The Craft is a matter of practice, practice and more practice from start to finish and one way to establish regular engagement in magical matters is to use daily ritual. Establishing a short daily practice, particularly early on in ones journey as a seeker, is beneficial for a number of different reasons.
Firstly it allows the seeker to practice key skills on a daily basis. It also allows the practitioner to establish patterns of engagement early on, which comes in useful later if they decide to engage in longer ritual practices. Next it is usually as it helps the practitioner monitor how factors such as health, moon phase and other external factors beyond their control affect them as practitioners and track their development in general.
It wasn’t really clear to me when I began my own journey about how important and beneficial these practices are to a seeker early on in their development and sometimes now I feel their lack, particularly in terms of my own discipline in maintaining these practices for any length of time. I tend to find that I do not weather unexpected disruption very well, and that my personal circumstances don’t lend themselves well to elaborate or early morning daily practices. For me it needs to be short and sweet, easily conducted in a few moments peace.
Yes, the old argument is that you can wake up a little earlier than normal to try and fit everyone you want to into your morning but that doesn’t always fit individual circumstances.
With that in mind here are a couple of things to consider when deciding on your daily ritual activity.
Look at the time and routine you have and compare it against the list of things you want to achieve. If you can’t fit in a 20 minute meditation alongside a daily three card spread and 10 minute devotional practice because you have to be out for work at 5 am every day then you need to tailor your expectations. Pick one thing to concentrate on, you can always swap it for something else later on, or do one at the beginning of the day and the other at the end of it. Daily practices can take place at any time of the day to suit your routine. That being said there are some rituals that have a time and a place. You don’t want to be performing an energising ritual right before bed time yet equally you don’t want to meditate yourself in to near in sensibility half way through your day if you’ve got a busy afternoon planned.
Keep it Short and Sweet
It might be nice to think that you will do that long ritual devotion but actually you run the risk of serious ritual fatigue. When you find yourself thinking “that’s too much hard work I’ll do it tomorrow” you’ve reached the point where you need to consider if you are actually trying to over do it. Don’t be afraid to pick something relatively simple and quick to run through in a confined spaces (say the office toilet) or that can be achieved in 5 minutes quiet time. You can do the lengthy journal writing and ritual play another time to suite you if that what you want to do.
Here are a couple of things I have done both in the morning and evening at one time or another.
Morning Ritual – Breathing and Stretching
Okay, usually my stretches are physio related to account for my various aches and pains, but taking a moment out to stretch and breath is very beneficial to ones mindset. The ability to quickly achieve a sense of calm is very useful in a magical context. The Sun Salutation is a useful, and relatively short, simple yoga routine which people interested in yoga are encouraged to learn early on. The process can be done at a speed to suit the individual but for it to have the most benefit time should be taken to breath deeply between each movement. There are other forms of yoga and stretching routines which you may want to consider but you can find a illustrated breakdown of the Sun Salutation here.
Morning Ritual – Energy Work
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is a powerful ritual tool that comes out of the Golden Dawn tradition which is readily available to anyone who wishes to practice magical arts. The ritual is primarily used for banishing energies at the beginning and end of rites but as a method of personal consecration it works really well as a daily ritual. At first glance it may seem quite complicated, and it may take time to memorise the ritual process and Hebrew language however it is really worth taking the time to do so and once you’ve got it you will realise actually how simple, and effective over time, the ritual actually is.
There are a couple of variations, and I may even one day publish my own version, however for now you can find a well presented explanation here.
Morning Ritual – Devotional
Many pagans have permanent altar and shrine spaces, where possible at least, at it is always useful to have one close to your bed or main door to make a short morning devotional ritual possible. This can be as simple as quickly, but mindfully, reciting a hymn of praise or verse associated with said deity to ask for their guidance and protection in the day ahead. As ever, when asking to the aid of a deity it is good practice to offer something in return. LIghting an incense stick or cone as you begin your invocation is usually sufficient for day to day purposes, and shouldn’t pose a fire hazard if properly housed and secure in its location. When I had time I would combine energy work with this act though it is now no longer possible.
Evening Ritual – Meditation
I have always found meditating at the end of the day to be more beneficial to me than attempting it in the morning. In the evenings I generally have more time to devote to the activity, and had a desire to calm the chuff down. This can either be a detailed visualisation and journey to find inner peace or a simple visualisation technique to keep oneself practiced in the process.
Evening Ritual – Energy Work
You could redo the LBRP to close your day, particularly if you opened your day with the practice, but instead of repeating myself I will add another energy work which is particularly good for the end of the day and clearing away the cares and worries before turning in for the night.
In my case I have a shower so the visialistion described in my 2014 post B is for Bath is relatively straightforward however if you are taking a bath instead it is still possible to do the same process. Rather than standing in the shower stream with the visualisation hold to one side a small bucket or jug of water which has had salt added to it. As you get ready to get out take perform a short visualisation which charges the water with white light. Then set the bath to drain before standing and pour the reserved salt water over your body. As you do visualise the charged water washing away negative energy from your body and then down the drain. As you dry yourself take a moment to visualise a white light being drawn down from the heavens to fill your body anew ahead of a decent night’s sleep.
Evening Ritual – Devotional
Okay, so again I want to avoid repeating myself because a devotional act performed in the morning really doesn’t have to be all that different in the evening, though you may request a different kind of guidance. For myself I have combined daily evening devotional rituals with lucid dreaming attempts, and made offerings of herbs or herbal tea (being drunk to promote dream states and lucid dreaming) to Hekate instead of incense. Any offering was disposed of the next morning, ideally at my garden boundary if there was opportunity.
Learning New Things
Some choose to combine daily practices with learning new skills or information, particularly when it comes to divination and correspondances. Things like daily tarot and rune draws allows you not only to get a flavour for the day ahead but also allows you to learn a little more about the divination system as you go. Keeping it simple and down to one card is useful if you don’t have a lot of time, and it is something you can do at either end of the day either as a predictive or reflective process. If you don’t have the opportunity to do this every day you can consider scaling up the process to say reviewing seven of the major arcana according to the Fool’s Journey each month before moving on to the individual suits within the minor arcana. There are many possible arrangements, pick something that suits you.
I should note that bullet journaling lends itself well to this kind of process and you may want to consider looking it to the system both from the point of view of divination and learning correspondences as well. I have been looking into the process and will admit that I have been put off by the artistry of the process but I am trying to get past that. As part of getting ready to do a Tarot Bo-Jo myself I am doing some handwriting practice to try and even up my handwriting (which I hate almost as much as my lack of art skills) and come up with some inserts I can print off at will.
These are just a couple of ideas to get you going, whatever you do have fun and engage with the practice wholeheartedly to get the best possible effect.