The Bad Witch’s Guide to Pagan Prayer
A lot of people assume I don’t pray. This is wrong. I have a daily practice and that means I connect in some degree to what is sacred to me and within me, usually daily.
My prayers can look like regular praying, or dancing, or cooking or nothing at all. Let us talk about what I mean when I say prayer.
To me a prayer is the mental and spiritual and sometimes physical seeking of connection to the Divine within and outside of the self. I have prayers I have written as well as some from the Feri tradition on my bedroom walls. I may repeat those silently or aloud as written as as my heart directs in the moment. The words are important but it is the sensation of connection, or depth, of Anwen that lets me know I am not just reciting. I am deliberately altering my consciousness, with a mind to connection.
While I also meditate often, meditation differs from prayer. In prayer I am expressing something to myself and the Gods. In meditation I am listening. I surrender to that connection. Sometimes I listen more than I speak, sometimes I speak more than I listen. At the root of prayer is hope, at the root of meditation is trust, faith. That is why meditation is difficult for a lot of people. Not just because it takes practice but because to surrender your thoughts, to really listen within and without is an act of surrender. You have to let go. Scary stuff for a lot of people.
Prayer is different. It is an expression of seeking and of holding on, maybe even building something. Even if there were no Gods prayer would be important as an expression of our hopes, our strength and desire for life and connection. An affirmation of awakened selves.
Sometimes I call on specific Deities though more often I call on the Lord and Lady, God and Goddess, or even simply Ancient Ones. I usually call Herself first and then Himself. It was the Feri way I learned early on and one I still use. I find myself “speaking” more to Herself and “listening” more to Himself.
I like the Charges a lot too. Though I don’t use them directly often save in ritual circle.
Praying can be dancing, my unspoken hopes and desires moving my body and radiating that into the world. It can be in song, pagan in origin or otherwise. It can be in my hands as I touch someone (I like “may what is sacred to you heal you”). There are prayers in my teacup, in the glass I use to take my medicines (I am getting better everyday), in the spoons I use to stir my cooking food. Even if it is only the words “thank you”.
I was lucky enough to trade and receive a book of translated prayer/poetry of Inanna. It is fascinating, ancient and beautiful. It is rather sexy in places too! As a prayer it is a love poem. “She who adores, adore me!” It was eye opening because prayer for many people is a saintly bland affair. This was funny, entertaining, erotic and tragic. It was eye opening.
Prayer is more than a wishlist of wants like a child’s list of presents to Santa. Prayer is speaking in heart, body and mind to what is sacred. There are wonderful prayers out there but crafting your own is both more personal and more relevant. You have the option to be as specific as you like. Writing is often a prayer too. Whether it is poetry in my many notebooks, on twitter or articles like these, I have to connect to write. I have to reach into the light within me and the light without to find the words, though sometimes I can not. Sometimes there are no words only sounds or sensations.
One of the other techniques some Feri traditions teach is to simply speak to your Gods. No thee, thy, thou. Just you talking. Though I do this least I do find it helps keep me sincere. It is a helpful expression of where you are. Part confession, part shooting the breeze, this kind of prayer is both cathartic and humbling. As someone whom has been and felt I had to be superwoman this gave me a space where I didn’t have to be perfect, all-knowing or strong. I could rest my head on my Mother’s breast and cry, rest and just be.
My personal shrines within my bedroom are where I come to pray most often. I find cleaning them and it’s objects a prayer in itself. While I do give offerings to the Gods this is usually part of rites and ritual rather than daily prayer. I don’t like having food in my bedroom, so if I do give offerings it is usually flowers, crystals and objects like feathers I find that have meaning to me. Much like my own daughter as a small child would bring me flowers and pretty things.
If praying is something new for you start small. Something short you can remember easily or write in a journal. Taking a few moments to say something from the heart is a beautiful way to start or finish your day. It can be specific or open as you like.
Goddess you are the sweet sacred earth
I am of your body and I am blessed.
Goddess you are the sacred waters of life
I am of your body and I am blessed.
Goddess your breath is the sacred air we breathe
I am of your breath and I am blessed.
Goddess you are the candle and the star
I am of your radient light and I am blessed.
Goddess your way is that of gratitude
Your way is of peace.
Your way is of joy.
Your way is that of love.
Your love willed me into creation.
I honour you and I am honoured by you.
So mote it be.
You could easily add a named Deity of your choice, replace blessed with anything else, like strong, wise, or holy. You can make it as complicated or simple as you like, it is the reaching with your heart and mind for that sincere connection that matters. So mote it be means “as I have spoken it will be so”. I prefer it to Christianized Amen. Blessed be is always a good ending too. Different paths may have different wordings. If you do something while you do this prayer, like light a candle or such after a time the act itself becomes connected to your prayer.
You do not of course have to pray. Yet if you are seeking I think it is a worthy endeavour. It is in the seeking that it matters. For if you do not find it within you will never find it without.
“The one place Gods inarguably exist is in our minds where they are real beyond refute, in all their grandeur and monstrosity.”
? Alan Moore