Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

I’m on the hunt for a morning devotion I can do in my car.

This is slightly unorthodox, I’ll admit, but I can’t really greet the sun before I leave for work, because it’s still quite dark when I leave. I love the idea of having a practice at a shrine in the mornings as the sun rises, but that’s just not going to be possible with my current commute.*

Most mornings, the sun comes up while I’m in my car. (I have quite a long commute) I don’t get to watch, since I’m driving North and … well, watching the sunrise while driving in traffic seems like a really good way to get either a ticket or an accident. Still, I enjoy watching the reflections off of buildings and signs, and having the world go from starry night to grey pre-dawn to bright early morning.

So I’d like to do a devotion while I’m experiencing that trip. I really like the morning devotional that the Solitary Druid Fellowship posted recently, but it feels very shrine based. I try to keep clutter down in my car, but I suppose I could keep a little electric candle, a water bottle, and a stick in a little bag for impromptu devotion. (A crane bag for my car?)

I don’t know if the parking garage is an ideal place for a sun devotion though. I will be giving this part a try anyway, I think, since I really do like the liturgy of that ritual. It’ll be limited in time (I can’t do it at sunrise every day, since I’m sitting in the parking garage at about the same time, regardless of when the sun comes up), but having a moment of grounding before I start the day sounds very nice.* I could also easily incorporate a daily divination, since I have my phone with me.

As for greeting the actual sun, maybe my first devotional writing in the Norse hearth will be to research poetry styles and write something simple to Sunna. If I can memorize it easily (which shouldn’t be a problem, since I’ll be writing it), I can say the prayer as I see the first glimmers and beams of light reflecting across the city. Not as good as the actual sunrise, but as close as I can get. Maybe I’ll write the prayer to reflect (ha ha) those reflections!

*While I like the idea of getting up on weekends to do a sunrise ritual, weekends are when I catch up on sleep, so I’m rarely out of bed before 9. Maybe I’ll do a sunset ritual on weekends instead? How do you guys differentiate the various schedules of your week if they have super different timing?

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One of the things I’ve always found interesting is the idea of Morphic Resonance as it relates to thought processes and rituals. Morphic Resonance is Rupert Sheldrake’s idea that as something happens repeatedly, it creates a field that future occurrences can tune in to. While I’m pretty sure this is not something I can believe about biology or chemistry (since the claim is unfalsifiable), it’s something I’ve always wondered about in the metaphysical realm.

It’s something I’ve felt in the past during certain rituals as well. There is a concept in parts of Catholicism that one of the reasons everyone celebrates the same Mass is so you can tap into the togetherness of all the other people in the world who have been, are, or will be celebrating it.  The same goes for Wicca, especially when you consider that a circle is a place that exists outside of time. If the job of a Witch is to turn the Wheel, it makes sense that all the solitary (and coven-based) Witches can turn the wheel “together” while they’re in their separate circles. There’s a lot of power that way.

So how does this all relate to Druidry?

Well, with the concept of the Gate being at the center of all time and space, there’s definitely an element of morphic resonance there. Not having a unified ritual is a little harder though, and I have definitely felt more “on my own” during Druidic rituals than I ever did working as a solitary Witch, even though both were done entirely solitary. I think part of this is also that so many Druids worship so many different Gods from such diverse times and places. There’s not a strong current of unified worship so much as just a unified holiday.

I am hoping, as I develop more of a sense of the Gate and it’s ability to center a ritual in metaphysical space, I’ll feel more connected to other Druids who are doing their rituals, and that my Gate will feel connected to all the other Gates at the Holy Days. I intend to focus some of my energy on that feeling during my Yule ritual, since I know we’ll all be celebrating around the same time.

I also definitely feel that there is a possibility for certain morphic currents in some of the invocations and prayers of ADF. As I use the same invocations over and over, I’ll end up creating my own currents as well as, ideally, tying into the currents that other members of ADF have set up.

This is part of why I’m a fan of a combination of both structured and spontaneous prayer. Structured, repeated prayers have the ability to set up your subconscious in such a way that you know what’s coming. If you use the same invocation, or the same cues for meditation, your subconscious begins to get the idea that “this means it is Ritual/Meditation/Sleep/Dancing/Divination/Waffles time“. (OK, maybe not waffles, unless you eat waffles regularly. Which you should, because waffles are delicious!)

Anyway, those subconscious cues also help to set up a predictable energy current that you can tap into with each repetition of a ritual element.

This also helps the Gods understand what you want. Using their historical names brings precedent – if you use the name or epithet that a Goddess has been using for millenia, you place yourself among the historical worshipers of that Goddess. If you write your own prayer, and then use it as your invocation to the Ancestors in each ritual, they’ll learn that that prayer comes from you (or whomever you share it with) and both you and they will deepen your understanding of what’s expected of each other through its use.

Of course there’s a time and place for spontaneous, offertory, from-the-heart prayer as well. I like to use structured prayer to set up the connection and spontaneous prayer to sustain and nourish it. The balance is key, for me. That structured prayer is where you find the connection with what other Druids and Pagans have done in the past.

All this to say that I’m working on tapping into the morphic resonance that exists around Druidry. ADF is new, so the morphic currents are newer and fresher, but I think they exist, and I want to learn to feel and be part of them, and add my voice to those currents. With our ties to the past, it’s possible that, through meditation and study, I’ll be able to tap into some of the Paleo-pagan resonances as well, and that would be amazing.

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This weeks “little” meditations went well – I’m definitely seeing stress reduction from just 2 or 3 minutes of focused, counted breathing. I tried adding words to some of my longer meditations, instead of counting. So instead of in 4, hold 2, out 4, hold 2, I did Fire-and-well (inhale), and (hold), Sac-red-Tree (exhale), (pause) – almost like a slow chant in my head. I also added a visualization to this exercise, placing myself in a grove of trees with a well and a fire at the center, next to a large, sprawling, ancient oak. Various animals show up in this exercise (or sometimes none at all), but usually those that I have a connection with, either as Nature Spirits (owl, rabbit, toad) or as Deity (stag).

I’ll definitely continue to do this, as I find it more centering than the counted breaths. I may also do this with a mala or some prayer beads to count repetitions instead of using the meditation timer on my phone.* It might also be fun to look up other mantras to use, or to come up with some.

I still need to look more into adding trance-like meditations. Maybe it’s time to start really working with the Two Powers meditations, or look into some guided meditation journeying.

*I use the meditation app “Meditator“, which has some nice features and chimes in such a way that it’s not disruptive. It also will do “intermediary” tones, so you can do a 10 minute meditation with a soft “reminder” tone every 2 or 2.5 minutes, for example. I’m a fan.

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Thanksgiving is one of the biggest meals I prepare every year, and this year is no exception. Members of my family and my husband’s family will be joining us during the week and over the weekend, and we’ll all be pitching in to create a holiday meal. Since this takes place in my kitchen, I do a lot of the work, and most of the prep, for feeding that many people.

At this point I should mention that both my family and my husband’s family are very devoutly Christian. I’m the only truly non-Christian in the bunch, though my husband is mostly non-religious at this point. I’m not open about my Paganism to my family, and I don’t intend to change that.

I also usually don’t get asked to say grace, both because I’ve been resistant to publicly praying aloud since I was about 8 and because I am usually the one who cooked, so it’s weird to thank myself for my hard work.

This usually means standing by and listening to a very explicitly Christian prayer before the meal, delivered usually by one of the dads, while I say my own prayer in my head. This arrangement isn’t too bad, as I’m not hostile to my family, and I know how much their faith means to them. Still, I sometimes wonder if I couldn’t put together a grace that made both them AND me happy.

I did some digging around on the internet and found a number of resources, but most of the non-Christian prayers were pretty explicitly non-Christian, which isn’t going to work in this case. I did, however, find a few things that I think could work.

First, there are a whole list of possible, short prayers in this post by the Offbeat Mama. For an everyday blessing before a meal in a family of blended religions, there are a lot of good options here (especially check out the comments!)

Second, and my favorite for a formal Thanksgiving prayer, are these from Secular Seasons. I think I’d make a few changes, but this is what I have so far, based on the humanist grace from Secular Seasons:

For this meal we are about to eat, let us be truly thankful
for the blessings of sun and wind and rain, that grow the fruits of the Earth

Let us be truly thankful
for those who planted the crops
for those who cultivated the fields
for those who gathered the harvest

Let us be truly thankful
for those who prepared this food and those who served it.

In this time of plenty let us remember too
those who have no festivity
those who cannot share this plenty
those whose lives are more troubled than our own
and all those who are hungry, sick or cold

As we share in this meal, let us be truly thankful
for all the good things we have
for warm hospitality, loving family, and good company.

Our thoughts go out to family and friends who are not here with us;
We hope that they are safe and well.

May this bountiful meal strengthen our bodies, our minds, and our ties to each other. Amen.

It’s far from perfect, but I think it could work in a pinch. I added in some things to make it fit the kinds of things that usually get said around our Thanksgiving table, as well as adding in a bit about thanking the Earth. If I could say any grace I wanted, I’d say a much more polytheistic grace, but I’d rather avoid having a confrontation with my family at Thanksgiving. I could still get questions about not including Jesus in my prayer, but I think this will be poetic and pretty enough to not prompt too many comments.

I’m going to keep tinkering with it and print off a copy for me to keep in my pocket, in case I get asked to say grace. Always better to be prepared!

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One of the email lists I’m part of has been having a really interesting discussion about the difference between prayer and doing magic. I firmly believe there’s a place for both in Paganism, and as I read more about Druidry, I’m hoping to find a balance between the two there as well.

To me, prayer is talking to/with the Kindreds (Gods, Ancestors, Nature Spirits) – prayer is essentially about communication, though it can be about asking for things. But asking for things through prayer removes the control from the situation. You’ve asked your Deity for something, and now you wait to hear their answer. (Which is a little like meditation – prayer is the talking part, meditation can be a listening part (though it can also be other things))

Magic, on the other hand, is taking a situation into your own control. It says “I’m going to do X, Y, and Z, with things A, B, and C, in accordance with my will and energy, to create result Q.” I might ask for a blessing on the work from Diety/ies, but I am the one doing the work, and I am therefore responsible for the result.

In a metaphysical sense, I see magic as a way of stacking the deck of events, an idea I got from the blog Rune Soup. Basically, in a world where any outcome is possible, magic stacks the deck in favor of the outcome going a certain way. The more out of control the possibilities, the bigger the magic has to be to have any affect. My favorite example is the lottery example, which says that if your odds are 1 in 6 million to win, and you do magic really well, and reduce those odds to 1 in 1 million, you’re still likely not going to win the lottery, even though the magic worked.

So far, in ADF, I’ve heard a lot about prayer, especially as it relates to piety (which I see as both prayer and devotional action). The ADF-Dedicants and ADF-Discuss lists have talked about conversational prayer, petitionary prayer, and especially offertory prayer – prayer used as part of an offering of praise. Though spontaneous prayer is definitely common, the major rituals are often formulaic or formula driven prayers, and Ceisiwr Serith’s Book of Pagan Prayer is quoted often as a starting point. The Book of Pagan Prayer is a collection of prayers to various Dieties for specific occasions, and many of the prayers are lovely and powerful.

They are not, however, acts of will-driven magic. I’d like to think there’s a part of ADF that would have a space for magic as well.

ADF ritual is, in some ways, thematically magical – you do the offerings to get the blessings, ideally the blessings that you are asking for. The *ghosti relationship that defines how ADF relates to its gods encompasses both being a good guest and being a good host, and the reciprocal hospitality that goes along with it. This can be argued as being a form of magic – you’re not just begging for something, you’re building a relationship whereby you can ask things of the Gods and they can ask things of you. Still, it’s not a personal-responsibility sort of system at its core. Yes you’re responsible for making the offerings, but you’re still at the whim of the Gods when it comes to what blessings you receive. If you’re asking for Patience, you may find yourself more patient… or you may (more likely) find yourself in situations that try your patience mightily, and have to figure it out for yourself.

I’m looking for a system that has space both for magical work and for prayer – for creating a deep relationship with the Gods, for petitioning the Gods for blessings, and for working to create change around me. I can see situations where I might do both prayer AND magic for something.

Say, for example, I’m looking for a new job. In addition to doing the “fill out job applications and send them in” ritual, I might pray for the foresight to find openings around me, but I might also do magic to open new pathways and do strong sending magic on the applications before I mail them out/deliver them. Before an interview, I might pray for comfort and reduction in nerves, but also do some sympathetic magic to sweeten the relationship between myself and the interviewer, so that I make the most favorable reaction. I’d be doing divination around all of this to determine if something is the right path for me going forward, or to help me see the unseen in a new situation.

Ideally, I’d be using my own will and the power I can raise myself to direct change, and asking for additional power and blessings to aid that work from the Gods. They may choose not to aid me, but I am still the one initiating the work, and still the one ultimately responsible for the outcome. This seems very different than asking the Gods to fix or change something for me.

Which comes down to my interactions with the COoR.

The Core Order of Ritual is a devotional format designed to enact the basic “magic” of Druidry – the *ghosti relationship of offerings and blessings. There’s a section in the end, after the receiving of blessings, where there’s a note that “any magical workings should be conducted here”.

If I’m honest, I find that a little disruptive so far. The state of mind that I enter to devote my time, prayer, praise, and offerings to the Kindreds is not the same state of mind that I enter to work magic. Maybe I’ve just not experienced the true energy of a well-done COoR rite yet (which is possible, I’ve only experienced my own), but I find that I’m wanting to work magic in a different context. Not even that I’m looking to cast circles and do Neopagan like magic. More like I’m interested in Traditional Witchcraft type magic, with sympathetic magic and symbols and sigils and herbs and candles and lots of home-grown energy sent out in the direction of some change.

As a solitary Druid, I’m working my own magic on my own time and schedule, so I can do that magic separately or in a ritual as I so desire. However, I don’t know how well a very personal magical working would go in a large group setting like a Grove. Magic works best when it is focused and well-directed, and a congregational style setting isn’t really one where I see getting focused and well-directed results, even in a group with the best intentions. It’s hard enough with a small coven of Witches who are all used to working together and who are well briefed on the imagery and chants and symbols beforehand! The advantage of a group is that you can tap into more energy, but without good focus and an agreed upon, specifically defined result, you get fuzzy magic. And fuzzy magic makes for fuzzy results.

Maybe this is possible in a small Druid setting more than it would be in a more congregational style grove ritual. I imagine there are both types of gatherings, just as there are in any community-oriented religion. That still means separating magic from the COoR though. (And there’s no rule that you have to use the COoR all the time either, so maybe my focus on that is unnecessary.)

So how does this all fit together into Druidry? Do I just separate my magic from my prayer and devotional rituals, since I see them as different things, or is there a new kind of magic I need to learn, a kind that fits into the COoR better?

Obviously a balanced practice has both prayer and magic, and I want to think there’s room for both in Druidry. I’m just having trouble finding the place where magic fits.

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