I am the first witch to admit, I often forget to write about some of the most basic processes in witchcraft. This is because to me, these things seem more like common sense issues and come so naturally to me now after decades of reading and practicing. I admit that I often forget how it was first to have questions. A little witchling in one of the forums reminded me of this one because she said everyone was always talking about “grounding and centering”, but no one ever explained what it was or how to do it.
At that point, I realized that, when writing, I always seem to forget to mention the importance of grounding and centering before and after magickal work. It helps you in preparation to gather the energies and balance them beforehand and afterward helps to drain excess energy away or draw energy if depleted. There are many ways to do it and it is all about gaining your equilibrium, making certain you are in the right place, mind, body, and spirit to cast your spell, complete your ritual or engage in practicing your magick as a whole.
(On a side note: I also realized that I forget to remind people that deep breathing is a great habit prior to and after any magickal work. Making certain that you are abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, foods and drinks high in caffeine, drugs (unless you have a prescription you are required to take) before spells and rituals is an excellent choice. Practicing magick when under the influence of anything, which dramatically alters your brain and body chemistry, is simply a bad idea. Depending on the length of the ritual or spell work, making certain you are well nourished (unless you specifically have been ritually fasting for the magickal purpose) is a good way to maintain your physical energy level.)
When it comes to grounding and centering, it is useful in different ways for different people. Az’s explanations was that he had to “get in the right head space” to prepare himself. Az was a big thinker and always had his head in clouds of swirling ideas, concepts, information, etc. As such, his brain was always running full speed in about thirty directions at once. I have no idea how he kept track of it all, but he never broke a mental sweat. For him, grounding and centering was all about pulling back into himself. He likened it to his days on the range and getting all his thoughts gathered up and going in the same direction, just like the cattle on a drive. Now, he may be the Yankee and I may be the one from Texas, but I never rode range a day in my life, so I will have to trust him on that.
I tend to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. I am usually plodding along like one of his cattle, my head buried in whatever thought is currently interesting to me tuning out everyone and everything else around me. For me, grounding and centering is all about getting my head in the game. Just as a coach will give a team member a pep talk before game time about pulling together and focusing on the team, I am one who needs to prep myself for the work at hand by opening my focus to draw the rest of the energy and universe in. I need the focus on opening my senses, focusing my energy inward and drawing energy from everything around me. I tend to block things out normally, keep everything away with my shields and walls. Grounding and centering allows me to focus on lowering those walls and joining with the power around me.
Grounding and Centering Techniques
I may be Texas born, but I am hillbilly bred, so I am usually barefooted unless there is snow on the ground. Even then, if it is a short trip to the car to jump in and go somewhere, I have a heater, toes warm up just fine on the trip to, and the house has a heater, too, for when I get home. As such, needless to say, my bare feet connect me to the earth as I sit outside and listen to the voice of nature. I focus on everything I can see, feel, smell, hear and taste on the wind. I bring it in and make it a part of me. I let it soak into me thoroughly while I focus on the intent of the magick I prepare to accomplish. Weaving them together with my own power, I draw the energies around me into my core, to the center of my being and feel them as a hard knot of power, waiting to unfurl when the time is right.
Another way is to sit or stand on the earth and allow myself to visualize turning into a tree. As a lifelong treehugger, this one suits me most often. I see and feel my feet and legs sink into the earth, like tap roots seeking water deep below for nourishment, I feel my body lengthen and sprout branches from my trunk, my arms and head. I feel the breeze gently, or vigorously, moving my leaves in time to its breath. I soak up the energy of the earth and claim it as my own. I draw the energy into the center of my body and feel it commingling with my own energy.
In the distant past, I was a rain walker. In younger days, prior to Az and children, I would walk out into the rain and stroll or dance to the sounds of the storms as they raged. I would draw energy from my feet and energy from any lightning pulsing in the storm. I would soak up the energy of the rain as it fell against my skin and weave them together into a pattern. It was a pattern easy to unspool, when the time was right, and I knew it would flow out of my core in a smooth and unbroken stream, just as the water fell from the sky. In my most reckless of days, which I do NOT condone anyone else of being foolhardy enough to do, I would sit in the pool with the water all around me during storms. I would hunker down in the water with only my nose and eyes above the water level, I would focus on the surface of the water as the rain fell and watch the water jumping up as each drop connected. It energized me in a way nothing else did. However being older, and certainly wiser, I realize that this might have seemed a bit suicidal. One good connection of lightning in the localized area of the pool or any runoff water from the grass and pavement around it and I would have been a boiled witch in no time.
Swimming was a method of grounding and centering l for me. I would prepare my intent and focus on what I wanted to achieve. Within the water, I would do lap after lap, feeling my body slice through the water, focusing on the water moving across my skin, feeling the power centering in my body as it slid gracefully from one end of the pool to the other. I felt the water’s power in its buoyancy while supporting me, its strength as resistance making me work, yet, it worked with me flowing and moving around me, too. I drew its energy as I stroked back and forth, and allowed it to bond with the energies of the water inside my body. The barefoot walk back inside was a grounding time as well.
Grounding and centering is a lot easier to do than to explain, I must say. When I first began reading and practicing back in 1987, I had centering patterns, found at an amazing shop named Starwind during my brief stint in OKC. I have not seen centering patterns anywhere since. I am always looking for them, though. If I find some, I will provide a link to the location on the side bar of the blog, if anyone is interested or if I get desperate enough, I may end up making some. I do not need them now, but I enjoyed them a great deal. It was a peaceful way to spend time, tracing the pattern with a finger, drawn deeper and deeper within myself as the pattern went from complicated to simple at its center. It was a pleasant way to spend a contemplative Sunday when my group of friends was not over for our usual game weekends. As a young witchling myself with only a book or two to study, it made for a great bonding time with my Sinatra as well, since invariably, whatever book I had beside me was the one he intently perched on to watch my centering. Occasionally, the Dread Jungle Kitty would snake out a paw and slap my finger if he thought I was drifting away in thoughts instead of focusing intent. I would just laugh and tell him no to piss me off because I was a witch in training and would turn him into a toad some day.