Empowering Pagan Prayer

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Prayer is one of the most overlooked and underrated practices. Since my article on Witchcraft & Prayer, I have had many witches ask me how I pray. In my view, prayer is a form of telepathy, but instead of having another person with whom you’re communicating, you have a non-human spirit, such as a deity, ancestors, the spirit of plants and trees, the rocks, the rivers, the sky, Source itself, and so on. In that article, I wrote that “communication with spirits involves opening a psychic channel of energy. This channel is receptive and projective. The receptive aspect of this channel is called meditation. It’s the ability to shut up and listen. The projective aspect of this channel is called prayer.”

Though some witches have an aversion to the word “prayer” or the idea of prayer, it’s pretty universal. Prayer is not just a Judeo-Christan practice. Prayer was part of many pagan religious practices including the Greeks, Romans, Etruscans, Norse, Egyptians, and Sumerians, and many others. Many Eastern religions also embrace prayer, as do indigenous people around the world. No one religion or path can claim it as solely their own. Prayer is part of the human heritage and is most likely as old as religion itself.

The following are things that I have found helpful to keep in mind when it comes to prayer.

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(Candle & Art by Laura Tempest Zakroff | Background Music by the Nathaniel Johnstone Band)

Prayer Can Be Casual

One of the things that I love about prayer is that it can be informal. While there may be traditional prayers for certain deities and spirits, that’s not necessarily the type of prayer that I’m discussing. We already have formal practices of prayer that are more ritualistic, they’re literally rituals. The important thing is that you’re spending time communing with the thing that you’re praying to. Time is one of the most valuable things that you can give a spirit or deity.

Keep It Simple & Focus

When I’m praying, the most I will have in regards to external elements are an image (painting, statue, etc.), a candle, and maybe an offering of incense and music. The least I will have is absolutely nothing. The idea is to completely focus on the thing I’m praying to. All external elements I’m working with should help me focus stronger on my target, not be distracting. Either I will put on soft music while I pray, or play a song as the offering and then pray during the silence when it’s done. Most often my prayers are performed to silence.

Stay Humble & Be Reverent

Humility is an important factor when praying, especially when asking for something. No one likes a boastful person, including spirits and deities. If you don’t believe me, take a quick look at folklore or mythology. Be reverent of the thing that you’re praying to, honoring its power and divinity.

There’s No Need To Grovel

One of the main things that are different in regards to Witches praying, as opposed to some other religious practices, is that there’s really no need to grovel or belittle yourself. You can be humble without acting as if you’re less or weaker than you are. Often the act of groveling will come across as insincere and most spirits and deities that I’ve prayed to or worked with in another capacity, actually tend to really dislike that and some may even take advantage of that – just because its a spirit doesn’t mean that it’s love and light. Remember, you and other humans are also divine and possess a spirit, that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily the most spiritual.That being said, you should probably pray to things that would be benevolent towards you. You are honoring the divinity in another entity and building a relationship, not submitting to it. I usually treat prayer as if I’m talking to an elder of the Craft that I hold in high regards and would treat with the utmost respect.

Be Earnest

The word prayer comes from the Latin precari which is sometimes translated as “to ask earnestly”. Prayer should be real and you should be real. It’s an intimate moment between you and another spirit. Speak mentally or verbally straight from your heart.

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

Almost everyone likes to be complimented, including spirits. Just ensure that you’re being sincere and not fake. Lip service will get you nowhere. For example, when I pray to the goddess Diana under the full moon, I will usually start by telling her how beautiful the moon is and how glorious that is to be one of the many symbols of her power. When I say this, I’m being completely authentic and usually will start after a few minutes of just admiring and soaking in the beauty of the moon.

Don’t Rush

Don’t rush your prayer. Be in the moment of communion. If you rush the prayer then your heart isn’t fully into it – and trust me, the other end of the prayer can tell. Take your time to really spill the contents of your heart.  Persistence is also helpful in building a connection.

Make It A Two-Way Conversation

When you’re done praying, spend time in meditation and receptivity to whatever the spirit or deity has to say. Don’t force anything, just pay attention to whatever comes to mind or whatever feelings you have. When you’re done you may either want to thank the spirit or deity for connecting, or you may want to pray some more creating a two-way dialogue.

 

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