Why did so many primeval cultures in Asia, Africa, and America worship the serpent? A full answer would contain some of the most important principles of metaphysics and one of the least known practices of mysticism--raising the force symbolized under the name of the "serpent fire." The advanced occultists of Tibet compare the aspirant making this attempt to a snake which is made to go up a hollow bamboo. Once aroused, it must either ascend and reach liberty at the top or it must fall straight down to the bottom. So he who seeks to play with this fiery but dangerous power will either reach Nirvana or lose himself in the dark depths of hell. If a man seeks to arouse kundalini before he has rid himself of hate, he will only become the victim of his own hatreds when he does raise it from its sleeping state. He would do better to begin by self-purification in every way if he is to end in safety and with success. The uprising of the penis closely resembles the uprearing of the cobra. Both become erect and stiff by their own innate force. When the serpent fire passes from the root of the penis up the spinal cord, the latter also becomes upright and stiff. Yet sex is not the serpent power but the chief one of its several expressions. The advanced yogis of India symbolize by the pent-up hissing of the serpent the aggressive energy of this sex power. They picture the threefold character of the process in their texts as a triangle with a serpent coiled up inside it. The intense fire of love for the higher self must be kindled in the "mystic" heart, kindled until it also shows a physical parallel in the body, until the latter's temperature rises markedly and the skin perspires profusely. Deep breathing is an important element in this exercise. It provides in part the dynamism to make its dominating ideas effective. The other part is provided by a deliberate sublimation of sex energy, through its imaginative raising from the organs in the lower part of the body to a purified state in the head.
The strange phenomena of a mysterious agitation in the heart and an internal trembling in the solar plexus, of sex force raised through the spine to the head in intense aspiration toward the higher self accompanied by deep breathing, of a temporary consciousness of liberation from the lower nature, are usually the forerunners of a very important step forward in the disciple's inner life. A twofold trembling may seize him. Physically, his diaphragm may throb violently, the movement spreading like a ripple upward to the throat. Emotionally, his whole being may be convulsed with intense sobbing. It is this same bodily agitation, this nervous repercussion of a higher emotional upheaval, which developed in the meetings of the early members of the Society of Friends and got them the name of Quakers. The agitation of his feeling will come to an end with the calm perception of his Soul. The kundalini's activity being primarily mental and emotional, the diaphragmatic tremors and quivers are merely its physical reactions. The necessity for keeping the back erect exists only in this exercise, not in the devotional or intellectual yogas, for such a straight posture permits the spinal column to remain free for the upward passage of the "serpent fire." The latter moves in spiral fashion, just like the swaying of a cobra, generating heat in the body at the same time. If the trembling continues long enough and violently enough, a sensation of heat is engendered throughout the body and this in turn engenders profuse perspiration. But all these symptoms are preliminary and the real mystical phenomena involving withdrawal from the body-thought begin only when they have subsided. This exercise first isolates the force residing in breath and sex, then sublimates and reorients it. The results, after the initial excitement has subsided, are (a) a liberating change in his consciousness of the body, (b) a strengthening development of the higher will's control over the animal appetites, and (c) a concentration of attention and feeling as perfect as a snake's concentration on its prey. It is a threefold process yielding a threefold result. In those moments when the force is brought into the head, he feels himself to be liberated from the rule of animality; then he is at the topmost peak of the higher will. Power and joy envelop him. The attainment of this state of deep contemplation and its establishment by unremitting daily repetition bring him finally to an exalted satisfied sense of being full and complete and therefore passion-free and peace-rooted.
-- Notebooks Category 5: The Body > Chapter 8: Kundalini > # 2
-- Perspectives > Chapter 5: The Body > # 37