After the barrage of beginners books, and years of living “magickally,” it eventually dawned on my that what I was truly seeking in my own life was integration. The spiritual aspect of my life was very important to me but I couldn’t neglect other aspects of my life in the process. At one point, my life seemed compartmentalized. There was a “box” for the various aspects of my life. This isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing if polarizing is necessary but it was frustrating sometimes. How can we (as pagan folk) integrate our lives as a seamless whole -without creating complete upheaval?
I settled upon routine first. What can I do in the morning that will help get me started? I know that I am not the only person with a crazy schedule. Often, I’ve been unrealistic about the kinds of goals I set, because of idealistic expectations I seem to think I must rise to. Hosh-posh!
I wake up in the morning and before I jump out of bed in a terrible rush, I reach over and grab my dream journal. This is something I’ve been doing since I was fourteen. It is an aspect of my daily routine that has become much like breathing. My eyes open and my arm swings out to the right immediately expecting to feel the spine of a book.
After my writing or during, I grab a delicious cup of coffee or sometimes a cup of piping hot cinnamon or chai tea and sit down in my gliding chair until every last drop has gone. Many years flew by before I realized this ritual was a kind of daily communion with my higher self. It gave me time to rest my mind and just breath. Really, it is a delightful, simple joy.
These two rituals are my most consistent, the rest is a mess. I may wash up, make breakfast and then get dressed or toss all of those around before rushing off to work and coming home to make dinner and slide in some time with the kid so I don’t feel guilty.
At one point, I was meditating every day for fifteen minutes, scribbling in my journals and cleaning like a mad woman but I didn’t make time for play, creating, or a nice outing; what a bad girl. Kidding of course.
I feel that most people struggle with daily balance and integration. It takes time and effort to develop daily rituals and consider how time is actually prioritized in our lives. So, what is the first step to integration and balance? Keep in mind these are the ways I’ve found it and it could be completely different for someone else out there.
1. Create a simple morning ritual around what you enjoy. I enjoy dream working, tea, and my hearth.
2.Get dressed and feel good even if you are not headed to work. Looking good and feeling good is important for me. When I get dressed it is like saying to myself “we are starting the day, this is going to be a good day, you deserve to look good…” This doesn’t mean I’m not in my red fuzzy robe sometimes for hours on end but it works -try it.
3. Call a friend or talk to someone you love at least once a week. Many of my friends do not live close by. Life happens, and most of us trailed down paths that lead to different cities. When this first happened, I complained that people never came to see me anymore. At some point, I simply decided to visit those around me that cared for me. I’d drop in for an unexpected check up and simply sit and visit for a time.
4. Garden. I am only learning to formally garden. Through the years, my experience with plants has been either picking them from the front yard, identifying them and working with them magically and herbally from books or having another worker show me something new that they learned in one way or another. Beyond green onions and lettuce being regrown in the kitchen, I’d never tilled up soil and planted seeds successfully until last year. I have to say that despite the work, it is so very rewarding. Even if it is a couple of plants in a pot, try growing a few things. A friend of mine turned an old fish tank into a plant terrarium and it looked so nice I almost did it myself.
5. A Formal Promise: If I swear it to my gods and the spirits I work with there is guarantee I’m going to do it. Dedicate yourself to integrating your practice into your daily routine (whatever that may be.) It can be a challenge and a lot of work; a little help from the Otherworld isn’t a bad thing.
6. Play with Pets. When I moved back home to live with my partner. He had two small dogs and I had two cats. After introductions, the furries decided they would all get along. Pets are a wonderful way to connect to the natural world while being able to express yourself spiritually. I consider my cats quite sacred and I love them very much. The dogs need a little more attention but I found myself suddenly feeling very connected to the dog as a kind of helper energy….
7. Cooking: Cooking was an everyday activity but when the schedule goes nuts it is time to prep in the kitchen. Sundays is a busy day in my house. Aside from that morning routine, everyone in the house gets up in the morning and decides what we would like to eat for the week. Then it is off to the grocery store and home to cook, seal and freeze. Yes, I’ll admit that sometimes I dread the Sunday cooking but the rest of the week makes it all better again. Plus, the evenings mean a little family game time, a long walk or other activity that we find fun. Plus, any kitchen witch will tell you that cooking is a great way to charm the home and family in a most positive way.
These are some of the ways that I find it best to connect. By no means will this work for everyone. How do you integrate your practice?