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Archive for August, 2010

On Practice and Pentacles

Sometimes, having a daily practice can be difficult. And when I say “difficult” I mean fucking hard. And on days like today, when I have the I-don’t-wannas getting in the way, I know it’s because I need my practice more than ever.

Things have been in flux in every area of my life, including my personal space. So it’s easy to look at my altar and think that it’s not exactly where I want it to be, it’s not set with the things I’ll need, there are clothes I left on the floor where I’d like to put my cushion. It’s easy to turn away and find some distraction to substitute for the calming effects of the breathing work, the centering effects of grounding practice, the deepening effects of sitting meditation. But, whatever I might find, they are poor substitutes. And they don’t last long.

And this morning, I felt that, in addition to the I-don’t-wannas, I just could face the sheer effort involved. Because let’s be honest – the physical and mental actions required of a daily practice are very simple and usually very easy, but the actual practice is anything but. What could be easier than placing a few things on a table? Or filling a glass of water? Or lighting a candle? How hard is it, really, to say a prayer? To sit still for a several minutes? To imagine a few lights and colors?

All of those things are easy, taken individually. But it’s the combination that is a challenge. Because when arranging things on a table is really setting an altar, you have to question what you want to bring to your life today. When pouring a glass of water is really a spell of internal cleansing and alchemy, you have to confront those things you’ve allowed to hold you back. And when lighting a candle is really inviting in the Gods…

But as I attempted to seek out hollow distractions, something in me was craving spiritual practice. I had a brief yet potent vision. It was a simple image, but one that means so much to me it could not be ignored. The image was a pentacle.Pentacle

In my Elemental Tools class, I like to say that the pentacle asks us: “Where do you stand? Are you willing to start from here?”

The altar isn’t set. Can I set it? There are clothes on the floor. Can’t they be picked up? I just don’t want to practice. Can I bring that to my practice with me?

I can, and I will. Because the difficulty of practice, when it is difficult, makes choosing practice that much more powerful.

(And sometimes… practice is easy!)

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