Articles/Essays From Pagans
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Understanding the Unseen
August 25th. 2018 ...
A Little Magickal History
Men and the Goddess
Back to Basics Witchcraft: Magical Creativity for Small Living Spaces
Kitchen Magic and Memories
Why the Faeries?
Magic in Daily Life
An Open Fire: Healing from Within
Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light
Gudrun of the Victory Gods
Ares and Athena
La Santa Muerte... The Stigma and the Strength
The Lady on the Stairs
The Wheel of the Year in Our Daily Lives
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The Importance of Unification: Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity
May 29th. 2018 ...
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
April 20th. 2018 ...
Nazis Made Us Change Our Name
January 25th. 2018 ...
Finding Balance: Discipline Wedded to Devotion
November 15th. 2017 ...
September 30th. 2017 ...
July 31st. 2017 ...
Sin Eaters and Dream Walkers
July 2nd. 2017 ...
On Cursing: Politics and Ethos
June 1st. 2017 ...
The Sacred Ego in Mediterranean Magical Traditions
April 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles
March 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords
January 10th. 2017 ...
The Gray of 'Tween
Becoming a Sacred Dancer
Little Dog, Big Love
December 9th. 2016 ...
A Child's First Yule
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
September 11th. 2016 ...
The Shadow of Disgust
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
An Open Mind and Heart
June 13th. 2016 ...
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
The Fear of Witchcraft
Magic in Sentences
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
December 20th. 2015 ...
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
May 6th. 2015 ...
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
January 1st. 2015 ...
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
August 24th. 2014 ...
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Grounding: Tree And Flame
Article ID: 10294
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Alison Leigh Lilly
Posted: January 1st. 2006
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Briefly, what is the purpose of grounding? It is, most simply, a way of connecting to and interacting with an energy beyond ourselves. Rather than drawing on our own limited supply of physical and mental energy, which can quickly burn us out and result in unhealthy imbalances, we "tap into" the Divine in its infinite potential and activity. We do not drain ourselves, but neither do we overload ourselves by trying to hold on too tightly to the energies that we draw on. Instead we allow ourselves to be conduits, to be vessels for the coming together, direction and manifestation of these Divine energies. Often people will focus on only one of the two aspects involved in grounding--either that of drawing in energy, or that of releasing energy back. Indeed, I suspect it is this second aspect--in the sense of "grounding" electricity and releasing it so that its build-up cannot do damage--that gives this practice its name.
Because of this dualistic focus on grounding, many people may only think of it as something one does at the beginning (to draw in power) and end (to release it again) of a ritual or spellwork. In fact, grounding and what is known as "centering" are two faces of the same coin, and both are on-going during any magical working, as well as during contemplation and, ideally, during mundane existence. The practice of calming the mind for meditation and centering in oneself echoes the practical activity of grounding in a greater Presence. Such grounding, like centering, habituates us to surrender, to opening ourselves up to being emptied or filled in rhythm with the tides and vibrations of the Divine Will.
We ground so we are rooted and anchored when we do any ritual work. For us this includes beginning ritual, doing ritual, and releasing ritual afterwards. We ground because, for us as Norvicensian Witches, any power that occurs in our ritual and story work is not our power. For us being a Witch is not about us having power, it's about us being powerless and surrendering to and into the power of the Divine. It is grounding which plugs us into this surrender and connects us with the power of the Divine so that any ritual work we do isn't us doing ritual but rather the Divine Spirit doing ritual in us and through us.
- Rawna Moon, on Grounding
With this quick review of grounding as a general practice, I'd like to move on to discuss two ways to conceive of the act of grounding--as tree, and as flame.
A most traditional way of grounding as understood by many Witches (Pagan and non-Pagan) is to imagine oneself as a tree or plant, rooted in the earth and reaching up towards the sky. This concept stems mainly, I think, from the fertility-focused aspect of the older nature religions as revived in Wicca, etc. Such approaches emphasize our connection to the earth as Great Mother and Sustainer, the source of our energy and lifeforce. Meditations on the core of the world, to which we are held by the weak yet constant force of gravity, lead us towards contemplations of where we find our own spiritual and physical center. We find all four elements embodied in this way of grounding: the airy celestial towards which we reach, the water of lifeblood/"sap" that runs through our bodies, our bodies themselves and the earth to which they are rooted, and the heat and energy of a hidden molten core, both within the earth and within ourselves.
The image/embodying of the tree as a form of grounding may also be tied to the concept of the axis mundi--the world axis, often manifested as a mountain, hill, tree, or even a constructed pole or temple/spire. In this sense, grounding qua tree extends beyond merely tapping into the energy of the earth. The axis mundi is the connection between the material and spiritual planes, it extends from "heaven" through the middle world and into the "underworld"--bridging the realms of light/enlightenment and darkness/mystery through the realm of paradox, the realm in which we as human beings struggle and do our work. Grounding with this in mind emphasizes the nature of the practitioner as a conduit between the worlds, through which the power and forces of the Divine may flow and by which they are shaped into manifestation.
Both the tree-image and its extension, the axis mundi, illustrate symbolically to the subconscious a form of surrender: an opening to the flowing energies of the world that course through our veins. In some occult practices, the axis mundi concept is extended/reinterpreted still further into that of the lightning bolt, striking ferociously down from the sky while at the same time rising forcefully up from the earth to meet itself. Here we begin to see hints of another conception of grounding, that of the flame.
Grounding understood in the image of the flame recalls less of the core ideas of the fertility-cult and emphasizes, instead, a more ecstatic tradition (for example, that of Feri Witchcraft, or that of Sufi mysticism within Islam). Rather than imagining oneself as a tree with roots reaching deep into the earth and limbs spread out and upward into the sky, the practitioner feels herself as the dark wick at the heart of a blue flame. The wick of the material body reaches down into a semi-liquid/semi-solid "wax" of the created world, while the flame leaps up into the celestial, spiritual realm, a flame of spirit and will that is fed, shaped and moved by the breath of the Divine.
The movement and working of energy in this concept of grounding is slightly more complicated than that of the tree. Rather than energy moving clearly through a passive conduit, there is an intimate interaction between the particular material form (the wick) and the universal spiritual presence (the breath). The spiritual activity of burning (which, even when the flame is stilled, is essentially a process, an activity) is fueled both by the Divine breath and the material form of the individual. In this interaction, energy is not just moved or transferred--it is created through the process of transforming the potential of the wind and wick into the actuality of the flame. Energy is both generated and released through this process of burning, so that rarely does an "excess" build up which it is later necessary to "ground" (in the electrical sense) .
The concept of burning is also associated closely with ideas of love and surrender. While the grounding of a tree is a kind of surrender which is receptive and passive, the surrender of the flame is an active surrender, which, while still being "receptive" in a sense, is also more engaged in the process. It may be a more accurate metaphor for the activity of love, which involves will and choice, a movement towards and a giving of oneself to the Divine.
Practically and personally speaking, I find the concept of grounding in terms of the flame more flexible. It does not require me to sit still but is perfectly adaptable to walking, moving, and dancing as forms of meditation. On windy days, I sense my grounding as tapping into the energy of the wind itself as it is available to me; on warm days, the heat of sunlight and the closely-held warmth in the folds of the land feed the flame, while on cold days, the process of burning itself warms me.
I would recommend to those who have found grounding a difficult practice to sustain or benefit from to explore other possible metaphors for the relationship of energy and Divine presence. For me, the idea of the blue flame has opened a great deal to me, enabling me to ground and center more readily and more often, even during my everyday life. Explore such ideas, images that move you--do not stick only to metaphors growing out of a fertility tradition that may not speak so directly to your modern existence.
Rawna Moon, "Seeker Exercises: Exercise 6: Grounding" http://members.aol.com/RawnaMoon/seeker6.html
Alison Leigh Lilly
Location: Seattle, Washington
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Bio: Ali is a Christian Witch who has been studying comparative religions for seven years and has been writing poetry as a spiritual practice for fifteen years. Most of what she knows about Craft has come from her dedication to her art. She currently resides in Pittsburgh where she is studying poetry at a graduate level, working as a waitress in a family restaurant, and making frequent trips to the city park down the block.
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