Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Energy Work: Mostly Bullshit, and Beyond your Grade

In today's post, Fr. A.I.T. brings up excellent arguments for including what he calls "energy work" in your daily practice. He makes a bold statement in the title that if your personal practice doesn't include "energy work," it's bullshit.

Since I can't comment on his post from the office, I've spent the day trying to hammer out a coherent post (in between all kinds of business responsibilities too numerous and damned boring to list) to address my issues with his statements. I'm not convinced I'm arguing with him as much as I'm arguing against my perception of what he's said, and none of this is personal or anything, I love me some AIT, yo. He's the man. I just have some shit to say about this topic.

Let's begin with a perusal of the practices we have handed down to us within the Hermetic Tradition. Take a good look at the Picatrix, or Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Practice. Examine the Greek Magical Papyri. Take some time and go through the Sefer ha Razim, or the Testament of Solomon. Wade through the dense symbolism of the alchemical texts. Check the Corpus Hermeticum. Read the grimoires from the Renaissance.

Do you see the detailed instructions on visualization techniques? Aren't the methods they provide to circulate the energies of the spheres through your own sphere fascinating? The key images they provide to incorporate into your body of light, and how to use it to travel through the spheres are so handy and useful, aren't they?

What's that you say? There's nothing there about "energy work"? No instructions, processes, methods, techniques, visualizations, or guidance in any way regarding anything about "energy work" whatsoever?

Why, you're right! There's not. Fancy that. It's almost as if it weren't even a part of the personal practice of the magicians for thousands of years, right? So their practices were apparently bullshit.

Well, no, not exactly. The whole "energy work" term is a recent addition to this thing we call magic. It's a different way of looking at what we're doing, so of course there's nothing clearly about energy work in the traditional sources. Because, get this... back in the day, it just wasn't necessary to mention it. These books focus on Rituals and Initiations as the keys to power because all that "energy work" stuff comes as a result of the rites of initiation. You can't even have the structure or the power to do any of the "energy work" without the initiations received through the rites. And if you've gotten the initiations, you'll find yourself doing the "energy work" and the meditations naturally as a result.


You know, I have several problems with what gets called "Energy Work" in the personal practices of magicians. My main issue with it is that it's mostly bullshit. 99% of the meditations, visualizations, or chakra activation/purification techniques out there are made up horse shit that exists mainly to beef up the word count of the manuscript, or to meet the publisher's requirements for the inclusion of practical exercises for the students. Or it just sounded neat to the guy writing it.

Ok, maybe not 99%, but a lot of it.

And what isn't bullshit is probably beyond your grade. By that I mean it's a specific practice native to a specific culture's belief systems with a specific intended outcome that applies to the folks in that particular path, the things that have been revealed to them in order to draw them closer to the One, the Source, God, the Monad, whatever you want to call it. They're practices designed to work with your beliefs and the general harmonies of your sphere. They came from a system, and apply primarily to that system. They prepare you for specific things that come later in the system, and they are predicated on the accomplishment of specific other practices that were supposed to come before.

For example, any "energy work" that involves chakras is lifted from spiritual practices that had a specific framework and intent behind it that you (most likely) don't have and can't hope to fully understand by reading books about it. Likewise, any "energy work" that involves building a Body of Light using techniques from the Golden Dawn are part of a specific initiatory process that shouldn't have been made public. If you're learning about it on the internet, it's a good bet that what you're learning is being passed on by someone who never received the initiations required to understand and use the practices being taught. If they were qualified to teach it, they'd be bound by oath not to.


I actually agree with AIT's exhortation to more devotional time to accomplish the Work. I just have a problem with the idea that you put "energy work" exercises first and foremost as the answer to whatever ails you. You've got to have context for the symbolism to be meaningful. You need guidance, structure, you know, a plan. AIT mentions creating the Solar Body and the Lunar Body, for example. Do you know WTF he's talking about? Probably not. It's not exactly common knowledge. He mentions it's a vehicle you jump into after death to become an Immortal. Is that an alchemical process, an interpretation of an alchemical process, or is it a specific Mystery of the Order he belongs to? Do you know? I don't. How do you build a Solar Body? Does this Solar Body he mentions require the consistent building of access points and nodes within your spiritual sphere using rituals like the LBRP or Middle Pillar rituals? I dunno.

And what the fuck is "energy work" anyway? I have these forces come out of my hands that bring relief to my spouse when she's in pain. I received them when I visited the Eighth Sphere and began learning the Hymns of Silence. They're released by tensing certain muscles, holding my hands in certain ways, while "hymning in silence," that is, holding a particular vibration in mind/body/spirit, or by holding a specific image in my mind's eye while moving my awareness through the inflamed tissues and nerves in my spouse's spine.

I'm pretty sure people who use the term would call that "energy work." I prefer to think of it as "magic."

I didn't learn that shit by meditating. I learned it by conjuring and getting initiated. I got that by Ritual and Initiation alone, brothers and sisters. They were the keys to the power. They opened the gates.

Understanding how to use it comes from practice, exercises done under the tutelage of my Supernatural Assistant, with requests for further explanation or initiation from the spheres of origin as needed. If that's what AIT means by meditation or energy work, then ok, I agree, you've got to get your ass in gear and do that shit to see any major progress in your Work. But honestly, for me at least, I didn't need any motivation to get my ass in gear. I had an appetite for that shit, a hunger to learn and integrate what I'd received in the heavens here on Earth. And it came from the rites and initiations. It didn't come from me trying to make myself want it, it came from tasting it and needing more.

And as I've gained initiations, I've found a pleroma of practices that could be called "Energy Work" listed clearly in the links provided above. As my subtle experiences have grown, I've gained the perspective that reveals what is hidden in plain sight in the Language of the Birds. It came naturally.

And it all began with Ritual and Initiation alone.


  1. Ah.
    I still see visualization as simply mental-masturbation. But it is a useful tool.
    As Agrippa points out "phantasy stirs the passions of the mind", and of course the passions of the mind impress upon one's soul. etc etc etc.
    And when that is linked with celestials, or intelligences, well you can read that in chapter LXVII.

    "Energy" simply means the quality of movement(if I remember correctly) in greek philosophy and has nothing to do with pseudo-spiritual-electricity until Mesmer.

    Maybe I am wrong, but I think that is correct.

  2. Excellent reply, Frater! Just for the record, no vitriol at all bro...I just love me a good arguement, and there aren't many folk around that can argue this sort of thing with any sense. Please feel free to eviscerate my statements anytime you want! That's the only way the old Greek fathers got anything done...and it it's good enough for Plato, it's good enough for me. If we can't discuss these things, than who can? So, off we go, haha.

    I think a big difference between us on this one may be a definition of what "Energy Work" is. This is, in my practice, devotional meditation that fills the inner bodies with LVX. I don't believe for one bloody second that you've evolved as far as you have without it. Not.One.Second.

    The Hermetic and Alchemical texts--the ones that are going to get you anywhere-- are chock Full of references to energy work. They call it "Prayer". They go so far as to state numerous times that your work is empty without it. Turning your mind toward the One (or a Planet, such as in the Picatrix) and singing it's praises...and not in just the literal sense. Contemplating the One in earnest--even when failing--lifts the nature of the Mind and Spirit toward the one, refining the bodies of the Magician over time. This is Energy Work. You learned arcane and hidden things from the Angels you have worked with, certainly, and that was enabled by ritual....and powered by devotional meditation/prayer. Working with the spiritual energies isn't limited to appropriating chakra-meditations in New-Age style. When you vibrate words of power and incantations, you bring your energetic bodies and mind into attunement with the forces you wish to contact (I know you don't need me to tell you this, Fra, but bear with me. =)I would wager that you spend more time in devotional meditation (the state you are in, even if the trance is light, whilst you commune with the Angels of the Spheres) than you do conducting your ritual itself. I would wager that every breakthrough you've had in the work has been a result of this devotional meditation--setup and framed by the ritual, tuned by the ritual certainly. But the real work was done in Prayer. This is energy work. I know the phrase tastes new-age, but I'm trying to speak Galactic Common hear. You know how it is. Half the time people don't know what I'm saying when I say it plainly, let alone if it's phrased in Hermetic Insider-talk, ha.

    I completely agree with you as far as ritual providing needed structure goes, but without prayer you're building a rocket with no fuel. The Magic is in the devotional prayer, the energy work...the ritual just makes it easier for us to do the actual Magic. I say that a rite without energy work is empty bullshit. No enflaming yourself with prayer? No contemplation of the hidden forces? No meditative trance, just movements and empty words with no Inner Fire? Then it is bullshit.

    You totally agree with me.

    Now that you have achieved so much and acquired those powerful Friends, you find that they teach you ......more energy work. More ways to manipulate and evolve the forces that are existent within the Micro and Macrocosms.

  3. I am so with you on this one RO that words fail me. Coming from a spiritist initiatory perspective I can add that the notion of energy work is a very recent and an annoying accretion to the vernacular of ATR based spiritual work also. I sometimes like to use the word 'energy' to describe an intangible phenomenon - mostly to describe the movement of grace and power - but this is always spirit-centred. I aint doing squat.

    Certainly not 'working' energy. When I hear the notion of 'energy work' and even 'visualisation' within a western magical framework I always assume that asian meditative concepts and techniques have been dressed up (badly) in ceremonial drag. Worse, it fosters the mistaken notion that there is all this internally focussed 'mind-stuff' happening (you know, headology), instead of honest to goodness magic. My 2c

  4. What for some is mental masturbation is for others quite the opposite. Letter visualization and letter combination are for me the core of my practice based on Sefer Yetzirah.

    I'm not really sure what "energy work" means. Then again, when meeting another magician/mystic face to face we often spend the first half hour or so of our conversation aligning meaning of words and phrases.

  5. I would remind folks that the terms often used in Magick and Alchemy, and very frequently noted in Alchemical diagrams... and Agrippa's wrongful Galen-based discussion of Elements and Qualities is based on "Energetics". The Western term of "4 Humours" was somewhat expanded by late 19th century Medicine, particularly in Physio-Medicine into measurable Human Tissue states. So, I would not automatically assume there is no basis for "Energy Work" in a Western system, it in fact goes back much further than Galen to Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc. However, this is not studied as it should be in contemporary circles.

    Just a different perspective in regards to "Energy Work".

  6. Ah, here it is.

    @FRAM: And that's precisely the point. No one knows what the fuck "energy work" means. You've just offered yet ANOTHER interpretation, ANOTHER framework to interpret it through.

    It's a fucking meaningless phrase.

  7. Meaningless, or too much meaning? Its obvious at this point that the phrase is too broad. Problem is, there aren't any viable alternative phrases. I tried to moving toward "Virtue" to describe the spiritual energies for a while, as Agrippa did, and no one understood me. Le sigh.

  8. And I quote:

    I'm pretty sure people who use the term would call that "energy work." I prefer to think of it as "magic."



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