Everybody knows that the manipulation of quantifiable energy to yield repeatedly consistent results is called science. These scientific results can be achieved independent of the operator. We pagans know that the manipulation of unquantifiable energy to produce anecdotal results is called magick. Often times, these magickal results seem operator dependent. That doesn't mean that consistent results aren't achieved with magick, it just means that those who manipulate energy through magickal practice need to approach their work understanding the mechanism driving the process. That mechanism, once understood, can operate independent of the magickal operator to produce consistent results. This basic mechanism will be discussed here.
So, what form does your pagan practice take? Are you strictly into the Goddess? Maybe the Goddess and God together? Perhaps the formless non-dual? Whatever your orientation, your pagan magickal practice boils down to three universal elements. These three elements are the same for us as they are for the Buddhists, the Hindus, or the Judeo-Christians. They are the holy trinity of spiritual discipline, and when properly employed, these three comprise the key to the kingdom. They are:
INTENT • FOCUS • ENERGY
Any spiritual practice can be broken down into these three components. This implies then that no matter what we may embrace as our beliefs, or in what circumstances we may find ourselves, we will always be able to recognize and embrace these common threads, finding joy, solace, and magick, no matter what. In my books Inner Power and Energy For Life (Llewellyn), I detail the many ways to utilize intent, focus and energy for self-healing and as a means to enhance awareness. These components are also particularly applicable for use in magickal ritual and manifestation.
Intent can be viewed as the goal, the purpose, or the meaning of the practice. Shamans set their intent before they journey in trance to non-ordinary reality. Without proper intent, they may as well be daydreaming about unicorns and fairy dust. This might be fun, but it doesn't amount to much as spiritual discipline. Intent binds the shaman to the task and enables Helping Spirit energies to effectively interact with them. Candle magick is another practice completely anchored in intent. The witch who performs candle magick has a specific outcome in mind before the candle is ritually lit.
Every ritual, in fact, has an intention, the goal being understood and the meaning clear as the ritual is performed. Clarity of intent is essential if the energies of the universe are to be manipulated magickally for our use. The old computer adage, "garbage in, garbage out" can just as easily be applied to any spiritual practice where intent is utilized. As I said, that's EVERY spiritual practice.
The tricky part of intent is that we first need to know what we want. We need to fully understand what we are really after before we can make anything happen. In my private counseling practice, I get people all the time who have no idea what they want, or why they want it. It's common for people to say they want more money. I always ask them why. Invariably, their answer, their actual goal, is something completely different. That's why understanding and addressing one's intent is so very important. How can anyone expect any degree of productive outcome from magickal practice with inaccurate, conflicted, or undirected intent about what is desired?
Do you want a new love interest? To what end? If you are going to draw someone into your life through the magickal manipulation of energy, what are you planning to do once they appear? Will you employ the same behaviors in the same way that contributed to your ending up alone in the first place? This is something that must be addressed with intent. Do you want inner peace, spiritual insight, or to gaze upon the face of the Goddess? Okay, but what then? What do you plan to do with that peace, that perspective? Intent demands not only that you know what you want, but that you fully understand the purpose of your desire, what it means to you, and the shift within you that will allow your manifested intent to be integrated into your life. Without this, we might as well just play mumble-de-peg with our athames and call it a day. Nothing will come of magickal work without proper intent.
The second element is focus. Focus is the means, the discipline, and the pointed action we take to set our intent in motion. During ritual, energy is gathered, built, and concentrated through the action of focus. For a Zen Buddhist, the practice of sitting in meditation is the focus. Meditation itself isn't the intent of the practice, nor does it generate any energy on its own. What meditation does is focus. The actions performed in ritual; the calling of the quarters, the invocations and banishings, are all performed as acts of focus. We cast the circle to pinpoint the area of activity. We banish to dispel any influences that may draw energy away from our intent. We invoke in order to specify the energies we wish to manifest. All of this is focus.
This is extremely important to keep in mind if you are someone who designs rituals for your group or for your individual Book of Shadows. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. The idea is to concentrate all of the energy on the intent. Unfortunately, in the attempt to make ritual "interesting", elements are sometimes added for dramatic effect that dissipate the energy instead. We must always remember that what we focus on, we give energy to, and what we give energy to, we give life to. Every time you direct the focus away from the desired intent, you spend some of the energy you have raised on that digression. That might be fine for high holidays or feast days when part of the intent is to spread the energy throughout the community, but it is counterproductive when one is trying to co-create a new reality. Focus is the mechanism we employ to deliver the energy we have raised to the intent we have specified.
The third element is energy. Energy is everything. Energy is eternal and energy is everywhere, all the time. The universe hangs on an energetic web. This web exists just outside our everyday perception, and it is the ubiquitous undercurrent that we draw on by setting our intent and performing our acts of focus. Energy is the fuel, the currency of the universe, and the spirit's stock in trade. We have to realize that everything in the physical and spiritual worlds is comprised of energy. Each of these things or beings has its own energetic character, to be sure, but it is energy nonetheless. We use energy to accomplish a particular task, or we direct energy in order to encourage an energetic response from a particular source.
When you come right down to it, all magick is the exercise of energetic sourcing. Source-ery, if you will. We draw on that source energy, focusing it and concentrating it until we can release it as high-octane fuel to power our specific intent. If we have done our job properly, that energy will be enough to usher our imagined desire from the ethereal plane of concept into the physical world. Voila! We have now manifested our desire through the application of intent, focus, and energy.
When participating in the magickal manipulation of energy, it is important to remember that the universe is sentient. All matter is densified high-vibration universal energy, and all high-vibration universal energy is intelligent. No matter what you might think of our current President, even he is comprised entirely of intelligent universal energy. For this reason, we must always exercise responsibility when employing the triumvirate of intent, focus, and energy. We must keep in mind that every component of the universe is interrelated. When we co-create reality, we are changing the shape of the universe by redirecting and reforming the currents of intelligent energy within the web. That great power demands great responsibility. Part of that awareness of our responsibility requires being accountable for what we do. Just because we know how to manipulate and focus energy, doesn't mean we must feel compelled to use it compulsively. It's been said that if you carry around a hammer in your hand, everything starts to look like a nail. That self-centered view is what has brought our world to the brink. Energy, being intelligent, also has memory. When we magickally manipulate and direct energy in the service of our intent, we leave our mark upon it, like psychic fingerprints. That action is tied to us. Because of this, we can never perform magick anonymously, or create a reality without accountability.
As members of a spiritual path that reveres our Mother Earth, we must employ our energetic expertise with discretion, wisdom and responsibility. In this way, we will forever be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, no matter what our specific beliefs or practices might be. Blessed Be.
Colleen Deatsman is the author of Seeing in the Dark: Claim Your Own Shamanic Power Now and in the Coming Age (Red Wheel Weiser 2009), Energy for Life: Connect with the Source (Llewellyn 2006) and Inner Power: Six Techniques for Increased Energy and Self-Healing (Llewellyn 2005), is a Masters Degreed Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Social Worker, Shamanic Practitioner, Reiki Master, Certified Hypnotherapist, and Certified Alternative Healing Consultant at Circle of Life Counseling and Healing Services in Mason, Michigan. ColleenDeatsman.com
Paul Bowersox is the author of Seeing in the Dark: Claim Your Own Shamanic Power Now and in the Coming Age (Red Wheel Weiser 2009), and is a writing coach, editor and contributing writer for a number of authors and publications including Inner Power: Six Techniques for Increased Energy and Self-Healing and Energy For Life: Connect with the Source (Llewellyn). He is always interested in new projects and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Paul currently lives, writes, and works in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Below are some albums are very effective for Shamanic energy work and ritual by David and Steve Gordon: