Last month, I took part in the 30 Day Spiritual Essentials Challenge; my last day was yesterday, according to my calculations.
During the last thirty days, I spent a lot of time thinking on what was important to me on my path. Since I was forgoing many physical items – actually, I forewent all physical items – I knew that I would have to spend my time thinking hard on what was essential to my path.
I wrote a lot. In the past thirty days, I wrote over thirty new posts for this blog on a variety of topics – that’s just under half of my total posts here. I thought on what physical items I thought necessary to practice my path and what philosophies I held most dear; I thought on the nature of prayer and speaking with the gods I work with and worship; I thought about community and what was important in a well-functioning community. Many of these topics I wrote about, among others.
But not everything I mulled on these past thirty days was written on here. Too many topics were too convoluted for me to write on at the time: identity and what truly separates us from one another, whether we were mind, body, or soul, or some weird integration of the three; where my morality stems from and my personal ethical system; how to gain control over my inner anger and either calm that inferno or utilize it for the most good. There were many things I wrestled with over the past thirty days, sitting and thinking as I stared out the window of my apartment and looked for the gods.
And I found them, I think. Without a focus on physical items, I began to notice more guiding touches in my life, to note more signs of the gods in my life. I began to notice patterns more and to hear spirits more clearly, I think. Though I stressed over many non-religious physical things, I spent just as much time in awe of how the gods worked in little ways in my life and the lives of others.
A few days ago, I caught a glimpse of my altar. It sits atop a bookshelf in our bedroom, in the far corner beside the window. I looked at the seven seven-day candles I had sitting on the window ledge, meant to be lit for a new god every day, to honor them. Looking at them, I felt sad. I realized that I missed going to my altar, standing before it and lighting a candle and a stick of incense in devotion, of standing at the window and shaking curse jars and spell jars. I missed leaving offerings to my gods and, yes, even for the Fae. And I realized that thinking a path isn’t the same as living or walking a path. There are things I need to do, not just think, in order to live this spiritual life I’ve been craving. I feel calmed and humbled when I stand before the altar and take three slow breaths, having lit the center candle and the one for Hekate’s lantern, having set the day’s incense to smoke and swirl about the idols on the altar.
Tomorrow I will clean the altar again. I will open the window to let in the fresh air as it begins to warm again, raise the blinds to let in the sunlight and burn away the shadowed recesses in the bedroom. With rag and wash, I will cleanse the altar again, wash away the dust and the stagnancy that has clung there. I shall offer honey, sugar, and salt to the Fae and the spirits who hang about the apartment; I shall pour libations for the gods. And I will stand before the altar, lit with flame and hidden beneath a thin fog of incense smoke, and I will offer my words and my breath to the gods in thanks for their guiding hands upon my life.