Reigniting Your Devotional Practice

For many people, including me, November and December are so busy with family obligations and other social functions thanks to the over-culture, that our own personal devotional practice tends to fall by the wayside for awhile.  Devotional practices, whether they be daily or weekly prayers, meditation, or magical workings, ebb and flow.  They go in cycles like the seasons, and that’s okay.  A dormant season is necessary for a fruitful growing and harvest season.  So, as we’re coming out of the dormant season, it’s okay that our practice may have been dormant for awhile. Now is the time to reignite it.  

This dormant season can be a blessing as well.  It is a time to re-evaluate what in our personal work is still fulfilling and serving us.  For me, each November, I end up re-decorating my altar to accommodate our grove’s Ancestor Box.  This involves clearing off essentially everything that I use for my personal daily practice.  The only things left are my small Hestia statue and a candle.  The rest is taken up by the Ancestor Box.  And then, come December, I replace the Ancestor Box with our large Solstice Spiral that we use to celebrate Winter Solstice as a family.  So, by the time we get to January, my altar is pretty bare and empty, which means that when I go to reassemble it, I’m able to reflect and take a good look at what items I regularly use on my altar, and breathe life into my personal devotions again.  

The first step to restarting your devotional practice is release.  This is an acknowledgement and release of any guilt or shame felt for your devotions faltering.  Again, a dormant season is necessary for a fruitful harvest season, and there is nothing wrong with the natural ebb and flow of things.  Some people find a prayer of expiation to be useful for them, to ritually mark a recommitment to their practice.  There is a great prayer for this in the Hearth Keepers Way:

A Prayer of Expiation
Mighty and Blessed Kindreds,
I had promised to maintain my devotions,
And to bring you offerings in return for your gifts and blessings.
But life got in the way for a little bit.
Know that I still hold you in my heart
And still honor and worship you.
I brought this gift, as I strike up our relationship again.
Accept this offering and be welcome once more at my altar and in my home.

The next piece is reflection, to determine what you want your devotional practice to look like.  For me, I always end up going back to basics.  I set up my bare bones altar, which includes a Hestia statue and candle, a place to burn incense, a small bowl for any offerings I may make, my Well with both omphalos and Tree, and a representation of Poseidon and Garanus Crane.  I figure I’ll add things later if I need them, but those are the pieces I like to have present for my basic devotions.  

This year my “back to basics” looks like a candle lit and brief prayer said each morning as I make my coffee.  Depending on the day I may add in a divination pull, incense, additional prayers, or offered coffee or tea, but those don’t need to be an everyday occurrence for me.  Again, if we look to the Hearth Keepers Way, there are some excellent examples of ready to use prayers, as well as instruction on writing your own prayers.  While it’s a bit longer than I typically do, I’m going to try using the “Daily Morning Prayer” for awhile and see how it fits into my morning routine.  

A Daily Morning Prayer

I will kindle the fire this morning
And center myself among the Three Realms: 
Upon the firm and bountiful Land,
Beside the wide and mysterious Sea,
Under the bright and shining sky.

I will kindle the fire this morning
In the presence of the Three Kindred:
The Nature Spirits, my neighbors on this land,
The Ancestors, for without them I would not be,
and the Shining Ones, who give order and inspiration in my life.

I will kindle the fire this morning
And carry within my heart the virtues of
Hospitality, that I may be kind and receive kindness, 
Wisdom, that I may grow in knowledge and experience, 
and Integrity, that my words and actions be true.

With the fire burning bright this morning, 
I go out into the world
with the blessings of the holy Kindreds.

Finally, the last step of restarting your devotional practice is compassion.  Compassion for yourself as your building a new routine. It’s important to be kind to yourself, and recognize that new habits take time to solidify.  Additionally, in this compassion for yourself, being willing to adjust as needed to make this devotional practice work for you and your life.  It should be an anchor point for your day or week, and a small piece of fulfillment in your life. Give it time to settle, but if it’s not working for you, change it to something that does.  Remember: whatever you have to offer, and whatever prayers you’re able to make, those are enough, and so are you.  

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