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It’s a common thing to hear that there’s a difference between our magical lives and our mundane lives. In reality, we have the ability to step into ritual and devotion each and every day.
I love rituals. I mean, I really love rituals. I'm enchanted by the very act of drawing a temenos line between this moment and that moment. Time itself seems to stand still or speed up or shift in some way that doesn't seem quite congruent with the way I understand the universe to usually work on an otherwise ordinary Monday afternoon. I find there's a fluidity of speech and movement. The words and actions take on a life of their own as if they themselves are animated for the sole purpose of co-creating this exact moment of devotion.
I've found that effective ritual practices don't have to be elaborate or on a grand scale. Although, let me just say that I'm partial to a thrumming mass of Pagan-type folk all gathered together for the expressed purpose of being in consensual ritual practice together. I've had the pleasure to attend and help create the magic for the annual Reclaiming Spiral Dance in San Francisco, which is now in its 35th year. There's a variety of rituals from every imaginable Pagan tradition at events like Pantheacon. I thoroughly enjoy being a little thrown off by rituals that use a different lexicon than my own tradition; rituals that have their own distinct meter and rhythm.
The rituals that often affect me the most profoundly are those every day, personal rituals we might all engage in. Those sacred, devotional moments when we interact with each other or the growing beings in flower pots around our living spaces or the neighbour's cat that's decided to join you in your back yard for coffee every morning or those still moments when a voice on the air calls out your name for some inexplicable reason. I'll share once such small, humble, delicious ritual that's been "working" me for quite some time now...
I live in a pretty standard three bedroom, two bathroom, ranch-style house in Northern California. There's nothing remarkable about this 40 year old home until you venture into the back garden. Now "garden" is a bit of an optimistic turn of phrase because with the current drought situation what I really have is a collection of patches where grass and plants once lived, but only brown weedy things currently reside. But in the middle of the weeds stands a huge tree. It probably never should have been planted in a back yard. It’s way too big and the roots have poked their way up through the adobe soil, making a lawn pretty much impossible, but here the tree stands. It's the single dominating feature of the garden.
At the base of this tree there is a small hollow. Over a series of months now, I've added some river rocks, a small cauldron, and old candle that's fashioned into the face of a goddess and bones; found bones from deer and raccoon and rabbits. I've decorated the area with dried flowers from an initiation ritual. Most mornings I go outside and clear away the fallen leaves that have gathered. I sweep back the soil so it's smooth and dark. I sit there in the stillness of the morning and imagine who might visit this Altar To The Wild Places, this Altar To The Tree, this Altar To The Land. And this, the most simple of devotional rituals has helped me create the space and the time and the desire to be outside, to be in relationship with this amazing place I live. This basic, foundational, Craft 101 ritual that takes no more than 10 minutes each day allows me a few moments of deeply, sensuously connecting to place and silence and slowing down.
I’d love to hear about your devotional rituals?
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