I’ve seen a few blog posts and Facebook discussions about the difficulties in continuing religious and spiritual practice in the current world lockdown situation. For various reasons I haven’t attended a group ritual for over six months now and I honestly don’t miss it. I tried at Samhain but struggled with anxiety and emotional swings and although I had prepared the ritual I ended up not taking part and passing it to others to carry out. I haven’t truly enjoyed many group rituals for well over a year now.
For some people the social aspect of gathering for a ceremony also plays an important part but it doesn’t for me. I do reasonably well socially if I have a set role, a set purpose to my being there, but I struggle otherwise. It’s something I have come to accept about myself. I have learnt how to work with my social anxiety to push through when I need to but doing so is tiring. Give me a set role or purpose and I am totally different because I know the boundaries of my “part”.
What is very important to me spiritually are the solitary devotional practices that I have developed over the last few years. There is a routine and rhythm to my devotions. I make an offering each evening to at least one being. The offerings are usually alcohol but not always. Sometimes I will light incense or a candle but not every night. I sit before the altar and the first step is to dip my finger in the blessed water I keep on my water beings shrine and touch it to my head saying “cleanse my mind that I may think clearly”. I touch my lips and throat with the water saying “cleanse my voice that I may speak truly” and then I touch over my heart saying “cleanse my heart that I may be filled with compassion”. I usually pour out the offering before I sit down so I then hold my hand over the goblet in question, as I have a few different small goblets I use and offer it to whichever being I am honouring that day. Most days I then pick up my prayer beads and pray, sometimes I just sit in silence, sometimes I chant. While I am praying and communing I am usually sat in a cross legged position and I also sway backwards and forwards because this is a comfortable way for me to sit and swaying back and forth is very soothing for me. I often go into a light trance state like this for a few minutes. When I’m finished I stand and put my floor pillow, which is an old flat pillow, away.
The offerings stay on the altar overnight and the next morning I pour them out into a bowl on my outdoor altar or if the offering is milk or my ancestral offerings I pour that directly onto the ground. While doing to I greet the being I am pouring the offering out for with a simple “hail” and I greet the day.
This is my daily practice now. For a long time it was was an almost daily practice with no set offerings on Tuesdays and now I make offerings and pray every day. In addition to these daily offerings I also honour beings of local waterways, the seas and oceans on full and dark moons and I flame tend for Brigantia every twenty days.
This daily practice is important to me but it’s not something I set out to develop as a specific daily practice. It grew and changed as the relationships I have with the deities I honour grew and changed. There are other aspects of my spiritual and devotional practice that take place more randomly when I am outside but the core part of my devotions are these daily prayers and offerings in my home, by my home altar.
I have shared something of my practices in the hope that it helps some of you reading this even if that’s only in learning about other options. If you don’t have any home based practices now might be a good time to think about what you might be able to do. My routine has developed over years though so please don’t expect anything you choose to do to fall into place swiftly, it might take time and experimentation for you to feel comfortable with anything you are able to do at home. I’m also aware that for varying reasons you might not be able to do anything on a daily basis at home. Each of us should feel free to develop our own methods of spiritual practice to suit our own circumstances and in our own time.