A prayer I need right now

From Goddess Initiation by Francesca de Grandis.

I have been knocked down and ridiculed. Lift me back onto my feet.

People have tried to shame me. Walk with me so that I can be proud.

They have tried to stop me from being healthy. Stand by me while I make myself whole.

They have tried to keep me from my power. Show me my power, which is inside me already, reflecting yours.

Thank you, Mother. Thank you, Father.

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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.

Karma: my thoughts

Something my sister did a few days ago got me thinking about karma.

Colonel Crazy’s girlfriend braided my hair for me. It’s great, and I’m thankful; thanks to her I don’t have to worry about my hair for a while. So after it’s done, I’m swinging it around, getting used to it (I haven’t had braids for a couple years) and in comes the Bestower of Righteous Silliness.

“Look! [Colonel Crazy’s girlfriend] did it for me. I love it, isn’t it nice?” I say to her.

BoRS looks down her nose at my hair. “Well, it’s better than it normally looks.” Imagine this said in the most disgust-filled tone you can.

The insult to my normal hairstyle aside (BoRS is always making snide comments about the way my hair looks), Colonel Crazy’s girlfriend is standing right there when BoRS says this, and if looks could kill, my sister would have been dead on the spot.

I mean, really? Who says things like that–and with the person who did the job (some 3 hours work, I might add)–standing right there? BoRS swans out after this, leaving me, Colonel Crazy, and his girlfriend scowling after her.

Later, I went to Colonel Crazy’s girlfriend and assured her that I love my hair, that she did a great job and that I’m very thankful to her for doing it. I told her not to worry about BoRS; she has a low opinion of my hair in general, except when she does it.

Colonel Crazy’s girlfriend shrugged and said, “I’m not worried about her; she’s just a hater. Karma will get her.”

*********                                 **********                               ***********

Now, my family doesn’t profess to believe in karma–though one of my mom’s favorite sayings is : “What comes around goes around.”

I have heard karma defined simply as experience. The Hindu definition of the word is “action”, if I recall correctly (if one of my readers knows differently, please enlighten me). Most people I know think of karma as some mysterious thing that will pay you back the same way you wronged someone else. For example, if you hit somebody with your car, you’ll be hit by a car at some point.

I don’t believe it works quite that way. Using the example of hitting somebody with your car, I think you won’t necessarily be hit by a car, but something as bad will happen to you.

Karma works because the Golden Rule is a real, universal law: treat others the way you want to be treated. Put out good in the world, and good will return to you. Not in the same way you put it out there, but it will return to you. The reverse is also true: put bad out there, and bad will come back to you. Again, not the same way you put it out there, but it will come back (and it seems the bad returns quicker than the good, in my experience).

That’s my thoughts on karma. I’d love to hear others, even if they disagree. 🙂

Prayer

Everyone I’ve told about my being pagan always asks what I pray about and how I do it.

The snarky answer I’m always tempted to give to that question is “I pray about the same things you do, duh!” I guess hearing that Pagans pray is sufficiently mind-blowing to some people that they can’t help but ask.

It’s true, though. I pray about the same things that people who pray do: fulfilling work, happiness, my loved ones. I give thanks, ask for healing, ask for clarity, ask that this metal box that lets me reach out to my friends stay working (yes, I do say prayers for my computer–doesn’t everyone?)

I usually say formal prayers twice a day–in the morning and again before bed. Morning prayers are the time when I express thanks for the day, for the fact that I’m up and around in the day. I ask that I have a smooth day, with no major explosions, and if one should happen, that I not go ballistic and do something ill-considered. I usually say the Serenity Prayer too, since I think I have need of it.

Nighttime prayers are when I give thanks for the day that’s gone. I say prayers for those in my prayer bowl, say prayers for myself and my loved ones. I ask that my parents get off to work safely the next day (they both leave for work before dawn), and that the cars work well. Finally, I ask for restful sleep and no nightmares.

There are times when I ask for more, times when I need reassurance, guidance, or comfort. Sometimes my prayers sound more like rants–which always surprises people.

Prayer works, guys. I won’t begin to preach about the power of prayer, but it really does.

Sometimes, the universe answers very quickly

I woke up this morning (technically yesterday morning, but I haven’t been to sleep yet) asking myself which duty is more important: duty to self or duty to others. Where is the right path between the two?

During my morning devotions, I asked for an answer to that question, then I went off to begin the day.

Later in the afternoon, I was cleaning the playroom in preparation for a relative’s overnight visit. When I opened up a toy bin to remove all the tiny, mismatched pieces of toys past, I saw a book.

Now, I have most of my books boxed up. The boxes are closed and taped. I wondered how this one book had escaped confinement as I picked it up and turned it over.

It was The Bhagavad-Gita.

It’s about this prince, Arjuna. He’s having a moral dilemma. He’s getting ready to charge into battle and kill a few hundred of his kinsmen, and put himself in the way of maybe being killed, in order to sort out a matter of kingship. So, of course, the poor guy’s nearly paralyzed with indecision. Should he go out there and battle his kin, or should he just turn around and head home?  He and his charioteer, the god Krishna, have a dialogue and one of the questions that pops up is “Where is the right path between two conflicting duties?”

I did ask that question earlier.

I read the Gita in college, but that was long ago. Since it was just there in that toy bin, I think I need to read it again and see if I can find an answer to my question.

 

Samhain and semantics

Samhain is my favorite holiday. I mean, really and truly. I had to be the only kid I knew who rated it (though I called it Halloween when I was a kid) above Christmas.

So it really grates on my nerves to hear the usual stuff that gets spouted off this time of year.  The admonishments to keep your cats (especially black ones) inside, the scare tactics, the crappy “real histories” of the holiday that some Christian stations bat around.

The thing that really gets me is the effort that some churches are going to in order to “take back” the holiday. The Bestower of Righteous Silliness and her family are members of a church that’s advertising that.

BoRS’s church has “Harvest Celebration”s every year. I went to one a couple years ago, and yeah, it was the same stuff we used to do for the holiday as kids: dress up in costumes and nab ten times our weight in sugary goodness, except it was on the church grounds.

After blinking at the huge banner that proclaimed it was a “Harvest Celebration” and observing the usual trick-or-treat madness going on around me, I asked BoRS why they changed the name.

“Because we want to show people that this has nothing to do with that evil devil holiday,” was her answer.

Oh, really? Kids and grown-ups are dressed up in costumes, there are little stations all around the church parking lot, and at each station the kids say “Trick or treat!” and present their bags to be filled with said pounds of sugary goodness. But what I’m seeing has nothing to do whatsoever with the holiday that you say is an evil devil day?

Right. Please tell me what the difference is, as I see none.

Is the difference that it’s on the church grounds, and so none of those “devil” influences can possibly sneak up and grab the unsuspecting party-goers as they get candy? Granted, it’s safer than going door-to-door to get the candy (though that was part of the fun for me when I was a kid). If that’s the reason, then say so. But why go through the craziness of a name change?

I’m not even going to touch the craziness of the statement that Samhain is evil and has to do with the devil, except to say this: it’s not and it doesn’t. Do some research.

If you want to protect the kids and yourselves from the day’s “evil influences”, why are you celebrating the day, anyway? That makes no sense to me. The day is so bad and evil, but you’re having the celebration of the bad, evil day on your holy ground!

Rant over. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Adventures in Divining

I just did a spread for myself using the playing cards.

I drew three cards. Maybe it’s talking about how I feel right now.

First card was the eight of hearts, second card the four of diamonds and the third card was the Queen of clubs.

According to all the websites I could find on it, hearts equal cups, diamonds equal pentacles and clubs equal wands.

So based on what I read the cards mean, I’m at a point where I could start on a new path–if I’m willing to just let go of control and stop blocking myself. I need to have faith in myself and realize that all I need is there already.

At least I think that’s what it means. I feel good about it.