Introduction To Energy Work – Centering

The World around us is old, dark and ancient. We have forgotten that.

The false veneer of our new mundane Industrial and Scientific Age has made it seem to most of us that humans are the masters of all we see. That things our ancestors knew as truth for thousands of years are but childish tales.

That’s not true.

See I know that there are monsters in our World and we sometimes we are but prey to them. As much as we might pretend, tell me if at midnight on a cold full moon, do you not shiver when you see a shadow move.

Maybe its just a cat on a nocturnal hunt. Or maybe its something more dangerous.

If you want to explore that old occult and ancient world our Ancestors knew then the first thing you must learn is how to protect yourself.


Humans have powerful personal energy that for most of us goes untapped and ignored. For those who want to develop their occult abilities, like shamans, you must learn how to tap into that power. To harness it to your will and to your purpose.

Our bodies are a collections of shells. Mind, Body, Soul, Arua, even your own Magnetic Field, which yes you generate. What you think of as a distinctive and solid body with limits is anything but. Those shells extends deep into the physical body and extend out beyond it as well.

Energy flows through those shells as currents and patterns that are difficult to describe to someone who has never experienced them. Yet as you work with your own, and learn to harness them you will see.

Its a unfortunate fact that our mundane language does poorly in giving us the ways to describe what it happening in the occult, so bear with me. Up may seem like down, sideways may seem round. Square may seem linear. Its an imperfect process. Just go with it for now (grins). I’d like to say it gets better but it doesn’t.

Occult lore and practices are as diverse and varied as there are cultures in the World. Wiccans and magicians, dervishes and wizards, they all arose when humans had settled in towns and villages. When religion got organized and built churches.

Shamans though, are of the most ancient school of the occult. We practiced our trade in caves where our fellow tribe wore furs from cave bear and saber tooth lion, and our members painted the images of deer, antelope and oxen on the cave walls to bring our hunters luck.

They worshiped the most oldest of Patrons then. Sun, Moon and the Stars.

We’ll talk more about the Realm of the Spirits in a later blog post, for now lets discuss working with Energy.


Before we start, a explanation and a brief disclaimer: The order I’m going to teach you to work with energy will be a bit different from the traditional. Its not the order I learned, but I’ve come to realize some techniques work better if you have a working knowledge of another technique first.

The order I will use is:

  • Centering Your Energy
  • Working with Psi Balls and Energy Shapes
  • Breathing
  • Sensing Other Energy Fields
  • Grounding and Channeling
  • Personal Shielding

I’ll explain more on why I use this order as we go along in this series of posts.


FINDING YOUR CENTER:

The first technique in working with energy is “centering”.

When we speak of “centering” we mean the technique where you collect the flow of energy inside yourself, and collect it into a spot, typically its a point around your navel for men or just a few inches below that for a women.

One way to visualize this skill is to image your energy as the air in a room, centering it compresses that air into a balloon.

I wasn’t taught centering as an occult skill. I learned as a technique in a class on Drama and Acting when I was much younger to help you get a better feel for your body. As an actor that is important.

When I was in my early teens, I joined a amateur theater troop. I didn’t have the guts to be an actor, but I was happy to be one of the backstage crew that helped put on the play. As I remember it, I ended up doing sound effects, like door bells and telephone rings.

Our troop leader was big on team building exercises. You know, like the “close your eyes and fall backwards, your team mate will catch you” kind of things.

One Saturday, he brought in a woman who had us all lay on our backs on the floor of the theater. She had us close our eyes, then begin to imagine our bodies in our minds. To imagine the energy within each of us, as a swirling flight of luminescent light racing around inside of us.

Perhaps she was an occult practitioner, perhaps she just learned this technique as a way to get in touch with your body.

She said then, “Imagine then taking the energy running around in one finger, and slowly pull it back, letting that energy add itself to the small spot in your stomach. Imagine then the energy in each finger and each toe, making its way to that same spot in your stomach. Once that energy has settled into the spot, do the same with your hands and your feet.”

Slowly she walked us through taking all the swirling energy of our bodies and collecting it into a small glowing spot in our stomachs.

(I think she had soft music playing but don’t remember.)

Its hard to describe the sensations you have when you do this. There is a floating feeling like you aren’t really on the floor anymore. A limpness yet serious silence to your being. And yet your senses seem to slowly seep out past the boundaries of your body.

After a few minutes, the guest speaker had us slowly allow that energy to return. First in the center, then slowly to the extremities of the arms and legs, until our bodies were full again of our energy.

Truthfully, I can remember being a bit groggy after it. I can remember having a feeling of beyondness to my body, like the energy inside it extended outward past the boundaries of my physical body.

I was a member of that theater troop for about a year, before my family moved to California, and I meet my witch. That’s a story for another day.


PRACTICAL EXERCISE #1:

I’ve done the previous exercise many times since I learned it then.

Now over the course of my life, and after much reading I think what this exercise is best for, is to find the “energy center” of your body. Traditionally for women, this has been the point just above their sex. For larger women, and most men, it is a point around their navel.

For beginners do the following exercise over a course of several weeks, and pick a mental point upper or lower of that traditional point, and seeing how your body feels as you collect your energy into that point, and how it makes you feel after the exercise. Do you feel centered afterwards or off centered? Once you have found your personal spot, you can move forward with your training.

I like to do this exercise during the late morning or early afternoon. If you are tired, this exercise can put you into a light sleep sometimes. You should be rested and if you have eaten, be sure its light or just a snack. Hold off on a lot of fluids too. Take a shower or short bath and don clean comfortable clothing. I tend to be barefoot because I like to wiggle my toes and fingers as I begin to reconnect with my edges.

(Use the restroom too, nothing kills the mood of a exercise like the need to pee in the middle of it, lol.)

I do this exercise on my bed, but you can do it on the floor, or outside on a blanket on the ground. The inner world is more important than the outer in this.

You should have some music available, something soft and without distracting vocals. Even environmental sounds like ocean waves or a rain storm work (but not alot of lightning). I find that this helps quiet my inner voices and I can focus more on the exercise than last weeks arguments at work or bills needed to be paid.

(I actually have a set of Viking ambiance tracks I found off of Youtube that I use when I need to reconnect with my center which I play. The deep base track seems to help center my attentions.)

Before you begin, do some stretching and then say a short prayer out loud asking for guidance and protection. As a beginning shaman you won’t have established relationships with spiritual allies yet, so I recommend you make your prayers to your ancestors. Family is important in working as a shaman. Even if you haven’t begun to honor them, your Ancestors are still watching over you.

Some incenses or light smudging is ok, but stay away from lighting candles or other sources of energy (salt lamps). This can distract your sensitivity to your energy.

Start the music and lay down on your back. A small pillow to rest your head is fine. Put your arms at your sides and spread your legs slightly. Just relax at first and breath slowly in and out.

Wiggle your toes and fingers if you want. Try to feel any stress or tension you have and let it slowly seep out of you, sinking into the ground. As you do, begin to feel the energy within you. How it slowly spins in rivers and flows, from the tips of your fingers into the heart of your chest and head. To some it appears as golden and glowing, but I’ve had people tell me to them it was like deep water, dark blue with deep currents. Don’t make judgement calls about how you see it.

For some, you may not even “see” the flows, but instead sense it as waves of sound, or even smell. Much is made over the skill of “visualization” but not all of us relate to the World though sight, and that is ok too.

For a few minutes just watch the flow of energy, how it moves through your body and how it feels. You might even see places in your body which are like rocks in a river, where the energy ripples and goes around. Make note of where this is but don’t dwell on it at this time. (we’ll get to blockages later.)

Once you are comfortable with the flow of energy within you, begin by seeing in your mind the fingers on your hands. Slowly wiggle them and see how the energy changes and moves. As you do, imagine the energy leaving them. Like the tide, gently lapping away bit by bit.

Then imagine the energy leaving your hands. Toes too. Begin to pull the flow of your energy from the extremities and into your body.

You may find that the cloud of energy inside yourself grows brighter (or darker for those who saw it in opposite) as you collect your energy. That’s good. At some point, you may begin to see a focus develop, usually around your stomach. Let it progress naturally. Often your body will find its center for you.

If not, use the point you had decided on at the start of this exercise. Don’t worry, if you are off, you’ll learn and correct it. Continue to pull back your body’s energy until its in your stomach, chest and head.

Begin then to let the energy in your head drain into your core. If you’ve had a center point develop, see your consciousness descend from your forehead to your stomach. This can be dis-conjoining, or even a little frightening. Or it can be peaceful. Or beautiful.

Don’t force it, in these first few tries. If you are feeling uncomfortable, then stop. If you can, note where your center sits. Is it above your sex, in your navel, perhaps above that.

Let the energy in your body settle into that one small spot, your energy center. Try and see how that feels. Let yourself experience it for a few minutes, then slowly step back.

Begin to take your energy and expand it. Let the tide return to wet the sands of your body. Feel it radiate out slowly, filling first your arms and legs and then the fingers and toes. When you have filled your body with your energy again, open your eyes slowly.

Be warned, the first few times you do this exercise, the moment you open your eyes can have all sorts of strange impacts on you. From a room filled with glowing balls, to reality vibrating to an unheard song, to even being temporarily blind. Don’t fear, it will pass. Take your time and just breath.

Once you are ready, sit up. Try to stand if you can. You’ll be wobblie I can guarantee you. Thank your ancestors for their protection. If you can, write down what you experienced while its fresh in your mind.

I often take a long shower afterwards, something about the feel of the water on my skin seems to bring the various parts of me, physical, astral, and soul back into sinc.


FURTHER WORK:

Now if during this exercise you didn’t see a clear “center”, then here is a work around.

Find yourself a fist size rock, something with a bit of weight but not overly heavy. Find a rock that speaks to you because this rock will be important to you. If you are having trouble, make a prayer to the Earth, asking its guidance and help in your quest. I’ve found that the spirits of stone look kindly on humans.

In a big city this can be hard. Try the river or streams near you. Water and stones together are ideal for energy work.

Do the exercise again, but place the stone on your stomach at your navel (or for women about half way from the navel to your sex). As you collect your energy, you should feel the dent in your body from the stone. This will usually help your body’s energy find a center. Now it may want to coalesce above or below the point you have placed the stone on your body. That’s ok. Take a few days off, return and do the exercise again placing the stone at the new location. See if the weight of the stone settles at the point of your body’s energy center. If it does, then you’ve found it.

Once this is done, don’t just toss the stone into your garden. It is your first “Ally” and deserves your respect. It will be there for you if you want.

I find that a small offering, perhaps of rum or other spicy alcohol is appropriate. Pour a small bit for you and pour some over the stone. Drink the alcohol yourself, while offering the taste of it through your mouth to the stone. Put it in a place of respect in your home and don’t be surprised if the spirit of the stone visits you in your dreams.

For those of you who found their center easily and don’t need a stone ally, don’t fret, there will be plenty of chances to acquire other allies going forward when we discuss “Allies and Patrons”.

Advertisement

What Is Shamanism

Since humans first sat around a fire in a cave or looked up at the nighttime sky, they wondered about their World and their place in it. “There must be some big Beings up there who made all this”, they might say, and they would think that to be in the good graces of those Beings would be an important thing.

Not just the Beings in the Sky but the Spirits of the animals around them, especially powerful animals like the cave bear or saber tooth lion. Things hunted us then. Nature wasn’t something that meekly bowed down to our dominance.

But how ask these powerful forces to be our friends and allies?

Among those first tribes of the Neolithic would have been people with the gift and calling of looking deeper into the shadows and the lights of that World. To see the rhythm and rhyme of the plants, animals and natural World. Which herbs healed and which poisoned, which animals to be hunted and which would hunt you, where it was safe to rest and where it wasn’t.

Slowly those seekers would also discover the ways to contact the spirits around them, to learn the ways to ask for their help and their knowledge. Having such a person among your group would bring a great advantage and those people would have been respected (and sometimes feared).

We call those people now, “Shamans”.


What is a Shaman?

Priest, Medicine Man (or Woman), Healer, Witch, Magician, Wizard, Shaman.

People tend to use these names interchangeably, when each of those names refers to a more specific skill set. A Healer might be a Shaman, but not all Shamans are Healers. A Witch might be a Medicine Woman but not all Medicine Women are Witches.

Greer would say define your terms first so that there is no confusion later.

The name “shaman” actual comes from the Tungusic language of Siberia. It was picked up by archaeologists and scientists to describe the broad type of person in a tribal setting which used a mystical method to assist the tribe. Not all of those people were what I define as shamans.

Laypeople and the Media began using this term, especially in the 1980’s here in the United States when the popular attention on North American Indian culture and spiritually hit, think the movie “Dances With Wolves” or the film “Clan of the Cave Bear”.

Its use though to describe all mystical roles in tribal culture would be wrong.

For the purpose of this blog, I will define a “shaman” as someone who specifically communicates with the Spirits. Who learns what the Spirits want from us, learns how the Spirits wish to interact with us and learns how to placate these Spirits and seek their help.

Greer has mentioned many times that he believe there are non-human and non-corporal beings who inhabit our World along side us. From my own experiences I believe this too. Call them spirits, ghosts, avatars, angels or demons, perhaps even Gods, these beings interact with humans in many ways, from the mundane to the sacred, sometimes completely ignoring us to other times completely possessing our lives. They can be as simple as a guardian spirit of a home to deities worshiped by millions.

Our ancestors knew that these beings existed, they knew that these spirits could bring benefit and could bring harm. They came to depend on the specialized knowledge and skills of shamans to help smooth the interaction between them and these beings. Its only in the last few hundred years that Science has managed to convince people that this isn’t true.

Science is mistaken.

So too is Religion mistaken, in that modern religions dismiss non-corporal beings mostly out of hand as not existing, or only recognizes their existence within the frame work of that religion’s hierarchy. Spirits worshiped by Pagan religions became Saints. Yuletide and the celebration of the Winter Solstice became Santa Claus and Christmas.

When Science rose during the Renaissance, it made a marriage of convenience with Religion to stamp out Magic. They divided up Reality and agreed not to step into the other’s sphere of influence. Science, Religion and Magic is like the sides of a coin. Religion and Science are the faces, yet Magic is the edge which binds them. To not recognize the importance of all three is to deny a fundamental part of everything.

Just because you claim something doesn’t exist, doesn’t always mean it goes away.

I do think though that many of those same non-corporal beings have learned to adapt themselves to the predominate religions which humans practice at any given time. So a fertility god might morph into a Patron Saint of Marriage, co-opting the attention and the worship of new followers. Why? That’s a good question. Personally I think such non-corporal beings feed on our attention and our worship but I don’t honestly know.

Its lonely when no one recognizes you. Must be even lonelier when you were once a god.

Though that might be simplistic too. I share my home with several cats, and I can say without a doubt that my role to them is not just putting food and water out for them. They derive pleasure it seems in being with me as I do with them. So our interaction is much more than just sustenance. Maybe its the same with Spirits? With Spirits though, its hard to tell which of us is owner and which of us is the pet.

It doesn’t really matter, does it? What matters is how beneficial the relationship is. I may be a asshole sometimes with you BUT if I have your back in emergencies then the relationship benefits you.

Working with Spirits is complicated…

Some Further Definitions

For purposes of further discussion, let me define some other roles. You may disagree with my definitions but for the purposes of the next few posts, this is mine.

“Priest” is someone who mediates between a dominate God or Goddess and their worshipers. This can be for minor spirits or ones that command the worship of millions. Usually once someone takes the mantle of “Priest” the interaction between the spirit and its worshipers becomes in some way formalized, with recognized rites and rituals.

Personally at this point, I think its hard for the normal person to attract their God’s attention and actually have an interaction with them. You can still invoke their power but in a much more subdued way, with a corresponding drop in power.

To get any amount of reciprocal benefit, you may have to seek other gods to worship. Or you can choose to worship their opposition. Satanism as an example. Standing out in a huge crowd is difficult but how many of us need their Deity to recognize them personally?

And yet like the spirits Moon and Sun, large spirits of power can and do single out individual worshipers for their attention.

“Witch” or its male counterpart “Warlock” is a priest of the Heathen or Pagan religion. Worship and veneration of the “Goddess”. In many ways they are the same as Priests though Christian priests have forgotten their active mystical power. Maybe that is why we all take tales of Exorcists of such interest. Witches are often Healers and Shamans too.

In reference to dominance of a religious discussion, “Magician” refers to a spiritual worker who uses a dominate religion’s template in their rituals. Like 18th century magicians using wards and pentagrams to bind and constrain Christian demons with a controlling relationship. Magicians are ceremonial and often put the human in the equation at the apex of the power relationship. Is this shamanism? I don’t think it is, yet it is one viable mystical practice which can involve spirits.

This name can also refer to mystical practitioners who diminish the role of non-corporal beings into artifices of the Will or the archetype energy forms of human creation. Do you have to believe in the existence of non-corporal beings to use mystical means to affect your reality? No you don’t but I believe you cut yourself off from a powerful ally when you do.

“Healer” or “Medicine Man (or Woman)” are usually community based wellness practitioners focused on close relationships and individual outcomes. They use their knowledge of herbs, plant based medicines and change of lifestyle actions to cure sickness and promote good health. Unfortunately they are often the first persons to be targeted when a major religion feels threatened because they don’t have a power base to push back from.

“Wizard” to me is someone less worried about how they access power and where it comes from as “does it work”. They are kind of the garage mechanics of spiritual work. Roll up your sleeves and get some grease on your face. They are the closest to my idea of Green Wizardry. People focused on results not spiritual political correctness.

“Sorcerers” are like Wizards but have a more personal focus, and often seek personal power over others and their environment. To me there is a bit of darkness to sorcerers.

Both can be as powerful as Shamans, yet often lack a grounded relationship with their power that comes from recognizing that your source comes from a distinct living entity. You can write about love when you don’t have a lover but without the true depth that such a relationship brings.

Now while I will define a Shaman as one who works with Spirits, that doesn’t mean I think people who pursue training as a Shaman should stop there. A good Shaman learns many other skills, not the least of them Healing and Herbalism.

Are these definition set in stone, of course not. You may disagree with my definitions and still learn something from this series of articles. I’m simply telling you what I mean when I say the things I say.

We will explore what I’ve learned as a shaman in further posts…

Introductions Are in Order

My name is David Trammel and I run the sustainable living website Green Wizards. We are an outgrowth of the popular (and now closed) blog named “The Arch Druid Report” written by author, scholar, historian, political commentary and yes, Archdruid, John Michael Greer.

(He now posts on the blog Ecosophia)

He came to the conclusion that our present civilization, like the many Empires before it, is headed towards a economic, social and political collapse which will slowly over the next few centuries lead to another Dark Age. That in the near term, over the next century, pressures of resource depletion, agricultural over farming, peak oil and yes, climate change, will cause a stair step regression to a tech level more like the 18th century than the 22nd.

Greer proposed that people should look back at the first oil crisis of the 1980s, when rising gas prices made people look at ways to conserve energy and live with less. He wrote a book on what was then called, “appropriate technology”, called Green Wizardry. In it he said this:

“One of the things the soon-to-be-deindustrializing world most needs just now is green wizards. By this I mean individuals who are willing to take on the responsibility to learn, practice, and thoroughly master a set of unpopular but valuable skills – the skills of the old appropriate tech movement – and share them with their neighbors when the day comes that their neighbors are willing to learn. This is not a subject where armchair theorizing counts for much – as every wizard’s apprentice learns sooner rather than later, what you really know is measured by what you’ve actually done – and it’s probably not going to earn anyone a living any time soon, either, though it can help almost anyone make whatever living they earn go a great deal further than it might otherwise go. Nor, again, will it prevent the unraveling of the industrial age and the coming of a harsh new world; what it can do, if enough people seize the opportunity, is make the rough road to that new world more bearable than it will otherwise be.”

If you are worried about our Future, and our children’s Future, please check the site out.


This blog will not focus on those subjects, except in occasional minor ways. Instead we will follow my journey into becoming a practicing “shaman” and spirit worker.

More background: I just turned 62 in July of this year. Might seem a bit late in life to begin exploring alternatives to established religions but my family was never particularly religious in an organized way.

And as a way too intelligent kid, I was used to exploring the boundaries, with encouragement of my parents. As I remember it my first introduction to the occult arts was a paperback book with a title like “Love Magic” in either sophomore or junior year of high school. Any shy and smart kid will always look to getting some advantage with the opposite sex, lol.

We moved a lot while I was growing up, my Father worked for McDonnell Aircraft Company (later McDonnell Douglas), primarily in their space program. He was John Glenn’s flight chief on his historic first flight into space. You could say I was raised on the idea that the world was larger than people thought.

In 1975, we moved to Camirillo, California so my father could work on a US Navy missile project. The town is north of Los Angeles and near Oxnard. At the time it was a farming town with suburban housing divisions sprouting up between the fields. In my then senior year, I meet a young woman named Mary Beth. We hit it off and while she wasn’t exactly a “girl friend” she turned into a real friend.

Mary Beth was also old Wiccan, in that her mother and aunt were Wiccan. Her grand mother and her great grandmother had been Wiccan. Mary Beth had a beat up VW Beetle and knew where all the occult shops were in Los Angeles. We spent many a weekend visiting them.

Wicca was interesting for me, but never quite clicked.

At June after graduation, my family moved back to St Louis, Missouri. I kept in touch with Mary Beth via letters (yes we wrote those things back then). I went into a local college on Physics major, but after a year and a half had teen aged rebellion, and joined the Army. Told the recruiter “I wanted a job that I didn’t have to think”.

Fast forward 4 years and I was back in college on the Government’s dime via the GI Bill. I didn’t want to be in a lab any more, and unsure of a major I took a bunch of unrelated course. One I took was on “Central and South American Prehistory.” The professor was amazing and I took most of the course he lectured in.

About this time America began rediscovered its Indian history.

Now I’m from Oklahoma, specifically being born in Muskogee. Yes, I am a “Okie from Muskogee”. Being Oklahoman born, your family almost always has some Indian forbearers and relatives.

Then “Dances With Wolves” came out.

It wasn’t the first movie to explore the past practices of Shamanism, and truly didn’t do that much. Instead it gave Americans, who I think at the time were yearning for a simpler life something. Remember by the 1990s, the counter culture hippies of the 60s were turning 50. They had sold their revolution for a corner office and a six figure salary.

American Indian spirituality and the idea of a reconnection to the Earth had a powerful impact on me. And yet, it is a spirituality of conflict, dominance and power in many ways. It is a warrior tradition.

At about the same time, I ran across the book Urban Shamanism by Serge Kahili King. Unlike American Indian shamanism, King’s training was of a tradition of Hawaiian adventurers. Less about power and more about cooperation.

It offers too a amazing conceptual world view and way of thinking that while I have moved on past his style of shamanism I still use and find helpful in my day to day life, both practical and spiritual. I will discuss his framework in several future posts because I find it fits the real world and the spirit world better than anything I’ve found.

Where I find King’s style lacking is that he ascribes the powers that shamanism deals with as more human centric and derived from human consciousness rather than having an outside realm of actual beings.

Greer has written on the pathways of the sparks of Life take to reach enlightenment, and I believe that when I interact with a spirit, I am dealing with a distinct and individual entity. One that can be either a friend or an enemy, and which decides for itself which it will be.

What we do then on this blog is follow my journey into a relationship with those same spirits. In a path of discovery. And at times I’m sure, a path of frustration too but one that will eventually lead to reward.

We will explore this further over the coming years.

Welcome…