Why Devotional Practice? A Personal Perspective….

Sep 2nd, 2018 | By | Category: Articles

Every so often, I receive little questions from folks asking about my opinion on this issue or that issue within the broader online Pagan community. Sprinkled in with those questions come the occasional queries on why I do this or what I do for that within my own personal approach to Paganism, Polytheism and/or Druidry. Most of the questions, I can typically answer in three to four sentences, at the extreme most. But then I get questions like this one, which will have me sitting back and really trying to piece out the “why” aspect instead of the “how”. And admittedly, it has taken me more than a month to work out what I find to be an appropriate answer.

Why do you have a daily devotional practice with your Druidry?

This is a really good question, for which I am going to have to dig a little deeper into who I am and what I believe. So, please forgive some of the more personal, technical aspects of this. However, I am a contextual person by nature and felt that this was just as important to understanding the “why” as just flat-out answering the question.

My Approach to the Gods

My Backyard Stone Circle

I am a Polytheist. Hard, soft, ditch all that stuff. I’m a Polytheist. I believe the Gods are real. I believe that They are individual entities. I believe that They are capable of subtle change over time and that those changes happen in a concept of time that They understand. That does not mean that Coyote will become a God of Love, but rather that over time, His understanding of human beings will change as time goes forward. He may soften His stance on one issue and harden His stance on another after dealing with humans over time. We, as individuals, change over time as well. Our concept of time is very different. Our lifespans are finite within these incarnations. We are very different from Them, but we deal with relationships in similar manners. Like I said, I believe the personalities of the Gods can change, but not at the same speed or depth that we change.

The Gods are real. As I have said before, you only need to open your mind and reach out to experience Them. Interacting and working with Them takes a lot more work, time and of course, devotion. And some people will never get the chance to interact with Them, for whatever reason. But They can be experienced with an open mind. There are those that will disagree with me, and I am always open to hearing other perspectives. After all, I am not the God-whisperer. My so-called “expertise” applies to me, and me alone. All of that is what has worked for me. I cannot and will not speak for anyone else.

My Approach to Daily Devotional Practice

I have a daily devotional practice, which has evolved over time. At the very start of my daily devotions, I took time out of every morning to stand out by the stone circle in my backyard and just greet the rising morning sun. Then, I added a time at dusk to greet the coming night sky. For quite a few years, this was the extent of what I did. Then, when Crow came into my life, I started leaving water and bird seed for the creatures in the neighborhood. At that time, I lived in a very urban area that had sprung up fairly quickly. That trapped a lot of wildlife that had inhabited the area within the urban environment. It was not uncommon to see a small herd of deer along some of the roadways in the early morning or early evening hours. When I lived less than a five miles from Lake Lewisville, there were three separate herds of mule deer that circled the edges of the lake. Occasionally, they would forage for food into my surrounding neighborhood. But with Crow firmly in my life, I felt a need to feed the birds, and by default, the mice and the squirrels living in my backyard.

So, what does that have to do with devotional practice to Crow? Well, when I would refill the bird-bath with cool water in the heat of the Summer, and leave birdseed throughout the yard, I would offer all of that while praying to Crow. And I would pray for different things each day. For help with a difficult issue at work, for the safety and health of my extended family, for peace and understanding to be found throughout the world. Sometimes, I would recite a recent lesson I had been provided in a meditation. In the winter, I would pour hot water over the bird-bath to unfreeze the frozen water – even if for a short bit, and pray for the safety and welfare of the animals that came to my yard seeking water and food. After a time, I had fashioned my own version of an impromptu ritual of prayer and devotion to Crow using this methodology.

Tying All of that Together

How does all of this work together, then? Well, for me, it provides a daily focus. If you have read my personal blog with any regularity, you know that I am not huge on scripted ritual. But impromptu ritual works right up my alley with daily devotionals. My morning and evening moments have some similarities between them, but none of them are truly the same. There is always something new being added or something from the previous day that I decided not to use on this day. Plus, for me, it is a way of trying to draw closer to Crow and Coyote with these moments. Part of working with a God or Goddess is in trying to woo Their attention. If your intention through daily devotionals is in getting a God or Goddess to work with you, keep at it. Be serious about what you are doing, and perhaps you can win a moment of Their time. or perhaps, you will attract the attention of a different God or Goddess you had not considered. But as I noted, its a daily focus for me. In the morning, its a focus on the start of things, getting myself moving forward. In the evening, its bringing things to a close, thanking Crow and Coyote for watching over throughout the day, even when I have had a particularly bad day because I know things could always have been worse. And I know the gentle nudges I have felt to not do this or to do that during those times are just a momentary point of pause by one or both of Them, trying to keep me out of further trouble or issues.

The Gods Are Not ATMs

make no mistake about it, the Gods are singular entities, in my understanding of Them. They have a deeper grasp of the bigger picture of what happens here in this place of existence than I do. I pray to Coyote and crow for guidance. I pray to Them – and other Gods and Goddesses – that the world can figure its way out of the current mess we are in, finding ways to work together rather than new ways to split us apart or using old divisions to deeper drive the wedge between us all. But the action for those solutions is on our part, not that of the Gods. My prayers are for guidance towards solutions, not for the solutions themselves. Prayer and devotion is not a transactional debit card that we slide into the slot near our altars, press in a pin number through our prayers, and receive a solution from the little tray next to the incense holder. We do not need to utilize prayer in the sarcastic fashion of Captain Malcolm Reynolds: “Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket.”

From my perspective, prayer and devotion are not about getting things in return for your prayers. In my opinion, prayer is no substitute for action. Prayer is intent given form. To give the intention action requires individual work on your part, not on the part of the Gods. Do you want that pony and a plastic rocket? Work for it. Me? I want to see the world work together rather than find ways to pull itself apart into factions based on idiotic perspectives such as skin color or nationality. How do I get that? Working for it. By changing minds and perceptions of others. How do I do that? By talking to people that are receptive to my perspective. Will I change the minds and perspectives of everyone? Probably not, if I am being realistic. But my Awen, my inspiration, is that people work together rather than be adversaries. My logical mind tells me that is a complete impossibility. My heart and passion say to not try, even despite that logic, is to admit defeat without even taking an at-bat in the game.

Conclusion

So why do I have a devotional practice? My short answer is because I believe in the Gods and Goddesses, I believe in magick, I believe in the world that is not readily seen by closed minds. I have a devotional practice because I respect Crow and Coyote for who They are, and am thankful for Their individual presences within my life. Because enriching my connection with Them through morning and evening devotions strengthens my bond with Them. Because that bond also strengthens who I am and how I live in the world around me. Because the way that I live in the world around me helps strengthen the connections I have with everything else. And all of that is an important part of who I am. I stumble in my daily spiritual practice. Sometimes, I fall outright. But in the end, I find ways to get back up, knock the dust off the seat of my pants, adjust my pack, and continue down the Path…with a touch more caution about my footing. After six years of doing this, my daily devotionals are more than some rote activity…they are a part of who I am. These devotions are part of my connectivity, an extension of what I am in the world around me. Constantly changing, constantly evolving, constantly altering according to what happens – but a constant aspect of me.

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