Devotional Fatigue: Identifying Spiritual Connection or Mundane Habit

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In the wee morning hours she rises, stretches, then walks softly to her altar. She pauses, centers herself, then inclines her head in salute to her chosen deities.  Murmuring her morning litany she lights the candles waiting in their delicate crystal holders.  With the surety of constant repetition she continues, never faltering in her words of devotion and thanks.  Silence falls as the last candle is lit.  Another moment of contemplation, a slight bow to the Gods in thanks and she turns, ready to begin her day. 

Many of us begin and end our days in such a fashion, with our own daily devotionals.  Perhaps we smudge, cleanse ourselves, before visiting our altars.  We may have a repeated script, a litany, or we prefer a freeform style, saying that which comes from our hearts. We may give offerings, sing, pray, or stand in silent companionship with Deity. But are these daily devotionals merely a habit or are they a true spiritual connection with the divine? Could they possibly be a bit of both? If so, how can we identify when these devotionals shift from the sacred to the mundane, from nourishment for the soul to a hurried duty?

The signs of “devotional fatigue” aren’t always easy to spot. A few “symptoms” of this condition are:

  • Your devotional time is shrinking. Where it once spanned ten or more minutes, suddenly you are lucky to be at your altar for two.
  • You’ve run out of things to say to Deity (this could actually be a symptom of a deeper problem).
  • The words you say feel stilted, mechanical. They’ve lost their emotional content.
  • Your devotional feels more like a chore that you have to do, not something that you want to do.
  • You’ve lost your focus.  Your mind wanders, thoughts drift elsewhere.

Lets face it, even the most devoted priestess or priest may have their days when they are exhausted, ill or distracted. Days when all they can do is shuffle their way to the altar for a brief moment. That’s okay.  We are only humans after all.  But when these moments turn into days or even weeks,  your devotionals have gone from a joyful spiritual experience to oft neglected habit. Stop. Step away from the altar and take some time to reevaluate why you are performing devotionals at all.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I doing devotionals because I feel it is some I want to do or something I feel I have to do?
  • What do I seek from my devotionals? Closer connection to deity? Quiet time with myself and the Gods? A way to start and end my day spiritually?
  • How did I feel when I first began my daily devotionals? How did I feel the first time? The last? How do I feel when I perform them now?
  • How would I feel if I just stopped doing them?

Write down your answers in a notebook or your journal.  Then walk away.  Let it sit for a day then re-read these questions and answer them a second time.  Review both sets of answers. Were they similar on both days or did a day apart show different insights?  Meditate on what you have written to determine whether you wish o try this exercise again. 

If upon review you realize that you have a great need to continue with your devotionals yet have realized they’ve lost a bit of their magick, you may want to shake things up a bit.  Redecorate your altar, freshen it up. Change the time you do your devotionals.  Perhaps you are doing them too early and/or too late for your mind and heart to be truly present. Rewrite your litany or instead speak unscripted heartfelt words. If your devotionals are near and dear to your heart and your connection with Deity keep working on them. Experiment.  Find a new rhythm, a new route to the sacred. You will know you found it when you’ve once again felthe excitement, the spark, the tingle that comes from true communion with Deity. Once you’ve recreated and reawakened this joy, your devotionals will be as they were designed – sacred, spiritual, fulfilling.

What if after contemplation you realize you can’t recall why you ever started devotionals in the first place.  Your devotionals have become nothing more than a habit, and a poor one at that.  Stop. Now.

It’s best not do any devotional rather than give your Gods a half-assed attempt because you think you have to.  Trust me.  They know the difference.  Perhaps one day you’ll wish to do daily devotionals again, but for now, you’ll honor the Goddess, God, Deity, in other ways. That’s okay.  Don’t beat yourself up.  This type of worship just wasn’t right for you.  Keep on your own spiritual path and let your heart guide you on the way.

Daily devotionals are but one path on the road to spiritual connection.  When they are kept fresh and alive they take on a life of their own, inviting you to partake of the sacred. Hurried, rushed, starved for content, they become habit, devoid of connection. With the information found here, and in your heart, may you be able to honor your Deity, your Gods with joy and reverence.  Blessings. 

 

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