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Practical Magic for Beginners: Techniques & Rituals to Focus Magical Energy

Practical Magic for Beginners: Techniques & Rituals to Focus Magical Energy

by Brandy Williams

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Anyone can practice magic to improve their everyday lives. Practical Magic for Beginners is a straightforward introduction to magical practice for Christians, Pagans, Jews, atheists, and people of all religious traditions.

This comprehensive training course presents the foundations of spellcraft and ritual magic through short, simple exercises. Readers


Anyone can practice magic to improve their everyday lives. Practical Magic for Beginners is a straightforward introduction to magical practice for Christians, Pagans, Jews, atheists, and people of all religious traditions.

This comprehensive training course presents the foundations of spellcraft and ritual magic through short, simple exercises. Readers explore their energy and senses, and then move on to developing skills in extrasensory perception, divination, and introspection. Magical timing, magical processes, ritual space and tools, journaling, and dreamwork are explained and discussed in depth. This nondenominational guidebook also includes twenty rituals related to friendship, love, prosperity, health, and other common concerns.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Williams accurately assesses a clear strength in this addition to Llewellyn's for Beginners series (Astrology, Chakras, Divination, Healing Alternatives, Magick, etc.) by calling her book "short on theory and long on practice." Her other fortes in this sound primer are clarity, simplicity and open-ended spiritual affiliation. Her emphasis on innate powers and abilities could invite believers of many stripes who want specific exercises to enhance their personal awareness. From the first simple experiment of holding palms close to each other to create perception of the unseen, Williams devotes two-thirds of her useful book to offering such concrete explorations of the invisible through sight, sound, feeling, movement, objects, planets and timing. She also lists the most basic tools for performing magic rituals and prefers dedicated, mundane household objects (clean broom, blue bowl, etc.), underscoring her belief that "everyone can develop enough psychic skill to... do effective ritual magic." The final third lists specific rituals for life events: e.g., finding a home or a job, getting money or taking a trip. Williams's only shortcoming is a lack of emphasis to "harm none," frequently found in other primers. Easy to follow, this useful volume will aid anyone who wants to master the basics of practical magic. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
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Read an Excerpt

Moving Energy
Every ritual-in fact, every magical act-we perform relies on our ability to move energy through our bodies. Understanding energy is the key to understanding how to work magic. It's the word we hear most often when people talk about magic, and it's the least well defined. Mostly we learn what the word means from context-how people talk about energy.

The word energy means something different to a scientist.
If you know the scientific definitions of the word,
it's very tempting to use them to explain magical energy,
so it's important to keep in mind that they're not the same. The scientific understanding of energy is at best a metaphor for magical energy; if you lean too much on the hard science definitions, you run the risk of limiting your understanding of how energy works in the occult sciences.

In daily life we talk about the energy that makes electricity,
which runs the house at the flip of a switch. Companies buy and sell this type of energy as a commodity.
We also talk about physical energy (our ability to move around, whether we are tired or fresh and relaxed) and emotional energy (whether we are depressed or excited and raring to go!).

In magical terms, energy means something different from all of these definitions. It is a power that we cannot measure with an instrument. Magicians talk about an energy body, which can circulate and store energy. There is also the energy of the forces around us: the elements of fire and wind and water, the planet earth, and the other planets in our solar system.We understand the energy of these forces and how they interlace within our world.

Energy constantly moves in your body. You can attract energy from other sources, and circulate it inside yourself.
You can also use your body to move energy around in ritual space. In this chapter we will be focusing on how your personal energy interacts with the energy of your environment,
and how to control that interaction consciously.
The body comes equipped with its own human energy.
Martial artists sometimes call this energy chi or ki. You can feel it very easily just by raising your hands.

Feeling Energy
Lift your arms to chest level and turn your hands so that the palms face each other. Hold them there for a moment or so. You have set up an energy connec-
tion between your hands.What do you experience?
Do you see the energy, or feel it? Give yourself a moment to notice your reaction before you read on.
It's okay if you don't feel anything; it can take some time to become aware of chi. People often describe the feeling of energy flowing between their hands as tingly or warm. You might have even found that your hands started to heat up and felt a pressure against your palms. People usually use physical analogues to describe energy: color or brightness (red or yellow, dull or bright), texture or temperature
(smooth or rough, hot or cool), and pitch or volume
(high or low, loud or soft).

Just as the physical body has organs and blood vessels,
the energy body has chakras (centers of energy) and meridians
(channels of energy). The energy or subtle body also has a skin: the aura. Energy is constantly circulating within your energy body.We take it in and give it off, use it up in activity and replenish it.

Health is essential to the practice of ritual magic. If the physical body is trashed, the energy body is going to be trashed too. That doesn't mean you can't do these exercises-
you can. Start circulating energy now, and that will start to clear up the physical body too. Just follow up with better health habits!

It is also important to pay attention to the health of the energy body. You can damage your energy body just as you can damage your physical body. Circulating energy helps to keep the channels clear and flowing freely, and protecting the chakras helps to keep them from knotting up or losing energy.

Most energy work involves the central column. This is a pathway through the center of the body from the head to the feet. Centers of energy, or chakras, are located along the central column. The energy body meridians extend from the central column and branch out along your arms and legs. There are also energy centers that give out and take in energy in the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. (See Figure 2 in chapter 7.)

We don't normally notice the pumping of the heart,
and most of the time we aren't conscious of the process of breathing. In the same way, the energy circulation in the energy body goes on at a level below conscious awareness.
We can become conscious of energy, just as we can become conscious of our heartbeat. In fact, noticing our heartbeat and breathing is a good way to begin learning about energy.

Conscious Breathing
Sit in a comfortable chair or cross-legged on the floor. Find your pulse by touching your wrist or any other place you can find a heartbeat.Now breathe in for four heartbeats, hold your breath for two heartbeats,
breathe out for four heartbeats, and hold your exhalation for two heartbeats. Do this four times.
This can feel pretty strange the first time you do it. You might find that your heartbeat slows down. That's okay,
just keep on counting. You might find that you're breathing very quickly or slowly, depending on how fast your heart is beating. If you breathe slowly you take in a lot of oxygen, which might cause a little dizziness. All of these effects go away with practice.

Many ritual techniques assume that we are able to control our own breathing. We can use our breath to pull a particular kind of energy into the body. We might use rhythmic breathing to time a given operation. As air is vitally necessary to our continuing ability to walk around on the planet, it can become a carrier for the more subtle energies we will work with.

Our personal energy exists within the field of energy of the earth and it interacts with the earth's energy. Just as we are constantly taking in physical energy from the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the sunshine on our skin, so is our energy body constantly taking in and giving out energy from the forces all around us.
The body's energy is especially linked to the energy of the earth and the sun. All of us move around within the energy field of the earth.We sometimes think of ourselves as walking on the earth, but in truth we are walking around inside the earth, as we are moving within an atmosphere that extends many miles above us. The earth's energy surrounds us-below, above, and all around-and sustains us throughout our lives.

We can learn to consciously direct the energy of the earth into our bodies. This serves as an immediate source of energy when we're tired. Similarly, we can learn to take excess energy from our bodies. Some people refer to this exercise as grounding. The idea of grounding is to balance the state of your energy body with the charge in the earth's energy around you. If we're low on energy, we can take some from the earth, and if we have a lot of energy and it's making us jittery, we can put the extra back into the ground.

Touching the Earth: The Mountain
Take your shoes and socks off and stand on the floor. If you can go outside, it's great to do this exercise on the bare earth. Feel and see energy moving from the earth through the soles of your feet, into your body, all the way up your legs, up your central column, to the top of your head. Now push the energy from the top of your head back down the central column, through your legs, and into the earth.

Grounding is half of the process of grounding and centering.
Centering means finding out where the energy is in your body, and starting every body and energy movement from a sense of calm and power.
The easiest way to center is to focus on a part of the body that martial artists call the one point or tan t'ien.
This is a point in the abdomen about two fingers' width below the belly button. It's the center of gravity in the body, the point of physical balance. The one point is a very convenient place to start and end energy circulations.

Finding the Center
Stand with your feet about a shoulder's width apart. Bend your knees slightly. Place your attention at your one point. Now rock forward and back.
Let the rocking get smaller and smaller until you balance and stop. Next, rock from side to side. Let the rocking get smaller and smaller until you find your center of balance, and stop naturally.
We can move energy into and out from the body through the soles of the feet.We can also give out and take in energy through the top of the head. The Tree exercise trains us to draw energy from the earth and circulate it. It also helps to cleanse and balance the energy body.

The Tree
Feel and see energy moving out like roots from your one point, down through your legs, to the soles of your feet. Now push those roots down into the ground. Keep pushing down, as far as you can go,
until you feel your roots coming to a natural stop.
When you have reached your comfortable depth,
see and feel energy moving up through your roots,
through the soles of your feet, and into your one point.

Next, feel and see the energy moving up your central column, to the top of your head, and then a little bit beyond to a chakra or globe a few inches above your head. Let the energy spill out from that center and shower down all around you back into the earth.

Moving Energy
You are circulating earth energy up through your roots, out the top of your head, and back through your roots again.
When you have finished, let the energy fall back down the central column to your one point. Gradually feel and see your roots ascending back through the earth, through the soles of your feet, and back into your one point.
We naturally draw energy from the earth. Like all other living things, we also draw energy from the sun, and to a lesser extent from the moon. We can also learn to consciously circulate solar and lunar energy through the energy body.

Sun and Moon
Stand where you can see the sun or moon. It's nice if the light can be touching your skin but not necessary.
Now see and feel the energy center just above your head. See and feel the moonlight or sunlight entering that center. Draw it down through the central column to your one point. From there, push the energy out along your arms and along your legs. Feel it filling up your body.
When you have finished, let the energy move down your legs through the soles of your feet and into the earth.

Once we have filled ourselves with energy, we can use it in a magical working or we can push it back down into the earth.We do not return solar and lunar energy by pushing it up out the central column back toward the sky.Whenever we have generated more energy than we can use in an energy exercise, the best thing to do with it is to push it back down into the earth. There are two reasons for this.
First, moving energy down the central column is safest for the human body, as it tends to balance and calm your energy. Also, the human energy body is more attuned to the energy of the earth, and belongs to the earth's field.We can pull energy in from the planets, but it is much harder to exchange energy and give it back-it will still be moving through the earth's field. So to ground excess energy, we put it down into the earth.
With the exercises in this chapter we have begun to take conscious control of the energy body. In the next few chapters we will study the senses of sight and hearing,
movement, and learn to work more effectively in the magical world.

Meet the Author

Brandy Williams (Washington) is a Wiccan high priestess and ceremonial magician who has been practicing and teaching magic for over 25 years.

In 1997, Williams founded the Seattle Pagan Scholars, and she has served as director ever since. She also is involved with numerous organizations including Ordo Templi Orientis, and the Temple of Light and Darkness, a Ceremonial group based on the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn. She served as President of Covenant of the Goddess in 1990 and 1991.

Williams has conducted many lectures and workshops on the subject of practical magic, including the School of Night, an intensive non-denominational course with six other teachers. She also gave a presentation entitled "Wiccan Devotionals" to the Parliament of World Religions in 1993. Williams has made numerous festival appearances and continues to present lectures and workshops about her work.

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