Monday, June 13, 2011

That 'Thing' You Do

My personal 'overcoming obstacles ' altar
A couple of weeks ago I posted one of those poll question thingies on Facebook asking what tools people used in their personal devotional practice.
I wanted to see how the paradigm of liturgical practice had or was shifting in the Pagan community, and I knew that since I have a widely varied readership I could get a pretty accurate picture. Twenty-five responded to most of the questions, with 115 responses in all. It was a mixed bag and pretty hit or miss. It told me very little about who we are in concrete terms, but it did help me to get a feel for the community in general.

Here's the breakdown:
  • Five said they practiced daily.
  • 25 used meditation in some form in their practice.
  • 23 of you meditate using Buddhist based principles.
  • 21 used a combination of meditation and visualization
  • 15 uses visualization alone at a different time.
  • 17 chant, using God/dess names;4 chanted the Om
  • 13 of you used drums while chanting,2 used other percussion instruments
  • 7 of you used brass singing bowls, I used finger symbols
  • 2 used an unspecified type of glossolalia.
  • 12 used some for of singing.
  • Candle magick was the most popular form of spell casting among all the respondents.
  • 3 used astral projection
  • 3 used reiki
  • 3 used scrying
  • 9 said they had formal Grimories.
  • 5 said they kept a journal which was not specifically considered a grimorie.
  • 17 had ritual blades
  • 22 had altars, dedicated altars or shrines in their homes. 
 Not surprising, although I do wonder if this means that tools aren't used in daily devotion, or if they were reserved for more formal occasions... or tools aren't being used at all. Difficult to tell and this might require another question/poll in depth specifically targeted to that subject.

Some surprises: No one checked the box for using incense, no one said they used tarot cards or other means of divination; no one used dance. Personally, I love incense because it helps set the mood for me, I realize many have allergies or live in places where the practice is forbidden. Truthfully, I can't imagine none of the above using tarot cards or some sort of symbol system for divination, because I happen to know at least three who specifically do use cards in their practice. Absolutely no one admitted that they used dance, and again, I know of a couple who have incorporated movement into their practice, so I think the subject needs exploration

No one admitted to using bi-location, which is not surprising. Only two said they drew upon Universal Energy ( Little  wonder we are tired and so many have been  sick!) Four said they got positive results from what they did well, but didn't specify if that was a specific act of worship or ritual. Four said they helped others, two said they did it for free, which I take to mean not accepting money or barter for services.

So out of this what I got was that the overview was of a group which was generally, yet non-specifically spiritual, who chanted and drummed and used  candle magick ( or folk magick) along with occasionally using specific methods.  We seem to be a group of hedge witches, witches or shaman. Some of us are initiated in at least one formal tradition, although we prefer not to label ourselves. Even thought none of us seem to believe in 'anything goes', I still suspect this means we like to keep our options open...I know I do.

I'm still interested in what we do and gravitate to,what or whom resonate within our souls, what touches us and inspires us; what we use as tools, how we dress, what we do in ritual- because all of that helps to define us as a faith tradition and as a community.

I'd like to see how diverse we are as a group: so far there are a few who practice Wicca, a Chaos magician,a Native American, a Hoodoo practitioner, a couple Buddhists and a Celtic re-constructionist or two, a Warlock, and at least two necromancers- and a dark faery.  I believe we're eclectic, but that our worship has form, and I'm interested in knowing more about if you're inclined, write a little something in the comments section...I'm not asking you to give away any secrets, just to make general comments.

Everyone can participate and no judgments will be made, I'm just collecting background material that will help me write better  blog articles...and yeah, I'm finally getting serious about working on the book I've been writing for the last few years.( Thank you, Christian, for the encouragement!) Knowing more about you will help me keep the manuscript in sync with readership.I actually have it about half finished, and it will include the two copyrighted sections I posted back in December as a section of the book The working title of the book is  A Year And A Day.


  1. I think for me, the confusion is introduced when I compare what I do solitary versus in a group. When I'm solo, I only use my tools when I either a) need the help focusing that something tangible can bring, or b) am "pulling out all the stops" to do something big. Most of the time, my daily practice just involves connecting with Deity and the Elementals, and I generally don't need tools for that. Like you, I love incense and candles, but I don't feel less magical/spiritual without them.

  2. I use the tools for focus during group ritual. If I'm incorporating something new I may use the tools just to help set the vibe and energy once so I can call that back up if needed later.

    I do a lot of my daily devotions (mostly connecting with Deity) "on the run"- like on the bus going to town. I can block out all the stuff going on around me and it makes for a more pleasant trip and makes use of 'lost' time. The candles and incense are saved for more pressing issues, and if I'm just praying I use the incense alone. They enhance my spirituality but don't replace it; I think many Pagans are like us, Alan.

  3. I have always been a solitary and I can say I practiced with a group three times in my ten years of earth spirituality. I use visualization only. I imagine every part of ritual and do everything from a meditative state. Probably not smart, but it works for me. I also have no altars, but hopefully that will change soon!

  4. @Graycie- I am basically a solitary, although I HPs a learning circle. There's nothing wrong with visualization-it's a difficult skill to master.I'd done ritual entirely through visualization and I think it's great to develop that layer to your devotions. I have no permanent altars right now. My last altar was a converted single small storage cabinet that was on wheels and waist high. I could keep most of my tools and supplies inside on the two shelves and purchased a thin stone slab to place on the top. Part of the charm of being a witch is making do with what you have!

  5. I use my tools when performing rituals or spellwork ... not that I need them but because they help me to get in the appropriate mindset for "serious workings". I have several permanent altars but will create a separate "working altar" for ritual. I don't meditate as much as I should (or would like to) but tend to do frequent "mini meditations" during the day, especially when outside, say walking between buildings at work. I do tarot occasionally and frequently sit with one or more crystals.

  6. @ dragonfae- I like working with crystals, too; depending on the particular stone I may place it in one of the little spontaneous 'bookshelf' altars I find myself creating. I do walking meditation also.

  7. I love my crystals. :)

    And I forgot to mention the candles and incense ... I always use incense for rituals and spellwork. I use candles frequently too, but not always. But I also burn both "just because" from time to time. ;)

  8. Mostly, I do visualization and mini-meditations on a daily basis for connecting with the Universe. Sometimes I use candles, incense, or music to help me focus on something instead of letting life clutter up my brain.
    If I'm doing a particular working, I might use other tools such as herbs or crystals to add a little extra oomph.
    Dancing. I love dancing. I dance just because I feel like the world needs more dancing. And because I want to feel the world's energy moving through me. I don't suppose I intentionally use it as part of spiritual practice, but it certainly is part of my spirit.
    Also, singing is a thing that just sometimes happens during a ritual. There's something to be said (planned ahead or not) and it just comes out with song cuz that's what feels right.
    I don't have a dedicated altar, but I do have a few dedicated tools kept in a specific place and a place I go regularly centering, working, and meditating.


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