by Dedicant Hannah and Initiate Akasha
Ground and center. Cleanse yourself and your space. Shield yourself against unwanted or just overwhelming energies. For many of us, these mantras are as ingrained and obvious as "brush your teeth" and "look both ways before crossing the street." But we all started somewhere. And for some people, that somewhere is PantheaCon. Instead of learning to look both ways before crossing the street in a quiet suburb, they're learning in downtown Manhattan.
I remember my first PantheaCon. I had no idea where I was or what I was doing and I was completely overwhelmed. I was lucky enough to be there with a few friends who could teach me the basics of grounding and shielding and who even had some helpful charms to make it easier. Not everyone has such luck or such friends, so we decided to put together basic newbie survival kits for PantheaCon.
Each kit has four ingredients: stones for grounding, a small vial of liquid for cleansing, a charm for shielding, and a small piece of paper that explains how to use them all.
The kits each have two stones: a piece of hematite and some other option. Hematite is well known for its grounding properties, but not every kind of stone works for everyone. The secondary stones range from snowflake obsidian to red jasper to tigerseye to simple river rocks. It is our hope that each person will end up with a kit that includes at least one stone that helps them ground.
The cleansing liquid in the kits also comes in two types, Florida Water and Rosemary water collected at the dark of the moon. Florida Water is increasingly popular in folk charms for a number of things, especially those related to cleansing, but some people have scent issues that may make Florida Water more harmful than helpful.
The shielding charms are small leather charms dyed a variety of colors and inscribed with the rune Algiz. Algiz, also known as Elhaz, is one of the Elder Futhark runes and its literal meaning is "elk" (or "moose," depending on whom you ask). While it has several symbolic meanings, the most prominent and most used is protection. Algiz is used in both historical and modern bindrunes for protection and is a powerful protective symbol on its own.
The instructions within the kits explain, in very simple terms, how the three items are to be used. Hold onto one of the stones and concentrate on it for grounding when you're feeling lightheaded or overwhelmed. Sprinkle a small amount of the liquid on yourself for cleansing after a ritual or at the end of the day. Keep the charm on your person, in a pocket or on a necklace, for shielding.
The feedback we've gotten about this year's kits has been overwhelmingly positive. I saw a person I gave a kit to earlier holding onto the grounding stones for dear life during an intense ritual. A story was passed on to me about a young woman who used her kit to help cleanse her friends as well as herself. I hope that these kits can form the starting point for a full set of ritual tools for some of the people who receive them.
While these kits won't solve a person's every energetic and spiritual problem, we hope that they can make PantheaCon a little bit easier and safer for at least a few overwhelmed newbies. We plan to continue handing out the kits next year, and perhaps expand them to include other useful safety advice such as "leave if you feel uncomfortable" and "remember to eat."