At one time it was easier, before kids, before the business of life. Now the tide is changing and life is slowing a bit - at least for me in some ways - and they are coming back, talking.
It started with a boy that died, he was in my son's grade. It hit the community hard. He had a heart condition, and was at baseball practice, and he was a distant relative. I'm not sure why he hit my heart so hard. I never met his parents - as far as I can remember. But it hit, and he has talked to me, made me sense things again. I have gone to his parents a couple times, waiting until we are alone, and shared some of what I feel with them. My nerves were on edge, it's not easy opening yourself up in this manner to people around here, people who are very Bible oriented. I worry about what it would do to my kids' reputation, what it will to do our jobs. I love this small town, yet fear it all the same.
They were welcoming, accepting, and encouraging of more information when it comes to me. There was a sigh of relief.
So now I pass houses and I hear whispers, feel things, and sense things. Mostly I try to block it out, some is disturbing and some is sad. I passed their house the other night and sensed fire, an accelerant. I know how painful the loss of their only son has been to them, it breaks my heart to feel it when I'm around them or near them. I know they wish to be with him, but they also know that they are to go when their time has come. Yet there are days that I feel that they are on that edge...I said a prayer, asking for help, asking that they would not think to burn their house, asking that there would not be any accidents.
A few minutes later I checked Facebook, she had posted about their dog getting ahold of a lighter and eating it. I posted back, telling her of the feeling I had just had. She told me that it was amazing what I could feel. The next day though, she posted a picture of a helicopter landing across the street from her house, they were life-flighting a man to a hospital, he had caught on fire in his yard. This sent chills through me, her too.
I have decided to listen more, to learn more, to meditate more, in hopes to gain more clarity. I ordered a set of moonstone runestones. I have read tarot for years and am comfortable with them. I just have a hard time carrying them with me everywhere. I already have a bag of stones that I carry everywhere with me. They are various stones that I've had for nearly 30 years. Funny how attached you get to these things.
I have taken my runestones into my stone circle, laid them out in the sun and cleared them. I have sat with them there, picking each one up and meditating on it. They are now in my purse next to my other stone bag, and now and again, I reach in and pull a rune out. I study it, the meaning, it's feel, it's vibration. I'm not sure if they will help me hear behind the veil, but it is worth a try.
But are there easier ways to at least get a sense of this greater reality? Ways where we can be more active in our search?
The answer is yes. While serious spiritual practices and ritual work ultimately carry us farther, there is at least one fairly easy way that fairly reliably takes us through the mundane door into the more-than-human, and in addition can open up opportunities to become a healer should you so choose.
This approach can give you first hand experience of subtle connections most people never notice. Referring back to my first post, you will see gorillas within the basketball game. But doing so does not necessarily lead to experiencing other normally unnoticed intelligences. However it does give some suggestion that all separate intelligences are very likely a part of one more inclusive one. And that is no small thing.
I am referring to learning how to see what are often called “energy fields.”
Shamanic and other spiritual traditions across the world claim subtle energies exist that modern science cannot discern, but that have important impacts on our lives. Modern secularists disparage these claims because they have never experienced them. Nor in most cases have they ever tried. Why look through Galileo’s telescope when you already know in advance that there is nothing to see, and that anything appearing through it is an illusion? We know in advance that gorillas do not walk across basketball courts. Why waste time seeing whether they do?
In reality some people have seen them all their lives and others (I am one) have learned how to see them reliably. Once a person learns how to see these fields, if they choose, a whole new world begins to open up.
I will describe three exercises that lead to this outcome, and you can do any of them at home. The first is a prerequisite for the other two, but they can be done in any order.
(I obviously cannot guarantee everyone will see these energies, but when I teach others how, most do. Reading an account is not as good as learning directly from another, but it can work for many. My initial breakthrough into this kind of seeing came from following directions in a book back in the 60s.)
Sit comfortably and hold your hand and fingers in front of you. Open your hand as flat as comfortably possible. Palm up is more comfortable for me, but do what is most comfortable for you. Spread your fingers. Keep them in focus, but do not stare at them. While holding your hand with fingers spread, focus instead on the plane along which your fingers lie. I tell people “imagine your hand is resting on a sheet on plexiglass with another sheet on top of it, gently pressing it flat. Keep the plane lying between those sheets of plexiglass in focus. Your hand should be in focus but you will not be attending to any particular part of it. I call this “permissive viewing.”
Slowly and smoothly move your hand back and forth a little bit along the plane on which it lies. The reason for doing this is to reduce even more any attention you might pay to the background behind your hand. It is your fingers and especially the space between your fingers that you need to keep in focus. But again, do not stare at your fingers. Treat them as no more important to see than the space between them.
It is also helpful to do this exercise with your hand in moderate light with a more subdued background. Strong light creates a glare, and we are not looking for glare. Once you learn how to see this energy you will find these initial conditions are not necessary. But at first they make it easier,
As passively as possible and with minimal expectations as to what is there, allow your gaze to notice the largest triangle of space between your opened fingers. Perhaps it is the space between your forefinger and middle finger that form a “V”. But again, whatever is comfortable for you.
Now, "notice" the space extending out from your fingers about 1/8" to ¼", outlining their edges, like a glove.
Is the texture of this space any different from the space beyond it? In truth there is texture throughout this area, but it is much more apparent in that first enclosing 1/8 to ¼ inch. In appearance it might seem like a mini heat wave. Perhaps it possesses a faint outer boundary. If so, notice whether the boundary is lighter or darker than the space closer to your fingers. Does it have a color? For most of you, especially initially, this effect will be very subtle, but in my experience most people, particularly young people, learn to see this field fairly quickly.
This field is what in some metaphysical writing is commonly called the "etheric film." Once you see it I recommend practicing until it is relatively easy to see. Some people have seen it all their lives, but either ignored it or chosen not to talk about it. Others can learn to see it relatively easily. I was in that group myself. Some, however, seem unable to see it. I imagine like most skills and senses we form a bell shaped curve with adepts at one end, those unable to see it at all at the other, and most of us distributed along the middle. While I hope you are not one of those unable to see it, there are other ways to perceive this field, usually by touch. But in this post I am focusing on sight.
Once you are able to see this field there are many things you can do to explore its significance. Here I explore its implications for our experience of nature.
Go outside and look at some trees. The easiest for my purposes are large trees with prominent trunks and relatively few branches for at least five to six feet. Longer trunks are better than shorter ones. This exercise is particularly easy to do in the winter when there is snow because there are fewer distractions through foliage, which has its own energy fields. (Everything does.) Snow on the ground provides an unbroken background with no distractions of its own. The big snowstorms currently occurring in the Midwest and east are a blessing for this practice because bare deciduous trees with tall trunks and snowy ground are the easiest context to observe this phenomena.
Look at a tree trunk and its immediate vicinity the same way you looked at your hand: passively and in focus. If you are walking slowly on a sidewalk (so you can take your path for granted and not worry about stumbling or keeping your footing) you can repeat the part in Exercise I. above where you moved your hand slowly to help dissociate your attention from the background. Ideally the tree is far enough from you so as not to seem to be moving very much, but nevertheless is moving enough to help separate itself for you visually from its background. That way you can more easily keep only the plane in which the tree lies in focus. As with your fingers in the first exercise, you want to attend as passively as you can to the space to either side of the trunk.
Notice how the field surrounding the trunk is to some degree similar to what you saw around your hand, but also different. In my experience it differs most noticeably in being thicker than what surrounds the hand. If other trunks are farther away, notice how the fields around them are smaller, as we would expect when looking at something farther away. This offers strong evidence that what you are seeing is not simply a trick of your vision.
Once you are able to see these fields around trees, look at other things. Those things with visually well-defined physical boundaries are the easiest. Even a lamp pole has a field, although in my experience one considerably smaller than that surrounding an equivalently thick tree. Here is additional evidence what you are seeing is not simply an aspect of our visual process.
For many people with practice, and for some simply because of the blessings of talent, you will in time be able to see these fields extending far beyond these initial boundaries, but with gradually increasing subtlety until they appear to fade away or enter into the general background network of fields within which we all live.
These fields suggest several important insights. First, we are continually immersed within and interpenetrate these fields as other things interpenetrate ours. We are not radically distinct from one another. Whatever it is that makes us "us," to some degree at least extends beyond our physical bodies, and when it does it enters into similar fields generated by others and extending beyond their physical bodies. It is only at the most physical level in the common sense meaning of the word that we become relatively impenetrable, although of course even our physical body is always constantly taking some of its physical surroundings into it, as when we breathe and as physicists tell us, matter is ultimately not really “stuff,” it is energy.
Explicit focusing is a way not only of seeing something more clearly, it is also a way of not seeing what you are not focused on. It is an intensifying and narrowing of attention. People on the basketball court were focused on watching the ball change hands among members of a team, and so did not see the gorilla. Our normal focus is on our fingers, trees, and other solid objects that interest us. We do not see the subtle energy fields that extend beyond the object of our focus. In these exercises we still focus, but on what we normally ignore. And when we do, the region reveals unsuspected qualities.
As you practice this skill you will discover that the field does not end suddenly, like a glove. It extends further and further, but at more and more subtle and difficult to see levels. This method is also how many learn eventually to see the aura, but doing so is much harder because it is more subtle. But “permissive gaze” is a key to seeing it.
If you experiment with a partner, you will discover you can often feel when parts of your respective fields come into contact with one another.
Brush your visible field against another’s, but do not “physically” touch. Perhaps you can do it with the tips of your fingers and theirs as well, to reduce any sense of bodily heat. Can you feel it when they ‘touch’? What we call our physical senses extend into what is called our subtle body. “I” do not end at the tip of my nose, and “you” do not end at its tip either. I can to some degree perceive with these fields, an observation with very important implications.
Because we can feel these interpenetrations when we closely attend to them, it is no stretch to say we are always being impacted by them, even when we are not paying attention. We are always connected to some degree with those around us, from trees to persons, and to much more. Gary Snyder once said that the spirit of place consists of the collective impact of all the energy fields in an area. I believe this is what he meant. We evolved in these fields, and our DNA carries a probably awareness of them over a billion years of development. I suspect this is why we often feel so much better and more complete when in a relatively undisturbed part of nature. The energy fields are in harmony with one another, not broken up by recent disruptions that have yet to be re-integrated together smoothly.
These fields are very responsive to mental intention and the quality of one’s mind. As conduits from one body to another they can serve as means for sending healing energy to another. If you pursue energy healing or working with a Tai Chi or Xi Gong master, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSZq78t4WMg you will learn a great deal more. Another excellent source to pursue here is Barbara Brennan’s Hands of Light and Dolores Krieger’s Accepting Your Power to Heal: The Personal Practice of Therapeutic Touch,
In addition, at least some spirits seem to consist of at least a variant of this kind of energy. Once you learn to see it, you will be better able to perceive certain kinds of spirit beings. There is no need to proceed far along this path if you do not want to. Again, being able to see such phenomena is not a sign of being more spiritually advanced than those who do not or cannot. But rather like knowing more about the world in which we live enriches the experience of living, more appreciation for the subtleties of the spirit world enhances many people’s appreciation of their lives.
While this kind of energy plays an important role in health and healing, one can live an exemplary life and not see it and I imagine one can be quite a jerk and still see it. But for us Americans, reared as we have been in a culture that is blind and even autistic in its inability to relate to the more-than-human world, it is useful to at least be able to see and experience for ourselves this kind of energy. It helps us remember we are connected to all things, that our individuality is composed of relations, not impenetrable soul-stuff, and that science is a process of discovering increasingly reliable knowledge rather than a standard for Truth at whatever point along its journey it happens to be. On balance, it helps open our hearts, and that is to my mind the true gift of the Pagan spiritual path.
It's very much the same with readers, too. I do not specialize in finding lost objects, and it is very frustrating when I get a client who wants to know where she put her engagement ring. This creates friction and tension, where, with a bit of forethought, it need not have happened.
Genuine professional readers -- and there are some who are not genuine nor, in my opinion, professional! -- want to help. Yes, they need to earn a living, but they genuinely want to assist you with your current problems. Remote viewers are awesome for helping you find lost things, but they may not have a thorough knowledge of the Tarot. Tarot readers might be able to read the cards with diamond clarity, but if this does not make them good remote viewers.
When choosing a reader, make sure you read their biographies and know what they can and can't do. For online readings, the bios are usually on the reader's website. For in-person readings, pick up a business card, and watch how the reader interacts with other clients. Reputable readers will honestly share with you the skills in which they are competent. If you feel drawn to that reader, but don't see the skill you want listed, see if something else that reader can offer might help you. For example, if you are looking for a lost object, and you don't see 'lost objects' listed in the readers skills, but you see 'remote viewing,' and 'clairvoyance' listed, it may be worth taking a chance. Likewise, if you are seeking a Tarot card reading, but feel drawn to someone who reads crystals, go ahead and ask your question.
It's been my experience that the reader and the client will know within the first few moments how the reading is going to go. Readers who are sincere will let you know if they feel you are not making a connection. Lots of readers even offer a free 'trial,' to ensure that connection is there. Some do this in the way of the first few minutes being free. I do it by having one day a month where people can ask one question online and get a short 2 - 3 sentence answer.
Finding a reader is like finding a hairdresser. You have to be sure that they offer what you are seeking, and then you have to get one with whom you resonate. The reader / client relationship builds on past experiences as well as what the current session has to offer.
We've mentioned some of the skills in this article, and we'll revisit some more of the usual -- and not so usual! -- methods offered by readers in an upcoming article. Have a great day everyone!
I was recently asked the question of how it was possible for someone who had limited to no psychic ability to lead a ritual? I should also add the context of the ritual in question was one that involved operative magic rather than devotional work. In other words how could a person that was seemingly head blind be capable of weaving together the energies that were being directed towards them in the ritual. How does a person who does not perceive subtle forms and subtle energies know whether or not the circle, or whatever magical container they've created, is actually solid and secure? How do they know if there are imbalances that need to be corrected? And lastly how do they know if the work has truly been done? I will be honest and say that if someone had posed that question to me a few decades ago, I would've said that it was not possible. And I would've been wrong in making that summary judgment.
It was an abundance of psychic experiences that drew me to magick and Paganism at an early age. Learning to distinguish what was real physically from what was real in the subtle realms, and what was pure imagination was an essential part of my development as a person. So in my early days, I could not imagine a person being a competent practitioner that did not perceive as I did. Of course, I knew that different individuals would convert their psychic impressions into different symbols or different sensory modalities. Some people are stronger at seeing, others at hearing, others feeling, and so on, but I still had the assumption that they were using their psychic perceptions to guide their magickal workings.
My first inkling that the conscious perception of energy was not always necessary for effective workings actually came in a non-magickal setting. Years ago while in college, I was making the rounds with my artsy and avant-garde friends in a night filled with lots of performance poetry, cheap wine and cheese, kinetic art, and lastly an improvisational dance troupe. Much of what I saw was interesting and inventive but didn't really catch my attention. Then a dancer came on stage by herself, and to my eyes she was surrounded with a nimbus and shifting lights. My first thought was that she was a priestess as I’d seen that type of aura before. When she danced I saw her juggle flames and bring down a rain of stars that turned and spread to a series of crashing waves whose foam spread across the stage. At the after party, I asked her about her performance and started to describe what I had seen. Her eyes grew large and she told me that the imagery I described was very close to what she had envisioned in creating the piece that she danced. She also grew really uncomfortable because she was not a magickal person and had no awareness that she was projecting or creating those forms so palpably.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I have observed powerful rituals and workings with tangible effects from practitioners that by their account don’t sense much of anything when they work. I have been the recipient of effective healings from healers who cannot describe nor explain, how they know what to do when they offer healing touch or prayers. In training students, I can think of several who can create powerful sacred space but claim to feel and see nothing. I have also had students that see and sense so well that they think they have cast a proper circle when there is only a wispy tracery of energy. I find it notable, that often my good students of the sort that seem not to have psychism more often report a sense of when things have a rightness to them. Whereas my students that rely on their psychic senses tend not to report a deep knowing as a measure of their work.
In the current magickal culture, there is a great emphasis on seeing and on all of the clairs as I like to call them. Most of you are familiar with words like clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, and other words used to label the psychic senses. Clair is a French word that means light or clear or distinct. So the commonly described psychic senses are really just those that we experience in our waking consciousness. This is an important distinction that I believe begins to explain how it is possible to perform magick without conscious perception of subtle energies. In my work I have also coined the concept of psychic senses that are noirs after the French word for black or dark. As an example, automatic writing or the use of a pendulum for divination requires the use of the noirs. When someone is engaged in automatic writing they do not first hear or see the words in their consciousness, instead they read them and discover them as they write them.
Normal waking consciousness, the part of you that is reading this blog is only a portion of your being. If you use the three parts of self model: Lower Self, Middle Self, and Higher Self, then I would also argue that even waking consciousness is only a subset of the Middle Self. If you use some other system or model, I think you can see the point I’m trying to make. Much of our awareness of subtle energies and other planes of being arises from or is resident to our Lower Self and our Higher Self. Those people who experience psychic perception in their waking consciousness are translating those impressions that are received in other parts of the self into the symbols that can be understood by what we have named as conscious awareness. When people are performing magick, healings, and divination without conscious awareness they are allowing other parts of their being to take charge of the shaping and the use of the forces of magick. This is not unconscious action or decision making, rather it is the turning over of control to other parts of our being that also have the capacity for judgment.
I do believe that all human beings have psychic senses, and that these senses vary in acuity just as the physical senses do. The greatest amount of difference lies in how much integration there is between the different parts of the self and how focus and the executive function is shared between different kinds of consciousness. I still believe that most people can develop the ability to perceive the subtle realms in their waking consciousness. However as I've pointed out earlier that is no guarantee that their magick will be any better than that performed by those that are allowing instinct to rule their actions. In this case, instinct just means allowing other parts of self to take charge. However those that do not have conscious psychic perception, generally do better if they are trained by people that have psychism.
Even though I do have very sharp psychic senses, I have found that some of my most powerful work has occurred when my hand has moved on its own, when my voice has shifted to a sound that I did not choose, etc. For those that do have the clairs, it is important to learn how to relinquish control to the noirs. For those that desperately want to see, it may or may not come to pass, but it is not the measure of your worth as a practitioner. I said earlier that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I suggest that we look at those workings and those rituals that proved effective and try to understand how and why they were effective within the context of the talents of the practitioners.
I am very aware that I haven't written anything at either location for a couple of weeks. I could give excuses - ultimately, the days have flown past and life has been more important. I'm sure we all know how that goes. Instead, take a wander with me, if you will.
Regular readers know that one of my favourite places for inspiration is as I walk the dog across the hilltop where I live. This evening I wandered the streets, looking out at the fierce clouds parting after an intense rain and thunder-storm just a few hours ago, the remnants of a rainbow, and the slightly 'stunned' feeling of a normal, modern, country village after a violent and unavoidable incident of Nature. The grass is rich and green, the snails appear to have made a small bypass across the path outside one particular row of houses, and the occasional early bat is swooping overhead.
Yes, this is Britain. Yes, we've just had semi-monsoon conditions for the last few months. Summer was rumoured to have been cancelled. So much could have gone wrong.
It was beautiful. Golden sands, blue sky, bright sun, lush green grasses and flowers on the path leading from the couple's home to the beach itself... everyone commented that you couldn't have wished for a better day.