Spend some time contemplating what is written in this poem. Envision it as the steps you move through as you prepare for the sacred work of “you”. Breathe into the words and enliven them with your feeling, your intent and your will. Allow them to move through you empowering you as you set to the task of crafting what will become your own tools of practice…
I sit in a place of quiet
And the tensions of the day
Fall like droplets of water at my feet.
Before me is a candle of light
That opens my mind to the
Potential that lays within.
Below me is the floor of
My home that is the
Strength and foundation
That supports and holds
Me in its warm embrace.
Above me is the shelter that
Keeps me warm and dry as
The elements rage and winter
Takes its icy hold and Summer’s
Heat blazes igniting all that
Fall within its potent rays.
I sit and I connect with
My innermost thoughts
And this sacred space
Holds my secrets and
With silent encouragement
Moves me along my chosen Path.
1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material.
2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul.
3. Of, from, or relating to God; deific.
4. Of or belonging to a church or religion; sacred.
1. A habitual or customary action or way of doing something.
2. Repeated performance of an activity in order to learn or perfect a skill.
3. A session of preparation or performance undertaken to acquire or polish a skill.
Archaic Use – The skill so learned or perfected or The condition of being skilled through repeated exercise: out of practice.
If we consider the definitions above, we see a pattern emerging. To be effective, this practice should incorporate components that become an established part of your routine; is acted upon daily and with the intent of making progress in whatever area of focus your intent is directed towards. It is a way of “being” that improves and progresses as you are affected by the changes this regular state of being initiates. Fundamentally, a personal practice is that, which through specific action, intent and goal inspires growth and feeds all aspects of your being as reflected by its products of outcome.
The Tools of Use
You are the first and foremost ingredient in creating your own recipe for a successful and fulfilling practice. It is through you that energy moves and connects to all the subtle levels and permutations of its essence. It is your physical state that enables expression and manifestation of the lessons of your experience and engages others in this process of change and growth. It is your mind, heart and will that act as vehicles of communication with the finer spiritual nature of those physiological parts of yourself and are ultimately capable of dialogue with your Higher Self. Altars, incense, books, and creation of dedicated and sacred space are all wonderful additions that engage you at different levels, but if you had none of these, You simply sitting quietly and reflecting on what your beliefs and philosophies are would do much in the way of propelling you forward on your path and reflecting the core of your true Divine nature within. Your magickal and spiritual practice is part of that essence that makes you who you are and is a mantle you cloak yourself in as the metamorphosis of your personal development takes place.
Your Personal Goals
One of the first steps towards maintaining a meaningful practice is to Assess (and therefore, Access) Your Personal Goals. As we become more adept in going through the motions of our practice, the need to redefine what currently is working and what more will need to be added and/or subtracted to keep the enthusiasm and dynamics alive for forward growth is of increasing importance. Revisit the questions you asked of yourself that fueled the identification of how your practice should look and feel initially. Then, modify and expand in accord with your growing baseline of information, experience and action. The initial pursuit of developing yourself may have been spurred on by the desire to be of greater service. Ask yourself, what “service” means to you now that you have more experience in the workings of your chosen path. Be mindful that those philosophies and goals that were so important to you early on may have diminished in their need for fulfillment, having been replaced by renewed interest and desire for what seemed unimportant at the time. This is particularly relevant to the types of studies you engage in.
My path is aligned with that of the Western Mystery Tradition. Therefore, I include Astrology, Qabalah, the Lunar and Solar mysteries as part of the daily routine I have. I also incorporate a component of Eastern Philosophy that I brought with me from previous experience and practice in the form of energetic and subtle body working. Initially, my beginning practice was not as inclusive of so many overlays. This took time and fine-tuning of what I believed to be true when I began this work and how that truth changed at all the incremental markers along the way. As I developed more familiarity with the paths of connectedness between many of the studies of both Eastern and Western magickal practices, my goals towards learning and integrating some of these changed. Had I remained rigid in what my practice should be, I would not have included some very important pieces that inform all of my working.
Being mindful of the astrology of a specific day, allows me to fine tune an energetically based meditation I may do that evening to align and draw more fully on the energies of the lunar or solar pathways. Having a solid foundation in the Qabalah, allows me to draw from some of the magickal exercises that engage specific spheres of the Tree of Life that further enhance the properties of the meditation. The result is a rich and deeply satisfying meditative experience that I can then use in my coven work, my mundane activities and informs my writing and teaching. Routinely setting aside some time to get in touch with your changing inner needs and interests will set you closer towards a spiritual Path that enlivens and resonates more fully with your full spiritual potential and is both flexible in its boundaries and justifiably selective in its filters.
Making the Time
Finding the time to maintain consistency of practice can often be a challenge. This is where creativity and discipline come into play. The discipline aspect requires that you do something every day, so it becomes a habit and as naturally integrated into the fabric of your life as eating and breathing. Creativity can step in and carve out 15-minutes of a lunch break spent outdoors with a focused intent to connect with the natural surroundings. Taking a shower can provide 5 minutes of quiet to reflect on the water as it cascades over your body, how it feels and the rhythm and pulse of its energy. The act of eating a meal and taking the time to intentionally “taste” each and every bite and giving thanks for those who have prepared it and the energy of the food opens multi levels of experience that can be cross referenced through all of the disciplines of study you’ve selected. And, ideally, 15 minutes when you arise spent in quiet reflection and 15 minutes in the evening before you go to bed engaged in a study, breath work, journaling or some other activity that aligns with your spiritual goals is what you should be trying to establish. The what and the where will change out of necessity but the keynote of the active form of “practice (the persistent effort)” is what fuels the desire to be consistent; much like the endorphins released in exercise which become a daily craving.
In conclusion, refining and maintaining a personal practice can be as varied and diverse as you wish it to be. There is no right or wrong way. It is refined and colored by your uniqueness and individuality. And, as you move along your chosen spiritual path, there will and should be change. Listen to your inner guidance and follow your instincts. You will know when to add, delete or amp up a notch a specific component of your practice in accord with your personal growth. And, always remain open to the possibilities, for when you least expect it, the jewel of who you truly are as defined by and created from your efforts of practice will shine for all to see.
To use a closing analogy near and dear to my heart: In theater terms you could think of your practice as being the collaboration of all of the supportive components that go into the final product (ion). The carefully chosen venue is your Path or Tradition. The stage, costumes, choreography, script and music are the tools of your Craft, working together in a cohesive fashion and informed by the level of expertise achieved through practice and refinement. The multiple layers of lighting illuminate and accent what you wish to bring to the foreground and the painted scenery are the planes and levels of subtle being through which the action takes place. The well-rehearsed lines offer up the articulation and breath of inspiration to move you forward along your precisely choreographed Path. The audience is select in their expectations and includes all those seen and unseen; and the many parts of your psyche and Spiritual Self all waiting in anticipation and excitement at what creative act of inspiration will be brought forth. And the Show (of great acclaim) is the interpretation of the Great Work of your personal practice that has been crafted to be shared broadly and widely as an expression of joy, your truths and the power to transform oneself to stand brightly lit in the spotlight of the many faces of the Divine.
* This posting has turned up in various iterations and speaks tot eh work of spiritual practice by that very statement. As the years have passed I have learned more of what is best for evoking specific response and growth for myself. These have remained stable at the core of their intent, but the various forms of expression that have emerged move and flow in a flexible way.
The Foundations Are Elemental