If you’ve been wandering down the Pagan path for very long, you’ve likely heard the terms “grounding,” “cleansing,” and “shielding” on more than one occasion. These practices are recognized as important across many traditions, but frequently the explanation as to exactly why they are important gets lost. Grounding, cleansing, and shielding are found in many beginning books on Paganism and magick, but it wasn’t until I really started doing ritual and magick regularly that I understood their importance. Opening up as an empath only served to highlight these practices as essential and helped me to understand their necessary differences. Let’s start with the first topic: Grounding!
At its most basic, grounding connects you back to the Earth, to yourself, and back to this time and place. Grounding draws you back into your body and can stabilize your energy. This can be accomplished in different ways in different contexts.
One method you will see frequently in ritual is the inclusion of Cakes and Ale. Consuming food and drink necessitates a connection to your physical body. The properties of the food and drink contribute to this as well, since all the ingredients came from the Earth.
Physical activity or gestures is another common way to ground, such as touching the Earth or stamping your feet after a meditation. You can also ground through visualization – One I see used frequently is that of a tree sinking its roots into the soil. I’ve also heard of people imagining becoming a mountain.
You can use tools to help you ground, such as a crystal (like black tourmaline) with grounding properties. Bringing consciousness to your physical body helps as well. Feeling a smooth stone in your hand, becoming aware of the sensation of the the breeze caressing your face, feeling the Earth beneath your feet, smelling an earthy fragrance, or tasting salt can all bring you back to your physical body.
Grounding is absolutely essential after journeying, trance, or any sort of spiritual travel. (I highly recommend reading Trance-Portation by Diana Paxson if you are interested in any of these things.) The purpose of journeying is to allow us to go somewhere else on the spiritual plane, and it is vital that you completely come back to your body and this time and place when you are done. After journeying, I do a full scan of my body, to make sure I’m entirely back. I also do a mental check of what I’m thinking, feeling, and sensing to make sure it is mine, and that it matches where I am in the mundane world.
For me, a combination of grounding techniques works the best.
I’m a fan of Cakes and Ale for rituals, though I recommend not using actual alcohol for the Ale part if you need some serious grounding. Hugging a friend is also very grounding in group ritual (when there is not a pandemic), and a technique I use quite often (as I’m sure my friends would tell you.) I will also touch a tree or handle a black tourmaline, if those are around. I’m typically very aware of my body (comes with the territory of being a dancer, I suppose), so bodily awareness exercises don’t really do much for me. Somewhat counter-intuitively, I will sometimes dance in order to ground. Dancing quiets my mind and brings me into harmony with my physical body, so it is a very grounding thing for me (though it can also be energizing – context is important).
In addition to magickal and ritual applications, there are many mundane applications for grounding. Grounding can help with stress or anxiety – It can help with anything that takes you away from awareness of yourself and the present moment. I love my black tourmaline crystals for this. I always carry one around with me, and if I get mentally stuck on something, I can hold it for a little while and the anxiety will melt away.
Grounding can also help with intense emotions, like anger and fear. When you are overwhelmed with these emotions, touch the Earth, take a deep breath, drink some water, or hold a crystal in your hand. Taking time to come back to the present moment gives you space from your intense emotion, and can help to calm your energy.
Grounding helps to connect us to the physical world – to our bodies, to this time and this place. Whether you use grounding in a spiritual context or a mundane one, it is a useful skill to hone.