Pagan Experience Project (Week 2): Personal Practice

I’ll be honest – this topic was almost why I didn’t decide to start this project. I have a hard time talking about my personal practice.

See, I can talk about *what* I do; I can talk about the obstacles I run up against, I can talk about the various ways the Gods fit into my practice, I can talk about how the things I’ve done have changed over the years. I can talk a lot about the details but I have a very hard time pinning down any unifying theme or underlying philosophy. Maybe by writing some of this down I can begin to puzzle a bit of it out.

I feel like ideally my personal practice ought to serve as a reminder of what’s important to me. It should be an emotional and spiritual touchstone that orients me and gets me pointed in the right direction. Because these private moments serve as an orientation, they ought to be done frequently. Without this reminder, I could get distracted by things that aren’t actually high on my priority list. I could lose touch with the principles that I’ve decided are important.

So is this what my personal practice does? Well, yeah, pretty much. It certainly hasn’t failed in any of these respects. However, what I’m noticing is that I might be trying to do entirely too much if my goals are this straightforward. The time that I spend doing what might be called my personal practice is actually pressed into the service of many different goals:

  1. Providing a spiritual and emotional center and mental clarity.
  2. Connecting in a meaningful way with the Powers most dear to my heart.
  3. Practicing hospitality, attention to detail, and general ritual skills.
  4. Giving time to meditation, mantra, breath work, energy work, and other important techniques.
  5. Study, study, study.

That’s a lot of juice to squeeze out of the personal practice fruit. “Is it any wonder,” I asked myself, “That I struggle with my daily practice?”

One’s personal practice can be all kinds of things. It could be a devotional practice, a magical practice, a ritual practice, a prayer practice, a scripture study practice, etc. But perhaps – just perhaps – it doesn’t need to be *everything*. Maybe I need to simplify. For a long time my trajectory has been pointed towards greater complexity, towards more time spent. And this makes me happy. It makes me feel good. I love what I do. I want to do more of it. But the fact of the matter is that I’m doing less even as I’ve approached doing more.

That said, there was a period of more than a year where I did do all these things every day. It was great, I loved it and somehow I made it happen. I don’t know how. A magician I know rightly pointed out that a schedule fully kept even with moments of struggle and indifference will have greater fruits than a schedule kept only when it seems convenient.

I firmly believe that the Work sustains you. It sustains me, that’s for certain. It draws me back to what I’ve chosen to prioritize and it gives me a center when I can’t find my own. I want to love it and I want to serve it. Part of that is feeding it through practice. In a way, I’m saving up for my own emotional future.

I’m torn between giving into my impulses to spend more time at the altar even though I’ve got loads of other things on my hands and decreasing the complexity of what I do in an effort to make it  happen more easily and more frequently. Some kind of balance has to be found. I want to just toss my obstacles into the fire of practice and let them go but that’s not exactly the way I work. I know myself well enough. It has to be a gradual grind, a very slow refining if the changes I make are going to stick.

I made up my mind this morning to think about one day at a time. I would decide “Today I am going to practice” every day. I made this choice this morning. Thus, I will find some way to follow it through today. Tomorrow I’ll get to make another decision and we’ll see where that leads.

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2 thoughts on “Pagan Experience Project (Week 2): Personal Practice

  1. Jolene Poseidonae says:

    I know that to say, “I wish this wasn’t ever a struggle for you,” isn’t proper. I know that, in my own practice, the struggles and the getting through them (or not) plays a huge role in shaping me and helping me to understand myself, and Them, and u/Us together, in a way that having ease and comfort might not. So I won’t way say that. I *will* say that I wish that you (and myself as well) could go through the process with a little less value judgment placed on us, by ourselves. That seems like a suitable wishing. I think the “I will do this all today,” every day is a great approach. Making decisions and promises about today, each day, rather than one day for the whole of it. Yes, that does sound good.

    Like

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