Mike recently posted some intriguing perspectives on energy work in his blog. He noted the inaccuracy around the language that's used to describe how energy work happens, and where it interacts with the biology of the person. He uses a concept from computer programming called scoping to demonstrate the need to differentiate the definitions being used to discuss energy work. I find myself in agreement with him, which makes me then think about magic and biology, as it pertains to cells and what's really happening with energy work.
Mike notes the following:
So, let’s apply scoping to energy healing. There’s bio::energy, for the normal energy that makes cells operate when there’s no magick going on (ATP, electrical impulses, etc.), and there’s magick::energy, for the energy we use that makes you feel all tingly. And, most importantly, they are different.
It's clear that biological energy isn't the same as magical energy perse, but people do conflate the two, which can create an inaccurate understanding of what is being done when healing or working with your physiology in general. Mike argues that increasing the energy of a cell using magical energy doesn't seem to work. I agree with him, and I'll explain why further below, but he also notes that you can use magic to kill bacteria, decelerate a specific biological function (which doesn't involve adding energy, but could involve changing specific outputs in a cell) and finally that you can use magic to cancel one type of energy and substitute another type of energy, basically bringing in a different energetic signature. My experiences with healing have provided similar observations, so I feel fairly confident that he and I are on the same page with how energy work actually seems to work.
I made my own response to Mike and noted that part of what I think occultists are fudging or portraying inaccurately is how we communicate with our biology (if we do) and where does energy fit into that communication. Mike responded in agreement, but argued that its not communication but influence. I note this because both he and I would agree that word choice is very important in describing how a magical process ( or any process works).
Why do I use communicate? Well for one thing I'm not ready to assume that an individual cell isn't intelligent. It may not exhibit intelligence as I understand it, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have intelligence...it just may be a very different type than I know. More importantly however, we have to consider if cells are communicating with each other, and I would argue they are. In both Inner Alchemy and Magical Identity I discuss biophotonic energy, which is an energy that cells emit and seem to use to communicate with each other.
If we go with the process that magic energy can be used to accelerate or decelerate biological processes, we still need to figure exactly how that occurs, and just as importantly we have to ask if the cells have any "say" in how that process is being changed, and if so what kind of say they have. The reason I opt for intelligence when it comes to the cells is that if I'm going to go in and make some changes to my biological structures, I want to work with those structures and I need to be able to communicate with those cells, to get input or if nothing else a stop order when enough energy has been applied and they need to take over with the healing work. From my experiences with working with my body on a cellular level, I'd argue that the magician is not merely influencing a cell, but is communicating with it and that the communication is occurring via the interaction of magical energy and biophotonic energy. It turns out that biophotonic energy can accept a variety of frequencies of energy and since magical energy operates on a frequency it makes sense that communication could occur if biophotonic energy accepts that frequency. If that's the case, then what we're dealing with is communication wherein the cell(s) provide information and even notify us when to stop applying energy in order to let them do what they do.
As a final note I haven't even discussed mitochondria or the metabolism of the cell which could be additional factors to consider when it comes to communication or influence, depending on which route you want to go with. Regardless I think its really important to examine the interaction of magic energy and bio energy if you want to nail down a comprehensive process of magic.