Why I Quit Caring About Formal Ritual and How That Made Me Better At It

I’ve always loved the idea of formal ritual. There’s something so entrancing about saying sacred words and processing deosil in a circle, about setting up a beautiful altar, about inviting in the elements with their representations, and about blessing the sacred space. These things are wonderful for getting into a magickal headspace, and doing them repeatedly over weeks and months and years are what make ritual, well, a ritual!

The formal elements of ritual were essential to me when I was starting out as a solitary new Pagan. Having a tradition that others followed (in my case, Wicca, when I was starting out) with shared sacred words was an extremely powerful experience. It gave me a script to follow and served as a template to learn what was important in ritual. However, I got so caught up in the trappings of ritual that I almost never actually did one.

I felt like I needed to cast a perfect circle every time. I needed at least two hours that I could devote to communing with the Divine, after cleansing and consecrating the space and assembling my altar with my elemental tokens. I needed to say these particular words and do these particular things. With all of these requirements, ritual became a daunting task, instead of a happy celebration. So, years passed where I didn’t do a formal ritual because of various excuses: I didn’t have the tools, or the space, or the time.

When first I joined my Pagan community, my rituals had been few and far between for many years. Finally, I got to see how others did ritual – and everyone’s rituals were so different! There wasn’t a set script to follow, like I had been holding myself to all of those years. There were some common elements, yes, but no one did them in the exact same way. If the members of my community were presenting rituals with such variation, why couldn’t I mix things up in my own personal practice?

So, I tried to make my solitary rituals more regular, experimenting with the different components, trying out new things, and keeping what I liked. This worked well, for a time. I had a consistent personal practice, even if my rituals were just on Sabbats and Full Moons. I love the active participation (ritual is, after all, one of the things that drew me to Paganism in the first place), but something was missing. I almost never did spontaneous ritual, and when I did, it required a bunch of preparation, and didn’t end up being quite so spontaneous after all. I was still stuck in thinking that I had to do things a certain way or they wouldn’t be “complete.” That left very little room for Divine inspiration. My rituals sounded and looked pretty, but I didn’t feel very much of anything.

When I started to more seriously pursue a relationship with Aphrodite, I knew that something had to change. I needed to commune with Her, but I couldn’t take two (or more) hours out of my day multiple times a week to do so. It just wasn’t feasible. I was still in grad school. I was teaching. I had classes to go to, research to do, papers to grade, laundry to wash, dishes to clean, and I still had to eat and sleep. Formal ritual, as I knew it, just wasn’t going to happen.

Fortunately, Aphrodite helped me out with this one. She started interacting with me spontaneously – no ritual needed! I was ecstatic, if somewhat baffled. After all, wasn’t the whole point of ritual to facilitate the experiences that I was now spontaneously having?

This sparked some serious soul-searching about the purpose of ritual and how I was using it in my life and spiritual practice. For me, the purpose of ritual is to get closer to the Divine. I realized that all the fancy words and formulas I had been using were actually getting in the way of my connection with Divinity. I was having much more visceral experiences without those things than I had ever had with them. It was time for a change.

Perhaps the biggest realization I had about ritual involved time. For me to have a strong connection with the Divine, I needed to commune almost daily, if not more often. I simply couldn’t do that with the structured ritual I had been using, so I started to make new ones. Most of them arose capriciously. If I found a moment in my day where I was thinking about or communicating with Aphrodite, I thought about little things I could do to make the moment more sacred. Sometimes what I was already doing was enough (like happily dancing around my living room), and sometimes I discovered things that could be added (like lighting a candle in Aphrodite’s honor before sharing a meal with a friend at my table).

These spontaneous mini-rituals began to permeate my days, and soon started taking up more total time that what I would have previously spent in formal ritual. However, unlike the formal ritual, these moments were so much more meaningful. I felt connected to the Divine in a way I never had before. A few minutes here and there throughout my day meant so much more than a two hour chunk of obligatory fancy-words.

And I wanted to do it. Those mini-rituals brought me such joy – in a way that casting a circle from rote memory never had. It was a positive feedback loop. I connected with the Divine in seemingly small ways, had a profound ecstatic experience, and I wanted to do it again. My daily practice grew – not from reciting passages from books I had read, but from listening and leading with my heart.

When I quit caring about formal ritual, it allowed me to see more clearly the purpose of ritual: to connect deeply with the Divine. This completely transformed my personal practice. I rarely go through a full “ritual” with formal invocations for the elements and the Divine when I practice alone. My private devotions are much more conversational – and thus more strongly integrated into my day-to-day life. I believe this helps me to maintain a more powerful connection with Deity.

In a community, ritual holds an additional purpose. Not only do we want to connect deeply with the Divine – we also want to bond as a group. Having a somewhat-standardized ritual format does help bring a community together. Everyone knows what to expect and how to participate. Even with a general guideline, there are more and less effective ways to do this.

Going through a ritual revolution in my private practice made me rethink how to lead a group ritual. I cut through all the flowery words and expectations to get the the core – connection with the Divine and with other people. Approaching a group ritual with those things in mind was a totally different experience than following a ritual script. Sure, I have a general outline I follow based on the common practices in my group, but I approach these elements differently. If I can think of a way for a guideline to uniquely enhance the experience of the group, it stays. If not, anything is fair game.

While I would argue that the past few group rituals I’ve led haven’t been entirely written by me (Thanks, Aphrodite!), for the conscious parts of the creation process, I focus on the feeling I want to evoke with the ritual. For the Beltane Sabbat I led this year, it was joy and anticipation. For my post-Valentine’s Day circle, it was self-compassion. For the June Full Moon last year, it was courage and bravery through love.

Focusing on the feeling allows me to examine each aspect of the ritual and tailor it to the experience I want to facilitate. There are no words spoken just for ritual’s sake. Every sentence and every action in ritual drives toward the feeling and experience we create as a group. This approach to ritual has profoundly changed the way I lead and participate in group rituals. Throwing away the ritual formulas and expectations allowed me to get to the heart of the experience of ritual and to cultivate that deeper connection, both in my personal practice and with my community.

Making Soup for Cerridwyn

While my closest relationship with a divinity is with Aphrodite, I also have a close working relationship with Cerridwyn. Cerridwyn is the Welsh goddess of transformation and change. She is the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge, and she is frequently viewed as a “dark” goddess.

My initial introduction to Cerridwyn, and what sparked my relationship with her several years later, was my first shamanic journey/trance with my former coven. We had gone on a guided journey to find our magickal names, and Cerridwyn’s name appeared to me, spelling and all. I had not heard of her, so when I did research later, I was shocked to find that the name of a goddess appeared to me! I did not believe that was actually supposed to be my magickal name, and I was absolutely terrified of working with a “dark” goddess. So I pushed it aside, and didn’t think too much about it.

A couple of years later, signs started popping up a little before Yule 2017. Some of my friends and Pagan community members began to talk about how they were starting to hear from dark goddesses. I was reminded of my brief interaction with her in my journey several years before. I started seeing references to her again, and I blatantly ignored them. Eventually, it took the intercession of one of my friends saying “Hey, Cerridwyn stopped by with a message for you. She wants to talk.”

Mild panic ensued. I had never had a deity speak to me through someone else, and clearly she had been trying to get my attention. I spoke with a few different friends about it, trying to get over my fear of working with a “dark” goddess. I was very heavily in the realm of “love and light” at this point in time, and I would steer clear of anything I deemed “dark and scary.” I had avoided doing the personal shadow work that was necessary to see that both light and dark are essential to life, and dark doesn’t necessarily mean bad. I would figure this out in time.

I also didn’t know how to communicate with her. Clearly my own channels weren’t open enough if she had to go through one of my friends to talk to me! I asked the friend who gave me the message if she had any ideas for contacting Cerridwyn, and my friend (who is a kitchen witch) suggested that I make a big pot of soup, which paralleled one of her stories from the lore. What I thought my friend had said was “Make a big pot of soup after dark completely by candlelight,” when all she actually said was “Make a big pot of soup.” I discovered this discrepancy after the fact, and I had clearly gotten some divine guidance in a way that I was able to hear it.

So, I prepared to make some soup. I found a nice recipe, gathered the ingredients, and laid out everything in my kitchen. I had been studying trance, and I wanted to make the experience as fruitful as possible. I compiled a chant to sing while making soup from a song that my Pagan group sings at Yule. The original version contains sections on the Maiden, Sun Child, Mother, Father, Crone, and Sage (I usually sing the Maiden section at our gatherings). I edited the song to the Maiden, Mother, and Crone sections, since some research revealed that Cerridwyn is sometimes depicted as a triple goddess.

I turned out the lights and lit my candles. I didn’t have many – maybe five or six, so it was still rather dark. I could barely see the recipe, which I had printed out and was propped up underneath a cabinet. I could barely see the vegetables I would be chopping. It would definitely be a test for my OCD. I couldn’t tell what was dirty or not by sight. I had to just go with it.

I began to sing, slow and soft at first, but gaining in energy and momentum. I chopped vegetables and lost myself in the song, sometimes forgetting words, sometimes skipping a section, but I just kept going. I added the ingredients to the pot and stirred, feeling very much like the witch I knew I was. I had to learn to not be afraid of the dark.

After I had added all of the ingredients, the soup needed to simmer for 30 minutes. I gave it a final stir, finished that round of the song, and sank (a little lightheaded) to my kitchen floor in silent meditation.

The vision came almost immediately. I was in a forest glade at night. There was a single fire burning in the middle of the glade, with a cauldron hanging over the fire from a tripod. Cerridwyn was there. She had dark brown, almost black hair that fell around her face in messy waves. She looked to be in her mid-30s. The contrast between her pale face and her bright red flowing dress was made even starker by the firelight. She looked at me with deep brown eyes as I cautiously approached.

“Why did you call to me?” I asked her.

Giggles. “You’ll see.”

“But you’ve been so gentle with me. Not everyone has had gentle experiences.”

A combination of three phrases bombard my brain at the same time. “I have to do it this way. / You need it this way. / We do what we need to in order to reach out to each person.”

“What do I need to do?”

“Enjoy your soup.”

I looked at her, confused. I had expected some profound message. She stirred her own cauldron, and motioned for me to go, telling me once again, “Enjoy your soup.” The vision started to fade, and I was once again sitting on my kitchen floor, listening to the pot of soup bubble above me.

I turned the burner off, and ladeled myself a bowl of soup. I sat on the kitchen floor again to eat the soup by candlelight, somehow knowing that it was what I had to do. The soup was delicious, and helped ground me after the powerful experience.

As I rose again to clean my bowl and tidy the kitchen, I realized I didn’t want to turn the lights back on. It was beautiful – everything lit by candlelight. It felt peaceful. I also had a realization that I would not have been able to do what I just did a year ago. My OCD was so bad then that the idea of doing anything in the dark and not washing my hands a million times would have been impossible. But I had done it, and that was a victory in and of itself.

Cerridwyn is a goddess of transformation and change, and I got to see so clearly in that moment how much I, myself, had changed in the last year.

I continued to make soup for Cerridwyn, albeit somewhat sporadically. I discovered that she has to be called – She doesn’t just show up for me like Aphrodite does. She continued to be vague while giving me information and instructions for how to spiritually prepare for the upheaval that was coming, and she always told me to enjoy my soup.

She has appeared to me as the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. While I am not dedicated to her, she is still very present in my life, and has influenced so much of my spiritual growth. I tend to contact her during the dark half of the year, and our connection is stronger during this time.

Once I was initiated as a priestess of Aphrodite, I wasn’t quite sure how to navigate my relationship with Cerridwyn. I was pledged to another goddess. Connecting to her was more difficult than it had been at some points in the past, but she reminded me that “Even though you’re not my priestess, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing my work in the world.”

I was humbled. I was also reminded that my relationship with one goddess is not diminished by having a relationship with another goddess. Some of the lore portrays Aphrodite as being a jealous deity, but this is not my personal experience of Her.

I even reached out to Cerridwyn about my transition into priestesshood by talking over some of my fears with her. I was (and still am, to a certain extent) afraid of not being good enough. I’m afraid of letting myself, Aphrodite, or my community down. I’m afraid that I’m too young to have this role. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to do what needs to be done. I’m afraid that sometimes being a friend and being a priestess will conflict, and I won’t make the right decision.

Cerridwyn told me that these fears are normal, and that it’s good to be concerned about these things. It means I care deeply about my service to Aphrodite and to my community. She also told me that I can’t let those fears get in the way, and that I’ll know what the right thing to do is when the time comes. I hope so. And I trust in Her, and I have faith.

When Books Aren’t Enough

Y’all, I love books. I have a long history with books. When I was growing up, I would voraciously read pretty much anything that was available to me. As a kid, it wasn’t uncommon for me to leave the library with a stack of books almost as tall as I was!

This love of reading wasn’t limited to a particular genre, either. I loved fiction – mostly fantasy, sci-fi, and coming-of-age stories (because even I could be a moody pre-teen/teenager sometimes). I also loved non-fiction. I had books on nature (naturally), a manual on quantum physics, a German grammar book, and a (hidden) stash of books on Wicca/Witchcraft.

I was a bit of an overachiever when it came to school and learning (I still am, to be honest). In high school, I took all the AP classes I could – Calculus, Biology, English Literature, Environmental Science, Physics, European History, and Psychology. I read A LOT. I studied A LOT. Books, and the information contained therein, were, in a sense, sacred to me. I learned mostly because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to (with the exception of Mechanics in Physics, maybe). If I wanted an answer, it was in a book. Or on the internet, which had its coming of age in my later teen years.

I went to college, where I discovered research and the idea of discovering your own knowledge. This was amazing to me. I majored in Environmental Science, which more or less meant I had to be knowledgeable in all the science disciplines, and more. I took classes in biology, chemistry, physics, geology, ecology, mathematics, geography, and computer programming. I minored in Marine Science, so I took classes in hydrology, estuaries, and oceanography, too. And I doubled majored in Italian, so I learned a whole other language and culture, studied abroad, and even took science classes in Italian while abroad.

I. Love. Learning.

I even went to graduate school for a PhD, because I loved learning so much. It turns out that, as fascinated as I was with the idea of creating your own knowledge, I actually despised research. Or at least the research I did. But you need research when you get to the phase in your learning where books aren’t enough. We don’t know all the answers. So we have to find them ourselves.

I left grad school (with a Master’s Degree instead of a PhD, if you’re curious), and that’s when my spiritual journey really started to pick up. While I was in grad school, I started buying all the witchy books I would have loved to have had years ago when I was a fledgeling Pagan. I devoured them, as well as pagan blogs and any other media I could find. Once I left grad school, I started having experiences that they didn’t talk about in the books. And I didn’t know what to do.

I was lucky to have a very supportive community and a close group of friends that I could share my experiences with. A goddess started talking to me (well, two actually), that there isn’t much (if any) reputable modern scholarship on. And I freaked out. None of my science training had prepared me for this. I was in completely new territory – having actual ecstatic experiences of deity. No amount of reading in the world will prepare you for that.

Sure, there are things that you can do to be more prepared. Having a good knowledge base of your deity is an excellent place to start, as is having practice with grounding, shielding, centering, meditation, and trance. Knowing basic energy dynamics and how to move between different levels of consciousness is also extremely helpful. However, none of this adequately prepares you to truly encounter the Divine.

I think ecstatic experiences of deity are supposed to be overwhelming and slightly terrifying – Awesome, in the antiquated sense of the word. If you were able to prepare for it, the experience wouldn’t be as meaningful and profound. You are encountering something Otherworldly – it being alien and ineffable goes along with the territory.

One important thing to remember as you blaze the trail beyond books is to believe in yourself. Believe in what you are experiencing. Our perceived experience of the world is all we have to go on, anyway. It’s how we get to know the world, scientifically or spiritually. When we are children, we throw things off of high places to see how gravity works. There’s a learning curve, we experiment in different environments, our aim gets better, and maybe in a few weeks we can play trashcan basketball with a decent degree of accuracy.

Spirituality is no different. We have to experiment, to do our own research, to figure out what works for us and what does not. How can we have ecstatic experiences with deity more consistently? We can change the time of day, the chant we say, the phase of the moon, how recently we ate, how we construct sacred space, and a million other things, but we won’t know what works until we try.

Believe in your experiences, but be cautious in your interpretations. When something Big happens, we often want to jump to spiritual conclusions, especially if we’ve been putting in the work to help facilitate these experiences. Questioning is essential. A good dose of skepticism is what keeps us on the healthy side of delusion. Can the Divine speak to us through synchronicities? Absolutely. But is every coincidence that happens actually a sign from a Goddess? Probably not. Believe in your experiences, but use wisdom, intuition, and common sense when you interpret these events. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. (And Freud probably didn’t even actually say that.)

I am so grateful to my group of Pagan friends who helped me navigate my first visceral experiences with deity. They were my sounding board for all of the crazy things that had started to happen. I got to share my experiences, as well as my interpretations and concerns. Explaining my experiences to others helped me to sort out what was probable and improbable. I was able to draw on the spiritual knowledge of several other people, not just my own.

If you are starting down the path where books aren’t enough, I highly encourage you to find a group of like-minded spiritual seekers, ideally with varying backgrounds and experience levels, to help you navigate your new experiences. No one should have to do this work in isolation. You can do research and experiment together, and sharing in adventures such as this helps to create community.

What do you do when your experiences don’t match the lore? Or others’ experiences of that deity? Questioning comes in handy in these instances as well. Could it be another deity that you are communicating with? Do some old-school book and internet research and find out if your experience is more in-line with a different divinity. What would this deity look like in a modern context? Most of our original source material as Neo-Pagans is several thousand years old, and was written by humans and subject to their own (potentially erroneous) interpretations. Isn’t it possible (or even probable) that the Gods would present themselves differently to different people? I encourage you to think deeply and talk with others about these questions.

Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG) gets a lot of airtime in Pagan circles these days, and I am heartily in support of it. I am not a Hellenic reconstructionist – I do not believe that we need to do things exactly the way they were done before. A thriving religion evolves over time, and I believe that our deities (and our relationships with them) do, too. I don’t experience the same Aphrodite that Homer wrote about – and that’s okay! I know people in my community who have experienced Aphrodite in a similar (though not exactly the same) way that I perceive Her. This gives me some confirmation of my own UPG. However, when I went looking for modern-day reference material for Her, I found very little. Part of the goal of this blog is to help build a resource for the contemporary worship of Aphrodite.

Eventually, you have to put down the books, stop reading, and start doing. You never stop learning, but you do start discovering. You do your own experiments. You have your own experiences. You make your own knowledge. It is a deeply personal and courageous journey, and it is so worth it.

What Does It Mean to Be a Priestess?

John Beckett, one of my favorite Pagan bloggers, recently wrote a post entitled “Priesthood Over A Lifetime.” It was a great read, as his posts usually are, and it inspired me to examine where I am in the various stages of priesthood that he outlines. The essential precursor to that, though, is to answer the question “What does it meant to be a priestess?”

I thought about this question for a long, long time before I took my official oath as a priestess of Aphrodite. I knew that being a priestess in a public Pagan community was not a responsibility to take on lightly, and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was committing to before I took that plunge. It is a holy office, and the mantle of priestesshood, while joyous and ecstatic, can be heavy at times and comes with a sacred duty to both your deity and your community.

For me, the actions and responsibility of priestesshood fall into two main categories: 1) Your individual relationship with Deity, and 2) Service to your community. Your relationship to Deity is a highly personal connection that is supported and maintained through both solitary and group practice. Service to your community can be many things, and it is dependent upon the particular community you serve.

Your Relationship With Deity

This is the foundation of priestesshood. Without a strong connection to the Divine, there is nothing for which to be a priestess. You may work with one deity or several. You may be a priestess for one or multiple deities. I think you can even be a priestess in a general sense in the broader Pagan community, though this requires an immensely powerful connection to the Divine. My personal experience is serving as a priestess for one particular deity, but having relationships with several.

My call and desire to become a priestess was born from my deep relationship with Aphrodite. I sought Her out, worked closely with Her, discovered that Her values align with my own, had profound ecstatic experiences with Her, felt the call to serve Her, started doing Her work in the world, and then embarked on the quest of priestesshood. A dedicated, meaningful, and reciprocal relationship with your deity is essential to priestesshood.

This Divine relationship has to be committed. You can’t just meditate and make offerings once a month. Your relationship with your deity must be an ongoing, daily relationship. This doesn’t mean that you have to do the same exact thing every single day, but ideally you are interacting with your deity multiple times a day. This can be through prayer, meditation, offerings, deep listening, or other acts of devotion. This encourages an open channel of communication between you and the Divine. The Gods are a lot more likely to speak to you if they know you are listening.

Your relationship with your deity needs to be profound. If you are going to serve as a go-between for your community and the Divine, your personal relationship must be deep and personally very meaningful for you. You can’t expect to help others connect with your deity if you don’t already have a profound connection. Part of being a priestess is being able to inspire others with your connection to the Divine. This will be difficult if your own connection does not inspire awe and wonder within yourself.

To enter priestesshood, your relationship with the Divine has to be reciprocal. You need to know how to honor and give to your deity, but you also need to know how to receive guidance and messages from them. This reciprocity is what helps to foster a profound connection. It helps others to see you as doing your deity’s work in the world. It helps you to bring your deity into your community.

Service to Your Community

A necessary part of being a priestess is sharing and interacting with others in your community. As a priestess, you are a representative of your deity’s values in the mundane and spiritual worlds. Your community will have certain expectations of you when you take on the mantle of priestesshood, and you must be able to address these expectations and provide resources to those who seek you out. You will need to be responsive to the needs of both your deity and your community.

If you take on the role of priestess for a particular deity, people in your community will begin to view you as an intermediary for your deity in the mundane world. This is a hefty responsibility. You must embody the virtues of your deity to the best of your ability, and try to walk as they would in this world. That said, you are not an avatar. You are still a fallible human, and no one can embody all virtues perfectly. Know that mistakes are going to happen, and make sure to practice self-compassion.

What does your community expect of a priestess? In some traditions, this may be codified and straightforward, but with more free-form pagan communities, the answer will not be as simple. How do you determine what will be expected of you? Ask the members of your community! I had an ongoing and very extensive dialogue with my fellow leaders and other members in my pagan community about the role of a priestess for months before I decided to take a formal oath. For my particular community, the aggregated basic expectations were:

1) To continue in formal leadership as a part of the Council of our group
2) To serve as a touchstone for Aphrodite, leading rituals for Her and meeting
     with people to help them connect with Her
3) To provide general spiritual guidance to new seekers and those looking to
      deepen their practice
4) To be knowledgeable about Aphrodite’s spheres of influence (primarily
      romantic love, sex, pleasure, and self-compassion) and be able to provide
      resources and informal/pastoral counseling to community members about
      these topics
5) To officiate rites of passage in my community.

For your community, this may look very different. Since I belong to a non-denominational Pagan group that has members from many different traditions, the expectations of my community are fairly general, and not locked into a particular path. The expectations of your community are also dependent upon your community’s needs.

How do you know what your community needs? Sometimes this will be a very intuitive thing. You will feel called to lead a particular ritual, only to find out later that it met a need you didn’t know was there (I’ve had this happen several times.) Sometimes it will be less straightforward. You will need to keep an awareness of what is going on in your community to determine what community members might need from you. At times, it will be what the whole community needs – something to unite everyone and bring them together. Other times, it will be the needs of individual congregants.

As a walker between the worlds, you must also know what your deity needs and asks of you. Oaths of priestesshood inherently involve a commitment to serve your deity and to do their work in the world. What is asked of you will sometimes be simple, and other times it will push the very limits of your capability and fortitude, or what you even thought possible. Your directives may not always make sense, though in the fullness of time, a larger purpose may be revealed. Carry out your tasks with integrity and virtue, and don’t be afraid to question. Just because a deity tells you to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Your relationship should always be an open dialogue, and you always have free will. Discernment is key. “I don’t feel like it” is generally not a good reason to deny a Divine instruction. Something going against your ethics most certainly is.

Where Am I?

In his post, Beckett outlines nine “stages” in the journey of priesthood: Responding, Training, Practicing, Deepening, Building, Nurturing, Preparing, Transitioning, and Overlapping. He states that these steps aren’t necessarily sequential and can be simultaneous. I didn’t exactly go in order, either. I did a fair amount of Training, Practicing, and Deepening before I made my formal Response to the call for priestesshood.

I think there is a lot of value to “trying out” priestesshood before making a formal commitment to your deity and your community. Figure out exactly what you will be doing, and do it. That will give you the best indication if this is the right path for you. I had a trial period of about a year where I told Aphrodite that I would “try out this whole priestess thing.” I learned a lot, and eventually decided to make my oath.

I trained by reading as much as I could about Aphrodite, Paganism, and magick. I practiced my personal rites, devotions, spellcraft, and communion with Aphrodite. I practiced serving my community through leading rituals, providing spiritual guidance and counsel for members of my community, serving as a resource for Aphrodite’s areas of expertise, and being an active member of our group leadership. Throughout this process, I was deepening my practice and cultivating my relationship with Her.

I’ve still got a long way to go. I am early in my priestesshood, and still figuring a lot of things out. As I recently had reiterated to me – You don’t have to be an expert to be able to help others. There is value in all stages of the spiritual journey.

Brightest blessings to you as you embark upon your own path!

Trials by Fire

I’ve found that spiritual growth is rarely a linear progression. There are times when it is slow and steady, and times of plateau where not much happens at all. Then, there are times when it’s a trial by fire.

Right now is one of those times for me.

I’ve had various other times of what I would consider exponential growth in my spiritual life. My first was the discovery of Paganism. I read all I could about Paganism and Wicca until my parents pulled the plug on it. It was a huge revelatory process, and it resonated so much that I stuck with it. You can read about my first foray into Paganism here.

Unfortunately, after that initial exploratory period, I hit a plateau for about ten years. I knew the core of what I believed (Namely that nature is sacred and that the Divine is feminine as well as masculine), but I just stopped there. At that time, it was enough for me. I wasn’t living in an environment conducive to spiritual growth, and what I had more or less suited my needs. So I plateaued.

My next big phase of growth was when I joined my Pagan group. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by other Pagans, to hear their different thoughts and viewpoints, to see rituals performed in a variety of ways, and to get their recommendations for books and ways to deepen my practice. I also had a greater need for my spirituality to evolve at this particular time. I had just started graduate school, and it was already shaping up to be a shitshow. I needed something bigger to connect with and rely on. I found that in my community and through exploring my faith.

I learned the ins and outs of belonging to a spiritual group over the next several months, taking on a leadership role within the first year, and becoming a member of our governing council within two. I learned all the calls and responses in Pagan ritual – what you say when calling the quarters and during cakes and ale. I learned how to lead a public ritual (even though the first ritual I was slated to co-lead got snowed out (twice) and rained out (once) and still hasn’t happened!) I led Sunday Circles, Full Moons, and Sabbats. It was a time of joyous growth.

My first hint at a trial by fire happened a little over a year and a half ago. I started directly experiencing deity in an entirely new way. It was much louder and persistent than ever before. I got closer to Aphrodite, leading up to my dedication to her in January of 2018. I also gathered up the courage to work with my first “dark” goddess, who happened to be a goddess of transformation and change. I had to gaze bravely into the darkness, and confront what I saw there. I was lucky that Cerridwyn was very gentle with me, but it was far from easy.

It turns out, when you tug on one of the Jenga blocks, they all come crashing down.

All of my insecurities bubbled up to the surface. I had to learn how to communicate with a new goddess in a completely novel way. I was lucky that I had a group of spiritual friends with which to share my experiences, but that also meant that I had to get comfortable talking about my spiritual journey with others. I had to be radically honest, in service to myself and to my friends. I discovered that what I thought was my career path and spiritual calling (to teach people how to be close to nature) was not a financially sustainable pursuit. I started feeling tugged in a completely different direction by my spiritual path, one that involved a lot more talking about sex and relationships and a lot less talking to trees. My grad student insurance expired, and I began seeing a new therapist in my new network (which is a whole process in and of itself). I finally started to get a handle on this whole “emotion regulation” thing, but there were still days I would end up in her office crying. It was a lot of change, but it was good change.

I also experienced a much quieter trial leading up to my initiation. I reached out to my friends and community members to talk with them about what they expected from the office of priestesshood. There wasn’t a lot of change in my spiritual practice, but more of a going deeper into my current practices, and forging a stronger connection with Aphrodite. Reflecting a few days before my initiation, I laughed to myself a bit, and told myself if that I didn’t know any better, I would describe myself as pious! It was a time of transition – from dedicant to priestess – and I was prepared and ready for it.

I was less prepared for what followed my initiation. As I wrote in Adventures of a Struggling New Empath, I acquired some new empathic abilities after my initiation that were difficult to cope with at times. There were also some surprising “priestess projects” that I was assigned that tested my comfort zone. But none of it compared to my current state of affairs.

I’ve been preparing to step more fully into my priestess role by doing something kind of serious and big for one of my friends. And pretty much ever since I committed to doing it, my life has been a raging Trial By Fire. It’s almost as if it’s a challenge from the universe – “Are you sure you’re ready for this role?” – while also showing me how much I have (and haven’t) grown in the past few years.

It has been very similar to a second ordeal (after the ordeal of my initiation), but over a longer period of time, and touching the more mundane aspects of my life as opposed to the spiritual. (I don’t believe the spiritual and the mundane are truly separate, but this trial did have a different quality to it). A good number of things happened over the past couple of months that were unexpected and hit on my various triggers and sore spots.

I found out that one of the casual members of my Pagan community was actually good friends with my ex in college (the ex that cheated on me and lied to me about being transgender). She told me about this right before Circle one Sunday morning, which was terrible timing for going into sacred space. My ex and I hadn’t spoken in years, and I was not at all expecting that old wound to rear its ugly head, much less in a place that I consider safe and sacred. I learned that I’m not quite as healed as I thought I was around that whole situation, and it’s impacting how I interact with this person. (We got along fine beforehand, and I considered us friendly acquaintances).

I know that my ex’s actions shouldn’t affect how I treat this person, and I’m trying really hard to not let it influence my behavior, but honestly I don’t want to talk her. I’m walking the line between wanting to completely ignore her and knowing that I can’t because I am a leader in this group (and, you know, I’m a mature and rational person and all of that). My current plan of action is to just be honest with her – Let her know that I still have a lot of pain from that past relationship, and that it is influencing my interactions with her. It’s nothing she has done – It’s more personal work that I have to do to heal. It’s been eight years since everything happened with my ex, and I thought I would be over it by now, but I guess not.

I also received the news that I wasn’t going to be able to take the next steps in my career that I was planning on (see my Lessons in Faith post for more details). Everyone around me was absolutely shocked at the news, which made me feel a little better, but didn’t actually do anything to change the course of events. I’m still regrouping from that and figuring out my next steps.

Work has been rougher than usual. One of my coworkers doesn’t like me very much, and that has created some tension at work. I confronted her about not pulling her weight sometime back in February (we work on a team, so I or my other team member have to pick up the slack if she doesn’t), and she did not take it well. I ended up talking to our supervisor about it, and thankfully he is understanding and more or less knew what was going on.

Unfortunately, the work situation still isn’t much better, and there were three consecutive weeks where my coworker barely spoke to me, which is difficult to deal with when you work four feet away from each other all day. Confound that with the fact that I’m a struggling new empath who is starting to pick up on others’ feelings, and it is not a fun place to be. I had to shield just about every hour on the hour and it was so mentally, physically, emotionally, and psychically draining.

The past couple of weeks at work have also been difficult because my office could currently be the site of an epidemiological study. My supervisor came in with a cold for a few days, and then the rest of us started dropping like flies, so we’ve also been perpetually short-staffed. AND we had a big health scare from a potentially infected client (not a cold, but something more serious) and they had to bleach everything she had touched while she was at our facility.

It all turned out okay, but it has NOT been a great time for my OCD and germaphobia. I absolutely HATE being sick, so having to take two days off of work to suffer and sniffle was awful. On the plus side, when I’m already sick, my OCD usually goes down because I’m like “Fuck it, I’m already sick, do your worst doorknob.”

Lots of other little things happened, too. My selenite palmstone broke, somehow jumping out of my purse (which has never happened) and cracking in two on the tile floor. I also had some interpersonal drama, both with a friend and with my boyfriend. I was perpetually not getting enough sleep, no matter what I tried. I had to get some maintenance done on my apartment on two different days, and my OCD is very much NOT OKAY with strangers being in my home.

Yet, despite all of these things, there was never anything I couldn’t handle. Nothing that completely overwhelmed me (though there were certainly times I felt overwhelmed). I could deal with all of it, more or less successfully. While it was not fun to experience, at the end, it is nice to reflect back and know that I can handle pretty much any shit that comes my way. And that is a very empowering thing.

I made it through this trial by fire, with only a few minor burns, and those will heal with time. It did highlight some areas in which I still have personal work to do, and I am grateful for that. It also encouraged me, that despite my personal insecurities, I really am cut out for this whole priestess thing. I can dealt with all of that personal stuff (because our own personal growth is never done), and still help other people in a meaningful way.

So, while I did not enjoy it, I am thankful for my most recent trial by fire.

Connecting with Aphrodite – First Steps

There are so many joyful and wonderful ways to connect with the Radiant Goddess of Love! I’m going to share a few that helped me to connect with Her in the beginnings of my journey. Many of these are material in nature – physical things that helped me to get into the right headspace to work with Her. Others are more reading and research based. These are not in a particular order – try out different ones and see which works best for you!

1. Knowing Her Stories (Mythology, History, and the Lore)

When I first knew I wanted to work with Aphrodite, I read up on Her stories. There weren’t many modern stories about working with her at all (which is part of my inspiration to create this blog). I read some of the old mythology. Some of it resonated – and some of it didn’t.

As I started to develop a deeper connection with Aphrodite, I discovered more and more dissonance with some of the older tales I read, particularly with her portrayal as being jealous or petty. One thing I love about being Pagan is that we have no official “scripture,” no one holy text. Most of my concerns about people who take the Christian Bible too literally are based in the fact that it was written by people. Imperfect, fallible humans. I had to keep that in mind as I was reading the myths, which had been thousands of years in misinterpretation and mistranslation. Maybe even the original accounts weren’t accurate!

It was at this point in my journey that I realized I had to let go of my scientific research background, and trust in my personal experiences. I couldn’t research my way closer to the Goddess (though being familiar with Her lore is essential and occasionally helpful). I started to trust in my Unverified Personal Gnosis (or UPG), which is a bit of a buzzword in pagan spheres these days. It’s just a fancy term for personal experience that isn’t recorded in the lore, or present in modern texts. Some of my UPG was confirmed by some of the people who sought me out for help connecting with Aphrodite, but it’s still a long way away from being Verified Personal Gnosis.

In short, knowing the Lore helped me to have informed conversations with others, and gave me a reference point for my personal experiences.

2. Rosewater

Ah, rosewater! This is now one of my favorite all-purpose tools. Roses are said to have the highest vibrational frequency of any living thing (or at least that’s what I hear in the paganosphere), which means that they vibrate at the frequency of love! Thus, roses are useful for a wide variety of magickal applications. Roses are also sacred to Aphrodite.

I started using rosewater as a space and energy cleanser. I didn’t really like the smell of burning sage, and using palo santo made my cat sneeze. So I started spraying rosewater in my apartment. It smelled lovely, and the feeling it gave the space was wonderful. I would say a prayer to the plants or to Aphrodite as I misted my home. I would sometimes use it to cast a circle. I would mist the bedroom before my boyfriend came to visit. The smell became synonymous with good vibes and love, and before long, with Aphrodite.

Rosewater is one of the first things I recommend to anyone wishing to develop a deeper relationship with the Goddess of Love. Scent is a powerful sense, and is a great tool to use to get into a higher state of consciousness.

3. Rose Essential Oil

All of the things about the properties of roses and the magick of scent is true for rose essential oil as well. Rose essential oil is rarely sold in pure form, and is generally mixed with a carrier oil (I like jojoba oil, personally). This means that you don’t have to worry about diluting it if you want to use it on your skin. Watch out for fragrance oils! These are not essential oils, and often don’t contain any of the plant they supposedly smell like.

There are two main types of rose essential oil: Rose Absolute and Rose Otto. I prefer Rose Otto (though it is the more expensive of the two), because the distillation process is gentler and uses fewer chemicals than the distillation of Rose Absolute. I like for anything I put in or on my body to be as natural as possible, which made Rose Otto the natural choice.

Every night before I go to bed, I anoint my heart chakra with rose essential oil and I say a prayer to Aphrodite. The scent wafts up from my chest and puts me in a loving state of mind before I drift off to sleep. I use it in my daily dedications. You can also anoint candles with rose essential oil.

4. Rose Quartz

There is so much rose quartz around my apartment! It’s good for all sorts of things, including romance, self-love, emotional healing, and heart chakra work. It has a lovely energy to it, and is beautiful and calming to look at. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and colors range from a deep pink to almost clear.

My “gateway” into the world of rose quartz was a common Feng Shui practice of putting two rose quartz hearts together in the Romance bagua of my apartment (which is said to aid in healthy romantic relationships). I later learned that each room has its own Romance bagua, and I began collecting pairs of rose quartz hearts. You can also use them in spells and other magickal workings.

From there, I branched out to tumbled polished stones. I have a couple of somewhat flat palmstones that I really like. I’ll put one on my heart chakra if I’m laying down for a meditation, or hold it in my hand. Now I’m collecting all varieties of rose quartz, including a candleholder and some larger pieces.

5. Jasmine Incense

Roses had already thoroughly permeated my life when I reached the stage of wanting a particular incense for Aphrodite. Adding rose incense on top of the rosewater and rose essential oil seemed a bit much, so I sought out another fragrance. I intended to use the incense as an offering for Aphrodite, which meant it needed to be something I could easily procure (and of course, it needed to be all natural!) I found a jasmine incense at my local Whole Foods, and instantly fell in love. It didn’t quite smell like the flowers (is there anything that really can?), but the scent was lovely nonetheless.

I used it for several months, and then another fragrance by the same brand (Triloka) popped up – Aphrodisia! How perfect! It was jasmine with a hint of vanilla, and it smelled delicious! This quickly became my go-to for incense for the Radiant Goddess. Orange blossom and, yes, rose incenses also work well.

6. Researching all about Romance

My research into all things romance-related began more as a consequence of wanting to fix my relationship with my boyfriend after he moved out than from a devotion to Aphrodite (see my earlier post about My Journey to Aphrodite – Part One), but it ended up being a labor of love and devotion anyway. My research into relationships not only helped me to repair my own relationship, but it also enabled me to help others. Before long, my friends were coming to me for advice about romance and sex, and because of my research, I had lots of resources to draw on and books to reference. This reputation soon widened beyond my close friend circle into our larger spiritual community.

Please see the Resources section of my website for some good starting points for your Romance research journey. Coming from a science background, I prefer research and evidence-based practices, like the work of John Gottman and Sue Johnson. Sue Johnson’s “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” was the first relationship book I ever read, several years before my journey with Aphrodite began. “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman was the first book I read after my boyfriend moved out.

7. Learning Her Language

Unlike my romance research, my academic pursuit of learning Greek directly flowed from a desire to more deeply connect with Aphrodite. I’m still definitely a beginner, though the letters look more like letters and less like symbols now, which is an improvement from several months ago. I can’t afford to take a dedicated in-person class, so I have mostly been using free apps and the occasional book. As a consequence, I’m not picking it up as quickly as I did Italian (Surprise! I’m fluent in Italian!), but I’m making progress. I’m studying modern Greek, because ultimately I think it will be more useful in my travels and studies, but eventually I would love to learn ancient Greek as well.

For apps, my favorite so far has been Mango Languages. It isn’t free, but my local library pays for a subscription, so I can access it for free using my library card info. I’ve also used Duolingo, but Duolingo’s grammar instruction (or any instruction, period) leaves a lot to be desired. I also occasionally use Memrise. At this time, the Memrise Greek course is unofficial (I think someone other than the main developers made the lessons), but it is still pretty good.

8. Tantra

Sacred sexuality has fascinated me since I learned what sex was (which wasn’t until I was eleven years old, by the way – It appears that I was the last of my friends to figure it out.) Growing up in the Bible belt American South, sex wasn’t talked about very much, if at all. Even from a young age, I intuitively knew the type of power sex could have (why else would everyone be so secretive about it?), and luckily I was not indoctrinated with the seemingly requisite shame about sex that most of my peers had (Thanks, mom!). Even so, I knew that sex was not something to be taken lightly, and I waited until college to have my first sexual experiences.

My interest in sacred sexuality didn’t really take off until grad school, and it was very slowly at first. After grad school, I was on a mission to learn all I could about sex, and that led me to Tantra. The first Tantra book I ever read was “Urban Tantra” by Barbara Carrellas, and it is still the #1 book I recommend to anyone wanting to start a practice of sacred sexuality. It is just the right balance of serious and lighthearted, which is an excellent starting place for beginners. I learned later (through reading “Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition” by Christopher D. Wallis) that originally Tantra was not all about sexuality, and that this idea largely arose from the Western import of this Eastern tradition.

Tantra taught me more about moving and manipulating energy than countless other witchy or Pagan books. I could actually feel it in my body and direct my sexual energy. This had an amazing effect on my Pagan practice outside of sex. And the sexual experiences were pretty phenomenal, too! It became a natural way to connect with Aphrodite, both through partnered sex and masturbation. Tantra really helps me to tune into all of the pleasure my body is experiencing, and that brings me closer to Aphrodite.

Brightest blessings to you as you embark on your relationship with the Resplendent Aphrodite!

Going Deeper – Connecting with Divinity

This is Part Two in a series on Going Deeper with your Pagan Practice. Read Part One here.

You’ve done some great personal introspection, feel pretty confident about your spiritual skills, and you’ve taken a look at the personal considerations in the previous blog post (Going Deeper – Are You Ready to Dive In?). You’ve done your research, and are pretty sure of the deity (or deities) you want to work with. You know about their lore, their traditions, and their holidays. Maybe you’ve even already started to reach out to them. These are all wonderful things! Here are some next steps on how to pursue a deeper relationship with a deity.

1. Pray

I have found that an easy access point to begin a Divine relationship is through prayer. Those of us who were raised in other faiths may be more or less familiar with the idea, and it’s something that most people have at least some experience with. If there is a typical prayer structure in your tradition, try that! If there’s not, invent your own, or find some inspiration on the internet. I’ve always found that spontaneous prayers spoken from the heart are the most connective, but don’t feel like that is your only option.

Written prayers are good for daily devotionals and rituals, and having specific prayers for specific occasions (like before a meal) also have special meaning. You may want to include some of your deity’s epithets in your prayers. This can help further connect you to their various aspects, and can give you a touchstone for when you don’t feel you have much to say.

2. Do a daily devotion

A daily devotional practice to your deity is essential to building a deep relationship. Start small! There are many different ways to do a daily devotion and many practices that you can incorporate into yours. I suggest that you start small, with one action a day, and keep doing that until it becomes a regular habit. Then you can build on that solid foundation with more elaborate practices.

A great way to start a daily devotional practice is with prayer. This can be scripted or spontaneous – something you say right when you wake up, before you go to bed, before a meal, or another time that feels right for your deity. You are more likely to be successful if you connect it to something you already do on a daily basis (which is why I’m a fan of the waking up/going to bed option). This could be something as simple as being mindful while you drink your morning tea and dedicating that time to your deity. Make sure gratitude, joy, and celebration are a part of whatever devotion you do.

3. Make offerings

Making offerings can be a part of your daily devotional practice, but it doesn’t have to be, especially not in the beginning. I do suggest you start making offerings of some variety to your deity, even if it is just once a week, or at the very least, once a moon cycle.

I think of offerings in two categories: physical offerings, and offerings of action. Your deity may have a particular preference (and even preferences within those categories), and it is important that you honor that. The gods and goddesses also know and respect your financial status and ability level. They won’t ask for offerings of gold if you can’t afford it. That being said, sometimes requests that seem like a stretch will be made. This may be a sign of something you need to work towards, and it’s good to open up communication with your deity about these requests to clarify what is really being asked of you.

Physical offerings are just that, physical objects that are given to the deity. This can be food or a libation, incense burned in their honor, flowers or other decorations, or something you have made. This is offered with love and respect for the deity, usually placed on an altar or in another special location, and accompanied by a prayer or expression of gratitude. If your offering is something that will spoil (like food or drink), the offering will generally be placed outside and returned to the Earth after the ritual is finished or after a day or so, if left on an altar. I live in a third-story apartment, so I don’t have access to an outdoor offering space. I also have a cat that will eat pretty much anything (including aluminum foil and staples), so I can’t leave anything out in my apartment. I also risk running into my neighbors and getting looks from dog-walkers if I go downstairs and out to the edge of the woods. There’s a modification for every living situation. My balcony is pretty private and faces the woods, so my solution for perishable offerings is to ceremoniously (though, some might argue unceremoniously, depending on my throwing skills that day) toss them off my balcony into the woods. Luckily, I work with a laughter-loving goddess who doesn’t mind me being a little silly when I make my offerings. You’ll have to come up with a method that works for you and your deity.

Offerings of action are things that you do in your daily life to honor your deity. They could be things you do that are within your deity’s purview, like attending a pole dancing class in honor of Aphrodite, or performing an activity that you enjoy and mindfully doing it for them. For example, I frequently dedicate my yoga practice to Aphrodite. For offerings of action, I refer to the line in the Charge of the Goddess (version by Doreen Valiente) “Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth, for behold: All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.

“All acts of love and pleasure” – that phrase just makes my heart sing. Because the gods want us to be happy. Yes, sometimes we will need to go through hard times in order to further our personal growth, but all with the purpose of developing our joyful, beautiful souls. Almost anything can be an offering, if it is done mindfully and with intention. Some of my favorite offerings of action are: spending time with friends, going for a hike, exercise of pretty much any form, making art, writing, cooking, cleaning (with intention!), singing in the shower, learning another language, studying a new subject, and reading magickal books.

4. Listen deeply

If you want to form a meaningful relationship with a deity, you want it to be two ways, which means you need to listen deeply to what they have to say. When I say listening, I don’t mean in the literal auditory sense (though that can also apply). Communications from the Divine can take many forms, including visions and “just knowing” things. Be mindful to listen as you are praying, making offerings, or doing devotions. Meditation can be a wonderful opportunity to listen, as your mind is quieter than normal, and you are open to different experiences. More on that in the next section.

Communications can also happen anytime the Divinity chooses. I remember having one particularly memorable Divine transmission from Aphrodite while sitting at a stoplight in my car. I’ve also had a quieter goddess go through one of my friends to get me to pay attention when I wasn’t listening to her. While setting up a spiritual context for listening greatly increases the likelihood of meaningful communication, it doesn’t always have to be “spiritual.”

5. Meditate

I’m sure there is no shortage of books or internet articles telling you how important meditation is for spiritual practice (or even just life in general), so I’m not going to bore you with another proselytizing speech here. You can find good research about the other benefits of meditation pretty easily as well. My reasons for including meditation here are mostly rooted in deep listening, but it’s also a pretty essential magickal skill for spellwork and raising energy.

Setting aside at least 10 minutes a day (or every other day – again, start small and work your way up!) to meditate in whatever way feels best to you will open you up to receiving Divine messages. I mentioned a few of my favorite types of meditation in Part One of this post, but choose something that works for you, and do it consistently. You may not hear anything right away. That’s okay. Keep up the practice. You may not hear anything at all. That’s okay, too. Your deity may communicate with you in other ways. If you consistently don’t hear/see/feel anything from a deity you have been trying to work with, you might consider exploring other options and seeing if another deity “clicks” with you better. Your relationship should be a two-way street. You can choose the deity, but the deity also has to choose you.

6. Perform acts of service

Acts of service are similar to offerings of action, but are more themed around doing the deity’s work in the world. This can be a lot of different things, but it is generally related to the deity’s sphere of influence. For me, an act of service for Aphrodite would be helping my friends out when they come to me for advice about romance or sex. For one of my friends who is devoted to Frigg, it can take the form of being an amazing mother.

Acts of service are extremely personal between the deity and their devotee, and it depends on your abilities and resources. Once you begin a relationship with a deity, they may ask you do certain things for them, give you tasks or a mission. Sometimes they do not. Sometimes you will need to seek those things out on your own. Sometimes the opportunities will just appear in front of you. You always have the option of saying no, but if you are trying to build a relationship with this deity and what they are asking for doesn’t conflict with your morals or go beyond your capabilities, I recommend you give it a try. Be honest and upfront about it with your deity, too. That’s what I did with Aphrodite. I told her I would “try out this being-a-priestess” thing, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

What is asked of you may not be easy. It’s okay to struggle, but you need to be honest with yourself and with your deity about why you are struggling (refer back to the “Have you dealt with your personal shit?” section of Part One of this post). Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. If a deity wants you to do their work in the world, they will help you do it, but you also need to put in the effort.

7. Make the Divine a part of your daily life

This is my favorite part of all about “Going Deeper” into a relationship with a deity. My life, from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep (and sometimes even in my dreams), is filled with magick, love, and spiritual experiences. No joke. I’ve tried my best to merge my magickal and mundane lives as much as possible, and it has resulted in some pretty great synergy.

I do devotions when I awake and before I go to sleep. I’ve recently started a regular practice of blessing my food, particularly the rose tea I drink for Aphrodite. My purse at any point in time contains a myriad of crystals, charms, quarter calls, a candle, notes for rituals, and an emergency rosewater vial (yes, you read that correctly). My phone has pagan blogs bookmarked, inspirational goddess art, and an app to track the moon phases and astrological signs. My bookshelf is filled with books on witchcraft, paganism, personal development, relationship help, tantra, sex, and love. I have several spaces in my apartment dedicated to different spiritual purposes. Even at work, I have some covert spiritual things. I pray I don’t know how many times a day. I do a cleansing ritual every time I shower. The Divine has permeated my life, and I am so much better for it.

I hope these two posts have served as a good jumping off point for your own spiritual deep dives. I wish you the best of luck in your spiritual endeavors. May the Gods and Goddesses go with you.