by Christopher Penczak, Edited by Tina Whittle
In any foundations class on energy work, both receiving and sending, we cover the basics of sending energy to individual people or places we know to create change. In one class, I received a question about handling the bigger issues, like sending energy to the war in Ukraine or the White House. Can we? Should we? And how does it work?
These are big questions, understandable for the times we live in with so much global crisis. It’s easy to feel powerless, and when we learn magick, we feel empowered to address such things. The answers are complex, but when we feel disempowered, we don’t usually want complex and nuanced responses. Thankfully the class was open, and we had a lovely conversation about this big topic.
Here are some of the considerations we discussed.
1. Intention versus specificity.
First let me say that since I’ve been taught in traditional occultism, in my magickal philosophy you have to be specific to be effective. When I saw calls for magickal healing online asking for a friend having difficulties, if they didn’t share details, I would ask for their name, age, and city or residence. Maybe I would ask for their Sun sign or birthdate. Or a photo. Those of the old school would usually share that info, and would usually put general calls for support on trusted networks of practitioners, not public social media.
In these times I’ve been told that you don’t need that, and your intention alone will do it. Yes and no.
Do I think intention is incredibly important? Yes. Do I believe in a universal guiding intelligence of which I am a part? Yes. Do I realize that both, even in magick, can have limits in practical effectiveness? Yes. That is why I know that if I intend to call my friend Mary, but do not have her number, if I use my intuition to push a sequence of numbers, I probably will not get Mary on the phone, no matter how strong my intention and guidance.
I know I can intend to deposit money into my bank account, but if I throw a bag of cash at my bank, even if it has my name on it, it probably won’t make it into my account because I didn’t make a direct connection using all the necessary information. I had intention. I was aiming in the general direction. But if my goal was to deposit money to my specific account at that bank, I still wasn’t effective in my goal.
Magick is not that different. Magick has seeming supernatural aspects to it, but as we learn in the Principle of Correspondence, patterns repeat on all levels. Something that doesn’t work on the practical level might not work that well on a spiritual level. Sometimes it will transcend such conventions on a higher level, but often it won’t. Part of our magickal training is to be more and more effective and realize how things operate.
The flip side of being specific is being too specific, and wanting to micromanage the entire process step by step. For me and those who have trained me, the specificity lies in the ultimate outcome being what you want, but welcoming any path that gets you there. If you are fixated on one path, that specific path might not be possible or require far more energy to manifest than a simple path you haven’t seen. This is where the universal guiding divine intelligence comes in for me. Universal intelligence is way smarter than me in getting to the desired goal.
When I have the number of the person I want to call and know the conversation I want to have, I don’t put intention into how many rings it takes, or if they pick up immediately, or call me back when they can actually talk. As long as we get the conversation, I’m good. When I deposit money in my bank, I don’t have to control which window I go to, which teller, or how they enter my information, just that the money is safely deposited.
So when we want to “send energy” to a global crisis, do we have a balance to our intention and know exactly where that intention is going? If you generally send “good energy” to the White House, you might perk up the day of a staff member in the mail room who is having a hard time, but if you assumed “White House” meant controlling the actions of the President for the “better” and delivering a political outcome you approve of, you didn’t specify that.
If you want to send energy to Ukraine, where? All of it? To whom? For what purpose? If your intention is to aid Ukraine, well, there are Russian soldiers in the borders of Ukraine. You could be giving them a little energetic pick-me-up to fight harder as well. Was that your intent?
I know what some of you are thinking: Christopher, that is obviously not what I meant or intended, and “the Universe” knows or “the gods” know that. Yet I see a world where lots of good intentions yield terrible results, and I’m sure the Universe and gods knew it then too, yet terrible results still happened.
2. Magickal Resistance
So you can do it, but should you? And if yes, how should you?There can be a stage in magickal training where we think every problem can be addressed with magick. With some initial success—often incredible success!—we apply magick to all our problems. With such success, we begin to think we are superhuman. We then direct our skill to our entire family, the greater community, nation, and globe, thinking, often unconsciously, “I can fix that.” Or perhaps you belong to a group of like-minded individuals and think. “We can fix that.” While I do agree in theory, if solving problems were this easy, a lot more would already be fixed and the world would be very different. If magick is real, why is the world still full of problems?
In such global situations, while you are a part of a larger group, you have less agency personally as there are a lot of people who are also involved. For most of these situations, you are not even directly involved, beyond how everyone in the world is involved. Those whose real-world actions have more direct effect also have more magickal or energetic effect, as magick is often best followed by real world action. So even with flawless magickal action, the result of such magick is not always visible to us. I’d like to think every effort is pushing towards a critical mass of greater beneficial change, and have seen examples of that in my life, like the magick for LBGTQIA marriage equity done decades before any visible results in law (though such “rights” are equally precarious, as there are numbers of active “prayer warriors” praying daily for that right, and many other rights, to be overturned).
Here is where we find magickal resistance. While we often talk about magickal resistance in terms of resisting oppressive systems using magick and art, I am talking about the type of resistance akin to electrical resistance, and how it’s generated to impede our intentions and results. When you fervently will something to occur through spells, there are others just as fervently doing the same for a different, if not totally opposite, result. Which “wins?” Usually there is some sort of middle ground first, or eventually, like a magickal “tug-o-war.”
How can that be? Isn’t Witchcraft spiritually or metaphysically superior to those with no training simply praying in a Christian context? Our traditions are “older!” Our traditions are more “real!” Why don’t they dominate? I ask you, when have they ever? If they had, we would probably be living in a Pagan Theocracy, perhaps even ruled by Sorcerous Queens and Kings. Witchcraft has always been a tool of the oppressed, but many of those who were using it in ancient times to address oppression are the same groups of marginalized people using it today, just set in a different time and place.
Some of the difference lies in numbers. Does a group of Witches working towards a goal have more psychic voltage than many large megachurches praying for a specific goal? Does the training of Witches win out over those untrained Prayer Warriors? The Prayer Warriors might be much more fervent and fanatical—what is considered in occultism to be “single minded”—as most Witches can barely agree upon anything when in a group, and while we might agree on general intent, we then get bogged down in specifics. We are wild, willful, and far more individual, which isn’t always a plus in these situations. The quick development of group mind towards a single purpose is a benefit of those in dogmatic religions, at least for immediate magickal voltage.
In times past, I have noticed, even on a small individual scale, more “miraculous magick” from a small, focused coven that has been working in the same group mind for years, working in the same paradigm and style of magick with clearly defined roles and responsibilities in that group. I’ve seen people with incurable situations be cured. I’ve seen radical changes of work and home situations soon after rituals. The group would dedicate all their practice for a time to the same goal, and move mountains. I’ve been a part of such rituals. Yet I see that less from individual practitioners or eclectic groups. That’s not to say individual and eclectic practice can’t do amazing things, and I do embrace both, but the mind-blowing tangible results are not as common in my observation.
3. Changing Your Relationship to the Situation
What solitary and eclectic group magick for change does really well is catalyze a process to transform your relationship to these global problems. As you seek change, the process will change you for the better.
Sometimes it opens you and connects you to real-world action and involvement in the situation (though sometimes it doesn’t). It gives you a place to beneficially focus your intent, even if you can’t see a beneficial impact immediately. It transforms your anxiety, fear, or anger about the situation, freeing you from being stuck in such emotions for long. It gives you an outlet, often with the chance for physical follow-up actions.
In my healing work, there are many rituals, formulas, and remedies I personally take and offer to clients. For some, the remedy is the cure. For others, it provides a beneficial focus until other methods address the issue (if it can be addressed), but the magick keeps the flow of consciousness. Magick can empower the terminal patient, even if it does not alter the ultimate prognosis. There is a huge difference between spending your last weeks in fear and anger, or experiencing life more fully and dying consciously.
The problems of the world can be like a global health crisis; certain circumstances will absorb us. Taking magickal action for change changes our relationship to that situation, even if the situation does not visibly change in a timeframe we desire. I believe in the power of a single candle to illuminate the darkness, though I also know a single candle flame cannot power a national electrical grid. And we hope we contributed a few pebbles to an eventual landslide, but the situation needed more space, time, and energy to manifest a change. We are a part of it, but not responsible for all of it. No one individual or small group can take responsibility for the globe, even though we might feel a call to do so. Some changes take decades, or even generations.
4. Unattached Intention
One of the hardest lessons of the mysteries is unattached intention—to not be attached to the fruit of your actions or to lust for results. Our practice balances clarity, focus, control, and discipline with the ability to let go, flow, be inspired, and follow intuitive guidance. They seem mutually exclusive sets of traits, yet the magician knows both are equally needed for true advancement. The mystery, the paradox, is to hold both simultaneously. Those new to the path will often focus on one to the exclusion of the other, and with a little success, start thinking the other side is unnecessary. Then they hit a wall, and the other half of this equation is needed for progress. In Taoism it’s embodied by the term Wu Wei, often translated as “effortless effort.” We might consider it being “in the zone.” It takes a lot of practice to have the skills to manifest effortless effort, so there is a lot of lead-up to that effort, but it is the phenomenon that athletes, artists, and musicians describe as being “in the zone” and in truth, any action can be done while “in the zone.”
When facing global tragedy or catastrophe, it’s hard to have effortless effort. It can either feel all effort, a struggle, or following a vague intuition that has all the aforementioned problems when lacking a specific intention. Sometimes I do something when these feelings are overwhelming, as I know the action will, at the very least, transform my feelings and my relationship to the situation. But more and more, I try to stay neutral until I am clear and know it is my time to act magickally.
There is a point in the practice—where you are in a place where you can find effortless effort, where you have had the training and gained the skills and had real experience with the magickal powers—when you will be called upon, but with inner-plane forces, to facilitate aid.
Each tradition characterizes this call as coming from a different place: inner plane adepts and ascended masters, Mother Earth, Pagan deities, nature spirits, or the angelic realm. Magickal systems often have a theory that other entities are guiding the unfolding of our world and sometimes need those based in the physical to bring things into manifestation, to form the final link with them in the world. We can speak, walk, and touch, giving us valuable real-world power that spirits lack. We are partners in this process, and coming into magickal adulthood makes you conscious of this partnership that has always been there.
The request is to do something specific, but often without understanding the context. Usually such directions only come in a deep and developed practice. They are simple, specific, and immediate. Often they make no linear, logical sense, but we do them anyway, as long as the guidance asks us to do no harm.
Amid your normal magickal practice, you may get guidance to stop and do a specific distance energy technique or ritual on a place in the Middle East, Asia, or Africa. You might be guided to a level: deep earth, environment, weather, or human. You might be guided to a sacred site: ancient temple, current church, or invisible earth “chakra.” It might be as simple as directing colored light, drawing an energized symbol, or saying a specific prayer of invocation. It might be witnessing an atrocity live on the television news coverage and using the image as a medium to send healing intent. Sometimes witnessing something fully and consciously without intent to change it is the magick. Then the work is done.
Often you’ll never know the result of your service. Sometimes you’ll find out through the news. You’ll see there was a battle there, or a natural disaster of which you had no conscious knowledge. If there is no confirmation in global news, does that mean your efforts stopped a tragedy? Maybe, though it is good to keep in mind if you were asked by higher powers to intercede on this level, you were probably one of many. You are not a hero, but a servant. Many mystics are asked by the higher powers in the hopes that a few will hear and do it. The rituals of each might be different, all coming from different system and traditions, but the focus and intent are the same, even if the intent is unknown, beyond the “greatest good.” This is a huge level of effortless effort for the magickal adept.
When I first experienced this, I did it, but was confused. Later, a mentor said, “Oh yah, they will sometimes ask that.” She warned me that some practitioners slip into delusion, and then think their whole life is doing this work for the spiritual powers, framing themselves in their ego for the sacred mission that only they can do as magickal heroes. Often physical life responsibilities to family and job will suffer when entering into such delusions. Usually those who are talking about it like that aren’t doing as much as they think, other than working through their own issues. Those who are unattached don’t feel the need to share their details with others to acclaim their greatness. They just do it. Not everybody experiences this, but I share the process with students so that if it does happen, they won’t be surprised or perplexed. They’ll know it’s part of the service of the magickal priesthood.
5. World Weaving
For a while in the community, both before and through the pandemic, initiates in the Temple of Witchcraft participated in the work of Weaving the World. We gathered those concerned about the world, made a list of various issues that concerned us, and broke into small groups of those passionate about each topic to discuss those issues, and what, if anything, could be magickally contributed to those issues as well as real world follow up.
Some topics, and magick, were very specific in scope on a local or state level, like a specifically local or regional law change for environmental protection or education. We looked at things like voter protection on a state level, having residents of states focus on their own states.
Some were national. Could we curb the spread of invasive species like Vespa mandarinia, dubbed in the media as the “Murder Hornet” due to its deadly sting, though later the name Asian Giant Hornet and then Northern Giant Hornet, became generally accepted common names. Some of our national attention was on the direction our nation was going and dangers to those in minorities of all kinds.
And some concerns were global. Was there a possibility of curbing covid across the globe with magick? Consistently the Witches communicated with the spirit of the virus, and when in touch with their own effortless effort, the higher good, was told no. Communication with the spirit of the virus helped change us, but obviously didn’t immediately end a global pandemic.
The magick occurred in the process of discussion among like-minded—but not same-minded—magickal practitioners working in a common framework of technique, terminology, mythos, and worldview. Some of our spells with immediate results worked. Some did not. Some developed new practices for us, such as working with local land and national ancestors, and working with the oversouls of animal and virus species.
The world can be changed in great immediate swathes, and it can also be changed one mind and heart at a time. When you don’t have the voltage to change large sections—or have the wisdom to say that perhaps you don’t know what those changes should be for the highest good—you work on the process of changing yourself and working with individuals in their own change as part of a larger group process. I think this will be a key to our work of the Aquarian Age: weaving the threads, the waves of consciousness, into new tapestries to address the needs of our own time and place.