Although a lot of people look upon the terms “grounding” and “centering” as one in the same, in truth they are two very different things that are often used in conjunction together.
Centering, which is usually done first (although not always), is about drawing in your chaotic energy. Imagine your energy as a sphere that surrounds you. When you are feeling chaotic, distracted, scattered, etc, the particles of energy in this sphere are agitated and disorganized.
In centering, you are taking these particles of your energy and drawing them from the sphere and in closer to yourself, even into yourself. Drawing these energies in, they condense and calm, ceasing their agitation and disorganized behavior. This is called Centering. It is bringing your energy “to center” in order to “piece yourself together” and calm your energy into a state of solid stability.
Grounding is usually done after centering, although some people do them simultaneously (or only do one or another depending on what works for them). Grounding is taking that stability within you and connecting it to “an anchor”. There are lots of things you can use as an anchor, but in my case it is always very literally… the ground.
Grounding helps preserve the centering that has been done, giving the stability found in the centering a more solid and long-lasting quality. It can also be used to help release excess energy that can build up when one is dealing with things like nervousness or anxiety, or otherwise balance out one’s energies.
My go-to way of grounding is through rooting. This is when you allow yourself to connect through your feet (or other part of your body touching the ground) and imagine your energy creating roots that dig down into the earth and spread beneath you. These energy roots create an anchor that helps cement stability in place, and allows a give-and-take of energy with the earth to level out any excess or depletion taking place.
I center and ground many, many times a day. It is a habit that takes a few second at a time, or can take a few minutes if done consciously and with intention for a stronger effect.
In spellcraft, these techniques are especially important as they are used to help condense and prepare your energy for use and direction. Casting a spell without centering and grounding would be like shooting an arrow out of a bow with the feathers loose. The energy (arrow) may get where its going, but it sheds a good deal of energy along the way (the feathers) making the spell less effective,
By centering and grounding first, you are essentially securing those feathers to the arrow (creating fletching) so that when the arrow flies, there is no loss of energy along the way and the arrow’s accuracy is greatly increased. Thus, your intention and energy in the spell is not wasted and flies true as well.
This is why you will find in the large majority of witchcrafting communities, when people ask why a spell didn’t work or why it went awry, the first question usually posed by those with experience is “Did you center and ground first?”