My version of witchcraft is deeply experiential. I don’t read about it, or think about it, or talk about it, as much as I experience it. I live it. Of course, I have read and thought and talked about witchcraft and magic a whole lot throughout my life, and that has been interesting, useful, and fun. But it has not been the experience of BEING a witch and WORKING magic.
There are as many practices, tools, and rituals as there are witches. Because there is no doctrine, no guidebook, no rules, a curious newcomer to the Craft can get easily overwhelmed. Astrology, Tarot, colors, days of the week, numbers, plants, animals, goddesses and gods, metals, stones, crystals, angels…there is so much to choose from! So many things can aid our work. These things are extremely helpful, and really fun as well – at least I think so.
But my foundational approach to magic, and to being a Witch, is my relationship with energy. The mysterious life force that keeps me breathing without me having to consciously will it. The “capacity for doing work”, as they say in physics. The quality of someone’s being. I start with my own energy. Being as self-aware as possible is a critical piece of working powerful magic. I need to know how much energy I’m running, what’s the quality of it, if it is being projected to others in unconscious ways, how I’m using it every waking (and even sleeping) moment. As I become more conscious of how the Life Force is embodied in me, I can also become a loving observer of how energy is manifesting in all the things in the Universe: other people, plants, animals, ideas, relationships…all of the things!
Here is a quick exercise for you to start noticing energy. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Notice how you are feeling in your body: are you cold, warm, too hot, just right? Are you joyful, bored, excited, sad? Are you worried, or at ease? Are you aware of the you that is not you? Are you feeling a part of you that is not your body, maybe not even in your body? Breathe through this exercise for a few minutes, and see if you can connect with images, sounds, smells, textures, or flavors that seem to you to capture the whole essence of how your energy is today. Remember that this exercise is more like poetry than empirical observation, so the important thing is for you to get a clear sense of your own whole energetic body, not how “accurately” you’d be able to describe it to someone else. One you get a hit of your energy, come back to it throughout the day and see if it’s still the same or if it’s shifting, and start to pay attention to how the awareness of your energy affects your interactions and behaviors.
Over time, you will be able to connect very quickly to how your energy is, and also to will it into being different, which is what I call energy work. Then, you can start sensing others’ energies, and even working into shifting those energy patterns as well. Witches are deeply skilled at the dance of perpetual interaction and deep interdependence. The beauty of this is that while energy is the “capacity for doing work” and power is “the rate at which work is performed”, you can only imagine what knowing how to work energy can do for someone’s power. And power is also the ability to do, act, or have influence. You can see how energy work cannot be fully described or captured in a short few paragraphs, but I’m sure you begin to get an idea of why working with energy is an important skill: it will allow you to shift your shape to your own liking first, and then expand that reach to help shapeshift the world into one that welcomes and supports all.