Tag Archives: Grounding

Grounding: A Foundational Practice for Witches

We Witches spend a lot of time talking about grounding. And it’s certainly a huge part of my own practice. When I ground, I spend time getting in touch with, getting into right relationship with, the roots of the plants that surround me and the mycelia that connect all of those roots to each other.

But what IS ground?

David Whyte has one good answer.

Ground is what lies beneath our feet. It is the place where we already stand; a state of recognition, the place or the circumstances to which we belong whether we wish to or not. It is what holds and supports us, but also what we do not want to be true; it is what challenges us, physically or psychologically, irrespective of our abstract needs. It is the living, underlying foundation that tells us where we are, what season it is[,] and what is about to happen. To come to ground is to find a home in circumstances and to face the truth, no matter how difficult that truth may be; to come to ground is to begin to step into difficulty and through all difficulty.
From the Forthcoming Essay “Ground”
© David Whyte

He’s not wrong.

What is your ground?

The Oldest Flowering Plant in North America

Lately, my daily practice is more and more a matter of getting grounded enough to learn from the mycellium that connect everything in my little Bit of Earth.

(Random mourners at the funeral: “You can’t deny, she was an intelligent woman, a successful lawyer, very well-respected in her field. Imagine her dying out in that back woodland and no one finding her for days! They said her hands, and mouth, and lungs were full of soil!

Accumulated a nice nest egg, owned her home, paid her taxes, always voted, bought cookies from the girl scouts, donated to the local library, did a lot of pro bono work, and brought bundles of herbs and baskets of muffins when new neighbors moved in.

Too bad she went so crazy in the end, imagining she could talk to the fungi attached to tree roots or some such! Just think! She spent her evenings thinking that she was “talking” to fungi and that they were the Earth’s brain cells! They say she died happy, though. Wonder who’ll get her Hermes collection.”

“Well I heard she fancied herself a Witch. It was a rather extensive collection, wasn’t it?”)

One thing that I’ve learned is that mycellium value very highly the ability to communicate/carry information between not only, say, my two Japanese Temple Pines, but also between, for example, the Temple Pines and the Bracken’s Brown Magnolias, and the White Oak, and the Daisy Gardenia shrubs, and the, well, you get the idea. And the soil keeps shifting and the plants keep shifting and the mycellium that connect the plant communities of the Eastern MidAtlantic to the plant communities on the other side of the Appalachians are very important. Information, for them, is material; it’s cells, and microbes, and droplets of sugar water, and it’s also concentrated sunshine, and it’s also the way that the stars were formed. They’ve/It’s been doing this for a long, long time. The planet didn’t just get connected when someone developed the internet. (Some say that mycellium are “sentient,” which, duh, of course they are, and that they know when you are present. After you walk, “the very ground leaps up” to absorb the nutrients you’ve left behind. Of course it does. And that makes walking a holy act. Maybe that’s one reason why I love to go outside barefoot.)

And, so, I was delighted today to read this story about one of America’s oldest flowering plants. I wonder about the mycellium that connected its roots to those of its neighbors. The article says that:

There’s also a much more recent history of this fossil that’s just as fascinating. Jud[, the student who wrote about the fossil,] did a bit of research and found that it’d been excavated in 1971 by a former Smithsonian curator, Leo Hickey, who went on to Yale and died in February before working with Jud to re-analyze the fossil after all these years. Hickey had found it during a dig at the Dutch Gap, in Virginia, in sediments that were exposed over a century earlier, by freed slaves who were forcibly taken from the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony by Union troops and forced to dig a canal in August 1864.

While digging, they exposed ancient fossil-filled rocks, and a few decades later, in the 1870s and 1880s, scientists worked there to collect fossils and create some of the Smithsonian’s first fossil collections. Later, Hickey and other researchers returned to collect remaining specimens.

Jud honored this recent history in naming the ancient species that this specimen represents. “Potomac refers to the Potomac Group beds where the fossil was found, capnos is a reference to living poppies that are quite similar to the fossil and apeleutheron is the Greek word for freedmen,” he says. “So the new plant will be named Potomacapnos apeleutheron: roughly, ‘freedmen’s poppy of the Potomac.’”

I love that. I want to go see the site in my state where this earliest flowering plant was found. I want to pour a blot for the Freedmen for whom this Potomac poppy was named and for the likely-still-extant mycellium that talked to its roots. Maybe they’ll talk to me.

What’s the gossip in your landbase?

Blessings of the Harvest Moon


Spent 12 hours doing work that I feel privileged to get to do. Now, I need to go ground under the light of the Full Harvest Moon. May it be so for you.

To come to ground is to find a home in circumstances and to face the truth, no matter how difficult that truth may be; to come to ground is to begin the courageous conversation, to step into difficulty and by taking that first step, begin the movement through all difficulties at the same time, to find the support and foundation that has been beneath our feet all along, a place to step onto, a place on which to stand and a place from which to step.

~ David Whyte

Picture found here.

Grounding with Fungi

The other day, Beth Owl’s Daughter, posted this amazing video:

I was struck by the role that fungi play in connecting trees and other plants. Fungi hunt for nutrients next to the roots of forest trees and the exchange that they enable, meters away from the trunk of the tree, provides for communication and a sharing of resources, even between species. I love the description of the process as similar to brain networks comprised of neurons where the neurons are related not only physically, but also metaphysically due to the manner in which they send messages back and forth and build upon each other.

I come back almost daily to a question that Sia Vogel gave as a gift: What Are Witches For? There’s, to paraphrase the Cowboy Junkies, more than one answer to that question, pointing me in a crooked line, but, for this Witch, the primary answer is that I am here to be in right relationship with and to my landbase and then to act upon that relationship. That’s a big assignment, but I work at it in little chunks.

A significant portion of my work involves really, seriously grounding here, into this ground, this specific Bit of Earth that surrounds my little cottage near the Potomac. I don’t mean the sort of generic grounding that we all do at a public ritual, at the home of a sister-Witch whom we’re visiting to perform a group spell, at an office, or courtroom, or car dealer when we need to work some instant magic. I mean running my roots into the soil that I’ve worked, and fed, and weeded, and handled for years and years. The soil fed with compost from the meals that I’ve cooked to share with friends. The soil that I worship with my bare feet in the Summer and that I rake free of leaves each Autumn. The soil upon which I stretch out to perform the Iron Pentacle.

I mean letting my roots re-establish connection with the roots of the ancient oaks that have grown here since America was young, with the giant magnolias that Landscape Guy and I planted and nursed along the Southern border of my woodland garden, with the lavender and sage blooming just now in the herb bed. I mean letting my roots play with the worms, and chipmunks, ants, and armadillidium vulgare that live in the ground.

Lately, I’m seeing if I can get fungii from the oaks, maples, magnolias, cryptomeria, lilacs, and calycanthus floridus to play with my roots, as well. After all, I want, in Joanna Colbert’s words, to be in on the gossip of my landbase.

What is your grounding practice like? What are you a Witch for?

(And of course, it is both synchronicity and lagniappe that the forester in the video concludes her discussion by invoking the metaphor of an ancient tree performing a “a passing of the wand.”)

Breathe. Ground. Return to Center. Be here now.


Took a little field trip today with Landscape Guy.

When he tells me, “I’ve got something you need to see,” he’s always right.

Grounding: Magickal Practices

In comments to my recent post on Grounding, Seeker from Aus says:

I’ll admit that I have never had any kind of instruction in this field, every god, goddess, spirit, other-being and their pet knows that I have had no instruction. But thats never stopped me from trying to ground anyways; unfortunately I think it is something that I need to get instruction in (unlike other things where I have been in a similar situation) because I have attempted to ground using a number of different techniques and I’ve never had the kinds of experiences that people such as yourself have had.

That’s an important observation and I’m grateful to Seeker from Aus for making it. I have a few thoughts in response.

First, grounding, like so many other spiritual and/or magickal practices, is a different experience for every practitioner. The important thing isn’t to have the “right” experience or the experience that someone else describes. The important thing is to show up, be present, and do it. Attachment to a particular result is usually counterproductive.

Second, grounding, at least in my experience, is the kind of practice that needs to be done regularly and for some time before the experience begins to deepen. It’s been helpful to my practice to do it in the same place for an extended period of time. The first (dozens, if not more) times that I did it, I was simply visualizing and imagining as fully as I could. It took time to know what I was doing. It took time for my roots to get “good” at it.

Third, the experience of dealing with plant roots in my garden as I weed, transplant, plant seedlings, has really helped my own practice of grounding. I don’t know if I would help everyone, but, if you have a bit of Earth or even some indoor pots, I really recommend it.

Finally, not everybody is equally able at every practice. I have never “seen” an aura. I’ve had instruction, taken classes, (stand there; look at this person up against a white wall; squint; soften your gaze; see, it’s about here; do you see a difference?) tried and tried. I’ve never seen an aura. I can feel auras with the palms of my hands, but not see them with my eyes. And so, if even after effort, time, instruction (if you can find it), etc. you’re still feeling that you can’t ground, that’s OK, too.

What’s important is to have a way to connect yourself to the energies of the Earth during magical workings and to have a daily practice that allows you to be in relationship with your landbase. For you, it may be hugging or sitting near a tree. It may be holding crystals in your hands or placing them on your chakras.

What works for you? How did you learn to ground?

Grounding in Autumn: What a Witch Does

This time of year, here in the magickal MidAtlantic, most of the plants and trees have begun to seriously slow down in preparation for Winter. Some of our animals (squirrels, I’m looking at you) are almost manic, unning around, eating, and storing all the calories they can find, again in preparation for Winter. Other animals are migrating; my few remaining flowers are magnets for the butterflies heading south.

One of the Witch’s most basic practices is grounding. There are variations on the practice, but I ground by sending my etheric roots deep into Mother Earth. I spend a lot of time pulling weeds and I like to really look at roots when I do that. Many Witches imagine one deep tap root kind of root running from their bodies to Mother Earth. But my roots are more weedy. In addition to the tap root, lots of hairy smaller roots run into the acidic clay of my Bit of Earth here in northern Virginia. I’ve been grounding here, into this dirt, for almost a decade. And that has changed my grounding practice, as I think it should.

If it is true, as I think that it is, that to be a Witch is to be in deep relationship with your own landbase, your own watershed, your own foodshed, then the land should change your grounding practice over time. Any long-term relationship causes us to change, grow, adapt. And, so, when my roots slip into Mama Gaia, they encounter, and are glad to find, and twine around the roots of my particular oak, and magnolia, and cryptomeria trees. They re-enter into the physical space inhabited by the roots of the herbs in my herb bed, of the toad lilies just now blooming in the woodland garden, of the drancunculus vulgaris that are, even now, multiplying at the side of the shed. They slide gently past the chipmunk’s burrow, past worms sifting through the detritus of decaying mulch, past bacteria and fungi and molds. And that’s a different experience for me than the one that I have when I ground at my office, many floors above the marshy ground in Washington, D.C. or when I ground in an unfamiliar location.

I also find that the changing seasons change my experience of grounding. My roots find something different when they slip into ground that’s hard as iron due to Winter’s chill or when they move into Summery, sun-warmed soil. And they experience something different in here, in Autumn, when the trees and plants are preparing to slow all the way down for Winter, when the animals are on the move, either to store up food or to head down South where there will be warmer weather and more food.

Does location impact your experience of grounding? Do the seasons impact it? What helps you to ground?

Picture found here.

And, It Makes for Good Magic Work