Building a Devotional Practice with the Sea
High Days come and go eight times a year. Devotional practices can happened much more regularly, even on a daily basis. What can someone do if they want to develop a monthly, weekly, or daily practice? This series of articles will investigate building a devotional practice with the Three Realms, namely, Land, Sea, and Sky. We will look at Lunar-based devotional practices when we discuss the Sky realm. This is part of our continuing focus on devotional practice.
In coming to the sea as the object of devotional practice, it is hard to speak of the sea without speaking of the motion of the sea. It is also important to determine the scope of the practice towards bodies of water. One may choose between ocean, sea, bay, lake, river, stream, or any of the different ways in which we may experience and devote ourselves to the bodies of water in our lives.
Our bodies are made up of water. The earth on which we live is made up predominantly of water as well, so the sea or body of water as an object of devotion does not seem at all odd or unusual. By honouring the water in our world, as personified by the sea, we honour the water that covers so much of our planet and which comprises so much of ourselves.
There are several Gods that represented the all-surrounding sea, such as Lir or Okeanos. This devotion is not directed towards them individually, but towards water in general, in its various forms.
In making offerings to the sea and/or other body of water, one of the things one must determine is what kind of offering does one make to the sea? While water may be the ideal offering on land, it does seem a bit odd to be offering water to a body of water. Additionally, if one were to use tap water, the offering that is introduced into the sea is one which also has fluorine and chlorine and other compounds and chemicals which may harm that body of water. This may be a less-than-perfect offering.
When we consider devotional practices relating to the sky, especially lunar practices, we will devotionally empower water that we may use to offer to the sea.
A Reverse Offering
If one must, distilled water might be a good offering to use as it should theoretically be neutral. Another excellent offering is really a reverse offering, one in which the devotee takes something away. Litter clean up from bodies of water are the *perfect* offering. This takes away that which is unnecessary from the bodies of water and leaves them cleaner and freer from the clutter of trash. As one removes the trash, one brings about a cleaner area. One’s devotion may then be focused on a gradual and broader cleanup. This provides an interesting change of perspective with offering-of-service as opposed to offering-of-physical-item. In this way, it is not what we give, but what we do which defines the offering. It is through service that we make this important offering.
The sound of the sea and the sound of water rushing or running through a stream are gifts that we receive just by being near a body of water. Therefore, in some ways, offerings may be made for that which has already been received, such as these gentle sounds.
Water to Water
Shining Lakes Grove discovered their River Goddess, Ana, when working with the Huron River. They did this through the application of meditation, trance, and introspection. Over time and through familiarity, the name and character of the river came to be known. Now, it is an essential part of their practice. By working with a waterway or a body of water, a similar understanding may be discovered. Over time, working with the Sea will become more than just interacting with water or a waterway, but will potentially allow the devotee to come to a broader understanding of the interaction of devotion and recognition.
AraI undertook a similar exercise with a creek that flowed next to one of the apartments in which I lived. The creek is “Silver Creek”, but over time, through interaction, devotion, and familiarity, I came to know that creek as “Ara”, which brought the devotion to another level, one of recognition and mutual benefit. I kept the stream bed clean; the stream provided me with sounds that soothed my soul. I felt that we developed an important understand between the two of us. I no longer live next to Ara, but I still feel that I am in touch with the spirit that lived there.
Living next to a body of water that experiences tidal movements provides a unique opportunity to make offerings. If we recall from the ritual fire that is present in every rite, one of the purposes of the fire is to transmute the offerings presented into smoke that rises to the Shining Ones above us.
What Kind of Offering?
I like to use the materials at hand when doing ritual and/or devotional work. When making a tidal-based offering, wait for the tide to recede from the shore, and one may make an offering on the space that was recently under water. One may use a stick to carve a prayer, a blessing, an offering, or a kind thought to the body of water. Excellent offerings include sea shells, stones, or any natural material found on the shore. It is important that these items will not pollute the sea and which will not harm the surrounding environment
Do the devotion while the tide is moving out. The prayer, blessing, offering, kind thought will be consumed when the tide comes back in. What better way to know that what you have offered has been accepted then by seeing it carried away by the waves. The waves will slowly take the offering out to sea. What remains is the memory of what was done and the knowledge that it is now on it way.
One may not have the ability to visit their body of water every day. One could to take a photograph or make a drawing of the spirit and then one would have the ability to perform the devotion every day. If a photo or a drawing is not possible, then the memory of that spirit will be enough to remind us of the relationship between us. A material link like a stone, a shell, or a piece of driftwood would be a beautiful adornment to any altar or shrine.
I call out to the great sea
You who surround the entirety of our world;
That which is not land, is water.
I offer you clean water to add to
The volumes of water which exist
I will offer this to you with regularity
For the movement of your waters,
Reflect the movement of the waters,
In my life.
Our bodies are made up of water,
And I honour this in you:
We are one in each other.
Thank you for the bounty
That you bring to my life