Magick, Energetics, and Burn Out of Pagan Leaders
I have said before I am a verbal learner and recently I took a car trip that was two hours round trip with a magickal practitioner as I am, although he would not self-identify as pagan. Our conversation has prompted me to write two blogs about energetics and magick in very specific ways.
In my book, Family Coven: Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft, I discuss at length the connection I believe is between the amygdala and the psychic or magickal centers of our brain. The amygdala is the place in our brain of primal thinking and instinctual fight, flight, or freeze response. The amygdala is where every instinctual impulse come from.
I postulate that this is also where someone connects with Divinity and work for mediumship is largely done. There is no clinical work that demonstrates that what I postulate is true. I found one study that showed less activity in brain areas that they expected would be used for psychic ability in experienced mediums, and they did not look at the link between mediumship and Divine possession and the amygdala.
However, I make this postulation on the idea that the link to the Divine is primal and has to be a state to supersedes the conscious mind – all parts of the conscious mind. Further the amygdala doesn’t communicate in words or language as we understand it but with symbols when properly trained. This is a common phenomenon of mediums, that they work with visual cues and not verbal or language related cues.
Given that, the energetic training of pagan leaders is often around being able to easily put oneself into a trance state that taps into this mechanism of the brain. The study I just cited says that less experienced mediums use “learning” portions of the brain in higher levels than experienced mediums. This suggests that there is a learning that occurs until the ability to use the amygdala has been established.
Pagan leaders who suffer from burn out or the bat shit crazies that seems to accompany a significant portion of pagan leaders, I think are abusing the amygdala.
These people are equating connection with the Divine and mediumship work with meditation when in actuality they are two different states of being for our brains.
When we activate the amygdala and connect with the Divine or perform acts of mediumship, it’s like running a car’s engine in 2nd gear. We can more easily steer around curves and better navigate unfamiliar terrane, but running the car’s engine in 2nd gear all the time will slow down the overall function of the car. It will have potentially devastating consequences for the vehicle has we try to force it to run at higher speeds than it is capable in 2nd gear.
Further most pagans see the act of meditation as a vehicle to gain better control of psychic, medium and channeling work, which is one reason for meditation. However, these same pagans often overlook another function of meditation, rest for the brain from ANY function.
Without some time devoted to resting the brain from the job of mediumship, psychic use, and/or channeling, the brain is running in 2nd gear all the time and eventually waking hallucinations and ideas around being the gods and not being ridden by the gods emerges. I have watched experienced magick workers swat the air to remove the fairies that they can’t stop seeing. It’s like their brain has gotten stuck in 2nd gear – the gear of channeling and mediumship.
It wasn’t until this car ride, however, that I was able to articulate this postulation and gain some verification with another magickal practitioner.
“When I meditate,” he said, “Sometimes I have to say, ‘NO! Not that! Not now! I need to rest! Do you think that is normal to want Spirit to be quiet? Do you think that is right?”
I knew it was normal because I have fought the same battles when I meditate and I devised some specific mental tools to deal with having an easy connection to Divinity, channeling, and mediumship.
NOTE: I think that other types of psychic skill like reading someone’s thoughts or feelings or psychometry work different areas and mechanisms of the brain that mediumship and channeling which is another post all together.
Ham Radio Operator
It is a little known, but absolutely true fact that I am a certified ham radio operator. During the intensive training to become certified the mechanism of how ham radios work is carefully explained and must be understood in order to pass certification.
When I ran into the Pagan World only to find that I was an oddity among most pagan energy workers, I was nearly immediately flooded with extrasensory information that I could not control. My circuits were in over load and on all the time. So I visualized a ham radio on my third eye.
Ham radios have some interesting functions. The first is that it can dial in to a very specific frequency with greater precision than normal radios in our car. For example, 94.1 might be a radio station in your area, but did you know there are actual frequencies to send radio waves on between 94.1 and 94.2? Ham radios can dial into these very specific radio frequencies with great accuracy. They have special dials to help you dial in to more narrow and more specific radio waves.
My first exercise had me imagining my channeling, mediumship ability as being housed in my own ham radio situation on my third eye. This allowed me to tune into specific Deities or deceased persons by dialing in the correct frequency. Every day for nearly a month, I visualized this radio on my forehead. I started out by naming what the dials were and what they did. I played with them to tune in The Morrigan and the in turn tune her out. I set a button to change from Divine frequency to the frequency of the dead. Then I used another dial to hone in that frequency. I went to grave yards to play with the radios function. Sometimes I would literally mime turning the knobs on my forehead.
When I was confident with this function, I turned to another staple of Ham Radio – the antenna. The antenna takes the frequency being used and boosts it beyond the distance it would normally travel. The antenna is limited by how high it is, how many arrays it has and where it is on the physical landscape that is the earth. Naturally, an antenna on top of a high mountain will allow for you to send signals further away and receive signals from farther away.
I began to visualize my antenna coming out of the crown of my head. My physical antenna had a crank that I would use to raise and lower the antenna for the purposes of sending further or receiving better. In my mind I built myself an antenna and began working on lowering and raising the antenna to send further and receive better. Now I have multiple visuals to aid me in fine tuning, strengthening and weakening my own personal medium and channeling abilities.
Then I started practicing turning off my ham radio and lowing my antenna into my body. No signal in and no signal out is the goal. This is where a meditative practice to let the mind rest comes in. Once you have cut off the signals, allow yourself to concentrate on breathing or relaxing muscle groups, I know spend ten minutes a day in REST mode. No Divine connection, no connection with the dead and no psychic activity. Just resting the brain and my amygdala.
I have found that the more I rest, the easier it is to get into the states of channeling and mediumship. I have also found the longer I use the ham radio tools, the easier it is to control my reception in large crowds and at pagan gatherings.
What About Burn Out?
This, however, did not really address energetic burnout. This has been a topic of discussion between myself and my craft sister, Disa, for a long, long time. How does burnout energetically happen? Why? Of course, she and I have certainly learned all about making time for self-care and I believe for high priests and high priestesses that self-care should include meditation that is tied to resting the brain.
But the energetic mechanisms for burn out continued to elude us. Until I actively tried to run a coven. This coven was done in a hierarchical model of organization. There was a HPS and HP then everyone was below those two. Energetically this works like trickle-down economics. Energy flows from the Divine and Earth through the HPS to HP and then into the group. Unfortunately, energy that is set loose always looks to anchor itself. In this hierarchical model, the energy anchors itself to the HP and HPS. This means the starting and ending point for energetic workings in the coven is with the HP or HPS or sometimes both. After that coven invariably imploded. I was asked to help set up another community.
This community structure is an inner and outer structure. There is a core group of members on a leadership team who do the actual work required of the community. The outer structure is any general members and then any members of the pagan community who come in peace to our open Sabbats and classes.
By this time, I had been working with the grounding stone with my Family Coven for quite some time and it seemed to me that what the group would need is an energy source that is not reliant upon a person. So I mentally created a grounding stone for the community. I charged the stone with the purpose to draw energy from the elements, the earth, the sky, and Divinity. I charged the stone to cycle that energy through the core of the earth to keep it naturally fresh and free of contagion. I then tied my energy and the energy of the founding members into the stone. The strength of your tie is directly related to the strength of your physical participation in the group. If you are on the core leadership team, your connection and access to the grounding stone is greater and easier than if you are a general member. The idea is that everyone’s energy is fueling the group and it isn’t one person.
Of course, this energetic work must be backed by physically not being the only person doing the work which requires delegation and a type of leadership that seems to be missing from most pagan communities. It also requires tending. Someone needs to frequently check the stone, check the shields, check the ties to the stone. This isn’t a one and done working. It requires some planning and some creating and then it requires tending.
With the first group my descent into burn out was fast and nearly debilitating. With this group, there is a sense that the group might not be around next year if everyone involved doesn’t pull their own weight or if the outer membership of the group doesn’t connect and buy in. However, the inner circle I have no doubt will continue to be around. The Outer Group is energetically expendable if necessary and I can always pull the leadership team back into the inner circle and let the outer circle go completely if necessary.
Further my personal energy is not the only energy being used to power group mind, group connection and monitor group energetics. Every person in their own way who is tied to the stone is doing the same. This spreads the energetic stress out among many instead of one or two.
There you have my little explanation of energetic burnout and magickal working around channeling and mediumship. I’d love to know what you think about these topics.