Thursday, January 22, 2015

Personal Religious Practice

Catching up on The Pagan Experience: Week 2 (a couple of weeks late)
Writing Prompt for January 12: Personal Practice
Share your favorite spiritual/magickal practices. What tools are incorporated into your daily practice? What feeds you and replenishes you?

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit to you all, here and now, that I have fallen off of the ritual bandwagon and I really don't have much of a practice anymore.  However, you should also know that it's not something I've intentionally quit, nor is it something to which I will never return.  In fact, it is part of that whole "getting into a better spiritual place" resolution I wrote about in last week's post.  (You know--that one that I wrote two days ago?)

Since I've now admitted that I haven't been much for "practice" lately, I'm going to include in this post what I have done in the past, what I'm currently doing, and what I would like to do in the future.

Rituals (Both "Special" and Daily)
THEN:  Yours truly loves the thrill and energy of a good ritual.  I loved holding ritual for Esbats and Sabbats, the calling of the Elementals, the opening and closing of the Circle, the invocations, Drawing Down the Moon.  Throw in a bunch of candles and some incense and boy, you've put me in the mood for a spellbindingly good time! ;)  I've always loved performing rituals; there is something so beautiful about an altar ablaze with candles, the sound of bells or singing bowls, and the smell of incense wafting through the air.  Even if there is taxing spellwork being performed, I usually feel rejuvenated and alive after the fact (although, there are sometimes emotionally-draining nights, too).  As far as a daily ritual, I used to spend time every day at my altar, whether it was in mediation, divining, writing big rituals, or working.  There was also daily reading and writing. 
NOW:  I have not cast a circle in close to two years now.  I have periodically performed small spells without a circle, but haven't had a full blown ritual in ages, and feel like I wouldn't even know what to do with myself anymore.  I did a small Full Moon ritual from Circle Round with my oldest son last summer, but it wasn't quite the same as a grown-up Full Moon ritual for many reasons.  Within the next few months I would like to start celebrating Esbats again, and perhaps even throw in a Sabbat or two.
My daily rituals are greatly reduced; I usually read and meditate on a daily goddess devotional from The Goddess Companion, occasionally draw a tarot card (maybe a whole spread if I'm feeling up to it), and do some reading from whatever Pagan book I'm working on at the time.  I would like to get back to doing what I used to do, but I've yet to figure out the logistics because of family and work responsibilities (wouldn't trade those for anything, though!).  For now I acknowledge my path through my daily readings and contemplations, and that has to be enough for the time being.  

My Altar
I would post a picture of my old altar, but I'm having trouble hunting one down.  It didn't have everything, but it certainly had enough.  It was a long, sturdy, old piano bench on which I would place a cloth that coordinated with the holiday or season.  It had god and goddess representations, god and goddess candles, 
quarter candles, spell candles, a pretty little candle snuffer, mirrors, a pentacle, a beautiful moonstone pendulum, incense (both a stick incense holder and an abalone shell for loose incense), mirrors, a "goblet" with moon water, salt, a wand, etc., etc., etc.  There were usually crystals and daily tarot or oracle cards set up, as well.  My set-up would change with the seasons, and I really enjoyed all of my little "housekeeping" duties that surrounded maintaining it.  

I loved the ceremoniousness of performing ritual with all of my tools.
I loved the feeling of having my own little place in the world to which I could escape and make everything disappear.  
I do have an altar set up, but I've only used it once since I put it together, and that was for the Full Moon ritual I spoke of earlier.  Also, I didn't bring my old furniture with me when I moved two years ago, so my altar is the top of a cardboard box.  Fancy, I know.  :P  I would love to be able to set up something sturdier, obviously, but that will have to wait.  I keep my crystals on a book shelf, and don't do much work with them anymore, but they are pretty and I do go through them every so often.  As far as tools go, I have always felt that they weren't incredibly necessary, but they're nice to have and, if you allow them to, they can enhance your workings.  I don't know that I would use them the way I used to, but I'd sure like to try.  :)


THEN:  I bought them, read them, took what I needed, and kept the unused information filed away in my mind.
NOW:  I still have them, still read them, and have kept adding to my collection.  Pretty sure the old YouTube channel was called something along the lines of "The Pagan Bookworm," if that tells you anything about my relationship with books.  Books and I have been having a life-long love affair, and I don't foresee it ending any time soon.

Other thoughts....
Although I haven't had a regular practice for some time now, I still practice divination, study Witchcraft and Paganism, and hold sacred space and time for prayers and energies.  As a Pantheist and Animist, I daily reflect on my relationship with the Earth, the Skies, and the Divine (my ever-evolving definition of the Divine is something for another post).  I live my Earth-honoring religion in very practical ways:  trying to live, eat, and raise my family in a "green" way, acknowledging the sources of our nourishment, taking heed of the relationship between Grandmother Moon and my body.  Perhaps it isn't all what I used to do, or even what I currently idealize or dream of doing, but it's something, and it's better than nothing.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Resolutions: To Make or Not to Make?

Catching up on The Pagan Experience:  Week 1 (a couple of weeks late)

Writing Prompt for January 5:  Resolutions
What are your intentions for this new year?  How will you find the resolve to bring them into your manifest life?  

Let me begin by saying that I've never really made your typical "New Year's Resolution(s)."  For starters, I can barely plan a week ahead in time, let alone an entire year ahead.  (Maybe that's something to put on the list, eh?)  Even making a 30-day commitment to a set of small, self-improvement activities is proving to be challenging, and...let me check:  I'm barely a week in.  Not doing so hot.  Also, I have set a few financial and personal goals in the past, but nothing ever really comes to fruition, and then I end up worrying that I'm setting the bar too high for myself, which in-turn leads to me disappointedly saying "eff this mess."  (Pessimist much?!)  

I can't say that I am a stalwart adherent to the Law of Attraction, but I do believe it holds weight, and I also know that my thoughts are often of the self-sabotaging variety.  

Disclaimer aside, I will try to lay out my basic "intentions" for 2015 in this post.  In bold you will see the bare-bones, generic-sounding intentions, but I will try to expound on them a bit. 

Intention #1:  Be the best me that I can be.

-Be the best wife and mother I can be.  (Those two things could take up their own blog post or twenty.)
-Be healthy (eat better, exercise more), but also don't beat myself up for those occasional poor choices.

-Work harder and be a lot more on-top-of-things at my job than in the past (I feel like I half-ass a lot of stuff, and I need to STAHP IT).  
-Make more time for myself to do "me things."  Reading, writing, sewing, peeing without a toddler trying to climb on my lap.
-Grow my business?  (Is it bad to put a question mark at the end of a goal?)
-QUIT SELF-SABOTAGING (with that darn upspeak I just did).  

Intention #2:  Get back into a better place with my spirituality and practice.

-Study (which I've already been doing a little bit of...yay!).

-Do shadow work (marriage seems to be aiding me in this, actually).
-Journal (working on it).
-Divine (just work with my Tarot more, in general).
-Blog (working on it).
-PRACTICE (gosh, it's been a while!).  
-Also:  Because I now live only a couple/few hours from it, I want to attend an event at Circle Sanctuary.  *crosses fingers*
-More on Intention #2:  I've really fallen away from the Pagan world in the last couple of years, and though I have missed it very much, it's only been in the last month or so that I've really felt the call to do something about it.  I miss my online Pagan community, because, let's face it:  most of us don't have a physical place where we can regularly (as in, more than a few times a year) meet up and discuss our spiritual practices, beliefs, etc. with people of similar mindsets.  (If you do, then consider yourself lucky!)  For us, that place basically has to be online.  (Although, I also don't want to get to a place where I start to associate my spiritual practice too much with being online, but I'm sure somebody will stop me if I get out of control...again, that's another post.)  

I am pretty positive that all of these things will feed into one another, because that's how they tend to be now.  I know from previous experience that I am more productive (and probably easier to be around) when I'm healthy in mind, body, and spirit.  I should probably make Intention #3:  SLEEP.  A working mother without sleep is not a thing to be in 2015!  Sleep = energy.  Energy = clarity +focus. Clarity + focus = achieving my goals.

Here's to catching some ZzzzZzzzZzzz's in the next twelve months!!! :D