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For the past week or so, I’ve been clawing my way back into a daily spiritual practice after months of doing basically nothing on any kind of regular basis. I’m still not doing much, thus far. I light candles (I can’t use my own incense in the house because it makes my heart patient dog cough), give a drink offering of wine or tea or juice, sit before the shrine on my yoga mat and perhaps do a bit of yoga and stretching (depending on how I’m feeling that day). Then I settle in for a few minutes of meditation, which consists of aligning my three souls Feri-style (I’m not Feri, but learned the technique from that tradition), breath work with my prayer beads (for a mantra, I’m currently using the first two lines of the Morrigan’s peace prophecy–sid co nev, nev co doman–as described in Morpheus Ravenna’s book) and sometimes a bit of spontaneous journeying. I will then usually draw a Tarot card for the day, for any messages from Them that aren’t getting through to me. The whole sequence doesn’t take a lot of time out of my day, but man, is it ever hard to get my butt in front of the shrine on a daily basis, because I had stopped for so long, and inertia is a thing.
Daily devotion works best if it becomes a habit, and it’s incredibly hard to establish a habit again from the ground up. So why did I stop in the first place? I tell myself it’s because, due to last year’s identity crisis, I wasn’t entirely sure who I was talking to, or because I had no clear spiritual direction for the first time in almost two decades, or because I was angry and confused. And sure, maybe all of those things are true.
But I’m sharing this here today because I’ve become convinced of one thing: when you’re confused, or feeling lost, or have no clear direction, or even when you’re angry–these are the times when you need a daily practice the MOST, the times when you really need to make it your number one priority to get back into that habit again.
What sucks is that these are also the times when you are going to least feel like doing it.
The only thing that has helped, in my case (and maybe it will help you, too) is to admit that it sucks, and then do it anyway.
Do it anyway even if you’re hurting. Even if you can barely focus. Even if all you want to do is rage at the gods. Even if you’ve lost all hope for the world. Even if you don’t even remember why you ever wanted to do this spiritual crap in the first place.
You’ve probably heard the saying “fake it til you make it.” This is the same principle at work. At first, you’ll just be going through the motions. You won’t want to do it. You’ll be tempted to make excuses (like I was today). You’ll resent taking the time for it.
But, remarkably, after even a short period of consistently (by which I mean not necessarily every single day, but at least more days than not) showing up and doing it anyway, something starts to change. I’m not going to promise you there will be epiphanies, that you’ll suddenly start hearing the voices of the gods or understanding the mysteries of the universe. (Maybe you will, but I’m not promising that.) What I CAN promise you, though, is that something will change, and that something will begin with your attitude. You’ll start to look forward to your altar time. You’ll start to not feel right going on with the rest of your day if you’re skipped it too often. You’ll start to relax into it. You’ll begin to feel connected–if not to Them, then at least to yourself. You’ll begin, gradually, to feel more focused, more disciplined, more aware, more alive–and those things will carry over to whatever you’re doing with the rest of your day.
I have no idea whether or not daily practice is something the gods want or need from us, I really don’t. But I have become convinced that it’s something WE need.