One of the constant challenges in today’s world is finding the time and the space to engage in a regular practice. Yet there is very little–for our spiritual or magical development–that is more critical than finding that time and space.
For some people, there priorities in Paganism are primarily social. They like to get together with friends on full moons, or perhaps only on Beltane and Samhain, talk and eat with friends, engage in the motions of ritual to build frith, and then go back to their lives. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this for them.
However, if you are looking to engage in focused spiritual development and progress as a spirit worker, I maintain that one of the first steps to doing so is to engage in regular–and preferably daily–practice of some variety. It improves discipline, it enhances the Will, and it contributes to leading a meaningful and mindful life.
There are a variety of practices we can engage in, depending on the specifics of the path we are walking on.
- Daily prayer synced to specific events in the day (times of day, meals, etc).
- Doing a relaxation ritual meditation before bed.
- Mindfulness meditations while sitting on a bus or train or over lunch.
- Drawing a tarot card (or rune, or a geomantic figure) and spending 2-3 minutes reflecting on it.
- Engaging in a prolonged grounding visualization, such as a tree meditation.
- Journey once a week at a set time.
So long as you commit a set amount of time to it, focus on it and do it mindfully, and do it reliably on a regular basis, it counts. Daily is best, on weekdays is okay, weekly will even work. Anything less than weekly, however, and you are getting into the territory that the development is so slow that it is probably good to find something else to augment your practice with.
Many people, when they read guides on these sorts of daily exercises, will tell themselves things such as
I will just meditate on my walk to work or
I will meditate while in the shower in the morning.
While these are doable exercises, it has been my experience that they are also incredibly difficult for someone who is not already engaged in daily practice to do reliably or well. Spending thirty seconds telling yourself you are meditating will not cut it, and meditating in the shower (which is filled with physical stimuli) can be extremely challenging. Similarly, walking meditation is doable, but it also requires being aware, focused, and is significantly more difficult than sitting meditation for many people.
What’s more, these are events that for many people take place when they are rushing to get to work or otherwise easily distractible, thus ensuring they will not be done reliably.
So while these are possible, I have generally found it is best to start with some other practice, and then integrate such activities into your life at a later point.
Not Doing Too Much
Another trap that people fall into is trying to do too much at once. They will tell themselves that they will spend time each day doing mindfulness meditation, drawing tarot cards and reflecting on those, performing the LBRP, exercising, cooking at home more, doing a walking meditation to work, practice cycle energy, and then do a progressive muscle relaxation exercise before bed.
There are two major problems with setting this sort of goal and trying to start doing it
now or, worse,
The first is that it means that the individual is unlikely to last more than a day or two (if that) doing everything in their curriculum. The mind rebels and they have not yet developed the discipline to do all of it, so they end up doing none of it. They tell themselves that they are tired, or busy today, or some other explanation for why today is an exception… and then tomorrow is an exception, and then the day after that.
The second is that those practices become associated. So even if our intrepid individual manages to do all of this for a few weeks, something can happen that disrupts one of them (or one of them turns out to be a bad idea for them due to illness or psychological conditions), and suddenly it becomes a matter of keeping all of them or keeping none of them.
Instead, it is almost always better to start by practicing one thing at a time. Do it for a month, and then move on to the next thing. There’s a reason books like Kraig’s Modern Magick and Israel Regardie’s One Year Manual are geared around doing–at most–one new exercise a month.
That way, it is
just one (more) thing instead of
these eight things and if you stop practicing one for some reason, you will generally still keep all of the others you have worked so hard to make progress on.
If you are looking to improve yourself and are not already engaged in such, find a single practice and do it for a month. Then, if you feel it is appropriate, either add another or change that one out. This doesn’t even just apply to spiritual matters: in Kageyama’s Lessons of the Fundamentals of Go he describes dedicating fifteen minutes a day to your basics in Go to improve there. Habit is an incredibly powerful thing.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate: Very basic practice can even be better than elaborate practice, especially when starting out. It just needs to be disciplined, done with purpose, and performed regularly. It is frequently not as difficult to find time as we tell ourselves, and there are a variety of possible exercises out there that can help us train ourselves.
Whatever it is you prefer, if you wish to develop as an occultist, a spirit worker, or even just spiritually then you owe it to yourself to find a way of engaging in regular practice. You will not be perfect to start, but that’s okay, just focus on making it happen every day–even if you do not feel as though it is doing anything at first–and amazing things can come of it.