A daily practice: A personal ritual performed each day to find peace, grounded and possibly increase Magickal ability.
I know people who swear their daily Magickal practice is the first thing they do in the morning. Some swear their practice takes two hours or more. Some say everyone should meditate daily for thirty minutes; an hour if they’re extra busy.
To quote Amy Poehler, “Good for them. Not for me.”
I wasn’t sure I was the right author for this topic. My practice is a daily, clunky attempt to settle my messy mind and find just enough enlightenment to keep from being a jerk-face most of the time. And the uglier truth is that it isn’t even a daily practice.
But an emergency revealed that I might be doing something right. For me, anyway.
Wednesday was an important day. I was supposed to rent a giant van in Queens and drive it to my Manhattan workplace, where I would pick up ten women and drive them to a retreat upstate. I was driving on the Major Deegan which, in the best of times, requires the focus and patience of the pious High Sparrow, but the aggression and fury of the Hound so other Hound-minded drivers get the hell out of my way when I need to merge (#gameofthrones). I was in the center lane and traffic was manic, bordering on chaotic. And that’s when the soul of the van’s engine puttered away to Heaven.
I was alone. People were waiting for me. And there I was, coasting in unwitting neutral through traffic on one of the toughest freeways in New York City.
We were talking about daily practices?
Spiritual work must be crafted, shaped and strengthened. Like our physical muscles, they must be worked consistently. When I go to my altar, I list my worries as though laying them at the feet of my Gods. I don’t expect that a single prayer will dissolve them. I don’t try to fix everything in one night. My only goal is to give myself enough peace in the moment so that I can sleep that night.
But my goal is not only to make myself feel better. As a white, middle-class cis-woman, I have a ridiculous amount of privilege. My daily practice can’t only be about lifting myself up. I want my spiritual practice to make me aware of myself and myself in relation to others. How can I be the best, kindest, and most compassionate version of myself each day?
I wasn’t consciously thinking about my daily practice when the van’s dashboard warning lights went off and the engine shut down, yet both must have already had a firm place in my psyche. I didn’t pray to my Gods or my Spirit guides when I turned on the hazard lights and nudged my dying vehicle’s way through three lanes of maniacal traffic. The nearest exit was an onramp to an even more maniacal freeway and a highly undesirable place to pull over, but still I just focused on the next step: getting to as reasonable safety as possible. I did it. The rental car company had troubled pin-pointing my location. Several tow truck companies refused to come because I was in a ‘restricted area.’ The nearest refuge was a shady-looking strip club. It was hot and I didn’t trust the engine to keep the AC running. Yet, I remained calm. There was a solution. I needed only to be aware enough to see it when it came.
When I finally met up with my traveling companions, a colleague asked me how I didn’t break down crying. I wondered, too. But in reflection, I credit my (almost) daily practice. Years before, I probably would have panicked and screamed at everyone who tried to help me. But the practice on awareness gave me the grounded focus to be aware of solutions instead of being panicked by problems.
Even after all of that, I still felt centered enough to drive the women in a new van two hours north to the retreat.
I believe the key to a good daily practice is avoid making it contingent on any “thing” in particular. If you must have quiet, focus, time, and space, your daily practice will suffer. Having an altar dedicated to personal spiritual practice is a gift and certainly helpful, it shouldn’t be dependent on that. I’m thankful to have my altar space, but I haven’t always it. I know of several people with little space and/or privacy who hold their daily practice in the bathroom. Sometimes I don’t have the time or energy to do much more than repeat an incantation of, “I will be kind, today. I will be aware, today” during my morning shower.
I pray for the people I’ve hurt, particularly if making amends would be even more hurtful. I pray for the people I’m angry at. I remember what’s out of my control and surrender it. Most of all, I pray for awareness.
The daily practice is more than how much time we spend meditating or how gracious our prayers can be. Like the strength that comes through lifting weights or flowing through vinyasas, our daily practices prepare us to take on the tougher parts of this journey with grace, kindness, and humility. There was a time when me just getting on the Major Deegan would have triggered a screaming, raging, sob-fest. This time, my daily practice clicked into the driver’s seat. I practiced awareness of the other cars and of a safe place to pull over and an eventual solution. If I’d panicked on the freeway, I could have injured others or myself. If I’d lost my temper with the rental car company, I would have delayed help and just made or ruined someone else’s day. Instead, when I finally met my worried traveling companions a few hours later, I was dancing.
It’s ragged and messy and far from whatever ideal exists. But it worked for me when I needed it most.
Courtney Weber is a Wiccan priestess, writer, Tarot advisor, and activist. A Tarot reader with over 20 years’ experience, Courtney produced and designed Tarot of the Boroughs, a modern tarot deck set in New York City, composed of original photography. She is the author of Brigid (Weiser Books, 2015) and the forthcoming Tarot For One (Weiser Books, Nov 2016). She has been published on Huffington Post, The Wild Hunt, in Circle Times magazine, and elsewhere.