Finding the value of repetition

Right now my personal work makes it clear that I’m going to have to go back and work through some parts of my past and myself again. When faced with this, one of my first thoughts is that there must be something wrong with me to have to do this work over again, even if it’s a little deeper and a little different each time. I wish I could just do it once and have those “issues” taken care of, have them no longer be issues at all.

But that’s a silly thing to think. Take grounding and centering as an example; I was just recently teaching someone new to Wicca about grounding and centering, and could not encourage her enough to practice it repeatedly. Of course grounding and centering is something that’s never “done” or “finished.” I know we have to practice repeatedly.

In the same way, no one would expect to be finished with practicing yoga; heck, we don’t even expect that a very practiced yogini can instantly bend or twist into any given position without the proper preparatory work in a given session. The value is the practice, even when it seems repetitive and simplistic.

Why should I expect the “big” work to be any different?

I’m actually a fan of repetition in ritual across time; it builds familiarity and power in the words and actions, if you do it mindfully (which is just another example of why mindfulness is a root practice for any kind of spiritual work). There can be a wonderful sense of comfort in knowing that you’re doing something you’ve done before, perhaps that others have done before you, perhaps for years on end. In a relatively young religion like Wicca, that sense of comfort is hard to come by, so perhaps I prize it all the more when it does happen in ritual. I know that I have found similar comfort in familiar yoga routines and comfort in the same practices of grounding and centering as well.

So my full moon work this month is going to be looking at things that I want to think I can “fix” once and for all, and instead giving myself space and grace to value the repetition. I realize now that maybe some parts of my personal work will never be finished, or fixed, or whatever it is I wish they were. Maybe I should see them as part of my ongoing practice, not part of my past. I can savor the small differences each time I repeat them, knowing that my progress is a spiral, not an endless loop, but perhaps I can learn to savor the familiarity as well.

How is repetition or ongoing practice part of your work? How could it be a greater part of your work?

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About Literata

Literata is a Wiccan priestess and writer. She edited Crossing the River: An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys, and her poetry, rituals, and nonfiction have appeared in works such as Mandragora, Unto Herself, and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. Literata has presented rituals and workshops at Sacred Space conference, Fertile Ground Gathering, and other mid-Atlantic venues. Literata offers healing and divination services as well as customized life-cycle rituals. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation in history with the support of her husband and four cats.
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