Posts Tagged energy

Everybody Knows…

I’ve noticed that one of the most common conversation-starters recently is ‘You’re never going to believe this but…’ or ‘I’m not crazy but…’

When people find out that you may be even a little bit sympathetic or knowledgeable about ‘the supernatural’, the stories start flowing. Ghosts, strange experiences, things that you don’t talk about as a matter of normal life for fear of being mocked, embarrassed or locked up in a room with rubber walls and crayons.

This week, I heard some wonderful tales about a ghost kitten that plays with the living cats around a house, a policeman who still performs his duties in what is now a domestic residence, the comparative effect of personal energy levels based on the weather, crystals or other people… call it what you will, there are things in this world that are currently unexplainable, but commonly felt.

I’ve never studied science formally past GCSE level, but have become fascinated with quantum theory and the effect of energies as we discover more and more about this great universe. I once asked an online science forum whether there were any studies of human energies (eg auric fields and suchlike) with a view to investigating how they can affect and be affected by their surroundings. Given that we clearly produce energy – by being living beings – the response I received was rather surprising. “Why bother, what’s the point?” Basically, such theories would be ‘bad science’, and best left to the likes of Uri Geller.

And yet, the theory is clearly tacitly understood by most of us. The ‘Matrix’ movies openly suggest human bodies can be used as batteries. A unit of energy consumed and burned by every one of us every day is immediately familiar – the calorie. These are the same calories that can be quantified by burning any fuel: coal has a calorie content (bad news for those pregnant ladies out there).

One of the basic beginner lessons in most ‘magic’ or energy work texts is the simple game of rubbing your hands together fast, then separating them while still remaining aware of the charge between your palms. Once you become more skilled, you can become able to sense (or even see) the energies of others, or direct focused energy yourself. From using a wand, a staff or even your finger, most of us have been ‘zapped’ at one time or another – hence ‘grounding’ is also a crucial beginner lesson.

Short of being nervous of the unknown, I am puzzled as to why so many feel such familiar actions or mysteries are not worthy of study – perhaps because the empirical scientific method may not be able to accurately assign meaning and category easily. Surely Jung’s widely known theories of the collective unconscious are worth pursuing? If divination is bunkum, why is it still practised – and practised successfully? There are still many things to be discovered about both the world around us and ourselves in relationship – curiosity should be encouraged, not stifled!

As I said at the beginning,  a lot of people simply want to tell me about their experiences, with a look in their eyes that just hopes I understand. They’re not mad. They experienced something as real as a handshake, as solid as a wall, as visible and tangible as anything else around us. To be then told that this was somehow ‘not valid, not real’ is both disrespectful and, frankly, ignorant.

Why simply ignore another’s story? Dismissing someone without listening, without even attempting to understand, degrades them and prevents you from possibly learning something new. Even if it’s something so unusual, unfamiliar or frightening, I try my best to comprehend what they experienced, to listen to the tone beyond the words – why are they telling me? Do they expect me to have an explanation (sometimes), or just wanting to be heard (more usually)?

Yes, sometimes judgment is impaired. Sometimes there is misdirection going on, misunderstanding or simply assigning the unusual to a basic activity for the sake of excitement or a ‘wow’ factor. But still, it can make a good story! Very few tales are utterly worthless; there is always a reason behind the telling, as well as the ‘data’ involved. Is it worth exploring further? Maybe, maybe not – but we all know, inside, that everyone has experienced something unexplainable. It’s whether they are brave enough to look deeper, or not.

If you’re walking this path of modern paganism, you’ll have experienced so much unusual ‘stuff’ that it’s probably not even unusual anymore. That’s the next level – realizing that the ‘supernatural’ isn’t. Even if we can’t quantify it with statistics, what exists in nature is, by definition, natural. So our experience is immediately validated – let’s press on, try to see what it means.

We’re just starting to move clearly into the dark time of the year. People are starting to think about Halloween, ghost-walks are going on in town centres, the television is full of ‘alternative’ entertainment. Ultimately, we as society like a good story, and a ghost story around the campfire is a tradition as old as humanity. We come to learn about living with the unexplained because we have to – there’s not an easy answer to everything.

But as the scientist can explain the intricacies of a healing drug, the engineer the workings of technology, so the druid, shaman or priest can help with the stranger side of life. Yes, it can be silly or funny to hear about a ‘supernatural’ experience… but it can also be deeply disturbing. This is why most feel the need to share with an ‘specialist’. Why they come up to me and nervously stammer ‘you’ll probably think I’m nuts, but…’

No. I don’t. I’ll listen. And then we’ll see what next. We move on together, explore, work with that connection.

Life is full of magic and mystery, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s up to us what we make of it.

Keep exploring, friends. The fire’s burning over here, if you want to come and sit awhile.

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Power

Some weeks ago, I came across this quote, from the inspiring writing of Rowan Pendragon:

‘Don’t be afraid of the word “power” or to call yourself powerful. If you’re not owning your power, someone else is!’

Short and sweet. But it stuck with me.

At the end of July, my partner and I took our annual trip to Druid Camp. I realized that I’d been going there for over ten years now, and every single year is different – usually with new things to learn, and experiences that push me forward (often in a quite undignified way). It’s a powerful time, as well as one of great community and friendship.

This year’s theme was the Cauldron of Cerridwen, the Tale of Taliesin. We were there to be inspired, after all, and for the duration of the week, a huge black cauldron was placed in the centre of the Camp, in the ritual circle that we created, into which we would place our offerings – as well as take time to guard it. This latter time became quite a social gathering as people came forward to talk, very much in the presence of the divine brew, words spilling forth and being heard. The rite culminated on Saturday in a great gathering of over 100 people, coming together to work with the Goddess, Cauldron, the Awen and what came forth from it.

Every evening, different groups were asked to perform ritual for the Camp as a whole, with my own Hearth undertaking the Friday night. What would be our focus? How would we tie in to this theme of inspiration, as well as facilitate a meaningful ceremony for what could well be quite a number of people of very varied shades of belief?

I suggested power. We invite those present to step forward, into the centre of the circle, and tell all present who they are, what they are doing, and what they promise to achieve in the next year – until we meet again at Camp 2012. Including ourselves.

And so we did. Around 50 people bravely stepped forward, making their vows, telling their tales, as the energy moved around the circle holding us together. Our community was strong, our inspiration flowed… and we all moved forward.

(Photo by William Camden Harding)

Last weekend was the annual Pagan Pride festival in Nottingham. Over 500 pagans, dressed in their finest, gathered in the centre of a modern Midlands city to march and declare their faith and unity. On a Sunday morning. Just as the shops were opening.

And again, we did it. So many people told me that it was their first ever pagan event… as we strode through the Marketplace and down the centre of the Boulevard! Police stopped traffic, Muggles lined the streets to stare and take photographs. Drums beat a compelling rhythm as we all shouted ‘We Are Pagan – We Are Proud!’

On both days, many people stood up publicly and proudly and declared themselves. All ages, all colours, all physical and mental ability. They claimed their own personal power, displayed their bravery in stating their words, proud in their resolve and determination. To quote a Druid phrase, ‘Heart to heart, hand to hand.’ Each time, the energy is tangible, active and potent.

Since then, the atmosphere in Britain has changed. Public displays of power are there for all to see: the anger of burning buildings, communities retaliating with brooms. Both groups joining on virtual networks before meeting in person. Everyone has something to say.

I sincerely hope that the displays of power that I have experienced this last month have been indicative of a growth in the sense of unity, joined community and like-mindedness. For too long, we have witnessed largely apathy, whingeing and unwillingness to take action. A change is in the air, it seems now, as people are starting to move, realizing the importance of our actions in life, taking a stand for their beliefs. Slowly, there is recognition of greater need for articulation, intelligent debate, asking questions.

We stand in our power, here, together. What do we do with it?

We move forward.

 

For more on Pagan Pride, visit organiser Esme Knight’s wonderful blog, or see more pictures c/o the BBC.

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The Need for Grounding

I thought I’d do another couple of posts that answer queries put to me in recent weeks, on topics that are fairly important as Foundation Level Paganism. Otherwise known as What the Books SHOULD Tell You (But Usually Don’t).

Not long ago, I got asked about Grounding. A friend had been show how, as one of the introductory exercises to a novice witch-in-training – but not been given much explanation. Why, he asked, do we need to ground? What does it do?

(Don’t panic, any Muggles in the audience. I’ll explain the terminology, bear with me.)

I quite liked this, and had to smile. It sums up a lot of the ‘how to’ books out there, in that pagan Learners of any path tend to be told what to do, but not necessarily why. We find out as we bimble along, making learner mistakes and bouncing back to exercises that help (once we realize why we were taught in the first place), but I agree – I’d quite like to know why I’m doing something as I go along.

Pagans – be they witches, druids, heathens, etc – don’t just believe or feel their faith, they practise too. And practise, as we know, is continuous (to make perfect, natch). A big foundation of that work is based on energy. Not to teach your grandma to inhale ovulations, but a lot of ‘magic’ is energy manipulation… which means grounding is necessary.

Grounding is basically taking the energy you’ve worked with or raised, and settling it back down again, bringing yourself back to reality and not in a small hyperactive bouncing bubble that burns out very quickly. Imagine a puppy on Red Bull. Follow this through. The crash is not pretty, and neither is the mess left in its wake.

Energy raising is something we all do, magic or not. Runners generate a lot of energy, for example. So do actors and performers. You know the energized feeling when you’re about to go on-stage – and that same buoyancy when you step off again afterwards? Whether you enjoyed the experience or not, that’s energy.

The classic training step is to rub your hands together fast, generating enough static that you can feel it when you pull your hands apart, like electricity zapping between your palms.

Taking on too much energy, or holding onto it with no release, is bad no matter how you do it. It goes to your head quickly, and while you are capable of accomplishing a fair bit, it may not necessarily be of any quality (you know the feeling of ‘nervous energy?’). And you will quickly burn out, with a huge pressure headache and possible physical collapse.

The best exercise for raising and grounding your energy in pagan work (or at all) is to plant your feet squarely on the floor, feeling yourself fully present, there and then, solid and firm in foundation. Barefoot is good, but not essential – your toes can wiggle inside shoes just as well, to properly feel the ground beneath you.

Imagine the soil beneath you. Yes it’s there, beneath all foundations. Just work through the concrete, wood, whatever – into the earth. There may well be tree roots, insects and small creatures, brick, bone. Just feel it.

Then draw some of that energy up through your feet, into yourself. Take it gently, but let it fill you. Wiggle feet, fingers, neck, shoulders. Open your eyes. Experience it. See how the world looks now you’re actually aware of your connection to it. Remember to breathe.

When you’re ready, let that energy flow down again, through your body and out into the earth beneath your feet. Feel yourself still planted, secure and solid. Breathe. Shake your head. Let the excess go.

If you feel wobbly or ‘spaced out’ at any stage, don’t panic – you’ve just taken on some of the energy from a planet. If you’re not used to it, the sensations will confuse you, but this won’t always happen. Simply crouch or kneel down, so your feet (toes are fine) and hands (fingertips) are touching the ground. Let some of the energy discharge down. If it persists, sit or lie down and let it flow from all of you.

For  the scientific explanation of what you just did, feel free to investigate books on physics (I find quantum does it best). The idea that all energy is connected is basic, but you are simply working with that connection, sharing energy in the same manner as you share breath with those around you – people, trees, plants, animals, birds… all the same molecules.

When you hold that energy, you can use it for whatever you wish. You can move around – your feet will always be connected to the floor, after all; you’re both a conduit and a battery. Ritual, magic, sticking balloons to walls – your choice. But the need for grounding will become apparent from the first time you forget and feel the consequences. It is necessary. Don’t ever take it for granted.

And spiritually, I find it’s also nice, from time to time, to say Thank You.

The best recent source I’ve found on energy work, if you want to learm more, is from the late, lamented Isaac Bonewits: ‘Real Energy’. Or feel free to email me 🙂

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