At the end of 2020 I joined a discord server, and, through a renewed interaction with the pagan and witchy community, discovered that I really missed talking about, and doing pagan stuff. So, I rededicated myself, and dove right on in. Along the way, I volunteered to teach a course, because I saw a gap in the skillsets being shared in the server. Specifically, there was a lot of talk about spells and banishing and cleansing and charging things, but no real details on *how* to do any of those things.
Thus, I started teaching Energy Work 101 through the Urban Conservatory Discord. Here’s the first lesson:
The single most important skill any practitioner of the occult or neo-pagan/new-age dabbler could ever gain is to Center, Ground, and Shield.
Welcome to Energy Work! In the UC server, I’m Gryphynshadow, in the real world I’m Jennifer. I’ve been doing pagan and witchy stuff since 1996, when I got interested in all this weird stuff after a terrible semester in college. I was looking for a way to make sense of the world and my place in it, and it turned out that paganism offered a whole lot of good stuff for me. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in 2008, underwent weekly therapy for 18 months, and emerged with a set of skills that stacked with my witchcraft really nicely. Nowadays, I work as a life coach among other things, and spend my spare time teaching people how to make goals and meditate.
My life philosophy is that failure is not a bad thing. Failure, in fact, is good. Failure means you tried! Trying and messing up, and trying again, is how we learn. We must attempt things that are beyond our reach, again and again, and mess up as we do. You will learn more from a really spectacular failure than you will from a one-off success. So I want you to try new things. Whatever it is that’s been keeping you from diving into magic, from starting your practice, from picking up a paintbrush or actually sitting to write that story… consider this your permission to go ahead and try, and fail, as long as you learn from that failure. Go, learn.
Of course, what I’m teaching here at the Urban Conservatory is Energy Work. And, not gonna sugar coat it: you can mess up in such a way as to cause yourself harm. That’s what this first lesson is for! I’m going to teach you, right off the bat, how to minimize the harm you could do to yourself, and how to prevent a whole lot of uncomfortable issues that you could face.
Center, Ground, Shield
To center is to bring your awareness, and thus your energetic body, into alignment with your physical body. This allows energy to flow through your energy body and physical body more easily, without getting caught up in negative back flows and other things that you only really need to know about if you’re gonna study energetic healing. Put that to the side: to be centered is to be ready to move, balanced in yourself so that you could dodge, flow, and are poised to act/react. If you are not centered when you reach for energy to do Work, you run the risk of singing your energetic fingers and losing control over what you’re doing.
To ground is to connect yourself with the world around you. You must be grounded in order to draw in energy. You can’t draw energy if you’re not connected to the world. You must be in, and of, the world before you can raise energy and attempt to change the world. The entire practice of magic is the act of creating change: if you’re not in the world, you can’t effect anything!
To shield is to remember that you are in and of the world, and also that you have boundaries. The line between You and Everything Else is fine, but one that you need to keep in mind when doing energetic work, because while you’re busy creating change in the world, if you lose track of the boundary between You and That, you can change yourself without meaning to. Now, yes, some Work is involved in changing You. But that’s on purpose, and I’m talking about accidentally changing yourself. Magic is making change in accordance with will: you need to be paying attention to all aspects of what you’re doing, and remembering your boundaries, your shield that keeps you You, is part of that Will.
So how does one Center, Ground, and Shield?
Center: this is the exercise meant to bring your energy body into alignment with your physical body. When you feel scattered, anxious, off in your head, and after any altered state, it’s a good idea to center yourself.
Behind your navel, close to your spine, is a spot that feels most like the place within yourself that is the middle, the connection between your energy and your body. Mentally focus and bring your energy into alignment with your body. Re-center yourself into yourself. Be aware of your body, how you’re holding yourself, how you’re breathing, and bring your focus into your body instead of off in the clouds or wandering in your daydreams.
Ground: if you have energy, and you do, your cells create and store and move biochemical energy around all the time, the charge that leaps across your nerve synapses is energy, then that energy can be harnessed and used. If you have energy, so does a tree, and the sun. The energy of a rushing stream, or the wind in the trees, or the deep well of the earth. living things, things that once were alive and are now decaying, all have energy. If it has an electron, it has energy.
Grounding is the practice of connecting your energy body to the world around you in order to equalize your energy with the world. You can think of the energy of the earth or sky as a kind of filter, that can help you disrupt stagnant energy in yourself, or any bits of discordant energy you may be carrying. You can drop your energy out of yourself and pull in fresh energy at will. Picture a tree, with roots in the ground, and branches into the sky: use your energy and become like the tree. Connect to the world around you, and become one with the field of available energy.
Shield: if you have energy, and can move energy, you can use that energy for all sorts of things. This is the heart of magic, but I’m just gonna talk about shielding right now.
Shielding is the practice of using your energy and energy body to create a barrier between yourself and the world. Hold in your mind the idea of being totally safe and protected, that the energy you have pulled forth from the world around you is now integrated in yourself, and that now you can firm up your edges and make them impenetrable. A Star Trek force field, or a bubble, or floating sigils or pentagrams around, whatever idea is easiest for you to hold, and resonates with you best.
Remember that you will need to check on your shield from time to time. Learning to hold this idea in your mind while also going about your daily life is hard to learn. You will get gaps and holes. Most commonly, people will have thin shields around their feet, their backs, underneath themselves, and thicker around their heads, hands, and hearts. Try to even things out for best practices.
Drop your attention a few times a day to center, ground, and re-shield because your shield is actively using energy. If you don’t recenter and ground yourself, your shield can drain you and then you’ll get to take a sudden nap.
What is Energy Work?
So here’s what you’re going to learn in the rest of the class! This is the Syllabus. Read it, it will help you keep track of what you’re learning, and what you may have missed.
Energy work is anything you do that uses energy. I know, so broad. Don’t worry, we’re going to limit our scope to esoteric and occult activities. In the Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley said “Magick is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the Will.” He may have had some issues in his life, but he was right about this, at least.
We will learn about raising energy, sending and moving it around, and doing stuff with energy. Consecration, banishing, cleansing, and spells, among other topics. I’ll cover notable figures along the way, philosophy and theory, and every week we will learn techniques that you can apply to your practice going forward.
Energy work includes magick, divination, and worship.
Most of what we’ll be going over in this class is magical technique. Divination will be covered, but not in depth. As for worship, I’ll go over the details of the energy exchange that is worship of divine beings, but we will not talk about how to worship specific entities, or what specific beings ritual worship might entail, because this is a basic introductory class and non-denominational.
Interested in more? I’ll be sharing the rest of the lessons here, because I can. There’s a youtube channel with the visual presentations and audio recorded from the voice chat lectures. Feel free to jump into the server, too, there’s a bunch of very interesting classes and courses, and of course, community.
Pst: I opened a new Etsy to sell Tarot, Oracle, Rune, and Crystal Divinations, along with some Astrology stuff. Check it out.