The Importance of Basic Techniques
Since I began earnestly looking into Wicca and magickal practices, some of the most emphasized concepts were visualization and psychic hygiene. And, as I think about this now, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t emphasize them. Much of my own successful magick has been worked with strong visualization of my goal, and I’ve had many a worthwhile meditation session with strong visualization of where I was going, whether I was dancing through a forest in the astral or finding a cave in a waterfall with a shrine to Brigit. Along with that, psychic cleansing and grounding cannot be stressed enough in magickal and ritual working. I know I’ve had many a time when I’ve tried to work some kind of magick or focus in a ritual when I managed to cleanse myself beforehand, and I found that that time I took before and after to cleanse myself of excess energies would often make all the difference in how successful I was in my work.
So where am I going with this? These are all basic techniques that all Wiccans, Pagans and other Earth-based spiritualities hopefully come to in their magickal and ritual workings. These two concepts of visualization and cleansing (along with psychic shielding, which I’ll get to later) were things I drilled into my head before I started doing my magickal workings. They’re some of the most important things a Pagan learns, depending on the tradition. These days, even before I do something as simple as yoga practice, I cleanse myself of excess energy because it’s become such a habit. And I feel it’s a good habit to get into, if only because of my experience of how cleansing and visualization helps me in my life.
However, just a couple months ago, I had an encounter that reinforced the importance of these basic techniques, and, having been granted permission from the friend I shared this experience with, I’d like to share it with you.
Towards the end of my January term at college, I invited my friend Max over to my dorm room, ostensibly to show him a fun video game I thought he might like. I met Max just last semester through our Taiko drumming group here at St. Olaf, and we hit it off immediately. Both of us were from the Twin Cities areas, both of us were involved in marching band in high school, and both of us were interested in spirituality and Mind-Body-Spirit. In fact, Max is a member of the Mind-Body-Spirit organization here at school, and he not only practices Qi Gong but is also interested in studying herbalism and Chinese medicine after graduation.
I should make one thing clear before I go any further: Max is not Pagan. Despite his considerable knowledge of new age techniques and spirituality in general, he tends to relate more to Asian religions and philosophies than to Wicca or Pagan religions. However, he understands a good deal about Paganism and Wicca and has shown great respect for them, enough that I never have any trouble talking to him about it. Despite our rather huge age gap (I’m about to graduate while he’s just finishing his freshman year) , we’ve become good friends.
So, back to the story!
After I’d shown Max the video game, we got to talking about a variety of topics, eventually coming to Max’s Qi Gong class. At this point, he mentioned an exercise they had done in class, something that he hadn’t been able to replicate outside of his class. I asked him to describe what the exercise was. As soon as he did, I remember doing the same exercise myself, and I’m sure many of you will also remember trying this exercise at some point. Max had his hands apart and was trying to project his energy into his hands to create a ball of energy and even make that ball grow. However, without his teacher’s guidance, he hadn’t been able to feel that ball of energy when he tried the exercise outside of class.
Recognizing the exercise, I asked Max if he had tried visualizing the ball of energy between his hands. This was something he hadn’t considered, so I took him through the exercise again as I knew it. Now, I didn’t try to re-explain the exercise entirely, because he already knew it. Instead, I explained to him how, when I tried it, I visualized a bluish-purple ball of light forming in my hands. While the ball wasn’t visible to my naked eye, I knew the ball was there and visualized it as strongly as I could. Max tried the same thing, and he finally understood what I was talking about. He was finally able to replicate the exercise the way he had felt it during class.
So why did Max have trouble with the exercise before he tried it with me? It’s not because of my teaching skills (I honestly doubt I’ve explained the exercise to you properly) . It was because he hadn’t tried to visualize the ball of energy there before. As spiritually and psychically capable as Max is (even more so than I am) , without that visualization, I doubt he would’ve been able to get the same result. It’s not enough the just project the energy into the space between your hands and hope it works. Visualizing the ball of energy, no matter what it looks like or feels like to the individual, is an important step to the success of that energy. I don’t mean to sound preachy or anything like that, but, just speaking from personal experience and from working with Max on this, visualization is an extremely important skill in magick and meditative work. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Pagan or not.
So after having success with that exercise in energy play, Max and I began to talk more about visualization in psychic and meditative techniques. Eventually, he mentioned how he always felt like he had so much energy. Now, Max’s energetic and enthusiastic nature is definitely one of his strong points. In my opinion, it’s made him very strong in Taiko drumming. However, there are many times when Max has too much energy or puts too much energy into his playing, so much so that he often gets asked to back off a little bit when playing so that he doesn’t go overboard. Hearing him say that he didn’t know how to get rid of the excess energy, a thought occurred to me. It reminded me of a YouTube video I’d watched when I was first getting into Wicca that was my introduction to the basics, and, after explaining to him, we decided to watch it.
The video is called Wicca First Degree course Lesson 1 Exercises and the video itself is presented and narrated by Reverend Donald Lewis-Highcorrell of the Correllian tradition of Wicca, who also authored the Witch School series of books. For those of you who haven’t seen this or any of his YouTube videos (which I believe are excerpts from the Witch School DVDs) , even if you don’t consider yourself a Wiccan, I encourage you to check them out. They’re extremely informative, and I often find they’re a valuable resource in magickal practice. If you have the time, please give them a look. Anyways, in this particular video, Reverend Donald introduces the viewer to exercises in psychic cleansing or grounding and psychic shielding. For the purposes of this story, I’m going to focus on the cleansing exercise, as this directly relates to Max’s situation with excess energy.
In the video, Reverend Donald, with the help of some beautiful animations, gives the viewer examples of how to visualize this cleansing, talking them through a visualization of a column of pure white light moving through the body and letting the excess energy flow out of the body with the white light. As an alternative to this, he also describes another visualization of a river flowing through the body and the excess energy as detritus such as twigs and leaves that flow out of the body with the river. These are the two he finds works the best, but he encourages the viewer to find a visualization that works for them. After this point in the video, Max and I having done the exercise along with the video, I paused it and asked Max how he felt. He told me he felt a lot better, not having that excess energy in his body, and we began to once again discuss the power of visualization and these basic techniques and how important they are for anyone attempting psychic or meditative work.
But why am I telling you about all of this? Why did I even bother going into all of that?
Well, that discussion and practice with Max served as a reminder, for me at least, of how important those basic techniques are. It doesn’t matter whether you are a devout Pagan or are simply interested in new age philosophy and practice. Visualization and cleansing, along with other basic techniques, play a key role in all psychic, meditative, ritual and magickal work. And I feel that sometimes we forget how important and integral these basic techniques are. Plus, I see it as an example of the power of these techniques even when used by those who don’t practice a Pagan faith. The fact that these techniques worked as well for Max as they did for me is something I find fascinating, and it’s something I wanted to share. After all, there’s something to learn from every experience, no matter how trivial or groundbreaking, whether it’s your own experience or that of someone else.
Thank you for hearing me out on this, and, for your own future workings, I wish you an enthusiastic Blessed Be! ^_^
“Wicca First Degree course Lesson 1 Exercises” by user MagickTV, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQRyIYr3DZM