If I could name a single habit/routine that I have put effort into changing this year that has had the most positive effect on my life and my mental health, it hasn’t been eating better or losing weight. Those are actually very high on the list, and in fact are somewhat supported by the habit I am speaking of. No, I mean establishing a daily devotional routine. I prefer to do my prayers in the morning, because I find that the cleansing and peace tends to follow me throughout the day. If I am in a hurry or for some reason I can’t do my devotions in the morning, I try to do them in the evening when I return home. I have a minimum routine that I try to do every morning, and some mornings I may add devotions or prayers that are more tailored to the days events.
For example, last week I prayed to Asklepios and Eir after my normal morning devotions to Athena and Odin, because I had an appointment with the dentist that was going to attempt to reconstruct two badly damaged teeth. I offered Them barley and promised a libation of wine if it went well. (it did btw) I thought my readers might like a glimpse at my daily devotions.
There is something to said for repetitive prayers, saying the same words over and over. It lends it a curious kind of spiritual power to have the same words said over and over. I feel instantly calm when I start reading one of the prayers on Galina Krasskova’s Pagan prayer cards. My psyche is instantly aware we are heading into Holy space. And what’s more, I know that these words are being said by other Pagans in other places, perhaps on the other side of the globe, if not at the exact time. These other worshipers are lending their personal power to these prayers, wearing a energetic line in the universal spiritual mass, creating a “pathway” if you will. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, see Raven Kaldera’s Pagan theology book “Dealing with Deities” for a better explanation of what I think is basically the same phenomenon, when he explains archetypes and distinguishes the difference between archetypes and Deities. I wrote a review of this FANTASTIC book here (and its available in ebook form for only $5 if you are a bit strapped for cash). This creates an energetic community, even with people whose names I will never know, as we are all mystically bound together in the love of our Gods and spirits. The Catholics got some things right, and this is one of them. We know from our own various traditions that words have Power, often a magical power. Odin Himself practiced a kind of word-magic called galdr. The Egyptian God Ptah was said to have spoken the world into being with Words of Power. Isis tricked Ra into revealing His secret Name to Her, so that She would have power equal to Him. This is not to say that off-the-cuff, from the heart formless prayers to not have their place – I often talk to the Gods the way I would to a friend. But there is something special about repetitive words that forms a meditative state of mind that opens us up to Their Presence.
So, my daily devotions take this basic form:
- Cleansing my sacred space with fire and air: Smudging is a something I have picked up from eclectic Wicca, which in turn picked up the practice of using sage sticks from certain Native traditions. I have gotten into making my own herb mixes and my own smudge sticks. My favorite cleansing blend I have been using lately is mostly eucalyptus with some rosemary and sage.
- Cleansing with water: khernips, Greek holy water, which I sprinkle both around the altar area and I wash my hands and face in it to cleanse myself of miasma (spiritual pollution)
- Prayer to Athena from the Athena prayer card
- Prayer to Odin from the Odin prayer card
- Draw a single rune to see what the day will be like, or if He has any specific messages for me.
- I usually sit here for a few moments in silent contemplation and just be open or enjoy the peace then.
- This is where I would have my “speak from the heart” moment if there are specific issues I am trying to address, or I add prayers, devotionals or offerings to other Gods/Goddesses. This is where I added the prayers to Asklepios and Eir last week. When I have time and/or feel moved I have been adding prayers to Janus, Hestia and the Lares lately, since I am going to be looking for a new place to live next year.
That’s it. That’s my basic devotional routine. Some days I have to shorten it up because of time, sometimes I spend longer on cleansing because I need it, some days I spend more time on prayers and offerings, some days I add more divination, and some days I have to move the entire thing to the evenings. And, I’ll admit this, sometimes I don’t do it at all, but I make an effort to get back on the horse and not get discouraged. Just like with my diet and exercising, I’ve found that small decisions have the most impact. Life is made of small decisions, and you are what you do every day.