by Inanna Hazel
"So, what is that, exactly?" is the usual response when I mention anchoring. Like anything else that happens out of the public eye, anchoring tends to be overlooked, and people are often unaware of it. As a result, most don't know what it is or the effect it has. They aren't aware that magic which has the support of anchors is stronger and more focused than that which does not.
Briefly, the mechanics of anchoring are this: after grounding and balancing one's aura (front and back, left and right, top and bottom), and creating a meditative state by calming the mind and breath, one's attention is pulled inside the head and concentrated into one point. Some people use the image of a ball; I use the image of a pinpoint of light. This ball is then dropped through the body; the attention moves down from the skull to the hara. On a physical level, the hara is between the second and third chakras, and is the center of the body. On an energetic level, it is the center of the aura. From this central point, the attention is released and radiates out as a flat disc, parallel to the floor. It's like a CD or record, with the hara at the center.
There we stay, for as long as we can. If you lose the focus needed, or push the disc out too far to maintain it evenly, you just pull everything back in and repeat the process. We often anchor for an hour or two; a daily meditation practice is necessary to build the ability to stay in this state for that long.
The major thing to remember is not to work the ritual energy. The role of anchor does not include shaping or directing. For those of us who like to play with fire, this is a hard thing to bear in mind. But it is important. Running or shaping the energy is far too exhausting.
So what difference does anchoring really make, anyway? If you're not shaping or moving or directing or channeling, why are you there?
There is another name for anchoring — deep witnessing. In this day and age, in this time and place, our souls cry out to be seen, heard, valued. In the predominant culture of this country, which values individual achievement and fulfillment to the exclusion of community achievement and fulfillment, every individual's voice is in competition and we drown in cacaphony. Unheard, unseen, unvalued. And this plays into the hands of a power-over structure which wants us to compete instead of cooperate.
Into this, insert witnesses: people whose sole reason for being there is to hear, see, value. People who have placed themselves deeply into the energy, not to shift it, but to source their witnessing, to activate their senses more fully, to engage their very being in the art of paying attention. In not acting overtly, anchors hold space for others to do what they need to do.
It is not easy or simple work. Listening is hard enough; we do not listen well in this culture. We are trained to be distracted easily. We are too busy thinking about everything else we need to do today to pay much attention to anything. Witnessing is harder still, perhaps because it is perceived as being passive. Deep witnessing is listening on the deepest level possible.
There is power in the role of witness — it is power-with. It is sharing and supporting another's journey, another's being, not attempting to control or to shape. That support, that listening, shifts the energy of any magic of which it is a part, enhancing and clarifying the magic, and honoring each being who is present.
And that makes all the difference in the world. I learned this at Imbolc 1999, the first time I anchored a public ritual. I anchored the second half, as people made their pledges. I settled into the chair, and dropped and opened. I was nervous — it being my first time and all. I was afraid I'd do something wrong. The pledges began, and so did my lesson.
In dropped and open attention, one hears so much more than the words spoken. I sensed something deep, below any level I had reached before. I prayed to Brighde, stating my own pledge for the year, which was to anchor whenever and wherever possible. I told Her of my fear, and asked that She help me to be a witness for Her.
And from out of the floor in front of me, Brighde rose. She moved toward me, looking straight into my eyes, then turned and sat down in me. It is hard to explain what this felt like. I was twice my physical height; the floor came to my waist. My legs felt heavy, encased in the building. My head was as high above the floor as my feet were below it. I saw everyone in the room, as though I was facing all directions at once.
I did not feel that control of my body had been taken from me; I did not release any of it. In all innocence, I had invited Brighde to share my flesh with me, and She had accepted my invitation. Together, we listened to each pledge. With Brighde there, I heard the stories behind each promise - the impetus, the reason, the other choices not made as a result. Very quickly, I realized that I had too much knowledge, more than I should, far more than the speakers would have shared with me, had we been talking over a cup of tea. So I chose to forget; I chose to listen fully, then let go of the face, the voice, the story. I remember almost nothing of what I heard that night.
But I remember what I felt. It was easy to be happy for the ones who were pledging what Brighde asked of them, the choice freely made, the challenge accepted. But there were those who pledged far beyond what She asked, or for something else, and this upset me. I wanted to tell them that they were on the wrong track, that they needed to fix this or that; I wanted to help. "No," was the unequivocal response of the Goddess. "It is not your place, it is not your right, it is none of your business, and you know it. You promised to be My witness. Listen to them; honor each journey, each struggle, each story. That is all I have asked of you; to witness."
It is a wonder that She had the patience to say that as many times as She had to over the course of the evening. I am a slow learner.
And it was a wonder to witness not only the pledges, but the response of the Goddess. Each promise was received with love and tenderness, especially those who were pledging far beyond what they could do. It was as though the words had form and She gathered them in Her hands very gently, and released them into Her heart. The anvil became Her voice, acknowledging and welcoming every promise, every story, every journey.
I saw the power of the deep witness that night, the gift of the anchor. Each person who spoke was heard, and heard fully. In the hearing, each stood true and tall in her or his own power, seen and valued for who she or he is. I learned that shaping big energy cones is not the only form of amazing magic; so, too, is holding space, resting in stillness, and listening on every level of your being.