By Starwhite
What is magical energy really ? You'll know it when you personally experience it, or see it transform something or heal someone, in a manner that challenges consensus understandings of Science. Lifeway's motto, appearing on our "Certificates of Completion" of a class, is "Ex Chaos Crearam Perfectio Ars Magica". That Latin phrase means approximately, "Out of creative Chaos, Magick is accomplished." To make magic work, you must do something to raise energy. The energy is the force that makes it all happen. Some individuals can feel and be aware of it easier than can others. [[ Ed. Starwhite was the CEO of Lifeways, CAW's teaching branch. She graciously allowed me to reprint this article ]]

Raising Energy:Groups do this by means of singing or reciting a chant together, moving or dancing around in a circle deosil ("sunwise" or clockwise). Beating drums, hand clapping, and other rythmic noise-making all help to raise the energy higher. This is where controlled "chaos" comes in. In very small groups and quieter settings, other methods might be used. For example, everyone can hold hands and say "Ohmmm", or just chant and sway, or else listen to the priestess describe energy growing, form a spark to a roaring fire. The method of energy raising usually depends on the purpose and style of the ritual.

Focusing one's attention: A simple, rythmic rhyming chant, along some repetitive motion, make the best vehicle of concentrating one's mind and directing one's will (=energy) to a magical task. This works either when you perform a ritual solo, or with a group. Remember, your primary (and often only} true magical "tool" is your own mind, intensely focused on a magical task and envisioning the desired results.

Release of Energy: The priestess and/or priest directing the group ritual must know instinctively ( or else through long practice ) how long to keep the dancing, drumming, chanting, etc., going. The energy thus raised will at some point reach its maximum intensity, or an optimum peak of power, sometimes called a "cone" of power. When this moment arrives, the priest/ess will usually shout "Now !" or something similar. Instantly, then, the chaos of sound and motion stop. Sometimes the group is lead in directing the power towards a particular object, or in a certain manner (e.g. with everyone's arms raised and shouting a special word. This is a climactic moment.

Grounding Energy: When you learned to drive a car, it was soon clear that you had to know how to use the brakes even more than the gas pedal or gear shift. Similarly, energy raised must be sent back into the ground. where Mother Earth can take care of it. What happens if the energy grounding is forgotten? People can walk away from the circle all "spacey" or disoriented, or feeling too sexually energized for polite company; they might have impaired judgement, or be crying or giddy. How does one ground energy ? As soon as the energy is released, as described in the preceding paragraph, that is followed by an instruction to "ground" the energy. It can be done by touching the ground, or even lying down on the ground, and visualizing sending the energy down through your body and into the earth. Grounding helps you become calm, centered, and fully rational. Whenever it comes, grounding must be done before the ritual ends.

Tools: Tools are an extension of your arm and hand. With a wand (or your athame or crystal) you can "transmit" the energy a little farther, and focus it more precisely before you release it to do its work. Tools should be ritually "cleansed" before they are used, or if the are misused by someone, or exposed to corrupt energy.

Personal Training and Discipline: Whether you undertake to study with a mentor or do it alone with books, adopt and follow personal daily practices that serve to heighten your level of self discipline and let you exercise greater control over your thinking and ability to concentrate. Ideally, these practices should be a balance of physical activity (e.g. yoga, or a walk to a special "power spot" or haven of tranquility) and intellectual (such as a daily journal, meditation, and sometimes memorizing chants and invocations). Whatever you do should be done regularly. Your heightened self control will improve your skill at focusing your will and manipulating magical energy. Thus you will have greater magical power and effect.

A Word on Death Crone Energy: Sometimes people new to Paganism, with its wide and wonderful world of fascinating deities, get very excited about a death crone such as Kali of the Hindus. They think She's cool, with her necklace of little skulls swinging around her neck while she dances, grimacing hideously, atop the dead body of her consort, Shiva. Others may fancy the Morrigan of the Irish Celts, or the Greek's Hecate; and there are many others. These mighty and terrible ladies have been around for thousands of years. Now that they are receiving more attention again, they are increasing in power. You must not raise their energy thoughtlessly, for fun and games. Invoke them only when you know what you're doing; show Them the greatest possible respect; and be very careful to devoke them -- politely, but thoroughly. Then ground the energy, and be sure that it isgrounded! It does not matter whether you really "believe" in the kind of power the Crones wield for it to affect you. Keep in mind that the crone's realm is death and dying, literally; and she has no mawkish, sentimental feelings about it. for a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, the archetype of the crone, read Barbara Walker's book "The Crone". This is an especially important book for women.

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