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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in daily practice

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
One Minute at the Altar

Last week I realized that yet again I'd set my standards for my daily practice too high. I couldn't sit at my altar without lighting the candles; I couldn't light the candles if the candles were burned out; I couldn't buy paraffin candles, I had to make my own out of beeswax; I couldn't make my own candles because the kitchen was a mess. This is what happens when you have high hopes and two small children. You sit around wishing you were doing spiritual work while they empty every drawer in the house for the fun of it.

I'm proud to say that I did end up making my own candles, but the compromise was that I did it in the filthy kitchen. If I'd taken the time to clean the kitchen beforehand, you see, then that would have taken up all my candlemaking time, and the next time I went to make candles, it would be filthy again. When I took my new candles to the altar, I thought, "But I can't light them without cleaning the altar off first. And cleansing the space! And refreshing the offerings! And performing invocations!" No, I told myself. I found that I had to give myself permission to do things imperfectly. I let myself cleanse the space. Then I lit the candles and annointed my Cernunnos statue. And that was it.

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  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Thanks for this! I appreciated it today, while feeling overwhelmed by a chain of to-dos.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
You, Your God, and a Stick of Incense

You, your god, and a stick of incense.

That's all that you need to get a daily observance in place.

And—believe me—if you don't have a daily observance going, you need to start one stat. Every good garden requires regular cultivation. What would you think of a friend who only comes to you when she needs something?

Stand before an image of your heart-god.

(I'm using the word “god” inclusively here.) This can be a statue, a picture, or an aniconic symbol.

Stand, don't sit. (Sitting is passive, and this needs to be an act of active engagement.) Think of it as standing to attention. Think of it as rising when someone important enters the room.

Light the incense.

"The offering," they say, "bears the prayer." Actually, coals and a grain or two of quality natural incense would be best, but you can't beat the ease of stick incense. Here, as always in pagan ritual, the offering is the go-between, the mediator.

Be in the presence of your god.

What you do next is up to you. If you pray, pray. If you know a hymn, sing it. If you'd rather stand silently in rapt contemplation, do that. If a state of no-mind better suits you, that's fine. (Silent time with a friend is sometimes the most intimate time of all.) Always, you should be listening for the voice of the god.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Pagans Do

Do you know the punishment for cutting down a sacred tree?

Did you know that, at a sacrifice, it's proper at the moment of the killing for women present to cry out?

Do you know why one should always end a funeral with a ring-dance around the grave?

Neither did I.

But now I do, and you will too, once you've read Ken Dowden's European Paganism: The Realities of Cult from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Gratitude Turkey

Way back when I was a teenager, we’d often have Thanksgiving dinner with my Aunt Darla and her family.  Poor Aunt Darla.  She tried very hard to make us all come together like a “normal” family, which often ended up as a weak and awkward parody of whatever it was that “normal” families did.  I remember that during dinner she’d make us, one by one, share with the group what we were most thankful for.  I hated doing this because I really just wanted to shovel potatoes into my mouth and eventually get to the pie.  Even as a kid I found this “tradition” to be a bit forced and artificial.  Also I thought I was totally too-cool-for-school to be genuine and vulnerable, and in front of my family, too!  Ew!  (Plus I just knew my cousins would tease me later, regardless of what I said.)

Well, nearly two decades later and my aunt would be pleased to know that at least one of her weird tradition stuck with me.  The awkward vulnerability of thankfulness lives on!  In the spirit of Aunt Darla I spent the past two weeks forcing (okay, politely and therapeutically suggesting) that the kids I work with create lists of the things they thankful for this year.  Even the kids who are usually “too cool for school” (relatable) seemed to enjoy this project, and it was a lot of fun to learn about what these children value and why.  Being thankful for Mom and Dad came as no surprise to me.  Siblings and school were items I never would have thought to include on my own list but often showed up for my clients.  Food and Star Wars, however, are both something my clients and I are consistently thankful for.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Seasons & Reasons

 

We live in private worlds mostly of our own creation, and though you may take that metaphorically or metaphysically, in this case I mean the physical conditions around us. I would wager that most of you that are reading this blog live in homes where you have the power of day and night by clicking the lights on or off. You, or someone associated with your home, probably controls the seasons of your home through heating and/or air-conditioning. Water comes to you through a faucet, and the roof keeps the storms at bay. If you so choose, and you have the coin to pay with, the fruits and vegetables of almost any climate and season can be brought to your plate. Unless you are in dire straits or have chosen an ascetic life, these domestic powers are generally taken for granted. Not that long ago in the grand scheme of things, they would have been seen as marvels to be only found in Fairyland or in a wizard’s keep. All magick has a cost, even the very tame magic that is brought about by wires, plumbing, and pistons. Although it is true that our creature comforts have economic, political, and ecological costs, it is one of the costs to our psyche that this blog will explore.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Fierce, Sweet, Wise

Mercury retrograde is a time for introspection and examination. This MR, I decided to take this to heart, and experiment with deepening my practice. I know that sounds hoity toity and whatnot, but in reality what it means to me is that I’m looking at how to deal with my PTSD and how it affects my practice. Symptoms come and go, but when it’s bad, I have avoidance symptoms, particularly emotional numbing. If you’re unfamiliar with the terms, avoidance symptoms are the mind’s way of avoiding the emotions involved in the trauma; emotional numbing is exactly what it sounds like; you feel distance, not happy, not sad, just…nothing. It’s not “meh” either, because it’s not indifferent, unless you’d count “well I haven’t engaged in self-mutilation, that’s good, right?” as meh. Mild depression might be a better descriptor.

I have bouts of this off and on, some more severe than others. December 2014 was bad; I had two major deaths in the family that year. My grandmother I expected, because her dementia had been worsening for several years. My father – he had PTSD himself, and he disappeared a year before he died, so there was no goodbye, there was just him, gone who knows where, a stranger on the phone telling me that they had my Daddy at the morgue. So vacillating between depression, mourning, and emotional numbing is how I spent my holidays. Not that it was all bad – Loki’s been very patient with me. For all that people talk about Him, chaos, blah blah, He is a God Who understands grief. I get the impression that sometimes people think if you’re involved with a Deity that your life will be perfect and you’ll never have any problems. No one’s life is problem-free, and being involved with a God does mean that I have better tools to deal with my issues than I’d have on my own. I’m grateful for that.

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  • Catherine Miles
    Catherine Miles says #
    This is so perfect and spot on. Thank you so much for sharing it. You have given me hope, and I feel that he, Loki sort of drew m
  • SunRain MoonFire
    SunRain MoonFire says #
    Thank you!
Daily Practice - Doing that one thing over and over again

Right as the clock struck midnight and 2015 was upon us, people started talking about their daily practices. I suppose it's a natural enough time to review what we do or don't do every day. Mostly it becomes a bit of a wish list for how we'd like our lives to be less mundane and more spiritual and as we have the clean slate of the new calendar year to help us, why not give it a bash.

Here's the not so good news - Daily practices, for the most part, are mundane. It's about doing the same thing, the same way each and every day (or as many days as you can). Whether you are communing with gods, or tending to an altar, or sipping a cup of tea or sitting in silence it's about doing that thing when you say you are going to do it. But mostly it's about doing that thing over and over again, recommitting to a practice without the expectation of reward. Occasionally I've had that "aha!" moment but more often than not, I do my thing, my day stops for a few minutes and I then move on.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you for your comment Editor B. You know, I added Yoga into my daily schedule about a year ago. It didn't stick, not because
  • Editor B
    Editor B says #
    Hey Gwion. Mark Green shared this link and got me here. I like the perspective you articulate. It's particularly useful as I'm org
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Hello Mark, Thank you for the comments. I took a peek at your link. I like the concept of your "rosary", even if the name gives m
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    I like this piece (and I'm sorry for your loss). In our ADD world, it IS hard to keep doing that one thing, every day. For mine,

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