While writing my previous article “Learning to Work with Energy in Ritual,” I realized I was taking for granted that folks innately know how and what grounding and centering are, as well as how to get to that state. That’s presumptuous of me. Knowing just where to start is tricky because both are closely intertwined and related to how the magical circle is set up, so I’ll begin there.
In many traditions you cast a circle by compass direction (North, South, East, and West). Some call the elementals (Earth in the North, Air in the East, Fire in the South, Water in the West, and Spirit, being in the center) as a separate process because, while associated with the directions, they can move. I usually combine these steps and simply acknowledge the symbolism. We also acknowledge above and below, because, while we “cast a circle,” we are actually working within a sphere.
To save some confusion when working with pentagrams/pentacles: what was “center” in the circle becomes spirit and it resides at the top point of the elemental pentagram. Its correspondences remain the same, the cauldron, where all things mix and commingle.
With a rudimentary understanding of circle setup and its correspondences with the pentagram, I pose this: Imagine yourself standing with arms outstretched and legs about shoulder-width apart; Each point of the pentacle aligns with your extremities. Your head is Spirit, right arm is Water, right foot is Fire, left foot Earth, left arm Air. Imagine Spirit as an axis that runs from within the ground, up through your center and out through the top of your head. This axis is what connects you to both below and above.
From here we are ready to begin grounding. I begin drawing energy up from below by breathing in through my nose. When I breathe out, that energy swirls around my heart. When I feel I’m rooted, I begin pulling down energy from above by breathing in through my mouth. When I breathe out, I breathe into the heart again. Once I feel I have enough of this energy, I mix that energy with each in and out breath, letting it swirl and mix. I begin pulling energy from both above and below by placing my tongue in the middle of my mouth so I can breathe through both nose and mouth. The energy continues to mix and I then picture it exiting my body through my heart and encompassing me in a sphere of light. You do this until it feels as opaque as you wish it to be. This is the state I consider grounded. The light sphere you created can be used as a shield, but that’s another article.
Centering, to me, puts you in the present moment, in the center of things, as it were. My work has mostly been with the Iron Pentacle (yet another article), but the elemental pentacle energy will flow much the same.
You can experiment with either running energy around the circle (Spirit, Water, Fire, Earth, Air) or through the points (Spirit, Fire, Air, Water, Earth, back to Spirit). I feel more energy through the points. It feels like those energies are mixing more. I envision pulling energy in from above and below as we did before, but this time it mixes in the head (Spirit) and flows down into the right leg (Fire), up to the left arm (Air) across to the right arm (Water) down to left leg (Earth) then back to the head (Spirit). I imagine this energy as lava. I say these points and envision the flow, moving faster and faster each time through. When I feel the energy is right, I seal the circle by running around the points in opposite order (Spirit, Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Spirit). This is the state I consider centered.
This sounds long and complex, and it is much to take in at once, but with practice you can get there in just a few moments. You’ll be surprised at how different things look when you do this. It’s like opening your eyes to a new world, or at least a fresh start on the day.
You can use this in muggle situations too. Ever find yourself stressing or about to explode? Take a few breaths while running this imagery and see if it eases some of that tension.