What does ‘grounding’ mean? A community roundtable

Image credit: The Spirit Stock Network

In the world of tarot, we hear a lot about ‘grounding’.

Grounding ourselves before a ritual or a reading. Getting grounded before or during a challenging situation. Being grounded in the present moment.

But what does it actually mean, and what does it look like in practice?

Personally, I feel like I have a clear sense of a longer-term idea of grounding. Like, I know how it feels to be grounded in my life, connected to place, home or community. For me, there’s a sense of purpose and belonging in this. It’s connected to a feeling of solid ground beneath my feet – metaphorically as much as literally – and a sense of having sturdy foundations, something to build upon, something that ‘holds’ me.  (I also know how it feels not to be grounded.)

But I struggle with the more ‘in the moment’ idea of grounding, which is the type we’re talking about here. Sure, I take a moment to breathe, focus, calm myself before a reading. Sometimes I imagine my bare feet pushing into the earth like tree-roots, and sometimes I lie on the ground and feel the strength and age and weight and energy of the whole world supporting me… but honestly? I’m never sure if I’m ‘doing it right’, or if what I’m feeling is ‘grounded’ at all.

So, I asked you guys!

In last week’s newsletter, I asked what ‘grounding’ means to you, and also, on a practical level, how you enact it. You responded with all sorts of ideas, including tools for dealing with anxiety, visualisations, ideas about connection and our place in the universe. And some folks showed a lot of vulnerability in sharing these ideas. Huge thanks to all who took part.

Here are some of your responses. I hope you’ll find something here to help and inspire you! Like everything shared on this website, please help yourself to the ideas that resonate for you, and leave what doesn’t.


Sarah Faith Gottesdiener

For me, grounding is being in my body. Truly feeling into it, with breath. Being grounded is calling my energy back, in the morning and evening.

It is tightening up my energy field when I’m in the world, loosening it up when I’m in my own space and around those I love. Practicing boundaries. Realizing what is mine energetically/emotionally, and what is not. Releasing what is not mine—including old energy that IS/WAS mine. I ground by meditating, practicing being corded and connected to the earth energetically, and practicing mindfulness. I also express gratitude for nature and the earth. Trying to consume more mindfully. Run my life in a less wasteful way. Compost. Be very mindful of what I am putting on others energetically and emotionally, and practicing energetic hygiene.

Helpful practical and magical tools for this are: walking/exercising, taking care of my body through hydration and food, salt, tourmaline, crocodile jasper, kyanite, smoky quartz, nettle, and rosemary.


Avis

This morning I pulled the Star card from Shadowscapes Tarot as my card of the day. I sat down with a cup of coffee and the card and started journalling and thinking about what I wanted to do on my Sunday; thinking about writing this email to you about grounding, and then realized that (of course!) it was all connected.

In the ways of magic that I understand and practice, there is a central channel that runs through each person. It comes from the universe, from spirit, and it runs through us into the ground, into mother earth. It is a two way current and the source of all that is, and grounding to me means coming back into that center line and being nourished by that/those source/s.

In practice this is what I do – I call myself in by physically rubbing my hands together, saying my name, and calling my energy back that may have drifted off from all dimensions, all directions, all time and space. Another way of doing this calling in can be to sit in a meditative state and slowly bring awareness to every part of your body, starting with the crown and working all the way down through each part of you. Once I’m all there and present, I bring my awareness to my feet, and begin to grow my roots down, through the top soil of the earth, down through all the layers of stone and sediment, down to that living core at the center of the earth, and there I lock my roots in to that heat, that energy source. I bring my awareness back up into my body and strongly feel the connection to that center line running through me, from the source of the earth, her nourishment and warmth, up through my crown and into the heavens – that other source of psychic, spiritual energy.

The Star card from Shadowscapes shows a person treading lightly on water, below which swim golden koi fish. The golden line starts with them and runs up through the pale trim of their garments, to turn in to swirls of aether coming from the crown, dissolving into pale starlight up near the top of the card. The older sets of tarot cards traditionally show a woman with one foot in water and one on land, connecting the spiritual to the psychical. We are each one of us always that connection, and I believe that grounding is remembering that, acknowledging that, and feeling that.

I think it’s recommended so often because for one thing it feeds your physical and spiritual soul, and for another it’s protective. When you’re fully present, standing in your full power, less energies or spirits can mess with you. For yet another, it’s neutralizing. When I send my roots “down” I’m also consciously visualizing sending my energy down, and when I feel myself connect to the source of the earth I consciously “pull” that energy back up through the channel. I usually am standing when I do all of this, and sometimes when I feel like I need to go further with this “clearing” of energy I bend down, breath in deep and actually move my hands and arms (palms facing up) upwards as I straighten to “pull” up the energy, and when I breath out I move my hands and arms (palm down) downward as I bend again, visualizing sending my energy down. I’ll do this for however many breaths feels right. The energy of the earth is neutralizing, and can help in provide an energetic “reset” similar to the way smudging can.


Shiloh Hodges

Some days I have few to no spoons and it’s hard to get by. On those days and really most days, I use this flowchart:

Also, remembering very practical science-witchy things:

  • Humans are mostly empty space. (So none of those emails and deadlines really matter anyway.)
  • You are a community of billions of microorganisms. (So you are a collective voice. You’re never alone.)
  • Wherever you step, there is real earth holding you.  I like to take slow steps and imagine the earth underneath my shoes and the floor and the concrete…

Jools

Grounding. I’d be a fraud if I spoke about this from the perspective of being good at doing it. Ha ha, I have my Moon in Aries!

Before you can ground, you have to step back, step out of whatever situation is firing off and find the stillness at the centre of yourself. This is hard, especially if you are feeling strong emotions, i.e.: fear or anger or worry. (I can explain, in depth, a lot of the methods used to attain this central point of stillness, but it deviates from your question.)

So, presuming you have reached your centre, you have then reached a reservoir of energy, which, if you tap into it correctly, can get you through anything.

Know this. Trust this. And from this central point channel down from your mind, your worry or fear or anger or dread, into your centre and down through your legs, out through the soles of your feet and deep into the ground beneath you.

Spread the energy out, like the roots of a tree. Change the polarity of the energy as you move it downwards, from a negative force that impeded you into a positive force that will protect you.

Work through your heart, not your head. Don’t think this, feel it. 

Feel the union of yourself with our Great Mother Earth as she welcomes the golden life force roots of her child home. Trust your energy is joined, as you ground, to the mighty energy of Our Great Mother and that you are united with her as you go forth and face whatever awaits you.

That’s it.

Image credit: The Spirit Stock Network

Betsy Housten

I feel most physically grounded when I close my eyes, put my hands on my cat, and feel her breathe and purr. Something about that tangible contact with a small animal, who embodies unconditional love and loyalty and lives with simplicity and gentleness, just pulls me out of my head and helps me take a deep cleansing inhale, every single time. Whatever’s going on that feels dramatic or stressful takes a back seat to that moment, and then afterward it can’t occupy my brainspace as much. There are a lot of things in my life that sustain me in a number of ways, but my number one immediate grounding practice is sitting with this sweet kitty. People with pets probably already do some version of this, and those without don’t necessarily have access to one (or want to), but I wanted to share anyway.


Alex Smith

Seeking a Reset and an Energy Refresher with Grounding:

These days I don’t do as much work as I would like. Life has been taking up more and more of my time focusing on my family, juggling writing and finding clients, and dealing with the day-to-day nonsense thrown my way. Thankfully, meditation and grounding have helped tons.

Especially when I feel I’m being snapped back to reality, when I feel worn out, and realize that I have really exhausted my own energy stores. Grounding reminds me that I’m not alone. The importance of taking the time out, to quiet my mind, center myself, and focus on energies larger than myself returns my sense of peace.

If some would like to think of the human being as an organic machine, connected to the universe, and natural world around, grounding is that much-needed hard reset for our CPU. After dealing with some major life lessons that presented themselves, (which I had not been confronting for ages,) in the form of battling treachery from insiders and outsider, and other ugly human emotions, (all the while trying not to drown in it… ) grounding has become an even more necessary and appreciated practice.


Rachel

I’m not an expert by any means, but I do find the practice to be really calming when my anxiety starts to get unmanageable here’s one thing I do to help myself manage it:

When I can, I dim the lights and I sit either on the floor or in my chair (I use this at my office a lot).  If I’m in my chair I like to have both feet fully planted on the floor.  If you’ve got the option and you can go outside to somewhere green and growing with grass or moss under your feet this is EVEN better.

I close my eyes and I take a few deep breaths, in and out and just let myself be where I am.  I try to relax my muscles and pay attention to where I’m holding tension in my body and try to consciously release it.  Sometimes I’m better at that than other times, but it’s okay, even if I’m tense this grounding still helps.  Next I image the energy of the earth deep under my feet, and I imagine it coming up from the earth and moving into me through my feet.  I often times see it in my mind as a kind of green growing light, like little seedlings coming up through the earth.  Sometimes I imagine it as gentle vines with soft leaves curling around me.  Never constricting or confining though.  I draw that energy up into my body and just let it flood through me, like I’m a vessel and it’s filling me like water.

I sort of have two ways that I let my tension go, sometimes I feel like it just drips out of me as the earth energy rises and I can feel it running down my fingers and down into the earth where it grounds out and can’t hurt anyone else.  Other times the earth energy has to literally push it loose and I feel it peel back from my chest, like I’m stepping out of a shed skin.  I’m pretty sure he exact visualization isn’t nearly as important as the energy exchange.  I let the strength and calm and safe-ness of Earth energy up into me and let the anxiety and other stuff I don’t need just go.  I imagine it grounding out in the earth around me and becoming like fertilizer, that cast off shell of energy helping plants to grow. I really like that feeling that the energy that was hurting me can be transformed into something good once I can let it go.


Alison

As a double Taurus (Sun and Moon), I find that I’m naturally grounded. It’s not really something I have to work at, I just ‘am’.  The only grounding ritual I go through  before doing tarot readings or astrological consultations involves creating the right atmosphere – and for this particular Taurus that means comfortable and pleasant light (so as not to put people off), incense, flowers on the altar…making sure the room’s at a good temperature…. just thinking about what would be nice, and then making it happen is extraordinarily grounding, I find.

I’ve spent a lot of time helping to run workshops over the years. The person I work with most is all Air and Fire – no Earth in his chart whatsoever. So I provide the Earth (and Water; I have that too). I don’t know exactly ‘how’ I do it – again, I think it comes so naturally I’m not even aware of it – but time and time again workshop participants have commented on (and thanked me for) my ability to ‘hold space’, to provide the grounding for the group that enables them to do whatever work they need to do.

Of course, there will be times when my ‘natural grounding’ isn’t enough – when an event or situation knocks me off kilter.  In those instances, any visualisation that starts off with my feet being rooted in the earth, feeling a connection right down to the core of the Earth, helps me return to that grounded state.


Nels

Grounding is a personal thing to me, simple but important. I tend to choose a deck before I do a reading and just shuffle it off and on for a few hours. I keep it on my desk while I’m doing other things. I just try to touch the deck often to connect it with the me I am at the moment.

Before I do the actual reading, whether it’s a bigger reading or just a single-draw, I ask my guiding question out loud a few times, focus my breathing, and then draw. I do not shuffle a set number of times or draw at a certain time of day. It’s more about the periodic connections in the few hours before.


Diana

Groundedness is a quiet settledness; it is humility in the face of forces larger than I am; it is trusting that whatever happens next is the right thing to happen.

I was recently given a visualization exercise that I’ve expanded to generate a more grounded feeling. This is especially useful for those who incorporate crystals into their practices:

Sit in a comfortable, self-supported position, preferably on the ground with a cushion, but a chair is fine too. Breathe into each part of you that is connected to the floor — feet, ankles, sit bones, the fleshy cushion of your tush. Imagine each of these points melding with the earth beneath you, transforming into crystalline roots. As you continue to breathe, visualize each root growing upwards, coming together at the base of your spine. You are now growing a crystal within you; your breath and intention allows the crystal to travel further up your spine. As the tip of the crystal touches each of your chakras, feel that area of your body resonate. Once the crystal is mature, the point sitting just above your skull, visualize the entire crystal gently pulsing with light, all the way from the roots below you to the tip above you. This crystal was already there, before you started; this crystal will remain after you have exited your meditation; this crystal is a beautiful talisman of your connection to the earth, traveling with you wherever you go.

When I lose groundedness and can’t sit in meditation (I’m at work, or on the train, or etc.), I tend to turn towards the iChing app on my phone (it’s the Brian Browne Walker one, in case you’re interested). Without fail, the advice it gives takes me a bit closer to that crystal core, calming whatever heart-storm I may have been in.


Helen also sent a link to her own blog, where she posted this thoughtful post on grounding, in response to last week’s question. This post is filled with helpful ideas – well worth a read.

Over to you! If you’ve a grounding technique or practice you’d like to share, please add it in the comments below.

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6 comments

  1. la galesa says:

    I’ve been looking forward to reading these responses since your bits & bobs newsletter! There are some really interesting themes in these responses – ideas of grounding as something sensory and earth-rooted, all beautiful and resonant.

    As I’ve been learning tarot, I’ve started incorporating part of my druid practice into my approach to the cards. At the start of every ritual, we always take three breaths: one with the earth, one with the air, one with the water.

    Before every reading, to ground and centre myself, I take a moment to feel myself in my body, and feel my body in the space, on the earth, held by its gravity. I take one deep breath with the earth. Then I tilt my face upwards, feel the air on my skin, in my nostrils, in my lungs, and extend my awareness out to the vastness of sky and space above. I take one deep breath with the air. Finally, I bring my attention to the flow of waters through my body; I reach out in my mind to the river flowing through this valley (or the nearest familiar source of water) and feel its connection to the seas that surround us all, and I take one deep breath with the waters.

    Finally, I strike a match, and light a candle, for fire. It is strange moving from a three-element ritual structure to a four-element system of symbolism, but somehow it works :)

  2. Avis says:

    Love all these responses so much! It’s so fascinating to see the differences and similarities and has definitely enriched my ideas of grounding :)

  3. Renara says:

    I ground to Air and Water, rather than to Earth. I let the breeze blow over me and whisk away any energies I wish to release, dissipating it so it doesn’t affect anyone else. Or I visualize standing on a beach with the waves lapping at my feet, pulling away any energies I wish to release, again diluting and dissipating them so they don’t affect anyone else.

    I deal with chronic illness and my worst symptom is fatigue. Grounding to Earth always left me feeling more drained and fatigued, rather than better. Then I read an article about grounding to the other elements and it really resonated with me. I also take 3 slow, deep breaths to calm and refocus my mind.

  4. I like to dance to ground myself after first smudging with palo santo or sage. The dancing brings me back into my body in a light and delightful way allowing me to have fun with myself and in myself instead of feeling held down or heavy by everything going on in my life. The right music is important and I change this each day. Then, after I have danced myself solid and fluid and physically comfortable, I do some slow yoga, making the practice deeply meditative and spiritual. And after that, I meditate and ground through my feet with chords. I guess that’s a bit like grounding to different elements, each practice/process having a different grounding energy attached.

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