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Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice in ADF, Question 4, Entry 6

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Week beginning 09/18/06 - The wind licks my face

This past week has been amazingly hard. It started out the evening of my Grove's Autumnal Equinox rite, which I felt went . . . Not as well as it should have. After that morning's jolt out of ritual headspace, I spent the day scrambling to get back into it.

By the end of the night, I was drained and tired, but I added a new and interesting wrinkle to my daily devotionals: I invited my girlfriend to join me in my evening devotion.

I felt a little silly explaining the process of devotion: "Light a candle, fill the well, and open. Blow out the candle when done." I think I felt silly with this simple explanation because I did not feel I could say "meditate," or, "compose a prayer," or, "feel the fullness of the divine." Those are things that simply. . . happen.

Despite feeling a little silly, it also felt very good to have someone to share the devotional with. There was a good connection.

I also shared my altar on Tuesday morning. These sharings really drive home the importance of household worship, because they help draw you closer to those who share the altar space with you so intimately.

Wednesday, I spent my first daily devotional in front of my home altar (as opposed to my portable one) all week. It felt good to stand there again, and a lot of frustration and fear melted away. I suppose it demonstrated just how true the saying was: if you can't find the time to pray, that's the time you need it most of all.

At lunch on Wednesday, I found myself wanting very much to write prayers. Agni came to mind first as deserving of praise, though I'm not entirely sure why. Now that I think on it, it may very well be because I won't be able to afford to heat my house until next Friday (09/28/06), when my next paycheck arrives. The igniter for my furnace is broken, and a new one will cost me about $50. My checking account read about $11 on Wednesday morning.

The desire to pray, though, was not really tied to the temperature of my house. As I think about it, it seems that, through building relationships and working with certain deities, I am beginning to think about which ones can best help me in a given situation, but my internal aversion for asking for things is causing my desire to pray to take the form of praise rather than request.

"Aversion to asking" is a common thread in my worship, really: I dislike asking things of the Gods. Internally, I understand the concept of the gift for a gift. My offerings will result in their return. That's how the universe works.

Yet I don't ask, or even expect gifts back.

I think that, if this desire to pray to Agni had any subtext, I was entirely unaware of it until I began to think about it, to the point that the subtext was not actually there, but instead projected back onto the desire.

I am, after writing five paragraphs questioning my intent, now fully confident that my intentions in writing a prayer to Agni were selfless praise, and not tied to expectation.

I did not write the prayer to Agni. I found myself sidetracked, especially after thinking so long about the issues involved above.

Friday morning saw me truly and deeply in a funk. I said the following prayer at my altar:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Uphold me, for I cannot hold myself.
Uplift me, for I have not the strength
Guide me, for I am lost without you.
I place full faith in you.
Hear my prayer,

It helped me to get out of it to some extent, and I spent the rest of my day working hard in my office and pushing myself.

Saturday, I spent some time again re-evaluating my practice. The option of meal prayers seems out, as I have yet to manage to incorporate it. I find this strange and more than a bit annoying.

I also took down the sunrise and sunset times. It seems that at least until October 18, I can manage dawn and sunset rituals. I originally thought about only doing this for one week, but I would like to try it for as long as I can maintain it. Given the timing, though, I might have to work some timing out with my office to allow me to come in late or leave early as dawn comes later and evening earlier.

I also thought about my devotionals and their timing. I find that my morning devotional comes as the last thing I do before leaving the house, and the evening devotional is the last thing I do before bed.

Even though I do many things before my morning devotional, it is is still my first act of the day. Everything else: the shower, the dressing, and the scooping of litter boxes are preparations for my day. Once all those things are done, I start my day with my devotional.

The evening devotional is similar. The brushing of teeth, removal of my contacts, and removal of clothing are all steps in preparation for the evening devotional. The devotional is the final act that ends my day.

I worry somewhat that the movement of the evening devotional to sunset will affect this later bookend that has closed out my day for years. I may require a later, smaller devotional after the sundown rite but before bed.

I am worried, though, that my life may become something like the Islamic Salat, and that I will find myself fighting a constant battle between embarrassment and piety. While I have no doubt that piety will win, I don't particularly wish to fight that battle.

I also admit to a worry about my social life. On this schedule, I will be doing an evening devotional before 7:30 PM. I will have about two hours of time at home between morning and evening devotionals. If I end my day with the evening devotional, I suddenly have no way of spending time with friends or anyone else.

I think I'll have to play this by ear entirely for the first week.

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