of Vocation is only gained through skillful turning, wise contemplation, transmission from the sídhe, or a pilgrimage of great discipline.
The Cauldron of Knowledge (third eye and crown) is originally upside down in all people, and it distributes the first gifts and aptitudes of art through the downward pouring gifts of the divine. When these gifts are received and not squandered, a person is naturally oriented to life affirming decisions. Coire Sois, house of shen, spirit, or the immortal sídhe, can only be turned upright if first the Cauldron of Vocation is turned upright. The keys to the Summerlands, Deep Sorrow or Deep Beauty, catalyze the ability of a person to transform and alter their trajectory in life.
According to the Irish-Celtic tradition encapsulated by Amergin, there are four forms of Deep Sorrow that occur within a person: longing, grief, jealousy, and questing for God (the gods). The causes of each of these Sorrows are found in the world via human attachment to outcomes and expectations. Furthermore, there are two forms of ecstasy that also catalyze the turning of the Cauldrons into an upright position: divine ecstasy and human ecstasy. Human joy or ecstasy has four forms that include union of marriage, quality of good health, joy of graduation after long study in the (divine) arts, and joy in the experience of ímbas granted by the nine hazels of wisdom of Nectain’s Well.
Nectain’s Well is overflowing in its excellence against mundane streams along the Boyne with the relentless determination like a wild boar in valor, or like a racehorse in the sun’s splendor at the Solstice during the most perfect year of its endeavors.
However, human joy and ecstasy is frequently subject to disappointment, and loss of human joy can also be a key or trigger for Deep Sorrow. Only ímbas granted by the divine through the nine hazels of wisdom bestow a soul-level turning of this coire of the heart and voice.
When the Cauldron of Knowledge is turned by divine ecstasy, rather than by human joy and ecstasy alone, its special grace is a gift that transforms a person, who thus becomes both sacred and knowledgeable. Their works can include miracles, prophecies, judgements, and precedents. It is these people whom establish the wisdom that guides the knowledge of the mysteries, regulates the forms of our speech, encourage right action, and help guide us along the Deep Beauty Way, back and forth between the Summerlands and our world. Though this knowledge comes from within a person, its true power is sourced in God (the gods).
While we may have a rich understanding of the core teachings behind the three coires and the three tonns (waves) that ripple out from the coires, the Irish-Celtic discipline of cultivating a healthy turning of these cauldrons to maximize the flow of energy, qi, or fórsa, has been scattered across the archives of time. Most likely this was due to the destruction of the Gaelic gentry during the Cromwell years (1649–1653). The Gaelic chiefs would have been the patrons capable of supporting the ollamhs and bards who sustained the ancient mystery traditions through the Christian era. Yet, Amergin goes further in his treatise in The Cauldron of Poesy to illustrate that the root of divine union and the arts is found in the soul since the body is brought to life by the soul. This root can also be remembered through the body via awakening of imaginal cells, epigenetics due to training/environmental conditioning, as well as genetic memory. Thus, through the soul embodied and via genetic memory, the abilities of our ancestors are transferred forward to us. The root source of divine union and the arts is thus sourced within a person’s body in relationship with the soul housed therein. In other words, we remember.
Awakening imaginal cells or evolution through epigenic changes can be stimulated through journeying, pilgrimage, austerities, Deep Sorrow, Deep Beauty, community, training, and so much more. All of which our ancestor Amergin touched into in the treatise of the Three Cauldrons, or The Cauldron of Poesy. Awakening ancestral memories can also occur via translations. Specifically, translations of ancient mother languages like Gaelic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, and many more. Seeds reveal themselves in the root of the languages themselves that grant a deeper understanding of the intrinsic meaning behind and within a word. But this only feeds the mind. Translation can also occur when gaining perspective by immersing oneself in other cultures and spiritual traditions. Further, respectfully participating in other cultural ceremonies, customs, and religious practices can also “unlock” genetic memory helping connect the dots between vision and practice.
Qigong is the heart of the Daoist practice of dissolving into the universe. Qigong is the discipline of the practitioner to balance and correct their dantians. Qigong thus, through translation from the ancient Celtic art of torcing and the Three Cauldrons, becomes the Celtic practice not only of dissolving into the universal mystery, but also to balance and correct the coires (Three Cauldrons) and the output of the tonns (Three Waves). The aptitude of sending waves of energy (tonns) is a demonstrated ability to create sanctuary for pilgrims, help those in need, and provide sanctuary for the innocent.
In the following section, we will explore the deep practice of Trí Coire Fórsa, or Three Cauldrons Qigong. Through implementation, one can better invoke the Three Waves of Ireland to create sanctuary for the innocents, thus instilling deeper harmony and Beauty in this world.
Three Cauldrons Qigong – Seven Precious Gestures
With an estimated 10,000 forms of qigong, where does one start? Start with what attracts you and what is available. If you enjoy the presence of a particular master or teacher, study with them. If you do not enjoy a particular Master or teacher’s presence, do not spend time with them. Also, specific forms speak to different people with different constitutions, body types, and so on. What attracts you is what you are going to learn from best, but do not limit yourself. Get out of your comfort zone and try a different form now and then. You will be surprised at what you learn.
Three Cauldrons Qigong is an offshoot of Integral Qigong, emerging from the Santa Barbara School of Oriental Medicine, under the auspices of the Institute for Integral Qigong & Tai Chi (IIQTC) in 2005. The founder of the school and IIQTC, Dr. Roger Jahnke, is a Cincinnati-born teacher and practitioner who teaches and speaks around the world. I became very close with Dr. Jahnke in 2005 when I trained with him for an entire month at the Omega Institute. Integral Qigong concentrates on the most profound principles of qi cultivation, from medical, Taoist, and Buddhist qigong traditions, and wraps them into comprehensive and easy to follow instructional systems.
Integral Qigong consists of classic and simple qigong forms, including the four essential components: posture alignment and gentle movement; breath practice; self-applied massage; and, relaxation and meditation techniques. Integral Qigong, via the Seven Precious Gestures form, is the gateway to Three Cauldrons Qigong and the awakening of the imaginal cells and genetic memory.
The Seven Precious Gestures and Three Cauldrons Qigong is a sequence of (surprise!) seven movements (plus opening and closing) that was developed by contemporary as well as traditional qigong masters associated with the Santa Barbara School of Oriental Medicine. I will call it Three Cauldrons Qigong from here on out. Within Three Cauldrons Qigong, the movements reflect the ancient Taoist internal art of Dao Yin via deepening through meditative movement, relaxed breathing, and posture alignment – like our grove’s pathworkings. The sequence of movements is intended to induce a relaxed, receptive, and healing state. The evolution of Three Cauldrons Qigong is rooted in ancient qigong isolations that are integral to many of the various qigong and tai chi forms that are known in the world today.
Three Cauldrons Qigong is a unique sequence of qigong exercises that you can take home with you and practice whenever you find the opportunity, and will help provide a template to cultivate a deeper relationship with the coires. Three Cauldrons Qigong speaks to many levels of being within the framework of body, mind, and spirit, helping the practitioner to entrain and prepare for key life moments that help to turn the cauldrons upright for maximum life experiences. The simple sequence of movements (nine total movements: opening, 7 movements, and closing) contains many Celtic secrets waiting to be discovered through your pursuit of wellness and righting the coires. In essence, Three Cauldrons Qigong can become a tool or vehicle of discipline to aid in the cultivation of fórsa and right relations with the divine. Three Cauldrons Qigong can also become a personal tool for developing a deeper relationship with the Sídhe and your true eternal nature. Balance those coires! Fill them to overflowing!
Here is a YouTube link to a 30 minute guided practice:
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