John Beckett gave an excellent presentation at this year’s North Texas Pagan Pride Day on “Daily Spiritual Practice for Pagans.” At one particular point, he talked about utilizing small aspects of one’s life for daily ritual. This particular point got lodged into my mind for further study, which I did that particular night. I turned the concept over and over in my mind — and examined it against my own mostly regular routine. In doing so, I found my daily routines would work well as a frameworks for spiritual practices with a few minor tweaks.
Every morning, I make a pot of coffee. While I wait for the first cup to percolate into the pot, I head outside into the backyard with a handful of birdseed and sunflower seeds. I scatter the bird-seed through the yard by the bird-bath, and place the sunflower seeds in a pile not far from the stone circle you see in the banner page for the web site. The bird seed is, obviously, for the birds. The sunflower seeds are for the squirrels that populate my backyard trees. I then take the water hose and refill the water fountain, for the birds and squirrels to enjoy through the hot Texas summer days. Once back inside, I pour a cup of coffee and sit on the couch that is at the back window and watch the scene as the sun rises. It is here that I take my first moments of reflection over what needs to be accomplished for the day. This “list” gets compiled in my head, and I think of what initial tasks I need to undertake for the rest of the morning to put myself in a place to succeed at these tasks. This past Monday – two days after John’s presentation, I started adding an extra dimension: giving thanks to the G-ds for the things that I have in my life.
My second ritual of the day happens right around 10am. As Texas tends to get super hot during the day-time hours, I make a trade-off in times for taking my daily 5-mile walk. This is helpful for my diabetic condition, but it enhances my day as my moments to get outdoors, and to enjoy what has become a meditative state for me. Many people find it easier to meditate by sitting quietly in a room or outdoors. That works for them, but for me it gets me somewhat agitated. However, when walking, I find myself achieving that particular desired state – where I can find that inner grove of my mind…and commune with that particular part of myself — while taking step after step in this world. Granted, I have to watch for traffic a bit — but given the hour I walk…there’s typically very little traffic through my neighborhood. There’s also a lengthy walking trail very near to my home as well – maintained by the city of Denton, Texas – which can also serve for the same purpose, and I have no traffic to worry about at all. This particular piece of daily ritual (it actually occurs five days out of the week — since most of my “chores” are taken up during the weekends) has been a part of my life for close to two years. I also carry a pedometer with me, which counts the number of walking steps that I take and calculates it into mileage. I have a goal set to walk 1000 miles each year. Last year, I walked 1,072.30 miles. This year, I’m currently at 742.05 miles as of 14Sep.
My final ritual of the day is to sit in the rocker on my front porch and watch the evening sun go down (My back-yard faces north-east, my front-yard faces south-west). Sometimes I bring a book out to read (currently that is Tom Cowan’s “Fire in the Head”), and sometimes I just sit quietly and take in the sounds of the neighborhood. yes, some of those sounds are not necessarily “natural” — except that the sound of people living their daily lives is “natural” to me.
In a sense, I’ve been doing these particular aspects of daily ritual all along — and never really view these in that light. Ritual, for me, is about connecting with the Greater Whole around me…and these particular events specifically take on that role of attunement in my daily life. None of the particular events that I have depicted take place in the same way every single day. Every one of these events is flexible enough to allow for changes in accordance to my own daily changes in Life. In that regard, these particular daily rituals take on aspects of non-static ritual for me. These are not so much an observance of a particular time of the day or year, but rather a re-connection to the Greater Whole. Sort of similar to the way your cell phone or iPod recharges when you plug it back into its power source. At least that’s my take on it. 😉