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Devotional Fatigue: Identifying Spiritual Connection or Mundane Habit

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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Sometimes She Whisper

Into the wooded glade you go,
Cast your circle, corners glow.
Stomach flutters, brow beads with sweat.
Into the center, intentions set.
Then without fear you call Her here.
Ears strain to listen, your wish to feel Her near.
But nothing.
Not even a whisper.
 
Arms raised, you call Her name.
In anticipation you expect to hear the same.
But silence enfolds you like a shroud,
You wish for a sign, you wish it loud.
Fleeting anger, disappointment too.
Why doesn’t She acknowledge you?
But sometimes She whispers.
 
In defeat you collapse, tears stain your cheeks.
Was I not heartfelt, am I too weak?
Shoulders slumped, the hot tears flow.
What did I do wrong, should I do more?
You shout Her name, cry out your woe.
Is this it? Will I never know?
Yet sometimes She whispers.
 
A breeze, a rustle, stillness at an end.
Candle flames flicker, sputter, bend.
And in the breeze, a sigh, a sound.
A gentle caress, your soul unbound.
You stand, composed now, tears have dried.
Is that Her I feel inside?
Was that a whisper?
 
In quiet you have found Her, as the wind She speaks.
Your call has been answered, it is She you seek.
“I am always here, I’ve never left your side.”
The voice that whispers comes from inside.
“You are my child and always shall be.
The answers are within, it is there you find me.”
In joy, you hear Her whisper.
 
It is then you realize the key,
Not only fireworks announce the mystery.
It is sometimes just the smallest spark,
That brings the light that fills the dark.
If you wish to seek Her you will find,
You’ve but to open your heart and mind,
Because sometimes, She whispers.

 

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The Awakening

Many times I have been asked as to when I became a witch.  The answer is simple yet complex at the same time.  I didn’t “become” a witch so much as I finally awoke to who I had always been.  I’d like to share with you the tale of my “awakening”.

Life was fairly average in the beginning.  I was born the eldest, the test child, of two loving parents.  They seemed reasonably normal, if not a bit quirky. Little sister came along 18 months after I did and our little family was complete.

I didn’t fit into this ideal setting from the beginning.  So many things didn’t feel right.  I was different. Yes, we’ve all said this a time or two, but I truly was.  The family noticed this abnormality.  They never actually said it out loud, but they knew.  Mom always did her best to treat my sister and I equally yet it seemed forced, stilted, weak.  Dad always put my differences down to a vivid imagination and tried to shrug it off or ignored it altogether. Still it was difficult to dismiss the daughter who heard things, saw things.  A child who knew things before they happened and could read people and places without even being there.  It was trying for them.  It was devastating for me.

This litany of dismissal was crushing.  I questioned myself constantly.  The woman I saw in my room, standing at the door talking to me was she my imagination?  Hearing voices in the water, feeling the emotions in a room, knowing what people were thinking, feeling, these things weren’t real?  As with so many other children, I wanted, no needed, to please my parents.  So I tried to turn it off, stopped talking about it around them. It crushed my being, changed me.

What was curious is that I didn’t seem to have quite the same reservations while I was in grammar school, until about the fourth grade. Until that time the other children knew I was different but thought it was kind of cool.  They would stop me in the bathroom and ask me to guess the number they were thinking.  They began asking me advice on their lives, their families all in the guise of  the Peanuts character “Lucy” with her psychiatrist’s booth. But when I shared the stories of the things I had seen during my nightly travels on the back of Pegasus (my astral guide) and these stories rang so true and were about things I shouldn’t, could never have known had I not been present, they began to look at me strangely.   It was already difficult for me being  skinny with thick lensed glasses.  Top all of that off with a creepy supernatural vibe and the tides turned.   Now they laughed at me, called me names, bounced apples off my forehead, and were generally pre-pubescent assholes. To cope with this, I just stopped talking about it all, took down my shingle and turned off a part of myself.  It seemed to work, sort of.

I became “normal”. I didn’t talk about the taboo subjects, except to myself. I needed my friends and family to love me, to accept me.  I wanted this normalcy so much I caused myself to become frightened of all the things I used to embrace.  I quivered at the thought of Halloween and the “scary” things associated with the night.  I needed a light on when I slept (to be honest I always liked it on – it helped me to see when I got up to pee). I’d plug my ears or I pulled the covers over my head trying to drown out the voices that surrounded me. I pulled in, stopped riding my winged astral companion, closed down Lucy’s booth and did “normal” things.

Flash forward through Junior High and High School.  Things were okay, but just.  Typical teenage angst, mostly.  I still felt different, was different. I still had the dreams, heard the voices, felt the spirits. I kept this to myself as much as possible. Even so I was still the weird one, was still made fun of, bullied and picked on. At one point it was so intense I wanted to be a nun to get away from everyone.  I wasn’t even Catholic! I did have strong feeling for Mary, the ultimate Mother but that’s another tale.  I’d been so busy repressing everything for so long that I wanted t make it go away, just stop.    I wanted to run so far into the opposite direction of who I was that I contemplated a cloistered existence.  Fortunately, I realized I was just trying to escape, my home life, my school life, myself, and never followed through on this plan. I kept muddling through, graduated and went to work.

I began to let it creep back in again.  Now that I  was an adult, I felt I had a right to feel whatever I wanted to feel, be what I wanted to be. I still wasn’t quite sure what that was, but I wanted to see where it would take me. The “knowing” crept in, calling to me. No longer did I try to quell it, but allowed it to wash over me.  I was leery of its powers but knew its time was now. The power began seeping between cracks, escaping the confines of the dungeon I placed it in. It was a tiny drip at this juncture. Small, yet insistent.

Once again the urges I recalled as a child sprang forth. I felt needs that hadn’t been met for years.  I fought them, lost, then gave in to, the need to call to the gods of sky, heaven, earth.  I began again to talk to the moon, to the night.  I opened to all that was around me.  And began to feel whole.

About this time I began dating my future husband. Perhaps it was his love and acceptance that allowed it all to truly blossom. I no longer felt the need to hide who I was, what I saw, what I felt. The “awakening” was close, but was still years away.

Years went by.  I married that wonderful man and together we had two amazing children. I went on a search, a search for meaning in my life and found a religion I thought would allow me to forever be with my children and husband, a religion that seemed open and honest. It was not. It repressed and suppressed all those things I had worked to let loose again.  I knew for a certainty when we were attempting to sell our current house to buy a more spacious one and was standing naked under a full moon calling an unnamed Goddess for assistance that I was definitely not where I needed to be. We moved to another town and never bothered to leave a forwarding address with the church.  Chapter closed.

For me, this is where it gets interesting, and a bit cliché. The kids are older, we’ve been watching such shows as Buffy and Angel.  I was really getting into these shows even  though I knew that what they portrayed was just fluff and “Hollywood”.  They did renew my interest in finding out who I really was.  I started doing a little research on the side, looking into Witchcraft.  It was only after watching “Practical Magic” for the first time and explaining to my husband what type of brew the aunts were creating on the stove and his response of “how the hell did you know that?” when it came together.  I was a Witch. Always had been, always shall be.

After several days of silent brooding my hubby asked me what was wrong.  To this day I recall standing in front of my closet and looking at the carpet, taking a deep breathe and saying “I’m a Witch.”  His response was priceless. “It’s about time you figured it out.”  Did  I mention how much I love this man?

This was my “awakening”, my reconnection to the true me.  The Witch that resides deep in my soul, my DNA.  From that day forward I stopped hiding from myself (my extended family was a different story all together), my close friends and my Gods.  I re-awakened the Witch in myself and have never looked back.