Posted by: naiadis | February 20, 2014

Devotion — Evening

Maybe you saw this coming? My evening devotions are much like my morning, sans tea. In the interest of being honest, my evening devotion, the “closing of the shrine for the night” is the most challenging one for me to tend to on a regular basis. Part of the reason for this is, I will not “close the shrine” for the night until I’m really about to go to bed. Hrm. No, actually that’s the entire reason. Often, by the time I’m ready to go to bed, I’ve used up all my ability to do things and think beyond “bed. darkness. quiet. solitude. NOW!” and that tunnel vision does not allow for things like, ‘pour out tea libation’ when the tea offering will be there to pour out in the morning, in preparation for the libation of that day, or for the reading of my evening prayer at the shrine, when I can very well say goodnight and praise Poseidon and thank Him for His presence in my day once I’m under the covers and drifting off to sleep. Perhaps, if I had a different view of what my shrine for Poseidon was, this would all be different.

My shrine is not ‘ensouled’ with Poseidon; if it has any spirit, it has its own spirit, and egregore, a creation of the shrine being a long standing focal point for our relationship. It is, for me, a touchstone, a physical manifestation of my devotion to Him, His prominence in my life. I’ll even be so daring as to say: it is a touchstone for Him, as well. It is a place that goes beyond the mere physical, and we maintain it together. My evening prayer is ultimately for me, for a roundness, a symmetry to the day that helps me feel centered and balanced, that pleases my aesthetics. How important is that in my worship? I’d say it’s moderately important, at most. I manage to get physically get ready for bed in a way that honors my body (taking time to moisturize and brush my hair, to do anything more than simply brush my teeth) eh, maybe four times a week, sometimes as much as five or six times, some times as few as once a week. Closing the shrine happens less often generally, because honoring the body that is His tool (dare I say spell?) upon the earth is as important to Him and thus to my devotion as my honoring of our touchstone. (We don’t agree — honoring my body and seeing to my health is more important to Him than my honoring of our touchstone, since the touchstone is a thing and is not our relationship itself; honoring my body and seeing to my health is less important to me, because, meh, it’s just me. What do I care if I do more than run a brush through my hair, or oil my skin so that it’s not itchy? His wishes win out over my own, even when or especially when I don’t understand or agree.)

What does my “formal” evening prayer look like? I tidy up the shrine. I’ll dust things if they need dusting. I used to do a monthly cleaning, at the dark moon, but that does not work for me, so I just tidy up as the space needs to be tended. I pour out the libation from the day. I recite a prayer. Even my pouring of the libation isn’t fancy. Why? Because it goes down the kitchen sink.

shocking!

shocking!

For fancy rituals, for communal rituals, our libations get poured out onto the earth. We recite the old “from the gods, to the earth, to us; from us to the earth to the gods,” chant, and we include the spirits of the earth in our libations. For my personal libations to Poseidon? Right into water, do not pass go. There is many stages of disconnect between us, in how we live, and our environment. The disconnect from our water source, the steps it takes to reach us, and what happens as our waste-water is taken away, is one of those disconnects I do ot support. One of my ways of bringing that awareness (ha, see?) into my life, in to make that cycle a part of my day in a spiritual way. (Columbine wrote a great essay a bit ago about the spirits that we often over look that also touches upon this.)

My formal prayer looks like this:
Hail Poseidon, Keeper of my heart
Hail Husband, Beloved God
Blessed in the path you set before me
Blessed is Your touch upon this world
Blessed are all who carry you in their hearts
Blessed are those who know You.
For Your presence this day, my thanks.
For Your compassion and love, my gratitude.
I pray, dear Poseidon, that You always keep me.

~*~*~

He doesn’t like the last line. He hasn’t, from the beginning, because He has assured me time and again that He isn’t going to abandon me. I may not see it as abandonment — He is allowed to do as He pleases — but I will not take His presence, guidance, affection, love, nor the blessings He bestows upon my life, for granted. And, if I have to take time to brush my hair and moisturize my skin, He can just put up with one line in one prayer that I more often than not don’t even recite.

What I adore about these formal prayers, what I adore about having a liturgy started, is the ease. On those days when I need a short cut, something to take my heart and plug it in, when I’m too tired to go the “long way” so to speak, the tool is there. On the days when my heart isn’t even close to being in it, and won’t be in it, but when I know that skipping a devotion will only cause me harm in the long run, it’s something I can pick up and recite and be able to say, at least I did this. There are days when I skip things altogether, and that’s also completely acceptable. There are times when my heart is not there, often when I’m caught up in a migraine or I’m very, very overwhelmed. The trick is to know — and you can only know through experience and self-awareness — which moments are the ones that you ought to give yourself a pass, when tending to your devotions will only make things worse, for your relationship with your spirits, and which moments are the ones that, no, really, you should tend to your devotions even if your heart isn’t 100% or even 50% there. Those answers are going to be different for everyone. Half the time, from the outside, where I am, what my limitations may be, look the same, and it’s only through experience and knowing myself, and knowing u/Us, that I can know, “You know, I’m just going to bed/am just going zone out with this trashy novel.”

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Responses

  1. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who has bathroom “work” in their practice. With a toddler running around the house, that seems to be the only place Apollon and I have a chance to connect some mornings as I do my hair and makeup… And, to be honest, I live in my head to the point where if left to my own devices I’d go a week or so without remembering to brush my hair.

    • I’m going to write a bit more on the other, random devotional acts that make up my day. I have a whole mindfulness/ritual thing to showering and washing my hair, because He says so. Chasing away the ick that can cling to me throughout my day is a cornerstone to my practice.

  2. I really love the way you are refining your devotions to work for you and your deity in the sort of give-and-take which is the real daily experience of a relationship. This is something I strive for myself. And it was really helpful for me to read about your own experiences. :-)

    I also agree with Meganne about the the bathroom “work.” Lately I have been trying to make, also, my housekeeping sacred for both my deceased mother-in-law as honored ancestor (since I live on the ancestral land” of my husband), and also for Mother Holle, who is one of my Goddesses. I am also trying to connect with the earth and nature spirits as I prepare my food and eat, thinking about where my food comes from and thanking my God Frey who is God of the World. I am trying to make many such daily moments sacred time. I am finding that these offerings of care and thought create much meaning so that I no longer go through life with my religion a sort of add-on to my day, but instead an integral, inseparable part of my life and environment.

    I look to many ancient tribal religions where every moment is sacred and where it is okay to read or recite rote prayers when tired. Sometimes these prayers calm us or actually galvanize us back into balance with our deities, ancestors and land spirits without having to think too much about anything when we are depleted.

    Does that make sense? I am hoping I am saying it correctly — guess I’m getting tired here myself!

    Thanks so much for posting this. :-) I really loved it.

    • Thank you for commenting! I have to really thank you for this comment, because you’re use of the word “depleted” helped me pinpoint this week the root of the funk I’ve been in for the past two weeks.

      Lately I have been trying to make, also, my housekeeping sacred for both my deceased mother-in-law as honored ancestor (since I live on the ancestral land” of my husband), and also for Mother Holle, who is one of my Goddesses. I am also trying to connect with the earth and nature spirits as I prepare my food and eat, thinking about where my food comes from and thanking my God Frey who is God of the World. I am trying to make many such daily moments sacred time. I am finding that these offerings of care and thought create much meaning so that I no longer go through life with my religion a sort of add-on to my day, but instead an integral, inseparable part of my life and environment.

      I think that’s beautiful. For myself, I have to take care — I do the things I want to do because I’m drawn to do them. It’s important to me to keep mindful of the connetion we have, to the land we live with, to our ancestors, to our gods, and keeping mindful means both in thought and in deed. At the same time, if I’m not mindful of myself, I flirt with spiritual depletion. If it’s all about what I “should be” doing, it becomes a path to martyrdom, which I don’t believe has a place in my life or my relationship with the spirits. The switch, between honest, sincere devotion and giving and gratitude and being resentful, feeling drained, feeling abandoned/unwanted/undeserving tends to happen in the blink of an eye, which is annoying. I’ve been watching carefully for over a decade; I still can’t pinpoint when it happens. I only notice after it’s happened. Hrm. This is giving me thoughts. Thank you.

      I look to many ancient tribal religions where every moment is sacred and where it is okay to read or recite rote prayers when tired. Sometimes these prayers calm us or actually galvanize us back into balance with our deities, ancestors and land spirits without having to think too much about anything when we are depleted.

      Yes! Yes, yes, yes. I love that imagery, galvanize us back into balance. Exactly this, yes.

      • That’s so nice to hear! I’m so glad what I wrote was helpful!

        ” For myself, I have to take care — I do the things I want to do because I’m drawn to do them. It’s important to me to keep mindful of the connetion we have, to the land we live with, to our ancestors, to our gods, and keeping mindful means both in thought and in deed. At the same time, if I’m not mindful of myself, I flirt with spiritual depletion. If it’s all about what I “should be” doing, it becomes a path to martyrdom, which I don’t believe has a place in my life or my relationship with the spirits. The switch, between honest, sincere devotion and giving and gratitude and being resentful, feeling drained, feeling abandoned/unwanted/undeserving tends to happen in the blink of an eye…”

        Oh, absolutely! I relate to this so much! I have spent my whole life trying to figure out when I do too much, and stop myself before I get there. If I wear myself out on a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual level, I very easily become physically ill to the point where I just can’t do anything at all! No, it is so much better to limit what we do, I think, and not burn ourselves out. The Gods and Beneficent Spirits understand this, I believe.

        Many blessings to you. I hope you will be able to soon achieve the balance you need to take care of yourself and find a happy and prosperous way to worship for yourself. :-)

        • Burning ourselves out is not productive or useful, to anyone or Anyone.

          Thank you. The balance is mostly, usually, lately, not that hard to find and maintain. I am mostly content and prosperous in my worship. Just, now and again I completely drop the ball.

  3. […] — my morning prayer complete with tea offering, a mindful midday stop and check in, and my sometimes on, sometimes off evening ritual of ‘closing the shrine’ and saying […]


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