Having a sacral calendar that reflects your environment and your spiritual focus is more meaningful than following a one-size-fits-all Wheel of the Year, but every day of the year–no matter how ordinary–can be invested with your spirituality.  The holistic Pagan lives fully in the moment.  Rather than waiting for a special calendar date to give praise to the gods and ancestors, each day is embraced as a new opportunity for spiritual expression p61

0404150800In chapter 3 of To Walk a Pagan Path, titled Daily Devotions, the author, Alaric Albertsson discusses the intersection between his steps 1 (connecting with spirit), 3 (creating sacred time), and 4 (sacralizing daily activities) for truly living fully as a Pagan.   Albertsson encourages readers to “approach each day in a way that is appropriate for your own spiritual focus and circumstances” as “almost any moment of your life can have a deeper spiritual meaning, but those moments are unique to yourself”p 61.  He recommends the morning for meditation or prayer (but recognizes it may not be for everyone)—“the one thing most of us do each morning is rise to face a new day”, saying, “This event, so common and simple, is a great opportunity to affirm your spirituality.”p 62.

Albertsson suggests the idea of a prayer offered to the sun upon waking (it could just as easily be for a patron deity or a deity of your family shrine or your bioregion…or even to the day itself)–Helios for the Greek Pagan, or Ra for the Egyptian Pagan, etc and offers as an example, the daily prayer he uses to greet SuAlbertsson offers other ideas as well–the shower as a time of cleansing and reflection,whether in prayer or in song (a similar idea can be found in Diane Sylvan’s Circle of One, it’s geared towards solitary Wiccans, but with some adaptation it can be easily useful for any solitary Pagan)…and the song doesn’t have to be Pagan–Albertsson gives an example of “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” from Oklahoma, but I’ve washing “negativity right outta my life” to “send it down the drain” for years (to the tune of “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair” from South Pacific) (lets be honest, since the time when men were still the major source of negativity in my life, lol).  He also talks about other sorts of purification rites–washing your hands before starting a new project, etc, to wash off miasma*.   Personally, I prefer  more positive and offensive (rather than defensive) techniques–like the idea of brushing your teeth as a means to foster honest communication (one of Diane Sylvan’s ideas in Circle of One).

Another suggestion of Albersson’s is mealtime blessings.  He offers the example of a prayer he has adapted–“Herthe, who gives us this food, Sunne who makes it ripe and good, Sunne above and Herthe below, my loving thanks to you I show”.  In our family, we’ve used a few kid/family friendly pre-written prayers, but lately we’ve been using mealtime prayers as an opportunity for the kids to establish their own devotions, followed up by a “Thanks to the Earth, the Air, the Rain, the Fire of the sun, the work of many hands, and the spirit and energies of the plants and animals whose bodies we are about to consume.  May Their efforts be put to good purpose with our words and deeds.”  We try to make family dinner our meal for this–I don’t stress whether or not the kids pray before Cheerio’s, and I certainly don’t get a change to do this before I shovel food in my face at my desk at work!  On the nights when we can’t do family dinner (gymnastics nights), we do bedtime prayers instead, and in the mornings, I generally take a moment for meditation at my work altar. You don’t need an altar–each of my kids carries a worry-stone–Chickadee’s is rose quartz, and Sharkbait has amethyst, and they use them as a tangible reminder to find their center when they get a bit out of control.  Such an item could easily be used as a little pocket focus for a tiny moment of thanks and/or reverence through out the day.

I’m in a sincere agreement with most of this chapter–IMO, we should absolutely spend at least some small portion of our day in reverence to something.  But then he follows up this discussion with a comment that I’m not sure whether is meant to be helpful to Pagans or a snide reference to certain Christians, he mentions that “Of course, when I am out at a restaurant, I do not stands up, wave my arms in the air, and loudly chant this prayer.  In a public setting, it is only civil to consider the sensibility of others.  I am not at all apologetic about my beliefs, but those beliefs do not require me to be an oaf.”  If the comment was for the latter purpose: Well you know what, I don’t know the last time I was in a restaurant when anyone was standing up and waving their hands in the air, chanting a prayer.  Sure, I’ve seen families bow their heads, pray together aloud at their table, and even stand up and hold hands and pray together–but not disruptively.  If you are offended by someone else praying in their own space, because *oh, you can hear words* I think you need to do some deep reflection on your own bigotry.   Sure, some people pray out loud as an *oooh, look at me!* moment, but some people also tell obnoxious jokes or act insulting or brag themselves up out loud, and to be honest…that’s totally more annoying!

And if he was going for the former purpose (I’d like to think so, I like to think the best of people), then I still have a little bit of an issue here.  Yes, I understand that some Pagans live in areas of horrible hostility…personally, I’ve rarely experienced anything other than ignorance and mild disapproval from the sort of people that were going to disapprove of me anyhow.  It has been my experience that most people just don’t care, and I’ve been in some incredibly conservative (politically, socially, and religiously) places in the past 20+ years.   Honestly, if the point of all this was to be polite and discreet as a Pagan, I think the comment itself is rather poorly thought out…and if the comment was meant to reassure the Pagan still “in the broom closet” by offering them alternatives to public prayer, it could have been stated with far more clarity.  He does go on to describe some discreet Pagan symbols one could adopt to be unobtrusive, which I think is generally a good idea, whether one lives in an open-minded or close-minded community.  This whole section just sits a bit awkwardly with me–IMO, while yes, there are times when public prayers aren’t appropriate, “at a restaurant” is not automatically one of them…I live in country whose first right is freedom of expression, including religion; I should be celebrating my right to be offended, not fearing of being offensive over a moment spent in prayer (unless we are talking being a legitimate disturbance–if nearby patrons can’t hear over your voice, well that’s just rude, whether it has to do with religion or not!).

 

(get caught up on the Read Along with ch 1 part 1, ch 1 part 2, and ch 2)

*If you aren’t familiar with it, miasma is a Hellenic concept of spiritual pollution that in ancient times closely connected to physical and mental health…while the idea in a modern context is fairly benign, it can also quite harmful.  I have some issues with some of the folks I’ve encountered that still apply these ideas in that fashion…modern science and medicine being what it is, we should know better than to use miasma as a way to shame people with illnesses and disabilities.

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