This week’s post, part of the Pagan Blog Project 2012 is about Energy.
Energy seems to be, especially for the newcomer, some strange ethereal thing that we are told to tap into, to feel, to connect with, it’s everywhere and nowhere. In every book we are told to ‘raise’ energy for our workings, right from Casting to any magical work we do. We’re told to cleanse ourselves or our tools of ‘negative energy’ It’s mentioned as central in both beginner and advanced books and it’s suggested we utilise it for nearly all of what we do, from healing of plants, humans or animals to cleansing stones and crystals and ourselves. If we are attending an open ritual we often hear that the energy was ‘good’ or if it didn’t work so well ‘energyless’, if it really didn’t work they might go so far as to say ‘bad’! People are sometimes said to have ‘good’ or ‘bad’ energy. But what does that actually mean? What do we actually physically do when we see, feel or work with this ‘energy’
The (wiki and Oxford English) dictionary defines energy thus
En –er –gy 1) The feeling or vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity
2) a feeling of possessing such strength and vitality.
3) Power derived from the utilisation of chemical or physical resources
Especially to provide light or work machines.
Ok so what we gather from that is that this vitality is something held within ourselves if it isn’t provided by machinery, it’s a physical thing within our physical bodies. So how then does that help when we are talking about the energy of a Circle or place? What do the books mean by ‘negative energy’ and how will we tell if what we are feeling is energy – could it just be the tickle caused by your hair on your neck? If it isn’t how do we know if it is ‘negative’ how can we tell the difference?
The answer is two fold, first you learn how to sense the energy, you learn to recognise when it is there and when it is not, then you learn to feel and understand it.
The first time I really felt energy in a group of people, and really understood what it meant was when we’d just gone through a ritual that those of more experience than I described as ‘energyless’ we were a group of women that had come together at a camp and it fell to volunteers to run the ritual. Apparently this ritual didn’t really work. I’d enjoyed it, the drumming and chanting was beautiful to my mind, the movements of the lady leading were like some sort of dance to the Moon and the land around us, but apparently it was lacking. I had no idea what they meant – it was about on a par with what I’d been doing at home. Afterwards people sort of sighed and said ‘ok what next’ – we went back to the campsite and someone put on a cd of pagan music, there was one particular song that was a favourite with the group, it had a strong drum beat and distinctive tune. This came on, a few people still carrying their drums from earlier started to drum along, soon everyone got up and an impromptu dance started, a circle of women all drumming and dancing to this song. We got louder, and faster,circling, stamping, whirling, chanting and drumming…. and suddenly it felt as though we were One being, of One mind and One goal – which we were because we were all focusing on the same thing. Soon the cd ended, but we danced on oblivious as what we were now creating had taken over, we felt empowered, full of joy and happiness and oneness, we were together and celebrating, we were Women and we could take on the World! That’s what energy within a group ritual is meant to feel like.
Because the energy that night was not directed, it was ‘raised’ (created) but not directed – such as into a healing – what happened was slowly people came out of the almost trance state and just stopped, we had danced ourselves beyond energising and into tiredness..the energy dissipated and people settled down, but what was left was a feeling of both euphoria and contentedness. We all knew we had created something tangible, and now we felt complete. Food was brought out (by those who knew that grounding would be good right about now) and we had a lovely meal and talk turned to things of an occult and esoteric nature, rituals attended, communion with divinity, how we each found our path and where we hoped it would lead. In fact the sign of a good ritual. You see when ritual in a group works at the end of it you feel as you would if you’d spent a week with these people, got to know them as friends, being part of something bigger than yourselves, and rather than a vague feeling of unfulfillment and people doing their own thing you are drawn together out of a mutual connection that you don’t want to break. If you are left feeling deflated or unfulfilled, something you may not be able to put your finger on that is an energyless ritual, if you come home dancing and skipping and humming the chant or grinning all over your face that is a good ritual. If you come home feeling completely drained and possibly fearful, worried that you have done something wrong or with the feeling of imminent doom – that’s a ‘bad’ ritual.
Energy within a group ritual is not the same as the energy of the land, or a place, for that you need to pay attention to every little nuance of feeling of your body, sometimes energy can be felt as a breeze around you when there is no wind, just the feeling of movement against your skin. Tiny and miniscule. When I started to get training with the current group I was convinced that I would never be able to feel energy much less create it, and then someone suggested a trip out to sense ley lines, those lines of energy that criss cross the land. There was no way in this world I would be able to sense them – hadn’t I been riding the local bridlepaths for years without so much as a hint that there might be something there?. However through gentle leading I was able to, for me ley line energy feels like the fluttering of tiny wings around the region of my sacral chakra, a tiny reaction I would never have paid attention to – that and a sort of ‘leap’ of feeling, almost as though I’d been tickled and gone ‘oooh!<giggle> Once I’d identified that as the reaction I was able to ‘tune in’ to it and feel what was not a ley line (because the reaction wasn’t present) The point was I’d felt it before and paid not a jot of attention to it – what a revelation! From there I learned to sense other energy. This was done by putting objects in front of me and with closed eyes sending my focus out towards them – I wasn’t aware of what those objects were, just to observe how I perceived them through what I felt. I only found out afterwards what they were. Crystals felt ‘bouncy’ a china rabbit felt like a slow and heavy pulse – again once I’d identified what was ‘energy’ I was able to tune in to other energy and learn what worked for me, what I could feel and what I couldn’t. This process is ongoing because we never stop learning. I learned to send out my focus to a place, going deep into the earth to ‘feel’ and learn how it felt compared to other places, I learned to do the same to trees and plants. Standing under the big electric pylons is a great place to sense energy! You can’t miss the power of the electric cables!
Of course the other side of feeling is sending energy and for that all you need to do is visualise it, I describe visualisation as ‘imagining very hard, with every molecule of your being you are Doing this’ once you get the hang of feeling you can get the hang of ‘sending’ you mentally ‘push’ as hard as you can. For beginners this is the first step, to those more experienced then the fine tuning and control work begins.
Energy to me is tangible but if you had told me ten years ago that I would be able to do this I would have laughed and said ‘I wish’ if I can learn it anyone out there doubting their ability can certainly learn.
It takes time to identify how you feel it, to learn what is relevant to you. When I started out I thought I understood how it all worked but I was never totally sure that what I thought I felt was what the book meant when it explained how I should feel. The trouble with this path (I’m talking in general and mostly including Wicca and it’s offshoots) is that it’s experiential, regarding Everything! The emphasis is on the practitioner to build up the layers of experience and results to form their own understanding and relationship with what they do, from communion with Diety to energy work. I can only tell you what works for me, you will probably be different because you are also an individual with your own perceptions. Something that’s worth remembering is that you will also differ from the author of the books you are reading.
You can create your own energy or channel it by visualisation, this is how things are ‘cleansed’ or ’empowered’ or ‘charged’ you push your energy into them and visualise what it’s doing. Maybe filling something with bright white light, or washing away something like washing off a dark stain with light. You could use the energy to send healing, personally I visualise it as a golden warming ray of sunshine winging it’s way to that person, for me I have to follow it the whole way, guiding it from wherever I am to where it is going, whooshing round the world in space or speeding through the air, I then visualise that person receiving it, being bathed in it and being renewed and empowered, healed. That works for me – for you that might sound like a load of twaddle and for you that would be right, becuase you have to find your own way.
There is something else I’d like to address though, we have talked about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ energy, often described as ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ what I’ve observed is that energy is energy, it’s how it’s used that can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to say energy is ‘negative’ rather implies that there are two poles of it, that all energy can be split in two and assigned a ‘side’ – in my experience it’s just the feel of the energy and how it’s been or being used. Energy just ‘is’ it has no ‘side’ or ‘pole’ negative or positive. When the words in some ritual describe ‘cleansing of negative energy’ I tend to go with ‘cleansing of anything detrimental’ Something that feels ‘bad’ probably is but it’s not a polarity of energy, just that whatever you are peceiving as ‘bad’ is detrimental to you, It might not be detrimental to someone or something else. It’s interesting that in group rituals (I know I go on about these but it’s what I know best) everyone can go through the same thing and although the goal is for everyone to focus on exactly the same thing, people’s perceptions of how it went and the energy can vary greatly, even if everyone feels essentially the same they will have their own perception that will vary from others in the group. Some may feel warm, some cold, some buzzing, some humming…you get the idea.
I guess what I’m trying to say with this post is that there’s more to ‘it’ than just saying a few words and going through the motions– as many new to the path do – don’t be discouraged if you read about ‘energy’ and think you could never do that, most assuredly you can. There is a vast hidden world out there that it’s worth persevering to discover.