A peek along a pathway of devotion
When I was a newbie Pagan, I was like most newbies. Thankful that I had finally found a belief system that spoke of things, that I had always felt. I was grateful that here at last, was something that made sense for me and how I saw the world. So I took it on faith and adopted this pathway, that felt so right to me
However, like most newbies, I didn’t even know how to begin to practice my new religion. So I gathered books, I read the basics; I learned about the Sabbats and Esbats and learned to cast circles, learned candle magic, learned the uses of the ritual tools (though I had no tools when I started). I learned about the Goddess and the God, which to my delight, I found that the names they were called in the so-called myths, could still be used.
I didn’t come to the idea of personal devotional acts until I had been practicing for a year or so. My first devotional action was a prayer that I was supposed to say once a day. No rule book or anything said I had to, but it was what I wanted to do. ( I will say, prayer throughout this missive, as the concept of prayer does not belong to any ONE religion )
Anyway, I say supposed to, because it didn’t happen a lot of the time. :) Life would get in the way; ( or rather I let life get in the way ) I’d have some minor mundane ( the day to day world stuff ) thing happen and I’d forget to do the prayer. Or I had family come over to visit and the prayer would be forgotten. In the beginning, sometimes weeks could go by, before I remembered my own self promise, of creating a more devotional practice.
When I self-dedicated however, ( when one commits themselves to the Gods ) one of the things that changed, was how I approached devotion as a whole. I set reminders to myself to say prayers at least once a day, twice if I felt the need, but once a day at least was now mandatory, to my mind.
I noticed that I felt better when I held to the schedule I had created; I was happier, my days seemed easier and less stressful. I felt more grounded and more in tune with the world. And not incidentally, with the Gods. ( I was still learning about them, at that time. )
I noticed that my Esbats and Sabbats felt more connected to me too. ( Sabbats and Esbats are the days we hold bi-monthly rituals. New moons, dark of the moon, or the high holy days ) Before, when I was a new comer, they were just days to celebrate. Days to cast a circle, speak a few words, and oh yeah… eat some cookies and grab an extra Pepsi. But if I forgot to do one (which happened), it was all right.
After I self-dedicated however, the Esbats and Sabbats became be much more important in my life. They became times to stop and contemplate, quiet times of reflection about my life and those around me. If I forgot one, I was very angry with myself.
As I learned more, I found myself praying twice a day more often than not, as I had first intended, morning and night. I felt like it bookended my day, and gave me a sense of connection that extended beyond the Esbats and Sabbats.
Something else started to happen as well.
I found myself really watching the news and shows like America’s Most Wanted, for example, and when there was a murder or someone gone missing, I would send up a quick prayer for that person, their loved ones, the alleged perpetrator(s), and their families.
When someone on Facebook posted that they needed prayer or good energy for someone or something, for example: I would say a prayer right then, and include them in my daily prayers there after. I would add their names to my prayer bowl.
( Which is any sort of bowl, typically placed on ones altar space, that you fill with tiny slips of paper with the names and needs of those you wish to pray for. These slips, are then commonly burnt at the Sabbats, giving them up to the Gods with the smoke, and you start filling the bowl again with new needs and prayer requests.)
These actions by the way, are almost a reflex, of see a need and automatically send up a petition for help, say blessings, send healing, another paper to the prayer bowl.. Etc.
Now we move on down the road a bit … A few years after my self-dedication, I made contact with those who would become my patron deities ( or rather they made contact with me ) and They made it clear to me, that more was needed from me.
I was unsure if I wanted to take that step, but a series of dreams, plus a sign that literally dropped into my hands convinced me, that yes, this was the thing to do. Shortly thereafter, I dedicated to Them.( For what I thought would be a short time. Silly me :) as They had other plans for me. )
To add to my knowledge and understanding, and to bring a sense of deeper devotion, I bought books of devotional prayers. In my case it was ones that are said in the morning, afternoon, evening, and at night, This book is called, the book of hours, Pagan style. Please contact me if you would like the name of the author.
Another change is, that I found myself praying or expressing thanks during “non-devotional times” as well. Like going to the store, saying thanks that I could afford to buy food or making dinner, to bless the food for all who would partake of it. And others, but all so called .. Mundane events, that I found myself doing, prayerfully.
I also noticed, that every time I hear or see a fire truck or an ambulance, I say a blessing on the suffering person(s) and on the first responders, to say thanks and keep them safe. I find myself saying prayers for the souls of animals killed on the highways and on the streets, to send them peacefully over the Rainbow bridge.
Understand, it is never a chore to do these things. I have never felt forced to do them by anyone or anything. Is just that doing them feels good, feels “right” like I am making a difference.
Back in May or June, I had a clear vision, for lack of anything better to call it, of a bracelet. It was so clear and so real, that I could feel its weight on my wrist. I knew I had to have this, absolutely had to.
My teacher makes jewelry, and I told her of my total conviction that this bracelet was meant for me. She listened to my impassioned speech and suggested that it was perhaps a sign, that it was time for a deeper commitment to my patrons.
So she made the bracelet for me and when I received it, I found she was right. I was ready, and took on the deeper commitment. I became fully bonded to my patrons, meaning that I am Theirs, to do Their work or whatever is required of me, for the rest of my life. This is not a choice one makes lightly.
Since I did that, even more changes in devotion have happened. I feel as though my whole day is a prayer now. I wake up with prayers. I shower and dress with prayers. I watch television and go about my day with prayers.
My life now is anchored by prayer and what services I can offer. Whether it be a prayer, sending healing, or just a sympathetic and caring ear, I offer whatever is needed as I see the need, as fully and deeply as I can. And I give thanks to the Gods, that they find me fit to be a small part of their grand design for the Great work of uplifting all of Mankind.
Thank you for letting me share this condensed version of my walk down the sometimes rocky road of commitment and devotion, on the Pagan path. Blessed be to all who read this and May the Gods smile upon you.