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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Blessed Yule

Return of the Lord of Light

an invocation, of sorts
by Jonah Dove

Tonight we celebrate the Lord of Light’s return
though we know he never left
but was only hidden from our sight.
We know he never left us,
though his power was drawn within.
Tonight we draw it outward,
we allow the darkness to wane.
We open the portals of light
that shine within our hearts
and shine within our spirits
and shine throughout our Triple Souls.

Return to us, Light Bearer!
We await your glowing dawn!
Return to us, Light Bringer!
We await your warmth, renewed!
Return to us, Shining Angel!
Bring blessing to the Earth!

And may each of us be blessed.
And may each of us be blessing.
And may we turn toward the Sun each morning,
as the Wheel turns to herald your blessed return.

Love and laughter to all for the remainder of this holiday season. May we all find what we need and grown into the fullness of our greatest potential.

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Recent events in my life have left me altered. There have been shifts within me, and changes thrust upon me. These shifts are coming from my teachers, my Gods, my friends, my place of employment, my ever-deepening spiritual practice, my own body… everywhere. Everything. Everyone. Because, as my teacher, Thorn, recently pointed out through a quote from Thomas Merton’s book Thoughts in Solitude, there is no division between the “mundane” and the “spiritual.” It’s all unified.

I put a lot of stock in the power of the traditional tools of the Craft to encode and – with time, effort, and meditation – reveal sacred mysteries. Mostly I’m referring to the Elemental Tools: the Wand, Athame, Cup, and Pentacle. Of course there are more, varying by tradition, but these are the four I resonate with most and they are quite common. There is a fifth, extremely common magical tool – shared by most (if not all) Craft traditions, and, indeed, world religions – which is sometimes taken for granted: the Altar.

It’s at the altar where these life changes occur. The altar is where I can bring these changes to examine them and frame them within my spiritual landscape, along with those things that feel stuck, steady, strong, weak, out of control, too big, or too small. The altar is where I can pray for guidance around any of these things. Because the altar is the place where I have access to my center, the Gods, and all the powers of creation.

At the very least, an altar can be seen as a place to do spiritual work. I’d venture a guess that most religious people (consciously or not) view it as a sort of interface point between humanity and divinity. I see it as the hub of the universe – the place where the four elements meet with the active and passive polarities of spirit. A sacred place, indeed.

But there’s another mystery in the altar – an individual mystery for each of us to contemplate. And that is: what you put on your altar, you put on your life. By placing anything on an altar, by any of the above definitions, you are affording it sacred attention. Divine attention.

Yesterday I asked myself a question that I try to revisit every now and again. It’s a question I invite you to ask of yourself, if you find you are brave enough.

What is on the altar of my life?

Considering the magnitude of my last month in this life, that question seems far weightier than usual to me. What IS on the altar of my life? What am I giving that divine attention to? What am I spending my energy on? And does that align with what I profess to hold sacred and important? Does that expended energy propel me towards my goals, or is it spent holding me back?

  • How many times did I look at my phone yesterday to check Twitter or Facebook? And how many times did I check in with spirit?
  • How many hours a week do I spend watching television? Not that many, really, but am I more devoted to catching my favorite shows than doing The Work of This God?
  • How much “entertainment” do I consume? How much art do I create?
  • How many silly wants do I chase after? How many true needs of the world do I rise up to meet?
  • How often do I give fear the honored place on the altar? How often do I instead put courage there and take real action?

There is nothing wrong with putting fear on the altar. Sometimes fear needs divine attention. But do I pray to the fear, or do I pray to face and overcome it? Do I use social networking to build connections and relationships, or to feel social while distancing myself from anything real? Do I use entertainment to relax and rejuvenate, or to deaden and forget? Sometimes the answer to each of these questions is “Yes.”

The great thing about an altar is that, really, it’s a table. It’s a special table, sure, but it’s a table, nonetheless. It can be cleared. It can be cleaned. It can be set anew. And in the same way, we can each clear off the altars of our lives and choose what goes back on them. What do I want to give my attention to? What do I need to give my attention to? And what drains to my energy and attention can I sacrifice to make more room for those things that really matter to me?

Blessed be.

P.S. I’ll be recording a guided meditation from my Elemental Tools class soon, hopefully within the next week or so, around this topic. I will post it on this blog when it’s ready, so check back for it.

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Melek Ta’us.
Melek Ta’us!
MELEK TA’US!

My mind is void of prayer, yet I pray to you, nonetheless. Fill my head with your voice!

My heart is absent of prayer, yet I pray to you, nonetheless. Fill my chest with your pride!

My stomach is empty of prayer, yet I pray to you, nonetheless. Fill my belly with your power!

Stand watch over me.
Brush away what clings upon my Fetch.
Fill my Shining Body with your breath.
Join me in song as I call down the Sacred Dove.

I am your mirror. May your beauty by reflected in me.

Ha! Behold, how beautiful I am!

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Prayer is Listening

You may have heard that prayer is when we speak and meditation is when we listen. A long time ago, when I first heard that truism, it seemed right enough and I took it for what it was. Over time, however, as my practice and connection to deity deepened, it became clear to me that putting prayer and meditation into those terms was really an oversimplification.

Stillness and Silence

Meditation is about mindfulness. It is an opportunity to slow down, to be relaxed and alert, and to create space within ourselves in which we can just be. When I was younger, my “meditation” involved visions and communication with gods and visualizations designed to clear me of negativity. All of these things are good and helpful, but I wish we’d call them what they are instead of lumping them all under the catch-all category of “meditation.” Sometimes even now my meditation sessions are hijacked when one of my allies has something pressing to get across – but that’s usually because I haven’t given myself adequate time for listening and my guides jump at the first quiet moment I get. But for the most part, meditation, for me, is about cultivating stillness and silence. I wouldn’t call cultivating silence “listening.”

Tuning In

The other part of this prayer : talking :: meditation : listening analogy is the explicit assumption that prayer is all about getting our little thoughts up into some big ears. This may be true on the surface, and it’s undoubtedly how most people approach prayer. But if we are praying properly, something deeper is going on.

At the heart of prayer, if we don’t make our prayers out of greed or hate, is the desire to come into alignment with deity. Grant me your wisdom! your love! your prosperity! your compassion! The words or actions of the prayer are only important inasmuch as they relay to our bodies, hearts, and minds which aspect(s) of deity we want to accept into us. A prayer, felt fully, is not about transmitting our desires to the gods. It is about tuning in to our gods bringing our desires into alignment with theirs.

Prayer is listening. The best form of listening is active listening, which involves two-way communication. Your lips may be speaking pre-written or impromptu words, and your fingers may be clicking away at mala beads, and your brain may be focusing intently on what it is you’re asking for, and your heart may be filled with love or reverence or gratitude or need. In other words, you may be talking an awful lot. But if it’s a true prayer, all of that talking is only a means to tune in so that you become receptive to divine will and purpose.

As an example, let’s look at a very famous prayer.say_your_prayers

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

This is such an excellent example of a prayer designed to bring the supplicant into alignment with their god. Taken in pieces, it could also be read this way:

Our Father, who art in heaven: Dear God,
Hallowed be thy Name: I come to you in reverence and awe.
Thy kingdom come. They will be done, On earth as it is in heaven: Align me with your Will and  your Purpose.
Give us this day our daily bread: Continue to care for me, as you always have.
And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. Look favorably upon me, for I have done what is right.
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. May I live in a way which honors you.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. Everything I do is for you, towards your ends.

Desperate Times…

Perhaps you’ve heard a story or two about prayers offered in desperation which are answered quickly and definitively. Desperation, by the way, flies in the face of good magical practice. By focusing on the problem or the need, we will create more of it.* Well, good thing prayer and magic aren’t the same thing! Anyone who says that “spells are just our form of prayers” either hasn’t looked very carefully into the matter or is trying to downplay the significance of magic in their religion to placate the masses. If they were the same thing, desperate prayers would never be answered.

Why are these types of prayers seemingly answered more readily than others? Because when you are down and out, when you’ve tried everything there is to try, when you have nowhere else to turn, you are much more likely to actually be willing to “try anything” and give in to the will of deity. So often we pray for this and that, whether it’s health or money or wisdom, and then we don’t change to allow that gift into our life. We fight our own prayers. We deny our own requests! At that point, we’re just talking, and we’re forgetting to listen. But if we’re desperate, we may just get out of the way. “I’ll do anything!” Even give up a little ego so I can step aside and finally accept the help I’ve been asking for all along.

If we acknowledge our prayers from the start as attempts at listening, perhaps we won’t have to wait until we’ve hit rock bottom to allow them to be answered. If our prayers extend not just outward beyond our lips but also inward, resonating within our very cells, perhaps we will be able to release our stranglehold on our lives and allow ourselves to come into alignment with a higher intelligence, a deeper wisdom, or a more holistic mode of thinking.

Listening

Having said all of this, I would like to add that taking time to just sit and listen is equally important as prayer (active listening) and meditation (cultivating stillness). Maybe it’s time we add listening to our checklist of foundational practices and allow meditation to stand in its own right.

In closing, let me offer one more prayer. You may address it to whomever you see fit.

Beloved one,
who gives me strength and beauty and joy,
walk with me this day
and teach me to be as you.
I open myself to your wisdom.
Make me wise.
I open myself to your power.
Make me strong.
And when I shall learn that final lesson,
may my life have been lived as you would have lived it.
Make me ready.
Make me able.
Make me yours.
Blessed be.

*To be clear: No, I don’t subscribe to the tenets of The Secret and I don’t think the law of attraction is a total and adequate summation of the mechanics of magic.

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Prayer of the Day

I honor the light and the beauty.

I honor the darkness and the shadow.

May I be the ever-changing balance between them.

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A Prayer to Tehuti

I just got back from the beautiful Balboa Park, the largest park and art center in San Diego, California. What a beautiful day to be outside! The sun was bright, the air was warm but not hot under the shade of the trees, there was a gentle breeze, and the tree I was under got a visit from a couple of squirrels looking for their dinner. What follows is what I wrote in my journal while I was there.

I came here to Balboa Park with the specific intention to write. Now that I’m here, I still can’t think of anything to write about. I read a little, and I’ve been sitting here people-watching and enjoying being outside in the late summer air.

I notice that I’m halfway through this book now. I can see the binding threads between this page and the last. The first half has seemed uneventful. Hopefully the rest will have somethig more to offer.

But right now, I feel so drained of Sex.* I don’ know where my creativity went, or what I sold it for. Whatever it was, it was not worth it. But sitting on the grasss under a tree in the shade, listening to the fountain and the children and the wind and the bells in the clock tower… it feels gently rejuvinating. Losing myself in this way seems to have been a slow process. Why shouldn’t replenishing myself be slow and gentle as well? Why try to force anything? All my lessons this year have centered around relaxing and just letting things be. Set boundaries, but let go. Things will grow on their own.

Thoth told me that last bit at Samhain. Here it’s almost Samhain again and I’ve been hearing that lesson all year long. It’s definitely starting to sink in.

So what I’ll write today is a prayer to Thoth, in gratitude and apology for a year of lessons and avoidance.

Mighty Tehuti!
Wise Lord of time and magic
God of scribes and keeper of Law:
I honor you with my very breath
and the ink which flows from my pen.
I have known your Love
and felt unworthy.
I have known your disappointment
and responded with guilt.
But you have remained -
my silent teacher.
Your glory has surrounded me
though I was unaware.
For it is You, my lord,
who drive me towards greatness
who inspires my growth
who guides me in my quest
for knowledge
for understanding
for wisdom.
Your bright eyes smile upon me;
I feel them.
With the reed in your hand
you write blessings on my heart.
And when that heart shines,
I shine it for you,
Tehuti,
bright Lord of Wisdom,
whose magic has led me
and whose star guides me still.

Have you written any prayers to your Gods? I’d love to read them. Please feel free to share or link to them in the comments section.

*Sex in the sense of the Iron Pentacle point of Sex.

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