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Out of love and devotion: The why of my ritual practice

In the Christian denomination I grew up in, there were very little ritual. Even the Communion rite was practiced only once a year and only a select few actually got to eat of the bread and drink the wine. So, when I got back into spirituality after 5 years of atheism, ritual was not something I was very familiar with.

To this day, I don’t put a lot of emphasis on it and to be quite frank I don’t believe it to be even necessary in an ideal state of mind. This I know is very provoking to some Pagans. There are those who believe rituals must be practiced, often and in the right predetermined order. Certain people even go so far as to claim that those who do not follow this in the way they believe they should are ”polluted” and to be avoided. This to me is very reminiscent of the fear-and-shame tactics that are central in the Abrahamic faiths, which are the very reason I don’t take them seriously. Love and threats just don’t go together.

Speaking of love, it is to me one of two reasons I perform rituals. When I bring Freya (or on occasion another Deity) an offering it is for similar reasons as when I buy a friend a birthday gift or buy my earthly mother a bag of local tea as a souvenir when I travel. Love and attention, quite simply. A way to say: ”I care and think about you. You mean a lot to me.”

Bigger and more focused acts of love, such as singing galdr, can also alter one’s awareness and emotions and bring us into that state of Divine communion so cherished by mystics the world over.

Of course, the best gift we can give the Deities is to live lives which honor Them. The greatest offering is to do good, help those in need and do no harm. Any ritual is far less important than this and might even be seen as an affront if we are otherwise acting in evil ways.

In the end of the day, Deities have no use of our libations, songs, incense or whatever else we bring to the altar. But when we fulfill our moral duties, we participate alongside Them in the holy weaving of the Wyrd.

And to stay focused on this sacred work is the second reason I use rites. As I’ve already mentioned: I don’t believe that a person in an ideal state of mind needs ritual practice. The problem is that most people can’t live their whole lives in such a focused state where we are always present and mindful of the sacredness of existence. Not only is the human mind easily distracted but the worries and obligations of live take so much of our mental energy. When you’re working long hours, and maybe on top of that you have a family to take care of, it can be difficult to remember to thank the Deities and ponder on your personal role in weaving the world. A simple food offering or five minutes of mantra meditation can help you bring your awareness back to the bigger picture of your existence. You can even ”weave” those rituals into your daily life and make it more spiritually aware. I personally enjoy listening to sacred music and singing along when I do the dishes, just to give an example.

But I’ll tell you more about the how of my ritual practice in a coming post.

Remember to remember

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