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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

My apartment got struck by lightning on Tuesday night.

Not in some metaphorical, I had a flash of inspiration, great grand things are happening sense. In the literal, bolt of lightning blew a hole in the roof and blasted through my ceiling, exploded a phone jack, and fried all my electronics sense. This was followed by a massive water leak in my kitchen (see: giant hole blown in roof during thunderstorm).

My apartment is, yet again, covered in drywall and insulation debris as a result. But far fewer things are truly broken or dead than you’d expect from a direct lightning strike, and tomorrow they’re coming to try to get the internet working again. Until then, I’m on my phone.

This journal is supposed to be one of recording my steps toward a domestic cult practice, and I promise I’ll get around to that part, but before I get there, I want to talk a little bit about intuition.

Tuesday night at around 7:45pm I got a warning that a tornado had been spotted in an oncoming storm, and to seek shelter. Normally, tornado warnings aren’t something I take too seriously – Houston rarely gets tornadoes. My town doesn’t even have tornado sirens. But I pulled up the radar, saw the storm (which had three little hook-like shapes extending out from the front of the storm) and thought… NOPE.

I don’t know why I thought nope, but I noped right out of there. I grabbed the cats, my phone, and a portable charger, and the three of us went to go sit in the closet with the door closed and the lights off. I was texting with a friend, and she was updating me on the storm, and at about 8:15, the warning expired. And still I thought… NOPE.

So I stayed in the closet, and at 8:20, lightning struck my kitchen. There was a blinding flash and a simultaneous massive explosion, followed by the fire alarms all going nuts and my apartment filling with the smell of electrical smoke.

I fled, calling 911.

(The electrical smoke was most likely from the phone jack that took the brunt of the strike. The cover is melted.)

I can’t tell you why I had the ooky feelings about that storm on the radar. I work through thunderstorms all the time. Hell, I’ve been through hurricanes. Storms don’t bother me. But this one? It did. And I don’t know what little part of my brain got the signal that my rational brain did not, but I’m glad for it. If I’d been standing in my kitchen making dinner, I could be hospitalized or dead instead of dealing with a construction mess.

All that, however, leads me to the second bit. The actual practice bit.

I have rarely, in my entire life, felt less like I wanted to do anything related to prayer or ritual practice than I have this week. I am exhausted. Exhausted on that deep, mental level that you really only get after months and months of burning the candle at both ends. I have nothing to give my grove. Nothing to give my practice. I am depressed – and not because of my mental illness (which I’m happy to talk about) but simply because some things are just utterly overwhelming and stressful, and dealing with that is hard.

I will journal this though. At least four months. No less than weekly.

Rev. Michael J Dangler is known to say “when you least feel like praying is when you need it the most,” and maybe that’s true. But this week, I have no words to give, and so for week 2, I am lighting the lamp, taking a breath, and trying (mostly unsuccessfully) not to cry.

Let that be my prayer for this week. I’ll try again next week with words.

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“Oh You Mothers…”

This is the prayer I use when leaving offerings for my own ancestors.

Oh you mothers, all my mothers

Those who sleep in heavy soil,

Those who went to death so weary

All you thought was no more toil,

Those who danced with joy and laughter,

Those who fought to break the chains

Though you’ll know no more hereafters,

Here a part of you remains.

 

Oh you fathers, all my fathers

Those who dream in wet, black earth,

Those who let their dreams go hungry

So that mine could come to birth,

Those who died in rage and sorrow

Those who laughed and wandered free,

Though you’ll know no more tomorrows

Your tomorrows live in me.

 

All of you who came before me,

Though I know your names or not.

All who added to my story

Giving blood or deed or thought.

Take this food and drink I give you,

Share it with me, take your fill.

Though your verses may have ended

Yet the song continues still.

– Christopher Scott Thompson

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(While rubbing hands under running/pouring water, say:)​

May I be pure, that I might cross through the sacred.

(Bring hands to face, feeling the refreshing, cleansing waters, saying:)

May I cross through the sacred, that I may attain the holy.​

(Stand for a complete breath, and appreciate the moment of blessings, while saying:)

May I attain the holy, that I may be blessed in all things.​

-Rev William Ashton

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My first week of this practice went fairly slowly. I am experimenting with how I want to set up my daily practice. Since I’m not in a position where I can do sunrise and sunset devotionals (I am in the car during the sunrise, and I am in bed before the sun sets right now), I am going to start a morning devotional that I can do either before I leave for work or once I get to my desk. Since I’m in the office at 6:45, and my nearest coworker doesn’t arrive until 7:30, I have a little time there where I can do the work.

Obviously I can’t light candles or incense at my desk, so the ideal place for something like this will be at home before I leave, but my brain is fighting getting up any earlier than I already do (5:15 is pretty darn early).

For this week, all I have been doing is saying Ceisiwr Serith’s prayer (start small and build, right?):

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

It’s nothing fancy, but it at least gets me taking some deep, centering breaths and placing myself in a good mindset to start the day. (I’ve tried saying this in the car at sunrise, but since I can’t see the sun actually rising it didn’t work too well.)

This week I also participated in the Druid Moon Cast, a monthly ADF ritual that takes place via Google Hangouts. While I don’t participate in these every month, I do them fairly regularly, and really enjoy doing them. They are a take on the idea that the 6th night of the moon was sacred to the Druids, so it is fairly fitting that we do ritual at that time. This ritual was done using Nick Egelhoff’s Telepresence Liturgy Script, which makes several references to the (quite outstanding) technology that we’re using to do these rituals. This script is customizable to different hearth cultures (or an open hearth), and this month we honored the various bodies of water that are in our different locations.

(Also, since I’m writing this as an overview of what I did LAST week, I can say that I’ve already found a prayer to add to this for Fire/Well/Tree that Rev. Mike Dangler shared on Facebook this morning. I’ll write more about that next week.)

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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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It seems disasters are not far from our communities this year. Yesterday a massive tornado outbreak stormed through Oklahoma and other parts of the midwest, with the worst damage coming in the town of Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Reports of many dead are already coming in, with predictions of more to be found. The destruction there is terrible – and that was only one of the many tornadoes that spawned yesterday afternoon. Like in previous disasters, it will take some time for the full story to be uncovered, though the worst of these tornadoes seems to be fairly well documented.

I think the prayer I wrote for those searching for survivors in West, TX is applicable here, so I thought I’d repost it, in light of the ongoing search and rescue operations.

Great Freyja,
Who flew like a falcon over the whole earth in search of your lost husband,
Place your falcon cloak over the shoulders of those who search through destroyed homes and buildings
Bring them peace in their terrible work.

May your sharp eyes and swift wings speed their search
May they find those who yet live.
Strengthen their hearts, which are already full of care for the wounded,
And bless all those who would aid them.

May the dead be at peace, and their families comforted.
May the survivors be at peace, and their recovery swift.

© 2013 The Druid in the Swamp

As well, I’d like to add a prayer here to a less public side of this storm disaster – the farmers who lost crops, cattle, and horses (and are still trying to find those cattle and horses) in the wake of the tornado outbreak.

Mighty Freyr,
Lord of crops and grains and growing things,
Cast your powerful hand toward farmers and ranchers this day.
Bless their search, that they may find the livestock
On which their livelihood depends.
Aid them as they try to recover their crops
In the wake of the destruction that occurred yesterday.

Great Freyr,
Who knows well what it is to care for a great horse
And also the pain of losing him,
Help those who search for their horses
Find them and return them to safety.
Protect those horses from danger, keep them calm.
Speed their safe return.

© 2013 The Druid in the Swamp

And, since a little late is better than never, and the spring tornado season is far from being over (and hurricane season is just around the corner), a prayer to Thor for protection in a storm:

Wielder of the hammer,
red-bearded one,
Thor, protector,
to you I call.
I stand in the midst of a storm
and ask your protection.

Source: “A Book of Pagan Prayer” © 2002 Ceisiwr Serith.

An old folk blessing to help keep a storm from your home also involves squirting holy water out the front and back door in the shape of a holy symbol. I’ve seen this done with holy water used to make crosses and full moon blessed water to make pentagrams, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with a Druid sigil (or the Awen symbol, or the Hammer symbol) and some “holy” water – either natural water, water from three natural sources, or just water that you’ve blessed for this purpose. (Water blessed by the sun and moon would work too).

You just put some in a squirty bottle, like a bottle you’d get for liquid dish soap, open each of the doors of your house and squirt the water in your preferred pattern of blessing and protection, while saying a prayer for protection from storms.

It’s simple magic, but sometimes even the simplest magic can be powerful.

Finally, as a reminder to all of us with pets we love dearly, please have your pets microchipped. In the event of a horrible storm or other disaster, a microchip greatly increases the chances that you and your lost pet will be reunited. This is true whether there is a tornado or hurricane, a house fire, or your pet just gets loose from your home/yard.

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There’s a good post from Rev. Michael J Dangler about creating and sharing Neopagan and Druid prayers, especially sharing them in shareable graphic format. Go read it! (The prayers are quite nice!) I especially found the response to the National Day of Prayer to be very positive, in light that I don’t usually find that day to be particularly positive as a practicing Pagan.

I’ve always liked formulaic prayers (though I ABHOR publicly praying out loud), and I find them to be a good way to get past the “not knowing what to say” phase of prayer. It also really helps for me to formalize my thoughts in writing before I say them. Which isn’t to say that I don’t (try to) pray spontaneously, only that I get a great deal of value from prepared prayer. I have a lot of emotional baggage around prayers, and writing my own seems to help me get past that a little bit.

I’d like to try to do more written out prayers here in this space – both for practice, and because I like writing them (they’re a bit like poetry), and because I think they add value to my devotions.

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