The Regular Program
The ten-day course (40 class hours)
Course Prerequisites: None
These classes are intended to provide the complete theoretical and practical knowledge required to perform Ancient Massage / Thai Massage (the longer, full three-hour massage session). Through tuition in the giving of massage, you will learn to relax into working with the flow of energies in the body. The classes run regularly for four hours a day generally from Monday to Friday on two consecutive weeks.
The one-month professional course (120 class hours)
Course Prerequisites: None
These classes are intended to provide the complete theoretical and practical knowledge required to perform Ancient Massage / Thai Massage (the longer, full three-hour massage session) and learn many additional moves, postures and techniques. They were created for students who are interested in developing a much deeper understanding of Ancient Massage / Thai Massage and in attaining a professional level. It provides students with a comprehensive knowledge of how therapeutic massage techniques and postures heal specific ailments and is therefore especially appealing to those intending to practice massage professionally. The one-month curriculum incorporates a greater emphasis upon developing the skills of the masseur (building bodily and mental health through meditation, yoga and tai chi) and develops a greater understanding of the needs of the receiver's body, speech and mind. The classes run regularly for four hours a day generally from Monday to Friday with an additional Energy Balancing workshop on Saturdays. This course has proven popular with students of all levels (complete beginners as well as full-fledged physiotherapists), although beginners find the program more intense.
The one-month refining and deepening extension (120 class hours)
Course Prerequisites: The one-month professional course
These classes are intended to refine the skills and deepen the knowledge acquire in the one-month professional course.
The incredible Magick of massage
by Night Owl
Ahh, massage... touching and being touched... energy focused and released. Each touch, each breath, each stroke sends energy coursing through our own bodies and through that of the person receiving the massage. His or her breath sends the energy back, forming a continuous moving river of wonderful life energy that releases tension, builds health and opens both massage giver and receiver to love and healing.
How can we use magick in massage? In both magick and massage, we build, focus and release energy for a multitude of purposes. Both magick and massage share the same foundation. So adding magick to a massage, or including massage in some types of ritual, can be easy and increases the effectiveness of both.
Begin your magickal massage by focusing your attention and your intention. Think about and plan what you wish to accomplish. Then set up the space as you would for a ritual.
Prepare yourself. Pay attention to your attitude, your intention and your goal. Breathe, stretch, flex, center, ground and breathe some more. Ignore or brush aside distracting thoughts. Stretch the tension out of your own body before you touch another. Do you wish to be a channel for healing love? Do you wish to focus courage, daring, strength or power?
You are going to use your energy to assist another person to relax, release tension or enter an altered state and heal themselves. Clear yourself and alter your own consciousness first. Focus your own energy on opening yourself to becoming a channel for your intention.
In the beginning, it is a good idea to have a list to assist you in remembering all the details. After practice, you will be able to improvise and follow the flow of your creative energy. It is easier to build a strong foundation of knowledge if you initially pay attention to detail.
The room should be clean, with a table or pad for the massage. Have beautiful music playing softly. A tape of Tibetan bells, or the sacred trance music from almost any culture, will give an important energy boost and give you both something to focus your conscious minds on.
Other than the minimum communication for guidance in lighter or heavier touch, or for changes in position and other mechanics of the massage, it is a good idea to avoid talking most of the time. Massage was the occupation for the blind in old Japan, and you may find it much easier to focus on your hands, and the energy flow, if you keep your eyes closed.
If it is warm enough, leave a window open to let in fresh air. If not, air the room thoroughly before the massage. Some people enjoy candlelight and incense or burning herbs. Have a clean soft sheet or large towel for the person to lie upon, and another to cover up with. A soft cotton blanket is also good as a cover. The receiver will become much cooler as they relax and let go of muscle tension, so it is important to cover them to keep them warm enough. The giver will be doing the physical work so will be more comfortable if the room is on the cool side. Both the giver and receiver can be clothed, nude or anywhere in between according to their own comfort levels.
A deep massage is much easier with oil, so any clothing worn and the covers used should be washable. Many oils can used for massage. Each person will need to experiment to discover what she or he likes the most. A mixture of vegetable or nut oil, with little or no scent, will work for most people. There are also many oil and lotion mixtures available commercially, but be sure to smell them and rub some on your hands and arms before you buy a whole bottle. Some of the strongly scented ones will become nauseating when applied to the whole body, and each oil has a slightly different "slip" to it, so feel free to experiment. It is possible to do a completely adequate massage with no oil, but it is more difficult and long hard pressure sweeps are impossible.
To do a complete massage takes at least an hour, but brief work on the neck, shoulders, hands or feet can be very relaxing when time is limited.
Receiving a massage is less complex than giving one. However, the receiver can increase their stress release and healing by drinking a glass of juice or pure water, and doing some stretching and deep breathing beforehand. Once on the table or pad for the massage, the person receiving can continue to consciously relax, open, breathe and give feedback to the person doing the massage. If the massage is too deep and is more painful than wished, or if it is not deep enough, the person doing the massage needs to hear it.
Giving and receiving massage is very intimate. It is important that both people be bathed, have teeth brushed, nails clipped and filed and so on.
If the massage giver carefully matches breathing with the receiver, it will increase the depth and power of the connection. Plus, after matching breathing, the giver can begin to breathe more slowly and deeply and the breathing of the receiver will probably match and also slow and deepen.
Many different methods are used to prepare the energetics of the space and control the energies during the massage. A common one is to sit for a few minutes in meditation after preparing the space and invite healing spirits to join you and aid you in your work.
Healing has always been an important part of the Craft. Most traditions have goddesses and gods known for their healing skill and power. Research to learn which ones are the most compatible with your energy. During your meditation, request that they join you and guide you during the massage. Placing statues, icons, stones, crystals, elements and other sacred objects around the room can invite the energy they represent to be present and to assist.
Consider the idea that the part of you that you call your "self" is just one of several consciousnesses within you. Your physical body also has a "mind" or "consciousness" of its own, one that does not have word language. It is possible to relax your conscious mind and allow your "body mind" to take over and work with the body of the person you are massaging. It is difficult to describe how to do this, but by lightly ignoring your thoughts and focusing completely on the nonverbal feedback you receive through your hands, intuition and other senses, you can allow this "body intelligence" to teach you what to do. As you do massage consciously, your skill in stepping aside from your own agenda and just being present will increase.
Massage gives as much pleasure and healing to the one giving as to the one receiving. As you practice, your skill and strength will increase, but even a person with no experience can give a good massage by remembering a few things, as follows:
Keep breathing. As you pick up tension from the person you are massaging, unless you remain conscious of your own body, you may make several common mistakes that will greatly lessen your own pleasure and that of the receiver. Tension being released by the other person will accumulate in your hands and arms, and you will tighten up your breathing in response unless you remind yourself to consistently breathe down into your belly, ground and send the tension down into the earth.
Pace yourself and go slow. If you pick up tension from the other person, you will tend to massage faster and faster. Slow down and breathe.
Have juice or herb tea for you both to drink during the massage. Particularly afterwards, the receiver should drink a glass of water and the giver should wash their hands in running water to help balance themselves.
Many people prefer to begin a massage with the face, hands or feet, or with the palm of the right hand over the heart of the person being massaged and the palm of the left hand over the massage giver's own heart, so giver and receiver open to each other. Or you can start by making long, light sweeping strokes from the feet to the head to begin to balance the energy flow.
The type of massage done on the face, hands and feet uses very small movements of the fingers. Lightly press and probe around the bones and feel the structure of the muscles. Be particularly gentle and careful around the eyes, and avoid uncontrolled movements anywhere. The muscles can roll under the skin if you press hard without having good control. Such pressure can hurt, so don't do it.
Constantly watch or feel the energy of the person you are touching. Do not allow yourself to drift off into thinking of something else. Every once in a while, stop and shake out your hands and arms.
Massage slowly with long sweeping strokes from the ankle to the hip, from the hand to the shoulder, from the thigh to the top of the shoulder. Always do the pressure strokes toward the heart, as that is the way the valves in the veins work. The long sweeping strokes can be quite hard moving toward the heart, and then light on the return.
Knead the muscles as if you were kneading bread dough or softening up clay to sculpt. Squeeze and probe with one hand and then the other, relaxing the hand not in use between each squeeze. Holding your own hands partially contracted between squeezes never allows your own muscles to rest, and you will tire much more quickly. Be conscious of the mechanics of your own body, and do not put it into positions where you will hurt your back, or anything else, while doing a massage. When you learn to manage your consciousness, breathing, grounding, body mechanics and energy, you will feel much stronger and more balanced after giving a massage.
Pause every few minutes and check yourself over to assess your own energy. Never hurry. It is better to massage less of an area slowly than to try to cover the whole body in a rush. Remember too that the mechanical squeezing and stroking of the muscles feels wonderful, but it is not an attack. Lightly stroking a person who is completely clothed, while breathing deeply together, can be more helpful than a hurried massage the person tenses against.
Allow yourself to experience the wonder of being present with another person, the wonder of one body with another body. You will both be in a state of bliss by the end. Take your time then to breathe together quietly for a time, still touching, and then thank the spirits who have assisted you and separate.
Once you have finished, allow the receiver to remain lying down if they wish while you stretch and slowly return to a more ordinary state of consciousness. You might add one last pinch of incense to the burner or ground the remaining energy through touching the earth, stroking a plant, kissing the statue of the goddess or god you follow or any other finale that creates completion. Offer juice or water to the receiver and go wash your hands and face while thanking the Goddess for this opportunity to be of service in such a lovely way.
Massage is an incredibly nurturing and sensual experience that can be shared by people in all kinds of relationships. Massage can also greatly increase the intimacy of sexual sharing - particularly if you and your partner have had a difficult day and are not finding it easy to get into an intimate mood. Nothing can beat massage to help you both relax and open to desire. Or, if your partner is under so much stress that he or she seldom has the energy for sex, giving a "no strings attached" massage is likely to bring sexual thoughts to mind. This approach can be tricky, though; it really does need to be done without a sexual agenda, or your partner will end up less willing for your touch next time.
We are creatures with high touch needs living in a society with a low touch tolerance. More touch would improve our health, disposition and well-being. A recent study found that premature babies in intensive care given 45 minutes of massage a day were able to leave the hospital days earlier and need thousands of dollars less in medical services.