We often put on special gear to protect us when we engage in certain activities. Aprons, overalls, gloves, hard hats, and goggles help protect our clothes and our bodies. When we’re done, we take it all off and clean up. We also need to gear up and clean up when we work magick.
When we are in prayer, ritual, or working magick, we open ourselves to the divine. Closing those doors is as important and sometimes more challenging than opening them. That’s why learning how to ground, center, shield, and cleanse early on is important.
Ground and center
Grounding and centering are two different processes often discussed together. They involve visualisation and meditation exercises to help you relax, connect, and focus.
Basic grounding techniques involve breathing and visualising a connection to the earth. A popular visualisation is to imagine roots growing from the soles of your feet deep into the earth. Your arms become branches reaching to the sky. You can pull energy from one end, send it through your body, and release it at the other end. It’s a good technique for when you’re feeling zapped of energy and need a pick-me-up. You can also try it when you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to release extra energy. Or do it to cultivate a connection with the earth (or sun or moon). For best results, ground outside.
Grounding is about finding balancing your energy and connecting with the Earth. Centering is about connecting with the place inside where your true and whole self lives. If you believe in the immanent divine, this is where it resides.
Finding your center can be tricky. You need to quiet down and listen to your body. Where do you sense that your energy emanates from? When you raise energy, does it feel like it’s coming from a particular part of your body? What part of your body feels like a repository of energy? It might be your head, your heart, or your gut.
Grounding and centering are useful any time you are feeling unbalanced.
A shield is a protective energy barrier around you. Like a hazmat suit, it keeps you clean and protected from external dangers and debris. It can also be a container for keeping things in.
Shielding can be protective or defensive, or both. It is a basic, magickal skill that is important to develop. The basic technique is to visualise yourself in some kind of energy container. Some people visualise something like an egg or a bubble surrounding them. You can build it to be neutralising, deflective, or reflective. Bounce someone’s negative energy right back at them.
If you’re a sensitive person that is easily drained in social situations, shielding can help you remain energised.
Ritual purification is a feature of many religions. The aim is often to remove defined uncleanliness before an activity such as the worship of a deity. Different religions have different ideas about what makes up uncleanliness. Examples include menstruation and disease. In Wicca, we’re not too concerned about ritual pollution. We may cleanse before to our rituals as a way to release anxieties or to help shift our consciousness. There may be other reasons for ritual cleansing based on other polytheistic traditions. I advocate ritual cleansing as part of magickal hygiene. No matter how good our shields are, we can’t keep them up every moment of every day. Just as we get dirt on our clothes, we can also pick up magickal dirt. Routine cleansing is refreshing and feels good.
There are many techniques for spiritual cleansing. A bath or a shower will do. Make it special with herbs, salts, candles, or a specialised wash. In South Florida, we love cleansing with Florida Water, a popular cologne water. Pour a little into your hands, rub the negative or dirty energy off and away from your body, from your head down to your toes. You could also use salt water or go for a dip in the sea or river. Smudging is another popular cleansing method. Light white sage or an appropriate incense and fan the smoke around your body.
Remember that intention and visualisation are important to these processes. Your ability to hold a fully realised form in your mind is a prerequisite to materialising an authentic new experience.