The Unexpected Value of DevotionI had an unexpected insight while celebrating the Winter Solstice with one of my friends and fellow Druids. We talked about devotionals practices – one of the topics closest to my heart and closest to my practices - and I became aware of a couple of things that had happened over time.Let me start at the beginning.Need, typically personal need, is the beginning of prayer. We typically ask for those things that we can not easily acquire for ourselves. Some are found in the material world: money, a job, a new car. Others are more ephemeral: health, love, balance. Some of these things come to us externally, such as money, a job, and a new car. When we accumulate enough means to acquire a material object, it will be so. For things such as health or love, we can heal ourselves or be healed by others and we can pray to the Gods to help restore our health or the health of someone we love. For love, we can ask for love, but we can only give of our love, all the rest must also come from an external source. Balance, however, is a different thing.Balance arises out of imbalance and while imbalance may have taken some time to arise, the return of balance will also take effort. This effort will most likely be much quicker and longer lasting if one is to actively seek it as opposed to awaiting its arrival.Of course, the most practical way of making changes in our lives is to work on making them happen. Yet, it surely cannot hurt to engage the help of the kindreds in such an endeavor. Let us continue with the example of balance. Here is a small prayer that can be a part of one’s daily devotionals: “I ask for balance in my life. “Where none is found, “Help me to find it; “When things are askew, “Help me right the Way. “I ask for balance in my life.”If the need for balance in one’s life is the most important of one’s needs, I would say this small prayer daily and first thing. As I have mentioned previously in my discussions of daily devotionals, I believe that one must enter into the devotional practice read and cleansed. Therefore, wash your hands before any working. This has the practical value of willfully deciding to do the working by washing one’s hands first – perhaps a Pavlovian preparation – and that one is cleansed and ready to go.I believe that within a devotional practice it is also important to “do” something as well as “say” something.  We already know what we are going to say. Let us develop what we are going to do to exhibit and strengthen our working in this manner.I like the idea of incidental altars through one’s home and workplace. They can be stealth altars that are relatively unnoticeable as altars or they can be full-blown devotional area where the idea IS for things to be seen. In either scenario – or in points in-between – let us divine a working.If we are working for balance, let us put something in balance in our working. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It need not be expensive either. It is the work that is important and not necessarily the materials.For this exercise, I will offer two scenarios. Both will use household items and will attract relatively little attention. For the first, one will need three shot glasses and two chop sticks. For the second, one will need a citrus fruit and a toothpick.Exercise #1:        a)       Say the devotional prayer. You may address it to a particular Kindred or just offer it to the universe:                  I ask for balance in my life.                 Where none is found,                 Help me to find it;                 When things are askew,                 Help me right the Way.                  I ask for balance in my life.        b)      Place two of the shot glasses upside down on a flat surface. Let the distance    between them be less than the length of the chop sticks        c)       Place the two chops sticks on top of both glasses, so that they are parallel to each other which the ends sticking out from the rims of the shot glasses.        d)      Place the third shot glass atop the chop sticks, thus achieving balance        e)      For the adventurous or devout, place a small amount of water in the upright shot glass.        f)        Finish by saying “May I find the balance in my life.”        g)       If you have cats, they may want to contribute to you devotional work in a non-balanced way. Exercise #2:        a)     Say the devotional prayer. You may address it to a particular Kindred or just offer it to the universe:                I ask for balance in my life.               Where none is found,               Help me to find it;               When things are askew,               Help me right the Way.  I ask for balance in my life.”       b)      Place the citrus fruit on a flat surface.       c)       Place the toothpick on the top of the citrus fruit, thus achieving balance       d)      For the adventurous or devout, place another toothpick across the first one in the form of an equal-armed cross.       e)      Finish by saying “May I find the balance in my life.”       f)        If you have cats, they may want to contribute to you devotional work in a non-balanced way.I believe that by doing the work that the work will one day become you or become a part of you. By doing balancing work on a daily basis – intentionally and regularly – I feel that balance will slowly become a part of the way that you do things. It is very subtle. As a person focuses on the practice, the pursuit of that practice may very well incorporate itself into one’s life. i found this to be the case during my own Winter Solstice ritual workings and discussions with a good friend. It dawned on my that the desire I had been working towards had not only become a part of my practice, but a part of my life. It was the best Solstice gift of the season.The unexpected value of devotion is therefore two-fold. It allows us to exercise our virtues, especially those of perseverance and fertility. Perseverance arises by sticking to the practice, by do so because it is something you desire. Fertility arises because of the life we bring to the work that we do. By combining these two, we establish a practice and reap the unexpected rewards of the devotion we undertake.From "Journeys" by WitchesandPagans
Hearth Cultures: 
Ritual Category: 
“A Simple First Snow Rite”by Rev. Jan AvendeThis ritual is designed to take place during or shortly after the first snow of the season.Materials needed:freshly fallen snow1-4 bowls to collect snow4 candlesyour regular altar & Hallows setup, including a Wellan offering for the spirits of winter/a winter deity of your choiceStep outside into the snow with your empty bowl(s). I prefer to do this bare-footed and bare-handed, but use your best judgement as far as safety is concerned.“Spirits of winter, I have felt you stirring all about me. Now I see you, as you make your presence known. Be with me as I mark the turning of the season, and all that it entails.”Gather your bowl(s) of snow and bring them back inside to set on your altar. Next to each of the four bowls, or surrounding the single bowl, place your four candles. Light each candle as you speak:“As winter begins, I stand in the light, looking down into spreading darkness below. As this snow melts, let it signify that the light will make it through the dark.""Winter is a time of solitude and contemplation, a time to look within. As this snow melts, let it signify that companionship is as important as solitude.""Water freezes in the depths of winter, bringing with it much beauty. As this snow melts, let it signify the Waters of Inspiration are now free to rush forth and flow into me."For this last part, take one bowl of snow (or a small amount of the snow you have gathered) and place it in your Well. Then light the last candle and speak:"The Cosmic Waters run deep and cool beneath the earth. As this snow melts, let it signify the Cosmic Waters being renewed as the fresh ice flow from the winter nourishes them.”Prepare your offering for the spirits of winter/winter deity and speak:“I call to you now, Spirits of Winter. I see you come, stately and measured, showing off your beauty and destruction all in one breath. I see you, as you frost the land, bringing sparks of light to glitter in the dark. I see you, as you glaze the world with your presence. Spirits of Winter, I see you here, all around me now, and I acknowledge that this is your time of life and joy. As I make this offering to you, I ask that you bless me with the dichotomy of gifts you have to offer. Bless me with solitude and companionship. Bless me with light and dark. Bless me with contemplation and inspiration. Bring renewal to the world. Spirits of Winter, accept my offering!”Allow all the snow to melt. The melt from the first three bowls can be used to bless tools for the winter. I usually take a small sip of the water while it is still cold, so that I can better feel it course through my body. Then, I usually anoint and bless my writing implements and my musical instruments, since winter is the time that I am more prolific as a bard.

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