It can be very difficult to describe our experiences of metaphysical energies. It’s easy to blame the lack of words in the English language dedicated to that purpose, and the resulting use of metaphors and similes, but that’s not the only problem. We also each experience energies in different ways that are unique to ourselves, even if there is often overlap between our perceptions.
Experiencing metaphysical energies is as natural to me as breathing. As in, I literally cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t experience the energies around me, and it has always been as much a part of my perception of the world as seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. It was something of an epiphany for me when I was transitioning from a child into a youth and realized that most of the people around me had no idea those energies existed, and were essentially blind to them.
Despite that, I have never, ever, even in my wildest dreams, “seen” energy, and it has been incredibly rare that I associated color with auras or energetic manifestations. In fact, even though my visual sense is sometimes enlisted to see ghosts, spirits, repeaters, and other non-corporeal entities, my perception of their energies and the energies around them are never visual.
For some reason, my very human, physical brain, does not filter my perception of energy through visual understanding, even though I am a visual artist who very much treasures their sight. Instead, I mostly filter it through my sense of touch. That doesn’t mean someone who sees energy is wrong, or that I’m wrong for not seeing it. It’s just different ways that our brains are processing the information and presenting it to the conscious mind. Any or all of the five physical senses can be involved in presenting energetic information, plus an extra layer that defies clean explanation through those senses.
When I think about how I feel energy, I perceive it as density, pressure, movement, barriers, temperature, intensity, brightness, vibrancy, solidity, etc., all overlapping and constantly changing. I am always aware of myself and my nearby surroundings (unless I’m hyper-focused on a task), but I can easily expand that awareness outward the way I can lift my eyes and look out away from myself.
Someone who perceives energy visually may interpret it as light, color, space, opacity, and so on. Someone who perceives energy auditorily may interpret it as particular sounds, volume, clarity, and so on. Taste and smell might lead to perceptions of sweetness, particular smells or tastes, intensity of odor or flavor, and so on. Some people may perceive any or all of those sensory interpretations of the energy at hand, and they are all correct.
On one occasion after a particularly potent full moon ritual with a couple close friends, we all ended up talking about the way the energy of the space changed at about the mid-point of the ritual. We all agreed that the energy of the earth lifted and tilted slightly, so the energy that had been the surface of the ground was at about waist height instead. I “felt” the change. Others may have “seen” it. It didn’t really matter for our discussion, because we all understood that the same event happened, however it was our brains chose to communicate that fact to us. So, even if someone else might use a different metaphor, it is still possible to arrive at mutual understanding.
How you perceive energy is likely to impact how you practice, because it impacts how you understand, interpret, and interact with those energies. I can’t speak to the particulars about other sensory perception of energies, but I can speak to my own flavor of tactile energy perception. I like to think of it this way. Even if your hands are numb, you can still pick things up and manipulate them by using your other senses. But, if you can feel things, it’s much easier to precisely move and manipulate them. Even when we use tools, we feel them in our hands, so we know exactly how the tool is turned or tilted, how much pressure is applied, whether it is slipping or shaky or holding steady, and so on.
When I perceive energy, I know where it is, how it is (or isn’t) moving, how solid or ephemeral it is, and a lot of other details as well. I overlay and orient that information with my visual understanding of the physical world, which is as close as I get to seeing it. By feeling the details about it, I can consciously decide how to approach the energies in question, the same way I can consciously adjust the way I move a brush when painting. We think of painting as a visual art because it is meant to be viewed by the eyes when finished, but without the sense of touch many (if not all) techniques are impossible to execute with precision, so the act of creating a painting is as tactile as it is visual.
When I “feel” energy to be in a certain spot, and someone else “sees” the energy in that same spot, it’s easy to arrive at a common understanding and consensus. But, sometimes the information we receive defies interpretation through the five physical senses, like when it carries emotions, memories, associations, and intellectual information. These other details might be subtle, or they might hit you like a bus. Regardless, they can be more difficult to convey and harder to interpret accurately compared to sensory perceptions like the lifting earth energy my friends and I experienced in circle.
Part of the trick to communicating about and discussing metaphysical experiences is a willingness to try to see things from another point of view. We might use the same words, or we might not. Instead of throwing your hands up in the air, try to understand what the terms other people use mean. Consider how those words could apply to metaphysical experience, even if your experience is viscerally different. Use a thesaurus to look up potential other terms to describe your own experiences.
In my experience it’s a pretty amazing thing when multiple people all strongly experience the same metaphysical event. Differences in visceral perception and descriptive language only add to the beauty and diversity of our communities.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are perceiving energies differently from the other people around you, it is very possible you just experience the energies differently. You can still learn from them, and compare experiences, and work with them to develop your skills at perceiving details accurately.
How do you perceive energies? Do you predominantly filter those perceptions through one physical sense, or multiple senses? How strongly do you perceive information that defies interpretation through physical senses? How has your perception of energies changed over time and with practice? Are you ignoring or downplaying potential aspects of your energy perception because you have not encountered a description of similar experiences from someone else?
Take some time to meditate and just sit with your experiences of the energies around you. Even if you are not in a place or time of power, or in the middle of a ritual, the world around you is always full of overlapping layers of energy. Instead of questioning the validity of your experience (i.e., “Is this real or accurate?”), just be with it, let it be what it is, and get to know how your conscious mind filters the energetic information around you.