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Author Topic: Practicing when you cannot engage in formal rituals  (Read 511 times)

EclecticWheel

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Practicing when you cannot engage in formal rituals
« on: August 17, 2019, 05:38:12 pm »
Have you thought of how you would practice should circumstances require you to forego formal ritual, if such ritual is your style?  The circumstances could be disability, living situations, whatever.   How would you go about it?

I think about this as a solitary.  If I'm lucky, I have to get old one day and may not be able to keep my rule as it is today, and sometimes when I'm visiting others I have to hide my practices unfortunately.

Since my own practices point to and cultivate my interior life, I try to discipline my mind with or without formal, longer rituals, and some of my practices are more simple and portable than others.

I would not like to forego my more involved practices, but I keep in mind I may one day have to and try to remember "the spirit of the letter."

I try to live always in the presence of the numinous, of mysteries, of my divine companions.

And while ritual in the formal sense is for me therapeutic and a form of art and psychodrama for self-expression, I attempt to cultivate what I'm aiming for in mundane activities so that one day if need be I can continue to cultivate what I'm truly seeking even without the formal externalities.  These are useful tools, but not the only ones I have.

It is a matter worth pondering.
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Jainarayan

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Re: Practicing when you cannot engage in formal rituals
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2019, 10:34:26 am »
Have you thought of how you would practice should circumstances require you to forego formal ritual, if such ritual is your style?  The circumstances could be disability, living situations, whatever.   How would you go about it?

If I had to, I could perform something we call manasa puja or manasika puja, i.e. "mental puja" (manas = mind). We visualize all aspects and actions of worship and perform it mentally, from preparing the altar/shrine, placing everything on the table, including water, flower, fruits, lighting the lamp and incense, the prayers and chanting mentally. Everything is mental and "imaginary". One doesn't need anything physical or material, just some privacy and concentration as with any worship. You could even do it on an airplane if you can count on being left alone and really concentrate.
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TheGreenWizard

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Re: Practicing when you cannot engage in formal rituals
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2019, 01:07:15 pm »
Have you thought of how you would practice should circumstances require you to forego formal ritual, if such ritual is your style?  The circumstances could be disability, living situations, whatever.   How would you go about it?

My ritual/prayer at full and new moon is a bit... lengthy. I do know that if I have to forgo it, I'll just shorten it. For example, when I was up at my sister's place for our grandfather's funeral this past July, I did some soul searching and prayer (unintentionally) by having a bonfire either every night or every other night. Offerings? Mentally, I raise my wine glass to Dionysos and Persephone, and then drink it. Ancestors I do little things for them.

It can be done - the Gods and Ancestors, in my opinion, are alright with simple actions, so long as they are recognized.
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Kylara

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Re: Practicing when you cannot engage in formal rituals
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2019, 02:36:14 pm »
Have you thought of how you would practice should circumstances require you to forego formal ritual, if such ritual is your style?  The circumstances could be disability, living situations, whatever.   How would you go about it?

I am all about trying new things and adaptation, so I can see myself figuring out new ways to do ritual, and probably, knowing me, I would incorporate any medical devices that I needed into my rituals as well.

I have done visualized rituals, so I know I always have those to fall back on, but I really like physically doing stuff.  Maybe I will draw my rituals out on paper, or enact them with dolls.
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Re: Practicing when you cannot engage in formal rituals
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2019, 03:33:37 pm »
Have you thought of how you would practice should circumstances require you to forego formal ritual, if such ritual is your style?  The circumstances could be disability, living situations, whatever.   How would you go about it?

So this is totally not a hypothetical for me: I did formal initiatory training, through my 3rd degree, with the related commitments that go along with it.

And then my health crashed, and I spent about 8 years where I could not prep for ritual (i.e. set up altar, do ritual, do immediate cleanup) on the same night - I had to spend a day to prep, a day for ritual, and a day for cleaning up.

I'm now at the point where I'm running a major ritual on Saturday (an initiation), where I have been extra careful about my planning for the last two weeks, and am not planning on getting a lot done next week, but I should be okay with the ritual and immediate aftermath.

(This is a complicated calculation, because some of my health stuff is a lot less of an issue when I'm in sync with the magical work, at least while I'm doing it, and I can use some of the energy inherent in the system to keep myself going and buffer some of the worst effects, if things work out right.)

What I've done has varied, depending on what I needed to do.

There's one yearly ritual in my tradition that is essential for maintenance. No matter what else, I made that one happen. For several years it required significant prep (basically clearing my schedule for the better part of a week so I'd have the spoons to do it - it's fortunately not a 'lot of stuff' ritual in terms of setup.) Sometimes it meant missing stuff I wanted to do, once or twice it affected my ability to work. It often affected things like 'when do I do laundry' and 'when do I go grocery shopping' and 'this needs to be a low cooking prep week'.

(I should note that not doing that ritual would not end the world, but it would require a lot more ritual cleanup if I were at all up for doing it, so doing the thing on schedule is about five times less work.)

Beyond that, I did a lot less formal ritual, and a lot more small things - kissing my hand to the moon, noticing seasonal changes, brief comments to deities as I had a chance, ongoing personal learning and deepening of my practice. (But not a lot of things like meditation or just in my head stuff, because the medical stuff messed with some of that, too.)

As my health has come back, I've built back up to a very brief offering every morning (requires no items), a slightly longer one once a week (which I do with a candle, incense, and water, but could be done without items if I had to), and periodic rituals as relevant, which sometimes are formal circle-casting, and sometimes are 'let me recognise this day'.

When I teach, I talk about never committing to a long-term practice that you can't do in a hospital room, an airport, or the guest room of a relative who doesn't approve of your life (or at least, if you're going to do that, begin with a short term commitment to that like 1-3 months, then a moderate term, like 6-12 months, then a couple of years, and only then go for a lifetime thing only if you feel you need to.) Because chances are, you will have periods in your life when you need to drastically readjust what you're doing in terms of structured practice.

Everything else should be able to adapt and flex, or your religion isn't going to serve you throughout your life. And you should be regularly re-evaluating what's working for you (in terms of keeping any formal commitments, and bringing you closer to your gods)

In many larger or more mainstream religions, there are options when you get to the point you can't do that yourself - people bring communion to nursing homes, there are chaplains in hospitals, etc. You're not expected to make it happen yourself when you're already at the edge of your ability to function. 

When we're the ones who are making it happen, we owe it to ourselves to plan ahead so that we have the ability to scale way back when we need to, whether that's through building specific skills (so we can do more with less formality), building relationships with deity so that formal ritual or offerings are helpful but not essential, or other things like that.
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EclecticWheel

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Re: Practicing when you cannot engage in formal rituals
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2019, 03:26:11 pm »
So this is totally not a hypothetical for me: I did formal initiatory training, through my 3rd degree, with the related commitments that go along with it.

And then my health crashed, and I spent about 8 years where I could not prep for ritual (i.e. set up altar, do ritual, do immediate cleanup) on the same night - I had to spend a day to prep, a day for ritual, and a day for cleaning up.

I'm now at the point where I'm running a major ritual on Saturday (an initiation), where I have been extra careful about my planning for the last two weeks, and am not planning on getting a lot done next week, but I should be okay with the ritual and immediate aftermath.

(This is a complicated calculation, because some of my health stuff is a lot less of an issue when I'm in sync with the magical work, at least while I'm doing it, and I can use some of the energy inherent in the system to keep myself going and buffer some of the worst effects, if things work out right.)

What I've done has varied, depending on what I needed to do.

There's one yearly ritual in my tradition that is essential for maintenance. No matter what else, I made that one happen. For several years it required significant prep (basically clearing my schedule for the better part of a week so I'd have the spoons to do it - it's fortunately not a 'lot of stuff' ritual in terms of setup.) Sometimes it meant missing stuff I wanted to do, once or twice it affected my ability to work. It often affected things like 'when do I do laundry' and 'when do I go grocery shopping' and 'this needs to be a low cooking prep week'.

(I should note that not doing that ritual would not end the world, but it would require a lot more ritual cleanup if I were at all up for doing it, so doing the thing on schedule is about five times less work.)

Beyond that, I did a lot less formal ritual, and a lot more small things - kissing my hand to the moon, noticing seasonal changes, brief comments to deities as I had a chance, ongoing personal learning and deepening of my practice. (But not a lot of things like meditation or just in my head stuff, because the medical stuff messed with some of that, too.)

As my health has come back, I've built back up to a very brief offering every morning (requires no items), a slightly longer one once a week (which I do with a candle, incense, and water, but could be done without items if I had to), and periodic rituals as relevant, which sometimes are formal circle-casting, and sometimes are 'let me recognise this day'.

When I teach, I talk about never committing to a long-term practice that you can't do in a hospital room, an airport, or the guest room of a relative who doesn't approve of your life (or at least, if you're going to do that, begin with a short term commitment to that like 1-3 months, then a moderate term, like 6-12 months, then a couple of years, and only then go for a lifetime thing only if you feel you need to.) Because chances are, you will have periods in your life when you need to drastically readjust what you're doing in terms of structured practice.

Everything else should be able to adapt and flex, or your religion isn't going to serve you throughout your life. And you should be regularly re-evaluating what's working for you (in terms of keeping any formal commitments, and bringing you closer to your gods)

In many larger or more mainstream religions, there are options when you get to the point you can't do that yourself - people bring communion to nursing homes, there are chaplains in hospitals, etc. You're not expected to make it happen yourself when you're already at the edge of your ability to function. 

When we're the ones who are making it happen, we owe it to ourselves to plan ahead so that we have the ability to scale way back when we need to, whether that's through building specific skills (so we can do more with less formality), building relationships with deity so that formal ritual or offerings are helpful but not essential, or other things like that.

Jenett, I had you in the back of my mind when I wrote this, but I suppose I slipped up when I phrased it purely in terms of a hypothetical.  I didn't intend to exclude those who are already dealing with this reality.

I agree with your insights, and while ritual is central to my practices currently, they are not strictly necessary.  In my case they are a reminder that the mundane has a spiritual dimension, at least if we intend it to, and the bulk of my workings should be in the mundane realm even now.

That is how my spiritually operates anyway, but I think it is a helpful perspective to have when operating mostly or entirely alone.
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Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

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