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.
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.”