| poetry & writing | Feasts
Prayer and Invocation By Amber Laine Fisher
"Mother and Father, Soul of World,
Music is in the air then, though the voices around me are silent. Yet the circle tingles with a slight reverberation, and the music tingles down my spine, grounding itself in the earth beneath my feet, and when I open my eyes and see the air shimmering, I know that they - the Gods - are there.
"Do you pray?"
I remember someone asking me that right after my breakup with Christianity when I was still floundering for a place to call home. I wasn't in a good place spiritually--I was angry, let down, and tired. I sighed and shook my head. "Not really. Not anymore."
It was difficult to admit that I didn't pray anymore. I was always a very prayerful person. Even when I was a child I tended not to think of G!d as a kind of benevolent dictator, preferring instead to think of G!d as a constant companion who was always more than happy to attend to my incessant prattle. I talked to G!d while I washed dishes, while I rode my bike, and while I went for walks. I rarely prayed formally except at church or when kneeling at the bed at bedtime. Prayer was usually just an informal dialogue between me and G!d.
Somehow over time, however, I lost that. Even as I blossomed into adulthood and found and embraced Wicca, something of my relationship with G!d was lost amongst the piles of diapers, dishes, bills and other mundane concerns that demanded my immediate attention. The young woman who blissfully opened her heart to G!d at the most random of times had been silenced, and with that silence came a slow and subtle change. I wasn't as happy as I used to be. I smiled less. I yelled a lot. I stopped writing. I grew cold hearted. My spark had all but gone out, and I wasn't sure how to rekindle the flame.
Determined to bring G!d back into my life, I sat in circle plenty of times with candles blazing, altar ornately set, and chatted away, sometimes crying, sometimes shouting. I laid my heart on the table, pleading with G!d to come back to me, to fill my life again, to renew my faith. But the circle did not buzz.
I don't remember how it happened, but something in my life started to change for the better. My marriage was getting stronger, parenting was suddenly becoming easier-life was just picking up, so to speak. And one day out of nowhere, I grabbed my daughter and tossed her into the air and shouted, "I LOVE YOU!" and allowed myself to overflow with the joy I had denied myself for too long. And as I caught her, drinking in her laughter as I stared into her eyes, I noticed something.
The world was buzzing.
For so long I had believed that I prayed with my mouth-that prayers were spoken and carried to heaven by the spirit of the universe. But at that moment I became truly aware of the simplest truth that still pervades my life and lies at the foundation of my theology. G!d comes where it is called.
The calling, however, is not merely the chanting of a succession of holy words with hands folded and head bowed. The calling is not a properly set circle or an ornate drawing down the moon, though it certainly can be those things. But in truth, G!d is inside and all around, and we communicate with it when we love, when we heal, when we give and experience joy. When we tread lightly and give honest counsel, when we wipe the tears of the bereaved or tend to the sick we are communicating with G!d. We are fostering healthy relationships among people and healing the communities of which we are a part, and all of that is communication with G!d. Actions rooted in mercy and aimed to heal the soul beckon to the Divine more loudly than any prayer of poetry, for within the action and the deed is the spark of the Divine itself. The sparks call out to each other, and the Divine comes, spreading itself over the moment until all we have to do is open ourselves up to its presence. Because so many of us are used to a mythical image of an anthropomorphized Deity, we tend to forget that G!d doesn't hear. G!d doesn't see. But we affect it through our actions, and communicate with G!d through the simple act of living in beauty and in following our Will. We don't have to pray or chant or in any way verbally communicate with G!d. When we change the world, when we lay our hands on the Earth, we are doing G!d's work. And G!d is called.
As pagans, few of us can really be said to lead a monastic life. Most of us have additional duties to family and friends that require our attentions. However much we would like to, even those among us who would be clergy do not live the monastic lives of monks and nuns.
However, we can live a mindful life, what I call a life of invocation wherein every breath, every gesture, every word uttered is made with a silent nod to the great Divine and performed with Divine grace and love. Our lovingness, our sincere desire to spread harmony over the face of the Earth-these are our constant prayers. Regardless of how beautiful and moving a drawing down of the moon can be, and no matter how beautiful the High Priestess is with the moon and stars shining in her hair, these rituals are not required to invoke Deity. The ritual and the pomp and circumstance is for us, to heighten our own awareness, but if we do not pair these actions with a life lived in sincerity and service, then our words will ring hollow and our lives remain untouched. We do not draw G!d to us with our ritual actions or our well rehearsed poetry. We call G!d to us with the work of our hands and the steps of our feet.
I rarely cast circle anymore. I do at Sabbats and coven rituals, but in my private life I don't perform the ritual very often. I enjoy the feeling of the circle, but I generally find it somewhat unnecessary. I have found a certain gentle continuity between my days that serves as my circle. There is a delicate grace that has invaded my life and which echoes in my ears if I only stop a moment to listen. I stop, breath, become aware, and count my blessings. I smile, I let my heart blossom, and in an instant, in a moment, I see G!d everywhere-in my children, in the trees, in the hundreds of blessings I live amongst everyday. No circle could heighten that feeling-this is what a life of invocation grants us.
I can honestly say again that I am a deeply prayerful person. And when
someone asks me if I pray, I can smile and say with surety, "Constantly."
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