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Friday, December 22, 2017

A Pagan Practice over Time

An online Pagan friend recently posted a series of questions that grew out of her reading of a post on patheos.com and I have felt motivated to use them as a writing prompt today.

She began by asking: What is your practice? Has it deepened or become less? Do you maintain a personal altar/ritual space and when was the last time you physically cleaned it, or decided which objects stayed or needed to go? 
My practice has evolved over time, but remains experience-based. I came to my path being taught directly by the Gods (not all of Whom gave their names initially) and as much, if not more, by the Elements and the natural world around me. I was living in a remote, off-grid community at the time and I think that made it easier, both to hear the quiet voices and to follow thier promptings. It was at least a year from when I began talking with the moon on regular occasions and from when I populated my first altar -- to Earth -- before I labeled the path as Pagan. That epiphany was the result of a philosophical conversation with a young, Pagan friend, who was astounded by what I had *not* read.
 Along the way, various Gods and mostly Goddesses led the way: Artemis, Athena, Hecate who handed me off, after my Croning, to Frigga, with whom I still work. Things have, indeed, changed and I believe deepened.
I do have a personal altar, and have recently added and subtracted to it, as well as having spent a good long time going through the objects in my "magic chest" in which I keep sacred things that are not currently in use. As a result, a few things have gone away, a few more are awaiting shipment to a Pagan daughter and even more were used to follow up on a prompting I got at the time, to establish Elemental altars outside, on our property lines, to each direction and element, which I set on Mothers' Night.
 Do you journal? Do you maintain a connection with the Moon (as well as the Sun)? Do you still have rituals even if you're without a group?
 I have tried to journal at various times, but have never been able to keep it up for long. Now, I often write here on this blog, as well as on Facebook, both of which seem to be longer-lasting habits. And I do keep connection with both Moon and Sun in their cycles. I do this at least in part by building bridges of magical/mundane connections and empowering necessary chores with magical intent. An example of this is my monthy trash/recycle/bottle redemption/charity donation run, which I do shortly before the dark moon. Our dump/recycling center is only open a few days a week, so I designate an open day just prior to the dark moon as our monthly trash and recycle disposal day. We don't generate much, and are looking to further minimize waste, but this ritual is tied to the concept of getting rid of unneeded things, so that there continues to be a "hole" into which abundance can flow. And being a subsistence homesteader, the yearly cycles are easy for me to keep.
I have always been solitary, so of course I have rituals. One of the bedrocks of my practice is a greeting to Frigga each morning that begins with a few lines from the Poetic Edda:
"Hail, day! | Hail, sons of day!
And night and her daughter now!
Look on us here | with loving eyes,
That waiting we victory win....
And ends with a greeting to Her and her Ladies, followed by a "penny ritual" for abundance. Each Friday, as well, I hold a fire to honor and petition Frigga and her Handmaidens.
I do not regularly read through old writings and only occasionally look at some of the Pagan books that I do have on my shelf, though I do when one speaks to me. 
Are you a life-long learner or do you think you've figured it all out?
I certainly do not have it all figured out, but my "ah ha" moments most often come from not-particularly-Pagan sparks, the most recent of which was a talk by indigenous botanist Robin Kimerer.
How are you being mindful of the world around you? What is it saying to you? How are you learning and reflecting, and how can you look at your circumstances through a spiritual eye? Have you tried doing things in a new way? Why not?
Part of my "mindfulness" these days is an increase in political actions. I have started a "15 minute activism" protocol in which I take at least a few minutes each day to fax or email legislators to support or oppose proposed actions. Following some of the awareness that has built as I read Kimerer's book, Braiding Sweetgrass, many of which build on things I was taught while "sitting under the Zen pine" in the beginning of my journey on this path, I find that I am more aware of the plants and animals around me as individuals and populations with whom I can speak.
Having long had a "chop wood, carry water" foundation to my practice, pulls me into a non-mundane point of view often. For me, new ways grow out of old, sometimes as the result of a conversation or something I have read, but always "proven" against my personal experience.