Needing one, I invented her - the great-great-aunt dark as hickory called Shining-Leaf, or Drifting-Cloud or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.
Dear aunt, I'd call into the leaves, and she'd rise up, like an old log in a pool, and whisper in a language only the two of us knew the word that meant follow,
and we'd travel cheerful as birds out of the dusty town and into the trees where she would change us both into something quicker - two foxes with black feet, two snakes green as ribbons, two shimmering fish - and all day we'd travel.
At day's end she'd leave me back at my own door with the rest of my family, who were kind, but solid as wood and rarely wandered. While she, old twist of feathers and birch bark, would walk in circles wide as rain and then float back
scattering the rags of twilight on fluttering moth wings;
or she'd slouch from the barn like a gray opossum;
or she'd hang in the milky moonlight burning like a medallion,
this bone dream, this friend I had to have, this old woman made out of leaves.
Though often linked together in practice, grounding and centering your mystical energies are two separate processes. . . . "Grounding" is one of those energy words taken from technology -- in this case, electricity. To an electrician, to ground (or "earth") a current is to direct it into the ground, where it can then dissipate harmlessly. The [E]arth can absorb and dissipate a great amount of electrical energy. Thus, electrical wiring is typically grounded so that a short circuit (a flow of electricity heading somewhere where it's not supposed to go) will be redirected harmlessly into the [E]arth. Lightning rods work the same way. . . . [E]nergy workers [who] use the word ["]grounding["] . . . mean more or less the same thing -- taking excess energy or energy that is heading somewhere it isn't supposed to go and diverting it into the [E]arth.
* * *
Centering is a function of attention. All energy-working systems seem to agree that energy follows attention. . . . Centering, therefore, is moving your attention inside yourself, to your center. . . . When you center yourself, you are shifting energy to create a stable center of balance within yourself.
~ Phaedra & Isaac Bonewits in Real Energy.
Grounding and centering are "basic" practices of the Witch. Wicca 101. And, yet, the longer I practice, the more I find that I focus quite a bit on grounding and centering, both during my "daily practice" time and throughout the day.
[M]any Christian folk seem to me to be living largely disenchanted lives. Perhaps it's all the dogma, the rather stale services, and the general heaviness of establishment religion that closes so many people to mystery and wonder. Pagans, on the other hand, are radically alert to the magic of life, the planet and everything around them. They use symbol and ritual in such a way that connects powerfully with the human soul and makes sense not just to the mind, but to the heart and imagination, also.
Well, I'm no expert, and I've been surprised before, but, oddly, in all the years that I've been a Witch, I've never heard of this ancient Pagan holiday.
On the longest day of the year, when the sun barley dips below the horizon, the Danish come out in droves to celebrate the ancient pagan holiday known as The Burning Of The Witch. This year, Copenhagen's skateboarding ambassador, Rune Glifberg, teamed up with Volcom and Thrasher magazine to produce a contest in the spirit of this most ancient of annual rituals. Massive bonfires were set ablaze on the shores of Copenhagen as skaters began to eyeball the contest's double set.
If this were the "Burn the Jew" holiday, celebrated on a Jewish high holy day, or the "burn the Moslem" holiday celebrated on an Islamic high holy day, I doubt it would be considered quite as cute.
Also, minus points for failing to capitalize "Pagan".
Real magick is not merely an assortment of skills and techniques. It's more like an open minded attitude, a blend of interest and dedication, which allows each honest mage to observe, to learn, to adapt, and to invent unique new ways of changing identity and reality from within. Are you willing to learn from yourself?
The actual job of seeing a tree spirit is both simple and difficult. Speaking with the tree is sound practice, as it will amplify your experience and bring you closer in touch with it. Perhaps the tree spirit won't understand your words. It is certain to understand your mood and attitude. A feeling of genuine sympathy is the best possible link. In a sense this rite is as much an act of love as all evocation is: one comes to communicate with an aspect of the universe [of which] one was previously unconscious, and this act of communication is an act of union.
~Jan Fries in Visual Magick
The more that I focus on being "the witch of this place," the bigger the part of my practice devoted to grounding, to entwining my roots with all the roots that fill up the space just beneath the surface of my land. How does your own landbase influence your magic? If not, why not?
Holy Mother, has there ever been a more perfect Litha day? Here in the nation's capital, it's sunny and hot, but not too muggy, and there's a lovely gentle breeze doing the most loving dance with all the leaves. The fae are still lingering from last night, just as the magic of good company still lingers on my porch. The daisies, day lilies, thyme, and basil are all abloom and my deck is a constant visiting place for robins, morning doves, blue jays, cardinals, hairy woodpeckers, and an occasional chipmunk. What a change from Yule, when my wonderful circle of amazing women couldn't get together due to a freakishly large blizzard, I couldn't even open the door to get out and feed the birds, and all the plants were buried under feet and feet of snow.
Litha is, when we live our lives in tune with the seasons, the time to appreciate how well our lives are going. What we planted at Ostara and Beltane should now be in bloom, and, of course, I don't mean "just" our herbs and flowers. If we've planted a regular daily practice, it is beginning to flower. If we've planted good works, kindness, and love, we'll be reaping those fruits.
If we're not happy with what we've got, there's still time for a mid-course correction between now and, say, Mabon, Samhein, Yule. As the days diminish, what needs to diminish in your life? As the nights grow long, what part of the mystery do you need to cultivate? What do you want to water? What should wither away in the late-Summer heat? How will you accept responsibility?
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."