I light the candle on my home shrine. The light of the day has just started to filter through the branches of the trees outside the window, still leafless enough for the pale rays of dawn to pass easily through.
Taking a breath, I say: “With this light I greet the new day”.
I speak softly the words that have become a personal liturgy, my whispers stifled and quiet compared to the exuberant singing of tits, robins and finches in the hedgerow, but still heard, air from my lungs moving with the breath of the morning, joining the Oran Mor. I give thanks to the earth, to the creatures with whom I share this space, to the ancestors and to those great powers of nature worshipped as gods by countless people over countless years.
The words of a Lorica, a protection prayer, come to mind. I use an adapted version of an extract of the popular “St Patrick’s breastplate”, an 8th century prayer attributed to the 5th century Patrick, which may contain older Pagan elements. Taking the obviously Christian verses out leaves us with something that if not “authentically” ancient, at least feels Pagan:
“I bind unto myself today
The strength of Spirit
The light of the sun
The brilliance of the moon
The splendour of fire
The speed of lightning
The swiftness of wind
The depth of the sea
The stability of earth
The firmness of rock.”
Drawing my wooden runes or ogham, I pluck a symbol at random, not to tell the future, but to give me a “seed thought” of guidance for the day ahead, something to keep in mind and ponder.
Sitting in silence, I feel the day grow brighter, the energy of life waking up around me. Time to put the kettle on!
When I was starting out in Paganism, I came across loads of resources about creating daily morning rituals or devotionals, and to be honest, they were pretty intimidating. Pages of ritual scripts, precise definitions of what to say and do at certain times of year or moon phases, instructions to meditate for an hour a day or more.
If you have the combination of time, discipline and ability to do all that, more power to you, but I don’t. Life is busy, and mornings are short. So, over time and through lots of trial and error, the little routine above is something I’ve found that works.
It’s so easy, especially in troubled times, for a spiritual practice to be forgotten, or else seen as just another chore to do among many.
But taking the time to connect, even just for a few minutes (and my whole thing takes no more than 3-5 minutes) at the start of your day can really effect how the rest of the day turns out. It can’t magically control what happens of course, the day can still be filled with obstacles and frustrations, but it can help change how you respond to them. It creates a foundation of calm and centred connection to the sacred (however you understand it) that helps to keep those things in perspective.
Ritual works by repetition. Doing the same thing at the same time each day creates a psychological impression that lasts longer than the ritual itself. This is true for good or ill: a ritual of checking the news and reading angry rants on Twitter first thing in the morning every day has just as profound an effect as any other. But simply sitting at the home shrine over time induces a state of peacefulness, and recalling that in the mind brings that peace to the surface. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
I used to chase “occult secrets”. Now, I’m not sure there are any. There’s just doing the basics in the way that works for you, and then doing it again the next day, and the next, and the next.
Growth is slow and incremental, more like the steady growth of an oak tree than the rapid transformation of pop-culture magic. Initiation into a Pagan path just means “beginning”, it isn’t some grand moment of enlightenment or revelation. It means beginning to walk, small step by small step, consciously and intentionally creating your practice, your identity, your own path.
What’s your morning routine? I’d love to hear what other people do to start their days!