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Posts Tagged ‘daily devotions’

So I’ve always been a praying person. For a long time I only did extemporaneous prayers, like a good little Protestant kid, even though I really hated my wordy, fumbly, formulaic prayers that all seemed kind of pointless. (I was fortunate enough to grow up in a praying home, and my grandfather is a beautiful pray-er, so I had good role models at least.) Then I found Catholicism, and a whole new world of prayers opened up for me. Though I’ve (obviously) left that behind, I’m finding myself a praying pagan more and more.

Recent devotions have brought up the idea that I need to be keeping a sort of horarium – an office of the hours. My days run together; they can be pretty unstructured as someone who works from home. Earlier this year John Beckett, who is becoming a dear friend as well as being someone whose opinion I respect in the pagan world, challenged his readers to have a “contemplative season” between Yule and Imbolc. I took his challenge and ran with it, and came up with a little daily office to say during the day.

Of course, being the unstructured hooligan that I am, I don’t have set times for anything, but I have three prayers to say each day. One in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one at night.

This is all great.

Except that while I can regularly say a prayer in the morning, and regularly say a prayer at night before bed, praying in the afternoon is making me bonkers.

Either I remember at 10am, and it’s too early, or I just flat forget the damn thing until it’s 10pm and I’m going to bed. I have a prayer for when I’ve forgotten a prayer, and I think I’m using it most days right now because of the stupid afternoon prayer that I can’t make myself remember to pray, even with a phone alarm going off at 2:30.

And yet.

My calling has never been stronger. I’ve had one of the most intense Imbolc seasons I’ve ever had, with spiritual experiences that will shape my life, possibly for years to come. Prayer changes things. I’ve heard it said that prayer isn’t something you do, it’s something the gods do that you are part of. While I don’t know that my middling, fairly ineffective devotions count as something as powerful as all that, I can’t deny that this practice has deepened into something I want to keep doing.

So I will. You can come too, if you like. We can be bad at praying together. I promise, once you get used to it, it’s not so bad.

*From the Latin for “three times daily”, as typically seen on a prescription for medication.

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If:

  • You are already close to running late
  • Your well didn’t get water in it yesterday because you forgot to fill the cup
  • You do your devotional at 5:30 am before caffeine
  • You are trying to establish a regular practice but still get to work on time
  • Your well is a beautiful wooden bowl made of pieced woods in different colors that was a gift you can never replace

Then:

  • Your wooden well will have cracked along a seam in the bottom from having water left in it the last time you did ritual
  • You will not notice this until half the well has emptied out the crack in the bottom, soaking the entire top of your altar
  • You will be out of paper towels in your altar room, and will have to make a mad dash to the kitchen to get some
  • Your old ceramic well will be full of wine corks, which have no other place to go, so you will have to leave them in a pile on the counter
  • When you empty your old well, it will be full of cork dust, so you will need to wash it

And then:

  • By the time you finally get back to your devotional, you will have forgotten what steps you did and have to start over
  • Making you at least 10 minutes late getting out the door

 

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ADF has a good sized songbook of chants and songs that are used in group rituals.

Since I haven’t ever done group ritual that I wasn’t leading myself, I am only barely familiar with a few of these chants – mostly through watching ADF rituals online. (3 Cranes Grove has three large group rituals they just posted to YouTube, if you’re interested in seeing how an ADF ritual scales up for 300 people in a large outdoor tent!)

I’m extremely self-conscious about my singing though. I have a music degree, which may actually have made me MORE self conscious – I have good pitch, but I am very very aware of the shortcomings of my (untrained) voice when compared to someone who actually knows how to sing. That said, I’m learning a few of the ADF chants, and considering adding them into our rituals as appropriate. I don’t think we need a chant for every step of the COoR, but a processional and recessional might be nice, and I’m fond of the “Blessings in the Waters” song for after the waters of life are distributed. I really like the addition of music to prayer, and I think it’s a good way to focus.

Also, I’ve found I can use some of the “catchier” ADF chants to get songs out of my head. So when I get earwormed by something obnoxious, I start singing something I’m trying to memorize, and the concentration plus a catchy tune usually helps me stop with the endless repeats of “This is the song that never ends” or whatever.

The one “chant” (That I’ll just be saying as spoken word) I know I’ll be adding to our ritual for Imbolc is this one by Ceisiwr Serith.

The waters support and surround us
The land extends about us
The sky stretches out above us:
At the center burns a living flame.
May all the Kindreds bless us.
May our worship be true
May our actions be just
May our love be pure.
Blessings, and honor, and worship to the holy ones.

I plan to use it to end the Two Powers meditation and bring us into the active part of the ritual. Hopefully it goes as nicely in practice as it does in my head. There’s something very cosmos-affirming about this chant/prayer, so I hope everyone else likes it as much as I do.  I actually intend to memorize it and use it as part of my daily devotions. My practice needs a bit of a reboot, and I think this will be a nice thing to add to get it feeling fresh again.

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