On Fireballs and Pharmakeia

So, as I sit here at my desk trying to ignore the urge to smoke more cigarettes and replace it with eating (way too many) Oreos, I’ve been trying to find simple things to occupy my time with.  Working on my book requires focus, and I’m still working up the courage and energy to go work out (which I need to get back on the ball with after three weeks of chaos and travel and religion, but I’ll get back on that this week all the same), so I’m just trying to find low-effort things to keep my mind and hands occupied.  One such thing is gaming, specifically playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, because why not?  It’s a pretty good game, after all, and though I know there’s huge replay value in it, I can never seem to muster up the tenacity to try out different builds on multiple playthroughs, keep characters limited to particular questlines, or whatnot.  It’s always satisfying, after all, especially with a few mods here and there to spice the game up (and, hopefully, refrain from breaking too many quests, which unfortunately keeps happening).

Of course, me being me, I always end up playing a mage-assassin, incinerating everything quietly and from afar.  I was never much fond of close-up fighting classes no matter the game, so of course I would lean towards the more mage-based classes.  Big surprise, I know.  Of course, if only magic worked in our world like it does in so many fantasy games!  To shoot fire and lighting and ice from one’s hands, to control wind and earth and water with a word, to heal and harm for weal or woe with a thought and a gesture miraculously, wondrously, and instantly would be satisfying, indeed.  Alas, fantasy is fantasy, and reality is reality, for the most part; there are still plenty of miraculous things one can do with thoughts, gestures, and words, and a good bit of my own practice is heavily informed by fantasy, as are a number of my friends’ and colleagues’.  Sometimes, the fantastical has very straightforward implementations in reality, with much the same ends and effects, though, perhaps, with fewer explosions.

In Skyrim, for those who are familiar with the game, I lean heavily towards the Destruction skill tree, which empowers the player-adventurer to wield a variety of elemental-based spells for causing mass…well, destruction.  Being Skyrim, one of the most effective elements to wield is that of fire, given the high number of highly-flammable undead, furry creatures, and elemental tree spirits, as well as because ice tends to be resisted more commonly than not, and lightning…eh, it’s cute.  Anyway, fire is awesome!  I think we can all agree on that, right?  Of course it is.  And, of course, the use of fireballs is incredibly well-known across so many fantasy games and settings, and the general practice for using them is something like this:

  1. Adventurer-mage spots a hopeless victim, or is otherwise accosted by a foolish victim.
  2. Adventurer-mage casts fireball on the victim.
  3. The fireball may or may not explode on contact with the victim to cause damage to nearby collateral damage.
  4. The fireball may or may not catch the victim(s) on actual fire.  However, the fireball will cause significant damage to the victim’s (or victims’) health, and if strong enough, will outright kill the victim(s).

Given how many fantasy games work, unless you’re playing a rather free-form one or a tabletop game that isn’t bound by game engines, such fireballs don’t often incinerate the victim(s) to literal piles of dust, and if they’re of the exploding kind, they don’t often actually explode the victim as if they were touched by a grenade or bomb.  In Skyrim, using the non-explosive Firebolt spell, what this usually looks like is:

 

Okay, straightforward enough to understand, and due to the limitations of video game engines, pretty simple: make ball of fire, shoot it at a target, it damages their health, and if their health drops below the minimum threshold, they die.  All fantasy, of course.  What bothers me most (at least within the context of Skyrim) is how, at higher levels or on weak-enough enemies, all the enemies do when being attacked with such a fireball is that they drop dead with a few fancy effects.  No incineration, no screams of prolonged pain, no gear-turned-to-ashes, no burn marks, no explosions, just “whoop-poof” and body-drop.  For being such a fantastical mainstay, such fireballs are…underwhelming.  Surely, a real fireball spell would cause more collateral damage, both to any nearby items or environmental factors!

So, that got my head-gears turning.  What exactly is going on here when the adventurer-mage is casting a fireball spell on such a victim?  The naïve answer is that the adventurer-mage is literally manifesting a ball of sufficiently-materialized fire energy, which is then directed forward away from the caster and towards a victim in a more-or-less ballistic fashion, which then explodes and releases its fire energy upon contact with any solid-enough object that it collides with that significantly interferes with its inertia.  In other words, we’re basically making a magical Molotov cocktail from etheric scratch with more-or-less physical behavior; after all, if it were just pure energy, we might expect it to not be as…well, flamey or explosive or bright, as well as having it pass through solid objects like how thought or astral bodies might.  I suppose fireballs might better be considered more of a Conjuration school technique than a Destruction one, but then, the Elder Scrolls view of magical schools has always been flexible, and calling it a Conjuration spell would only make sense after…what, five seconds of thought?  Clearly too much to put in for a casual not-actually-magical gamer, I would think.

Another viewpoint on this would be less creating a manifestation of a flammable grenade and more about tweaking the actual physical activity on a molecular level; instead of conjuration, this would by pyrokinesis.  In other words, by means of spiritual action, we’d be influencing the vibration of molecules and atoms such that they would increase dramatically within a localized area.  This wouldn’t really have the same ballistic effect the conjured-Molotov-cocktail approach would, as it’d be taking effect at a distance immediately, but it would have a similar effect: a sudden and dramatic increase in the molecular vibrations would increase the heat at that location, whether air or metal or fabric or any other substance, so long as it’s not an empty vacuum.  At high enough activities, even air would combust, and if sustained long enough, then a sufficiently hot “mass” of energy that could be sustained magically can be directed to travel through the air, combusting more air along the way, which then could catch other things on fire, which would indeed get us our fireball.  This wouldn’t be as extensible to other elements (how would you cast an ice spell, or a water spell?), but as far as fireballs go, this approach is just as viable as the earlier one, and just as fantastical.

Still, if we were to be conjuring Molotov cocktails between our hands or turning into living microwaves, we’d expect the whole burning-to-death process to actually follow suit, wouldn’t we?  In other words, in order to do any damage, we’d expect that things should actually catch fire first, then be on fire long enough to scald, scorch, burn, incinerate, and calcine so as to actually cause harm to living targets and general destruction to inanimate targets.  Instead, what we’re seeing is that once the fireball comes in contact with a target, that target immediately takes a hit to their health, if not immediately dies, so something else is going on here besides an overblown catch-on-fire spell.  This is what caught my attention after a few…dozen dozen enemies being killed, I guess, in a moment of reflection after having to unload a few hundred potatoes and apples unto my loyal follower in the middle of an ancient tomb filled with fresh produce and lit candles.  I do so love video game logic, after all, and Skyrim is…well, special.

Anyway.

So, if casting fireballs at people isn’t actually just setting them on fire, what’s actually going on from a magical perspective?  We’re obviously condensing a sufficiently harmful amount of energy attuned to Fire, which is then released in a directed way at a target to cause them harm, which may not actually be set on fire or exploded, yet still suffers as a result.  What’s going on?  This is where things get interesting to me as an actual mage, and which can perhaps lead into a less-than-fantastical implementation of casting fireballs as a kind of offensive magic in our world where magic works.

Consider the human body from a spiritual perspective.  The health of the human body is a fine balance between subtle forces, which historically in the Western world have been associated with the four elements and, in the body, the four humours: Fire manifests through choler (yellow bile), Air as blood, Water as phlegm, and Earth as melancholy (black bile).  It is only when these four humours are balanced—none in excess and none in deficiency—that the body enjoys health.  If there’s too much or too little of any one or more, you start getting health problems.  The balance of the humours could be affected by any number of things: the food and drink we consume, the music we listen to, the airs and climate that surround us, the physical and mental activities we engage in, and of course the spiritual influences on us from beyond our worldly realm and which do not necessarily have roots in the physical, manifest world we interact with.  This is why certain types of energy work can encourage health when done properly or damage health when done improperly, and why certain energetic practices are recommended for magicians to regulate the spiritual forces we interact with so that our bodies and health aren’t impacted in a negative way.

Heck, one can even use simple energy work to remedy simple physical problems.  I recall one winter night when I was getting a tattoo with a magical friend of mine, and I had to run down the block and across the road to the nearby shopping center for some cash from the ATM.  Being young, courageous, stupid, and enjoying of winter, I decided to do so without my jacket or coat.  Admittedly, I did enjoy the brisk dash outside in roughly freezing temperatures, but it’s only once back inside the warmth of the tattoo shop that I had to deal with warming myself back up.  To encourage my body to get on with it, I had the idea to use my personal geomantic mudra of Fire (Laetitia, which is geomantically pure Fire), conjuring up some Fire-based energy within me and circulating it through my body.  Even though I had never done such a thing before, it worked; the cold more-or-less instantly dissipated as I began to circulate it, and I was back to comfortable levels in no time.  It even caught my friend off-guard, who picked up on the energetic shift I put on myself and noticed the change in temperature from across the room.  Instant results and immediate external confirmation—what more could I ask for as a magician trying something new out?

Energy work, well, works.  Thing is, you have to be careful with it; as the Renaissance magician-pharmacist Paracelsus once said, “Alle Dinge sind Gift, und nichts ist ohne Gift, allein die Dosis macht dass ein Ding kein Gift ist”, or “all things are poison, and nothing is without poison, the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison”.  The only thing that really transforms any given drug into medicine or poison is how much you use; I was able to work enough Fire energy into my system as I needed, and no more, to fix my problem of there being too much cold.  If I had overdone it, I could easily have introduced health problems into my system, such as rashes, flushing, ulcers, headaches, fevers, heartburn, heart problems, and the like.  Heck, if I were otherwise normal and focused too much Fire energy into a part of the body that didn’t need it, I could cause localized problems, or it could dissolve into the rest of my body raising my overall Fire levels, which again could cause systemic issues.  Sola dosis facit venenum; the dosage alone makes the poison.

Though it’s not usually discussed, any beneficial, health-encouraging practice can be twisted to be harmful and malicious; just as one can use reiki to resolve blockages, one can also use it to introduce them, and just as one can modify the body’s humours to encourage health, one can also modify them to wreck it.  In a sense, you can energetically heal someone by using energetic medicine, or you can energetically harm them by using energetic poison.  This is essentially bringing modern spiritual medicine back in line with the ancient traditions of pharmakeía. Although this word literally refers to the administration of drugs, it’s far more famously used in the Bible to refer to magic and sorcery.  It’s not an either-or thing here; it was quite common back in the day, as it is in ours, to administer magic through the use of ingested or applied substances.  Consider how we might use certain herbs and plant parts in magical drinks, adding a few drops of this oil or that powder in someone’s meal to influence them, or rubbing this salve or that ointment on our skin for protection, flying, or simply fixing a health problem.  I mean, consider: without an understanding of modern pharmacology, how could it not be seen as magic to take some sort of occult virtue of a plant, boil it in some oil, then using the oil on my head to cure a headache when eating the plant or using the oil alone would otherwise have no effect?

To influence and modify the state of the body through spiritual means, then, could be considered pharmakeia, and since spiritual factors influence physical forms without necessarily requiring physical means, purely-spiritual pharmakeia would be an option just as much as physically-administered pharmakeia.  This means that energy work and other energy-based forms of magic would fall under pharmakeia for both healing and harming, and this is where we can tie pharmakeia into fireballs.  Recall my little Fire experiment from above; one might consider that applying Fire energy to resolve a physical problem, so what would stop me (besides my scruples) to apply Fire energy to cause physical problems?  After all, poisoning someone with Fire energy is essentially what’s going on in Skyrim and other such fantasy games when outright Molotov cocktail-like behavior isn’t seen: you’re overloading the victim with too much Fire energy, which causes them to suffer and die, sometimes dramatically so.  That’s what a real implementation of a fireball would do: energetically poison a victim with an overload of too much Fire energy/ether/etc.  Likewise, an Ice attack could be conceived of as not only depleting a victim’s Fire energy but also encouraging too much Water and Earth energies, fixing both to induce an overabundance of cold with no Fire to ameliorate or defend against it.

In this sense, such an approach seems a lot less fantastical and way more effective to be taken.  I mean, none of this is particularly surprising; I know I’ve done similar things in the past, and it’s just another way to encourage someone to act or adopt a new set of behaviors and patterns of health.  But, when viewed in a fantastical light as “casting fireballs or ice spikes”, this sort of phrasing of how magical acts afflict the delicate balance of the body’s health makes a lot more sense.  I dimly recall some Hermetic author or other having written an article online about a ceremonial magic implementation of basically casting fireball, but I wasn’t able to find it on my own, since I had read it years ago and it was already old by the time I got to it.  Happily, my friend John Umbras of Cross the Dark helped me out and reminded me that it was called the “Chaos Bolt” ritual.  Though it doesn’t exist on its original source of ChaosMatrix anymore, it’s since been replicated across the internet in a variety of files and PDFs.  One such PDF on Combat Magick, including the Chaos Bolt ritual, is available here, courtesy of the chaos magic and left hand path blog Arauto do Chaos.  Even though it’s not exactly being constructed as a Fire-based ritual, the Fire elements (heh) are absolutely there, and it’s not hard to see how, much less how to make it even more fiery.  I recommend reading it to get a glimpse of what such an implementation of energetic attacking could be like, and then interpret it as taking effect through energetic poisoning of a victim’s body instead of just fucking with their circumstances or life generally.  Beyond that, I’m sure you can figure out how to design and direct such elemental offensive spells on your own, dear reader.  After all, we don’t call them “elemental weapons” for nothing.

Who would have thought that getting bored during a video game could be so productive for analyzing new ways to view old magic tricks?

A Mathetic Understanding of Energy

To go along with our daily practices of meditation on the Tetractys, meditation on the letter of the day, daily divination, honoring the gods, and the like, I’ve considered also adding in a daily energy work ritual specifically tuned to mathesis.  I mean, it makes sense for mathetic work to round one out in many ways, especially as one prepares oneself to make the leap from Hypognostes to Gnostes, from simple magician getting acquainted with the forces of the world to a theurgist becoming powerful within and above the world.  I currently use a mish-mash of energy works put together, involving a form of the Qabbalistic Cross, the AL-KT banishing ritual, some PGM stuff, this and that; it’d be nice to have something more coherent that could fit nicer with mathesis, but that got me to thinking: how do we explain energy in mathetic terms, and moreover, what even is spiritual energy?

Energy in its basic scientific definition means a property of objects that can be transferred between them, such as motion, heat, electromagnetic radiation, and the like, but when we start talking about spiritual energy…well, I’ve never really seen a good definition of spiritual energy.  Everyone seems to vaguely know what it is, even though it wasn’t a word we used before two hundred years or so ago; the energy model of magic is a relative infant compared to the spiritual model, and we wouldn’t “charge” a talisman (like a cell phone) so much as we’d “ensoul” it (with a spirit or blessing of a spirit).  We might call those blessings or presence of a spirit a type of energy, but that doesn’t really account for other forms like qi/ki/chi or prana, nor does it reflect the energies of the elements or planets (unless you revert back to the spirit model of magic and consider the energies to be manifestations of the presence of the spirits of those elements and planets).  It gets real confusing real fast.

So, as we often like to do around these parts when we come across definition confusion, let’s go back to our etymological roots.  Energy comes from the Greek ενεργεια, “activity, action, operation”, ultimately from εν+εργον, or “at-work”.  The term was coined by Aristotle, and used in contrast to δυναμις, dynamis.  Dynamis has a variety of meanings, but Aristotle used it to refer to potentiality or power.  Dynamis here refers to the innate ability or tendency of something to change or act, something that is not yet real or accomplished but what could be real or accomplished.  Energeia, on the other hand, is the actual change or work something does when it pulls upon its dynamis; dynamis is anything that can happen, energeia is anything that is currently happening at a given point in time.  Energeia is the process of actualization of dynamis into something that exists, but it is not something that exists on its own.  As energeia emerges from or pulls upon dynamis, we develop what Aristotle called εντεληχια, or “being-at-an-end”, a continuous energeia that completely realizes the complete dynamis to result in a complete being.

So we have three terms we should inspect for a better understanding of energy from its older, original senses:

  • Dynamis, the potency or potential something has to accomplish something
  • Energeia, the realization of something’s potential
  • Entelechia, the full realization of something’s potential which makes something what it is and which is the end result or perfection of something by its realization

One common example Aristotle and others gives is when Aristotle talks about motion, κινησις or kinesis, which is defined as the entelechia of dynamis of something as that something.  Consider a pile of building materials; they all have different potentials, different dynames, and one of those is that they can be built with; that which is buildable is present in the building materials as a dynamis.  The action of building is a kinesis or motion that had been potential or inherent within the building materials, so the energeia of the building materials is putting them into use to build as building materials.  Once the kinesis of building is complete, we have (say) a house, which was inherent in the original building materials as dynamis and is the persistent energeia of the building materials having been actualized into something built.

I think.

Anyway, so how does this all relate to spiritual energy?  Well, I’m not a big fan of the energetic model of magic, where things are accomplished spiritually by means of directing and manipulating subtle energies from one form to another or from one entity to another.  However, I do use a little bit of that idea in my spirit model that forms the basis of much of my understanding and magical theory; the action of a spirit or entity and how it works as an agent is what generally I mean by accomplishing spiritual work.  So, for example, when I consecrate a planetary talisman, I don’t charge it with the energy (in a modern sense) of that planet, as if the planet is some nuclear reactor emanating cosmic radiation that can be harnessed by a wand and some crazy words, which can then be directed like a flashlight or hose to change the energy or motion of other things.  Rather, I call upon the spirit of the planet to take residence within the talisman so that, by using the talisman, I have the spirit within it accomplish work for me.  When I want to make use of the element of Fire for, say, warming myself up, then my model gets a little hazy; I use a certain word and I focus on the element of Fire, and either the power of fire inherent within me comes up as spiritual energy manifesting “hot”, or I call upon the primal spirit of Fire to be present and, by its presence and activity, warm myself.  Ultimately, the end result is the same but the explanatory theory behind it differs in a few ways; whether we call magic the activity of spirits or manipulation of energy doesn’t matter so long as the Work gets done.

So where does that leave us?  Let’s take a high-level look at the Tetractys, first:

Planetary Alchemical Tetractys

At the top, the Source of All, is the Monad, where nothing is actualized, only potential; the Monad is dynamis in its basest, rawest, most vague state, the dynamis of existence itself.  Nothing yet exists; there is neither Creator nor Creature (which is the Dyad), nor is there anything yet to exist.  This is the level before even the Unmoved Mover, because a Mover (energeia) can only exist if there’s something to move.  Thus, energeia is not a property of the Monad; it is a property of the Dyad and, by extension, all the other numbers.  Energeia is that which combines two Monads (individual potentialities) into a Dyad; just as building materials have the buildable as a dynamis but only realize the buildable by the energeia building, individual Monads have greater numbers as a dynamis but only realize them by the energeia of the connection between them.  The other numbers (Dyad, Triad, etc.) may be both energeiai and dynames in their own rights, but only the Monad is pure dynamis.  The other numbers are both potentials in their own right (since any number can be combined with another number as dynames by means of energeia to make a larger number) as well as energies (since they realize the power of the lesser numbers combined).

When we consider the Tetractys as sphairai with odoi between them, we can simplistically consider each sphaira to be a dynamis, and each odos linking the sphairai to be an energeia.  The dynamis, in this instance, is the possibility of the substance of the sphaira becoming something else (a number becoming another by means of addition or subtraction), and the odos the realization of the substance of the sphaira becoming something else (the process of addition or subtraction as applied to the number).  Each sphaira, however, with the exception of the Monad, is already a realization of the other numbers, and so contains within itself an energeia, but when viewed from the outside, each sphaira is “just” a dynamis.  While we are present within a particular sphaira, we explore what the dynamis is of that sphaira, but it’s on the odos that we actually realize the changes between the sphaira and the changes that we ourselves must go through to understand how those dynames can be effected.  The odoi cannot exist on their own; they can only exist as relationships, as processes, between the sphairai.  The Monad is pure dynamis, and the other sphairai may be both dynamis and energeia, but the odoi are pure energeiai.

alchemical_planetary_tetractys_paths

While that’s all well and good for a theurgic and theoretical understanding of the framework of mathesis, how can this all be applied?  Well, like I said, this is where the difference between magical models becomes moot: whether you consider spiritual work to be accomplished from the activity of spiritual entities or the manipulation of spiritual substance doesn’t matter so long as the work gets done all the same.  However, we know that the Tetractys is the “root and the source of all eternal and eternally flowing creation”, that which “enforms gods and men”; all dynames and all energeiai are present within all of us, as they are within all other things.  However, how we effect the dynames within us as we live our lives is important; some of us never pull upon all our potentials.  That’s the distinction between the Gnosis and Agnosis schemata: by working and living on the Gnosis Schema, we are able to pull upon all our potentials and achieve what we might call our real entelechiai through the energeia of the zodiac, but most of us reside on the Agnosis Schema, where we’re limited to only a subset of the things we do and the things we can do.  It is only by exploring all our potentials that we obtain gnosis and, if we so choose, escape from domination by the forces in the cosmos.

In mathesis, we make use of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet, each of which is associated with a particular force: the 12 zodiac signs, seven planets, four elements, and the quintessence of spirit.  Each of these letters is associated with an odos on the Tetractys that links two sphairai together.  Thus, each force is an energeia, a process that transforms or realizes a dynamis within ourselves.  By carefully selecting different energeia, we activate and realize different dynames within us, but in order to choose certain energeia, we have to be able to enact those processes, and without having been initiated into the Gnosis Schema (mathetically or otherwise), we simply don’t know how.  We normally live under the powers of the seven planets, four elements, and spirit; these are the forces we’re caught up in and which we are most familiar because they’re closest to us and have the most bearing on our lives.  It’s the forces of the zodiac, however, that really guide to our entelechiai, but they’re so distant and occluded by the other forces that we aren’t as familiar with them.  In order to access those zodiacal forces, we must first work our way through the elemental and planetary forces, understanding not only how they work but why, so that we can build upon them and ascend to the sphere of the fixed stars and, thus, to the energeia that link all ten of the sphairai of the Tetracts rather than those that link only six.

alchemical_planetary_tetractys_gnosis_paths

Contemplation of the letters, say by our means of daily meditation on the day of the letter, is one way by which we become accustomed to and aligned with the energeia of the letters and the force they represent; by contemplating and harmonizing with the letter and its force, we understand more and more the energeia it represents and what sorts of dynames it pulls upon.  When done regularly and cyclically, one may not need an energy ritual to align oneself with the forces because they’re already doing that by contemplation alone; the process may be made more mystical, such as by the use of chanting or vocalization to make the contemplation more like an invocation, but the result is the same.  However, this is done on a letter-by-letter, force-by-force, energeia-by-energeia basis, and for more complete ritual where one may wish to achieve a balance of forces, we need something more.

If I were to write a mathetic energy work ritual for regular practice, I’d write it so that it could be done in several stages, with different types of letters involved in the process.  If we tie this back into our distinction of Hypognostes/Gnostes practices, then we know that it’s the role of the Hypognostes to study and integrate the forces of the elements and planets to build upward to the zodiac, while it’s the role of the Gnostes to study and integrate the forces of the zodiac based on their footing with the elements and zodiac.  Assuming one keeps up their daily contemplation of the letters of the day, by the time one reaches the status of Gnostes and is initiated into the Gnosis Schema, they’ll have the understanding and ability (though not yet proficiency) in working with all the zodiacal forces, even if they have not yet made the theurgic exploration of those forces on the odoi of the Tetractys.  Thus, the Hypognostic energy work would focus on a maximum of 12 forces (elements and planets), but more likely four (4 elements), five (4 elements + 1 spirit), seven (7 planets), eight (7 + 1), or eleven (4 + 7) up to the maximum of twelve (4 + 7 + 1).  On the other hand, the Gnostic energy work all 24 (elements, planets, spirit, and zodiac).  As the mathetes successively works with more and more forces, they slowly introduce new forces while strengthening the ones the mathetes is already familiar with.

So while all this has been a lovely(?) discourse on my thoughts on what spiritual energy is and how we could/should use it theoretically, I haven’t really touched upon how that might be accomplished in a practical manner.  Like I said, I prefer to think of energy as the action or presence of spiritual entities, so rather than thinking of an energy ritual as channeling or directing specific forces in one’s sphere, it might be preferable to think of it as the invocation of spiritual entities to effect change within one’s sphere or the invocation of spiritual entities already present to induce motion within one’s sphere.  That latter interpretation is interesting, since it aligns with late Neoplatonic theories that the soul (ψυχη) is an energeia within the body that causes motion as it actualizes its own dynamis based on the perception of the body, the reason of the spirit, and the divine contemplation of the mind.  In that light, the notion of energy work takes on a different meaning and purpose in mathesis.  Instead of energy work simply empowering the body or stabilizing it in the forces we work with, mathetic energy work has the goal of familiarizing ourselves with the processes we need to take to obtain gnosis.  It’s a work of spiritual alchemy, preparing ourselves for purification and spiritual development by means of the forces of the cosmos, exercising our soul so that, when faced with the energeia we need to effect, we’ll be prepared to make the changes we need both internally (soul acting within itself) and externally (soul acting within the body).  It’s not about being able to channel certain forces into the world, but to practice the changes and processes those forces present to us.  Some of those forces we already use/effect on a day-to-day basis, perhaps unknowingly, but energy work brings them to the forefront of the mind so that we’re consciously aware of the changes those energeiai make so that, should we need to, we can undergo those processes again at the drop of a hat.

While we moderns are perhaps best accustomed to thinking of spiritual energy as we’d consider electrical current, flowing along certain conduits from an empowering source to charge an appliance, this isn’t perhaps the best way to think of it, especially in terms of theurgy.  Rather, consider that energy is a process of change that allows an inherent potential power within something to be effected and perfected, literally acted-upon and completely-done, so that we refine something into what it should be rather than what it is.  It’s not you simply channeling some vague force from source A to target B and then using B to do work for you; it’s you undergoing the work as well as being at work that transforms something into something better.  That is the goal of energy work; remember, it’s still Work.  In that light, we should consider what ways mathesis can apply Work to effect energy qua ενεργεια.