Sometimes in life we find ourselves in places that make it difficult to honour our spiritual practices. Perhaps you have to live with family who are not comfortable with your beliefs, perhaps you want or need to keep it hidden from friends, neighbours or children for safety reasons. Perhaps you are away from home and away from your sacred spaces. So what can you do to maintain your spiritual practices, to keep honouring your Gods and deepen your connection?
Probably the first thing to recognise is that your connection with your Gods and guides begins within you. Whilst we may build altars and have devotional practices to help us maintain that connection, these things do not make the connection external from you. Whilst They may appreciate your efforts in maintaining altars and shrines or in performing devotional rites, they are not specifically necessary (I will add the caveat that some people do have specific direction on this from their Gods but that isn’t the point of this article).
So what can you do when life gets in the way of your devotional practices?
Prayer can sometimes be seen as bit of a dirty word amongst pagans due to the overtones it has acquired from the Christian faiths. However, our ancestors were talking to the Gods of their land and people long before Christianity came along.
You can pray anytime, anywhere and it doesn’t have to be out loud. It’s a really good practice to designate a time and space for it in your life, daily if possible. But if you’re working long hours, commuting a lot or have a schedule that makes truly regular practice difficult, then fit it in when and where you can.
Pray while you’re on the train travelling to work or college, pray on your lunch break, pray in your garden or bedroom when you have five minutes in the evening. Pray when you find yourself in a space where nothing else is going on, where you can turn your focus and intention to your Gods and speak with Them.
Don’t know what to say? There are lots of great prayers out there in books and on the internet. Learn something short off by heart and use it with intention. But otherwise, speak what is in your heart. Tell your Gods how you feel about Them, show them honour with words. Prayer can also be a conversation about something that you may need from Them (and what you will give in return) but fundamentally it is about honouring your Gods and showing your appreciation for their presence in your life.
Think of it as being like maintaining a friendship, the relationship you have with the friend you call every day or every week is stronger than the one you only call once a year or when you want something. Your Gods are going to appreciate a regular five minute call with you over you worrying about having the right candle to light.
Some people might not think of meditation as a devotional practice as we tend to see it as a space of emptying the mind or focus on the breath and so on. But actually it can be a really strong devotional practice. It’s kind of like a deeper version of prayer. Above I have advocated for the quick, five minute, when you can approach. But if you can make space for a longer session, then you can go deeper in your connection with your Gods.
To continue the friendship analogy it would be like going to visit somebody in their home for tea every day or once a week. When we sit down in devotional meditation, we are sitting down for a longer visit with our Gods.
It may be that you combine devotional meditation with prayer or other rites and practices, but at absolute core it is about sitting down and putting your focus on your God(s) for a period of time. To sit and be with Them, be in their presence. To feel Them with and around you. To be open to Them, to listen for Their words or directions.
This may not be an easy practice to begin with, but committing to a regular practice of devotional meditation is extremely valuable in building a deeper relationship with your Gods and guides.
I have written about offerings before. I wrote about it from the perspective of what you can offer when you have nothing, but actually the principles apply for those people who for whatever reason cannot make obvious or overt offerings due to living restrictions or the discomfort of others.
But in short, offerings of prayer, of story or song, of time in voluntary service or the clearing up of the land or sacred sites are offerings that are well received by most Gods. All of these offerings are things which can be done when our living situation prevent us from making physical offerings or working with devotional spaces.
Be on the land
For me, being out on the land is a massive devotional practice for a number of the Gods and other entities that I work with. Putting your bare feet (if possible) on the land and feeling your connection to the life of this planet, to the connection with all things. To the connection with your ancestors who stood on this land before you. To the connection with all those who have honoured the Gods before you. To feel the Gods in the land.
It is also possible to combine all of the previous suggestions in this article with being on the land. Pray on the land, meditate on the land, sing on the land, clean up the land. Being outside is free and allows us a powerful connection pathway to our Gods. Whether you sit at the bottom of your garden, go to your local park or take yourself out into the wild somewhere.
Deepening your connection with your Gods does not require objects and gifts and fancy rites, though they are appreciated, it is about strengthening the connection that begins inside you, about maintaining and honouring the relationship you desire to have with Them. Whether that’s a five minute call every day or a weekly trip to the local park to meditate. Do what fits in your life as it is now, add to it or deepen it when life allows. But do the work, every day.
Awen Clement © June 2017
Awen is a priestess of The Morrigan who lives and works in the West Midlands of the UK. She is leading the 2017 Call of the Morrigan Retreat – The Queen’s Vigil in West Wales in September.