I have this peculiar habit of not being able to accept anything at face value. Things presented as fact as well as theories need to be prodded, mulled over, examined and re-molded until they fit my view of the world. It’s quite exhausting but at the same time there is little as satisfying as having a piece of a puzzle click exactly into place.
One topic that kept giving me trouble was the question of ritual, magic and prayer and how they work … and why sometimes they don’t work. It’s not quite enough for me to just say, “Well, it’s god’s will,” because if it’s by god’s grace that a prayer works and god’s will when it doesn’t – well, why pray if what will happen will happen anyway? The same, of course, goes for ritual, especially magic ritual.
I finally managed to make sense of this (for myself!) when I started looking at our connections, our interconnectedness, at out “fields of resonance”* and how all of this might work on an energetic, etheric level.
To illustrate, let’s use an example: imagine you need to make a decision but your brain is foggy and your mind muddled and even after making multiple pro/con lists, going for runs or talking things through with friends you can’t make up your mind. What you need now is clarity of mind. How do you get there? First you need to figure out what you associate with clarity. Maybe it’s rock crystal. Maybe it’s being up on your summit and having a fresh breeze clear the cobwebs from your mind. Maybe it’s a deep, clear lake or mountain stream. The colour white. Or it could be Mother Mary, Archangel Gabriel, a white lily, Serapis Bey, the White Ray of Light. Maybe you’ll use the white pomander of AuraSoma, or pray for clarity to your God, ask Cerridwen for inspiration, Ganesha to remove the obstacles. Maybe you’re a secular person and 1+1=2 is what you associate with clarity.
It doesn’t matter what you choose, what matters is bringing yourself into contact with the energy, the frequency, the vibration of clarity by whichever way works for you. Because the moment you touch or connect to this field of energy, you start to resonate with it. That’s also why one method works with one person but not at all with another: our associations are very different. You won’t find clarity connecting to the image of a clear lake if you almost drowned as a child.
It also doesn’t really matter what kind of theist you are for this to work. If you pare beings down to the energy they carry or radiate, it doesn’t make a difference whether they are real or imagined, whether deities are separate, individual beings or facets of one godhead.
It also doesn’t matter how you do it (a few extra examples will be given below). How much ritual and elaboration you need depends on how strongly you believe (in, for example, the ability of your God to grant you a certain something), on how easily you can let go and start resonating with the new. Sometimes it is easy. For some people it is sufficient to imagine a blanket of snow or that white ray of light. Sometimes we need to get ourselves out of the way first, get out of our everyday mindsets. Then we might need some ceremonial robes, special prayers or invocations, the casting of a circle and what else we associate with magical workings. It’s not that one method is better than the other, the difference is how easily the person is able to tune in.
Sometimes we stubbornly (and often enough unconsciously) don’t want to tune in so we resist changing our energy. Sometimes we are so stubbornly set in our ways that we don’t even notice any more that things are out of whack. For example, imagine having very tense muscles. Normally, your body will regulate the tension. But if you had this for a long time, your body doesn’t notice any more, it’s become the new normal. Now if you stimulate those tense points and increase the tension even more (keyword: trigger point therapy… ouch!) your body will take notice again and be like, “OMG uptight muscle, ease up already!” Homeopathy works along the same lines. Homoeopathic remedies don’t need to contain any physical matter that interacts directly in the way drugs do. They provide a body of information, a certain energy that, if chosen right, increases those symptoms your body has stopped noticing as “regulation-worthy”. It’s like dialling up the volume of what is already there so you notice it playing in the background again and can turn it off for good now.
In the end, all methods that can induce trances or trance-like states (like intense meditation, shamanic drumming, chanting, dancing, etc. but also running for example) work because they lull our conscious everyday minds to sleep or in some cases break it open, so we can finally allow ourselves to touch (connect to!) whatever is out there for us in this moment.
So what happens when we pray? If we do it regularly, we regularly touch upon a certain energy, a receptive and usually calm, peaceful energy. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you believe that a god or gods or ascended masters grant you this or whether you believe you do this yourself. I’m guessing both are true at the same time. What’s important is that it works. And it does, and the more we do it, the faster it happens. If we do it at a certain time of day or a certain physical space or adopt a certain posture, just entering that space, adopting that posture will change your energy to that be calm and receptive.
Of course, this works the other way round too. In another post, I lamented our lack of connection to our environment and the stuff we surround us with. But we not only neglect to connect, we also connect to the wrong things or for the wrong reasons. Take me, for example, with my embarrassing (especially for a druid) proclivity to buy blankets and, ahem, cuddly toys. Now if you have three scarves and two blankets, you are set for life. And let’s just not talk about the teddy-bears that I don’t even try to blame on my children; so, what is happening here? It’s actually glaringly obvious that those soft blankets serve to connect me to a feeling a safety, security and being loved, while the cuddly toys are my inner children, that I try to rescue by proxy. So instead of buying my umpteenth blanket, it would serve me better to just connect to the energy field of love, safety and security – which I could do, depending on my preferences, in form of divine love or Mother Mary, any other motherly deity or simply the energy field of “blanket”. I don’t actually need the physical presence of anything, in the same way a Bach flower remedy doesn’t need the actual plant body.
This is also how my view of an animistic world works, because we all have or are fields of energy and information that interact when they touch. We go into resonance with what we connect to. We have evolved with and through what we have been in contact with for a long time. Our energies are entwined. I guess this is why certain people have more resonance to certain pantheons or deities or concepts than others – it’s not only what we as a person like or are drawn to, but also what we recognise as familiar, either through our genes or past lives or our family tradition or the environment and culture we live in.
We all are energy vibrating at certain frequencies that are embedded in a web of all-that-is. When we are out of tune, we need to find the exact frequency we need and tune in … until we start resonating with it. Working magic, a ritual, or saying prayers can mean sending out waves to subtly change the overall melody. If that wave is in tune, it may happen. If the wave is discordant, it may be swallowed up. Maybe working magic is “just” adding another voice to the symphony or a solo to a jazz piece.
And here are a few suggestions how you might do that:
- Wear the colour you associate with what you need or pray for (white in our example). If you’re unsure, you find lots of information online as to which colour usually signifies which emotion or state of mind. Do the same with semiprecious or gemstones.
- Imagine being bathed in light or step into a ray of light in your chosen colour.
- Look up herbs or flowers that correspond with what you need and make infusions from them, or get an essential oil to smell (please consult a herbalist if you’re at all unsure about whether a certain herb or oil is safe to use, and always always check online resources or books yourself. Don’t use these on children or animals if you’re not a professional herbalist yourself)
- Look up Deities (Ascended Masters, Angels, Animal Companions, Saints,…) that have traditionally been associated with quality you need and ask to connect to them.
- Recite or chant the word that fits the state of being you need (clarity, in our example) like a mantra.
- Put down a sheet of paper that you designate “the place of clarity” and then take a conscious step onto that paper and into that energy.
- Find the Ogham or runic correspondence and paint, draw or carve it.
- Built an altar for it. “Altar” is just a fancy word for collecting a bunch of things you associate with what you want to draw in and arranging them in a pleasing way. As Luisa Francia, a well-known German witch, put it: “If you create a physical space for a certain energy, this energy appears. Motorways attract cars, birdhouses attract birds.”
No matter which suggestion you decide to give a try (if any), the most important thing to remember is to have fun doing it. Explore, play around, keep your mind open. Don’t attach yourself to any expectations or outcomes: this very effectively closes you up and makes energetic changes so much harder.
Maybe you disagree with me on all I’ve written here – then feel free to comment… or write your own post!
*I based my idea loosely on what Rupert Sheldrake described as morphic or morphogenetic fields. An introduction to his original ideas can be found here: https://www.sheldrake.org/research/morphic-resonance/introduction
Saille Freeling has been wandering along spiritual and mystic paths for the past two decades until she found her home in OBOD. She calls herself bard-in-training; in real life she is a biologist and editor.