How often have you done something because of what it may bring you? How often have routines and habits had promises to make your life better woven into then, creating your personalised patchwork of what people think you should be doing to have a better life?
Practice is not a goal. It is not there to deliver a benefit, that with enough practice you will be good at practice.. I have started many routines and practices because of the benefit I think it will bring. I have failed to keep up with almost all of them. None of them have become part of who I am. So writing why practice for me starts from a point of chasing a goal. Chasing a better. Maybe, in doing so, creating a fault with who I am now. And the outcomes are never quick enough, good enough, enough, to keep doing it. These practices stay in an ever growing column of things that you think you should be doing. That better people do. That I bet they do. God they do and don't we fucking know about it.
Witchcraft has allowed me to reflect on what practice is for me. What does spending time connecting to the ancestors of craft, of land, of blood, mean? Why do it? What am I supposed to do? Practice has been difficult, and finding one that works for me is a flow in itself, of trying, feeling, learning and growing.
I am sure practice will change, evolve and mean more and different things as I continue on this journey.
For now this is what practice does for me and why I practice.
Remembering - I practice witchcraft. Practice is the daily art of me remembering what this means to me. Of how I can choose to shape my own reality every day. Of how being in the place beyond write and wrong, beyond the understanding of my mind that asks for proof, and goals, and validation, is a void. An endless and rich void that I remember is there each day when I practice. And I take that feeling, being part of the void with me through the day. Remembering the meaning of a river when I see one, acknowledging the forces I don't understand in the world around me and celebrating them, seeing majick in my life and the nourishment it brings, and remembering the way in which I can shape my own reality.
Being - in this moment right now. In this one space that is here and now and will never be again. The space that is all that is real. That has everything I will ever need. That is truth, that is whole, that is all there is. Right now. And being, like this, helps me to be in every moment of my life. And it is so much richer when I am being.
Honouring - those that have gone, those of my blood, those of my craft and the energy that makes it real. And in doing so brining them into my reality. The gods, the ancestors, the spirits, the fates, the mystics, the great web - all made real and honoured in the practice. I share my energy with those forces I don't understand, I cant comprehend, and I wont try and proove. And in my reality, my life, my world, by honouring them and giving them a name they become real. They live in and through me.
Connecting - to witchcraft. Feeling part of, taking from and giving to it. More than just connecting, belonging. Belonging to a community, a group, a web. We have lost so much belonging in our world. I found my identity was shaped by that given to me by the job I did, or the success I had, or the role I took. We have sadly lost a lot of the belonging we used to have, in our society, in our community, in our land. Practice helps be connect and belong to something which gives meaning to me, and my actions, and my life.
Enjoying - the feeling of all of these things. Of making this an important part of my life. Life in the truest sense of the word, the living, the now, the only things that is real and alive. Imagine a great thread that spreads across the infinite expanse of time and space. Now pick a moment on that thread. A single atom. A point in time. This is all that is real. Those things on the thread behind you are no longer here and the ones in front have not happened. The point, the atom, the single hair you touch, that is all there is. And when you feel into that you can be with and enjoy exactly what that single moment, the now is.
Enjoying is one of the areas of my practice I am working on. I am conditioned to believe that you need to suffer to achieve. That you need to sacrifice to progress. That enjoyment is for the lazy, for those that aren't serious, aren't ambitions. Enjoyment, like lust, like longing, like want, has become an emotion that I feel guiltily.
You can enjoy, you can want, you can long - and love the feeling of longing. You are allowed, you are encouraged, it is part of what makes you human, makes you who you are. We are blessed with the ability to love, to long, to enjoy - and I want my practice to remind me that it is healthy, and right to do things because they are enjoyable. And enjoyment, like the rest of my practice, makes our web all the better.
My daily practice is still unstructured, and has often been sacrificed for the good of some other force in my life, usually efficiency, or appointments, or work. I found (and still find) when I practice to achieve it is a choir, something I feel I have to or should do. When I took time to think about why I practice, practice became a desire. It is something I want to do, not something I have to do. It is something I do for the sake of it, not for the benefit at the end of it. It is a choice I gladly make to shape my reality. And I am grateful I can practice every day.
If you are reflecting on what practice means to you, here is a short practice that may help you explore it, even find it. If you felt a twinge of longing reading that, of wondering what it would be like to have a practice that you know is yours then go with it - read the piece below once over, set a timer if you want, then just do it. You can do this in 10 minutes, right now. Its better than insta posts, I promise.
Ground and centre - take 4 breaths, breathing 4 seconds in, holding for 4, breathing 4 seconds out, holding for 4. Feel the world slow down. Feel into the momentum change as the rotations slow, as time expands, as you come into the here and now. As you stop on that point on the great thread. When you have arrived, connect to something you feel part of - for me this is growing roots down through the earth and breathing into her with each breath, while feeling energy flow up to and into me as I breathe out. Then imagine growing branches up into the sky until you touch the great void and infinite. And connect these realms through me, breathing into and out of them.
When centred ask yourself these questions. Dont worry about other voices, distractions, thoughts coming up. They can stay - just keep asking these things to you:
What does this practice mean to you now? what feeling are you having now. What about this space calls to you. What is it doing to nourish you. Why do you enjoy this. your body knows more about you than you will ever know, so listen to it now. Listen to the forces that you bring in to shape your reality. What are they, why are they here?
What is the space you want to fill? what space is there for more. What feels missing for you. What do you long for. What does your gut tell you it needs. What do you ache for? How do you want to be right now (if anything!)? Not in the future, not when you are better, right now.
Sit with it - breathe in through your nose and out for your mouth. Breathe in the question - what do you feel now and what do you long. Release any answers your body is giving you. And vice versa, breathe out the question - what is practice for me - empty your self. And breathe in the answer.
When you are ready thank the space and come back to the present. take a breathe, hold it holding in what you have just learnt, and then say out loud, write, draw, what ever comes to you what your practice is. Put this somewhere you can see each day, and if you choose to tomorrow, practice in this space. Knowing what practice is for you. In the here and now. and knowing why.