[This is the second in a series on practice. Read part one here.]
How do we prepare to practice?
Sometimes the preparation is the practice; sometimes it’s an important precursor to the practice.
I talked a lot yesterday about the grounding and aligning I do as part of my breath work. I do that before and after almost everything I do: prayers, offerings, meditation, trance, ritual, etc. Grounding and aligning is the preparation for further work and is the work itself.
The Feri/Faery tradition has a rite of purification, kala. I use it in the appropriate spot during my pujas.
In this spot I use the kala rite that my witchcraft tradition uses for purification. It involves meditation, breath work, chanting, emptying the blockage into a cup of water, and offering up the cup. I chant “Ma.” Then I drink down the water and let it wash through me. “For my eternal purification,” I pray.
I use kala at least once a week, often times more, as needed. Sometimes I use it before divination or heavy talks with my husband or friends, if I’m feeling stuck or if I have a lot of emotions to process.
Other forms of preparation before practice can include cleaning my altar, replacing offerings, tossing out wilted flowers. Sometimes it is necessary for me to shower, wash my hands, or clean my mouth – all depending on the working and/or the god involved. Sometimes if I know I am going to be sitting for long periods of time, I do some yoga to get my body in a state that will sit with greater ease.
“Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”*
While being in the best possible mental/physical/emotional/spiritual space would be ideal, I let go of “ideals.” With some exceptions, if my choice is between practice without sufficient preparation and no practice at all, I will choose imperfect practice – or make the preparation the practice. Being a parent to three small children has helped me focus on what is most important and forces me to integrate my practice in my life as a whole. I don’t have the physical space or time (or energy) to create a part of my life that is entirely separate from my family. And besides, there is no dualist split between the magical and the mundane life if we are spiritual people worth our incense.
Which brings me to perhaps my most important preparation before practice: occupying the children! I make sure they are entertained, asleep, or otherwise being cared for. Often times this means getting up before the kids are awake, practicing after they are asleep, or…. sticking the big ones in front of a cartoon.
Next up: let’s explore dualisms.
*An Italian aphorism made popular by Voltaire?