My daily practice is getting much more steady, and the more I do it, the more I find it is of value, and the more I want to do it, every day. It’s one of my touchstones, a way I orient myself to myself, and the world, and the Powers, to time and place and spirit.
I get up, and see my husband off, then usually settle down under my light-therapy light; this is especially necessary in winter or on rainy, gloomy days. Sometimes I have to deal with the cats’ needs first, although as the kittens grow up this is getting easier. Sometimes I read under the light, sometimes I do my journaling then, and often I pop open my Google Reader page and check in with the state of the world, or at least those corners of the world with feeds I subscribe to. Then I go into my office, which is also my ritual space, journal if I haven’t already, and set up my altar: dust it off, get out a new incense stick, put some water in the seashell on the western side, check that the candles are okay. I flick my sacred Zippo (1) and light the candles, then settle down on my kneeling bench (2) with my prayer beads.
My beads have three sections with seven beads each; I’ve written a series of prayers/meditation phrases for each of the four directions/elements, the center, and the Lord and Lady. Going through those seven, in order, three times, is the heart of my daily practice. They’re short prayers; the whole thing takes ten to fifteen minutes, less if I hurry. But I find that the repetition three times is important. Many people have observed the importance of triple repetition to the human psyche; somewhere around the middle of the second time, even if I was hurried and anxious and totally all over the place, I find myself settling down, and really concentrating on what I’m doing. For me, this is an example of the saying, “Once is an accident; twice is a coincidence; three times is a pattern.” Pattern, as we know, is one of the distinguishing features of ritual.
Then I either sit and meditate quietly on a topic or an idea, or I do what I call the 21-breath exercise. This is my variation on the “Tree of Life” exercise, and it’s a method of grounding and centering. I go through my prayer beads again, and take a deep breath in and out for each bead. On the first set of seven, I imagine myself growing roots down into the earth, eventually all the way down into the core, until the Earth is a great root ball, where my roots and those of all the other creatures intertwine endlessly. On the next seven, I imagine myself growing branches out into the sky, spreading wider and wider, and eventually reaching up so high that the stars are like lights hung among my branches. On the third seven, I breathe in and out the energy through roots and branches, grounding and finding my center in the heart of the Tree of Life.
I finish with my Oath, my personal statement of what I do, what I believe, and who I am.
I’m trying to work back up to including some light yoga in my practice, because I believe it’s equally important to exercise both the mind (with meditation) and the body. But my body is notoriously unreliable, so that next step may take a while.
What’s your practice? When, where, and how do you orient yourself?
(1) Yes, I actually have a sacred Zippo. My husband gave it to me so that I’d have one of my very own (and stop borrowing his) for ritual. It was a touching gift, and I love it. Personally, I think it embodies the nature of Wicca: it’s a thoroughly modern tool that I use in my spiritual practice in ways that borrow from elements of religion that stretch back well before the dawn of history. Also, the statement, “Oops. The Sacred Flame of Brigid needs more lighter fuel,” is just too funny to pass up.
(2) I find this a more comfortable way to meditate than sitting cross-legged; I made my own, but you can also buy them from just about any place that sells Zen meditation supplies.