Pagan Paths

It’s a common thing to hear that there’s a difference between our magical lives and our mundane lives. In reality, we have the ability to step into ritual and devotion each and every day.

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Start by Grounding - Becoming Present

I've been examining the parts that make up many common Pagan rituals. I recently wrote about Cleansing. I'm moving on to Grounding. There's real irony here, because this week, I need grounding more than ever.

Alright!  A few personal details about my life are in order to set this article up. I'm a busy witch. Over the next few months I have a lot going on. I am helping to organize California WitchCamp which happens in late June. I am presenting at the upcoming Many Gods West conference in late July. In early September I am teaching at Aurora Borealis WitchCamp in Canada and in mid-October I'm teaching/facilitating the Mysteries of Samhain retreat. Woven through all of this are planning meetings, research, magical work and scheduling - endless scheduling. I also have three classes I'm teaching between now and then and I'm one of the folks that is putting Reclaiming's 36th annual Spiral Dance on October 31st.

Now to be clear, I am excited and honoured to be part of each and every one of these projects. This is the work I love to to do and I am so very grateful that I have the time and energy to be part of these great camps, retreats and conferences.

So what about grounding?

Grounding often happens at the beginning of a ritual. The idea being that folks in attendance take a few moments to let go of the day, pack away the mundane for a while and prepare themselves for ritual. At many rituals I've been to, there's something like a "Tree of Life" meditation that is done. You've probably been at a ritual when this is used or you've read about it in a "how to" Pagan book. It goes something like this - 

 "you imagine that you are a tree. Your feet become roots and they make their way down through  layers of soil and rock and water until you come to the center of the Earth. Here you can either  compost what you don't need or draw upon the energy of the star at the center of the planet. Then  you retrace your journey back up and find that your head and your arms have become branches t  that reach up, up, up to the sky above, through the atmosphere and into the vastness of space.  You draw energy and power from this realm and bring it back down to mingle with the Earth  energy and then you are grounded here and now."

As far as a guided meditation or personal excercise is concerned, I think this is a great tool, but does it really help someone become present at a ritual or in the very moment when they look at their work schedule, life schedule, "Holy crap! I have seven things to do and I need to pick up the kids" schedule?

I thought grounding was about me becoming present in the moment. If I'm journeying to the center of the Earth,  I'm not here. If I'm changing my consciousness to become a tree with roots and branches, then I'm not me. So exactly how am I supposed to be present when the part of the ritual designed to bring me here, takes me somewhere else? 

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Effective Grounding

I hold that grounding is something we might want to practice over and over again in all kinds of situations and taking 10 minutes to sink down into the Earth and reach my branches up into the sky might be great once in a while, but it won't work in every space we find ourselves in.

Breathing - In almost every magical and spiritual tradition, breathing is taught as one of the most valuable techniques. When I find myself stressing out about my schedule or the ritual I'm running five minutes late for or the person I'm talking to that is really upsetting me, I can always return to the my breath. One technique I've learned is to inhale for a count of 6 and exhaling for a count of 8. This resets my system quickly and allows me to calm down and focus on what is in front of me, rather than what happened in the past or what is about to happen.

Unhooking - I often use this simple technique to bring myself present and it's pretty fast, which can be tremendously helpful when you need to be here, right quick. I place an imaginary brown paper bag on the floor in front of me. Then I "unhook" the part of me that is thinking about my drive to the ritual and I place it in the bag. I detach the part of me that is holding onto that conversation I had three hours ago. I put those emails I haven't responded to in the bag as well. When I've unhooked everything that I don't need right then and there, I find that I'm present and ready. Later on, if I choose, I can pick up the bag and re-attach anything that is important. Interestingly enough, I often find that once I put those hooked items into the bag, I never have to bring them out again.

Looking Around - By far this is the simplest technique I know for Grounding and the one a lot of folks have troubles with. Ready? Keep your eyes open. Look around at the other ritual participants or at the trees or your four walls. Wherever you find yourself, open your eyes and look at everything. As practice, say "I can see the blue car. I can see the street sign. I can see the trees. I can see the two people on the other side of the circle that have the same colour hair." After a while, practice adding in what you hear and smell. Nothing brings you present and helps you to ground into the moment like paying attention to what is actually happening all around you at that very moment.

 

There are many techniques to grounding and becoming present. What works for you?

 

Notes: The pictures come from Unsplash, a cool new site indeed - https://unsplash.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I've been a practicing witch and ritualist within the Reclaiming Tradition since 2003. I love being in service with this community of witches and world changers.   My own practice, my own way of changing the world is through devotional practice. It's my belief that we can re-enchant our lives by re-framing the so-called "mundane" as sacred and divine. By imbuing the familiar with a sense of wonder and infusing daily life with acts of magic, we choose to consciously make all of life devotion. Whether we engage in large, public rituals or sink sumptuously into the pure ecstasy of eating a delicious meal by ourselves or meditating at sunrise, our daily rituals can draw us back into harmony with the world and each other.  

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