Prayer [Series]

While I would love to discuss a few other ‘p’ words, comments on privilege and how it applies to modern Pagandom will have to wait (perhaps indefinitely). Rather, I wanted to begin writing on a topic near to my heart: prayer.

The first prayer book I ever bought about prayer was A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith. When I first read it I was around fourteen and despised it – at least, the theology and reasoning behind the prayers. While I still find the book problematic, I now enjoy it. Perhaps strangely, I enjoy it but have not used prayers from it for a few years.

Prayer is a complicated topic in modern Pagandom. Quite a few people I’ve known detest the idea of praying (or worshiping), and many more believe that formalized prayer rather than spontaneous outbursts is bad or not as ‘spiritual’. I knew I wanted to pray and had since I was a child. I simply didn’t know how or what words to use. The idea of spontaneous prayer was lovely but impractical for me – whenever I felt the presence of my gods my mind often went blank.

Eventually I would get a handle on unscripted prayer, as basic as my words were. “I adore you, Beloved of Stars.” “My heart aches for you, Woman of the Worlds.” “I don’t have many words to give you, but I am trying and will always try.” Those were my prayers.

I began finding and reading prayer ancient and new – both to learn what others had said and what sort of prayers I liked. It became clear that I know little about prayer (and needed a re-reading of Serith’s book), and even recently I’ve had nerve-wracking moments where I wonder just how does one pray. How do I know I’m being heard? Does it even matter? Am I ‘getting it right’?

What I hope to do with this series of posts is articulate why I pray as well as how and to whom. Near the end of this series I’ll explore why modern Pagandom can be hostile to the idea of prayer, especially set prayer. As I said, prayer is dear to my heart – and is also a large part of my practice.


o False

You concern with a truth beside truth
an image close but beyond.
And you who,
cloaked and starry, fell
river into river
to birth a shining form without form -
you are beside a liar.
We clawed at your cloaks
with smile and smirk you laid
so we were forgotten and far and gone.
to glitter! to glamor!
falsehood and fakery
deceptions weaved so elegantly
in mirrors upon mirrors upon mirror
til we held ourselves
O false
and knew truth beside truth
that form beyond form
glamor we had strove to won.

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About Aine

Aine Llewellyn is a 20 year old girl creature currently mucking about in southern Arizona. She enjoys the winters and rain but can’t stand the heat. She is a difficult polytheist that natters on and on about her faith.

  • Aubs Tea

    I pray every day. They’re small prayers, but I think it’s important to have that kind of open communication with the gods.

  • Aine

    I think consistent prayer is important. At least, if we consider prayer a conversation with our gods – speaking to them consistently is important then, in my mind.

  • Christopher Scott Thompson

    I think what people fail to consider about formal prayer is that it’s an exercise in mindfulness, and can help you stay connected when life interferes. When my kids wake me up, I turn to my altar and say my morning prayer before we go eat breakfast. It keeps me from just being swept along by events.

  • Kauko

    I don’t do spontaneous prayer well either. One thing I miss about Judaism is having an extensive liturgy available. I’m the sort that finds traditional prayers said for thousands of years to be, personally, more powerful than just coming up with it on the spot.

  • Aine

    Exactly! I’ve also found that praying consistently helps keep me grounded in my mystical practices – the more intense my mysticism became, the more grateful I was for formal prayer.

  • Aine

    I agree. Of course, when I began working with new deities I realized that even if I found traditional prayers very powerful I would be making up my own anyway – but I also knew I wanted structured prayers that I said consistently, because I knew saying them consistently and often would give them power to me.

    But to know other people are speaking the same words you are, that people have been doing so for a long time…that is so powerful.