The Body Wicked
Original airdate: Fri, 09 Dec 2005Original name: Episode 20 – We Recommend
This week Storm and Sorcha have a discussion with author Dianne Sylvan about her books “The Circle Within” and “The Body Sacred”. Musical Interlude: “Mother Earth” by Freedom Call. Vote for your favorite pagan podcast on Podcast Alley and look for more Proud Pagan Podcasters!
Archive for » April, 2012 «
While writing yesterday about prayer, I mentioned all of the habits and rituals that took the place of prayer in my life when I was a baby pagan, things like casting a protective circle over myself when I went to bed (particularly in a strange place) or lighting a candle on an altar. It got me thinking about the habits we develop in our daily lives, at work and in our spiritual practice.
First off, let me say I am driven to distraction. I’m a Gemini, born in the Year of the Rabbit who has adult ADHD (currently medicated) and who is constantly connected to some kind of technological device that is stealing my attention, my brain cells and probably giving me cancer. Sorcha has had numerous near heart attacks after learning that I’ve walked across a busy street while reading a book, or checking my email or some other distracting activity that might get me killed.
At the same time, I can be totally predictable. When I go to a new restaurant, I try a few things and then settle on one that I get every time I go back. The first thing I do when I wake up every morning is take my ADHD medication and the last thing I do before I go to bed each night is brush my teeth. Amidst all of chaos of my mind, those habits make sure I do all of the things I need to do to get through the day.
When I break my routine and abandon my habits, disaster occurs. After walking and feeding the dogs each morning, I get the kids started on their day and then I start mine, bringing the dogs with me to hang out in my bedroom and bathroom where I can keep an eye on them. Everything is done in a precise order. Walk dogs. Feed dogs. Wake and feed kids. Dogs are done eating so take them into bedroom. Close door. Get shower.
This morning I didn’t do that and the pod-dog (the one you hear barking at the end of episodes) got into a bag of snacks my son had decided to sit on the floor and proceeds to eat 4 out of 6 full packs of Orbit gum. Good news – he no longer has dirty mouth. Bad news – he might be blowing bubbles out of his ass by the time I get home.
At work, developing habits keep me employed. My best days are the days that I keep all the little habits and rituals I have developed that make sure all of my voice mail is returned, my email is answered and reports are completed. My worst are the ones where I don’t and I spend all day watching TED videos or seeing what’s new over on Geek and Sundry. Habits set the tone for how my day is going to be. I know by lunch whether the day will be productive or not based entirely on whether I’ve kept to my habits.
So where I’m going with this? I have home habits that make sure I leave the house with my pants on and ensure that I’ve locked the house up at night. I have work habits that ensure I don’t get distracted and eventually fired. But what spiritual habits do I have? Am I allowing myself to be distracted spiritually or magically? Am I ensuring that I am dedicating enough time to that very important part of life?
Pagans talk a lot about Knowing Thyself. I feel like I’m pretty strong in this area. Part of knowing myself is knowing not only what I’m good at but where I struggle and finding ways to compensate for that – and being honest with myself about it.
If I’m honest about myself, I haven’t kept very good habits when it comes to my spiritual wholeness lately. I’m not lighting the candles like I used to. I’m not cleansing my aura as much as I should. Not because I don’t want to, or because I don’t care about it, but because I’ve let the world distract me from it.
So in an effort to (re)establish my own spiritual habits, here are seven simple spiritual habits that can be incorporated into your daily life and help you live magically everyday.
Growing up in a community of Southern Baptists, prayer was a part of daily life. Prayers were given at meals, at business meetings and public events as well as before, during and after any church function. We had battles over it. I remember once getting caught up in a year long battle over prayer in schools that featured recitations of the Lord’s Prayer at high school football games and culminated in an unsanctioned student led protest prayer at my high school graduation.
I found paganism in college – ironically at a private Presbyterian college – during a time when I was at odds with Christianity. Like many pagans, those early years were spent rejecting anything that reminded me of institutionalized religion. In my mind, you couldn’t get much more institutionalized than prayer. After all, the first prayer I ever learned was in elementary school at the lunch table:
God is great, God is good,
Let us thank him for our food.
By his hand, we are fed,
thank you Lord, our daily bread.
Needless to say, prayer was one of the first things I excised from my daily spiritual routine. It had never really fulfilled me in any case. So many times, prayer seemed to contain nothing but a long laundry list of things that the person wanted and made me feel like a pestering child who always came to their ‘father’ holding a hand out.
Over the years though, life and experience has caused me to reevaluate my relationship to prayer – the most recent being my daughter turning fifteen and learning to drive.
All kidding aside, prayer is something I’ve realized I’ve always needed in my life. Even though I rejected the form that prayer took in the Christian church, it was soon replaced by other little rituals, some of which stuck and some of which didn’t. The lighting of a candle on an altar, the casting of a protective circle or ward when I slept or when I felt uneasy. The irony of course is that all of these things were in themselves, a type of institutionalized prayer – even if I was the one institutionalizing them.
How I pray has changed but so has my understanding of it. I still don’t like the laundry list of needs and wants style of prayer. If I need or want something in my life I set out a plan to gain or achieve it and I put energy towards that goal. It might include some raising of energy or an act of magical will, but more often than not, it doesn’t.
So what is prayer to me? Below are a few thoughts of my own, in no particular order of importance.