The first myth about energy that must be dispelled is that it doesn’t exist. A lot of people in the community have been saying this lately, and a few months back the blogosphere was stirred up with arguments over whether or not energy was actually a thing. Energy is a real thing, and any person who claims otherwise is not a magician. They may be an armchair magician coming up with unfounded theories on magic, and they may have done a few rituals by going through the motions, but they have never actually done magic.
The vast majority of everything that is termed magic is tied into energy work. A basic understanding of energy is necessary to do any significant amount magic, especially in regards to developing magical techniques. Energy is also an essential component to logically explaining how and why magic works. To dismiss energy as a fiction is to admit to having no understanding of magic.
It also needs to be pointed out that energy isn’t a new concept. It’s been called different things through out history, but the idea of energy has existed in various spiritual systems going almost as far back as recorded history. Energy is not an invention of New Agers or the New Thought camp or any other group that Pagans and Ceremonialists sometimes like to mock. It also isn’t limited to just the older Eastern religions. The idea appears in the West too.
Another thing to keep in mind, just because a particular magician didn’t mention something in their written works doesn’t mean they weren’t aware of its existence. This is especially true of metaphysical truths that should be obvious to actual practitioners. Energy definitely falls into this category, as does other things like the metaphysical qualities of stones.
Ceremonial magic has produced a lot of literal magicians. These are the types who think that a magician’s written works compromise the totality of his or her knowledge, and consider anything not discussed in the work to be at the very least beyond the scope of that magician’s work, and in many cases believe it to be nothing more than New Age hokum. Many Ceremonialists, Pagans, and other Western magicians dismiss anything not discussed by major predecessors as unfounded and untrue, even when it is something so basic and simple it should be obvious to any practitioner.
The second thing that needs to be discussed is why we call it energy, and most specifically if it should be called something else. It’s been called other things in the past, such as aether, void, and spirit. Energy, when used metaphysically, also doesn’t mean the same thing that it means when used scientifically. Some have said that we should really call it something else, since it isn’t really energy.
The problem is, language really isn’t made to communicate metaphysical experiences. Many of these experiences, like most things in life, can only be understood through comparison of our own life experiences. At this point in time, only a small percentage of the world’s population has experienced a true metaphysical event, and an even smaller percentage have sought to study and analyze these experiences. There are simply not enough adepts in the world to warrant new words being added into the languages of the world to describe these experiences.
One option is that we make up completely new words. The problem with doing this is, unless someone has a code book, they won’t know which words are meant to be applied to which metaphysical experiences. If I say ‘bonta’, for instance, do I mean energy, or shielding, or grounding, or something else entirely? Unless you’re familiar with the term, you won’t know.
What we do in magic, what we’ve always done (and what I’ve noticed the gods also do sometimes when they need to communicate foreign ideas), is we steal similar words. We find something that’s kind of like the metaphysical experience or magical operation we’re trying to describe, and then we call it that. This isn’t a perfect system, but in this instance, at least, if we find another magician who has experienced the same thing, they can usually infer what we’re talking about by looking at the original definition of the word.
For instance, the word shield is a piece of armor, usually carried in ones hand, and used to protect oneself. It is a universal symbol of protection. In magical terms, a shield is a barrier of energy used to protect oneself from unwanted magical attacks, among other things. In scientific terms, grounding refers to how electricity moves on a path towards the ground whenever possible. In magical terms it refers to pushing energy out of oneself and into the ground.
Energy is another one of these words. Energy is an invisible force which does things, and on the physical level is usually the force that empowers the magical operation. It does other things too, like giving us the ability to continue living and sustain our physical bodies. For the most part, energy is a fairly obvious term to describe this force. It does other things too, which maybe aren’t so obvious with the term energy, like constructing the universe in a way that empathy is possible, but no term is going to be perfect.
Of course we could call it something else, like communication as one person suggested. Except there really isn’t a point to changing the name. Yes, communication would better describe its functions within empathy and telepathy, but it doesn’t really describe how it empowers a spell. And just like energy, the term communication already describes something completely different.
As of right now, everyone is used to using the term energy and understands what it means. Any other term is going to be just as flawed, so there’s really no point to changing the name now.
Before we can begin to understand something, we need to define it, so what is the definition of energy? The best definition I can come up with is that it is an invisible, yet sensible and relatively quantifiable, force which can cause change and which can be manipulated and directed.
So let’s start by describing what a force is. A force is something that can cause some sort of change in the universe at some level. Heat is a force. When created, it will raise the temperature of the surrounding area. You can feel that temperature change. Electricity is a force. Electricity can do everything from turning on your TV to killing you. Even though you can hit me with it, your fist isn’t a force. But the momentum of the punch and the calories your body expends to move your fist, those are forces.
Metaphysical energy is also a force. On a very basic level it can be felt, and it can change your emotional state. Manipulated at a more finer level it can do everything from making you rich to killing your enemies to empowering your sperm, and at some levels it can even create life from nothingness (imaginary/artificial elementals). Energy is a force.
Energy, like many things in the universe, is invisible. We normally can’t see it with our eyes, although there are ways to train our mind into creating visual representations of energy. However energy doesn’t reflect light, so these visions of energy are not being seen by our eyes, and can not be objectively viewed by just anyone.
Energy is, however, sensible. We can feel energy around us. How much energy we need in order to feel it, and how accurately we interpret those feelings, is entirely dependent on how well we’ve trained our bodies.
Energy is also relatively quantifiable. As long as I’m adept enough at sensing energy, I can look at the energy is column A and the energy in column B and determine which column contains more energy. I can determine that one room contains a lot of energy, and that another room contains a little bit of energy.
However I can not objectively measure the energy in an area. My measurements of energy are based on the reactions of my physical and spiritual bodies, neither of which are completely accurate tools for measurement. There are a large number of internal variables which can make me incapable of accurately measuring energy in the same way that a fever can render me incapable of accurately measuring the temperature in the room with just my body.
These measurements are all relative too. I can say that column A has a lot of energy, or that it has more energy than column B. However I can’t give you a number, like 95 degrees, so that you could understand how much energy is in column A. What I might consider to be a lot of energy, you might not consider to be much energy at all. Meanwhile without personal knowledge of column B, you have no idea what more energy than column B means.
How I sense energy is also relative to where I am in my own spiritual path. What I thought was a lot of energy ten years ago doesn’t seem like much energy at all to me now. What’s more, if I cannot recheck something now, I have no idea what my past measurement means, since my concept of energy quantities has changed so dramatically. For instance my first teacher seemed to be extraordinarily powerful. More energy fell off her than I ever saw anywhere else. However its been many years since we’ve had any kind of contact. If we were to meet up today, it’s completely plausible that I may have surpassed her many times over, and now view her as having very little power. It’s also completely plausible that she’ll seem just as powerful to me and beyond my capabilities today as she did then.
Energy can also cause change, which, as we discussed earlier, is necessary for any force. Energy is typically the empowering force in a magical operation. It’s what makes things happen and causes the desired change. It’s also what connects things together.
Lastly energy can be manipulated and directed. We can move energy. We can take energy from point A and bring it to point B. We can also change that energy. We can change it to another type of energy, or mold it into something else completely. We can make that energy do what we want it to do.
These are all important things. Energy isn’t some natural primal force, like a hurricane, which we can neither stop or control. Energy is something we have control over. We can move it, we can create it, and we can work with it. This is essential for magic to, well, work.
That being said, energy is a physical thing. Energy is deeply tied to matter, and it seems to bare some relationship to it. Matter only exists within the physical realms, and the same is true of energy.
We live in the physical planes. Earth is part of the physical realms. The physical realms have physical stuff. Earth isn’t the entirety of the physical realms though. There are other worlds. There are also completely spiritual places within the physical realms which contain little or no matter. Where ghosts and spirits exist, the ones you see in this world anyways, is part of the physical realm. When you astrally project, where you go is almost always part of the physical realms.
Beyond the physical realms we have the mental realms. There everything is based in thoughts and ideas and knowledge. There is no matter there, and there is no energy. Beyond that are the emotional realms, which lie on the other side of the abyss, and once again contain no energy.
So magical operations done in the mental realms, so long as they are not intended to affect or utilize the physical realms, do not use energy. However magic done in a physical realm with the intention of affecting the mental or emotional realms will almost always use energy, since it is usually a necessary conduit (among other things).
There are also different types of energy. There’s happy energy, and sad energy, and playful energy, and angry energy. For every kind of emotion that exists, there is a kind of energy.
Note that I said every emotion. There are many more emotions than exist in the normal human spectrum. In fact there are more emotions than exist in any human’s spectrum. There are just too many emotions for anyone to be able to naturally feel all of them.
Some more common emotions that fall outside the normal emotional spectrum are death, life, and violence (not to be confused with anger or rage). All of these things have specific energies that can be felt, and in turn can give you a concept of what the emotion feels like, but which are not naturally felt by most humans.
So the question arises, where does energy come from? Within the physical realms, energy is a byproduct of emotion. Whenever an emotion occurs, energy is created as a result.
So now we must define emotion as it’s meant in a metaphysical sense. An emotion is not the same thing as a feeling. A feeling is a kind of emotion, but there are also emotions which aren’t feelings. Feelings are also things that are created within us at some level. Either our bodies’ physiologies create them, or they’re created on some spiritual level, depending on what you want to believe, and they can be easily manipulated through the use of certain drugs.
Emotions, however, don’t begin with us. Emotions existed before there were people, before there were spirits, and they actually appear pretty close to the beginning of the universe.
An emotion is a primal force created as a byproduct of an act. An act meanwhile is something that happened.
The very first thing in the universe, at least as far back as we’re able to see, are acts. The first act occurred when the first part of the universe created itself. This in turn creates the very first emotion, creation, or creativity. As it turns out, the earlier an emotion appears in the creation of the universe, the more powerful it tends to be, and the more energy it tends to create on the physical realm. This is why sex magic can be so powerful.
So an action occurs. That action causes a change. This action-change in turn creates an emotion specifically tied to it, and that emotion ripples across the universe in a wave. In the physical realm, this wave takes the form of energy.
Going back though, these actions, which start the universe, create emotions, which form the emotional realm. You get a few of these emotions together and eventually they realize they exist. This is the first idea, and from this idea other thoughts and ideas start to spring forth, which in turn is knowledge, and all of this creates the mental planes. That initial creative emotion drops down and enters the mental planes, and you start having creativity and art and culture and invention and all sorts of other things. Eventually these things start to take form. Now they’re not just thoughts and ideas, but they start to gain substance. Enter the physical realms.
The physical realms started as nothing. Just this idea of a physical place where things could have substance, and this was caused by creation. Then emotion comes into the mix, and when it enters the physical realm, it creates energy. Energy will be the form that emotion takes when it enters the physical realm, because everything in the physical realm must have a form. Thoughts are now brainwaves, creation is now cells, and emotion is energy. This gooey energy starts to fill up the physical realm, and then Thought enters the mix. Empowered by Creation, Thought starts to come up with ideas which in turn molds this energy into different things. First completely spiritual realms are created. And then spirits are created which inhabit these realms. These spirits, in turn, are connected to higher entities made up entirely of thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. More emotions come in, the energy gets more diverse, more and more things are molded, and eventually from all of this matter is formed. Then we have physical worlds and later they’re inhabited by entirely physical beings. These beings in turn have a connection to a spiritual self, and to a mental self which is entirely thoughts and ideas. This is the creation of the universe, and how energy came into existence.
NOTE: I understand this idea leaves a lot to be desired. The creation of the physical realms from the mental realms leaves a lot to be desired in this explanation, especially considering how smooth, and even inevitable, the creation of the mental realms from the emotional realms are. It was really a question of whether I wanted to spend weeks, maybe months, trying to sort out all of the small details, or whether I wanted to get an article posted right now. Hopefully I’ll be able to clarify this process further in a future article or a future revision of this article. If not, feel free to do the work yourself.