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Every cell in our beautiful and amazing bodies contains the whirling wisdom of the universe. This is the journey of one witch remembering that, and celebrating the Feminine Divine in beings of all genders.

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Roots Down, Branches Up

In my Reclaiming Witch tradition, before we do any type of magical work (environmental or social justice activism, personal or community healing, solitary or public ritual), we ground.  It's the act of drawing on the connection between The Earth and The Stars.  It can be done  through a long and elaborate liturgy, or with these four simple words.


Roots down, branches up*.


We may each envision it slightly different, but for me, roots down follows the line through my root chakra (that spot between my anus and vulva), down my legs and feet, and through my soles.  It continues through the floor (if I’m inside) or directly into the ground (if I’m outside).  That line continues down through the dirt and worms, rocks and ground water, streaks of minerals, and pockets of oil and natural gas.  It continues to the molten center of The Earth, that place of terrestrial heat and energy.  Then, that energy, that lovely core energy, flows back up along that root line through the layers of The Earth herself, back through my soles and legs and root chakra, up through my other chakras into my whole body: bones and blood and soft tissue, organs and nerves and cognition.


Roots down, branches up.


Branches up follows the line up through my crown chakra (the top of my head), that place where, long ago, there was a soft spot in my skull before those plates grew together.  That line branches out and up through the air, the clouds, all the layers of our atmosphere.  It continues  into the dark vacuum of space, through The Moon in all her phasing, and to the stars.  The vast energy found there, which is both unfathomably dark and at the same time brighter than anything imaginable, flows through those branches back down.   It flows back down though darkness, through The Moon, through the Air.  It enters me at that tender spot of my crown chakra and flows down through all my chakras, flooding my whole body in capillaries and cell walls, synapses and lymphatic fluid, hormonal secretions and the viral and bacterial colonies that live in balance with my human DNA.


Roots down, branches up.


Then, when I am intentionally conscious of that connection between the core of The Earth, and the vastness of space (which my molecules always know exists, but my cognition often is too distracted to remember), then whatever work I will be doing alone (or with others), can really begin.


Roots down, branches up.


Of course, it is possible to work without taking time to recognize that connection.  Most humans, including me, seem to do it all the time.  But to be intentional and conscious of it, strengthens our work.  I can only speak for myself, but if I don’t start there, I fall into all kinds of silliness and illusions: mostly vacillating between delusions of grandeur and a sad little martyr complex.


Roots down, branches up.


Blessings on you in your magical work.  Blessings on your activism, your healing work, your rituals.  May your sacred cells be fed and nourished by the energy flowing through you: up from your roots and down  through your branches.  May that energy sustain and strengthen you.  May your strength add to the strength and healing of The Whole.  Blessed Be.



*Gratitude to Raven Moonshadow who, years ago, introduced  those simple words for grounding into Reclaiming culture.

Last modified on
Lizann Bassham is both an active Reclaiming Witch and an Ordained Christian Minister in the United Church of Christ. She serves as Campus Pastor at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley working with a multi-faith student community. She is a columnist for SageWoman magazine, and a curriculum writer and workshop and retreat leader for several Christian denominations and organizations, as well as being a novelist and musician. Once, quite by accident, she won a salsa dance contest in East L.A


  • G. B. Harte
    G. B. Harte Monday, 27 January 2014

    Roots down, Branches up.....

    Very 'practical application' functional.
    Thanks for something to think upon ....
    It may tie in with my own ~>

    Ascend. Transcend. Transform.

    Benedictus Bonum Sum....


  • G. B. Harte
    G. B. Harte Tuesday, 28 January 2014

    After I read this & I had scribed & posted my 1st 'comment' I received an email from a young mother having a seriously severe 'bad night'. It was not until after I had send her email to me onwards that it occurred to me that 'Roots down, Branches up' might possibly be a further source of inspiration & guidance.
    Benedictus Serenitus Scriptus Bonum Sanctus Sum....
    GBH. 06:15 am pacific. 01.28.2014.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Tuesday, 28 January 2014

    Thank you for your kind words. Blessings to you and your work and blessings to that young mother and the very important work of caring for a little human being.

  • Eva
    Eva Tuesday, 28 January 2014

    "Roots down, branches up" I love it! Thank you for sharing.:D

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Tuesday, 28 January 2014

    You're welcome!

  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers Tuesday, 28 January 2014

    I'm curious about how you blend Christianity with your faith in the Divine Feminine. I was a progressive Christian exploring goddess spirituality and then committed both to it and to my magical practice, and I realized that there didn't seem to be room for Christianity. I no longer believed that Jesus was the Son of God, and I no longer believed that we needed salvation or that he came to save us. Maybe you do still believe those things?

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Tuesday, 28 January 2014

    Hi Jeanine - My journey of experience with, and understanding of, the various aspects of the Christian trinity has been a wonderful and long one. Without giving you the whole history, where I find myself now is appreciating the life and teaching of the human Jesus, and the presence of the Cosmic Christ Consciousness that has unfolded since the death of the human Jesus millennia ago. I, like you, don't believe in atonement theology or the salvation aspect other folk have attached to Jesus. I appreciate the historic figure of Jesus and the record we have of his teaching of radical compassion and inclusiveness. I have experienced the presence of the Cosmic Christ who I experience as gender fluid or more precisely not attached to gender. My experience of the "Father" part of the Christian Trinity is pretty marginal, I am more of a Panentheist which to me means that everything is One and what I/we call "God" is the consciousness of the whole - so again not attached to gender. I have most frequently experienced the "Holy Spirit" part of the Christian Trinity in very fluid mostly feminine energy. I am lucky to be in a Christian denomination that is comfortable with a variety of theological perspectives, and mostly full of clergy who are comfortable with The Divine flowing back and forth between feminine and masculine energy. I don't know if that answers your questions - happy to continue the discussion. Blessings on you in your experience of The Divine. - Lizann

  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers Wednesday, 29 January 2014

    That does help, tremendously! I miss Christianity sometimes and I was wondering how it was that you had managed to keep it. But I also appreciate the human Jesus and hope to develop more of a relationship with him (in spirit) at some point since he is not the Jesus I thought I had a relationship during my decades of Christianity. That's great that your church is so open to that kind of diversity of thought and belief. I wouldn't call any of what you described above "Christianity," though. Unless I am misunderstanding how broad progressive Christianity is. I tried to find a place for myself within it, but it just seemed that there was nothing left to hang my hat on.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Wednesday, 29 January 2014

    My experience of Progressive Christianity does hold room for what I've described, my favorite Progressive Christian theologians are Jim Burklo ("Open Christianity"), Matthew Fox ("Original Blessing") and Rita Nakashima Brock & Rebecca Parker ("Proverbs of Ashes" and "Saving Paradise"), and of course all the Jesus Seminar writers, especially Marcus Borg. But I must say in terms of actual ritual experience, my body would rather dance with my witch community than sit in a pew and listen to even the most Progressive Christian sermon ;)

  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers Wednesday, 29 January 2014

    Thanks so much! Just ordered Open Christianity.

  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers Wednesday, 29 January 2014

    LOL! I love Marcus Borg, but haven't heard of the others except for Matthew Fox. Thanks, I will check them out.

  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers Tuesday, 28 January 2014

    Sorry, I also meant to say that I liked "roots down, branches up" as a way to remember and foster that connection and groundedness.

  • Amoret BriarRose
    Amoret BriarRose Friday, 18 April 2014

    "Of course, it is possible to work without taking time to recognize that connection. Most humans, including me, seem to do it all the time. But to be intentional and conscious of it, strengthens our work. I can only speak for myself, but if I don’t start there, I fall into all kinds of silliness and illusions: mostly vacillating between delusions of grandeur and a sad little martyr complex."

    I really resonate with this. Thank you for posting :)

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Friday, 18 April 2014

    You're welcome Amoret, blessings to you.

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