Every ritual-in fact, every magical act-we perform relies
on our ability to move energy through our bodies. Understanding
energy is the key to understanding how to work
magic. It's the word we hear most often when people talk
about magic, and it's the least well defined. Mostly we
learn what the word means from context-how people
talk about energy.
The word energy means something different to a scientist.
If you know the scientific definitions of the word,
it's very tempting to use them to explain magical energy,
so it's important to keep in mind that they're not the
same. The scientific understanding of energy is at best a
metaphor for magical energy; if you lean too much on
the hard science definitions, you run the risk of limiting
your understanding of how energy works in the occult
In daily life we talk about the energy that makes electricity,
which runs the house at the flip of a switch. Companies
buy and sell this type of energy as a commodity.
We also talk about physical energy (our ability to move
around, whether we are tired or fresh and relaxed) and
emotional energy (whether we are depressed or excited
and raring to go!).
In magical terms, energy means something different
from all of these definitions. It is a power that we cannot
measure with an instrument. Magicians talk about an
energy body, which can circulate and store energy. There
is also the energy of the forces around us: the elements of
fire and wind and water, the planet earth, and the other
planets in our solar system.We understand the energy of
these forces and how they interlace within our world.
Energy constantly moves in your body. You can attract
energy from other sources, and circulate it inside yourself.
You can also use your body to move energy around in ritual
space. In this chapter we will be focusing on how your
personal energy interacts with the energy of your environment,
and how to control that interaction consciously.
The body comes equipped with its own human energy.
Martial artists sometimes call this energy chi or ki. You
can feel it very easily just by raising your hands.
Lift your arms to chest level and turn your hands so
that the palms face each other. Hold them there for
a moment or so. You have set up an energy connec-
tion between your hands.What do you experience?
Do you see the energy, or feel it? Give yourself a
moment to notice your reaction before you read on.
It's okay if you don't feel anything; it can take some
time to become aware of chi. People often describe the
feeling of energy flowing between their hands as tingly or
warm. You might have even found that your hands started
to heat up and felt a pressure against your palms. People
usually use physical analogues to describe energy: color or
brightness (red or yellow, dull or bright), texture or temperature
(smooth or rough, hot or cool), and pitch or volume
(high or low, loud or soft).
Just as the physical body has organs and blood vessels,
the energy body has chakras (centers of energy) and meridians
(channels of energy). The energy or subtle body also
has a skin: the aura. Energy is constantly circulating within
your energy body.We take it in and give it off, use it up in
activity and replenish it.
Health is essential to the practice of ritual magic. If the
physical body is trashed, the energy body is going to be
trashed too. That doesn't mean you can't do these exercises-
you can. Start circulating energy now, and that will
start to clear up the physical body too. Just follow up with
better health habits!
It is also important to pay attention to the health of the
energy body. You can damage your energy body just as
you can damage your physical body. Circulating energy
helps to keep the channels clear and flowing freely, and
protecting the chakras helps to keep them from knotting
up or losing energy.
Most energy work involves the central column. This is
a pathway through the center of the body from the head
to the feet. Centers of energy, or chakras, are located along
the central column. The energy body meridians extend
from the central column and branch out along your arms
and legs. There are also energy centers that give out and
take in energy in the palms of your hands and the soles of
your feet. (See Figure 2 in chapter 7.)
We don't normally notice the pumping of the heart,
and most of the time we aren't conscious of the process of
breathing. In the same way, the energy circulation in the
energy body goes on at a level below conscious awareness.
We can become conscious of energy, just as we can
become conscious of our heartbeat. In fact, noticing our
heartbeat and breathing is a good way to begin learning
Sit in a comfortable chair or cross-legged on the
floor. Find your pulse by touching your wrist or any
other place you can find a heartbeat.Now breathe in
for four heartbeats, hold your breath for two heartbeats,
breathe out for four heartbeats, and hold your
exhalation for two heartbeats. Do this four times.
This can feel pretty strange the first time you do it. You
might find that your heartbeat slows down. That's okay,
just keep on counting. You might find that you're breathing
very quickly or slowly, depending on how fast your
heart is beating. If you breathe slowly you take in a lot of
oxygen, which might cause a little dizziness. All of these
effects go away with practice.
Many ritual techniques assume that we are able to control
our own breathing. We can use our breath to pull a
particular kind of energy into the body. We might use
rhythmic breathing to time a given operation. As air is
vitally necessary to our continuing ability to walk around
on the planet, it can become a carrier for the more subtle
energies we will work with.
Our personal energy exists within the field of energy of
the earth and it interacts with the earth's energy. Just as we
are constantly taking in physical energy from the air we
breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the sunshine
on our skin, so is our energy body constantly taking
in and giving out energy from the forces all around us.
The body's energy is especially linked to the energy of
the earth and the sun. All of us move around within the
energy field of the earth.We sometimes think of ourselves
as walking on the earth, but in truth we are walking
around inside the earth, as we are moving within an
atmosphere that extends many miles above us. The earth's
energy surrounds us-below, above, and all around-and
sustains us throughout our lives.
We can learn to consciously direct the energy of the
earth into our bodies. This serves as an immediate source
of energy when we're tired. Similarly, we can learn to take
excess energy from our bodies. Some people refer to this
exercise as grounding. The idea of grounding is to balance
the state of your energy body with the charge in the
earth's energy around you. If we're low on energy, we can
take some from the earth, and if we have a lot of energy
and it's making us jittery, we can put the extra back into
Touching the Earth: The Mountain
Take your shoes and socks off and stand on the
floor. If you can go outside, it's great to do this exercise
on the bare earth. Feel and see energy moving
from the earth through the soles of your feet, into
your body, all the way up your legs, up your central
column, to the top of your head. Now push the
energy from the top of your head back down the
central column, through your legs, and into the
Grounding is half of the process of grounding and centering.
Centering means finding out where the energy is in
your body, and starting every body and energy movement
from a sense of calm and power.
The easiest way to center is to focus on a part of the
body that martial artists call the one point or tan t'ien.
This is a point in the abdomen about two fingers' width
below the belly button. It's the center of gravity in the
body, the point of physical balance. The one point is a
very convenient place to start and end energy circulations.
Finding the Center
Stand with your feet about a shoulder's width
apart. Bend your knees slightly. Place your attention
at your one point. Now rock forward and back.
Let the rocking get smaller and smaller until you
balance and stop. Next, rock from side to side. Let
the rocking get smaller and smaller until you find
your center of balance, and stop naturally.
We can move energy into and out from the body
through the soles of the feet.We can also give out and take
in energy through the top of the head. The Tree exercise
trains us to draw energy from the earth and circulate it. It
also helps to cleanse and balance the energy body.
Feel and see energy moving out like roots from your
one point, down through your legs, to the soles of
your feet. Now push those roots down into the
ground. Keep pushing down, as far as you can go,
until you feel your roots coming to a natural stop.
When you have reached your comfortable depth,
see and feel energy moving up through your roots,
through the soles of your feet, and into your one
Next, feel and see the energy moving up your central
column, to the top of your head, and then a little
bit beyond to a chakra or globe a few inches above
your head. Let the energy spill out from that center
and shower down all around you back into the earth.
You are circulating earth energy up through your
roots, out the top of your head, and back through
your roots again.
When you have finished, let the energy fall back
down the central column to your one point. Gradually
feel and see your roots ascending back through
the earth, through the soles of your feet, and back
into your one point.
We naturally draw energy from the earth. Like all other
living things, we also draw energy from the sun, and to a
lesser extent from the moon. We can also learn to consciously
circulate solar and lunar energy through the
Sun and Moon
Stand where you can see the sun or moon. It's nice
if the light can be touching your skin but not necessary.
Now see and feel the energy center just above
your head. See and feel the moonlight or sunlight
entering that center. Draw it down through the central
column to your one point. From there, push
the energy out along your arms and along your
legs. Feel it filling up your body.
When you have finished, let the energy move
down your legs through the soles of your feet and
into the earth.
Once we have filled ourselves with energy, we can use it
in a magical working or we can push it back down into the
earth.We do not return solar and lunar energy by pushing
it up out the central column back toward the sky.Whenever
we have generated more energy than we can use in an
energy exercise, the best thing to do with it is to push it
back down into the earth. There are two reasons for this.
First, moving energy down the central column is safest for
the human body, as it tends to balance and calm your
energy. Also, the human energy body is more attuned to
the energy of the earth, and belongs to the earth's field.We
can pull energy in from the planets, but it is much harder
to exchange energy and give it back-it will still be moving
through the earth's field. So to ground excess energy, we
put it down into the earth.
With the exercises in this chapter we have begun to
take conscious control of the energy body. In the next few
chapters we will study the senses of sight and hearing,
movement, and learn to work more effectively in the