Advanced Grounding Techniques: Coping With Adverse Responses To Ritual By Ivo Domínguez, Jr. - Panpipe Appeared In Green Egg, May/June '97, No. 119 Overview This essay offers a frame of reference for assessment and intervention in cases of unbalanced or abreactive responses to ritual and ceremony. It provides useful pointers and techniques, but does not pretend to be comprehensive. This essay is not a substitute for training. It is written with the assumption that the reader has at least an intermediate level of magickal experience. When To Intervene — Assessments After a powerful ritual it is not uncommon for a significant number of the participants to take some time to fully close down their psychic centers and return to normal. Depending upon the nature of the ritual and the emotional/psychological state of the individual there may be outbursts of energy and/or emotion associated with the ritual. It is important to help those that are having difficulties in returning fully to the here and now. It is equally important that you allow people to complete their own process— which you may interrupt if you drag them back to normal consciousness too quickly. It is important to allow others to have their own experience. Magick, ritual, and ceremony can encourage healing and spiritual evolution. Often healing and growth are not without a certain amount of turmoil and discomfort. It would be more than a shame to help someone get stuck again after having a breakthrough in ritual. So when do you intervene? First make sure that post-ritual, or during if needs be, all the participants are encouraged to ground and center. This gives people an opportunity to take care of themselves first which is preferable for a variety of reasons. Then observe people carefully. A little clumsiness or unsteadiness is normal for many people. Giddiness or tears are also within the range of safety. Pay close attention to anyone who is not taking an active part in normal post-ritual social interaction. Hugs, handshakes, well wishing, and exchanges of kisses of fellowship encourage grounding as well as the integration of the ritual experience into mundane life. If a person is not taking part in these activities it may indicate that they are caught up in their internal emotional process or are so ungrounded as to make these actions difficult. In the case of people that you know, it should be easy to spot behavior that is out of their norm. In an open circle there will be strangers present and assessing them will be more difficult. If people are not participating in post ritual closing activities watch the expression on their face. If you can see that they are actively observing the other people and appear to be taking in the experience, then in all likelihood they are fine. You may wish to check in with them just to make sure they feel included. If a person whom you do not know has a vacant or an odd expression on their face, check with your friends to see if anyone knows the person in question. They may have a sense of what is normal for that person. If there is a problem, a familiar face as part of the intervention is useful. If you can see auras or someone in your group can see auras, then check out the person's energy. There is no real substitute for second sight in making assessments, but your physical senses can tell you quite a bit. Regardless of all other indications, if a person goes from a standing to a sitting position or fails to get up after a ritual you should approach them immediately. Do not create an air of crisis or drama in making the approach, and don't forget to take that stern or serious expression off your face first. The difficulty may be something as commonplace as an aching back or bad knees that need to take their time. If a person tells you that they are fine take them at their word, but keep an eye on them. Sometimes bad responses to ritual take time to fully develop, not unlike a sunburn or an allergic reaction. The person may need help anywhere from ten minutes later to an hour later. Whenever possible get the opinion of another knowledgeable person in your group. You will have just been in ritual yourself and your judgment should be counter-balanced by another's. Even in unmistakably prominent cases or when the person seeks you out it is still important to get a second opinion. If indeed you determine that the person needs some type of magickal assistance, assess their training and background first. If the person is a novice there is a high probability that they merely need to be talked through grounding with perhaps some energy assistance. Often the reaction seems more pronounced because it is a new experience for the individual. If the person is experienced and they are having a difficult time, there is a strong possibility that the situation is more serious. If you determine that the person needs emotional support, ask them what they want. You may offer or be asked to hold them, let them cry, listen to them, etc... Simply be fully focused on them, giving unconditional positive regard, and let them give full expression to their emotions. After a bit it may be appropriate to suggest that you can go to a more comfortable place, and/or to get something to eat or drink. It almost goes without saying that you should ascertain whether or not a medical condition is the primary cause of a person's difficulty. Blood sugar levels and blood pressure, in particular, tend to be strongly affected by some rituals. If in addition to a physical problem, the person is also ungrounded, they may not remember to tell you that they have a medical condition. Ask them directly if they have any medical condition and if they are on any medication. If the person is not able to answer coherently, pull in another person (preferably one with a health care background) and determine whether or not emergency medical help is needed. Remain Calm, Centered, & Clear It is common sense that you need to remain calm, centered, and clear in order to help someone else. It isn't necessarily easy to do so. Severe reactions are rare, but they do happen. Don't become complacent or believe that you are an old hand at these things just because you've seen a few ungrounded people. Severe reactions will always be frightening no matter how often you have seen them. Like most emergency situations, you will not have weathered it before the actual incident. You can somewhat reduce your reaction by desensitizing yourself through visualizations of possible scenarios. Take some time to visualize what it would be like to see someone's eyes roll back into their head. Imagine a person not responding to their name or believing that they are in a different time or place. It is also helpful to have a method to quickly achieve a clear and focused state of being for yourself. Find a relaxation or meditation technique that works for you and do it until it is automatic. Do it until a single word or image is enough to key you into that state of being— emulate Pavlov's dogs. Determining What Is Needed The process of checking in with the person, interpreting your psychic perceptions, and consulting with your colleagues will in most cases lead to a clear course of actions. If you have spiritual beings (patrons, guides, higher self, etc.) that you work with you will wish their input as well. If it is possible for you to connect with the higher self of the person in crisis, all the better. Before beginning make a prayer or an affirmation to the Lady and the Horned One or whatever form of the Divine you recognize. Later in this essay there is a tool chest of methods that are a sampling of possible interventions. Please Don't! The following is a list of common mistakes: • Do not infuse the person with any additional energy. This includes systems such as Reiki that claim to be harmless in all settings. Healing methods, formal or informal, that most people use tend to aggravate severe ritual reactions. In some cases there will be temporary relief purchased with a future cost. • More cooks do spoil the broth! Limit the number of people assisting to no more than three. If a more talented or more experienced person arrives on the scene, yield your space to them after passing on your impressions. • Do not encourage a repeat performance on the part of the ungrounded individual. Do not dote on, hover over, or mother them after the crisis is over. Some people will find the attention they receive in this context to be a strong incentive to be ungrounded again. For some this will be deliberate and for others it will be an unconscious action. In either case if an individual has repeated severe reactions, a serious talk is in order about the risks these circumstances pose to all who are involved. • Don't pass the ungrounded person's energy through your aura. There are times and places when this is appropriate as in healing and in helping others to ground from mild reactions. In the case of severe reactions, the risk of being hurt by such a practice is real. Moreover the helper may become unable to provide further assistance even if they are not hurt. This is risky healing work, and you should take precautions. Note: • Homeopathic or Flower essences remedies are good for stabilizing a person in shock. Rescue Remedy in particular is a good choice. Even people who do not normally respond to homeopathic or flower essence remedies tend to be receptive to their benefits immediately after an energy trauma. However: If more than 3-4 hours have passed since the onset of the reaction, administering these remedies may make matters worse as they will activate layers of the subtle bodies that should be resting. Tool Chest For Bringing Them Back Reviving Aroma- Mix 2 drops of Cedar oil and 2 drops of Ambergris oil in a small glass or ceramic bowl— not metal. Encourage the person to smell the mixture, and to imagine the fertile earth warming beneath the Sun's touch. Do not mix the oils before use as they react with each other during storage in a way that lessens their effect. Summoning Breath- Ask the person to become aware of their breath. Ask them to slow down their breathing. When they have controlled their breathing ask them to exhale all the air from their bodies that they can and to hold on empty for a count of three. Continue slow breathing with holding on empty, increasing the hold on empty to a count of five. This pattern of breathing summons the subtle bodies, drawing them closer to the physical body. Holding on empty helps to synchronize the rhythm of the blood, prana, and cerebrospinal fluid. If the person will not listen and is diving in and out of their body, you may need to hold their nose with your fingers. Energy Shunt- To drain off excess energy without potentially overloading or contaminating your own aura create a thoughtform for just that purpose. Visualize a tube of blue-white energy connecting to the most inflamed part of the persons aura and see the other end of the tube plunging down deep into the earth. The excess energy should flow on its own, drawn by the differences in polarity. If the energy does not flow immediately the person is holding on to it. Ask the person to let the excess drain away. If needed, cause the tube to pulse either by visualization or by manipulating it with your hands. If the energy flow is large you may need to guide the flow with your hands, but don't touch it directly. It Shall Be Naught- In rituals that are more magickal than celebratory (more task oriented than devotional), loose energy and unstable intent can put the wheels of manifestation in motion in unwanted ways. If the person is agitated check in with them to see if they saw something disturbing or had disturbing thoughts. They may not feel comfortable expressing negative thoughts, imagery, or wishes. Gently, without encouraging flights of fear and fancy, suggest to them that they may wish to make an affirmation that their fear will not manifest. Modify your suggestions as needed, but the essence is to stop unwanted manifestations. In addition to blocking the unwanted, reinforce the stated intent of the ritual and ground any stray energy into that intent. Hold Fast- If a person's primary complaint is a sensation of floating or leaping in and out of their body, ask them if they feel relatively well while they are grounding. If they do, then determine how long they can remain grounded and centered before they lose their control or focus. This will tell you how much time you have to work. Ask them to ground, center, and to let you know when they are ready. Place the Pranic Bindrune on the crown of their head using blue-green energy, then place a Quartered Circle on the soles of both feet using yellow ochre colored energy (see fig. 1). The symbols will dissipate on their own but should act as splints until the person's energy balance returns. Stabilizing Them These are techniques that can be used to keep a person here and balanced if they begin to relapse into a reaction. This assistance need not be offered by the same individual(s) that provided the initial intervention. Indeed, in very large rituals it may be a good idea to divide the grounding police into contact and follow-up teams. Pacemaker- If the person's aura and chakras look washed out and they report that they feel exhausted, use this technique. Have the person lay down on their back, or if that isn't possible ask them to sit with their spine straight. Draw energy in through all five fingers of your dominant hand and focus the energy into a sphere using your palm chakra. Hold the sphere of energy over the person's chakra that you would like to affect. Use your palm chakra to adjust the color, frequency, etc. of the sphere. Continue to feed energy in through your fingers to the sphere. Do not feed energy from the sphere to the person's aura or chakras! You are manipulating the energy by resonance— not by direct contact (see fig. 2). The presence of a focused and color specific energy pattern near the weakened chakra will encourage it to resume normal functioning without invasive measures. Whether or not all or just a few of the major chakras will need attention will have to be assessed first. If several chakras are affected work on them in order from root towards crown. The alternative to this technique is Recharging The Etheric Body. Recharging The Etheric Body- Most commonly, the subtle body that receives the greatest stress in adverse reactions to ritual is the Etheric. This is the energy body that lies just above the physical and closely mirrors the physical form. It is this body that is caught in energy clashes and dissonances of the lower and the higher forces during an imbalance. If the person reports that they feel cold, or are still trembling, or lack fine muscle coordination, use this technique. Place a blue or purple fluorite crystal in their dominant hand and an amethyst in their non-dominant hand. Ask them to intone "Oooo, Ohhh, Oooo" in a low rumbling pitch. Check in with them and repeat until they feel better. If you don't have crystals available, have them make these tones while you make the tone "Awww" at as low a pitch as you can. The alternative to this technique is the Pacemaker. Name Chant- This is a two part chant that helps to reaffirm the person's place in the here and now. The name Judy is used in this example. You chant: "Judy, You Are Here. Judy, We Are With You." They chant: "I Am Here. I Am Here. I Am Here". You repeat "Judy, You Are Here. Judy, We Are With You." Chant until the person brings it to a close. Food & Drink- Often people in the throes of a reaction will not have any desire for food and drink. Coax the person into eating or drinking something that is sweet, unless diabetes or other conditions make this inadvisable. As soon as possible after the sweet treat, get the person to eat a small quantity of something rich in protein. High protein food is harder to digest which redirects the person's energy into their body. Moreover, high protein food will help adjust brain chemistry in the direction of normal beta wave consciousness. Less commonly, some people will crave large quantities of sweets (including fruit and other natural sources of fast burning sugars. A small quantity of sugar may be useful, large doses will generate further problems. Chocolate is a good choice for many people— in a small dose. Stronger Measures?- If these suggestions are not sufficient, then serious work is needed that falls outside the scope of a brief essay. Knowing Your Limits Take care of yourself in your role as a helper. When offering assistance make sure that you have made full use of the support and resources available in your fellow magickal workers. If the manner or mode of a person's adverse ritual reaction makes you afraid, disgusted, angry, or in some way presses in on your personal fears or weaknesses, see if someone else is available to handle the matter. There is no shame in knowing your limits, or in pushing beyond them when the need arises. If you do indeed find that you have exceeded your limits because of an urgent need, make sure that you receive support and help once the crisis has passed. Closing Thoughts As the level of magickal expertise and experimentation rises, there will also be an increase in the energy level and unpredictability of rituals. In all likelihood this will result in an increase in the frequency and severity of powerful reactions to ritual. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because often these crises are gateways to development and to spiritual evolution, but only if they are provided a proper environment and context. The information in this essay is based partly on personal experience, partly on anecdotal information, and partly on spiritual guidance. I ask that you record your experiences in using the material from this essay so that over time an element of science can refine our responses to these very special healing crises. A repertoire of specialized healing techniques and protocols will hopefully develop to provide the proper equilibrating force to the rising tide of change in the transitional period we live in.