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.
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.
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.
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.