by P.S., A.N., an Elder Apprentice
Ground, Center and Shield as Magical Tools
I came to the study of magic late, as I started two weeks after my 60th birthday, and thus I take up some tools that are entirely new to me, while I am given new names or new purposes for others tools that I have wielded for many years. “Ground, Center, and Shield”: that precise combination of words was new. But I had studied Aikido, where the rubric “Relax Completely, Weight Underside, Keep One Point, Extend Ki” was a guide to both that martial art and to how to move through daily life with strength and peace. Zen meditation seemed to have similar concepts with its emphasis on Hara, that is the Tan Tien at center of my body as the key to developing an imperturbable dynamic centering of my mind and body. However, when I began to Ground, Center and Shield, regardless of the similarities with practices from other paths I have walked, I was doing these three basic preparatory acts as bits of magic that prepared me to practice further magic. When I allowed “Ground, Center and Shield” to become magical tools to enlarge and protect my daily life, the very fact that I was using these magical tools as part of my mundane life sets an intent that my entire life is to be experienced as a magical act.
Why do I Ground, Center and Shield?
For me what is unique to magic is that it is a conscious and reciprocal dialog between myself in ‘all my parts’ and the innumerable conscious beings who inhabit our multilayered and multifaceted Universe. When I perform magic, the goal is not simply changing my own consciousness; I am asking the participation of other personalities — asking members of a conscious universe to respond and to take action, that is to change themselves at my request and bidding. Yet these beings, even the seeming simplest and benign, have a personality. They have their own agency and will, their own desires, and their own agendas. They may have needs, flaws and weakness that I am not aware of; they are not human, and I do not yet speak their native languages.
Additionally the magical relationship is reciprocal, and those I contact are free to respond or not. They may have significantly more power than me, and there is no reason to assume, especially on a first meeting, that their response will be helpful, truthful, or friendly. They are fully entitled and capable of asking that I change in response to our interaction. Their ways of asking could be gentle, beautiful, affirming or safe, or they could be ferocious, terrifying, completely inscrutable or dangerous. I will be the only one who can decide if their request is in my interest, appropriate to accept, or if it is not. I may be asked questions of incredible value, or offered life-changing opportunities, but the offer may be made or the question asked only once and never again. Furthermore, I cannot enter the magical world using my mundane thoughts and feelings. Unless I can listen fully, see clearly and feel intensely I will simply miss what I came for, be unable to accomplish my magical goal, and be unable to bring back any treasures into my own world.
Given that I am entering into a foreign, enticing and exciting, yet possibly dangerous place, I had better start any magic as well prepared as possible. I need to have a strong foundation; I need to know in my body, mind and heart why I am entering these realms; I need to know my boundaries, what and where they are. And I want to have all this while being alert, flexible and accepting of coming wonders, joy, and love to be found in meeting and working with the enumerable conscious others who inhabit our worlds. For me Ground, Center and Shield is the necessary preparatory magic that allows all this to happen.
What do these three magical acts accomplish?
Ground – I develop connection with the Earth as the foundation of my being and source of limitless Mana. Grounding allows me connect with the Earth, as she becomes my dynamically flexible and firm foundation. At the same time I can release my thoughts, fears, and even my hopes into her infinite depths thus clearing me for the magic to come. The Earth’s ground of infinite potential cradles me in her strength and stability.
Center – Being firmly and flexibly rooted in the womb of the ground, I can open myself to the conscious energies that surround me. In that awareness I concentrate them to focus my awareness of myself. I understand why I am about to enter on the action at hand. There is so much Mana, no limit to it, and as I concentrate it in my center I begin to convert that potential into will and prepare to mobilize for action and witness, able to receive and give, from a place of quiet and calm alertness.
Shield – From the feeling of self-knowledge contracted in my center, I expand and reach out my consciousness so that I am able to be aware and to meet the Others’ consciousness. Sensing and setting the boundaries of my body and consciousness in the magical realm I can meet the Other with confidence. I can speak and move with power, and I can listen and receive while alert, open, and safe.
How do I Ground, Center, and Shield?
Here are the basic techniques I use in my practices. The rituals emerged from my teacher’s guidance, instruction from books especially Hawai’ian Mysticism and T. Thorn Coyle’s Evolutionary Witchcraft, and my own intuition.
I prefer to do my magical work standing so these suggestions are described as being performed while standing up. They can also be done while sitting:
Ground – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart in a relaxed but upright posture, arms held in any position that is comfortable. Your legs become strong roots growing into the earth. Feel them growing through the soil, into bedrock. Feel these roots extending down through the Earth’s many layers. Your roots reach the Earth’s center, her core furnace of infinite energy and power, a churning spectrum of all colors. Feel the Earth’s power become yours as fiery sap rises and enters your legs and energizes your entire body with a comfortable but powerful glow, starting in your legs, then flowing to hips, torso arms and head.
The Earth will gladly accept any fears, tensions, doubts or worries, what ever it is that you need to release. She has so much Mana and willingly takes that which you release as a your gift to her. The flow, both upward and downwards, between your body and the Earth core becomes a cycle and it is complete. Your strong foundation comes from the Earth’s core of infinite Mana – Stand with strength, stability, flexibility, power, and love.
Center – Just above your head you see, and feel a golden globe of energy. It is about the size of a softball or small melon. It is bright, it might feel warm, or perhaps not, but the brightness is strong and comfortable as is your sense of that sphere’s power. Begin to slowly lower the sphere of light, down the back of your skull and down your spine. As you lower the Globe, it passes behind each Chakra and it energizes each one, the Eye of Your True Vision, the Throat of Your True Speech, The Heart of Your Beauty, The Core of Your True Will, passing The Center of Your True Strength just below your navel, you bring the Gold Sphere to rest in nest of your pelvis just above The Root of Your Being. Let the Sphere rest. Perhaps you tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor just a bit to let the Globe rest in its perfect place with its glow and warmth in your center.
Shield – Let the Gold Sphere expand. Feel it grow, as fast or a slow as you need it to. As the Globe grows; its energy surrounds your body. How big does the Sphere need to be? A few feet around or as large as the solar system? What do you need? What color is it now? What color do you need it to be?
In your Sphere you are able to receive and give freely. You are safe. Your awareness is wide and relaxed; eyes soft, ears relaxed, nose open, body alert but soft, you know your will see what you need to need to see, hear what you need hear, smell what you need to smell, and feel what you need to feel without any strain or false focus.
You are ready.