Mudra as a Magical Technique
Article ID: 14589
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Ryan Hatcher
Posted: May 29th. 2011
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Waving your hand in greeting, extending a finger to point, folding the hands together in prayer, crossing your fingers; these are all gestures many of us make on a regular basis, but there may be a deeper meaning behind them.
In the religions of the East (Hinduism, Yoga, Buddhism and Taoism) , sacred gestures have and are still used as part of spiritual practise, providing an effective physical tool for spiritual growth.
A mudra, according to everyone's friend, Wikipedia, is “a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism. While some mudrâs involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers. A mudrâ is a spiritual gesture and an energetic seal of authenticity employed in the iconography and spiritual practice of Indian religions and traditions of Dharma and Taoism.”
In yoga, mudra are used in conjunction with pranayama (energetic breathing techniques) to stimulate specific body parts and improve the flow of energy for a specific end. In mikkyo Buddhism (Tendai and Shingon sects) in Japan there exists a mudra sequence known as Kuji-in  (nine syllable mudra or seal) . The reason for kuji-ho (nine syllable method or technique) is interpreted in the phrases: “May all those who preside over warriors be my vanguard.” or "Come warriors, fight as one, ready in formation, line up and take position in front. Destroy/victory!"  Therefore, it can be seen that this can be used as a ritual of protection and victory.
There are also nine Japanese words to accompany each hand gesture forming a mantra to aid in the intended purpose. Since mudra are usually performed slowly and held for a few moments while their appropriate mantra is intoned that kuji-ho or the series of mudra and mantra associated with chakra balancing would follow the same pattern. However, I'd like to speculate that if the intention of a mudra is for a more active purpose than meditative that the proficient adepts whom would be familiar with the mudra and their mantra could perform the mudra and mantra in a faster sequence.
What we can see from this though, is that ritual and magical hand gestures have been used throughout the years to achieve a certain purpose and this doesn't differ in the west either. In western culture, we use the namaste/gassho/prayer mudra when offering prayers to our God (s) . We often cross our fingers for luck and protection. We make the gesture for the word OK when all is well (intending to convey that message) . Priests use a specific mudra and motion when blessing, witches often use the sign of the horns when invoking the Horned God, and in Italy, along with the sign of the horns the fig hand is also used, both for protection and for averting the evil eye. All of these are mudra, and I'm sure if you were to exam your own hand gestures you would be able to possibly recognize a few, some may even be pre-existing mudra which a bit of Internet research could elaborate on.
Mudra have also featured in the popular media. From Japan comes a graphic novel/animated series called 'Naruto'. This series details the lives of a series of young ninjas. As part of their practice (similar to their real life mikkyo practitioner counterparts) , they use mudra (known as seals) to affect their life force energy (which they call chakra) to perform certain techniques. And since this is fiction, these range from anything from breathing fire to transforming yourself or even cloning yourself. But the principle is the same: mudra gestures are used to achieve a specific, often magical end, which is definitely highly entertaining!
On this rather simplistic foundation about mudra, we can begin to see how pagans and witches can utilize these gestures in our own lives for ritual, magic and spell craft. There is a specific technique, drawn from a book by Christopher Penczack called “Instant Magick”. Penczack's principle of 'instant' magic is not that it occurs instantly, but that you can perform it in an instant. The key technique of this book is the programming of a mudra within the mind through an auto-suggestion method. In brief, one draws oneself into a state of deep meditation, while performing a predetermined gesture to be used as one's “instant magick trigger” . This is done through a simple repetition of affirmation that the gesture will allow one to access his/her own inner magical potential and enter a light meditative state to be able to do so. From then on one need merely perform their “trigger”, perform any necessary visualization, repetition of incantation or affirmation and direct energy to be able to perform minor magics at any time, and I can attest that this technique is actually very effective!
In meditation, mudra are able to become the focal point, usually for spiritual development or balancing the energy bodies. A primary example of this is from yoga. The yogi sits and performs 7 mudra with both hands, while intoning an associated mantra with the purpose of balancing the chakra energy centers associated with that gesture and chant. The yogi spends a few minutes, or longer, focusing on the mudra and mantra while performing pranayama until the feel it is appropriate to move on to the next.
Perhaps if a little research is done into common ritual gestures and their purposes magical practitioners may find themselves able to develop and use another technique, another tool to effectively enhance their metaphysical practice. You may even find you are already doing so without realizing. Eventually, an inspired individual may even be able to create a unique set of mudra specifically geared towards the western mystery traditions and further evolve our crafts.
Techniques like the ones I've mentioned are the start to this, and perhaps a curious witch or two may be tempted to give them a try. And why not? Many of us already incorporate other ideas from the east (chakra system, meridians etc) , so why not mudra?
 Instant Magick - Christopher Penczack
Location: Swaffham, England
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