Basic Energy Work, Step by Step

The basic skills developed through the following exercises constitute a cornerstone for many of the techniques and practices detailed on this site, and elsewhere. The concept and use of magical energy is in some ways hallmark of 20th Century magic, and is no less applicable to magic in the 21st Century. This basic energy work is a starting point for too many things to list. 

In addition to magical value, this basic energy work has general benefits include improved mental and physical health, creativity, and intuition, to name but a few.  

R. Eugene Laughlin

Introduction

What constitutes basic energy work varies from the place to place, person to person. There are wide-ranging opinions on what magical energy is let alone when and where it’s needed, and how to “raise” or access it, etc. Rather than try to address them all, the following examples will suffice as a starting point for defining what magical energy is in the context of these exercises. 

20th Century Examples

Paul Huson, in his one-time influential work, Mastering Witchcraft, described a variety of magical operations, such as exorcism by salt and water, and consecrating magical tools. In each case at some point, Huson advises holding ones hands over an object while visualizing a “a dim bluish light” hovering over it.” In other places the term is “strange bluish light” or “purifying light,” etc. Donald Michael Kraig in his influential work Modern Magick evokes the same bluish light, this time eminating from the tip of the dagger while tracing the pentagrams of the Golden Dawn-style Pentagram rituals in the air, leaving a blue-flame pentagram hovering at each quarter of the circle. 

Another place 20th Century seekers might have encountered the concept of magical energy was the Cone of Power exercise (or meditation), famously described by Starhawk in her important work heading into the 1980’s, The Spiral Dance. It’s something of a group meditation with many variants, often included in circle casting or practical working. in every case the Cone of Power was classified as “energy raising.”  In the variant I practiced with one group, everyone stood in a circle and held hands to start. A leader spoke out a guided meditation that included everyone imagining we had roots stretching to an infinite pool of energy deep in the earth. On cue, we drew the energy up to ground level, then spun it around the circle to form a cone, and on from there.  

A Common Problem

Aside from the concept of “energy,” the thing all of these examples of have in common is a demand to visualize or imagine the energy. There was and still is a common fake-it-till-you-make-it principle among many. I heard it many times in different settings through the 80’s and 90’s: If you believe in it and act as if it’s real, one day you’ll find that it has become real to you. It’s commonality speaks to its effectiveness for many. 

However, the act as if approach doesn’t work for everyone. One reason may be that some people aren’t natural visualizers. A conditions known as antaphantasia is a relatively extreme sort of mind-blindness that is typically defined by the inability to form mental images. It’s important to note that the ability to form mental images probably isn’t a simple yes/no issue. We’re probably all somewhere along a continuum. That means that antiphantasics are at one extreme and super-visualizers are on the other, with the rest of us scattering the range between. 

The following instructions were developed to provide a process by which people on the lower end of that spectrum can develop the ability to sense and control (to a degree) the sensations of magical energy, not as an imagined phenomenon, but was a real sensory process. As might be expected, there is no visualization involved. 

The Perceptual Experience of Magic Energy

Leaving the theory aside for present purposes, these instructions assume that the experience of magical energy is a real (not in any way imaginary) perceptual experience of peripersonal space, the area immediately around the body. Given that we do so much of our interacting with the world in that space, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we have specialized perceptual systems to facilitate that. It’s how we hit the mark when when reach out to shake someone’s hand, for example, or seat a screw on a screwdriver. 

Starting from technical knowledge of peripersonal space perception, an insight developed that the key to sensing magical energy wan’t visualizing the energy, it was focusing attention on the area where the energy was supposed to be. That is, after all, with good visualizers are doing when they visualize magical energy. So instead of asking people to visualize, my instructions as the aspirant to focus their attention in this way or that. This innovation has proven useful for many who have been frustrated by the more common instructions available. 

It was also be infair to not mention Serge Kahili King‘s Urban Shaman at this point. If not for my exposure to that book, the insight that attention was the key fact would probably not have dawned. The first steps of the Basic Energy Work sequence are in fact nearly identical to an energy exercises described in Urban Shaman

There are, of course, people who have attention deficits as well. To date I have nothing to offer in that regard. None the less, the following instructions are offered and they can be expected to work for more people than many other instructions out in the wild. 

Step 1: The Basic Exercise

The base assumption of this exercise is that the sensations of magic energy are a real perceptual experience that primarily depend on how and where you focus your attention. The rule is: if you can focus your attention in the right way, you’ll feel it as a physical sensation. It won’t be as prominent or distinct as a physical touch on your skin, but it will trigger your touch-like perception. 

  1. Tuck your elbows into your sides so that you can comfortably extend your hands away from your body at a perpendicular angle. Turn your palms to face one another.
  2. Take a few deep breaths and relax. Then focus your attention on both palms at the same time. Many people develop subtle sensations in their palms within a few seconds. The sensations are usually quite subtle, to the degree that, if sensed under normal circumstances may not be noticed at all, or might simply dismissed as unimportant. The purpose here, however, is to intently focus attention on those sensations no matter how faint. For most people, the sensations naturally become more intense with the added attentional focus.
  3. When sensations in both palms are present, include the space between your hands as the space you’re focusing on. Some people describe a flow or a circuit between the hands within a few days of practice. That is essential the aim, but don’t fool yourself about it. Feel it if you do and don’t feel it if you don’t. 
  4. Maintain whatever level of sensations you get for as long as desired. When satisfied, relax your hands, take in a deep breath, and as you exhale gradually turn your palms upward as you slowly separate them. Let your hands come to rest in your lab if seated, at your sides if standing. The sensations in your palms will quickly diminish to insignificant, as the energy dissipates. 

After Thoughts

The goal from the beginning is to do 5 minutes or so twice a day, increasing to about 10 minutes as the sensations intensify. After two weeks or so of satisfactory results, move on to Step 2. 

Importantly, if after two weeks of the daily work above you don’t experience any sensations at all, or nothing has changed, these instructions may not be for you. Assume the fault is in the instructions rather than in yourself. That’s what I think.   

Step 2: Simple Energy Manipulations

  1. Initiate a basic flow of energy between your palms following the steps of the basic exercise.
  2. When the energy feels stable enough, keep your palms facing each other but move them to manipulate the energy into a ball about 6 inches in diameter. While there are many ways to accomplish this goal, a common way is to curve your fingers in slightly and move your hands in a manner similar to that of forming a snowball. Some call it a psi-ball, but for most people, the sensations of this exercise aren’t exactly 
    ball-like. The outer surface of a ball would be smooth and uniformly spherical, but don’t expect that of your energy ball. It’s more likely to be a constantly morphing blob with something of aura about it, which you’ll also be able to feel with practice. However it feels, try to contain it as best you can. 
  3. The sensations in your palms are expected to change somewhat during this exercise, but should not significantly diminish as long as your attention is properly focused. It’s more likely to feel more intense, once the novelty wears off. If the sensations do seem to diminish or you lose focus, you cam bring your hands back into their original alignment and start over.

Continue the exercise as above twice a day for 10 minutes until you begin to feel some level of mastery.

Step 3: Extended Energy Manipulations

Manipulation 1
  1. Initiate a basic flow of energy between your palms and form an energy ball.
  2. When the energy ball is relatively stable, slowly pull your hands slightly apart while leaving the ball in its original size and location. The sensations in your palms are likely to change with distance from the ball but you should continue to feel connected to the energy ball through your palms while they face the energy mass. It’s not uncommon for the energy mass to expand when performing this action, but your goal is to keep it the same size as it was between your hands. 
  3. After a few moments, bring your hands back inward to cup the ball in front of you. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you like.
Manipulation 2
  1.  With the energy between your palms in original position, turn your palms to face upward, allowing the energy ball to hover in front of you just above your palms. Then keeping your palms in place, move your attention upward to lift the energy mass about 3 inches above them. The sensations in your palms is likely to change, but you should continue to feel connected and in direct control of the energy. Remember, the key to accomplishing this task is where your attention is focused. Bring the ball back down to its original place. Practice this step as many times as desired.  
  2. Cup the energy ball in your hands again. 
  3. When you feel satisfied with the session, take in a deep breath, and as you exhale gradually turn your palms upward as you slowly separate them. Let your hands come to rest in your lap if seated, at your sides if standing. The sensations in your palms will quickly diminish to insignificant as the energy dissipates.

Continue to work on these exercises till you begin to feel some level of mastery.

Step 4: Intensifying the Energy Sensations

  1. Initiate a basic flow of energy between your palms and form an energy ball.
  2. Turn your palms to face upward, allowing the energy ball to hover in front of you just above your palms.
  3. Take in a deep breath, as if to draw in initial energy from the infinite space around you, and as you exhale, feed the energy ball to make it more intense.  
  4. With attention and will, move the energy ball up your left arm to the shoulder, across the top of your shoulders, around your head, and down your right arm, coming to rest at its original position atop your palms.
  5. Repeat step 4 two more times.
  6. Spend 2 or 3 breath cycles further intensifying the energy ball( step 3).
  7. Repeat step 4 three times.
  8. Repeat the intensification and circulation one more time. On the last return, cup the energy ball with your hands once again.
  9. Take in a deep breath, and as you exhale gradually turn your palms upward as you slowly separate your hands. Let your hands come to rest in your lab if seated, at your sides if standing. The sensations in your palms will quickly diminish to insignificant as the energy dissipates.

Continue to work on these exercises till you begin to feel some level of mastery. 

Step 5: Another Intensification Exercise

  1. Initiate a basic flow of energy between your palms and form an energy ball.
  2. Turn your palms to face upward, allowing the energy ball to hover in front of you just above your palms.
  3. Take in a deep breath, as if to draw in initial energy from the infinite space around you, and as you exhale, feed the energy ball to make it more intense.  
  4. With attention and will, move the energy ball down the front side of your body, beneath your feet, up your backside, over your head, and back down again. Start with a slow and steady pace of motion, allowing the speed to increase as you go. As the speed increases, allow the energy to grow more intense.
  5. Repeat step 4 as many times as desired and to the level of energy desired. Note that this type of action has many practical applications (see Spell Casting)
  6. When you feel satisfied with the session, take in a deep breath, and as you exhale gradually turn your palms upward as you slowly separate them. Letting your hands come to rest in your lab if seated, at your sides if standing. The sensations in your palms will quickly diminish to insignificant as the energy dissipates.

Final Thoughts

If you spend three months doing these daily exercises daily you’ll be well-prepared to move on to more Advanced Energy Work. 

What most people learn is that the sensation of magical energy is indeed physical sensation, but that they’re subtle enough to ignore while going about the things we do every day. Taking the time out to focus attention acutely, and sustaining attention on the space near the body really is enough to feel these subtle sensations for what they truly are. Then, the ability to shape and somewhat control the source of the sensations suggests new worlds of possibility. Take time out to wonder at these skills as they develop.