Lately I keep hearing and reading about this thing called Daily Practice, *cue dramatic music here* and it has taken me a while to get that to sit well in my head, and how that sits within my own practice. To start with I had read that daily practice was important, however the reason behind such practice was missing or I was missing it, as I do at times, I often became confused because one source would say that daily practice was communing with your gods, and others would say that it was grounding and centring. Others still would prescribe that one should do at least 20 minutes of deep meditation communing with your Gods morning and night, while another would say that you can do a daily practice is a few short moments something as simple as lighting incense on your altar. These various writes at times made it sound so easy, however when I sat down to figure out how to work this into my own personal practice, it became quite difficult. First I could not figure out why a specified daily practice was needed in order to commune with the Divine, when this was something that I did every day, and being as i am not a formal type of witch, did it really matter how I did this? Also what was the purpose of this daily practice, and how important was this daily time schedule? And if this daily time schedule is important what happens when you miss a day? Do the gods punish you?
Because in reality in this world we live in doing daily practice is not as easy as it sounds, even with the simple stuff it can be rather difficult to find the time in our busy schedules to it in. And then when we don’t manage to do daily practice as prescribed by our favourite authors or floggers we start to beat ourselves up, start to self punish, to feel bad, feel guilty because we have not managed it,. and this is what we are supposed be doing. And because of feeling bad because of not successfully dong your daily practice you beginning to associate it with a feeling of guilt and bad thus less likely to want to do a daily practice. This daily practice is sounding less and less appealing
Why again do we need to do a daily practice and what should we be doing? without answers to these aspects of daily practice, daily practice seemed like something that was pretty much out of my reach and even when i did have time, why, to what purpose should I be doing this daily practice? Lighting a candle is all very well but why am i doing this. in some ways the feeling felt related to circle casting, because so many times when reading a pagan book about such things the purpose of casting the circle for me seems to be missing, thus i end up standing around thinking what is the purpose of doing this? and being someone who is practically minded, purpose is an important component for me.
All of this did not entice me to want to start a daily practice or work one into my day nor did my understanding increase any, thus the standing around being confused bit. And to add to that confusion I was still drawn to this thing called Daily Practice. *insert echoy voice over here Daily Practice* You know that thing that is at times unexplainable but you know that you should be doing it anyway, like the hand of the divine is pushing you in that direction. yeah that was happening.
Now me i am kinda stubborn about these things and until i have figured it out, understand and made peace with whatever the practice is, in this case daily practice, i generally will not be doing it.. no matter how much pushing is involved. (yes i have an interesting relationship with the divine, but then it suites me so its, and i suspect not that different from others?)
Then i happened to be listening to several podcasts on that very same subject, and a couple of phrases struck out as being the key. One was regular practice, not daily but regular. This is in many ways psychological, as regular practice sounds so much easier than daily practice, right? well i thought so, and it is something that i tell my students. this encourages them to actually go out there and give the prescribed homework a try. because I have not said 'thou must practice this daily without fail or you will go to hell' *cue echo* 'hell, hell, hell' and quite frankly i don't like going to places i don't believe in. but I digress. instead i instruct my students, or is that suggest to my students that regular practice is key, and that when they do something or regular practice to reward themselves for it, because then this practice becomes associated with good things and not self punishment, making you more enthusiastic about doing it in the first place.. pavlovian much?
let me take you on a small digression. i had a dog a whiles ago Onyx was his name, and i like many dog owners made a very obvious first dog owner mistake with young Onyx. that mistake was that when he had been bad over there *points into the distance* i called him back and told him off.. 'bad dog don't do that growl growl* which was teaching him bad associations with being called back. i know now that what i should of done was to reward him for coming back when called because despite the retraining he was never very reliable at recalling. for me this relates to regular practice and rewarding yourself when you do practice.. *nods*..
so regular practice sounded much more achievable, much more like me, but when sat down to think about working regular practice into my day to day life I discovered that I was already doing regular practice, especially communing with the divine, and with my environment, because this was something that I did pretty much every day, when I walked down to the train station in the mornings I often spoke with the divine, could see and feel the divine in the coming day, actually whenever I was walking around the city I was doing regular practice. But still something was missing. It was all too simple, there must be something more. It certainly felt like I was missing something further.
Then today while i was listening to an interview with Rae Beth, on Druidcast, one of my favourite Podcasts, there was mention of a spiritual and psychic discipline. which of course made my ears prick, in that way, you know that way that tells you there is something important being said here. That was when the penny dropped.
Regular practice is not just communing with the divine, or your sense of deity, it is so much more than that, it is also how to build a spiritual and psychic, although i prefer the word magic, how to build a spiritual and magical discipline. Regular practice is about leaning a new magical skill, such as grounding and centring, shielding, journeying, meditation, visitation, raising energy, connecting with the universe and receiving messages from the divine. Regular practice is about creating your own discipline and expanding your own skills, and furthering your relationship and understanding of the divine, the world around you and with yourself. well it was for me your mileage may vary
Do any of you remember learning to drive? When you first started out it took practice and much thinking about driving when you were not behind the wheel, you learned not only to drive but also to see the world in a whole new way. You learned through driving were the one-way streets where in your city, the best parking, and about when pedestrians were more likely to leap out across the road or not. To get around the city it was no longer about hopping on number 3 bus and riding along, but more about knowing what streets you would be driving because instead of just riding along you were now making your own choices, you where diving yourself. Does this sound familiar? Is it ringing any bells yet?
Learning a new magical skill is similar to the experience of learning to drive. First you need to know what it is that you wish to learn. Let’s say you want to learn to journey deeper, because you are hedge witch, or in my case a urban witch, and you want to learn about riding the trax, or hedge crossing. You already know the basics of journeying and how to achieve a trance state.. But what is it going to take to get that step further? yes thats right regular practice, regular intervals of journeying and crossing that boundary of riding the hedge, of the trax, what ever visualisation you go with. To learn to cross the trax or to ride the train, there will be experimenting with a variety of techniques until you hit upon the one that works for you. for some it will be physical, wearing out the physical body so that the mind and spirit is free to to its work, for others it will be about the process, memorising words to a poem, setting the candle in the right place, invoking the gods, and for others it will be a more simple practice of sitting comfortably and meditating. again everyone will be different.. and there may even be a process of finding the right technique, the right trigger. and that is much of what regular practice is about. that experimenting with different ways and practicing them untill driving through your city or any city is a skill that you have now achieved.
now i would like to point out one final thing here. if you regular practice becomes automatic, and you find yourself going through the motions but with no real affect, i would say that you no longer engaged with the practice that you are doing, you are no longer present. this is the time to take stock of what your regular practice is and change it so that you are once again present and engaged with what you are doing. it is the other thing that bloggers and authors talk about when discussing daily practice, that you have a variety of practices which need to be changed so that you are once again focused, present and engaged. something i am planning on writing about in a future post.. *gasp!* yup planning posts.. anyhoo..
so to summarise
Think about regular practice not daily, so as not to set yourself up on a punishment based cycle but a reward one
use regular practice to lean new magical skills, be it learning you tarot cards one card at at time, or crossing the trax, journeying, contacting the divine, meditating etc etc.
and when you find your regular practice becoming mindless and automatic, it will be time to change it or work another aspect into it.
make sense? anybody want to add anything? anybody gots a different point of view?