We often put on special gear to protect us when we engage in certain activities. Aprons, overalls, gloves, hard hats, and goggles, for example, protect our clothes and our bodies, and minimize the risk of getting something on us or getting hurt. When we’re done, we take it all off and clean up.
When we work magick, we also need to gear up and clean up. There are physical safety measure that we sometimes need to take, but this article is about protecting yourself energetically.
When we are in a devotional space, in prayer or ritual, or working magick, we open up and allow ourselves to be vulnerable in order to connect more deeply with the gods, the spirits, the land, etc. Beginners may struggle with opening up, but after a while, it’s closing those doors that becomes more challenging. That’s why it’s important to develop a few important skills early: grounding, centreing, shielding, and cleansing.
Grounding and Centreing
Grounding and centreing are two different processes, but they are often discussed together. They basically involve visualization and meditation exercises to help you relax, feel connected, and focused on yourself.
Basic grounding techniques involve closing your eyes, taking some deep breaths, and visualizing some kind of connection with the earth, the sun, or moon, etc. A popular and beautiful visualization is to feel roots extend from the soles of your feet deep into the earth and branches from your arms reaching towards the sky. You can pull energy from one end, send it through your body, and release it at the other end. It’s a great technique whether you feel depleted and need extra energy or whether you need to release excess energy, or simply enjoy the connection to the earth (or sun or moon) through that current.
While grounding is about this link to the earth or other source of power, centreing is about getting in touch with yourself and locating that little place inside where your true and whole self lives. If you believe in the immanent divine, this is where it resides.
Finding your centre can be tricky. I suggest quieting down and listening to your body. Where do sense that your energy emanates from? When you raise energy, does it feel like it’s coming from a particular part of your body? What part of your body feels like a repository of energy? It might be your head, your heart, or maybe your gut.
Grounding and centreing are useful not only during magickal work, but any time you are feeling stress, anxiety, or just scattered.
Shielding is your safety suit, a protective energy barrier around you. Shielding is often viewed as magickal defense. While I’ve never been concerned about what people magickally throw my way, psychic, mental, and magickal attacks are a concern for some Witches and so I think this aspect of shielding is worth mentioning.
Another approach is to look at shielding like an apron, something that keeps the dirt off of your body. If you’re dusting, you might get some dust on your clothes. Shielding prevents the energetic dust from getting on you. It’s also useful when you’re entering a space with a lot of energy and you don’t want to get swept up in it.
Shielding is a basic skill in magickal work and an easy one to develop. The basic technique is to visualize yourself enveloped in some kind of energy container. Some people visualize something like an egg or a bubble surrounding them. You can visualize it as being deflective or even reflective to bounce the negativity back to its sender. I prefer to filter it into the earth to be neutralized.
If you’re the kind of person who is often affected by the emotions of others or feels exhausted after encounters with certain people, shielding can help you stay energized.
Ritual purification is a feature of many religions and the aim is often to remove defined uncleanliness prior to a type of activity such as the workship of a deity. Different religions have different ideas about what consitutues uncleanliness. Examples include menstruation and disease. In Wicca, we’re not especially concerned about ritual pollution. We may cleanse prior to our rituals as a way to release worries that may hinder us during our work or to help shift our consciousness. We may have other reasons for ritual cleansing based on other polytheistic practices we may engage in. I advocate ritual cleansing as part of magickal hygiene. No matter how good our shields are, we can’t keep those up every moment of every day. Just as we inadvertently get dirt on our clothes, we can also pick up magickal dirt. Routine cleansing is refreshing. It just feels good.
There are many techniques for spiritual cleansing. A bath or a shower will do nicely. Make it special with herbs, salts, candles, or a dedicated wash. In South Florida, we love cleansing with the Florida Water, a popular cologne water. You pour a little in your hands and use it to rub the negative or dirty energy off and away from your body starting from your head down to your toes. You could also use salt water or go for a dip in the sea or river. Smudging is another popular cleansing method. Light white sage or an appropriate incense and fan the smoke around your body. Or try this spiritual cleansing method using an egg.
Remember that visualization is important to all these processes. Your ability to hold a fully realized form in your mind is a prerequisite to materializing an authentic new experience.