Essays, infertility, Modern American Polytheism

Daily Practice

So, the practice of religion. It’s an odd thing; I’ve rarely discussed this with anyone before, and it’s actually a little intimidating – so much of what I do is based on my own trial and error, which was based on reading and listening (and a very tiny bit of group ritual experience). I didn’t start out as a newbie Pagan in a Wicca 101 class – in fact, I had been on this path several years before reading anything by Scott Cunningham or Silver Ravenwolf – so my starting point often seems to be on another planet from many of those around me

In fact, my first official starting point was ceremonial magick – it was hauntingly familiar, almost like a favorite old quilt, given my strict German Lutheran upbringing. The archangels and demons were not so familiar (though the concepts were known to me, having many German Catholic friends who I discussed religion with over recess). But I always saw ceremonial magick as something not to be taken lightly, and I wanted to be sure that I understood the situation before actually attempting much in the way of workings. Interestingly, by the time I got comfortable enough with the material to think about actually using it, I’d realized that wasn’t where I belonged.

Before ceremonial magick, there was meditation and astral travel – things I’d done as a young teen interested in ESP. Somewhere along the way, I put all the toys on a shelf due to a bad experience, and I left them there until I was in my early twenties.

But that’s neither here nor there. At this point, what is it that I do, religion wise?

I tried doing daily prayers for a while. I’d keep up with it a few weeks, and then something would get in the way. I also tried for a long while to smudge when I came home from work. While it’s relaxing after a stressful day, getting in the habit of doing it every day instead of getting on with the things I needed to do was really a struggle. I tried doing the LBRP, but I have a really hard time with anything that requires rote memorization, and to this day I have to have a cheat sheet to get all the words correct.

What’s worked best the last couple of months has actually revolved around 2 changes in my life – in December I learned Reiki, and in early January I learned that I was pregnant, after five years of trying and 2 different doctors.

That change required a substantial change in thinking and in how I see myself, because it was nearly incomprehensible after all the time spent working through the infertility mess. My mundane daily routine has had to shift because of this – I need more sleep, I need to eat smaller portions more frequently, and not eat some things that I would normally eat. I have to be more aware of my overall energy levels, and what I’m doing with the energy I do have.

Interestingly, these shifts have included finally getting into a groove when it comes to daily practice. When I lay down to go to sleep at night, I spend some time grounding and centering, and then Reiki myself and the baby (and actually, I saw a green spot in my second chakra about four days before I knew I was pregnant, which I’ve since realized is the baby) – sometimes a full body scan, sometimes just one or two spots that need help. And if I’m still awake by then, some brief meditation and a round of thanks to my matron Goddesses and any others who I ought to acknowledge. It’s working out to be a good way to deal with stress from work, the business, and the crazy body-changing and life-changing events that go with pregnancy.

The other not-quite daily ritual I have revolves around our living room, which is the space that most clearly defines “family” for me. The mantle above the fireplace became a sort of impromptu altar a couple years back, with a pillar candle of some sort, a regular supply of nag champa incense, and a block with spaces for seven tea lights. On a regular basis (at least once a week, and sometimes every day), I light the pillar candle and a stick of incense, with a short prayer asking anyone who’s listening (particularly land/household spirits/minor gods) for happiness and safety for me and mine – my family (both by blood and by choice), and any other minor requests for the household. When the mood strikes, I use tea lights to represent specific requests at the same time.

More on my practices to come in the following weeks.

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