Updated: Jul 11, 2022
You might have heard of shielding, grounding and centering but have no idea what they mean, how they differ or when and how to use these techniques. I have seen a lot of conflicting information from people who might not know the difference between these terms and use them interchangeably. These techniques are indispensable to anyone who is spiritually awake and used across the spectrum of magickal paths. In this post I am going to attempt to simplify and explain the fundamentals of these techniques in a broad sense. Please be aware that different paths or schools of practice will have their own traditions and ceremonies associated with these and I could never in a million lifetimes cover them all. This post is meant to be a starting point for more research.
Shielding is a group name for a bunch of different techniques to protect your energy from attack by outside forces and influences. It is especially useful to do before casting a spell or accessing deeper layers of the subconscious like you might do for shadow work or astral projecting. There are many different ways to shield and there isn’t one that is more right or better than others. It simply depends on the path you have chosen to follow or what makes sense to you in your solo practice. I draw my techniques from a variety of traditions to create a personal practice that is meaningful and powerful to me. Shielding can apply to your energy field, the space in which you are casting your spell, your home, etc.
The basic steps to shielding are:
1- repelling any negative energy or influences present,
2- creating a barrier to keep these out.
Step one is most commonly done by burning herbs like sage or cedar; sprinkling or diffusing oils associated with protection and that align to your purpose like lavender; playing a variety of musical instruments like bells or drums; chanting or praying; or by meditating and envisioning a field of white light surrounding you, being enfolded by angelic wings, a force field of energy growing outward around you, etc. You can choose to include crystals that dispel negativity into this step if you choose. Some good options include but are not limited to selenite, spirit quartz, rutilated quartz, kyanite, citrine, turquoise, malachite etc.
Step two is creating a perimeter inside which your magickal work can take place undisturbed and without unwanted interference. This is often called casting a circle. If you are shielding your energy field or home you would set up this shield on a permanent basis while if you are casting a circle for magickal work you would generally dismantle it at the end of your ceremony. You can also think of it as erecting an invisible temple in which to practice your craft and tearing it down when you are done. Some traditions do this by simply making certain gestures with a magickal tool like a besom (broom), athame (knife), staff or wand. These gestures can range from highly symbolic to something akin to tracing out a wall or bubble in the air and on the ground. A powerful example is The Lesser Banishing Ritual Of the Pentagram. Some practitioners prefer to use or add physical barriers.
These can be made from a variety of things including:
- Protective plants and herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage, ivy, oak, pine, pothos, spider plants, lavender etc.
- A ring of salt (Bear in mind that salt kills plants and poisons the earth where it is spread for several years so don’t use this in a forest or your garden unless you are confident that you can contain it on a blanket or tarp.)
- A ring of protective crystals such as tourmaline, kyanite, selenite, obsidian, labradorite, bloodstone, hematite, onyx, hypersthene etc.
- A ring of fire in the form of candles, torches, propane lanterns etc.
- Symbols and sigils for protection like runes, pentacle, solar cross, hamsa, triquetra etc.
In indoors spaces you can also use things like mirrors or bells in the windows. If you are blessed enough to have a space you can dedicate solely to casting spells you can leave the circle intact at all times and just refresh the space by burning some sacred herbs, sprinkling oils or whichever other technique you prefer when you are about to use it.
If you are shielding your energy field you can purify it using any of the techniques above but you can also create a ritual bath. You might choose to seal it up with a talisman that you can wear at all times or a sachet or crystal you can carry. Some people even like to tattoo or draw a protection sigil on their bodies. If you use any of these remember that you need to charge them from time to time.
(Click this link to learn more about how to charge your talismans.)
Grounding refers to a series of techniques used to connect to the earth for the purposes of drawing energy and strength from her infinite bounty; channeling excess energy, negativity or unwanted emotions like stress safely away into her to be insulated and neutralized; or both. The simplest technique is taking off your shoes and placing your bare feet on the Earth. It's best to do this in soil or on grass rather than on a man made floor or concrete. Another popular option involves using your mind and simply visualizing this process. I like to imagine myself growing roots where I stand.
Some traditions involve physical motions and gestures to represent a symbolic sinking into the earth. You can also use black crystals to ground by holding them and feeling the weight and imagining that the same gravity exerting force on them is pulling the negative energy out of you and into the ground. I like to use my black crystals as delete buttons when I find myself on a thought loop or anxiety spiral I don’t like. I simply touch the crystal and imagine that it is like a reset button on the computer or a delete button that erases the whole thing. Interestingly there is plenty of science to support the fact that this technique is effective.
Centering refers to the technique of focusing inward on what you feel inside and amplifying the positive. It usually involves a form of meditation and is often done by focusing attention on the chakras. Some traditions also use it to refer anchoring yourself as the center of the universe but I will not be discussing those today.
The seven chakras we commonly use today are as follows:
One way to center is to choose any of these chakras to expand. You can use a crystal that is relevant, play a singing bowl that corresponds to that chakra (or find a prerecorded loop on YouTube or Spotify) and focus on the color of the chakra to strengthen the effects. Sit or lay down somewhere quiet and breathe deeply, slowly and rhythmically. Imagine that with each inhalation you direct the breath into the spinning ball of energy that is that chakra. Imagine the ball growing and gaining force with each breath that feeds it. Feel the color of the chakra glowing brighter until you are fully bathed in its light.
You can continue to imagine it growing until it engulfs your whole room, house, city, country, the world, all of humanity, the universe. This is only one way of centering. If you are in a busy place and need to center you can do so by simply taking a few breaths and envisioning the color of the chakra in question. You can also use a mantra if you choose. It can be something very simple for example if I want to center in the heart chakra I can say something like “I release all grief and fear so that I may become a being of light. I invite love, compassion and humility to fill my being.”
If the chakra system does not make sense or ring true to you, you can look into other centering techniques relevant to your path or simply go with what makes sense or feels right to you. If you feel like when you are anxious tension can physically be felt in your stomach and when you feel happy that sensation causes a tingling in your head then you can focus on breathing tension out of your stomach and breathing fresh energy and joy into your head. Maybe joy is a place to you that exists outside yourself like a meadow filled with flowers and sunlight. If that is the case you can center by imagining that place and feeling the sensations of being there. The most important thing to remember when centering is to look into yourself and honestly examine what you find there without judging yourself for those emotions. Once you can see what is there you can choose to replace anything that doesn’t serve you with something else by focusing on what it is that you want to invite in rather than dwelling on what it is that you want to get rid of.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and found it useful. Please feel free to leave questions in the comments.