If you've done even basic energetic or ritual work, you're probably familiar with the practice of grounding. Grounding allows excess psychic energy to be released and re-establishes contact with the physical body. It's especially important after energy transfers, trance work, and group rituals.
While beginners often disdain grounding practices as un-magickal, experienced workers know that it's an essential part of healthy, sustainable psychic work. Neglecting to ground properly most often results in a mildly unpleasant "spaced-out" feeling. But it can also lead to loss of appetite, entity attachments, fatigue, and other more serious side effects.
Grounding works best and feels best when it's done in a controlled, deliberate manner. Most practiced Witches can ground themselves with simple visualization and Will. But there are times when you may need to ground in a hurry--like when confronted with an overwhelming amount of energy, or when your normal visualizations just aren't working to get you back inside your skin. There also may be times, at group rituals, for instance, when you need to help a less experienced person to ground.
Here's a "cheat sheet" of grounding shortcuts, roughly arranged from most gentle to most jarring:
1. Touch yourself.
(No, not like that.) Light touch reminds you of the edges of your physical body. It is a very easy and effective way to start the grounding process. Rub your arms and torso with your palms, pat your hair, and pull gently on your fingers, lightly clap your hands together. When working energy with a partner, you can take turns doing this for each other.
2. Look in a mirror.
Like touch, looking in a mirror reminds you who and where you are. Try brushing your hair and touching or washing your face and hands. The morning ritual of grooming is an especially good way to come "back to Earth" after a night of active dreaming.
3. Hug a tree.
With roots buried in the soil, trees have a role in many, many grounding meditations. If you can find an actual tree, then you have a willing helper in your grounding efforts. (At least, I hope it's willing, because it can't go anywhere!) Trees have a natural energetic flow through their roots, branches and leaves. Place your chest or back (or the palms of your hands) against the trunk of the tree and breathe deeply. The tree's energetic channels will catch up your excess energy and send it earthward and skyward, without any effort at all on your part.
4. Eat something.
Have a few sips of juice or nibble on some bread. The act of digestion helps restore the body to its natural physical functions. Go slow and don't choke: Trance states tend to suppress the swallowing reflex. (If you've ever seen someone drooling while in trance--well now, you know why.)
In my experience, psychic work usually diminishes the appetite--but the opposite can happen as well. If intense hunger strikes as you're grounding, pace yourself. It won't help to replace an energy rush with a carb rush. Later, a full meal will help you ground completely.
Of course, alcohol isn't suitable for everyone (or allowed in all traditions), but it's very effective way to ground quickly. Alcohol slows down the body's rate of vibration and gently closes the psychic centers. It's no coincidence that rituals all over the world--from Catholic Mass to business negotiations--end with a sip or two of the strong stuff.
6. Wrap up in a blanket.
Grounding too quickly can result in sudden, unpleasant chills (or even mild shock). There's also an icky "skinless" feeling that comes from being too psychically open when you don't want to be. Covering your entire body helps in both cases. A warm blanket or shawl will ward off shivers, and give you a sense of enclosure until your auric shield is back to normal.
Place a pinch of salt on your tongue. Salt represents the element of Earth and is very useful for grounding quickly--hence its place on many Wiccan altars. Strongly sour and bitter foods have a similar effect.
8. Iron. (Yuck!)
I learned this one from a Feri Witch who kept an iron nail on his altar to ground with after trance journeys. (I later adopted an iron railroad spike for my own toolkit.) Iron is especially effective for Fey-natured practitioners, but it works on everyone.
Iron resonates with the blood and is one of the most strongly protective and Earth-y substances on the planet. Grabbing an iron bar, or putting on a necklace of iron will slam the door on any open energetic connections and ground you in a hurry. It's unpleasant and should be reserved for when other methods aren't working. If the touch of raw iron is too much, you might want to work instead with an iron-containing gemstone Hematite, Red Jasper, or Carnelian.
9. Cold water. (Double yuck!)
Yep, freezing water will bring you back real fast! A priestess friend tells the tale of a "trance diva" in her grove, who once earned a bucket of ice water over the head for her recurring post-ritual fits. I don't actually recommend grounding anyone with the full dunk--at least, not if you ever want to work with them again. A few friendly sprinkles on the hands and face ought to be enough.
I hope you've found this helpful! Please feel free to share you favorite grounding "tricks" in the comments, and check out our other articles.