“Breath of Life in sacred circle” by Margherita Arkaura

Most Neo-Pagan ritual involves some form of breathwork. Breath­work consists of techniques of altering one’s conscious­ness by controlling the breath. Breath is fundamental to life, which is why the words for “breath” and “spirit” are the same in many languages, including Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

The psychoanalyst, Wilhelm Reich, was one of the first Western­ers to realize that psychological defenses often corre­spond to restricted breathing patterns. Breathwork can trans­form both our inner experience and our perception of the outer world. One common Neo-Pagan meditation, the Tree of Life Medi­tation, combines breathwork with visualization of one­self as a tree with roots deep in the Earth and branches reaching into the heavens.

Chanting and ritualized singing can be understood as forms of breathwork too.

Updated 2019

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