When waking up each day feels like you end up scrolling through endless damage reports, a bit of relief is needed. I found myself feeling increasingly cycling through feeling grouchy, irritated, full of despair and worse. Being part of this world can be overwhelming, and it can be nigh impossible to pull yourself out of the rut that this life can become. I read recently about a famous person’s journey through some dark times, and what ultimately helped her was focusing on gratitude. Even if she felt like there was nothing to be grateful for, she would mutter “I am grateful, I am thankful” to herself repeatedly until she finally did feel better. Being in a foul mood, I at first scoffed at this idea, and rolled my eyes, but soon was reminded how often I do this myself to get out of those dark places.
It seems like a simple concept, that offering of gratitude. You really just list what you’re grateful for and you feel better? Short answer, yes. Maybe not right away, but even something as basic as mentally listing all that you have to be grateful for can lighten the heaviness that rests on your shoulders. There are so many things as I stumble through the day that I have taken for granted, but when I step back, it’s all part of a weaving of gratitude that help untie that hard knot in my heart and sternum. As a Pagan, there is an added depth to the little rituals and routines that I do regularly, often without even thinking. A few ideas and rituals are included below, as I take you along the journey of my day:
Morning Rituals: My morning does not begin without coffee. I know from experience that it’s not the caffeine itself that I look forward to, but the ritual. I have a favorite mug, and I stir in a spoonful of an herbal powder I use which is known for its properties as a lymph-mover and blood purifier. I feel good doing that for my body, so that helps a bit to lighten my mood. Whatever you stir into your morning beverage, do so clockwise either six or nine times, thinking of the words “all good things come my way” or some variation of that. Then I usually pull a card or two to set the tone for the day. I have two decks I use regularly, one Brigid-focused, and one based on herbs. The two cards I drew today made me laugh, as they both focused on the word “faith”. What a great reminder for a doubter such as myself. Message received. Then out to the garden I go, to either tend or hug my favorite tree, to ground myself so I can face the day. A few drops of hawthorn elixir on my tongue, to heal, open and protect my energetic heart, and then I can face the world. Being a Pagan, those little rituals bring me much joy, even when I don’t feel it in the moment, because it reminds me of what makes me happy: coffee, the people I know who provide magical items such as that elixir, and nature, which helps me breathe, focus, ground and center.
Daytime Rituals: Although social media can be a bane to our existence, most days I know I am fortunate I have interesting people to check in with, learn from, and laugh with: less news, more focus on personal/professional relationships. Much gratitude for those people, as they help keep me (somewhat) sane. Thus fortified, then I can check on the news, which mainly serves to help me focus on gratitude that I survived this world so far. One foot in front of the other, with work, both personal and professional. I keep breathing. Something to remind yourself of often, because many times, we forget to breathe. Really breathe, deeply and fully. If you are reading this, take a moment right now to breathe really deeply yourself. Notice how good it feels? At some point during the day, I go spend time at my altar. To some, an altar may seem like a jumbled collection on a shelf or table. But we know it is full of items that mean so much to us and our practice. When I feel wonky, I open my container of dirt from Ireland, to breathe it in and center me. I am devoted to Brigid, so this is a much-needed reminder of my work and purpose. Being Pagan adds a layer of earthiness and grounding to my sense of self, for which I am truly grateful.
Evening Rituals: If I haven’t spent time at my altar, I do so during the evening. Some days are like that, so it becomes a checkpoint for me. I have a mental list of things I do, as listed here, so if the day fills up or I become overwhelmed, it helps to bring me back to some sort of action. I find any sort of action helps me with that feeling of helplessness or gloom. Sometimes, I write down all the words of my despondency and burn it in my cauldron, commune with my ancestors and deities and let it all out to them. Then I sit still, and listen. Even if there are no messages, it helps me to feel connected, for which I am grateful. Do you have ancestors and deities that have helped you through some dark times? Another thing that helps is noting the season, and planning or doing something I enjoy as part of the season. For Spring, it can be a long walk, summer and fall it can be outdoor fires, winter is sitting inside reading one of my favorite books. There are activities to enjoy whatever the season, so write down a list somewhere of things that you enjoy during the different seasons, as a reminder for these kinds of times. I keep such a list handy because when I feel overwhelmed, my thinking process becomes muddied, and lists help me focus.
Other Things To Do: Check on people. Reach out to a few people each day, to let them know you are thinking of them. Write letters (remember those?) Get creative. What sort of hobby did you have as a child that you’ve neglected as an adult? Remember the joy of hobbies? Garden. Make art. Love someone. Love several someones. Eat your fill of seasonal produce. Nothing tastes better than a homegrown tomato sandwich, watermelon or a handful of berries. Go make a soup or homemade stew to nourish your body and your heart. Learn something. A language, a new recipe, revisit a subject you used to love, or learn more about your ancestors or deities. Be defiantly alive, by doing something for your health (exercise, healthy cooking) your spiritual self (ritual, ancestor veneration, honoring your deity), and your personal self (what makes you happy?). If you don’t know what can make you happy (this concept can perplex some people) then take some time to note what does. Gratitude for all the ways we show up in the world can help move us from under the covers or in front of a screen (where we tend to retreat) to adding some much-needed energy to this increasingly dark world. Pick one of these ideas, and let me know how it affected your day. It’s something I will be grateful for (see what I did there?) Blessed Be!