I can almost hear the groaning. Having a daily practice is one of those things everyone knows is necessary and yet so few people do it. And yet you cannot grow spiritually without hard work, which involves consistency and application.
Full disclosure here: I’m writing this after realizing that for most of the month I have missed my daily devotional hour. I had some legit excuses at the beginning that turned into an “I don’t want to” kind of whine, and that’s where I am now. So in writing this article, I’m hoping to motivate myself to get back in the saddle again.
One thing I want to make clear is that you aren’t “required” to have a daily practice. The God and the Goddess will still love you, you won’t be punished, you won’t be ticking off some deity. It should never be a thing you are forced into doing. Many times those of us who were Christians tried to build the habit of regular “quiet time with the Lord”, reading our Bibles and praying. And most of us failed at it, and then felt that God, on some level, was mad or disappointed. This isn’t like that at all.
On the other hand, nothing is gained for free. The skills used in magick- meditation, visualization, energy work- all require practice. You cannot expect to read a book, meditate once or so, and then go on to perform successful magick. I think this is where some get disillusioned with Wicca and the practice of witchcraft. “Well, it didn’t work”. Of course not! It’s a craft- hence the word witchcraft. All crafts require an apprenticeship period.
If you want to feel closer to the God and the Goddess, to maybe discover your patron deity, to feel connected to the Divine, then it’s like any other relationship. You have to put in the time. You cannot put a statue of some deity on your altar, completely ignore them, and then expect to be able to work with them. Would you treat a friend like that?
Maybe you want to learn more about a particular witchcraft-related topic and you don’t have a lot of time to read and research. Maybe you’re interested in divination, philosophy, or creative arts. A daily practice time is an excellent time to work on those things.
I think most of us dislike that concept if nothing else because it involves work! This can be especially true in Wicca when many people have left an authoritarian religion behind and hate the idea of “having” to do anything.
The fact is, though, that none of the skills of the Craft will improve without regular practice. Even if you consider yourself “naturally gifted”, that doesn’t mean that you can get by without putting in the work. While there is much to be said for simply following your instincts, to be truly useful to yourself and others, they need to be paired with knowledge and experience.
No relationship can grow if you don’t spend time with each other. This is true of our relationship with the God and the Goddess as well. Keep in mind, I’m not saying that Their love is dependent on you having a daily practice. To learn to hear their voice, to take the time to listen, to be able to drop the everyday mask we often have to wear and be honest with them, to talk to them like you would any other friend- those things are what build a relationship, and those things take time.
What to do during your daily practice time:
That is totally up to you. I recommend that you find some opening and closing routine. It doesn’t have to be much, it can just be lighting a candle on your altar and saying a short prayer to the God and Goddess asking them to bless this devotional period. If you do light a candle on your altar, try to make it the same one each time. Burn the same scent of incense, and listen to the same background music. For one, then you aren’t distracted by variety. Two (and the more important reason) is that those sensory experiences will become cues for your body to slip into a light meditative space.
I also recommend grounding. It can be as short as 2-3 minutes, and it’s a good precursor to divination, meditation, or study.
Other than that, here are some ideas:
*Spiritual Reading– All those books you’ve collected? Now is a great time to dive in. Review the basics, learn something new, learn something you used to know and have tended to forget.
*Divination– A lot of people like to draw a daily Tarot card or rune, and this time is perfect for that, no matter what method you use.
*Journaling– Use this time to examine yourself and your spiritual life, and then write your feelings about it. Where you are, where you want to be, any signs or answers you’ve got in meditation or reading or in dreams; all of this is good journaling material. Journaling is also a crucial part of shadow work, which I will discuss at some other time.
*Meditation– This is probably the most essential skill and the most avoided one. Meditation is not easy. It can be made easier by starting in smaller sessions (I often recommend starting with just five minutes) and increase gradually, by trying different methods of meditation, etc. But in the end, you have to make the choice to sit down, take the time, push through the boredom that often comes, and stick with it. I promise you, it won’t be boring forever. We’re just used to having several trains of thought going through our heads, and meditation is a quieting of all that.
*Time in nature– Every Wiccan should do this when at all possible, even if we are simply going to a small park and people-watching. Nature is our church, after all.
*Be creative– Work on your Book of Shadows. Write some Wiccan-themed poetry. Make yourself a mini-Maypole flag for your altar. Plan a ritual for the next full moon. These are physical expressions of your love for your path.
*Listen to podcast/YouTube on Wicca-related topics– I hesitate to put this one down because it is so easy for this to turn into browsing. You pull up your YouTube account and oh, this video over here looks interesting, I’ll just take a quick peek, and before you know it an hour is gone. Podcasts include a lot of back-and-forth chatter which can also be time-consuming. However, watching a short video on a targeted topic (maybe information about the upcoming Sabbat) can be very helpful, and is a good use of your time.
*Pray– Yes, Wiccans pray. You can do spontaneous prayer, or you can use prayer beads or a prayer book, or write your prayers; whatever helps you feel connected to the God and the Goddess. For more about prayer and Wicca, look here.
Your daily practice time can be something you look forward to each day. It doesn’t have to be long. It’s better to do ten minutes regularly than fifty minutes every now and then. When you think of all the things we find time for, certainly our spiritual life is worth what it takes to carve out the time to make a daily practice work?
Now that I’ve typed all this, time to get back on track!