Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pagan Prayer?

When All You Can Do Is Pray?


Pagans pray too!  Our ancestors prayed to their Gods, long ago. Their pleas and offerings are documented in the hieroglyphs that adorn the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, in the carvings and inscriptions left for us to read by the philosophers of Ancient Greece and Rome.  A prayer is a request and there are many sorts of prayers.  Different types of spiritual entities prefer different types of offerings and words.  Chants and songs are great for visualized meditation.  While prayer beads can be found in many forms all over the world. 

Photo by Leland Francisco via Creative CommonsThere is contemplative prayer to commune with a deity, usually in silence.  A body prayer uses dance or other special movements in prayer.  Walking a labyrinth can be a prayerful act.  Petitionary prayer is praying for help for yourself.  A general prayer offers thanks.  You can do it out loud or silently, in a temple or backyard or forest or at a kitchen table.


Yes, I know there is some debate in the community on prayer being for Catholics and Spells being for Wiccans.  Many Pagans dismiss prayer as 'passive magic' - as opposed to doing spells, which they class as 'active magic'.  Other Pagans use spells and prayers interchangeably.  The biggest debate I saw was calling a spell is a command.  As the redirection of energy, causing a change, to conform with your will.  While you may ask a God or Goddess for a little extra mojo in your spellwork, it's not always necessary.  In a spell, the power comes from within the caster.  In a prayer, the power comes from the Gods.


Many Wiccans stand before their Gods and Goddesses as an extended family.  We never kneel or prostrate ourselves to  them like slaves or servants.  We hold ourselves up proud and strong be the Divine.  This is not a religion of hearing and preaching - it's a religion of doing; sing, feast, dance and love in a good life.  As long as you are willing to accept the consequences and do no harm, do as you will.


But in times of difficulty, I often feel so drained or exhausted that even thinking about praying or giving an offering seems too much.  It feels there are no right words for the circumstances, no flowery phrases that can directly translate the pain and heartache that must be dealt with.  In these times, I find it best to use a simple prayer, a good prayer that affirms the order of the world and calls down blessings.  One such prayer can be found in the Sigrdrífumál, part of the Poetic Edda.  This version was translated by Bellows in 1936, and reads:


Hail Day! Hail sons of Day!
And Night and Her daughter now!
Look on us here with loving eyes,
that waiting we victory win.


Hail to the Gods! Ye Goddesses, hail,
and all the generous Earth!
Give to us wisdom and goodly speech,
and healing hands, life-long.


This is such a powerful prayer.  Molly Khan has written her own version that I like to use when I can’t find the words but feel the urge to pray, to affirm my place in the cosmos and ask for the good favor of the Gods and Spirits.


Hail to Dagr, the Day that rises,
Hail Sunna who brings light and life!
Hail to Nott, Night that brings joyful sleep,
Hail Mani who keeps the time and tides!
Ever keeping Your circles,
look on us with loving eyes,
bring blessings like shining light.


Hail to the Gods and Goddesses,
to the lands and the living waters,
to the ancestors, ancient and wise,
to all the generous Earth!
Give to me wisdom and a happy heart,
a voice and hands that heal hurts,
for all the days of my life.


112224290826.jpgHow you end a prayer is up to each individual.  Amen, Blessed Be and So it is are the most common endings.  But others like Many Blessings to all, Alu, or Blessings be upon us.  Pray when you need to, and say what you wish to say.  Chances are good that someone is listening.  I encourage you to make up prayers of your own!  They become much more personal once you have come up with them on your own.  Again, choose what feels right to you.

A prayer can be nothing more than time taken to set an intention for the day, or to contemplate the day’s events before going to sleep.  It can be time spent communing with a deity, or holding others that you care about in your awareness and wishing them well.  It can take place at your personal altar, or just in your head.  It can be spoken or unspoken, formal or informal, and involve stillness or movement.  It can involve descending into your own depths to find a connection with all-that-is; or it can be reaching out to a deity or spirit of place; or some other process.  Different people experience it differently.



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