The altar is cleansed and the athame re-consecrated and the energy in my room is totally revitalized. All is well. I did try to put up a protection around the altar, making it unpalatable to anyone who isn't respectful of the sacredness of the space but to be honest, I'm not sure my husband will be deterred from anything like that. He tends to live in his own world.
I've been missing church lately. Well, I've been missing the ritual from church, but not the religion. I really think I need to incorporate more daily and special ritual in my life from now on. At times I wonder if the hunger for ritual is Nature's way of telling me to take the next step and crawl out of my comfortable box into something that includes taking risks and pushing the envelop of my spirituality. I haven't craved it before like I do now.
So I'm focusing my studies on ritual, prayer and meditation. Because I loved the physical rituals...the sign of the cross, genuflecting, bowing, etc...I have developed a few physical rituals of my own. Touching my finger and thumb to my forehead, then to my lips, back to my forehead then to my heart and back to my lips. It means to me that I pray that my intentions will always be well thought out and from my heart before I speak them aloud. It might sound cheesy but I find comfort in it, especially as I tend to be impulsive.
Another one is to hold my spirit beads entwined around both hands in a prayerful position, hands at my forehead invoking the Goddess when I pray to her. When I pray to the God I have my arms crossed at my chest, head slightly bowed. I end both prayers with my arms open and raised halfway to the sky.
Prayer is difficult for me, having spent a lifetime trying to pray to a God who never answered, all the while believing the fault was mine. Prayer in Christianity is a lot about asking for stuff, demanding God deliver on his promises and begging tearfully for escape from whatever situation you've found yourself in. And lots of adoration because he seems to need it. A lot. And thankfulness. And adoration. And lots of wallowing in self-pity for the multitude of sins since you can't go five minutes without breaking one of his rules, even if only in your thoughts. And did I mention adoration? Sure I was told as a Christian that prayer was just conversation with God, telling him my heart and about my day, but in reality it was more like the above. I sure never heard of anyone, especially in public prayer, who ever just "talked" to God.
So I struggle with what to pray for with Hecate, Cernunnos, Lugh, Rhiannon, Hestia, the Morrigan, et al. I don't want to be demanding and tell them what they need to do for me. I don't want to be condescending and heap tons of false praise on them that feels more like obligation than sincere feelings. Although I know they care about us, I'm not sure how involved they are in our lives. I'm pretty sure they don't micromanage the way the old guy does. I also believe they expect us to stand on our own two feet and not look for anyone to magically solve our problems for us. So for now I tend to pray not for material things but for wisdom, direction, protection and ask to draw on their energy in order to work things out for myself. I am able to talk to them as if they were in the room with me (and aren't they?) and even be conversational with them, something I absolutely could not do with the old guy.
Daily prayer also seems more natural to me these days, even if it's only a quick word or two or a loving touch of a picture.
It's hard to believe how much happier I am as a Pagan, too. I can't believe the anguish and self-recriminations I struggled through as a Christian, never measuring up to the impossible standard set up for me. I've even stopped beating myself up so much about my limitations. I'm growing more spiritually now than I ever did as a Christian. And I never knew this kind of peace before.
I was watching a documentary about Thor today on National Geographic channel so I am getting lots of exposure to things outside the Christian-dominated world of religion. Hopefully I'll be able to concentrate better soon and be able to remember more of what I read. I manage better with audio/visual learning right now, with dvds and documentaries, but I'd love to start reading more about mythologies and folklore. Just have to get to the stage where my brain is working better. I am getting there though. I'm in a much better place than I was a month ago.
Time to go finish up supper. I have some patterns to knit and crochet some holly and ivy and some mistletoe since finding the real stuff is difficult around here. I'd love some real evergreens but I get really bad headaches with a real tree in the house so I'm not sure having branches all over the house will work for me. I'm putting up the tree tonight but no decorating until tomorrow. I'm beginning to enjoy the season again. I've dreaded it for so many years and didn't know why.