Twenty push-ups, two qi gong forms, and then six times through the form, each time emphasizing something different: today it was splitting, upward, downward, outward, and moving through water. I made a point of getting in the two I didn’t do yesterday. I tried to do them by first doing splitting movements, and then moving through water, but this was just too hard. I needed more of a warm-up. I did sweat a bit, but not nearly as much as yesterday.
That said, there’s clearly a benefit here to working through the form multiple times, along multiple avenues of practice or focus. It’s the old alchemical principle of Solve et Coagula in action, dissolve and recombine. When I break down the form into multiple pieces, as I did in the Tai Chi poem and drawings (I still have some drawings to do, and I have a better idea of how to do that, now), I discover which steps I don’t know how to do correctly, or describe accurately.
But now I’m breaking things down to the level of “hey, in order to tense this arm on the upward movement, and shift it from getting the hand out of the way to the rather more fierce experience of this is an attack or defensive movement, I have to engage this muscle, and this other muscle, here and here.” I should read more anatomy books, so I have some idea what I’m talking about, so I stop using italics to explain this muscle, and that muscle, and use the actual names of the muscles instead. I hope what I’m getting at is clear, though. This is about another alchemical process, separating the subtle from the gross, and breaking down each movement to a particular set of dynamic tensions between muscle, skeletal system, and ligaments.
And I can now, in a sense, say that my magical practice and my tai chi practice are connected. I know where they connect, at least at the surface level, and I know how to use my magical practice to inform my tai chi, and vice versa. I know where the Western work of my druidry and alchemical and ritual work meets with the very Eastern practice of tai chi. It’s not to say that I manage this connection well, because I’m not sure that I do. At least until now, I’m not sure I could have drawn you a map of how to get there, the tumbling of side streets that connects here and there. Now, at least and at last, I’m sure that there is a way.