The Esoteric Practices study track is the contemplative yin to the analytical yang of Ontological Engineering. Many poets already have some type of esoteric practice, such as meditation or drug use, that they use to gain a different perspective on their craft. In this track we look at how altered mental states allow us to crack open the Nine Hazels of Wisdom, reach across Time to remember the future, create real-time Syncromythological events, and begin to touch on the uses of Magick. From the Eastern Taoist, Buddhist, and Yogic sciences to the Western Hermetic, Qabalah, Gnostic, and Bardic traditions we will search for what is valuable to poets and heroes. This track informs and is conducted by the Ordo Poeticus Oracularum.

EP1 Contemplative Writing (Roseanna Frechette)
EP1-1     Deep Concentration Meditation (Roseanna Frechette)
EP1-2     Poetry of Yoga (Roseanna Frechette)
EP1-3     Performance Meditation (Roseanna Frechette)
EP1-4     Writing Tadasana (Roseanna Frechette)
EP1-5      Chakra Charged Lines  
(Roseanna Frechette)
EP1-6      Flight from the Palm  (June Lucarotti)

EP2 Chop Shop Challenge: Poetic Intuition vs. ChainS.A.W. (Marcus If)
EP2-1     Poetics of the Real World
(Marcus If)
EP2-2     Writing from Altered Mental States

EP3 Bardic Magick I: Remembering the Future (Marcus If)
EP3-1      Poesis: Invocation of the Muse  (Caitlan Mitchell)
EP3-2      Apotheosis: Whereby Heroes Become Gods (Caitlan Mitchell)

EP4 Lecture: Alchemy of Mnemosyne & Hercules (Marcus If)

EP5 Bardic Magick II: Ritual Forms
EP5-1      Poetry as Spellcasting 
(Caitlan Mitchell)

EP6 Bardic Magick III: Source-ery

Course Descriptions:

EP1-1 Deep Concentration Meditation:
Divining Rod in The Field of Unwritten Poems

(Roseanna Frechette)
Meditation is a tool of insight and discovery. Unwritten poems are like fabulous gems waiting to be found in an artistic field of ether. Through the ages-old practice of deep concentration meditation, a poet may connect directly to this super conscious field, while also accessing an inner storehouse of personal memory hidden within. Deep states of meditation encourage creative possibility, especially that of a powerful nature, just as the ages-old practice of divining has enabled humans to find water wells, metals, gemstones, and even missing people and unmarked graves. And just as humans may be able to sense electric and magnetic energy invisible to the eye (also to subconsciously manipulate divining rods to reflect unseen information), so might humans take the same journey with deep meditation and poetics.
This workshop leads participants through specific stages of classical meditation to deep and subtle levels of pure awareness. It is from here that an inspired field of imagery, metaphor, and meaning encourages unwritten poems to emerge. The poet’s responsibility then becomes to follow the lead away from analytical mind, with pen and pad in order, to scribe fresh paper with divinely inspired ink. Timed writings follow disciplined practice of quiet stillness, with senses honed, for memories and images to become words, lines, stanzas, poems.
Participants may dress in layers for comfort, bring sitting cushion and/or mat; writing materials; and water bottle. This is a 2-hour workshop with time for shared findings.

EP1-2 The Poetry of Yoga: finding words within
(Roseanna Frechette)
This rich and expansive session encourages poetic expression from the heart of the yogi while inviting divine inspiration for the soul of the poet. Participants will explore the meaning of poetry in our lives and ways in which our yoga practice can evoke poetic voice. Through combined asana (postural) practice and timed writing, we will explore the archetypal and metaphoric meaning of such poses as warrior, tree, mountain and eagle. Naturally-stimulated images flow easily into poems of self discovery.
Participants may dress in layers for comfort, bring notebook/pen and a yoga mat. Each of us will leave with at least one rough draft of a poetic piece and be given the opportunity to share the work.

EP1-3 Spoken Word in Performance: a dynamic meditation
(Roseanna Frechette)
What is the difference between merely reading one’s work aloud and performing one’s work with a vibrant aliveness that connects artist to audience, in an engaging experience of art alive? How is it that some spoken word performers invoke the spirit of boredom in a room while others create enlivening, vibrant connection for each person to each moment?
This workshop explores ways in which literary performance can come off the written page and into present time, much the way talking about a spiritual experience changes once we allow that experience to become us. Our connector is the medium of energy and there are things to know about cultivating meditative energy in performance no matter the content or attitude of the work, and no matter the method of delivery. From shocking hilarity to poignant calm, any performance can become a dynamic meditation – one that holds artist and audience in a highly engaging place, the inspiration of which may never end.
We will examine meditation as a metaphor after also realizing it as a valuable, practical tool for artistic process and performance preparation. Participants may dress in layers for comfort during quiet stillness as well as animated expression. Please bring work that you might consider crafting into a 5- or 10-minute performance piece (be it poetry or prose.)

EP1-4 Writing Tadasana: mountain pose of pure potentiality
(Roseanna Frechette)
Creative process of any kind begins with tapping into a wellspring of possibility. What better wellspring to connect with than Tadasana, Sanskrit name for Mountain, and also that yoga pose in which a meditator may go beyond admiring, to focusing on, to merging with, to actually becoming… the mountain. Because mountain energy is matter born of pure essence, striking the pose of mountain is tangible experience, vibrant and alive as a cascading waterfall, that flows from an energetic place of pure potentiality. Why not turn that fabulous an experience into poetry? Indeed. Why not become a mountain that is writing itself? From this perspective, anything is possible.
(Recommended workshop time is 2.5 hours ~ participants should bring yoga mat and sitting cushion as well as writing tools and water bottle ~ dress in layers for comfort.)

EP1-5 Chakra Charged Lines: poems from the subtle body center
(Roseanna Frechette)
Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means “wheel” ~ as in spinning vortex. Humans are said to have seven primary chakras that align with the core of a physical being. These energy centers are streaming live with Kundalini, creative life force, when we open them to an inspired current– full with possibility, available to all. There are things to know about one’s chakras, all of which are invaluable to the poet.  In this session we will come to better understand the chakra system of deep subtle energy as a place–rich with archetypal quality, easy to experience, flowing with creative meaning. Through all-levels Hatha yoga sequences and guided breathwork we open ourselves from the inside out, making discoveries in the process. We become surveyors of the self, plugging into a main line of universal wisdom. In so doing we connect with chakra charged lines just waiting to be written. This is a 3-hour workshop. Please dress in layers that allow you to move easily in sets of chakra-opening Hatha Yoga practice. Bring water bottle, yoga mat, and writing tools. Be ready to roll your sleeves up.

EP1-6 Flight from the Palm    (June Lucarotti)
This series weaves together social activist poetry and writing exercises as well as contemplative practices of meditation and yoga. This dynamic workshop provides an integrative approach where the mind heals the body, body heals heart, heart heals mind. Here you will learn you have all the tools you need.   Each Flight from the Palm class deals with different themes and build on each other, but you can plug into any of them without going to all of them.

EP2-1 Poetics of the Real World          (Marcus If)
In the art of poetry, there are a number of recognizable forms and rules which we learn. But Nature makes her own rules. Following her rhythm we can observe alternate ways in which to communicate poetically. Mimicking the sound of the ocean or wind, the laughter of children, the argument of spouses, or even the drone of construction, we can find the poetic flow of the real world. In this workshop we will discuss how to create poems from everyday life as opposed to using the structures provided by academia.

EP3-1 Poesis: Invocation of the Muse          (Caitlan Mitchell)
Poesis is an ancient Greek art, encompassing the theosophical embodiment of the gods by means of Inspired poetics. In this class, we will work with both ritual and spontaneous magick via poetics in order to invoke the Muses. We will explore both the Classical definition of the “Muse,” as well as expand upon this notion, and what it means to us as modern practitioners and writers. The class brings together meditative and contemplative techniques, with intensive writing exercises in order to generate an awakening within ourselves, and of our Divine Madness. In the past, students have performed accidental, and intentional magick.

EP3-2 Apotheosis: How Heroes Become Gods         (Caitlan Mitchell)
Apotheosis refers to the process whereby humans become gods. In the myth of Hercules, the Hero must perform acts of greatness on Earth, and descend to Hades, before he is welcome among the gods at Mount Olympus. This class, in some ways, builds upon the work we do in Poesis: Invocation of the Muses, but is also entirely it’s own magickal beast. Part of the mission of BAFS is to embolden a generation of Heroes; Apotheosis: How Heroes Become Gods, will function with this notion in mind. We will examine the role of writers, and of artists, to propel society forward: our duty serve as a Light that the Darkness comprehendeth not… and how to act responsibly out of that kind of power. We will delve into the gritty depths of what it means to be human, to be alive in this realm, at THIS moment, and THIS moment. Burrowing into Mother Earth’s guts, to eventually emerge again, covered in dirt, but cleansed in character, so that we might open to our own Divine Nature.

EP4 The Alchemy of Hercules & Mnemosyne          (Marcus If)
This introductory lecture to the esoteric secrets hidden in history will focus on the findings of the Muse Rune of Mnemosyne and the alchemical transformations of Hercules through Dionysus and Apollo. The map of the Muse Rune will be compared with other current and historical maps, as well as discussion of the analeptic epiphany that discovered it. The secrets of Hercules, as presented by Robert Graves, will be discussed in the light of modern hermetic understanding and considered as a necessary stance of the living poet. Initiating synchro-mythological thinking using ancient archetypes is essential to further studies in Bardic Magick.

EP5-1 Poetry as Spellcasting       (Caitlan Mitchell)
Robert Graves suggests that the sole purpose of poetry is the magickal invocation of the Muse. The English language, as we know it, is primarily derived from the Greek and Germanic languages… with this in mind, our main focus will be on: 1) the Classical Greek tradition of Poesis, centered on the Nine Muses, and 2) The Germanic/Norse Odinic Rite, and Runic alphabet. By observing these ancient magickal poetic traditions, how they intertwine, connect, and diverge, we will gain a deeper understanding of the magickal properties of our English language, as well as the spell casting potential of poetry. Our challenge is to make these ancient practices relevant for a modern audience, to write something worthy of being shared. Our audience (whether that audience is a live crowd at a performance, a silent reader alone with our words on the page, or simply the ether into which we solitarily cast our work) has graciously agreed to listen to what we have to say…this is a sacred bond, and we, as conscious wordsmiths, daren’t abuse the privilege. At the very least, we ought to gift our audience a unique experience, worthy of remembering. One might argue that all language is a spell—the question is then: is language working its spell on us? Or, are we are spelling language intentionally?