I thought I’d do another couple of posts that answer queries put to me in recent weeks, on topics that are fairly important as Foundation Level Paganism. Otherwise known as What the Books SHOULD Tell You (But Usually Don’t).
Not long ago, I got asked about Grounding. A friend had been show how, as one of the introductory exercises to a novice witch-in-training – but not been given much explanation. Why, he asked, do we need to ground? What does it do?
(Don’t panic, any Muggles in the audience. I’ll explain the terminology, bear with me.)
I quite liked this, and had to smile. It sums up a lot of the ‘how to’ books out there, in that pagan Learners of any path tend to be told what to do, but not necessarily why. We find out as we bimble along, making learner mistakes and bouncing back to exercises that help (once we realize why we were taught in the first place), but I agree – I’d quite like to know why I’m doing something as I go along.
Pagans – be they witches, druids, heathens, etc – don’t just believe or feel their faith, they practise too. And practise, as we know, is continuous (to make perfect, natch). A big foundation of that work is based on energy. Not to teach your grandma to inhale ovulations, but a lot of ‘magic’ is energy manipulation… which means grounding is necessary.
Grounding is basically taking the energy you’ve worked with or raised, and settling it back down again, bringing yourself back to reality and not in a small hyperactive bouncing bubble that burns out very quickly. Imagine a puppy on Red Bull. Follow this through. The crash is not pretty, and neither is the mess left in its wake.
Energy raising is something we all do, magic or not. Runners generate a lot of energy, for example. So do actors and performers. You know the energized feeling when you’re about to go on-stage – and that same buoyancy when you step off again afterwards? Whether you enjoyed the experience or not, that’s energy.
The classic training step is to rub your hands together fast, generating enough static that you can feel it when you pull your hands apart, like electricity zapping between your palms.
Taking on too much energy, or holding onto it with no release, is bad no matter how you do it. It goes to your head quickly, and while you are capable of accomplishing a fair bit, it may not necessarily be of any quality (you know the feeling of ‘nervous energy?’). And you will quickly burn out, with a huge pressure headache and possible physical collapse.
The best exercise for raising and grounding your energy in pagan work (or at all) is to plant your feet squarely on the floor, feeling yourself fully present, there and then, solid and firm in foundation. Barefoot is good, but not essential – your toes can wiggle inside shoes just as well, to properly feel the ground beneath you.
Imagine the soil beneath you. Yes it’s there, beneath all foundations. Just work through the concrete, wood, whatever – into the earth. There may well be tree roots, insects and small creatures, brick, bone. Just feel it.
Then draw some of that energy up through your feet, into yourself. Take it gently, but let it fill you. Wiggle feet, fingers, neck, shoulders. Open your eyes. Experience it. See how the world looks now you’re actually aware of your connection to it. Remember to breathe.
When you’re ready, let that energy flow down again, through your body and out into the earth beneath your feet. Feel yourself still planted, secure and solid. Breathe. Shake your head. Let the excess go.
If you feel wobbly or ‘spaced out’ at any stage, don’t panic – you’ve just taken on some of the energy from a planet. If you’re not used to it, the sensations will confuse you, but this won’t always happen. Simply crouch or kneel down, so your feet (toes are fine) and hands (fingertips) are touching the ground. Let some of the energy discharge down. If it persists, sit or lie down and let it flow from all of you.
For the scientific explanation of what you just did, feel free to investigate books on physics (I find quantum does it best). The idea that all energy is connected is basic, but you are simply working with that connection, sharing energy in the same manner as you share breath with those around you – people, trees, plants, animals, birds… all the same molecules.
When you hold that energy, you can use it for whatever you wish. You can move around – your feet will always be connected to the floor, after all; you’re both a conduit and a battery. Ritual, magic, sticking balloons to walls – your choice. But the need for grounding will become apparent from the first time you forget and feel the consequences. It is necessary. Don’t ever take it for granted.
And spiritually, I find it’s also nice, from time to time, to say Thank You.
The best recent source I’ve found on energy work, if you want to learm more, is from the late, lamented Isaac Bonewits: ‘Real Energy’. Or feel free to email me 🙂