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Practicing Pagan: rituals and actions to feel in tune with my Deities

Practicing Pagan: rituals and actions to feel in tune with my Deities

I mention in the sidebar that I’m Pagan, but I’ve never talked about what that means, because I’m not sure yet. I’ve spent over a decade reading about Wicca before coming to terms with the fact that it doesn’t work for me. I love the trappings of religious witchcraft, but a couple of fundamental beliefs of Wicca don’t work with me. That’s left me floating and unsure about what I believe and how I go about showing my devotion.

So one morning while I was meditating, I was surprised to feel a nudge to write here about what I’m doing. Something about it being more concrete if I tell people a bit about my beliefs and what I’m trying to practice, as well as making a commitment to it.

A miniature clay tree on carpet
A home for the spirits in my house, tucked away where my housemates won’t notice it

The commitment part is important because I’ve failed, recently, in my daily devotions to my Deities. For a while, I was offering part of my tea to the spirits around me, and incense and a candle to my Goddesses and Gods, trying to get into a rhythm of these daily devotions, and suddenly I stopped. What stopped me? Were these devotions not enough? Was I not feeling like I was truly connecting, and subconsciously decided against doing it anymore? Was I in too much pain again? (Incense and scented candles can trigger asthma attacks, if my asthma control isn’t good, and headaches if I’m the slightest bit sensitive. Which I have been for the past few weeks.)

The key, I think, that makes it hard, is mindfulness. A lot of times I do these activities by rote, without stopping for a few moments to recognize whichever entities are present. Using my phone as an alarm, the moment I wake up, I see all the emails and text messages and life that I’ve missed out on while asleep, and I get so anxious to get caught up, that I forget to ground and center myself in what it means to be me. The last couple of days, I’ve managed to undo a little bit of that, by having my phone on airplane mode while I sleep. It’s not perfect, because I still have that anxiety pushing me around, but it’s a start.

Now to find the best practices for me to feel connected and protected. That’s why I read as much about paganism as I can: to find practices and rituals to keep me connected to my Goddesses and Gods.

There’s a dearth of daily spiritual practice in our rational, secular culture (as a white United Stateser), and I have no rituals from childhood to associate with my current spiritual work. Making things up as I go along is an uncomfortable practice for me: as a perfectionist, I want to do everything right the first time. But that’s not possible for we imperfect, irrational creatures, and it’s not fair to expect that of myself.

Candles, Tarot decks, and miscellaneous clumped together in a small space
My messy altar

I expected to make an altar full of things that are meaningful to me and to my Gods, but because I don’t have a lot of private space — I have two housemates whom I keep these things from — my “shrine” is set on the top of my dresser next to my jewelry, and there’s not a particular rhyme or reason to it. I always expected I’d have things that matter to my spiritual practice, but right now it’s a collection of candles, incense, Tarot decks, and miscellany that managed to find its way to my room. It’s not as ordered or well-kept as I’d like it to be.

But it does its job of reminding me to take a moment to say a prayer for my ancestors, for my house spirits, and for the Deities Whom I honor. And that’s the part that matters.

So while I’m not entirely sure, still, how I’m practicing and what I believe in, I am taking my first steps, and they are important ones. I will continue them and keep trying new things. And I will continue sharing my spiritual journey with you all here.

Looking for guidance on your own spiritual journey? Book a reading and let’s discover what will work for you.

Being human, stumbling, and keeping going

Being human, stumbling, and keeping going

I’m sitting at home near a candle that’s not burning as perfectly as I’d like and thinking about what I should be writing. I know I should be writing, because it calls to my soul. But what should I be writing? And do I have the confidence to write it?

I was emailing with my friend Libby over the weekend, wondering if I could ever write again. I wanted to, I have big feelings in my chest that need to get out, but how do I write? I’m not sure how to anymore. Libby said: just write. Free writing will take you where you need to be.

So here I sit, with some poetic music playing, and writing for everyone to see.

Over the past few years I’ve become really afraid of blogging publicly. So many blogs these days are written by the point of view of someone who has it figured out, whatever “it” is. I don’t. I feel scared and small, and if I start focusing on the things that scare me, I panic and the monsters get so much bigger than they really are. Then I’m paralyzed with fear.

Instead of focusing on the things that scare me, I’ve started ignoring them, and letting myself hold on to things that make me confident and proactive. That’s why I am researching so much about starting a business in my state (but waiting a day or two more to actually register). That’s why I forget to write here. Because I want to stick to safe topics, ones that I already know, because that’s what people do in the blogosphere these days.

That’s not who I am.

Who I am is a timid explorer, still trying to hold xyrself steady on xyr feet. My legs are shaky, my balance sucks, but I can still take the steps I need to to keep going. I might hide from the big truths for a while, but I am fascinated by them, and I want to grapple with new ideas and play with words. I don’t want to be the woman with the big truths. I want to be the fairy with the musical laugh, asking the right questions to provoke insights for others.

So I will stumble, and I will reach out, and I will try new things, and I will have faith in myself and the people around me. I will pay more attention to the journey than the destination.

I am a witchling in flight, and I dare you to uncover your own truth.

Standing in the eye of the storm

Standing in the eye of the storm

When I first started reading about Wicca when I was a wee young girl, all the books told you you absolutely had to have an altar, and it has to have these things on it: athame, salt, wand, pentacle, imagery of the God and Goddess. “If you don’t have these things, get creative and get something like it,” they said. They never said that an altar is something you do for yourself, that you do to connect with your Gods and Goddesses, your connection to magic. This is one of the reasons I could never quite get into Wicca, despite wanting, so badly, to be a witch.

Lately there is a resurgence of people taking back the word “witch” from Wiccans. Over the past twenty or thirty years, Wiccans have worked hard to de-stigmatize witchcraft by associating it with their peace-loving religion. That’s great, but witchcraft is not synonymous with Wicca. An altar does not have to look like the books told me. Altars come in all religions. Altars should look the way that you want them to look.

I’ve been reading about altars in different polytheists faiths lately, and I’m being inspired by this secular witch’s photos of her altars. Altars are places to put things that are sacred to you. Flowers, mementos from ancestors, feathers found on a walk, things that inspire you. While I’ve been mostly curious about bloggers who call themselves “devotional polytheists” lately, I’m thinking about altars in all senses. A place for my Tarot cards. A place for a pretty rock or two, some crystals, a candle. If ever I could get my garden going, then a flower or two. An altar should have meaning for the user, especially if it’s this user, especially if this user is trying to develop her spirituality and understand what she is called to.

It’s time for me to start a practice. My practice will be inspired by devotional polytheism and witchcraft. But, you know, starting is hard. Finding a place to live where I can be free to start a practice is hard. I want to work on my relationships with the spirits of my land and house, which is hard to do when I have such a hard time just keeping clean. I’m on the verge of big changes, I think, or still riding the waves of big changes that have been building for me, and these changes are going to uproot my life. How do I trust to what’s real and true while so many new things take place around me?

I’m not sure yet. But I have a lot of wonderful support while I figure all of this out.