Let’s face it: magic-on-the-go isn’t perfect, though it’s often necessary. Someone knocks on the door in the middle of the night, and we cast a quick spell of protection as we hurry to answer it. A car suddenly careens into our lane, and we push it away with our minds. We know a child is struggling to be accepted, so we send energy of support and empathy while she’s at school. Life is, after all, full of emergencies that don’t give us time to stop and think about the best courses of action or all the possible consequences.
But, of course, simply casting emergency spells in reaction to whatever may come your way can yield unforeseen consequences. Maybe the person knocking at your door is a friend who really needs a shoulder to cry on, but your protection spell keeps you from fully engaging your sense of empathy. Or maybe the car is being operated by someone who’s escaping from an angry spouse, and your magical push sends her spinning into a stop sign. Or perhaps your energy finds the child you want to support at a moment when she needs to learn to be independent and stand up for herself.
Simply refraining from using magic is one choice, of course. I think the world would be a better place if those who don’t really understand magic would leave it well enough alone (although I also think that most people will raise and apply energy as per their personality’s “default” settings in most or all cases). But there’s still a learning curve for those of us who undertake the responsibility to wield our power for the good of our planet and its inhabitants (and, perhaps, even for those who would raise energy for less-than-honorable goals). We’ve got to take that seriously if we’re going to practice responsibly. Simply reacting to the stimuli around us isn’t nearly enough; we must anticipate and act accordingly.
What to Consider
Foundational meditations - by which I mean meta-meditations intended to set up the guidelines for our more general or more common use of magical energy - give us the opportunity to move beyond the touch-and-go. These meditations tell the energy we expend suddenly how to behave, as it were.
But how do we decide what guidelines are appropriate for foundational meditations? Well, our imaginations constitute one important tool; they can be useful for positing scenarios like those examined above in order to understand what rules might be useful for our foundational meditations. We can also rely on experience; we can understand situations better if we’ve known similar ones. And this is more than just personal experience; we shouldn’t discount vicarious experience. One of the most useful tools for creating foundational meditations is the wisdom that we’ve learned from those who’ve come before, or from our contemporaries. For instance, many spiritual traditions hold certain qualities to be ethically vital - in the form of The Wiccan Rede, the Nine Noble Virtues, the Seven Lively Virtues, and other ethical codes, as well as in the form of the moral messages that can be taken from the folkloric stories of myriad cultures. Furthermore, models can also be found in the secular sphere - such as with Maslow’s Hierarchy, Kohlberg’s moral stages, Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” and many, many others.
Here are some considerations that I perceive as vital to my own energy networks, as they’ve been established through my usage of foundational meditations but in no particular thematic order.
— How much energy should be expended? After all, we have a limited amount of energy to employ in trying to change the world(s) around us. Most people will want to allot an amount just short of fatal or extremely debilitating if a loved one is in danger, but what about day-to-day usage?
— Which groups should our energy aid before others? This (and, really, all of the following questions) is an extension of the notion of how much energy to use, of course, but I think it deserves separate consideration. Most people will want to stipulate that more energy go to those who need it more, although we may define need in different ways (from person to person and/or context to context). Do you want the energy you send to help women before men, children before adults, animals before other organisms? Who do you feel are the most needing of energy in your world(s)? In what particular contexts are they the most needy?
— Which individuals should our energy aid before others? Most of us have people and other creatures in our lives who, whether by biological determination or not, we deem members of our families. We should specify which persons receive our aid and attention before others - such as those we know before strangers, our family members before our friends and acquaintances, certain family members (perhaps the more needy ones) before others, etc. We also have to consider how much energy we need for ourselves. Some people are more self-sacrificing than others, and may allot more energy for others - but it’s important to remember that we cannot care for others if we do not spare at least minimal attention and resources (like energy) for our own upkeep.
— How much should our energy affect the auras of others? To what degree does our energy have a right to act? It’s important to decide for yourself how much your energy is allowed to change others, and this can be difficult to determine; whereas most people feel it’s best for energy to intrude greatly in emergency situations and very little at other times, this can all depend on the person and the context. You should also set a limit on the amount of change your own energy field is allowed to undergo (and with what other creatures and in what contexts). For instance, a rigid energy field is undesirable because it leaves little or no room for the perception of others’ thoughts and emotions, but a very plastic energy field will leave us pushovers for others’ even casual impulses.
— What goals should we direct our energy toward? We should decide what are the most important directives for our energy. We should set guidelines that allow for the changing of energy as contexts and goals shift. This might have to do with temporal concerns (we should, for instance, direct energy toward a goal at the optimal time for our energy to be effective), with ethical concerns (most people will, for instance, ask that energy remain inactive when it might cause harm), personal concerns (some people will, as an example, require only a tiny bit of energy to undergo a change, while others - those who are more “thick skinned” - may need an extra push), and many other concerns most relevant to the nature of our goals themselves or other criteria.
— Which deities or other guides (if any) should help direct our energy? This consideration is extremely creature- and context-specific, but it must still be addressed. Most of us have relationships with deities and/or other guides, and we will likely want to assign certain archetypes to certain tasks or situations.
— In what would we like our energy to never participate? Most people don’t want their energy to be involved in certain activities or goals. The list of restricted goals will differ from person to person, but most of us will have at least a few - whether it’s the death penalty, foreign wars, vaccinations, autism, metabolic disease or one (or more) of hundreds or thousands of others, you will probably want to direct your energy away from certain manifestations as much as you wish to direct it toward others.
— What constitutes harm? I don’t, of course, have time to fully examine this question in this context (or the essay will lose its own goal very quickly), but I feel I must mention the concern because it’s so prevalent in most of our worldviews. Most of us will desire that our energy cause either no, or the least, amount of harm possible in a given situation. That’s fine, but it’s also important to comprehend that the complex nature of the world(s) tends to yield a large number of situation in which causing no harm to anyone at all constitutes an impossibility.
Raising and Applying Foundational Energy
Once you’ve decided on your guidelines and goals, it’s time to actually raise the core meta-energy that will direct other, more spontaneous, energy in the proper direction. But how are foundational meditations different from more common ones?
Well, for one thing, foundational meditations are meta-meditations, so they will tend to flow deeper than other spells and meditations. Therefore, we should be more cautious about them than even our regular spirit work (which is, though not mundane, certainly less critical than our deepest meditations).
We’ll want to consider the timing of our foundational meditations. We might, for instance, want to choose a fortuitous time of year (such as Samhain) or of the current moon phase (such as during the dark of the moon or at the new moon) for setting up goals and new energy networks.
It’s important to pick the proper guides for expeditions into our own energy constructs. In many cases, it will be the guides to which we’re closest (our matrons, patrons, animal guides, and others with whom we’re very open) that will help us with foundational meditations. After all, they know our energy best as it typically flows and reflects our unique personalities.
It’s also vital that we cleanse extremely well before performing foundational meditations. If we do not, we run the risk of embedding unforeseen, uncleansed energy into some of the deepest of our energy networks. Only one who feels fully and totally cleansed should undertake foundational work.
Another thing to keep in mind is that we may want to acquaint our guides (or “program” our energy networks themselves) with different sets of guidelines. For instance, it’s unlikely we’ll allow our energy to attempt to annul every motor vehicle accident in our area; indeed, doing so would only quickly drain us to the point where we couldn’t intervene at all. But, when a loved one is in a potential accident, we may well ask our guides to allow a great burst of energy, even one that might temporarily incapacitate us, because of our closeness to the person/s involved.
Don’t Forget Your Foundations
Once you’ve set up guidelines and goals in the form of foundational meditation, don’t forget about them! Once you’ve set up foundations for how your energy flows, it will follow those foundations unless you expend a great deal of energy to cancel what they’re doing. Therefore, in addition to planning your foundational meditations well, you must be willing to faithfully follow through and change any constructs that don’t help you as you thought they would.
One of the critical phenomena many people experience when dealing with having set up foundations is energy loss. Most foundational meditations involve establishing paths for energy that might not be sensed by the practitioner (for instance, you might ask that a certain amount of energy help any children in your neighborhood - in which case you may notice energy leaking out to support a child that you cannot, at the time the energy is sent, see or hear or otherwise sense). Sometimes the answer to this problem is to conduct another foundational meditation asking that less energy be sent except during emergencies; sometimes the answer is to raise extra energy during foundational meditations, to ask the appropriate guides to lend their energy to your undertakings, or to re-supply yourself with energy in some other way.
Energy loss does not, however, constitute the only unforeseen effect of foundational meditations. Sometimes these meditations lead to our raising or expending energy without understanding why, to our channeling more energy than we can handle, to our experiencing confusing situations with energy constructs which (though ours) we didn’t create consciously. This is why having a close, trusted guide (or more than one) on your side can help. Consider establishing a master agent or agents when you perform foundational meditations; then you’ll have a guide you trust reporting to you about how your guidelines and goals are manifesting.