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.
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.
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.
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