By Wolfsong the New England Witch | Instagram
When I first began researching Wicca and Witchcraft over ten years ago, I didn’t have regular computer access, and there was no Instagram full of trendy, artistic witches showing off their fancy altars and expensive ritual tools. What I did have, however, was a library card and a membership at the old Borders bookstore, where I was able to devour some of the earliest published reading material on the Craft. As a young or aspiring magickal practitioner, the most fundamental tool that you have at your disposal is your mind. The second, yet equally important tool, is the energy that exists within and around you. So, forget the shiny athames and overpriced tarot cards for a second, because with these two core tools, you already have everything that you need to get started on your magickal journey! This post contains very basic information on how to start sensing energy, including exercises that will help you learn how to ground and shield.
Note: For this post, I will be using “witches” as a general term for all magickal practitioners.
What is energy?
All life is infused with energy. This common belief can be found in various cultures throughout the world. You may have heard this energy referred to as chi, prana, spirit, life force, divine essence, power, expanded consciousness, etc. Whatever you choose to call it, this invisible force is often divided into three categories: personal, natural, and divine. Your personal energy is that which is generated by your own body (you might think of this as your aura). Natural energy is that which exists in nature; it is imbued in the earth, water, air, fire, trees, stones, crystals, flowers, herbs, animals, etc., and is what witches typically draw upon when performing magick. Finally, divine energy is that which comes from the gods. Those of you who are non-religious might think of this as universal energy; the very life-blood of our world.
Getting Acquainted with Your Energy
Exercise 1: The Hand to Hand Technique
Find a place where you can sit quietly, comfortably, and undisturbed. Breathe slowly and deeply as if preparing to meditate. Relax and clear your mind as best you can. Now, I want you to gently rub your hands together until they start to feel warm. Visualize the energy steadily building between your palms; you may picture it being a certain color or substance – go with whatever feels right to you. Once your hands warm up, slowly move them apart and focus on any sensations that may occur; some people experience a subtle tingling and some are even capable of seeing traces of the energy that they’ve generated. Next, slowly move your hands back together, noting whether you feel any resistance. This might feel as if you’re trying to push two opposite ends of a magnet together, causing them to repel. Didn’t feel anything at all? That’s okay, too! Similar to meditation and visualization, feeling energy takes practice, so keep at it! Further down the line, once you’ve become familiar with your own energy, you can also try this technique with a partner.
Exercise 2: Objects
For this second exercise, I want you to try sensing the energy in crystals, stones, plants, and other objects found in nature (note that crystals are like natural batteries and are therefore probably the easiest to start with). You may feel warmth, static, tingles, or a ‘zing’ in your palm. You may even see a flash of something in your mind’s eye! Experiment with different objects and be sure to document your results. For example, does an amethyst’s energy feel different from that of a quartz? Does rosemary feel different from a sprig of lavender? Go dig your hands into the dirt or hug a tree and see what you feel!
(If you’d like to try sensing the residual energy that can sometimes be stored in inanimate objects, like a set of car keys or a watch, I’d encourage you to do some research on psychometry.)
Grounding & Shielding
Before you venture any further on the energetic plane, it is important that you learn how to nurture and protect your personal energy. As mentioned earlier, witches tend to draw upon natural energy when performing magick and ritual in order to spare their own. That’s because we need our energy in order to function in day to day life. So, how do you start tapping into the unlimited power source that contains the most potent natural energy?
“Grounding” is a very broad term that you have likely encountered before, possibly while learning about meditation, yoga, mindfulness techniques, electrical work, or something similar. Think about how electrical outlets are grounded: in case of wiring issues, an alternative pathway for the electric current is created – one that connects directly to the ground. While this is a mundane example, it nicely illustrates what I’m referring to here. Witches are able to raise energy from the earth in order to balance themselves and perform magick. They can also ground themselves by sending any excess or negative energy that they’ve been carrying around into the ground (or any natural source) to be neutralized. Now, there are tons of different ways to ground yourself. If you Google “grounding and centering” or “spiritual grounding techniques,” countless articles and guided meditations will pop up, which is why I’m going to provide you with a short and sweet version that briefly summarizes my own preferred method.
To start, either find a comfortable place to sit outside, or simply visualize the earth beneath you. Breathe. Relax. Now, I want you to picture a tree root extending from the base of your spine all the way down into the molten core of the earth. Take a moment to enjoy the feeling of the earth’s incredible energy; the heat, the strength, the purity. Allow yourself to revel in the fact that you are connected to something so much greater than yourself. Once you’re really able to sense it, inhale and visualize that vibrant energy traveling up through the root and into your body. Picture it slowly filling your spine and spreading to your arms and legs, until you’re glowing with earth energy. Allow any excess to recede back down through the root or to be pushed out the top of your head. Sometimes, this exercise can make you feel a bit dizzy or lightheaded, in which case, I’d recommend having a snack. You can even try giving yourself a little shake to be rid of the extra energy that might be throwing you off.
“Shielding” is the concept of using the energy that you’ve acquired through grounding to create a protective energetic shield around yourself. This is truly the same idea as working in a circle, which acts as a barrier against unwanted forces. Similar to grounding, there are hundreds of different ways to go about visualizing a shield. Once you’ve drawn up that earth energy, visualize it expanding from your body and taking shape around you. Personally, I like to picture myself being surrounded by a sphere of light that penetrates the ground to the point where I’m fully enclosed. You may prefer to picture yourself inside of a bubble or wearing armor. There is no wrong answer, so long as your intention is safety. Just don’t forget to release your shield and send the energy back into the earth once you’ve finished with it.
And, there you have it, folks – a beginner’s crash course on energy work! I hope that you found this helpful – as you start to explore these concepts, keep in mind that practice makes perfect!
About the Author: Wolfsong is a solitary eclectic witch from the wilds of New England. Her practice is both religious and scientific in nature, focused primarily on energy work, natural magick, and herbalism. In the waking world, Wolfsong has a professional background in mental health counseling, which helps her fulfill her purpose as a healer.