Energywork: Thoughtforms

The fourth in a series of articles on the basics of energywork.  This article will cover the creation and use of Thoughtforms.  As with the previous article on attunement, this is somewhat of a departure from what is normally considered basic material.  This article will also be the final one in the series, though future articles on the site will build on the basics covered here.

What are Thoughtforms?

Energy fuels magic or energywork, but thoughtforms are the “machinery” which use that energy to perform work.  From the simplest to the most complex, every magical working uses thoughtforms.

How Do You Create a Thoughtform?

That question is nearly equivalent to asking “how do you work magic”?  The history of magical tradition is a cornucopia of methods for creating and utilizing thought forms.

That said, there are certain thoughtforms which are best suited for the beginner.  Two such thoughtforms are shields and what are termed “psi-balls”.

The Basics of Shielding

Close your eyes.  Imagine a sphere of light around your body, forming a protective barrier like a force field.  Visualize it as clearly as possible, the light growing brighter and brighter, more and more solid.

That’s it.  That’s all that’s required to create a basic shield.  Easy, no?  The clearer you visualize it, and the surer you are that it will protect you, the stronger it will be.

Of course, it’s quite possible to get more fancy with it.  Instead of light you can use darkness.  Or fire.  Or water.  Instead of a spherical force-field you can use a cube, or a suit of armor, or a tank, or a castle.  One very popular technique is to visualize the surface of your shield as a mirror reflecting anything harmful back towards its source.

Two sources for further inspiration for shielding, which may not be immediately obvious to the reader, are Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (the SEP field) and Gimmicks Three by Isaac Asimov (think about it.)

How to make a “psi-ball”

A “psi-ball” – I’ve also seen them termed “ki-balls” – is a thoughtform very similar to the shield you’ve already created.  Only instead of a sphere around your body, visualize the “psi-ball” as a sphere of energy between your outstretched hands, as if you were cupping a ball of whatever size you’re most comfortable with from baseball to basketball.  Some people find it helpful to start out with visualizing a very large psi-ball and compress it down into a small, dense sphere of energy.

Again, that’s all there is to it.  From there, you can do a variety of things with the energy ball.  You can change it from light to any other form of energy, as you did with the shields.  You can change its size and shape.  You can make it move from one place to another, even sending it over great distances.  You can use it to charge or attune an object or person, or as a vehicle for healing energy.  You can even “program” it with your thoughts and intentions to perform particular tasks, such as gathering energy.  Or replicating itself, thus forming the base for what is termed a “viral servitor“.

What comes next?

This is just the start of what is possible with thoughtforms.  As I mentioned earlier, a full treatment of them would require almost a complete overview of the contents of every magical tradition throughout history.  So I’ll leave you with just one more example, and some hints for where to start your further study.

The Astral Temple

The next thoughtform you may wish to work with is the astral temple.  This is exactly what it sounds like – a thoughtform representing a temple or similar sacred space.  It can be an exact replica of your physical temple, or limited only by your imagination.  As with other thought forms, the more clearly you can visualize the temple the more effective it will be.

The astral temple is most often used for operations of  ritual magic.  It’s possible to perform rituals entirely on the astral, within the astral temple, or simultaneously in both the physical and your astral temple.  Groups unable to meet physically may also use a shared astral temple as a meeting place to conduct ritual work.

A technique related to the astral temple is the “memory palace” also known as the “method of loci”.  I will leave it to the reader to research this technique on their own.

From here you may wish to look into sigils, servitors, egregores, and even godforms.  One useful reference for learning more on this subject is The Magical Use of Thought Forms by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki.

Wrapping Up

Obviously there are many, many more ways to create thoughtforms, and a near infinity of things one can do with them.  I strongly encourage anyone interested to look into it further.  If you find any interesting or innovative ways to create or work with thoughtforms, please feel free to share them in the comments section.

That’s about it for Thoughtforms, and I hope you’ve found it useful.  This concludes the Fundamentals of Energywork series.

Energywork: Attunement

The third in a series of articles on the basics of energywork.  This article will cover the act of Attunement.  This is somewhat of a departure from what is normally considered basic material, but if you’ll bear with me I think I can demonstrate why it belongs here.

What is Attunement?

Attunement is an act of energywork that allows you to connect to and attract specific types or “frequencies” of subtle energy.  In many ways, it’s similar to how your radio can “tune in” to specific radio stations.  Just as tuning into 101.7 on your radio may bring you classic rock to listen to, attuning yourself to fire or water is a way of bringing out those elemental energies to work with.

Attunements are sometimes also referred to as “energy initiations” or “empowerments”, because they are often used by people experienced in working with a certain type of energy to introduce new people to that energy.  This is frequently confused, as in the popular attunements of Western Reiki, with bestowing an ability to work with that energy,.  However, the ability was always there… you simply hadn’t learned to tune into that “frequency” of energy yet.  Time and experimentation have shown self-attunement to be equally effective,,.

How Do You Attune?

Close your eyes.  Imagine yourself surrounded by a vast ocean of the energy you would like to attune yourself to. Imagine this ocean as your whole world, your whole universe.  Slowly breathe in and out, imagining the energy flowing into you with each breath, breathing it in through your mouth and lungs, letting it fill you, swirl around inside you, and permeate your entire being, imprinting itself within you.  Imagine the concentration of energy inside you increasing with each breath, until you are a beacon of the energy, radiating it back out into the ocean of energy from which it came in a blinding flare.  Then, slowly, bring your awareness back to your physical surroundings, holding onto the feeling of the energy filling you until you’re ready to let it go.  That’s all that’s really necessary for a basic attunement to any energy form.

It may also help, while visualizing the energy entering you and imprinting itself within you, to visualize symbols or even words connected with the energy imprinting themselves on you as well.  This could be anything from the alchemical symbol of fire (an upright triangle) to the mantra Cho-Ku-Rei, depending on what energies you are trying to connect with.  Just choose something appropriate to the energy you are working with.

Once you’ve been attuned to an energy, it’s much easier to access and work with it even without going through all the steps of attunement.  Having been in that state once, it’s familiar and easy for you to return to without needing visualization to guide you, though going through the process of visualization prior to working with any energy may help deepen your connection.  If you used symbols or mantras during your attunement process these may also help in reconnecting with the energies outside the context of attunement.

What Comes Next?

Attuning to Your Tools

As you continue to work with energy, you may start to collect tools.  Perhaps a wand or athame, if you go the ceremonial route.  Perhaps a piece of jewelry that you wear only during ritual.  Maybe even just a stone that carries a certain feel.  You can attune yourself to the energies of these specific objects, just as you would to more abstract energy forms.  Just close your eyes, hold the object in your hands, and let its energy fill you… each breath deepening your connection to the tool, deepening the resonance between you.  Let it imprint itself within you, as you have imprinted on it already through your use of it.  This connection, this intentional link, will help you call upon the energies of the tool even when it’s not physically present, should you need them.

Attuning Objects

Attunement isn’t a one way street, either.  Just as you can attune yourself to your ritual tools, you can attune ritual tools to various energies as well. For example, to attune a crystal to the energy of elemental fire: hold the crystal in your hands.  Close your eyes, and imagine an ocean of fire surrounding you and filling up the entire universe, as far as you can possibly imagine.  Slowly, raise the crystal up to eye level and imagine a swirling vortex of fire pouring down into it, filling it with flame, the crystal glowing brighter and brighter as the energy concentrates within it, the fire imprinting itself deep inside the crystal, becoming part of its very essence.  It may help to imagine symbols accompanying the fire… perhaps the upright triangle that symbolizes fire in alchemy, perhaps Kenaz rune of the Elder Futhark, perhaps something more personal… and inscribing themselves into the crystal.  Finally, imagine a flare of fiery energy flashing out from the crystal, a sign that the imprint has taken and the attunement is sealed.  As it fades, allow yourself to become aware of your surroundings again, still feeling the new fiery energy of the crystal in your hands.

Attuning People

Before we get into this section, a word of caution: attuning people can be complicated.  Not in terms of the actual attunement process, but in terms of the human interactions it creates.  It’s very easy for a person receiving an attunement to come to the conclusion that the person attuning them is somehow more spiritually advanced than they are.  Such hero worship should generally be gently discouraged.  On the other hand, it’s equally possible for the person receiving an attunement to decide that they don’t like the person giving the attunement, and that the attunement is really an attempt to work harmful magic on them.  And those are just two possibilities, without going into the various ways in which people can react to the energy of the attunement itself (which of course vary depending on the types of energy involved).  My best advice is: tread carefully, and good luck.  And if anyone does become obsessively attached to you, either as a hero or an enemy, try to be a good sport about it.  They may grow out of that stage later, and feel awfully embarrassed.

The easiest way I know of attuning someone is adapted slightly from the process used in Imara Reiki.  Have the person sit in a comfortable chair.  Stand behind them, placing your hands on their head with their ears between your middle fingers and ring fingers and your thumbs meeting at the top of their head.  Close your eyes, and imagine again the ocean of energy surrounding you, of whatever type you intend to attune them to.  If you are including symbols or mantras, imagine them appearing as writing over top of the person’s head, written in glowing letters of concentrated energy, of the same type you are attuning them to.  Now, imagine a spinning vortex of energy coming down and going into the person, filling them until their entire being is glowing with energy.  Imagine the vortex carrying any symbols or mantras that you have imagined down into the person.  Imagine these symbols, and the energy itself, imprinting themselves deeply onto that person… as if they are becoming a part of them.  In reality they already were, but this attunement will help awaken them to that fact.  Finally, imagine a flare of energy spilling from them, sealing the attunement.  The connection has been made, and the energy now issues from them.  Slowly, bring your awareness back to your surroundings, and check on the person being attuned.  They may need some food and water to help ground them, and it’s often a good idea to have them practice “running” whatever energy they’ve been attuned to… connecting with it on their own (you can use the self-attunement visualizations to help with this, or any symbols or mantras used during the attunement) and projecting it into various things.  If the energy is a healing energy like Reiki, this may include doing basic healing sessions for others.  If it’s an elemental energy, I’d recommend sticking with inanimate objects to start.

Wrapping Up

If it hasn’t become obvious by now, I’ve placed attunement here as the third technique of basic energywork for a simple reason: attunement, at its core, is the process by which we build connections with the various energies we work with.  Without such connections, one isn’t going to get very far manipulating energy.

Many systems of metaphysical study lead people through the experience of a connection with energy without discussing the actual processes that are taking place until the student is more advanced.  For instance, in Western Usui Reiki as popularized by Hawayo Takata, the student receives attunements in levels 1 and 2, but only in level 3 (or 3b, depending on the school) are they generally given information about attuning others or what attunement really involves in an energetic level.  Likewise, in other esoteric traditions, neophytes are initiated and in the process symbols are placed within the candidates aura to help connect them with certain energies but information about performing initiations is reserved for higher grades,.  I’ve chosen instead to make these connections explicit, in the hopes that consciously working with them will allow the seeker both a deeper understanding of the processes involved, and a deeper connection to the energies with which they are working.

I’ve also provided this information as an aide to anyone who may find that they already have a built-in connection to a certain type of energy.  Not all attunements or initiations are the work of human hands; some are worked by entities seen variously as gods, angels, or spirits and some are spontaneous developments that can occur in the heart and mind of any seeker when they’ve reached a certain point in their development all on their own.

As always, if you find more ways to attune yourself (or objects, or other people) or more techniques for taking the process of attunement further, please feel free to share your findings in the comments section.  The next article in this series will be on Thoughtforms.

Energywork: Grounding

The second in a continuing series of articles covering the basics of energywork.  This article will cover the act of Grounding.

What is Grounding?

Next to centering, grounding is one of the most fundamental acts of energywork.  It’s used to discharge excess or negative energies safely, and also to replenish your energy if you’re feeling a little low.  Staying grounded also helps one to be fully present in their body, and aware of what is going on around them in the present moment.  If your mind is wandering and you’re metaphorically “off in the clouds somewhere” or otherwise off-kilter, that’s a strong sign that you may need to ground. Grounding, in most cases, is exactly what it sounds like: connecting to the Earth, and sending any excess or negative energy down into the ground to be absorbed by the planet, then taking in fresh energy to replenish yourself, repeating the cycle until you feel pleasantly energized but not “bursting” with energy.

How do you Ground?

A Basic Technique for Grounding

As with centering, there are many techniques available for grounding.  One of the simplest, and the most commonly used, is to visualize oneself as a tree.  Even kids can do this one.  Just close your eyes, perhaps take a moment to center yourself, and imagine yourself becoming a tree. Feel your roots extending deep into the earth, connecting and anchoring you to the planet itself.  Feel the strength of the earth, the stability as it supports you, nourishes you.  Feel yourself releasing any negative energy to sink down and be absorbed by the earth, while taking in fresh new energy through your roots.  Continue the visualization for as long as you like, cycling energy back and forth, until you feel stable… energized, but not overflowing with energy, fully present in your body in the here-and-now.  Other visualizations are also possible… you could visualize yourself as a mountain, for instance, rather than a tree.

Physical Grounding

Visualizations aren’t the only way to ground.  There are a whole host of techniques for grounding excess energy that don’t require any conscious manipulation of your mental state.   These range from activities like physical exercise to simply eating something.  I’m a big fan of walking, myself, though make sure to stay hydrated.  Some people also find working with certain minerals aids in grounding,.  Iron is one of the most traditional for this, though it isn’t exactly gentle about it.  Personally, I prefer copper if I’m going with a pure metal, unless I can get my hands on Bog Iron from New Jersey.  I’m also a big fan of a combination of iron pyrite and magnetite known in metaphysical circles as “Healer’s Gold”.  Other good stones for grounding include Moss Agate, Black Obsidian, Smokey Quartz, Staurolite, and Black Tourmaline.

What Comes Next?

Grounding in Other Elements

So far, this article has focused on grounding in the element of Earth.  But it’s equally possible to “ground” in any of the elements.  All of them have a physical component capable of anchoring one in the here-and-now, all of them have the capacity to receive and transform unwanted energies, and all of them have the capacity to help refill one’s energetic reserves.

The basic procedure for doing this is very similar to the exercises for grounding in Earth.  If you care to ground in Fire, you can visualize yourself as the heart of a flame, continually releasing energy and taking in new fuel, at once stable and yet always engaged in the act of transformation.  Equally, you could visualize yourself as a phoenix or a star, whatever imagery speaks to you.  If Water is more your style, you might imagine slowly sinking into the ocean and letting yourself dissolve into the foam, merging with the waters, letting them carry any unwanted energy away while at the same time replenishing you, the boundaries between yourself and the larger ocean murky and unclear until it is time to return again to a more tangible form.  For aficionados of Air, you might imagine simply letting a wind blow “through” you, carrying away what is unwanted and filling you up with its own energy.  All of these are equally valid, as are any other methods of reaching a stable “grounded” energetic state.  Nor are you limited to grounding yourself in classical Western elements… wood and metal from the eastern elemental system are just as valid, as are light and shadow.  If in doubt, experiment.  Try grounding in something and see if it works.  If it does, great.  If it doesn’t, try something else.

Wrapping Up

Grounding may seem fairly basic but without it it’s far too easy for someone working with subtle energies to become disconnected from physical reality, overloaded by more energy than their system can metabolize on its own, be impaired by negative energies, and overall simply become a less effective channel for energy.  I strongly recommend grounding both before and after any act of energywork.  During the working itself, it may be more appropriate to center without grounding.

As always, if you find any more ways to ground yourself, or any more techniques for taking grounding further, please feel free to share them in the comments section.  The next article in this series will be on Attunement.