The word “energy” is ambiguous, used as a cover word to describe a set of experiences and sensations, which may not actually be energetic at all. It’s a convenient word used to conceptualize those experiences, but at the same time it’s a fuzzy word because the experiences that fall under the umbrella term “energy” may not have anything to do with energy. Part of where this ambiguity comes from is associating the word energy with Chi. There’s no direct translation of Chi into English and so energy has been used as the word that roughly describes what Chi may or may not be (Bonewits 2007, Yang 2003).
Recently, as I was doing a breathing exercise to help me work through what would be termed an “Energetic Blockage,” I realized that the term wasn’t accurate to what I was experiencing. There was a gap between the concept of the energetic blockage and the reality of the experience I was actively involved in. I realized that the term “Energetic Blockage” could be used to describe the experience, but it wasn’t really accurate to that experience.
The actual experience was an awareness of physical tension in my body that was linked to an emotional issue I’ve been working on for the last couple of months. As I did my breathing exercise, I consciously focused on the physical tension, and specifically on allowing myself to feel it and work through the resultant emotions and thoughts that came up as I felt it1. Eventually I was able to work through the tension to a point where it was no longer physically bothering me. The emotional tension had also died down. I’m by no means finished working through this issue, but for the moment the sensation was no longer prevalent.
The breathing exercise I used is a Taoist exercise for dissolving physical and psychological tension in a person’s body. Both breath and chi are utilized in the dissolving process, but that doesn’t mean energy is involved. In fact, what I felt was involved was a conscious effort to be present with the emotions and thoughts I felt, and a sense of movement in the tension itself. I feel that same movement anytime I’m doing breathing meditations and as such would characterize it as my experience of Chi. I’m not sure that awareness of movement would automatically mean that Chi equals energy however.
My point in bringing this up isn’t to be overly semantic, though it may seem like I am being just that. Rather, it’s to question carefully the words we use to describe the experiences we have. While energy is a convenient term to use, it’s also become an umbrella term to describe a wide variety of sensations and experiences. And whether we are using energy in the quantum physics sense of the word or using energy as a biological field of electromagnetism, or as the mysterious force of chi, when it becomes an umbrella term for all of those experiences and more, then it might be worth considering being more particular about how we use the word and also comparing that usage against the actual experiences we have.
The word energy is used in so many different settings that it’s not surprising some occultists are skeptical of the word. My own skepticism comes more from the conscious experience I mentioned above, which has prompted me to consider how the energy paradigm may be used as another way of fully being present with the body. If we can take sensations we feel and make them abstract by referring to them as energetic phenomenon, then we can also avoid being present in the body, and also being present with the emotions linked to those sensations, at least initially. And that may actually be beneficial, given that Western cultures, in particular, are body phobic. Having a word such as energy represent the sensations we feel might then make those sensations easier to deal with on a psychological level.
At the same time, when I feel a flush of heat stir in my hands because I’m doing a Taoist exercise that uses Chi, I recognize that a physiological reaction is occurring. The sensations of heat and movement that I’m aware of tell me I’m working with some kind of force or awareness that effects me on the physical as well as metaphysical level. When I do rituals, these same sensations can be felt and indicate that the ritual is occurring. And what I realize is this: Accepting that I feel these sensations in my body allows me to fully integrate my body into magical work. Instead of needing to use an abstract concept to explain what the sensations are, I can simply choose to be present with my awareness of those sensations and accept them as physiological expressions my body is sharing to indicate that all of me is present and focused on this ritual working I’m doing.
I do think the word energy has value in metaphysical discussions. I just question how we use the word, and if the use causes people to neglect or ignore an experience they could otherwise have. Taking a moment to just be in an experience without labeling it with a word or explaining it way or analyzing it can be the key to fully allowing a person to come face to face with the moment s/he is in. and welcome what s/he experiences for what it is.
- Bonewits, Isaac & Phaedra. (2007). Real energy: Systems, spirits. and substances to heal, change and grow. Franklin Lakes: New Page Books.
- Yang, Jwing-Ming (2003). Qigong meditation: Embryonic breathing. Boston: YMAA Publication Center.
- Quick Note of Clarification: It’s true that people feel tension or stress all the time, but we also get good at ignoring it. Consciously being aware of tension is inviting yourself to feel it and discover what the source of that tension is.
©2010 by Taylor Ellwood.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.
In my last column, I suggested that the western magical tradition can be seen as a response to Plato’s theory of Ideas. If we imagine that magic interacts with a world of more primary forms than our physical senses can detect, we are Neoplatonic. If we argue the opposite, that there is no such Ideal world, we are Aristotelian and, usually, materialists who do not do magic at all. However, even if we are Chaos Mages who suggest that magic is mostly a matter of internal belief, and that there is no world of Ideas external the mind of individual magicians, we’re still responding to Plato.
If Plato is right, and there is an essential world of Ideas, for magic to be real would mean that it must appeal to that essential world. If such an essential world exists, its essential truths must be universal. Perhaps the shape of those truths would be different, but any culture of any time that perceives that truth, will perceive the same.
For example, every culture that looks into the geometry of a circle will discover that the diameter of the circle encircles the circumference of the circle 3.14 times. If they have sufficient mathematical sophistication, they will even recognize that this number is irrational and continues an infinite number of nonrepeating digits after the decimal point. It doesn’t matter if we call this number pi, or Liu Hui’s constant, or the Archimedes Constant. It remains true, regardless of our ideas about it. We cannot legislate pi.
Even though we cannot know pi in its totality, we do not propose that there is not, for example, a ten billionth digit of pi. In fact, we know there is, and we know that it is one of ten numerals, although we may not know which one. And since there is no perfect circle in the physical world, we also know that it does not rely on any physical object whatsoever to calculate.
Similarly, if magic is real and we believe in the Platonic ideal, then we know that there should be some things about magic that are essential, and some that are incidental or contingent. Those contingent things will change, from society to society or even from practitioner to practitioner. But the essential things, for real magic, for magic that works, will remain the same. Of course, some people may do magic that doesn’t work, just as someone might try to calculate the area of a large circle using the approximation that pi = 3, and find themselves receiving an incorrect answer. At the same time, we cannot suggest that the essentials of magic boil down to a popularity contest. If a million people think that pi = 3, they will be wrong, no matter how persuasive they are. It doesn’t matter how many votes it gets: pi is not a popularity contest.
Yet we can say, with some certainty, that diverse cultural practices operating on the same principles may be pointing to an underlying essential truth to magic. Of course, they could also point, as a skeptic would argue, to an underlying flaw in the capabilities of human reason.
For my purpose I am content to point out a few of the similarities across cultures as possible pointers toward an essential truth about magic. I am not pretending to be exhaustive, and certainly there is room for argument.
Fortunately, my work is done for me by Sir James George Frazer, whose The Golden Bough (1922) was one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. Frazer pointed out several similarities between the magical practices of diverse peoples. He did not suggest, as I do, that these may point to some underlying truth about magic, but he did suppose that it represented an underlying structure of culture.
Frazer identifies two principles of the practice of sympathetic magic: the law of similarity and the law of contagion. The law of similarity says that any two items that appear the same are, in some sense, the same. This recalls Iamblichus’s practice of using symbols of divine forces to direct those forces. A hawk is Horus, because the two are similar. Similarly, gold is the sun, because they partake of similar signatures. In non-western magic, we see the same thing: a plant with a human-shaped root might stand for a person, or a mantra might be regarded as the God it invokes. Contagion suggests that any two objects in contact remain in contact. We see this practice in the Christian mass: the bread that Jesus broke is still in contact with all other bread, which is itself in contact with the flesh of Christ, and therefore is the flesh of Christ. In nonwestern practices, it’s common enough to require hair or other leavings of someone for or against whom one wishes to work magic. Frazer regards both of these ways of thinking as “mistakes,” of course, but really they represent the very basis of fundamental symbolic thought.
Symbolic thought is that ability of abstraction that allows us to say “this word ‘water’ represents this substance.” Moreover, it allows us to say “this substance in this cup is the same as the substance in the ocean; I can abstract them with the same symbol.” We find, then, that one of the roots of magical practice, the world over, is symbolic thought. Magic cannot work unless the world is abstracted into ideas.
It’s worth noting that it is the process of abstraction, not the result of the abstraction, that matters. In other words, it doesn’t matter what collection of sounds you choose to use to represent the concept of water: “water” or “agua” or “mayim.” What matters is that you do the abstraction and that you share that abstraction with others. Of course, if you say “mayim” and no one around you speaks Hebrew, you’ll be in trouble. But “agua” isn’t an inherently better word than “mayim.”
Looking back, I find it interesting that I ended up using language as my metaphor. Of course, it makes sense: what are words but symbols? And what are symbols for, if not to communicate? The importance of communication brings me to the next universal of magic: magic operates on the principle that we are communicating with something or someone outside of our physical perception. Ancient Greeks threw tablets down wells to communicate with the chthonic gods, while medieval European magicians conjured angels. Yoruba magicians make offerings to gods. Tantrikas invoke protector deities. Even our etymologies betray the magical importance of communication: evoke and invoke both contain the root “vocare,” meaning “to call,” and “enchant” means “to sing into.”
We also, in looking at magical practices the world over, find the notion of separation nearly everywhere. The Shaman is separated from society, the medieval wizard draws a circle, and the “hedgewitch” lives on the border (the hedge) of the village. This separation amounts to a cutting off not just of society but of the physical world; there is a turning inward which is in its final analysis a turning outward into the world of ideas, a mental world no less real than the physical. Physical objects are merely means to that end, symbols that are meant to stir something in the mind.
Few magical practices fail to emphasize the importance of mental preparation. Even medieval magic focused on mental preparation, although the grimoires we have seem more concerned with the proper furniture and clothes in the temple. If one looks farther, at the works of — for example — Giordano Bruno, one quickly finds that there’s an emphasis on mental training. That mental training is not simply trance work, either, although that is certainly present. There’s also training of memory and philosophical training.
It’s easy to imagine that our culture’s practices are, in essence, absolute. But obviously we must have some ways of thinking of things that are curtains on the window, and not the light itself. We must have decorative notions that are not essential to magic. It’s worth while, in looking at the commonalities, to look at what is not common to all cultures as well.
The first thing that sticks out for me is “energy.” Few cultures recognize the concept of energy as essential to magic. Certainly, Chinese magic has qi and Polynesian magic has mana, but neither of these are energy. Qi literlly means “breath,” and could probably better be translated “life force.” Force is not a synonym of energy, as any basic physics student could tell you. Similarly, mana means something a lot more like “embodied authority” than “energy.” And if you doubt that our ancient predecessors lacked a term for energy, do try to translate the term into Latin. You may find yourself stymied: the closest similarities to the word in even its mundane sense fall short of what we mean by it. The ancients did not have the concept of energy divorced from work or power (which are, again, distinct concepts).
So why do so many magicians in modern America talk about “magical energy?” It’s not ignorance and it’s not laziness. Just as the word “agua” means “water” in Spanish, the word “energy” represents, in a magical context, one of the essential characteristics of magic. It’s not some mystical energy that any physicist will ever discover in any lab, be her instruments ever so advanced. But “energy” in western magic fulfills a simple role, easy to determine if you read this signifier in context. Every time a book on magic mentions “energy,” it hastens to point out that this energy responds to intention. It’s not like electricity, or light, or heat, or kinetic energy, or anything else, because unlike those kinds of real literal energies, it pays attention to what we want. In fact, it represents a quality essential to magic: willful action.
Magic, always and everywhere, is not an accident; it is a willful action. Of course, there are accidental powers that we would classify as magical, and seem to share some similarities. For example, in Timor some people believe in a malignant power which comes out of an unsuspecting woman and does harm to the community. And of course there are spirits or other entities who might act according to their own wills. But, like fire, while it may get out of hand and do damage, magic is a technology that we use, like all technologies, deliberately.
Energy is a symbol of that intentionality. Other cultures provide other symbols. Ainu shamans sit under cold waterfalls, for example, as a sign of their willingness to suffer to heal others and speak for the dead. And we can see that mana and qi are, then, similar to the symbol of energy in that they represent, in culturally specific and different ways, the intentionality of magic.
Obviously, there may be more essential shared characteristics; it would take a book to examine them all. But we can sum it up in a simple definition: magic is an intentional and symbolic act of communication with a nonphysical reality.
If magic were only the wishful thinking of deluded people, we would not expect it to share any similarities across culture. And we can expect the trappings to differ, as long as the essence remains the same, just as we can expect the name of “pi” to change from culture to culture, while its value remains the same. At the same time, one could argue that magic is delusion, but that delusion has some essential quality, and so shares similarities from culture to culture. This possibility, while perhaps appealing to skeptics, would be hardly any less amazing than magic itself. Both possibilities point toward some essential quality of the human mind, or perhaps of consciousness itself.
©2009 by Patrick Dunn.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.
Patrick Dunn has written two books on the occult, Postmodern Magic: The Art of Magic in the Information Age and Magic Power Language Symbol: A Magician’s Exploration of Linguistics. He lives near Chicago, where he teaches and writes. You can find his blog here.
Energy. It powers our bodies, forms thoughts in our heads, helps our vehicles move, and affects every aspect of our lives in some way. Most forms we use come from the resulting reactions between two or more things, such as between sparks and gasoline in a car, though this is overly simplistic. In much the same way, the Shiva and Shakti energies of Kundalini operate in Kundalini exercises: the Shakti-energy that travels up the energy centers unites with the Shiva-energy, producing an altered state of consciousness.
What happens when this process of energy is stalled or blocked? A car eventually burns its engine out when you don’t change the oil, and similarly, people get “burnt out.” Energy work, or at least the healthy communication of energy within, is like an oil change. I recommend you maintain an energy flow and perform unblocking exercises every so often, or you could burn out. But does energy work have to be Reiki, a Kundalini awakening, or another esoteric practice? No, not necessarily. It can be something as simple as talking to someone and sharing an aspect of yourself with them, even your latest obsession or general interest.
Energy communication happens with and within all things, but it is the active engagement of the world around us, as I see it, that makes the difference in how our energies balance. It is one thing to give your car minimum maintenance; it is a whole other thing to take your car in for engine work. For us, having to be rung up at your corner store is like the minimum maintenance, whereas allowing ourselves to become more in tune with or closer to others is the engine work. Communicating with other people allows transference between our energy systems, just as does sharing a meal, having sex, or giving a hug.
There’s always the possibility that your problems are superficial, maybe the result of too much stress or old conditioning needing correction. In my view, humans are a continuous work in progress. That progress can’t be made if we ignore the whole self, and only concentrate on the subtle energies, or on the physical world. Many of us simply ignore our “lower needs” in lieu of “higher things,” whether its denial of sex for purity, denial of food for an impossible body image, while overindulging in another area to fill a hole inside.
I ignored my lower needs for a while, and in the process of doing that, found myself enjoying life less when I thought I should have been enjoying it more. Denying yourself is still denying your Self. I denied myself food and so, had less energy for the things I wanted to do. I tried to fill this hole by drinking energy drinks. I denied myself connection with others, and felt isolated from the world. I tried to fill this hole with work. For every energy I denied myself, I looked for a way to replace it. I found my problems solved when I learned to moderate how much food I ate, by giving myself private time, and time with people I cared for much more equally. By letting others share their energy with me and vice versa, I found a better balance in my life.
Let me blunt and upfront: energy work, energy healing, Kundalini release, and so on will not fix your issues overnight, and will not pay your bills for you. There is, as with any mystical or magical undertaking, a practical aspect that you must initiate. However, I do not feel this means that our subtle energies do not affect us; on the contrary, I think they can be of great effect.
I have had my own experience with energy healings done for me. In general, what I see they do is work within the natural order of how your body is supposed to function. If I am sick and someone does an energy healing for me, it is to help power up my body, mind and/or spirit, as much as it is to help wipe out the virus, sickness, bad habit, etc. Sometimes the greatest thing a healing can do is give you the kick in the ass you need to get over something on your own.
You might ask, “Wait, what about attaining enlightenment or talking to your Holy Guardian Angel or whatever?” Sure, energy work can help you get there, but if you can’t even let go of the world around you, or work within it, what enlightenment would you receive, and what good would come of it? Energy work can help us align with the ideas of enlightenment, whatever yours happen to be. I stress the practicality of energy work not because enlightenment is not important, but because I feel that people should align their lives to better allow that communication. I also stress it because far too many people I know go in search of enlightenment through asceticism and energy work without taking care of the physically real work that needs to be done to allow such a thing into their lives.
In order to host a party for new guests, one needs a clean home, stocked with food and drinks, and have enough space for the guests. Allowing Deity, enlightenment, or what have you into our lives is no different; we should have prepared for it in some fashion, even if every time we go for it we are not at our peak. Not every party goes as planned, or is planned for that matter. Life would be pretty bland without the spark of chaos in it.
For instance, this writing has not gone how I had planned it. I had planned to extol the virtues of working deep within yourself, on how meditation could unwind your mind and let your energies flow more freely. I had planned on writing about how good it can feel to do energy work and healing. It would be partial bullshit, because there’s a balance.
Energy work and healing isn’t always a good thing. Too much and a person runs to it to solve all his problems. Sometimes energy healings touch places with deep, harsh wounds that take a while to resolve, or bring out memories, feelings, anxieties, pains, and traumas that seemed better left alone. And sometimes, healing simply doesn’t work, disheartening the practitioner and recipient alike. Energy healings can take so much out of those involved that they may cause issues to develop, or a co-dependency to form between them. There are just as many pitfalls as there are benefits, more if you go in with rosy-colored glasses about the whole affair.
Despite all the potential problems, work can change perspective, heal us from within, help us move beyond our issues, maybe even enlighten. Just recently, I had an energy healing done. I had been keeping back a lot of anxiety from my loved ones, holding back the stress of losing a job and of not being able to find another. I held to my old conditioning, and didn’t talk about or let it out. On top of this, I had trust issues rearing their heads in my relationships, especially with my girlfriend. My sex drive was all but dead, and much of my enthusiasm for life was gone. My root and sacral chakra were spinning, but the energy wasn’t going anywhere. I had blocks.
I wasn’t thinking about that when my girlfriend asked me to let her do a healing ritual for me. I thought it was the standard “recharge the batteries” work that would get my juices flowing a little. It was a simple ritual, with bells rung about each of my chakra centers to help clear the energetic space there. The effect was dramatic and immediate. I could feel arousal, I could feel that indescribable zest for life, that feeling of “life is good and going to be okay” that I had not felt in months. Was it just a psychosomatic reaction? Was it because of the healing? I’m not a doctor, a researcher or scientist, but whatever it was, it worked. It had a practical end result that pushed me to open up, not just sexually but as a person, and to listen to my intuition. Things have been improving in our relationship and in my relationships with friends and family. I’ve reconnected with people who I otherwise would not have, and have found my “ground” again in life.
This brings with it many challenges that I have and will continue to face: past conditioning, self-image issues, the lack of listening to my instincts, helping old relationships get back on their feet, and maintaining current ones instead of shutting down when things get rough. For you, the work you do with subtle energies may be more or less significantly less challenging, or more, or less utilitarian. It may challenge your views, your long-held habits, maybe even beliefs about yours or the world. I think that is one of the real joys of working with subtle energy: like everyday life, it is unique to us and our experiences.
©2009 by Sarenth
Edited by Sheta Kaey
Animal Reiki to Go
by Mary Caelsto
The Lotus Circle (February 16, 2009) $20.00
128 pages plus keychain charm and drawstring pouch
There are several books and other resource that cover reiki for animals, either as the entire book or as part of a broader work. However, this one’s nice “to go” as the title says, as a pocket-sized kit for the reiki practitioner. Just a note to start off with – I only got the book to review, not the keychain or pouch, so the review’s only for the book.
I think the best target audience for this book would be people who already have a basic knowledge of reiki, and want to expand that to nonhuman animals. While the author does give a very basic summary of reiki for contextual purposes, I wouldn’t want to use it as my only source (a bibliography or recommended reading section would have been a bonus in the back, but is sadly missing).
That being said, if you already are a reiki practitioner, then you’ll find some great analogues between human and nonhuman animal treatment. Caelsto does a good job of showing just how simple it is (sometimes!) to transfer knowledge of practice on humans and transferring it to other animals. For example, she shows where the seven primary chakras are on other animals, and explains how best to work on them. This includes some incredibly valuable practical and safety issues – some animals simply do not like being handled, while others are shy around certain parts of their bodies, such as the head.
Information on distance healing with reiki comes in very handy.
Caelsto also adds in some uses besides straight healing. She explains how to use reiki to protect a certain population of animals, such as an endangered species, or a herd of deer living near a busy road. Having done a good bit of activist magic myself, I had to applaud this quite a bit. (Though after reading the sentence “Don’t set traps, send reiki” from page 16, there’s part of me that totally wants to set up a reiki-based pest control service with that as the ad line!)
No, this isn’t the longest book on the subject, and as mentioned I would suggest it for people who already have the basic knowledge of reiki down. However, it’s concise and packed full of a lot of good, practical, hands-on (no pun intended) information on the topic at hand. Caelsto does a great job of explaining what to do, why to do it, and adds in some anecdotes to show some of the possible effects. She’s an effective teacher through writing, and while I would have liked more references, it’s a good book for what it was intended to be. Good either as part of the kit, or as a standalone text.
Four and a half pawprints out of five.
Review ©2009 Lupa
Edited by Sheta Kaey
Lupa is the author of Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, A Field Guide to Otherkin, and co-author of Kink Magic, among other works. You can read her blog at http://therioshamanism.com and see her website at http://www.thegreenwolf.com.
March 21, 2007 by Daven
Filed under altered states of consciousness, deity work, divination, energy work, general practice, invocation and spirit work, magick, mysticism, paganism, protection, ritual, spellcasting, wicca, witchcraft
Okay, you prepared your space. You sat and raised the Circle. You called your allies and astral entities to help. You have called the Quarters, done the Middle Pillar, communed with the Spirits, traveled to the Akashic Record.
You cut the Circle and dismissed the elements. You sent the energy off to do whatever that Power does to cause your spell to work.
What happens next? Most individuals will start putting away the trappings of their ritual and get on with their life, but I think there is a time here that is more important to the magician than simply cleaning up.
This is the time of magical aftercare.
In most sexual practices and relationships, there is a time when after the deed is done and you and your partner are lying together, when you simply exist in each other’s arms for a while. You lay with each other, commune with each other and just be. There is no pressure to do anything, no real discussion of anything; you simply exist in the after glow of an incredible experience, mutually shared.
Why can’t we do that with our spells? Why can’t we use that time to commune with the Gods and to exist with Them? Taking time to revel in the energies raised and to exist for a little while in that sacred space that you spent so much time creating and getting into — why must you destroy it by immediately starting the cleanup?
Some activities to think about in this period after the spell and ritual for you and your group include:
- Divination — Do some tarot readings for everyone, for yourself, and to see how successful the spell is going to be. After all, you spent all that time and energy getting into the mood and working to get into an alternate state of mind to do the magick, so why not use the time while you are in that state to do some related workings that aren’t as labor intensive?
- Reinforcing the Wards on your place of worship — It has always confused me: you spend all that time raising power, getting it to do what you want, making it move in certain specific ways, just to send it all into the Earth when you are done. Why? I understand that loose energy is a danger to the practitioners and to those in the immediate area, but why waste it? Spend a few minutes pulling that Power together and using it to shore up your personal defenses or your group Wards. The Power won’t show up anywhere except in your protections and it won’t be attracting things that should not be there. It will be helping you keep safe and it’s not just sitting there like a patch of tar on a white carpet.
- Grounding — Instead of grounding the energies into the actual ground, why not ground the energy into a “power sink,” i.e. a metaphysical battery? By doing this, you recharge the battery from what bleeds off and you put that grounded energy to a good use. You can do this with any enchanted object you possess and it thereby becomes another source of Power for you to draw upon next time you do a ritual or spell.
- Partying — Here you are, you invited all these spirits to you — your ancestors, your allies, your Gods, possibly even some angels. And once you are done you just dismiss them and move on with your life? How crass can you be? Calling them out of their warm homes to give you some power and then you say “KTHXBY!” Oh, you may tell them thank you, you can even say “stay if you will,” but what about saying, instead, “okay, go if you have to, but we are going to have a party and you are invited to participate!” Then commune with them. Allow them to be part of your life, and be part of theirs. I know your ancestors will be interested in finding out what has been going on, how you and your children are doing, and even finding out how your parents are. Most ancestors are gossipy old things, and they need news, so share it with them. Talk about your family to them, tell funny stories, and make it an event.
- Creation — Once again, you are in a ritual mindset. What’s wrong with using that mindset to create something? You already started with the ritual and the spell, because isn’t that just creation of a set of circumstances you desire? So why not go the next step and actually use that mindset to create amulets, talismans, sacred art, ritual tools, or just to write in your ritual book (whether you call it your grimoire or your Book of Shadows)? How about taking that mindset and using it to write down your impressions of the ritual, so that the event is preserved for future magicians? It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it just needs to be what you saw and felt. If everyone in the ritual does this, think of the group mind that can be built from that spiritual consensus.
- Gardening — I know it sounds nuts, but why can’t you spend a few minutes hugging a tree and letting that tree absorb some of the extra energies, or planting a seed that has to be planted at night? Some plants do better if planted in the light of the Full Moon, and the Gods know there are enough potions and spells that call for components from plants harvested at night. So mark those plants while you are out one day with some nice wide colorful ribbon and go out looking for them after your ritual. You won’t have to get into a sacred space again to harvest the herbs, since you already are there.
- Reinforcement — I know that once you have cast your spell you aren’t supposed to think about it anymore, but there occasionally comes a time when you have to do reinforcement of a spell you already cast. It can be as simple as giving it extra energy or as complex as re-targeting it to another changed goal. But those spells usually have to be helped along by the caster’s active participation.
As with any exercise or activity, use your head. It will be massively counterproductive if you do a ritual to create a servitor for your group and then do another major ritual which involves the creation of Wards after everything is pulled down, dismissed and put up.
Maintenance is the key word here. If you would normally do a small ritual to maintain a spell or process that already exists, this time after another ritual would be perfect to maintain and repair it. It’s a small use of power that pays out immensely when you have the time, and you can avoid doing a whole new ritual for the purpose (which is what most people do).
Once you feel tired and like you are coming down from the high that the ritual has put you into, simply stop and move on with your life. But you have to do something to dismiss those extra energies or they can stay and pull in even more energy to it, and those new energies aren’t always the nicest of effects. Frequently, they cause far more problems than they solve.
Eating food, drinking a sports drink, grounding the energy into the Earth — all these are the classic ways of getting rid of excess energy after a ritual. Try to see if you can’t come up with other means of using that extra energy and focus the next time you do a major ritual. If you can, then that’s one more rite you won’t have to do later.
And Time is always at a premium.
©2007 Eric “Daven” Landrum. Edited by Sheta Kaey
Eric “Daven” Landrum is a Seax Wiccan and the author of Daven’s Journal.