Beginning to develop a daily (or regular) practice is a great way to get started. By building things into our everyday life, we learn to live the values of our religion, and it gets easier and easier to integrate into everything we do.
Daily practices (or at least regular ones) can also help us build skills, focus, and willpower that are helpful when we want to do something longer and more complex (such as a Sabbat or Esbat ritual). It’s just like learning to play a musical instrument, or a sport – some things will come easily, and some things will take some practice. And some things, you need to build up some muscles and stamina to be able to do them for longer. Daily practices help us with all of that.
Here are some ideas to get you started – there are many other options to explore. Don’t worry, you don’t need to do all of them at once! Pick the ones that most interest you – but you might also find time to explore the ones that least appeal to you, too. (Sometimes, that’s where we learn the most.) More help on many of these is available from the Practices index.
Just a few minutes
Some practices take a few minutes a day, and many can be done in a variety of different places.
- Centering, grounding, and cleansing.
- 5-20 minutes every day of rhythmic breathing or meditation.
- A simple morning and/or evening devotion before an altar or shrine.
- A brief ritual of devotion to a particular deity.
- Walking or dancing as a moving meditation.
- Say a simple grace before each meal (can be silent, if you eat at work.)
Need some flexibility?
Some practices are flexible in terms of time and energy, to adapt to your needs on a particular day.
- Creating an altar or shrine in a place you walk by/see all the time.
- Creating a playlist of music related to a particular season, concept, or goal you’re focusing on. (Elements make a great option here.)
- Reading a book related to your religious path.
- Reading fiction that makes you think about ethical choices, interacting with the world, or the possibilities of the world around you.
- Working in your garden or tending indoor plants.
- Change your computer desktop, password, etc. to something that reflects or reminds you of the season, a current spiritual goal, or a particular deity. (These don’t need to be obvious to other people.)
- Consider a simple physical act or decoration that is meaningful to you. A piece of jewelry dedicated to a particular deity, a choice in how you wear your hair. You might consider a tattoo, if you’re inclined that way. (I paint my toenails – see note 1, below.)
Time and attention
Some practices take focused time or attention – they may not fit on a busy day, or be something you can do in a few spare minutes, but they can be worth making a bit more time for every so often.
- Create art (music, writing) that reflects your religious life.
- Journal (or even write a blog post) about what you’re currently focusing on, and why.
- Set aside time for longer meditation or trance work.
- Work through structured exercises or skills from a particular source.
- Get together with someone else to share ideas, conversation, and inspiration.
- Or just get together to share a meal or cup of tea with someone you care about.
- Go for a longer walk or bike ride in nature, open to the changes of the season and the weather, and the living world around you.
Some fit with regular tasks
- Use a simple cleansing ritual in the shower.
- Dedicate your housework and chores to a deity associated with the home and hearth (Hestia is popular for this, but there are many others.)
- Use your exercise time to help you focus on health and well-being. Some kinds of exercise can be great for repeating a chant or mantra in your head.
- Try eating seasonally, based on where you live. You could try to do this every day (hard!) or you could try for a short period of time, or even just one meal a week.
- Build small things into your worklife (see my essay on this separately.)
That toenail thing
Whenever I bring up painting my toenails, people look at me a little funny. And it is – it’s definitely a personal quirk, but it’s also a great example of finding personal daily practices that work for oyu.
When I was first getting to know the Goddess I work with in my personal work, I wanted to find something that took a bit of attention, but that wasn’t something I had to do every day (or even every couple of days). I had a busy life, and I knew there might not always be time for the same exact thing. She’s very fond of the color blue (which I wear a lot, and blue jewelry, but I didn’t want to *just* wear blue). And I didn’t work at a job where I could dye my hair, even if I’d wanted to.
So I came up with the idea of painting my toenails. For the last 8 years, they’ve been some shade of vibrant blue. It’s the single longest-running religious practice in my life – precisely because it’s easy to hide if I need to be in a formal setting. (I do wear sandals at work, but people mostly think it’s fun and cute.)
I add a new layer of polish (to repair chips and peeling) every week or so, and I strip the color and repaint from scratch about once a month when I’ve got time to sit with my feet up for long enough. About once a year, I strip them bare and leave them bare overnight (usually as part of large cleansing, banishing, or clearing work.) I do my best to use polishes without the worst of the chemicals (and I might at some point, see about switching over to something like indigo, which is a natural dark blue when prepared: it works like henna, but a different color.)
- A great resource is Dianne Sylvan’s The Circle Within, which is all about daily practice.
- Scott Cunningham’s Living Wicca and Magical Household also have lots of great pieces on personal daily practice.
- Diana Paxson’s Trance-Portation is a great resource for trance and mediation work.
- If you’re interested in dance-based moving meditation, Gabrielle Roth’s Sweat Your Prayers is a great place to start.
[last edited December 24, 2016]