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Religion Library: Paganism

Worship and Devotion in Daily Life

Written by: Carl McColman

Living a Pagan life in our time can involve choices as dramatic as leaving a high-paying job to join an intentional community dedicated to environmental sustainability, or as simple and ordinary as reading books on nature spirituality whenever possible.No consensus exists to direct individuals on how to live a "true" Pagan life.Like so many other aspects of this spiritual path, much is left to the individual practitioner.

Many people choose to integrate Pagan traditions into their daily life by setting up one or more personal shrines or altars in their home or yard. The personal altar can be simple or elaborate; it can be set up according to traditional parameters as established by one's community, or it can be an innovative, individual expression of faith and devotion. Since the purpose behind a shrine is to foster a sense of devotion or daily connection with one's deities, anything that contributes to such a purpose would be acceptable. One's shrine might include statues of gods and/or goddesses; symbols of nature, particularly of the elements of air, water, fire, and earth; candles and/or incense; the practitioner's journal or "Book of Shadows" (a journal containing one's rituals and magical lore), meaningful objects from the natural world (such as crystals, feathers, seashells, or water from a holy well), and any other item that might have particular religious or spiritual significance.

The shrine can function as a focal point for personal meditation, or as a devotional "offering" to one's gods or goddesses, or as a working altar, which can be used in rituals or ceremonies. As in the design of a shrine or altar, the ways in which it is used are subject to each person's preferences. Some practitioners could conceivably create a personal shrine or altar that functions as little more than a work of art - a visual reminder of spirituality that never gets touched or directly engaged in. Others may have a more interactive relationship with their shrine or altar, continually rearranging the items on the altar or bringing new items of interest to supplement or supplant older objects already there.Some Pagans enjoy collecting statues, jewelry, posters, books, or other items that can be displayed in their home as a way of creating a magical or mythical "feel" to their living space.

Pagans have a variety of attitudes toward prayer. Some feel that prayer is meaningless, since it implies an external deity "out there" or "up there" to whom one addresses one's petitions. Others think of prayer as an appropriate activity, even if belief is placed in a god or goddess who is found within. Instead of, or in addition to, prayer, meditation - whether involving visualization, recitation of a mantra, or Buddhist-style breath awareness - can also be a part of an individual's practices, depending on his or her interest and inclination. Other borrowed religious practices, from the use of a mala or rosary, to yoga or Tai Chi, to lectio divina, to chanting, may also be incorporated into an individual's daily spirituality.Because of the freedom and tolerance within nature spirituality as a whole, each person is free to fashion his or her own devotional life as their own interests dictate.

 

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