A Daily Practice Matters

This morning we slept in until 7:30. That may not seem incredibly early to some (it isn’t all that early for my husband and I), but it’s a vacation compared to the day of surgery and the first day of recovery.

We woke to discover that my kid was experiencing some sharp pain, a common experience after top surgery. My husband and my kid’s mom stepped into action, assessing where the pain was and how it rated on a scale from 1 to 10. They administered a bit more pain medication, and then called the hospital to speak with a nurse.

Meanwhile, I started to feel myself getting tense.

I came into the living room of our extended-stay hotel room, where my husband and I sleep (pullout beds are an assault to one’s back, so we’ve resorted to pulling the 4 inch mattress onto the floor). I sat on the couch and thought of my shrine. I miss my home, more so even than on normal business trips. I miss the accessories of my daily practice, the smell of my incense, and the sanctity of my space.

I clutched the small pouch I wear around my neck. Inside is a piece of wood which was collected at the place where Isaac Bonewits’s ashes were spread, a gift to me from a big-hearted ADF Druid. On the outside is Brighid’s cross.

I held this little pouch and thought about my patron and about Isaac, and I prayed. I prayed that my kid would be spared the pain, that the Goddess would be near, and that She would provide a sense of peace. I didn’t have much time to pray, or to do any sort of elaborate ritual, but neither were necessary.

You can open the heart with just a few simple words.

Why a daily practice matters

It becomes clear in moments of great stress why a consistent daily practice is so important.

When I’m home, I do ritual every morning. My ritual, as I’ve written about before, is built around an ADF liturgy. There are short forms of this liturgy and very long forms. But the length or structure of one’s personal liturgy isn’t as important (in my opinion) as is the ease with which that the liturgy can become internalized.

My daily practice has carved a groove deep into my consciousness. It has created an awareness of the presence of the Kindred — the Divine as I recognize Them — that I can call upon in a moment’s notice. I may not engage in the same sort of ritual working, but I can connect with Them nonetheless.

And that is why a daily practice matters.

Allowing my practice to be rooted in liturgical language is useful to me because it provides me with phrases that can be memorized and called upon when needed. My liturgical phrases are cues for the heart to soften, for the mind to quicken, or for the body to release whatever tension it’s been holding.

For example, when I light Brighid’s candle at home I say or speak internally these words:

“From land to land, from hand to hand, from flame to flame.”

This reminds me that the fire in my little Zippo lighter was given to be from a Druid who visited Kildare, and who brought back with her the flame of the Goddess. Using those words gives me a sense of connection to both my tradition and to a sacred place.

When I extinguish the flame I say,

“The fire of Brighid is the flame in my heart.”

This reminds me that, although the external fire may go out, the internal fire remains.

By speaking these words daily, I’m able to create a deep, meaningful practice. Then, when I’m sitting in some drab room in a corporate hotel, I can recall those words, say them under my breath or in my mind, and remember that feeling of reverence and sanctity.

It helps.

The Fire Burns On

After a few phone calls, we learned that the pain is normal, and that there’s nothing to worry about. The morning went on as planned, with the kid reclining in bed and the rest of us trying to keep on top of our other responsibilities.

But there was a fire burning in my heart again. All it took was a few words to remind me of that.

Do you have simple phrases that connect you to a regular practice? Is your tradition liturgical, or do you incorporate some kind of steady ritual language or form into your daily practice?

What words come to you in moments of worry?

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24 responses to “A Daily Practice Matters”

  1. Russell Polecina Avatar
    Russell Polecina

    Every time when I’m losing confidence and hope or the feeling of safety seems to be compromised (I live on the “bad” part of the city that Iive in), I always hold my pentacle and say something close to: “Athena, I plead thee to give me strength.” or “Athena, I beg thee to protect me.” I don’t really have anything traditional since I found that what comes from your heart is the most important and the fastest way to connect to the Divine.

  2. Happydog Potatohead Avatar

    Very, very good article. Thank you for sharing this. My daily practice varies. At present it consists of doing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram in the morning and at night before I go to bed, and it makes a big difference. Previously I have done Feri prayers, Isis prayers, Kali prayers, and Liber Resh from Crowley’s writings, but I work to keep a daily practice going no matter what form it takes.

  3. Hexeba Theaux Avatar
    Hexeba Theaux

    I have 3 daily practices. I say prayers or daily devotionals in the morning and in the evening before bed. In addition I have an afternoon devotional that addresses each of the four quarters. This has made my inner changes progress, deepen and easier to adjust to. It is one of the first things I teach my students.

  4. MrsBs Confessions Avatar

    Whenever I light a flame, be it a candle or my stove top, I say some form of this prayer:

    “Blessed be the Goddess of Faith
    Hestia, Constant One,
    Goddess of Hearth and temple.
    Teach me the lessons of commitment and contentment,
    Service and celebration
    Warm me within and without.
    I light this candle in fiery offering to you,
    Hestia, Goddess of Fire.”

    It’s one of the first prayers I committed to memory, and it never fails to help me focus, center, and find my peace.

  5. Eran Rathan Avatar

    *By Oak, Ash, Thorn, and Rose – By Maple, Mistletoe, Rowan, and Holly – By Child, Maiden, Mother, Crone.

    *I am not cold, I am not hungry, I am not assaulted, I am not afraid – May You help those who are.

  6. Freeman Avatar

    I was *just* thinking about the benefits of regular practice this morning. I have been doing nightlies and journaling for a while now, and it really does have profound effects.

  7. Ian Phanes Avatar
    Ian Phanes

    * Mathonwy, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    * By the powers of Life, Death, and Magic.

    * For all are joined by love herein.

    * Sacred Land, Eternal Sea, Endless Sky, unite in me.

    * Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      These are lovely, Ian.

  8. Haeleron Avatar

    For me, it’s not so much a phrase or set of words, but a memorized feeling. When I meditate, I try to memorize the feeling in my god form. During times of stress or need, I remember that feeling to give bio-feedback to my body and change my state.
    Pain in life is necessary. Pray for the strength to get through it, rather than not have it. I can tell your son is a very strong person.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you for sharing your practice here, Haeleron. I appreciate the message to my son. I’ll be sure to pass it on.

  9. Elinor Predota Avatar
    Elinor Predota

    I hope your kid’s pain abates soon.

    I go in waves with daily practice. Whether my daily practice continues for days, weeks, months or years, the practice does it’s work: I shift and change internally, and so I need a new practice. I have fallow periods in between these active times, when I settle into my new internal landscape. Then it all shifts again.

    There are some key / core prayers and practices, though, that I can turn to in times of stress, anxiety and fear. Grounding is one, alignment is another, cleansing is a third, calling upon the Goddess is a fourth. There are others, but those are ones that are at my spiritual fingertips, any time.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you, Elinor, for your kind words, and thank you for sharing your practices here.

  10. Brendan Rowe Avatar

    As I walk the ADF Dedicant Path, I am beginning to see the importance of establishing a more formal daily practice. Your post here has really succeeded in driving that point home Teo. While I am still figuring out what my daily practice will look like, in times of stress I always find myself turning to Brighid. She has been a part of my life since my Catholic childhood and into my Pagan adulthood. When I find myself facing a tough situation I simply pray: “Bright Lady, grant me the fire of inspiration to see the way through this trouble, the fire of creation to be able to do whatever I need to do now, and the fire of healing both in mind and body so that I will be at my best in this difficult time.”

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I did not know we had a common connection to Brighid, Brendan. That warms my heart (no pun intended). 🙂

  11. Rob Henderson Avatar

    From my evening devotionals:
    “Day has turned to night
    Night will turn to day
    Protect me with your might
    Guide me on my way”

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you, Rob. This is lovely.

  12. DitzyDruid Avatar

    Lovely entry. I can relate to this. Since deepening my spirituality through ADF, I’ve found I’m living Paganism at last. A huge part of that is a daily practice. In doing so, the bonds I’ve been forming with the Kindred grow stronger.

    I’m glad your kid is on the mend. May Brighid continue to heal and comfort him!

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you, DD. I’m glad this post spoke to you, and I’m happy to hear that you feel this strong connection with the Kindred.

      Blessings to you as well.

  13. Lazarus K Avatar
    Lazarus K

    I try to say this prayer (written by P.
    Sufenas Virius Lupus from the Aedicula Antinoi blog) every night before
    sleep. I’ve always found it very
    comforting, especially when I am stressed out or worried:

    Prayer Against Persecution

    Ave Ave Antinoe,

    Beate, Iuste, Benevolentis…

    I cry out in supplication to you, Antinous;

    I raise my voice in song and prayer to you,
    O Bithynian;

    I give thanks to you for my trials and my
    triumphs, O Good God!

    I give glory to you, the Beautiful, the
    Just, the Benevolent!

    It is you who is the sustainer of my life;

    It is you who is my protector in the

    It is you who is the visitor and the
    rejuvenator and the consoler in my dreams and my sleep and my rest.

    May I rejoice in the successes of both
    friend and foe;

    May I weep with all who are in suffering
    and travail.

    May you give me the strength to not curse
    those who would wish me harm;

    May you give me the peace to not be
    troubled by those who would persecute me.

    When I hear the words of those who would
    condemn me, may my heart not be hardened toward them;

    When they beset me with their hosts of
    hatred, may their flood tide wash over me as harmless as it was for you on the
    day of your foundation;

    May I never succumb to the temptations of
    hatred, spite, and violence.

    Though I am not perfect,

    I pray that in this affirmation I may
    become more perfected.

    May my mercy and compassion and forgiveness
    extend to all,

    and may the love of the Beautiful and the
    Just pour out over me in my difficulties!

    To this god Antinous I have chosen to
    address my prayer,

    and in this god Antinous I take refuge.

    May harm never come to those who do good!

    May I always be in the presence of he who
    is Beautiful, Just, and Benevolent!

    Ave Ave Antinoe!

    Haec est unde, Haec est unde, Haec est unde
    vita venit!

    Ave Ave Antinoe!

    Haec est unde, Haec est unde, Haec est unde
    vita venit!

    Ave Ave Antinoe!

    Haec est unde, Haec est unde, Haec est vita

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you for sharing this, Lazarus.

  14. Michelle B Avatar
    Michelle B

    As a survivor of domestic violence, I admittedly still have tough days. Days were I get stuck in the past and have a difficult time embracing the gift of the present.

    In order to get past the mental pitfalls, I began a daily practice of “letting go.” Before I begin any ritual or practice, I take time to release the pains of the past, so I can approach it with an open heart. With mindful breaths I concentrate on the phrases: Breathing in – “I must”, Breathing out – “go beyond.”

    I have also found this practice to be helpful in letting go of everyday worries so I can be fully present in my ritual work.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I love this, Michelle. It’s so simple, but I imagine it can be very effective. Connecting word to breath is wonderful way to internalize the language of liturgy.

      Blessings to you in your journey. May you find peace.

  15. David Salisbury Avatar

    Every morning the first part of my practice is the lighting of the black Star Goddess candle, and the words to it (from Feri tradition) immediately lift my spirits:
    “Holy Mother – in you we live, move, and have our being. From you all things emerge and unto you all things return.”
    The breath of life is then poured into the wick as the flame catches. I refer to the look and feel of the flame throughout my day. Just thinking about it makes me feel strong.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Love, love, love.

      I use similar language to honor the Earth Mother.

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