Thea's Inbox: Questions from Beginners
Wiccan essentials for beginning your path or getting back to basics.
What Does Energy Feel Like?
I am learning about using energy in ritual and magic. What is energy supposed to feel like? How do I know I’m doing it right?
Wiccans and Pagans often use the word “energy” to mean the power that emanates from living things, deity, the earth, or all three. Geek that I am, I have likened it more than once to the Force from Star Wars, “It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” I have also likened it to the “qi” or “chi,” the core principle of tai chi and Chinese medicine.
Beginner Wicca and Paganism books—including mine—often include exercises for working with energy. Some of the benefits of doing this are to align with the natural world, to become more attuned to one’s own body, and, eventually, to work magic. It’s also extremely useful for stress management.
Author Scott Cunningham wrote that in his experience there were three types of magical energy: divine energy from the Gods or another spiritual entity; personal energy from your own body; and earth energy, which is drawn from—you guessed it—the earth. Each of these kinds of energy will “feel” different. Energy can also feel different when you are doing something “active,” such as raising and directing energy to help heal someone, or “receptive,” such as sitting outside and attuning to the natural world around you.
On top of that, each person seems to perceive energy differently. Some people feel it in their bodies. I’ve heard it described as feeling like an electric charge, a breeze, a current in water, a tugging, a spiraling or swirling sensation, or even like that “pins and needles” sensation you get when a part of your body “goes to sleep.” Others see energy instead of feeling it in their bodies. I’ve heard that described as rays of light or that shimmery effect you see above the horizon in the hot sun. Once or twice I’ve even had someone tell me they have been able to detect a change in scent when they’re using energy or that they get a “taste in their mouths.” Still others don’t perceive it in a physical way, but rather “see” it in their mind’s eye. None of these ways is wrong!
When you first start working with energy, it can be difficult to be sure you’re sensing it and directing it effectively. I have found that it really helps to practice with at least one other person who can give you feedback, send and receive energy, and tell you how he or she is experiencing it. You may not have the luxury of working with a partner, though. In that case, I encourage you to try a wide variety of exercises. Some will work better for you than others. If one doesn’t work, another might. Also, if an exercise doesn’t work the first time, give it another try or two. Sometimes repetition is the key.
I also encourage you to work on your visualization. People who do magic have a saying: energy follows thought. The basic idea is that if you are able to visualize the energy in your mind’s eye and “see” yourself receiving it or directing it where you want it to go, the energy is more likely to go there. It’s like your thought acts as a beacon or trail for the energy. And the more you practice your visualization, the more likely you are to be able to feel the energy in your body.
When you are doing your exercises, please remember to ground before and afterward. There are grounding techniques online, in my Wicca for Beginners book, and in many other books for beginners. Grounding in and of itself, of course, is a form of energy work. It’s kind of like a reboot or returning your body systems to their factory settings (to use yet another geek simile.) The idea is to take a moment to center yourself, focus your thoughts, connect to the earth, and be fully present in your body.
Grounding before energy exercises sends a signal to your subconscious that you are clearing the way for energy work. If you do it for a while, it can become a trigger, to the point where whenever you ground, your mind and body are primed and ready to work with energy. Grounding afterward helps you get rid of any excess energy you may have raised. Excess energy can leave you feeling tired, loopy, disoriented, wired, queasy, or some unsettling combination of the above. And just as grounding beforehand can trigger your mind and body to be ready for energy work, grounding afterward lets them know that you are done and resetting yourself for whatever else your day brings.
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