The Magic of a Regular Practice

I have had a regular spiritual practice for more years than my current level of vanity will allow me to admit. During that time my practice has shifted and changed, grown and evolved, waxed and waned, and generally taken on many different forms. I have had periods where I religiously practice every single day, to be replaced by spans of time in which I have scarcely lifted a finger, or lit a candle, or cast a circle.

Storm Faerywolf’s altar [courtesy]

While no one type of practice is universally best for everyone, here are some things to keep in mind that can allow us to more easily deepen our spiritual and magical work.

Don’t let it daunt you

When discussing a spiritual practice there is sometimes the assumption that it must be done daily. While I have come to the conclusion that a daily practice might be preferred, it is not the be-all-end-all of our magical and spiritual work. Instead, regularity is the key. Toward this I have often said that four times per week is a good minimum, as that gives us ample opportunity to engage in formal work, but also not stressing us out or nudging us ever closer to burn out.

The problem with this is that if one shoots for four times a week as a minimum it is possible (and in some cases likely) that one will miss the mark, and the four times can quickly become three, which I have found to be largely insufficient for fostering the internal changes that we are seeking in our magical practices. I once had a student tell me that if they tried for four times per week, they would often miss one of those days, rendering their work largely ineffectual. But were they to shoot for every day, then even missing a day (or two!) would still give them results above and beyond the minimum requirement.

Mix it up

Another thing to consider in this is the difference between a formal and an informal practice.

We are all familiar with the formal: the sitting in front of our altars, the lighting of candles, the sitting in quiet meditation, the enactment of rituals, the speaking of certain words or prayers. But equally important is the informal. This is when we engage aspects of the work outside of the usual formal container. For example: performing a quick grounding while waiting at a stoplight or tuning into the presence of a certain deity or spirit when we are out in the world and away from our tools.

Over the years I have come to understand that the informal work is equal in importance to the formal, as it grants us the opportunity to expand the “reach” of our magical consciousness into our “mundane” lives.

The marriage of the formal to the informal gives us the ability to more easily maintain a daily practice, even if our inner natures would resist such a seemingly daunting discipline. The informal work can be more easily approached and has the advantage of not adding to our already busy schedules. The informal work can be accomplished while performing everyday tasks such as brushing our teeth, taking a shower, preparing our meals, or doing regular household chores. In fact, any mundane activity can be the potential carrier for an informal magical act.

This is quite the boon for the magical practitioner because one of the most important aspects of a spiritual practice is repetition. As each session is enacted it further solidifies its effects within us. When we first engage a certain practice, new neural pathways are forged which are then in turn reinforced each and every time we reengage that practice. Like channels of water flowing down a mountain they deepen, and over time become solid and strong, seemingly taking on their own gravitational pull, and allowing us to slip into those states of magical enchantment more easily.

Make it a habit

Humans are creatures of habit. When we do something a few times, it becomes progressively easier to keep doing it. But this also means that sometimes the first step is the hardest, as we do not yet have the momentum of a habitual practice to encourage us on our journey. One easy thing that we can do to help make our magical practices habitual is to schedule them for the same time every day.

When we schedule a time for our practice and keep it as a regular part of our daily routine, it provides the potential to create a new habit. Habits are easier to maintain, and in the case of the negative ones we might have, can be hard to break! Having a momentum that can nudge us in the direction of continued repetition, and so setting the stage for our practice to become habitual, can be a key to our practice’s success.

I am fortunate to have a dedicated space in which to do my daily practice. But it wasn’t always this way! I have even had to do my practice locked in the bathroom in order to have a space in which I won’t be disturbed. Any space will do. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the possible! [S. Faerywolf]

If possible, do it in the morning

I have experimented with doing my practice at different times of the day. While some magical practices are best suited for the hours of darkness, a basic spiritual practice can most easy be done early in the morning or at the beginning of your day. I have found that when I get it done in the morning it sets the stage for my whole day, providing me both context and container for what is to come. When I am unable to do my practice in the morning, I sometimes feel that I have it hanging over my head, which can lead to stress and resistance.

That said, be flexible

Sometimes life will get in the way. We can’t expect that we will always have the perfect conditions necessary to easily maintain our practices. We may have to adjust and adapt to unexpected or unusual happenings. Even planned and positive changes in one’s routine, such as a vacation, can interrupt and interfere with our momentum. But it’s important to know that’s okay. Sometimes we will drop the ball – or even just need to take a break. If we have had the privilege of having a regular practice for a while, then these interruptions won’t derail our practices when we return to our normal routines. The momentum we have experienced can allow us to more easily slip back into our practices, in some cases as if we had never stopped.

Keep it simple

While it might be tempting to start off with elaborate rituals and ceremonies, I would advise starting off a bit slower. To begin, one might benefit first from simply learning how to properly breathe and relax the body, followed by “grounding” or other mindfulness techniques before heading over to the Lesser Banishing Rite of the Pentagram, the Bornless Rite, or the Abramelin ritual. And, as always…

Patience is the key

One might be tempted to “skip to the end” to do the fun stuff before fully integrating the foundational work, or even feel a sense of urgent impatience when dealing with certain practices that we might feel are boring or lengthy (especially if we are pressed for time). But it is important to cultivate a sense of patience when performing our practices. When I have found myself becoming impatient, I take that as a sign that I need to slow down and really give my practices the extra attention they deserve. When I do this, I have found that my impatience will evaporate, and I am more fully able to engage my practice with a passion and that passion is what it takes to take our magic to the next level.

And finally:

Allow yourself to experiment

I cannot stress enough the importance of experimentation in our spiritual and magical work. Just because an author or a teacher has said that doing a certain practice or exercise is “the right way”, we must remember that each of us are unique and will even experience things differently at different times in our lives. Feel free to take pieces of things you have learned and augment them to better suit your needs. We will only truly learn about our skills (and our obstacles) if we explore them in a personal way, and that means changing things up to see what works best for you. And remember, if it doesn’t work for you, you can always try something else.

If you would like to learn more about how you might be able to create your own spiritual practice or would like some ideas to reinvigorate your existing practice, check out season one of my podcast, Witch Power Daily.

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