BASIC, ESSENTIAL SKILLS:
Centering, Grounding, Cleansing, Shielding


© 2006 By Gaia_d@yahoo.com – Please do NOT reproduce without permission.


A. Introduction to the Basic Skills:
These are the essential skills that are crucial for any and all psychic, magickal, or
metaphysical work. They help prepare and *train* the mind, spirit, and body to be able to do what must be done in order to work magick, use psychic skills, or do any metaphysical activity.

Most of us are well aware that our culture tends to denigrate, even deny all psychic
phenomena. Most of us also know that we are EACH, ALL born with gifts which, if developed,
can seem rather "supernatural" to others, but in fact are quite "natural".
It's important to remember that we may each have *different* gifts, but we've all got
them. No matter how "ordinary" you may think you are, you DO have a special gift which only needs to be acknowledged, developed and *worked with*. There are some gifts which may seem more "flashy" or spectacular than others -- but they all have their purpose, and if you find an appropriate "outlet" or use for yours, you will come to appreciate it and recognize its honored place in the Universe, and the reason the Gods have given it to you.

Also, please note that if you do a web search, you can find lots of material on each and all of these Basic Skills.


B. Centering
Centering is a basic psychic skill that (imo) has three aspects:

1. Gathering ones Self together.
We all have several roles that we fulfil daily -- perhaps child, friend, sibling, student, employee, supervisor, citizen, parent, partner, lover, and many others. It's as if there are different "parts" of ourselves in many different areas. Furthermore, every time we "go along to get along" -- fail to speak our truth because it will offend someone or get us into trouble with someone somewhere -- we "give away" a part of
our Truth, a part of our Self.

So the first part of centering involves gathering together all these fragmented,
cast-off or disowned parts of ourselves.

2. Gaining a here-and-now orientation.
Most of us live life fearing the future and regretting the past. But our only point of
power is in the here and now. Thus it is necessary to gain a here-and-now orientation, where our power is. That means taking a kind of "personal inventory" of what you're feeling and experiencing, right now. Boredom? Weariness? Energy? Curiosity? Or....???

3. Connecting with your Essential Self:
The final aspect of centering involves something i've never heard anyone else
speak of, but i think it is very important. The best way i know of explaining this is to use a "Star Trek" story: have we got any Trekkers here? *g* --
[Please note: This story is in a (Fan-Fiction) paper-back book by Sandra Marshak and
Myrna Culbreath.] This is a "Classic" Trek story, with Captain Kirk. In this story, Kirk is captured by the old, evil Klingons (before they get reformed into good Klingons). While they have him, they put him through a terrible machine ominously called "The Mind Sifter". Now, the way the Mind Sifter works is that it goes into your mind and *rips* out any information which is wanted. Unfortunately, it has a nasty side-effect: it leaves the victim permanently and totally insane.

Well, they do this to Kirk and he becomes totally and completley bonkers - Absolutely around the bend. Then, they give him a "post-Mind-Sifter suggestion" that whenever he tries to remember his name, his rank or his ship, he will be seized with horrific agony. Then, to add insult to injury, they drop him off in mid-20th Century Earth. Now, mid-20th Century Earth is NOT a nice place to be if you're totally insane, running around in funny clothes, screaming weird things about "warp drive" and "evil
Klingons". So of course, they lock him away in a Mental hosptial. And mental hospitals
in the mid-20th Century were even LESS fun places to be.

Several months go by, and Kirk of course goes downhill pretty badly. One day, he's sitting in the hospital cafeteria eating the "Mystery Casserole" those places liked to
serve, and a fire alarm accidentally goes off. All the inmates start screaming, banging
their heads, cowering under the tables, ....you know. But Kirk, unlike all the others, stands up, suddenly for the first time in months totally alert, and says calmly, "Red Alert -- i have to get to the bridge!" He begins walking *purposefully* toward the door.

Now, the pretty young Psychologist (and of course, there *has* to be a pretty
young psychologist in this story! *g*) observes this behavior and thinks, "This is totally different behavior for him, perhaps I might just be able to get through to him if i try right now!" So she quickly goes over to him and says, "Quick, tell me your name!"
Kirk replies, "I have to get to the Bridge --" "But tell me your name!" she insists,
and he begins saying, "I'm Captain James T Kirrrrr ---" and he falls down onto the floor,
screaming and contorting in agony.

That's the end of the scene. [I'll tell you that he is eventually rescued by Spock
who goes back in time to rescue him ] – But here's the point:

Imagine, for a moment, that something happened to you, and every way you have
of identifying yourself and who you are, were suddenly taken from you. Gone.
Completely. You no longer know who you are, who you have been, where you have
come from. You know none of your family, friends, etc. EVERY way you have of
identifying yourself is gone. What would remain? You see, *something* would. For Kirk, it was his sense of duty to his ship. I have no idea what it is for you, but some part of YOU does. There is an essential part of each of us, you might call it the "soul" or "inner self" or whatever,
way down deep inside. Most of the time, it lies deep within ourselves, hardly noticed, in
our daily activities. But every once in a while, we "connect" with that deep, essential
TRUTH of ourselves -- we KNOW ourselves for Who and What we truly are, deep within -- that part that follows us through all circumstances, even throughout all lifetimes....
Now, Imagine how worthwhile it would be if we could *connect* with that
essential, inner soul, whenever we wish -- on demand, so to speak. *That*, for me, is
the final aspect of "Centering" -- being able to access that deep, essential inner Self,
whenever we wish.
So, take a moment now to Center yourself. Be quiet, and make sure you won't
be disturbed by a phone or anyone else, for at least 15-30 minutes. Now, GAther
together all the different "parts" of yourself. Take a mental note of your current status: physically, emotionally, intellectually.
If some pesky little thought pops up (and it very well might) just tell yourself you'll
get back to it a bit later, but right now, it's your time to be present with, to and for
yourSelf.
Then, let it all go. Be present with and to yourself.


C. Energy Management & Grounding:

We are beings of energy, swimming in an ocean of energy- We’re like fish -- we’re the last ones to realize that all around us, is energy. Thus, a major aspect of all spiritual, metaphysical work is dealing with Energy: managing, collecting, building, and sending it.

1. Energy & Matter:

Physicists tell us that all matter is energy, albeit in a (temporarily) "frozen”
state, and on its way to becoming energy again.



2. Energy & Metaphysics:
Virtually all magickal work (including spell-craft) involves working with
energy: seeking, sensing, recognizing; gathering and building; maintaining,
managing and directing energy to some purpose. This is one reason why it’s so
important to learn how to work with energy. And one way of doing so is
Grounding.

3. Grounding:
"Grounding" -- Also called “Earthing the power” –learning how to manage
your energy connection to and with the Earth; most particularly, raising and
sending it back down to the Earth -- is one of the most essential, basic and
universal techniques of metaphysics. Power must be "earthed" or grounded every
time it is raised. Otherwise, the force we feel as vitalizing energy can degenerate
into nervous tension and irritability, which in turn can result in various problems –
even illness, if it becomes habitual. Many NewAgers are so far off in the "white
light" that they become notoriously "spacey". They forget that our nearest,
greatest energy resource, and the one with which we resonate best, is the Earth,
Herself.

If you find yourself consistently getting grumpy, tired, antsy, having strange
dreams, etc after ritual or any type of metaphysical work, it's very likely that
Grounding may be the solution.

Many things can help with grounding:
a. - eating or drinking -- this is one reason why many experienced magick users
include a snack or "feast" following ritual;
b. - actually sitting, lying on, or touching the earth
c. - taking a shower or bath;
d. - getting a massage;
e. - physical contact with other people, animals (ie pets) trees, etc;

NOTE: You should Practice grounding until you are able to do it skillfully, easily,
at a moment's notice, and it will help in difficult situations as well as all
metaphysical, mystical or spiritual work.

However, every metaphysician/ mystic should also be well experienced in a
repertoire of various Grounding Exercises of different levels and intensities, which
they can use at any time. Below are just a few.

c. Exercises In Grounding:
Be sure to arrange a time where the circumstances will permit you to be undisturbed,
for at least 20-30 minutes.

1. "The Tree of Life"
-- (From Starhawk's "The Spiral Dance", p 58)
[NOTE: The “Tree of Life” exercise is one of the best-known and loved, and
most used, in modern Wicca and Neo-Paganism.]
Sit down on the ground, if possible, or on the floor, if you can. Center
yourself, and breathe…. Take a deep, cleansing breath….and then exhale. Good.
Settle your body into a comfortable position. Pay attention to your
breathing: its rhythm, its frequency, its depth. Allow it to lengthen out and
deepen……Good.
Take a silent inventory of your emotional and physical state. Just let
yourself notice how you are feeling. If you become aware of anything stressful or
troubling, promise yourself that you'll return to take care of it later. Just now, let
yourself be comfortable and free.
Now beginning at your feet, tense the muscles in your feet for a moment,
and then relax, and let go. Move up to your legs. Tense your calf muscles, hold
for a moment, and then as you exhale, relax and let go. Move up to your thighs.
Tense, hold, then exhale, relax, and let go. Now, you trunk muscles -- tense, then
relax, and let go. Now move up to your chest. Tense your chest muscles, then
relax, and release. Now your arms: tense, hold for a moment, then relax and let go.
Now your shoulders -- tense, hold, then exhale, and release. Now your neck --
tense, hold, and exhale, letting go of all the stress in your neck. Now your head:
tense, then let go.
Good, now imagine that you are like a great tree, with your spine like
a great tree trunk, and you have roots that reach down deep into Mother Earth.
Imagine your roots extending down, into the soil, into the bedrock of the Earth.
Imagine yourself pulling up some of the strength and energy of the earth, up into
your roots, and it travels up into your spine, up and spreading throughout your
entire body – your legs, your arms, and up into your head. And now you have
branches extending up over your head, and this earth energy travels up into your
branches and they bend over, touching the ground, creating a complete energy
circuit.
Spend a few moments enjoying this energy connection with Mother Earth.
2) Alternative: (Here’s an alternative version by Starhawk, for you to experiment
with, when you wish)
"....And as we breathe, remember to sit erect, and as your spine straightens, feel the
energy rising.....(pause) Now imagine that your spine is the trunk of a tree....and
from its base, roots extend deep into the earth...into the center of the earth
Herself....(pause)
And you can draw up power from the earth, with each breath...feel the energy
rising...like sap rising through a tree trunk...And feel the power ruse up your
spine...feel yourself becoming more alive, with each breath... And from the crown
of your head, you have branches that sweep up and back down to touch the
earth...and feel the power burst from the crown of your head....and feel it sweep
through the branches until it touches the earth again...making a circle, a circuit of
energy...returning to its source...(in a group) "and breathing deeply, feel how all
our branches intertwine and the power weaves through them...and dances among
them, like the wind...feel it moving...."
(To end now if you wish)

"Now take a deep breath, and suck in the power, as if you were sucking through a
straw. Feel it travel down your spine, and flow into the earth, with your thanks and
your blessing...Relax and bring yourself fully into this space and time, feeling
refreshed and renewed."

2. "Earthing the Power" (from Starhawk's "Spiral Dance" p 59)
"Now sink to the ground and relax. Place your palms flat on the ground, or lie flat.
Let the power sink thru you into the earth." (Even if you are in a penthouse
apartment, imagine the energy flowing down to the ground) "Relax, and let the
force flow thru you...let it flow deep into the earth, with your thanks and blessings
...where it will be cleansed and renewed. Relax and let yourself drift peacefully."


D. Cleansing and Shielding:

These are essential, especially for anyone with tendencies toward empathy, or who work in the healing or helping professions, or in situations of high stress.

Cleansing may be done in any number of ways:

1. Imagine traveling through a rainbow, from the darker to the lighter bands of color, with each color (psychically, emotionally, spiritually and physically) purifying in a different way.

2. On a rainy and/or windy day -- Stand outside, letting the wind blow through you, the rain pour down on you, imagine it cleansing and purifying you in every way.

3. Take a bath or shower, and while cleaning your body, rmember to cleanse/ purify your mind, psyche and spirit, as well -- Visualize/ imagine with all your senses, any negtivity or stress being washed away, down the drain.

4. Take a ritual bath or shower: you can gather some herbs associated with purification (like lavender, sage, pine, or rosemary) and bundle them together with your washcloth if you wish, rubbing them over your body and visualizing them purifying you.

5. Imagine as thoroughly and in as much detail and depth as possible, experiencing the entire rain cycle: from rain falling into small rivulets, into streams and then rivers, down into the ocean . . . at each stage, imagine yourself experiencing the cleansing and purifying power of Water.

6. Imagine drawing down energy from above (ie, stars, Universe, etc), as well as up from Below (Mother Earth); imagine these two streams of energy joining into a great spiral of cleansing, purifying energy, and then swirling it around yourself, faster and faster, until it bathes away all negativity, any stress, tension, etc;

Then imagine this spiral swirling around you creating a bubble or membrane of protection, all around you -- you can give it any characteristic, any color you might desire: for example, love or friendship - pink, spirituality - purple, intellectual - blue, or silver if you want to repel any negativity that might be sent toward you.

7. You can set up permanent or semi-permanent "wards" around yourself, your home, office, pets, car, or anyone or anything you wish to protect; these should be renewed and strengthened periodically.


E. Visualization & Imaginal Skills:

Imagination is one of the most important elements of witchcraft-magick. A witch
imagines -- as vividly as possible, with *ALL* of his/her senses, not just visual -- whatever s/he wishes to occur, and infuses it with energy-power. And Visualizations are only part of it. "Sensory Evocations" are exercises for increasing ALL the imaginal skills. For each of the physical senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, movement
(kinesthetic) and hearing, there are psychic versions/corrollaries. A witch in training
should be exercising these several times a day. Ultimately, the goal is to be able to so
vividly, thoroughly imagine something that it *becomes* real to you -- and thus *you* make it real in the physical world.

Just as, with physical senses, everyone has different strengths and emphases, so
with these imaginal skills, everyone might have a different ability, or one that works best. That's why some folks have a difficult time visualizing - but they don't need to feel discouraged or left out, they may not be very visual but instead, one of the other senses will be stronger for them.

Remember that each of these is a SKILL -- that means they get better and stronger with practice.

1. Exercises for Sensory Evocation Skills:

a) Visual:
Close your eyes; imagine before you, as vividly as possible, a red circle. "See" it in great detail.
Now, Mentally "erase" that image, and imagine before you a flaming blue
pentagram. See it as clearly, vividly as possible. hold the image for a few moments, then
erase it.
Now see a flickering candle flame.

b) Scent:
Close your eyes.
Imagine the smell of your favorite perfume or scent.
"Erase" that, smell your favorite flower or fruit.
Erase that, and smell gasoline.

c) Touch:
Close your eyes.
Imagine touching the bark of a tree.
Erase that.
Imagine running your fingers through your hair.
Erase that.
Imagine poking a bubble.

d) Hearing:
Imagine hearing someone calling your name. "Erase" that;
Imagine hearing your favorite song, as completely as possible. Erase.
Imagine hearing a bell ringing in the distance. Erase.
Imagine hearing the alarm of a car going off.

e) Taste:
Imagine tasting a dollop of whipped cream.
Erse that image.
Taste your favorite fruit, perfectly ripe and juicy.
Erase that.
Taste a tuna fish sandwich.

f) Kinesthetic (Movement):
Imagine chopping wood: your body going through all of the movements it would take.
Imagine the tenseness, the movement of your body, your arms and shoulders, your hands grasping the ax handle, feel the moment of "crack" and slight rebound and resistence your arms would feel as the ax connects with the wood.....; experience it all as fully and vividly as possible.
Now change the image, and imagine climbing up a flight of stairs – the movement, the
muscles of your thighs, your legs, your ankles and feet, your hands grasping the railing as you climb the stairway....
Now change the image, and imagine doing your favorite sport or exercise -- all of the
elements, all the steps, all the physical movements you would go through.

Now make up your own!

2. Intermediate Scenarios, combining all five:

a) The Lemon:
Close you eyes. Imagine seeing a lemon in front of you. See the pocked bright yellow skin,
the sun shining on part of its rounded surface.
Now bring the lemon up to your nose, and smell its lemony scent.
Squeeze it just a bit, and feel its consistency, its "squishiness".
Imagine rolling the lemon between both hands, ....
Bring it up to your nose again and sniff the lemony scent.
Now take a bite out of the lemon.

b) A Walk on the Beach:
Close your eyes.
Decide to take a walk on the beach in your mind. Imagine, as vividly as possible, with every sense:
Go to your front door, feel the doorknob, turn it, open it and step outside.
Imagine you've stepped onto a beautiful sunny, warm beach.
Look up and down the coastline; what do you see?
Feel the warm sun and the warm sea breeze on your skin, the salty feel of the warm air; smell and taste the salt on your lips.
Hear the surf pounding and the waves flow on the beach, then listen as
it recedes, back into the great ocean. How active is the surf today --
is it gentle and calm, or wild and passionate?

Smell that wonderful, clean salt sea air. Hear the sea birds calling,
see them flying overhead, and feel their momentary shadow as it passes
over you. Bend over and take off your shoes (do you have to untie laces,
pull closures open?)
Feel the warm sand beneath your feet. Now, carrying your shoes, go for
a walk along the edge of the ocean. Which direction will you go, and
why? What do you see off in the distance? Feel the heel of your foot
and then the whole foot, sink into the warm, grainy sand. Feel your leg
muscles tighten, then lengthen out, as you take one step after another.
Listen to the pounding surf and feel the sea spray on your face.
Breathe deeply, that beautiful, fresh sea air. See the white bubbles
on the sand, at the edge of the surf, as the ocean flows in and out, in
and out, like a great rhythm, mimicking the rhythm of your own being,
your own heart.
When you're done, bring yourself slowly, gently back to your front door,
see the door knob and turn it, open your door, and step back into your
house. In your imagination, look around your livingroom -- what do you
see?
Now slowly, Gently Bring yourself back into present time and space, and
when you're ready, open your eyes.
Be sure to record your experiences, thoughts and feelings during this
exercise in your Book of Shadows.

c) Go for a similar imaginal "walk" through a forest, by a mountain stream.

Advanced Creative Exercises:
1. Take yourself to a familiar place you'd like to visit, but haven't
been to in a while. Experience it completely, remember it as vividly
and thoroughly as you can.

2. Imagine some place you've never been to, but would like to visit in
your imagination -- then do so!

Using these skills, you can go anywhere, anytime! You can begin to
create private mind-spaces just for yourself.


TRANCE JOURNEY MUSIC:
There are some excellent music pieces that can help you create fantastic
Trance Journeys -- here are some of my favorites:

Space:
Lange, David. "Return of the Comet".
Constance Demby, "Novas Magnificat"
"Planetary Unfolding".

Earth:
Crutcher, Rusty. "Macchu Picchu Impressions".
Evenson, Dean. "Desert Moon Song"
"Grand Canyon Suite"
Locke, Annie. "Living Earth".

Ocean:
"Dolphin Dreams"
"LifeStreams" by Evenson

Other:
Bearns & Dexter. "Golden Voyage", Vols 1-5.
Richards, Mary. "Angel's Song", "Summer Rose", etc.
Moffat, Karma. "The Way to Khatmandu"
Raphael, "Music to Disappear In".
VAS, "In the Garden of Souls".
Gardner, Kay. "Garden of Ecstasy", "Rainbow Path" etc


I hope that's helpful -- Blessed Be ~ GaiaDianne