June 24, 2016

On Prayer

Sannion has a post up on the importance and various uses of prayer. It's a good piece, and important to Starry Bull practice.

He talks about why and when it's important to pray, how to choose whom to pray to, and a bit about how prayer works. He lists off the following as times it's important to pray:

  • When we are in a crisis state or require something
  • On behalf of someone else
  • At the beginning or conclusion of an endeavor
  • When something extraordinary has happened
  • Out of simple gratitude or appreciation
  • To get the attention of the gods
  • Upon waking up or going to sleep
  • When we come into contact with something that falls under the area of concern of a particular god
  • As part of a regular devotional routine

It's that last one that's most important to me, personally. Prayer is, as Granny Weatherwax might say, the soul and center of my practice. (Not that Granny has any truck with worshiping gods.) My daily prayers are the most consistent thing I do, and the most important. I often miss my moon-quarter God Nights, and miss nearly all of the festivals on the Starry Bull calendar. They simply aren't as important to me as prayer.

I pray morning and night. In the morning, I pray to members of Dionysos' retinue, including gods and heroes, and then to my household gods. I say a brief prayer to each of them, and then I make offering. In the evening, I pray to the heroines of the Purple Thread, to the Hyades, to a monster, to Agathosdaimon and his wife Agatha, and to the Dead: the spirits of my household. Then I make offering to them. Incense and clean water, both morning and night.

Whenever someone asks me for advice on starting a personal practice, I always advise starting with daily prayers and/or offerings. It isn't right for everyone, of course, but a simple prayer that one can recite daily, whether at meals, at waking, at sleeping, or when you do something specific, is a traditional foundation for a practice, stretching back millenia and across religious traditions. How many Christian children pray "Now I lay me down to sleep..." every night? How many ancient Greeks and Romans said prayers and poured out wine or water for the gods every morning?

Prayer is simple, and it is an effective method of building relationships with gods (for most people). So I advise people: pray. Pray daily, pray when you need something, pray when you are afraid or upset, pray when you are joyful to give thanks, pray when you begin something new. Pray.

You can, if you're interested, find my current set of prayers here. I try to keep it current.