The Vocabulary of Spiritual Practice, Part 2

The Vocabulary of Spiritual Practice, Part 2 May 8, 2015

I apologize for leaving you hanging. I have been laid out with strep throat! Let’s get back to our regularly scheduled blogging, shall we?

I recently posted about some terminology and I’d like to finish off exploring a few more words related to my practice.

Devotion

What do we mean when we talk about devotion? This word is used exclusively in the context of relationship. I’ve never heard anyone use it outside of this context. The nature of the devotions may be different from person to person and tradition to tradition, but the fact is, devotion is about loving reciprocity and honoring of an entity: spirit, ancestors, gods, etc.

When I say I am going to “do my devotions” I usually mean the part of my practice that is directly related to something other than myself. At bare minimum devotions could be a simple prayer; at its most involved devotion is a full and more formal puja involving prayers, meditations, offerings, incense and candle lighting, bell ringing, water blessing, and so on.

Sometimes devotions feel like formal toasts at a dinner party, sometimes they feel like having a quiet afternoon cup of tea with a friend. But the core of devotion is the exchange of love.

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Spirit work

This is work done with and for the spirits. Occasionally I am given direct information about what to do and/or how do to do it. My dreams are sometimes in the spirit realm, and my divination practices touch the spirit realm at times too. But mostly, I have little to no experience in this realm, so I’ll refrain from saying more!

Divination

Many people practice many, many kinds of divination. It’s an ancient art. Some people read tea leaves, bones, runes, entrails, omens, playing cards, or divining sticks. Every culture and tradition seems to have their own way of doing it! I have been studying tarot for over a decade. It’s the method I’ve learned and use regularly.

Divination allows me insight into situations and relationships. It’s an effective guide when I am seeking information I might not otherwise be able to glean from more “normal” avenues. As a confirmed over-thinker, divination sidesteps my talky self and allows more space for my Godsoul to speak, using images and symbols, rather than words. This usually creates a more complete picture of a situation than just using my intellect alone.

TAROT-4

Self-work

My witchcraft tradition does quite a bit of self-work. By self-work I mean, exercises that are specifically serving me as an individual and my personal growth. This is isn’t work to benefit others, though of course, the more whole, healthy, and strong I am in body, mind and spirit the better able I am to serve and work with others. Self-work are those exercises that are about strengthening, improving, and expanding my skills, boundaries, and abilities. It can be therapeutic, but is not itself therapy. Self-work is necessary for the work of magic, devotions, divination, and spirit work. And conversely each of those individual things can be part of self-work too. The context is important. Self-work can be done on its own, for its own ends, but for me it serves a wider purpose.

 

I hope this discussion of terms has been insightful for you. Your mileage may vary when it comes to these words.

 

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  • An Elder Apprentice

    “It [self work] can be therapeutic, but is not itself therapy. ” Yes! That I can be working to improve, sharpen, focus, ground or enlarge without there having to be a sense of underlying illness, fault, or sin is so central. The self work can be hard, even painful, but it’s impetus can come from my evolving image of future selves not from lack or current weakness. Sometimes it feels like weight training for my souls.
    Thank you.