Bringing Ritual into Your Everyday

Into the Forest - Photographer: Andy Pearce

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Many people are drawn to the neoPagan paths because of the images of pop culture. TV shows like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Charmed’ have put a new face on magic and witches. Gone are the days of ‘Bewitched’ and ‘I Dream Of Jeannie’ when magic was a wiggle of a nose or a blink of an eye. The new Hollywood witch actually has to work at her magic. While these new TV images are closer to real people than the characters from shows in the past, you and I both know we don’t spend our days fighting demons and monsters. I doubt very much whether any of us has actually met a demon much less vanquished one. 

After some study and conversations with more experienced witches, it becomes apparent that being Pagan isn’t about casting love spells and warding off evil beings. Seeing beyond theHollywood glamour, you begin to realize you’ve stumbled onto a way of life. To many who choose a neoPagan path, it is their religion. 

If you live in an area where there are other Pagans, you've been lucky and met some of them. You've attended public rituals. Many witches and Pagans frequent on-line forums, bulletin boards and chat rooms. The more experienced people that you've met generally take their chosen paths very seriously. They are full time Pagans. You've seen them at open ritual or on-line and you want what they have. The only problem is you're not sure how to get there. 

You've read a few recommended books. Maybe you've even read a few books that weren't recommended. Through those books you've learned about the Sabbats and esbats. You've learned about circle casting and ritual tools. You feel great about your first Solstice celebration but that was ages ago. It’s weeks yet until a Full Moon. You want more. 

There are 365 days in a year. Even if you celebrate all eight Sabbats and all 13 esbats, you’re still left with 344 days that aren’t holy days. Let’s say you add in all the New Moons and the quarter moons as well. That would take care of a few more days. What about all the normal days which remain? Do you stop being Pagan just because it isn’t a holiday? I don’t think so. 

Being a Pagan isn’t something you take on and off with your ritual robes. Once you start to follow a Pagan path, it becomes part of you. It becomes part of your viewpoint into the world around you. I know for me, when I started to seriously follow my Pagan lifestyle, I started seeing things Pagan all around me. It was funny. Sometimes I would see a rune or a Pagan symbol in the most obscure places, like the corner Quickie Mart! 

The purpose of ritual is to bring us closer to the Divine. Many religions and philosophies recommend daily prayer and meditation. There is no real reason why we cannot borrow the good ideas from other spiritual paths and make them our own. The idea of daily prayer and meditations are excellent places to start increasing your daily connection to the Goddess and God. After all, the very idea of having a spiritual life is to deepen that connection and understanding. 

I think the best place to start is in the beginning. I begin my days every morning with a prayer to Goddess. I ask for Her care and protection throughout the day. I also ask that She help me to be the best me I can be for the day. Sometimes, I add to my morning prayer if I have something on my mind. I’ll ask for guidance to help solve a problem that I have been struggling with. Or if I have an unusual activity like a job interview or a speech to give, I’ll ask Goddess to give me the strength needed for that. I thank Her and get up and start my day. 

Another way to reach out to the Divine is with gratitude. When was the last time you gave a prayer of thanks? Think how lucky you are to have three meals a day. What a perfect opportunity to connect with Goddess and God! You can make a blessing over each meal. It doesn't need to be anything elaborate. It doesn't even need to be out loud. In less than the time you need to prepare a meal, you can connect with your Gods on a regular basis during the day. It can be a simple as saying "Thank you for feeding me today, Goddess." 

The act of giving back can also strengthen your connection to the Gods. There are many ways of giving back. If you have a yard you can create a compost pile. My daughter loves to do her special chore of ‘feeding Mother Nature’. Every evening she takes the vegetable trimmings and table scraps out to the compost pile. She enjoys her evening conversations with Goddess. 

Other ways of giving back include putting out birdseed and recycling. Giving of your self to the community is another. These actions can include donating time or material possessions to local charities, participating in blood drives or becoming active in community organizations that promote a cause you care about. The list of options is as endless as your imagination. What makes these things Pagan is how you approach them. Make them special by adding a sense of ceremony to them. Bless them the same way you would the cakes and ale on a Full Moon. (You share those with the Goddess after circle, don’t you?) 

At the end of the day, an additional opportunity presents itself as bedtime prayers. Thank the Goddess for seeing you safely through another day. I use this time before sleep to review my day’s activities. I make a note of where I am proud of my behavior and where I’d like to improve how I interact with my fellows. After years of doing this, I can happily say, I am becoming better at the things I can be proud of. There are fewer days where I feel like I caused harm to others with my words or actions. 

Many Pagans keep a daily journal with their private thoughts and ideas. They use it as a kind of mini ritual each day. Personally, I have never been able to keep a daily log of conversations with the Goddess, after my morning prayer, I usually jump in to my day with both feet. 

I have developed my daily ritual behaviors over years of trial and error. Some actions have been added and some taken away over that time. In the long run the result is that thoughts of Goddess and God are never far from my heart and mind. I am a Pagan all day, everyday. I don’t need to wait until the next holy day or Full Moon to experience the joy being a child of the Gods brings to me. It is part of my every day. 

© W. Lyon Martin
Original Publication Date - 2004

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About the Author

W. Lyon Martin is an Eclectic Pagan living in Eastern Missouri. She has been following a Pagan lifestyle since the mid 1980s. An accomplished watercolor artist, she wrote and illustrated “An Ordinary Girl, A Magical Child”; a Pagan children’s book for young readers, available soon.

Resources

http://www.handcraftedpagan.com - Lyon's website is geared toward unique handmade gifts and fine art for the Pagan home. She lives with her husband, her 10-year-old daughter and one old cat of undetermined ancestry.