Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Affirmative Prayer and The Magic of Gratitude

If you've read my blog before, you know it's important to me to create a space where people of all beliefs and backgrounds feel comfortable, uplifted, and inspired. That said, this post comes from a decidedly Neo-Pagan context. Those studies are a place of safety and familiarity for me, things I need very much right now, so I've been immersing myself in that aspect of my spirituality recently. I have neglected that perspective for too long. So, this entry definitely contains food for thought for people from all walks; however, if my Pagan leanings tend to make you uncomfortable, you might want to skip this post. I hope you won't though, because you might find something worth thinking about. (Also, forgive me if I'm a bit jumpy and scatterbrained, I was reading instead of sleeping!) Love and Light, enjoy...

I just spent several hours reading books on ritual magic which I haven't read in years, since I haven't felt any pressing need to practice it during that time and I've got at least a second degree initiate's worth of information in my head (I'm estimating) if I wanted to. Quite a lot of it I find useful, quite a lot of it I find absurd. Unfortunately for the formidable Silver RavenWolf, it is one of the bits I disagreed with which sparked this post. She is discussing daily devotionals and proffers one which is strongly structured like a quarter calling.*The general gist is, "Guardians of the East, I greet you this day with perfect love and perfect trust. Grant to me your powers of intellect and insight." That's not verbatim, just an approximation. Seems pretty inoffensive, right? Well, I take issue -on several levels- with the beseeching tone, pleading for help. For one thing, when practicing magic, it is all about intent, the picture you have in your mind. If you enter into it with a picture in your mind of needing to receive that energy, you are focusing on lack. Thus, you are going to create lack. This is called the Law of Attraction when it comes to everyday thoughts and more mainstream modalities of prayer. Essentially, when you are vibrating on a certain level you're going to attract energies at that same level. When you focus on something, you are becoming a human, charged magnet for that something. Furthermore, it is not right to take the attitude of lacking anything from the Provider. Spirit's plan is Whole and perfect. We are part of Spirit and part of the Plan. We are whole and perfect. Spirit always provides exactly what we need, exactly when we need it; maybe not in a way pleasing to us but in the way necessary for the greatest good. Thus, really the only appropriate prayer is "Thank you." My husband told me recently of a passage he read in the Bible instructing people not to chant because it shows insufficient faith in God. I agree in spirit, but would like to make it clear I am not adopting the exact literal interpretation. I have a chant which is very useful to me, "Om Shanti Shanti Shanti", roughly meaning "Wholeness Peace Peace Peace." This is not beseeching God for peace; this is recognizing my responsibility as a co-creator with God to take control of my own headspace and to create peace within myself so that peace is the energy I bring forth into the world.
I recently attended a forum at the ARE** given by Peter Woodbury***. He emphasized the importance Cayce placed on focusing on an ideal. In the Platonic/Aristotlean sense, an Ideal, put simply, is a perfect version of something that exists on a superconscious level. It is never manifest in the imperfect world, but when we perceive beauty it is the closeness to the Ideal. Cayce said it is important for us, in meditation (the other side of the prayer coin) to focus on an Ideal. Maybe your Ideal is Krishna, maybe it's Buddha, maybe it's Jesus, maybe it's Odin, maybe it's amorphous. But not having an Ideal on which to focus is somewhat like going to college without any major. (Sorry, I can't think of a better similie right now; I know it's not perfect -see above- so let me know if you think of a better one!) Well, I have taken a rather circuitous route to this point, but essentially what I'm saying is that when you practice your form of affirmative co-creation, regardless of whether you call it magic or saying the rosary or what-have-you, it is important to have that Ideal fixed firmly in your mind. All that is God's is already yours, you are the heir to the Kingdom, for Thou Art That. you have no need to ask for anything, all you need to do is acknowledge what you already have. The real purpose of prayer/magic is not begging for what you want, it is putting YOURSELF and the energies around you in HARMONY with God so that you can recognize, accept, and utilize those blessings! In case you're wondering, I adopted Ms. RavenWolf's daily devotional, with the modification of some of the attributes. (For fire, I don't need to emphasize passion, I need to wick it off, so I used "warmth" instead so that that passion would be translated into affection, love, rather than in the more destructive ways fire and fiery emotions can manifest.) More importantly, instead of asking for these attributes I gave thanks for them. For your reading (and  perhaps praying) pleasure, this is my version. (Start with East as this is a morning prayer, so we begin in the direction of the rising sun.)

Guardians of the East,
I greet you this day in perfect love and perfect trust.
Thank you for your gifts of wisdom and vision.

Guardians of the South,
I greet you this day in perfect love and perfect trust.
Thank you for your gifts of creativity and warmth.

Guardians of the West,
I greet you this day in perfect love and perfect trust.
Thank you for your gifts of empathy and intuition.

Guardians of the North,
I greet you this day in perfect love and perfect trust.
Thank you for your gifts of patience and abundance.

Guardians of the Center,
I greet you this day in perfect love and perfect trust.
Thank you for your gifts of purity and righteousness.

Isn't that so much more positive and respectful? Wouldn't you rather someone thank you for what you have given than beseech you for even more gifts? I think God and God's spirits probably feel the same way. I felt so positive and full of joy and energy this morning after doing this devotion! I changed these stanzas for what I'm manifesting in my life, change them to suit your own needs. (For example, you could change "Guardians of..." to Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, and Spirit/God.) I'm here to help if you'd like. Share your suggestions and/or questions in the comments! The Silver RavenWolf book I reference is called To Ride a Silver Broomstick. For more on effective and affirmative prayer, please see Gregg Braden's beautiful book The Isaiah Effect. He also produced a video on the subject, which you can find here.

Footnotes:
*For those unfamiliar with the Craft, a quarter calling is part of creating a sacred space for the ensuing ritual, which invites beneficial energies into that space for some manner of help, generally wisdom and/or protection.
** Edgar Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment
*** "Peter Woodbury, MSW received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and his master’s degree in social work from Boston University. He trained in hypnotherapy and past-life regression techniques with Dr. Brian Weiss, Dr. Allen Chips, and Dan Brown, PhD. Peter is in private practice as a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist in Virginia Beach, with a focus on the use of spirituality and faith as tools for personal transformation and liberation.
A student of the Cayce readings for over 20 years, he is a popular presenter on key topics from the Cayce readings both at A.R.E. Headquarters and in the field. Fluent in three languages, he is also known for his outstanding leadership of A.R.E. tours to South America, India, and Egypt. He also finds time to play Edgar Cayce in the popular one-man show titled “An Evening with Edgar Cayce.”
http://www.edgarcayce.org/usa/regions/states.aspx?id=1504