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Fire, Ice, and Fog: A Triad of Energies

Here is something from my meditations that I've been wanting to record for some time. It is a triadic system to help a person develop nuance with the "raw psychic energies" that lie at the base of consciousness, particularly during meditation. This is a bit of a work in progress, more a collection of thoughts than anything else...

By "raw psychic energies" I mean basic drives, urges, and influences that lay behind our decisions, actions, feelings, and moodstates. The goal is to recognize these energies as they manifest daily. Psychology from Freud onward has of course researched these to death, but generally their models are too sophisticated and intellectual for an average person's daily meditation practice. A single mental image may take years of Freudian analysis to process. A person needs something simple, very simple, like a triad, to put into action in the moment it is needed.

Buddhism has a highly developed system of such short lists of pyschic contents. They are able to be put to use by a meditator with a minimum of intellectual bogging down. However, Buddhist theory is built around the development of a particular kind of transcendant insight which does not always match up well with earthy Pagan goals. Thus, for example, we find desire labeled negatively as a "defilement."

Paganism has such short lists as earth, air, fire, and water, or body, mind, heart, and soul. But these describe broad classes of experiences, not the most basic energies that I am trying to zoom in on.

Eastern and Western esoteric traditions share the chakras theory, but even these are too "zoomed out." What I'm talking about would all fit in the first chakra.

So I want to experiment by putting forth a new triad...

The Three Wells:
The Well of Fire
The Well of Ice
The Well of Fog

These wells are visualized as resources of energy that usually lie more or less level and harmonious, but occasionally "rise up" and overflow, causing manifestations of psychic content that compel, dominate, or influence us, according to the type of energy that has risen up.

The Well of Fire

Fire is the easiest energy to explain, and can be described as directed or goal-oriented energy. It can be subdivided into two types: desires and aversions. These energies move us toward desirable experiences,and away from undesirable experiences. Although moving in different directions, either toward or away, they are the same basic energy, since an aversion is in fact a desire to avoid something.

When Fire energy manifests, it can be visualized in one of two ways. In the case of desire, one may see a conflagration consuming its lusciously hot fuel, the object of its desire, spreading ever toward, over it, and through it, penetrating to the core until it has nothing left to give. In the case of aversion, one may see tongues of flame escaping from its painfully hot fuel, the object of its aversion, leaping frantically up and away, becoming smoke, seeking the coolness of distant regions. Either way, the energy is entirely dependent on its object, and moves in a direction relative to its object.

When manifested Fire energy begins to break up, dissipate, and return to its well, it tends to give way to Fog energy: either frustration in the case of desire, or inability to concentrate in the case of aversion--think of having to take a moment to recover one's wits (see the Well of Fog, below).

A peculiar characteristic of Fire is that it is prone to inertia. Once moving in a certain direction, it tends to continue in that direction. When a desire has obtained or used up its object, it looks for other objects to move toward. Desire breeds desire. A pattern may even develop where we no longer truly desire the objects we seek, but continue to seek out of kinetic inertia. Similarly, when aversion has distanced itself from its object, it looks for other objects to move away from. Fear breeds fear, disgust breeds disgust. Again, a pattern may develop where we recoil from everything more out of habit than genuine aversion.

Fire energy makes up the large part of our motivations, virtuous or otherwise. It is in itself neither good nor bad but neutral, as are all three basic energies. A person who "knows what they want," and also how to get it, uses Fire energy well.

The Well of Ice

The Well of Ice can be described as repressed or hidden energy. It is more subtle than Fire energy. While Fire tends to burn hot and perceptible, Ice tends to manifest in subconscious ways. In fact, it is the defining characteristic of Ice energy that it tends to avoid detection. It is the repressive principle. It covers up things we don't want to see, denies things we can't understand, and generally numbs us to all that we can't handle at the moment. In contrast to aversion (a Fire energy), which flees more or less consciously from its object, Ice energy quarantines its object in the subconscious. With Ice energy, its object becomes a repressed memory that blinds us to all that would bring it back to consciousness.

When Ice Energy manifests, it can be visualized in one of two ways. In the case of an object in the process of being repressed (an instantaneous process in some cases, but more slow in others), it may be seen as a blast of extremely cold vapor condensing around its object and encasing it in a solid block of ice. In the more likely case of a repressed object which is being recovered, one may visualize finding in the cold, dark regions of empty space a floating chunk of ice, through which the vague indication of an object inside is barely noticeable. There is no Ice energy that does not hide something large or small repressed inside it.

The effect that Ice energy has on us is to blind us from all those things that would thaw and expose its object. We simply do not register them consciously, and we go about deluded, living in a partial world not quite matching reality. We follow our Fire energies of desire and aversion, hoping to attain our goals and avoid the pitfalls, but these cannot guide us true so long as Ice energies twist and pervert our perceptions of the path toward goals and away from pitfalls.

Yet Ice energy is not therefore altogether bad. Like Fire energy, it is inherently neutral, and can just as well serve us for the better. It is a defense that saves us when necessary, and allows to survive disturbing situations with relative sanity. A person who is "cool under pressure" knows how to use Ice energy well.

Ice affects us in one further way. Since Ice energies, once manifest, must constantly defend against whatever would reveal its hidden object, Ice represents a constant power drain on our overall reserves. We end up feeling numb and exhausted, for no apparent reason. We end up feeling dead to the world, when we repress so many of our feelings that there is not enough left to feel alive.

When Ice energy begins to thaw, break up, and return to its well, it tends to turn into nervousness. Think of the ice "sweating" as it starts ot melt. Also, when Ice energy is forming--that is, when it is attempting to repress something--nervousness also tends to arise. This is especially true when it forms slowly as opposed to instantenously.

The Well of Fog

The Well of Fog is the third basic energy. It can be described as undirected, free-floating energy, and most often takes the form of a general moodstate. Unlike Fire and Ice, which always arise in relation to some object, whether to obtain it, avoid it, or repress it, Fog energy is not related to any specific object. It simply hangs around and affects consciousness. Examples of manifestations include nervousness, restlessness, excitement, boredom, sluggishness, indifference, general dissatisfaction, frustration, stress, tiredness, inability to concentrate, or a feeling of being overwhelmed. Many basic emotions, such as happiness, cheer, cantankerousness, and melancholy, are developed manifestations of Fog energy.

When Fog energy manifests, it can be visualized as wisps of fog or mist enveloping one all around, hanging about and obscuring one's perception of things.

The effect that Fog energy has is to slant or inhibit clear perception of things. Either one can't quite process perceptions clearly, as in the case of nervousness, stress, tiredness, or inability to concentrate, or one perceives everything in a certain slant or color. A person wearing "rose-colored glasses" sees everything through a rosy Fog of naive pleasantness. The defining characteristic of Fog energy is that it influences perception of all objects more or less equally, as opposed Fire and Ice which exert influence with reference to specific objects.

Fog energy is, however, closely related to Fire and Ice energy. Both Fire and Ice tend to give rise to Fog energies when they break down and return to their wells. This is because to do so, they must give up attachment to their objects. Energy without an object is Fog energy, and tends to take on the properties of Fog energy. Thus, when Fire loses its object it tends to give rise to frustration or inability to concentrate, while Ice tends to give rise to nervousness. In contrast, when Fog energy breaks down it does not give rise to Fire or Ice. It simply dissipates and returns to its well.

Fog energy can be detrimental, as for example when nervousness inhibits our ability to think and act, or when melancholy blinds us to anything uplifting or worthy in the world. On the other hand, it can be beneficial as well. A person who tends to maintain a cheerful, carefree optomism, even when circumstances don't seem to warrant it, uses Fog energy well.

The Balance

In addition to these three cases of manifestation, a fourth state of affairs is possible: a state where none of these energies are perceptibly manifest, or that are manifest in just the right balance that we can function with perfect clarity. At these times, rare though they may be, we find ourselves "in the zone" as it were. The balance of manifest or unmanifest energies is in accord with the situation we find ourselves in, and everything just flows. Achieving this appropriate balance, of dynamic harmony, is the goal of working with these raw energies.

How Raw Energy Develops Into More Complex Feelings, Thoughts, and Actions

I am far from figuring how these raw energies interact and alloy with each other to develop into more complex pyschic contents, such as finer emotions, nuanced feelings, thoughts, and actions. However, my feeling is that this is what happens. My feelings, thoughts, and actions tend to follow a trend according to what raw energies are most active at the moment. This is a subject for further contemplation...

Meditating with the Three Wells

A simple way to put this system into action on a daily basis, is to include it in a morning meditation practice. I include as part of my chakra balancing meditation. When I begin with the first or "root" chakra, I ask it what raw energies are most manifest at the moment. By simply scanning my consciousness and listening intuitively, it is not difficult to get a feel for when Fire or Fog is manifest (Ice is admittedly more tricky). Knowing that Fire tends toward inertia, Ice tends toward constant defense, and Fog tends to hang around and color everything generally--in other words, all three energies exert continuing influences--I know that whatever energies I notice in morning meditation are bound to affect me later in the day. Thus, it is useful to be aware of these influences, so that they may be harnessed, supplemented, or toned down according to need.

And onward...

Whew! This is the most coherent formulation I've been able to set down about the Three Wells, yet this only begins to scratch the surface. I don't know how useful it will prove in the long run, but I can say with confidence that it has already been useful to me to date. I'll have to write more about this later. For now, I'm happy just to have collected these thoughts together...


Here is some more material recorded in a notebook in 2007...

The Three Wells is a canonic triad dividing the raw materials of psychic energy.  They are Fire (desire, gathering in, attraction, aversion, pushing away, replusion), Ice (denial, repression, misdirection, delusion), and Fog (undirected energy, which may manifest as inertia, sluggishness, excitement, inspiration, boredom, restlessness, and so on).

These energies may stir up in connection with a trigger, such as an external event, memory, thought, or feeling.  But once stirred up, they are not limited to their trigger.  For example, Fire may stir up in connection with a rude customer at work.  Aversion in the form of Ill will manifests, and may remain long after the customer, and the memory of the customer, has passed out of consciousness.  The Fire lingers in the form of a general "bad mood."  The ill will looks for more objects to which it may attach itself, perhaps finding them in family members after returning home from work.  It is this independence of triggers and capacity to attach to various objects which suggests raw materials which are stirred up, rather than entities which arise and pass away.

When any of these energies are stirred up, they begin to manifest in forms related to the objects to which they attach themselves.  By the time they reach consciousness, they already have a recognizable form. 

Because these energies are independent of triggers, it is more important to recognize their presence than to track down their "source" (trigger).  Recognizing triggers is important to predicting patterns of manifestation, but not to determining an energy's supposed origin.  These energies are considered basic and prior to their triggers.  They lie at the base of the human psyche as pools or wells, waiting to be stirred up.

When all are in an appropriate balance in relation to a situation at hand, we may experience clear, unblocked consciousness.  When one or more dominates, we tend to become blind to all but that energy's current object and manifestation.  When none are stirred up, or all are at very low levels, we experience a depleted, dead, or numb feeling.  When all are stirred up, we may feel scattered, jumpy, or overwhelmed, and unable to concentrate.

In order to feel alive and well, and yet be able to react, think, and feel with openness, clarity, and appropriateness, we require a balance of stimulated energies appropriate to the moment.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
Hey, I'm Elicia. I'm a member of ADF and doing the DP as well. I'm also pretty solitary, even though I live in the US. I found this journal through the ADF website. I hope you don't mind if I friended you, I have just put my DP journal online, and I am trying to get as much feedback as possible! You seem like a very motivated person, and it would be nice to see how other solitary practitioners tackle the DP. My normal journal is ariansdreams, let me know if you want friended there too.

Oh, and if all this is not okay, let me know, and I will unfriend you posthaste. :)

Jun. 25th, 2006 11:53 pm (UTC)
Hi. I always like meeting new folks at ADF. Nice to meet you.

I checked out your dp journal. I liked your take on vision in nature. I have a somewhat similar view, which I'll tell you about if you want to email me directly. (aluminumshoelace @excite.com) (take out the space before the @!)

I also liked the poems. My favorite was the one by Mary Oliver. I write some poems too, many of which are posted to Witchvox (search "Brandon").
Jun. 26th, 2006 02:25 am (UTC)
Thanks on the compliment on my vision essay. :)

Mary Oliver is my favorite poet, and that is my favorite poem of hers. I am an English major (senior year!), and one of my favorite past times is memorizing poetry. My favorite poems have almost become like mantras or prayers to me now, because I repeat them so often in my head.

I read some of your poems on Witchvox. Your "The Way of Secret Love" poem reminded me a lot (in tone and content) of John Donne's "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning." You should check it out, but you probably have already read it...your poetry is really good. I think it is funny that I almost always attribute "love poems" to religious themes. But anyway.

I will send you an email about your take on vision in nature, I'm interested in hearing more.
Jul. 3rd, 2006 07:20 pm (UTC)
You know what I'm going to ask.

Would you submit this to Oak Leaves? I like it :)
Jul. 4th, 2006 05:00 am (UTC)
summer Oak Leaves out yet?

By the way, do you know when the Summer Oak Leaves (#33 I think) is coming out? I see the deadline for autumn is already passed and I haven't even got summer yet...
Jul. 5th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
Re: summer Oak Leaves out yet?
The mailing company that we had put the issues together for mailing messed up some.

Write the ADF Office (adf-office@adf.org) and check about your issue. They were re-mailing those that got returned, and the company is paying for the messup, but just to ensure that you didn't slip through the cracks, it's best to email and ask. Hugh (the office manager) will know where your copy is.

Speaking of, I have to renew my subscription this week.
Jul. 6th, 2006 06:13 am (UTC)
Re: summer Oak Leaves out yet?
I see. Thanks!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )