Articles/Essays From Pagans
December 1st. 2013 ...
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
The Celtic Tree Calendar
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
September 8th. 2013 ...
Introduction to the Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage
The Druidic Concept of Nwyfre
The Holocaust Survivor (Part 1)
Giving and Helping
September 1st. 2013 ...
Use a Flyswatter for a Fly: More on the Dark Arts
How Spells Work
Is It Really 'Energy'?
August 25th. 2013 ...
Mother Nature’s Way: Forging a Distinctly American Path
Healing Moon Ritual
Unconditional Love: The Paradox of Perfect Love
Earth to Soul/Sole
August 18th. 2013 ...
How Not to Fall in the Bunny Trap
Why Are You Like That? Thoughts on Hoodoo and Appropriation
Finding the Right Coven
The Knowledge Found in Silence
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances, Hazelnuts and Magick Wands
August 11th. 2013 ...
“I Survived a Weekend with Galina Krasskova”
The Charges of the Goddess and God with Commentary
August 4th. 2013 ...
Fair Weather Witches
Pagan Studies II: Modern Paganism in the Americas
Pagan Abbeys - A Practical Heritage for Spiritual Lay and Professional Cloistered Communities
July 28th. 2013 ...
Crystals 101: A Helpful Guide For Beginners
The More the Merrier? It’s not Only an Inaccuracy; it’s an All Out Farce!
My Pagan Manifesto
July 21st. 2013 ...
I'm a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations
Rethinking Community for Solitaries
13 Keys: The Beauty of Tiphareth
July 14th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés We Use (Part II)
Pagan Humanism: A Tradition of Rational Religion
Moon/Planetary Musings: The Holly King and John Barleycorn
July 7th. 2013 ...
Coping With Depression: Learning to Dance with the Sacred Twins
Shamanic Healing of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Humility and Community Service
H is for Hubris
June 30th. 2013 ...
How To Feel The Energy Around You
Planning A Ritual
Why Pagans Might Benefit from Counseling Techniques
The Weight of Contemplation: When the Silent Self Grows Louder
June 23rd. 2013 ...
Magick and Play
Tarot Spell for Protection
Moon Musings and Planetary Preponderances: RE-fuse, RE-duce, RE-use, RE-pair and RE-cycle
June 16th. 2013 ...
How To Stay Spiritual Amidst This Chaos?
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
Days Up: 2,898
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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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