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A Brief Note on Grounding Practice

As part of the ongoing quest for discernment in our work, (1) one of the first exercises that I give my students is a duo: centering and grounding. These exercises do a number of things and not only are they one of the first things I teach students, but they’re the focus of their practice (along, of course with prayer and shrine work) for at least the first two years of training. 

Usually, I start with two breathing exercises. They’re easy. They don’t require any particular sensitivity to one’s internal energies, nor do they require the ability to visualize. You breathe in the right patterns and you will automatically center and ground. Eventually I teach a more complicated, mindful way of doing things, and then over those first two years gradually expand on the practice until the student is fully confident in his or her abilities and has a solid level of skills. 

One of the things that came up recently with one of my current students (2) is that centering and grounding aren’t just exercises one does. The scaffolding that is brought to life through these practices is part of the soul-skin, the hame. Like a physical muscle, it has to be used to be strengthened but just like a physical muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. It’s not just breathing or sending internal energy or thought or whatever to a particular place, it’s feeding and nourishing part of the soul-skin, part of the energetic body that is already there. Just as we bring air into the lungs and they inflate, so we send energy down into the root-matrix of our ground to keep it strong and resilient.

It’s easy to neglect these essential exercises if one thinks of them AS exercises only. They’re so much more though and they infuse part of the soul-skin with life and vitality and that adds strength, discernment, and resiliency to our practice. I tell my students to center and ground (3) multiple times throughout the day. One literally cannot do it too much. I’ve even noticed that if my ground is occluded in any significant way, it may hurt to ground – then I know I really need to practice more! Also, sometimes if the ground becomes clogged, I will get headaches or back aches. When I ground, miraculously they disappear (4). Our bodies are conduits for the energies with which we work and even if one is laity, one has a soul skin and can benefit from these very basic practices. Just realize that it’s not just a thing one does, but part of one’s etheric body, part of one’s soul skin and what we are doing when we ground is energize that part, strengthen it, and bring it to life. 

Notes:

  1. These exercises do a number of things, discernment is only the most important. For a spirit-worker, they lay the groundwork (no pun intended) for every single bit of magic or energy work or journey work one will do in one’s working life. They aid in gift-development, and in learning to control one’s sensitivities. You want to function well: fucking ground. 
  2. These students are spiritual not academic – I’m only talking about students that come to me for religious or spiritwork training here.
  3. Or ground and center – the order doesn’t really matter. Cognitively, I find centering first to make more sense but I’ve had students for whom the opposite order works better. Either is fine. 
  4. I am NOT saying every headache or back ache is due to a clogged grounding channel. I get migraines fairly frequently from injuries sustained when I danced. Grounding doesn’t solve these. There is, however, a specific type of headache/back ache that can happen as a result of a blocked ground. This is a particular type of pain and it is cleared up by grounding properly. 

Word of the Year

I got this idea from a genealogy list that I follow (and highly recommend. Check it out here). Instead of making resolutions for the New Year, this genealogist suggests that one choose a word to be a focal point throughout the year. It represents your goals, what you wish to achieve, what you want to be the hub around which everything else revolves for the coming year. I really like this idea. I like having a single touchstone to guide one, a single point to which one can return again and again when chaos and stress threaten to derail one’s endeavors. I also like words. This is a win-win for me and maybe for some of you too.

So, I am choosing two, and may they work together like a pair of interlocking hands, each one supporting and strengthening the other: focus and devotion

I think one thing we upon which we can all agree is that 2020 was a really terrible year for so many people. 2021 has already begun, chaotic and terrifying. I write a lot about how it can be difficult to motivate oneself to begin consistent devotional practices, how we can all grow forgetful or obstinate in our devotions, how sometimes it’s just hard to organize oneself to stay the course. All of that is true (Gods know I’ve been through it all myself). What I don’t talk about as much as I should is that external pressures can be equally problematic, and sometimes more so. It can be very, very easy to fall away from one’s devotional practices, especially when anxieties are running high, especially when we’re busy, especially when we need those devotional practices the most. I also really think that devotion, religion, simple piety are all under attack in our world and that can create a terrible degree of resistance as we struggle to find and maintain our footing in our religious and devotional worlds. The key to countering this is to control the parts that are within our power to control.

Let me offer an example: If I’m having trouble getting up to pray in the morning and I really, really want to do this (or more importantly, I feel that my Deity wants me to do this), well, I can choose to go to bed earlier. (This is, admittedly, a very simple example, but use your imaginations and expand the metaphor). That involves something within my power to change and control. That’s not the case with a lot of external stressors so it can be helpful, I think, to have a by-word or touchstone to guide one along the way. It also gives one a lens through which to focus one’s meditation, which is also helpful. 

My devotion to the Holy Powers is the single most important thing in my life. I want to stay clean there, engaged – fiercely engaged, and focused. I don’t want to allow myself to get carried away on a tide of emotion, of frenetic work, of anxiety, stress, and most of all, I don’t want to fall prey to acedia. I have in the past and it is a terrible thing, a deep, dank pit from which the climb back to the light is hard and painful.  

That’s why my second word is ‘focus.’ I don’t want anything to get in the way of my focus, not only devotionally, but across all avenues of my work. Stress can wear a person out and Gods know the past year has been so, and let’s be honest, when it comes to stress, this year isn’t looking great either. I don’t want any of that to impinge upon my focus. I want these two words: focus and devotion to be emblazoned on my brain as something to strive to, to return to again and again, to cultivate, and hone. It gives me a reminder, something to guide my way back when I wander off my self-chosen path, and I’m curious to see the results. 

Excellence in anything, after all, must be (as Aristotle opined) conciously cultivated. It doesn’t just happen. We have a lot of power and potential to cultivate ourselves, especially in the intangible world of devotion. There are so many ways we can go to our Gods and venerate Them. There are always going to be external stressors that we can’t control. I think it’s important to focus on what we CAN. So, (leaving aside those words, you know which ones I mean lol) what are your words, my readers, for the coming year? 

A Zentangle drawing by Lynn Vaughn Allen — I love word art. I think this is just charming. I don’t know Ms. Allen. Don’t go harassing her now. I just found this image on Pinterest.

A Daily Meditation

Grounded and centered, having offered to the Gods my morning prayers, and having lit incense to the ancestors I sit comfortably and consider the following meditation.

I reach up with my consciousness, through endless boughs of an enormous Tree, and its leaves whisper with secrets. I am one of those secrets being whispered and sung up the gnarled knots of that ancient Tree. It exhales me up beyond the worlds.

We exist within the breath of a God. We ride that breath into being. We exhale that breath back into the mouth of the All Father at the moment of our death. We are tied to everything through His breath and it pulses around us, the steady hand of the storm. I breathe it in down into my crown. I am alive. I am Odin sitting atop Hliðkjalf and I wear the crown of sovereignty. Nothing can separate me from this God. He has knit Himself into my soul.

It is Mani to Whom I reach as I move to my third eye. He is an ancient God and all manner of folly He has seen and dismissed. He forgets nothing and yet He is luminous. I pray that my mind and my heart may be luminous too, that I may rest in the House of the Moon, and may my Sight be always true.

My throat is filled with Loki’s fire. It burns away deceit. It cleanses and renders and because of it I speak true. His is the crucible in which I am ever refined. He hones my courage.

My heart is Sigyn’s hall. She protects and tenderly nourishes all that falls within Her care. She keeps my heart steadfast and the gentle flame of devotion burning within it. I look to Her that my soul might be constant. In such things, She does not yield.

In my gut, the seat of my will, I think on Thor. Mighty Thor with His chariot and gleaming hammer, He fights off pollution. He girds the world against dissolution. He will never be overcome. With Him at my back, I know that I will always be able to align my will with the divine order. Thor will keep me clean, the Holiness He bears will keep me focused.

In my sex lies Freya’s gift, roaring, liquid heat connecting me to life and primal desire. She is Mistress of Sesrumnir and Her blessings are holy. She teaches us to find joy in living. I strive to remember this.

At my root, lie the mysteries of Frigga’s hall. She grounds me in piety and respect, reverence, and power. She is the All-Mother and Her touch makes everything sacred. She roots me deep in the purest iteration of myself and throuh Her all magic flows.

Beneath my feet breathe the bones of the dead. Thousands of generations of ancestors having passed through Hela’s hallowed halls. They walk with me and when necessary lift me up. There is no place I can go where they are not and in times of danger they are an honor guard. With each step I thank them. With each step I am grateful.

In my hands, I feel the echo of worlds. In my right hand I hold fire, in my left hand I hold ice. There is the holy chasm in between. All of creation is within me and I see the moment the Gods willed the worlds into being. I stand with Them then, again and again. I am willed into being too with each and every prayer. I am sustained and my prayers fall like nourishing water from the well of memory upon the Tree. It is sustained too. It is enough.

I reach above me with my right hand drawing power up from the dead and from the living earth and down from the most secret powers of the heavens and it is right and good and I touch my brow and chant:

Til ykkar, Oðinn og Regin,

I touch my belly and intone: rikið.

I touch my right shoulder and intone: krafturinn
My left shoulder: dyrðin

I cross my arms over my heart: nú og að eilífu

I bow my head in reverence: Amen.

And it is done.

Krasskova World Tree copy.jpg

(my photo: “the World Tree”. Do not use without permission).