The newness isn’t really so new

The newness isn’t really so new April 20, 2012

New(ish) quarter, new altar, new practices, new challenges. I’ll be honest: I don’t feel up to newness right now. It might be blog project fatigue, or it might be the unique challenges that this quarter presents, on top of all the changes from moving and having sick pretty kids lately.

The new altar is small and outside. It’s a little metal cabinet I found at World Market Cost Plus. (It turns out that I love that store. I find so many great altar items there.) Inside the altar I have candles (which I put on top when I burn them), a little wooden heart-shaped mirror, offerings of water and salt, and glass marbles (they called out to me and look pretty). I sit on a round rock from the garden, which I keep next to the garden. I’d post a picture but my phone isn’t working. Still.

At the beginning of this quarter some one asked me what Place would look like as a practice or tradition. I had ideas. But a big challenge for me is that Place isn’t a tradition; there’s nothing to grip on to. I forge this practice entirely on my own. Sure, I can look to Indigenous traditional practices or to Shinto for ideas and guidance, but Place is my own thing. What was so helpful during my Hindu and Feri quarters was the specificity of practice. For a parent with little time and space, these traditions gave me something I could look to and grab hold of. This amorphous, create-it-myself tradition is harder.

It bothers me that I need something so concrete, that I need external structure to create a personal, spiritual practice. But the reality is, I have limited space and time in my day to make a practice happen. I have other little beings with needs that often trump my own desires. For the householder, mystical practices are impractical much of the time. I see why the great mystics had to give up family life. I see all of that and I take a breath and remember that there is no trophy to be won, no time limit set where I must reach enlightenment before my kids hit school. Spiritual practice is just that: practice.

So what does my practice look like right now? After my son goes off to preschool and husband has the baby, I head outside. I change out the water and salt. I light the candle and sit on my rock. I clap and bow and sit. Mostly my brain swirls with things to do, things not to forget, ideas to write about later.

Once I can get past that I try to listen and feel. Listen to the sounds of my neighborhood. To the birds. I feel the air and occasionally the rain. And then I think of myself as the World Tree: I sink into the earth and put down roots. I reach up into the heavens with the branches of my soul. I breathe in the air.

And then I bow again and blow out the green egg candle. I thank the spirits of the land and the Fey. It’s simple, but some days it feels like a struggle.


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