Lynn McTaggart has been pursuing the power of guided, healing intentions and consciousness for a while. Where her early work focused on large, group, meditative intentions in experimental contexts, she has most recently published her The Power of Eight that focuses on groups of six to twelve persons (or, ideally, eight) “intending” healing or similar intentions at a chosen subject. McTaggart notes that, despite expecting placebo effects at best, the actual results were far and away far more significant. And, indeed, as I’ve participated in several independent “intention exercises,” those results have proved often miraculous.
Power of Intention
McTaggart keeps her protocols simple yet effective, and they can work face-to-face and over live feeds and with photos or images. She seems to have kept the protocols bare-bones to avoid burdening newbies with potentially off-putting trappings and to present as low a barrier to participation as possible. Experienced meditators and energy healers have used the protocols, but so have most every other type of person.
The results for the subject of the intention can be miraculous, but McTaggart observes that the greater effect has been on the actual intenders themselves. She is chary about declaring why and how this might happen, but she has observed certain approaches really help. Amongst these approaches, what I would term empathy, compassion, and trust seem most pertinent, and I would hazard that to a good degree, the process is about opening one’s boundaries in a safe environment to the others in the circle and to the target of the intention. During the intention exercise, the isolated self of the usual “ego” softens and melds in with the subject and often with the others in the circle. As the team focuses their attention on the intention for the subject, there seems to be some kind of collective “backwash”—and it may also be a matter that in coming to connect with the subject in such a way that what we intend for the target also winds up targeting ourselves.
It’s easy when writing about it for it to seem too “woo-woo” (to quote McTaggart), and this is probably one reason why she keeps the protocols free of ideology or trappings of cultus. Yes, many faith healing groups make use of very similar procedures, but McTaggart works to emphasize that the process is not so much a religious one—though religions have at times rediscovered similar tech, which she believes after trying to find some precedent for what she discovered—as it is a human one.
The general outline involves some basic centering and getting in the meditative zone work—some breathing exercises, etc.—so that one is in an open, relaxed, receptive state, and then one simply intends a specific intention with others, simultaneously, for several minutes, at a particular target. McTaggart notes that almost everyone would report various impressions, visions, feelings, and more as they went through, and in my experience, I am reminded of journeying and active imagination, or at least a clairvoyant faculty often rendered symbolically. It has also been interesting to observe how, as persons recount their impressions, motifs will often match even if the specific imagery doesn’t. That is, it seems that the participants—or the intenders, at least—share themselves enough that they perceive roughly the same stuff, though rendered into images that the individuals respond to or best know.
Power of the Tech
The fact that this imaginal-spiritual-visionary experience accompanies actual practical enchantment (healing and other intentions, including money, career, mental health, relationships, etc.) reminds me of sigil magic in many ways. If you can encode an intention into a sigil that you then use excitatory or inhibitory trance practices to pass on to your unconscious (slash-the-spirit-world) so that you unconscious can work on making that happen—which often works, if you get your target selection game going—then it seems that the intention exercises do something very similar. In these exercises, it seems that the group works to encode an intention into a statement that’s repeated mentally and directed towards the target while everyone is in a relaxed, inhibitory state, opening their hearts and just wishing for good will and more and so on, actually reaching out psychically, emotionally, and sometimes physically to another. I suspect the opening of those boundaries combined with the sharing of spirits/feelings/minds/intentions does something similar in conveying the intention into the Unconscious/spirit world that most sigil magic practices accomplish through symbolizing and preferably forgetting the conscious statement of the intention while working in some kind of trance.
The opening of those boundaries and its ability to help one access the Unconscious is one of the things I noted about McTaggart’s Power of Eight material, beyond its actual efficacy. I also considered how it might work in association with spirits, let alone with a more animist cosmology. I also wondered what its procedure said about the tech for accessing the spirit world and effecting enchantment.
So, I very quickly started thinking about how to adapt this tech to my own practice and for others. People off the street can start doing Power of Eight-style work almost instantly, so what about witches?
Power of Witching
Gordon White had suggestively hinted at the potential for a Power of One praxis based on McTaggart’s work. Especially in an animist reality where the world is alive and the spirits and other beings (physical or otherwise) within it are capable of intention, what can you wind up doing? Furthermore, if I can make sigils work, if I can get lots of magic to work, then why can’t I do so with this?
So, I started with sitting out on my balcony with my balcony garden. It was a beautiful afternoon, sky and clouds and a breeze and warm, and I sat, and I did a ten-count breath for myself, and I started intending “Grow full and healthy” to my plants.
The visionary stuff doesn’t usually happen from the go, but this exercise was also the first time I’d done it outside, or in close proximity to a target. After a point, I had the sense of the top of my head opening up for the sky, and I had the impression that the “gnomes” I started noticing once I started looking for them seemed to be fading in and out and through the scene, tending to the plants and earth and so on. (It was a bit like the flashing-fading effect for the Woodsmen in the Twin Peaks revival [warning: flashing gifs], but, well, with gnomes. And not so creepy.) I also started seeing my plants as young human children, which struck me oddly, especially when, at the end—you seem to often have a sense when an intention is bam, done—they all seemed to lean in and touch me and go “Mom!”
A couple of days later, several of the plants have indeed seemed to grow further and faster than I would have expected. But that’s anecdotal, but thus far good enough for me.
It was after this initial experiment that the intention tech suggested to me a way to easily start connecting with spirits of place, and even other spirits. For as much as I’ve been able to extend consciousness to the trees and sky and more, my process had wound up feeling a bit haphazard—if effective when it worked. That said, that process had really been more of suspending my ego and spirit-body uplink to become a forest-body uplink instead. The intention exercise seemed to result in me actually relating to the admittedly young spirits of the plants on my balcony in a rather startling way, but a way that strikes me as also very potentially witchy.
A couple of hours later, after conducting errands, I sat out front before the trees that surround my home and which have served as inspiration before. I began a similar intention, directing “Grow strong and healthy” to, well, my surroundings that I could perceive and see. Instead of small children, I was surrounded by giants and giantesses, the gnomes doing their “Woodsmen” thing again, and I was walking amid the trees, touching them, or I was standing tall and walking with them, myself their size. The intention concluded, and I had the sense of “Sister!” coming from around me.
I had had intermittent contact with the locals and occasionally had seen several of the trees as humanoid figures—burly bearded men, often—and I found myself having a similar but more immediate and bigger experience of that. They seemed rather “humanoid,” though with dryad or woodsy accoutrements.
Anyway, one of the things about intention exercises is that you tend to feel a bit high after the fact. Keep in mind, it’s less hyperventilation—your breathing should try to remain regular, though it’s perhaps easy at times to get caught up—but continuous breathing might be part of the effect, along with the positive effects of altruism on body and psyche.
Anyway, I shortly after tried another intention—towards the sky. The forecast at the time had included no chance of rain over the next several days, and I intended for “cleansing and healing rain and wind.” The experience was also visionary—go fig, intending with the sky, including “sylphs,” wind serpents, wind giants, the sun, clouds, and so on. As it ended, I had the distinct sense of multiple shouts of Sister! from several points above me. Shortly afterwards, I checked the forecast, and storms were now on the forecast, and indeed, I woke up briefly Sunday morning to rain and some wind.
Now, I was intending to these beings who are alive and are persons. So, I wasn’t just intending at the landscape but the landscape as inspirited, the trees and foliage and clouds and more as persons themselves.
Power of Caveats
A couple of caveats: with the locals I’ve tried this with thus far, I already have some kind of relationship, some kind of rapport, and the sense of general good will. I was beginning on good footing, as it were, in a place I’ve lived most of my life—and the immediate surroundings for the last three years. That said, when dealing with spirits of place, I can only imagine that a good first gesture is to open yourself, treat them as persons you’re trying to help, and intend/enchant positive things at them.
Of course, I wouldn’t mind some growing healthy blowback in this, too.
So, what I’m saying is that I would probably try to get a feel for the locale first before trying this, especially if you’re already out someplace and you’re unsure how the local spirits might respond to you or to non-indigenous humans. If nothing else, if you get a bad feeling, then maybe beg off at first. That said, I could see attempts to try similar processes using a photograph of the locale, which McTaggart observes works fine as a link to the actual target—so you’re not intending good health or good rains for the photo but for the depicted.
If nothing else, I can also see the tech providing a way to help you see and relate to spirits of place—maybe even get an actual feel or contact with them. That said, I hope you’re expecting that contact may well result in further shenanigans down the line in your life as you get the Neighbors attention.
Power of Place
I decided I would also experiment with an “intention walk.” The exercises had seemed to open up the Nearby to me in profoundly uplifting ways, and I figured I would walk my usual path through the trees and neighborhood while intending at them as I went. I went with grow strong and healthy and beautiful, and I found myself grinning as I went through the very sunny and pleasant and warm afternoon, and I saw the gnomes again here and there, and the trees as giants, and the stream beds as serpents, and the sky opened up and so on. Indeed, I started feeling a sense of double-vision as the neighborhood was also suffused with my sense of the magical directions—the features of North, South, East, and West—so the neighborhood was enchanted and so was I. I did this intention exercise for about 20-25 minutes—down to the stream I often go as far as—and I spoke with the stream, and—well—I don’t know how much I changed the countryside, but I could feel how I felt, how I was in a distinctly more spirit-entangled headspace at that point. A second intention walk yielded similar returns.
Now, in some ways, the repetition of intention is a good way to go into some kind of trance state. And while that’s true, you do so while intending positive outcomes into the environment or subject while, if you’re doing it right, blurring the boundaries between the concrete, conscious self and the subject or the spiritual reality around you (which/who can be the subject). That is, the technique may involve trance-induction, but it is trance-induction wedding to practical enchantment.
I think, more importantly, the tech requires persons to redefine their relationship to other persons and to the world, and, through these applications I’ve been experimenting with, how we relate also to the spiritual-physical landscapes we live through. It is one thing to know something is the case, but it is necessary to also experience it–no, to con-verse and have some kind of inter-course with that reality. I can read about and think about how this could work, which can have its merit, but doing so keeps you squarely contained within your head rather than seeing who’s out there and getting their attention and getting to know them. Armchair theorizing is itself a kind of imperializing gesture, a mapping of the world in your head–perhaps peering through a glass to glean surface insights about which you amplify through what you already think you know. Better to do the thing and see what happens, even if things go weird–and even if nothing seems to happen.
I am also wanting to do some intention exercises with the urban—with buildings, homes, and even where I work. I think we’re often too dismissive of the spirits of buildings, including the spirit of home, but I suspect many of us in the west need to start looking into them. Especially for those of us who spend most of our time indoors for whatever reason, enchanting and haunting our homes and, maybe even more importantly, where we work, well, I think doing so offers us another avenue to pursue in the mind war. (I also suspect that there are often neglected or ignored “hyperthick” or “metaphoric” places or branches-off in the urban needing noting and exploration.) If nothing else, the tech may help rouse the spirits of such places (and it may do so for more quiescent natural locales), or at least help us notice them and get their attention. In some ways, the way I’m using this tech, in part, strikes me as not that removed from what Ramsey Dukes points to in How to See Fairies. McTaggart’s tech also helps us open and connect and, maybe, make a good first impression. It has seemed helpful for getting attention.
I can also see using this tech with other classes of spirits. What about a specific ancestor for which you have an image (or maybe even a name)? What about for trying to get the attention of a particular saint or god? I would recommend avoid doing so in an off-book manner with spirit seals, like those in the Goetia spirit lists—at least without appropriate Solomonic or other protocols in place.
Finally, I have to wonder about how one best intends for oneself, and while I will be experimenting with this, I think those kinds of intentions point back to the core Power of Eight, or at least, the Power of Some. But I think it’s also useful to think with this tech in relation to mantras, or that mantras are themselves intention-like, the intention likely intending us with/at the god, saint, or spirit in question. It is also a very guided/directed meditation with practical enchantment aims. I think it’s also helpful to consider how one can call in ancestors, saints, helping spirits, and even one’s own multiplicity (in terms of microbiome and one’s unconscious) when having to Power of One.
But I do wonder, how much is witchcraft just intending a lot–with plant, animal, and other allies?