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In the last entry, we discussed the dangers of aiming for perfection and the need to just relax. Of course, that’s easier said than done. This week, I’d like to talk about some of the different ways to aid in relaxation that allow us to be the most effective in our Pagan works.
These are a few of the methods I’ve used in times of high stress or when I need more focus. Some of these methods have become such integral parts of my personal routine that going a day without leaves me feeling imbalanced and anxious.
You can tweak these anyway you’d like to best suit your practice. None of these techniques are strictly Pagan, but incorporating them into your Pagan practice will help you find a deeper connection by achieving a more relaxed state.
Pagans love books. Visit any of your Pagan friends and you’re bound to find a variety of spell-books, how-to manuals, “beginner” books, and more. We read a lot, but our reading material tends to skew towards non-fiction.
Make sure that, along with gathering knowledge, you’re setting time aside to read for entertainment. It could be fiction or narrative non-fiction, but it’s important that you allow yourself to be taken away by stories.
Whether it’s witchy-themed, a heart-racing thriller, or a cozy kid’s tale, getting lost in a story will improve your imagination and soothe your mind. An especially good story will make you feel things—joy, hope, sadness, excitement, and so much more.
It’s necessary to connect with these emotions and expand your imagination not only for an improved Pagan practice, but to live a fulfilled life.
Did I mention that Pagans love books? Coloring books included. If you think you’re too old for coloring books, you’re sorely missing out.
Connect with your inner child and get yourself a spiritual or nature-based coloring book. Let yourself be drawn into the images and change your vibrations.
Color magick is old school, so this is the perfect relaxation method to bring into your spiritual practice.
It might sound counter-intuitive, but pushing yourself to do short bursts of exercise is a great way to relax. If you’re feeling unfocused or unable to settle down, brief, vigorous exercise allows you to funnel any anxious energy out of your body. This, in turn, allows you to chill out.
Each day when you wake up and each night before bed, take about five minutes to engage in some sort of physical activity. This could be anything from jumping jacks to walking up and down stairs to doing seated triceps dips.
Not everyone is capable of such physical exertion, but if you are, this is an ideal way to relax and improve your overall health.
The human brain is uniquely connected to scent in a way that makes aromatherapy a rather powerful tool. Aroma is one of the fastest ways to human emotions, so it’s a perfect tool to relax.
You can use essential oils, incense, scented candles, and many other methods of aromatherapy. One of the most used and beloved scents in the witchy community is lavender, so do yourself a favor and pick up a vial of the essential oil today.
Baths have been a source of relaxation for centuries and that hasn’t changed. Sure, nowadays many of us tend to think of baths as people soup. Ick.
However, a spiritual cleansing bath is imperative for any Pagan practitioner. It allows you to cleanse your aura, to release anything that may be holding you down or causing you discomfort, and clear your head.
I highly recommend taking at least a monthly spiritual bath. Make it part of your New or Full Moon ritual. By adding this simple practice to your routine, you’re sure to find all of your witchy workings improved, along with a lightening of your overall mood.
I recommend meditation for just about everything. That’s because it is so amazing. Meditation is one of the best methods we have of connecting body, mind, and spirit.
If you aren’t meditating daily, then you should start. Having a base of meditation will make every working that much easier to get into. It helps your brain to focus faster, calms your body, and allows you to tap into other realms.
Meditation is my number one method for relaxation and is possibly the most important aspect of my spiritual practice. It’s important that you find a style or system of meditation that works best for you and put in the effort to maintain a regular practice.
More specifically, I mean walking away from whatever is causing anxiety. If you’re having trouble relaxing and getting focused for magickal work, then don’t do the work!
It’s important to remember that mindset plays a huge part in manifesting, and sometimes it’s better to just walk away from the work than to try to push through our anxiety.
Stepping away from the problem allows us to see it in a different light, so when we come back to it, we may be better equipped to move forward. So if you’re having trouble relaxing enough to do magick, walk away and try out one of the other methods above.
Those are just some of the ways I currently use to calm my mind and aid me in achieving my best form for magickal workings.
What do you do to relax? How do you prepare for magickal work? What’s your favorite method?
Let me know what you think in the comments!
With all my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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What is Ritual?
We engage in ritual every day. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a ritual is “a set of actions or words performed in a regular way, often as part of a religious ceremony.” This includes the series of tasks we take every morning or at night before bed and certain acts we do without even thinking about them. Of course, this is a Wiccan-leaning Pagan blog, and so I’ll stick to that in this post.
In Wicca, one can find rituals for just about anything. We have rituals for each of our holidays, called Sabbats, as well as to celebrate the full moon, which we call Esbats. Most Wiccan rituals include some form of Grounding and Centering, as well as Calling the Quarters—but they can be as simple or complex as we desire.
Why do we perform Ritual?
Ritual allows us to focus our intentions and provides a source of comfort in the familiar. The repetitive actions form a sort of anchor that’s important when performing any kind of magick work. This anchor frees us from distractions so that we can work in a relatively “pure” space.
The reasons differ for every ritual, but they are almost always meant to mark a specific occasion as a special one. Whether it’s to celebrate a commitment to our partner or to prepare for a big presentation, rituals remind us that we are entering a unique phase and that we should remain aware. They allow us to focus deeply on our goals, strengthening the power of our intentions.
Pagan rituals come in hundreds of variations, depending on the practitioner/s and their tradition. We use ritual to connect with nature, with our Higher Selves, and with Deity. We use ritual to celebrate joyous events and to recognize solemn events with a show of respect. Many of us even imbue our mundane, morning routine with a little magick, making it yet another ritual that helps us connect with the Divine.
What’s a Dramatic Ritual?
One of my favorite types of ritual is also one I have yet to try. That is the Dramatic ritual—a ritual that is performed in the style of a play. Most Pagan rituals have a certain level of drama to them, with our candles and robes and intricate altar tools. But the Dramatic ritual is a full-on performance—with stage directions, lines, and actors.
What makes this different from a normal play is the content of the story being told, the worship-based activities, and the participation of everyone in attendance. These plays tend to feature coven-members and often have some form of trance/meditation for all involved as part of the performance.
Personally, I’ve always felt a sort of magick when performing, so the idea of bringing that into my personal practice just rings a bell for me. It seems like an ideal and fun way to worship. It also seems like an amazing bonding exercise for coven members. The Dramatic ritual is certainly at the top of my ritual bucket list, along with many others.
Whatever kind of ritual you prefer, I think every Pagan can agree that ritual is an important and beautiful part of our various practices. Ritual can be found in just about every tradition, because it speaks to a basic human need. It allows us not only to connect with the Divine, but with others as well in group ritual. It gives us community experience and a trigger to deepen our focus.
What, if any, rituals do you do every day? Is ritual an important part of your practice? If not, why not? What do you do to stay connected to the Divine/your spiritual self?
Send me your responses or comments!
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
Did you folks know I do weekly Tarot readings? Check out the videos here, and subscribe to catch them every Monday. Be sure to reach out through the contact page with your questions and topic ideas!
I’ve read the pages and activities in “A Charmed Life”. I simply cannot stare at myself naked in a mirror. The thought actually makes me physically ill. What on Earth should I do?
I received this question quite a while ago and filed it away with the intention of eventually putting it in the blog. It references one of the assignments in the Covenpath course in which students are asked to perform a private activity that involves standing in front of a mirror and removing their clothing, followed by a nude meditation and self-observation.*
Naturally, this is not an easy task for many—not just in the Pagan community but it’s something people struggle with throughout our society. Our attitudes toward nudity haven’t always been as friendly as they are today, and it makes sense that the idea of staring at our own stark naked bodies can be a bit terrifying.
I admit that this particular question was difficult for me to answer, as I have always enjoyed personal nudity. I’m at my most comfortable undressed, and I embrace the health benefits of regular nudity. When you factor in the spiritual and protective nature of mirrors—and that I think a home without mirrors feels oppressive—you might understand how I had to become comfortable seeing my own body.
This process, of course, can be a lot tougher for someone who isn’t accustomed to casual nudity. If you’ve lived 60 years of your life, and you’ve never taken even two minutes to gaze at your own uncovered body without judgment, this might seem nearly impossible. So, what’s a witch to do when she has trouble being naked, even when she’s alone?
The best answer I can offer is to take your time and to really try to listen to your spirit. Consider the roots of your discomfort. How are you talking to yourself? When you step out of the shower, do you turn away from the mirror or avoid looking at specific places? Similarly, do you focus on specific areas in a negative light? Why?
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that current body trends have a massive impact on how we view ourselves. The effect of societal pressure to look a certain way can be extremely damaging. How, then, is it possible to free ourselves when everywhere we turn, someone’s telling us we aren’t good enough?
My suggestion would be simply to build up to it. Move slowly, but push yourself forward. Try taking the first half of the activity and modifying it a bit. Plan a few private hours, or at least 30 minutes a day, and start with just removing one thing. Stand in front of your mirror and take off your jacket, your shoes. Watch yourself undress. It sounds strange, but the act of watching yourself remove clothing gives you an awareness and forces you to be present with yourself.
Before bed, watch as you change into your pajamas. Then, take some time to gaze at yourself in your pajamas. During the day, don’t avoid your body. Take a little longer in the bathroom to gaze into your own eyes as you wash your hands. Glance at yourself in reflective surfaces. Many of us already do this, but here’s the key: you cannot and must not judge yourself.
You have to look in the mirror and say, “This is my face. I love my face.” Do the same for your body. You might want to focus on acne or scars, but let those thoughts pass. When negative thoughts arise, repeat the phrases to yourself. Be patient and, over time, you’ll start to feel more comfortable seeing yourself in less and less.
Push yourself to move forward, but be gentle when you can’t. Do the work to understand the root of your fear and to change your attitude towards your own body. You are not just a spirit inside of a shell. Your flesh, your blood, your bones – these all are a part of you. The path we follow is one of healing and growth, and I firmly believe that we cannot be our best selves if we only treat a part of ourselves as sacred.
Keep practicing and you’ll be a skyclad witch in no time!
Remember, I love you and send a thousand blessings,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
How do you deal with body anxiety and discomfort? Let me know in the comments!