The Kundalini refers to the dormant power or energy present in every human being, and lying like a coiled serpent in the etheric body at the base of the spine. This coiled serpent has been biding its time for ages, waiting for the day when the soul would begin to take charge of its rightful domain—the personality, or the combination of the physical, astral and mental bodies.
This ‘spiritual’ force, while still asleep, is the static form of creative energy which serves to vitalise the whole body. When awakened and beginning to ‘uncoil’, this electric, fiery force proves to be of a spiral nature, and hence the symbolic description of ‘serpent power’.
As the Kundalini force is aroused, it will steadily increase the vibratory action of the etheric centres and consequently also that of the physical, astral and mental bodies through which the vital body finds expression. This animating activity will have a dual effect, firstly by eliminating all that is coarse and unsuitable from the lower vehicles, and secondly by absorbing into its sphere of influence those lofty qualities which will serve to raise the energy content of the vital body of the evolving individual.
One of the objects of activating the spiral fire and its progress up the spine to the head, is to awaken the pineal gland, which again results in the opening of the third eye and the consequent revelation of the subtler planes of spiritual life. By sustaining meditation, by study, disciplined living and selfless service to humanity, the entire system will step by step be aroused, bringing the lower man under the influence of the soul; this will ensure a simultaneous and parallel awakening of the etheric force centres and the dormant forces at the base of the spine. When this process is carried forward with care and under suitable direction, the awakening will take its course gradually and normally, and without incurring any danger.
Should attempts be made, however, to accelerate the natural unfoldment unduly by various exercises or other artificial means, then the aspirant is letting himself in for trouble. Breathing exercises should, for instance, never be undertaken without expert guidance, and then only after years of spiritual application, devotion and service. Concentration upon the etheric centres with the object of activating them, should also be avoided, as this will only lead to over-stimulation and the opening of doors on to the astral plane-once opened these doors are difficult to close again. Students are also specifically and strongly warned against following intensive meditation programs lasting for hours, or against practices which aim at arousing any particular centre or the Kundalini fire. The average student is already stimulated to such an extent by present day life activities, that excessive meditation to such an extent by present day life activities, that excessive meditation, breathing exercises, a fanatical diet, curtailment of sleep, and undue interest and emphasis upon psychic experiences, will be included to upset his mental balance and may cause irreparable damage. The raising of the Kundalini force, if brought about ignorantly and prematurely, may lead to serious nervous trouble, inflammation of the tissues, spinal disease, and brain trouble, but if allowed to proceed progressively and naturally through disciplined living, it will finally serve to open the gates to higher realms. [From the works of AAB and Master DK.]
The first reference to the serpent is made in Chapter Three of the Book of Genesis; where it is intimately associated with the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the symbolical eating of that fruit by Adam and Eve. In one of the many possible interpretations, and particularly in this allegory, the serpent is the fahatic [creative energy]energy itself, and the tree is the consciousness and its vehicles in which that force is active. Together they constitute creative power, Macrocosmic [the Cosmos] and microcosmic [in man]. The serpent by itself is the undulatory, triply-polarised force in the Cosmos, in a Universe, in all Nature, on any plane and in every vehicle of man. The tree of life is impregnated substance, fructified matter forming the vehicles of any being at any level, from a Logos to an amoeba, charged as that matter is with the vivifying life-force.
When not active the neutral current by itself, the trunk of the tree, represents the latent divine presence. When active the positive and negative serpentine, inter-active currents of the Serpent Fire are present and in operation. As previously stated, the symbols for his energised condition are the serpent and the tree. Sometimes a single serpent is coiled round the trunk of the tree and sometimes two are indicated, on on either side. The symbol of the serpent is susceptible of many interpretations, exoteric, esoteric most deeply occult. In general, it is the symbol both of wisdom and of the wise, who in the Sacred Language are frequently referred to as serpents. The Nagas of Hindu literature are none other than Rishis, liberated Yogis, Adepts. The serpent is chosen as a symbol of wisdom for various reasons. It glides secretly, and for the most part unseen, on the surface of the globe just as wisdom, whether revealed from on high or inborn, is a concealed power potent either to illumine if rightly employed, or to destroy if misused. The smooth sinuosity of the snake and its movements not inaptly portrays the harmonious and rhythmic self-expression of wisdom in both Universe and the man in whom it is awake and moving. He is enlightened from within, or secretly.
The serpent regularly sloughs its skin. Despite this seasonal change, the reptile itself is unchanged and appears in a new and glistening covering. So wisdom, while remaining the same in essence, is self-manifest in ever new formes, none being able to hold it permanently. The serpent’s tongue is forked or bi-polar. So, also, is wisdom, being susceptible of degradation into low cunning employed for meanest motives, or of elevation into lofty intuition in accordance with unselfish ideals. Snake venom can destroy or heal, depending upon its use and dosage. This is also true of wisdom. Degraded, it poisons the soul; rightly used, it is an antidote for many ills.
The eyes of the serpent are compelling, even hypnotic. Wisdom, once awake in an individual, brooks no resistance, breaks all bonds, and ultimately rules with impelling power. The wise, also, are irresistible in their might, even though appearing to be lowly and making no claim to high regard. Nevertheless they live near to the Source of life, just as the serpent lives near to the roots and seeds of living things.
The serpent is represented in man in both its constructive and its destructive aspects. The Higher Self, the will-wisdom of the spiritual Soul, corresponds to the serpent of light, while the desire nature [personality] contains destructive potentialities. The mind is the balancing force, or rod, between these two oppositely polarised energies, or serpent, in man.
The serpent on the cross lifted up by Moses in the wilderness to heal the Israelites of their sickness [Num. 21:9.] is a symbol of wisdom united with the mind to purify and elevate the lower self, and heal it of its material tendencies and the effects of their expression.
The serpent is used also to portray the harmonising influence of the Christ-nature in man, which has power to heal and raise the dead to life. This implies the power to transmute the lower aspects of human nature into the higher. Aesculapius, the God of Healing, frequently appeared in the form of a serpent and the caduceus, the staff of Hermes, has been regarded as a symbol for a curative force.
Serpents were described as three-headed, as winged, as having human legs, being loud-breathing, hissing, poisonous, and having yellow poison flowing over them. in the higher aspects this symbolises the action of the threefold Higher Self [soul], especially the principle of pure wisdom within it. The lower, destructive activities of the serpent of ancient symbology refer to the predatory destructive desires and passions of man. The hero who destroys the latter personifies the Initiate who has transmuted the lower into the higher, and has himself attained to perfect equilibrium between them.
When the serpent’s tail is in its mouth an endless circle is made, implying the eternity of wisdom, and even eternity itself. Esoterically, however, processes of cosmogenesis are indicated by the union of a symbolised positive and negative, or the entry of the tail into the mouth. All generative processes are, indeed, indicated in that form of the symbol. This leads to the deeply occult significance of the serpent, namely the universal, divine, creative and ever-active life-force. This is Fahat in its dual polarity, and is sometimes symbolised not as one serpent with tail in mouth, but as two mutually intertwined. Here the laws of electricity, under which all generative processes occur, are indicated.
The driving force from within which leads to creative activity in organic formes, and chemical affinity in inorganic, is indeed bipolar. The aptness of the choice of the serpent as a symbol for this power would seem to be supported by the fact that its tongue is forked. It is the positive and negative currents of the Great Breath, continually breathed forth as Fahat into and through every atom of every world, to become omnipresent and perpetually active throughout the whole Universe. This fact was both concealed and revealed in ancient allegories in which Jupiter, and other male creative deities, changed themselves into snakes for the purpose of seducing goddesses. In cosmogenesis such goddesses personify matter, the waters of Space, the feminine receptive and reproductive principle. Microcosmically the human Monad corresponds to God the Father, and the spiritual self in its vestures of light corresponds to the goddess. When evolution has brought the spiritual Self of man to readiness for the “birth” into dominant power of the Christ-nature in man, a descent occurs[the mystical Annunciation] of the fahatic or fructifying power from the monad into the hitherto “virginal”, awaiting spiritual Self. This is the Heavenly Marriage, the immaculate Conception, from which Christlike consciousness and power are “born”. A serpent with tail in mouth, two serpents intertwined, or one encircling a rod, staff or pillar, all symbolise the electric, creative energy of Fahat in action in the material Universe, and therefore in man, the microcosmic temple of the Universe.
In man the rod refers both to the spinal cord and to a canal, or etheric and superphysical channel, in its centre passing from the root of the cord in the sacrum, along its whole length, into the medulla oblongata and brain. This canal is the vehicle for the creative life-force, a measure of which plays down from above in the generative act. This current is uni-polar, or even of neutral polarity, since it plays and produces its effects in both the male and the female organism. The historic occult name for this canal is Sushumna, usually only applying, however, when by occult means the same neutral force is made to play not downwards, but upwards along the spinal cord. Before this reversal of the flow of creative energy can be achieved, positive and negative currents must be aroused and themselves, like twin serpents, flow upwards, inter-twining as they flow to induce an ascent of the accompanying neutral energy. Entering the brain, this triple power so illumines the mind of man that he becomes, as it were, a god [possessed of theurgic powers]. This fact is revealed in Genesis [Gen 3:5.] where Adam and Eve represent the oppositely polarised currents, the tree of knowledge of good and evil [particularly the trunk] corresponds to the rod, and the tempting serpent to the creative force ascending along the Sushumna canal. Thus Adam and Eve are forbidden to eat of the fruit of this tree, since by so doing they would become as gods.
The intensely heightened vibrations of the brain, the glands, the cells and the aerial substance in the ventricles, cause the brain and cranium to be responsive to Egoic and Monadic life and consciousness. Spirit then predominates in the individual. Matter loses its power. Symbolically, through the agency of an interchangeable serpent and rod, the Israelites are freed from bondage in Egypt. The shaft of Atmic fire which forms the core of the force which plays along the Sushumna canal is brought down to the densest physical level, or symbolically “cast upon the ground”. When that occurs the relatively dormant, positive-negative, creative life-force resident in the sacrum is awakened into activity. Each polarity then pursues a mutually intertwining, serpentine path around the Sushumna canal. Symbolically stated, the rod becomes the serpent. [Ex. 4:2-4.] This process is not unproductive of a certain shock and some pain. The Initiate momentarily shrinks from it, but still persists. Moses is therefore made to flee before the serpent. When, however, he unites his own will with that of the Hierophant Himself and sublimates the creative force, compelling it to flow upwards from the pelvis, it becomes in his hand the magician’s wand of power. Symbolically, Moses takes the Serpent Fire by the tail and it becomes a rod in his hand.
As portrayed in the Egyptian symbolical figures in which serpents are intertwined around rods or pillars, the tail is at the foot of the pillar, meaning the sacrum. The head of the serpent is at the upper end, whence frequently a lotus flower is blooming. This, too, is a universally used symbol. Rods which blossom, as did Aaron’s, have a similar significance. [Nim. 17:8, Neb. 9”4.] The opening of the force-centres in the superphysical bodies, consequent upon the arousing and the upward flow of the serpent power, is depicted by such symbols. The historic occult names for the positive and the negative currents of force are Pingala and Ida, and the triple upwards flow is most perfectly revealed by the Greek symbol of the caduceus. Hermes is the Moses of the Greeks, in that he is a messenger from God to man by virtue of holding in his hand the caduceus, just as Moses held in his hand the rod. Hermes also delivered Persephone from the under-world, Hades, even as Moses delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt.
The dark and light coloured serpents of the caduceus symbolise the dual power of the secret wisdom—black and white magic. Tehuti, Mercury, Hermes, possessing [having mastered] the triple serpent fire, personify pure wisdom guiding the Soul after death, both natural and figurative [at Initiation], and calling to life that which has been dead. [The dead shall rise?] This power is possessed by all Adepts or “serpents”. The ancient Chinese symbol of the Emperor’s throne—the “Dragon’s Seat”—and the dragon embroideries on his dresses of State, also refer to this sublimation and its results. Jesus adviced His disciples, saying “. . . be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” [Mat. 10: 16.] This may be taken as a veiled reference either to the Serpent Fire or to the wisdom and the prudence of the Adept or “serpent”.
The two serpents symbolise all apparently opposing and hostile pairs in the world’s allegories. They embody the idea of dualism and the supposed struggle between good and evil, Spirit and matter, light and darkness, gods and demons, Saviours and serpents and dragons, Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, Apollo and Python. The heroic Saviour represents the pure wisdom by which alone the conflict, as it occurs in man, may end in victory for spirit, light, good. The divine messengers sent to save mankind, the Christos as Son of God and the Celestial Virgin, sent down from Heaven to Earth to save a perishing humanity, are all personifications of the pure wisdom by means of which the conflict of the opposites may end not in the defeat of one by the other, but in their perfect harmonisation or equipolarisation. The result is the retention of the full powers of both of the opponents, the light and the dark serpents, and the attainment of the capacity to use either or both of them while the user remains in a condition of dynamic equilibrium. This attainment is symbolised by the crushing of the head of the serpent by Sri Krishna, and the victories over reptiles by the Saviours and heroes of other ancient peoples.
Contemplation of the symbol of the caduceus will reveal how perfectly it portrays that process and that attainment. This saving power, the Christos, entered into the man Jesus, the human vehicle, at the moment of his baptism in Jordan, and from then on Jesus began to work miracles by divine authority. Holding of the caduceus [or rod or serpent] in the hand is itself a symbol implying mastery of a power, [the second initiation], and the possession of knowledge and skill in its employment.
The transmutation of rod into serpent, be it noted, could only occur at the command of the Deity [the soul] and by His magical power. Actually, the descent of the Monadic Atma [soul-force] through all the vehicles and down the spinal cord into the sacrum is essential to the premature full-awakening of the triple creative fire and its successful sublimation and use as a magical tool. To bring this power of Atma down is one part of the office of the Hierophant of the Greater Mysteries. Since thereafter a new life is begun, the act has ever been correctly termed initiation. The Initiate is one in whom has been aroused the power to liberate himself from the limitations of matter, desire and self-separateness into the freedom of universal consciousness, life and power.
The Serpent Fire, or Kundalini, is in essence creative and, though as yet but slightly aroused, with all other forces and powers of Nature is represented in the physical body of man. There, at this period of human evolution, it manifests itself as the source of both the sex impulse and the nerve fluid. It resides, coiled serpent-like, in the sacral chakra or “wheel” at the base of the spine, which in its turn is a relay station for the similarly coiled up energy in the centre of the Earth, itself a storehouse of solar Kundalini. When fully aroused, either by yoga or as a natural result of evolutionary progress, kundalini flows up an etheric canal in the spinal cord called the Sushumna nadi, passing through each of the other chakras on its journey. As it passes through the spinal centres in which the chakras arise, some of its force flows down the axis of the funnel of each, vivifying it occultly and thereby awakening the individual to self-conscious awareness in the superphysical worlds.
When kundalini touches the spleen centre, it gives to man the power of travelling at will on the astral plane while away from the physical body. When it touches and opens the heart centre, the forces of the Buddhic or Christ-consciousness in man resident in the vehicle of intuition, if sufficiently unfolded, begin to flow through the neophyte at the physical level and the “mystic rose”—the heart chakra—“blooms” upon his breast. The power of the Christ-consciousness—knowledge of the oneness of life, direct intuitive spiritual perception, wisdom and a profound compassion—then begin to manifest themselves through thought and word and deed. The throat centre, when vivified, bestows the power of clairaudience, or of responding to superphysical sound vibrations as well as to those physical sounds which are beyond the normal auditory range. The brow centre,[the third eye], when occultly vitalised, bestows the faculty of clairvoyance, and when the coronal chakra [crown chakra] is opened the neophyte acquires the faculties of using supersensory awareness while still awake in the physical body, and of leaving and returning to the body at will without any brake in consciousness [the third initiation?]. the pituitary and pineal glands then function somewhat as do the valves or the amplifiers of a radio receiving set, thereby enabling consciousness within the brain to pick up and become aware of superphysical forces and phenomena. Indeed, the cerebro-spinal system of man, when occultly vivified, resembles in many respects a television receiving set. One difference, however, is that subtle broadcasts are projected upon the screen of mind-brain and clairvoyantly perceived. The full manifestation of these occult faculties during waking consciousness demands a long and arduous training, and depends upon the complete vivification of the pituitary and pineal glands by means of Kundalini and its complementary forces. [Through meditation, service, redemption of the body and so on….it is not easy and takes a long time…..as long as evolution dictates.]
From: The Hidden Wisdom In The Holy Bible, By Geoffrey Hodson.