Effective Prayer

Prayer is little-discussed in Wiccan books, probably because it is, by its very nature, a highly personal experience. Additionally, most Wiccan books seem to be more concerned with describing ritual motivations and mechanics than with delving into the truly spiritual aspects of our religion.

But behind the circles, the altars and the regalia, Wicca is designed to facilitate contact with the divine. We can certainly contact Them during our rites with memorized invocations, but what of non-ritual occasions? Will They hear us? Will they speak to us?

Of course. In Wicca, ritual is a framework in which prayer and magic take place. But prayer isn't solely a ritualistic act. We can pray at any time, and, utilizing our connections with the Goddess and God, contact Them for assistance and comfort.

Following are discussions of some aspects of Wiccan prayer.

PRAYER IS DIRECTED BOTH W IT H I N AS WELL AS W IT H O U T

Many religions preach that our bodies are filthy, disgusting things that even their deities dislike and hate. Such faiths deny the flesh and turn their eyes toward the skies when seeking the divine.

Most Wiccans, however, accept that the Goddess and God are within ourselves as well as outside us. If everything in nature is connected through subtle but real energies, so too are we linked with the Goddess and God.

We must become more intimately familiar with this connection. We can't accomplish this by searching our bodies and asking, "Where's the Goddess? Where's the God?" They don't reside in any one part of us; They're simply within. They exist within our DN A. They're present in our souls. The Goddess and God are infused into every aspect of our beings.

We gain familiarity with the divine spark within ourselves through ritual, meditation and prayer. It's during these moments, in which we expand our awareness beyond the physical world, that the divine energy within us rises and fills our consciousness. Though we may call the Goddess and God, we're actually becoming newly focused on Their presence inside us. Once this has occurred, we can become aware of Their greater presences beyond ourselves.

Prayer is the process of attuning and communicating with the Goddess and God. During prayer, we may call Them from the Moon, the Sun and the stars, from the seas, the deserts and caves, from the haunts of wild animals; from the Earth itself: but the call must first move us, must first renew our awareness of the Goddess and God within, before it can contact the universally manifested deities.

We might see a bunch of ripe peaches hanging from a tree and feel great desire to eat one. However, until we narrow our focus on just one peach, approach it and pluck it from the tree, we won't satisfy our craving. In prayer, we must narrow our focus, at first, upon the Goddess and God within, before we can contact the greater understanding of the Goddess and God.

This initial focus may be accomplished through words, visualizations, songs or by other means. There are no governing rules, though I present a few suggestions below. Experiment to discover the most effective technique.

To begin, a Wiccan adopts a prayerful attitude (see below). She may then begin each prayer with the following words:

O Goddess Within, O God Within,

While saying these words, she shifts her consciousness to the warm, peaceful memories of her previous contacts with Them. This may put her into the proper mode of consciousness. She could then proceed to say:

O Goddess of the Moon, Waters and Earth;

O God of the Forests and Mountains;

This expands her conception of the Goddess and God, and contacts a greater part of Them. Once she's achieved a stronger connection, she then speaks to Them in specifics (i.e., states the reason for her prayer).

Wiccan prayer, then, isn't addressed to some distant deities who reside in alien cloud palaces. We needn't use a bullhorn to call to the Goddess and God. Rather, we need only become newly aware of Them within us. This is the secret.

PRAYERFUL ATTITU DES

Many people, of all religious persuasions, pray only in times of great need, terrific stress or spiritual crisis. This is a part of human nature: when all else fails, appeal to higher forces. Prayers at such times are certainly appropriate, and can often provide just what we need to get through such periods. However, they're not the ideal prayerful occasions, for we often don't take the time to truly contact the Goddess and God before we begin our communication. This may block the prayer's effectiveness.

Thus, it's quite important, even in moments of extreme desperation, to adopt a prayerful attitude before speaking to the Goddess and God. A prayerful attitude consists of peace and hope resting on an unshakable spiritual foundation.

It may be quite difficult to adopt such a state when a friend has just become ill, a child has run away from home, your cat is missing. However, attaining this peaceful, hopeful, spiritual state will lend greater power to your prayer, for it will allow you to more directly connect with the Goddess and God. Once you've linked with the Goddess and God, you can be as emotional as you wish.

Urgent, wild prayers ("Goddess, help me!") or demanding prayers ("You gotta help me out. Right now!") will lend you little or no spiritual support, and probably won't go farther than your lips or mind. A few of these prayers may indeed reach the Goddess and God, if their speaker is sufficiently aware of her or his connection with Them. However, they're far from the most effective form of prayer.

Such prayers are usually spontaneous. They may be the product of new information or fresh insight into a situation. Thus, they certainly can't be planned in advance. Or can they?

Indeed they can be. With a bit of practice and thought, you can transform ineffective prayers to quite effective prayers. How? Simply pray every day, in a prayerful attitude. Talk to the Goddess and God about positive events in your life. Thank Them for manifested prayers. Speak to Them about the moonrise, the sound of the birds in the morning, the new kittens. Speak to Them, too, of your needs and hopes and desires.

Make prayer a daily occurrence. Don't wait to pray solely during those rare occasions when crushing need forces you to turn to Them for assistance. Prayer - true prayer - on a daily basis sets up a regular line of communication. So long as you don't recite prayers without emotion or feeling, this prayer experience will come in handy when you're faced with a crisis. Your prayer may still be quick and to the point, but you'll have established a firm line of communication and have the capability to use it at any time.

Prayer should always be respectful. Wiccans don't bargain with the Goddess and God. We don't say, "Okay, Goddess. Give me that new car and I'll burn a candle for you for three full moons." That's not Wiccan, We never bargain with the Goddess and God. Prayer doesn't consist of deal-making.

We also never threaten or order around the Goddess and God in prayer. Doing so reveals that we've attempted to elevate ourselves to Goddess- and God-hood. Sorry; we're not deities.

Few people enjoy being commanded; no goddesses or gods enjoy it. Such 'prayers' have no place in Wicca. (This statement doesn't mean that it only has no place in my form of Wicca; it's universal. It isn't dependent upon your personal conception of the Goddess and God; it's dependent upon the nature of things: the Goddess and God are bigger than us. End of discussion. )

And so, having a prayerful attitude means being in a peaceful, hopeful, spiritual state. If you attain this prior to praying, your prayers will be that much more effective.

THE NATURE OF PRAYER

Many religious people will argue that prayer consists only of communication between humans and the divine. As Wiccans, however, we're aware of the non-physical energies contained within our bodies (the same energies used in creating the circle, in consecrating tools and in other works of magic). Effective prayer consists of more than words, for when prayers are made in the correct state, with pure, unadulterated emotion, we release energy with our words and direct it to the Goddess and God. Thus, certain forms of prayer (those in which we make requests, for example) are also acts of magic.

We needn't attempt to make true prayer into a magical act; (that is, we don't have to arouse, program and direct energy during prayer); this auto matically occurs during emotional prayer. Fixing our minds upon a need, contacting the Goddess and God, and speaking to Them stirs up, programs and directs energy. It is an act of magic.

If we're not properly attuned with the Goddess and God - if we're not clearly focused - the energy raised by the prayer flies off into outer space in a willy-nilly fashion to no effect. Just as we must gather droplets of water into a tub to take a bath, so too must we gather our energies and direct them to the Goddess and God. To do otherwise is to perform ineffective prayer. Therefore, we must maintain our focus on Them and allow nothing to distract us.

Don't misunderstand this. Though some types of prayer can be considered to be spells, this certainly isn't true of all forms. Additionally, praying to the Goddess and God isn't spell casting; it's a religious act that happens to have a magical content.

Wiccan prayer is far more than a simple recitation of facts to the Goddess and God and more than form of communication. It's a flow of personal energy from a human to the deities.

TYPES OF PRAYERS

There are many types of prayers: prayers of thanks, of celebration, of need. Situations obviously frame the nature of most prayers. However, praying only when in need is using the least of prayer's potential. The following prayers are merely examples.

Prayers of thanks are just that:

O Goddess within;

O God within;

O Goddess of the Moon, Waters and Earth;

0 God of the Forests and Mountains:

1 give thanks for_(or, for my many blessings).

The prayer may then continue on to describe how this blessing has changed her or his life:

Thank you for lending me spiritual strength in this time of need; it has refreshed and encouraged me.

Thank you for assistingme in finding the perfect home;we're safe now. Or:

Thank you for touching my life and allowing me to find Mr. (or Ms.) Right; my world is filled with love and happiness.

Such prayers may be quite lengthy. In prayers of thanks, it's best to detail your specific reasons for thankfulness. This strengthens the fact that the Goddess and God have recently assisted you, and also strengthens the prayer's effectiveness.

If you need assistance in creating a ritual, you may pray for this:

O Glorious Goddess;

O Gracious God;

You who created all that is;

Help me create this ritual

In Your honor

At the time of the full moon (or Yule and soon).

Prayers of celebration may also be framed when the Wiccan has accomplished a tremendous feat, with or without the direct assistance of the Goddess and God:

0 Gracious Goddess,

1 passed the test.

O Mother Goddess

0 Father God

1 finished (the book, the song, the garden).

Prayers of need are just that:

O Goddess within;

O God within;

O Goddess of the Moon, the Waters, and the Earth,

O God of the Forests and Mountains;

O Shining Ones of Infinite Wisdom:

Teach me to understand my child (friend, lover, parents, boss).

Lend me the spiritual strength to overcome my anger and pain;

Quench my fires with love.

Certainly, there are many types of need. In our market economy, where we must work to earn money to buy things that others create, our needs are often physical: we need a new car, a home, a good job, more money. Prayers of need may also be involved with healing, compassion, love, protection and many other aspects of daily human life.

At times, our needs may seem insurmountable. We may temporarily lose our Goddess and God focus and descend into negative thinking, disillusionment and fear.

It's at such times that we may pray to them:

O Goddess within;

O God within;

O Goddess of the Moon, the Waters and the Earth;

0 God of the Forests and Mountains:

1 need to feel Your presence. I need to be reminded of You. Assist me to remember Your lessons;

Show me the key that will unlock my spirituality. Blessed Be.

Or, we may pray regarding problems that we're having with our religion: After the introductory part of the prayer, you may say:

Goddess, I simply don't understand this. This book says that we never incarnate as the opposite sex of the one that we are in this life. Help.

Goddess and God, I'm trying to find the perfect circle casting. Guide my mind, heart and hands as I try to figure this out.

Keep in mind that, to be effective, all prayers of need must be stated with a prayerful attitude.

Wiccan prayer is a private, personal aspect of our religion. We all have our own methods of contacting the Goddess and God. However, the techniques outlined in this chapter may be of assistance in truly contacting Them, and of using prayer as a positive, supportive tool of everyday life. Pray often - it's an essential part of Wicca.

g: DAILY PRAYER AND CHANTS

Our religion reveres the Goddess and God. As such, it's vital that we establish and maintain our relationships with Them. Everyday life presents many opportunities to strengthen this bond. Short prayers when we rise in the morning, before meals, before sleep and at other times of the day are highly appropriate.

This chapter includes a variety of both simple and formal prayers for many occasions. Feel free to use them as is or as a guide for creating your own. Though I've generically addressed these to the Goddess and God, you can use the names by which you've grown to know Them.

Daily prayer, both formal and spontaneous, is another method of truly making Wicca a part of your everyday life. The exact words don't matter much, for it's your involvement in the prayer that's most important.

everyday prayers and chants

A Prayer Before Meals

Before eating, say these or similar words (if necessary, whisper or merely think these words): From forest and stream; From mountain and field; From the fertile Earth's Nourishing yield;

I now partake of Divine energy; May it lend health, Strength and love to me. Blessed Be. Another Prayer Before Meals Goddess of the verdant plain; God of sun-ripe grain; Goddess of the cooling rain; God of fruit and cane; Bless this meal I've prepared; Nourish me with love; Bless this meal I now share With You both above.

A Third Prayer Before Meals

0 Goddess within, OGod within,

1 now partake of the Fertility of the Earth.

Bless this food with Your love.

A Morning Prayer

Bless this day, sun of fiery light. Bless this day; prepare me for the night.

Sunrise Chant Fire growing, Sun is glowing; Glowing, flowing Down on me. Another Morning Prayer 0 Gracious Goddess, 0 Gracious God, Lend me health, strength and love During this coming day. Assist me with the challenges ahead. Share Your divine wisdom. Teach me to respect all things. Remind me that the greatest power of all is love. Blessed Be.

An Evening Prayer

The moon illuminates the earth With wondrous silver rays; Illuminate me through the night And through the sun-lit days.

A Prayer Before Sleep 0 Gracious Goddess;

0 Gracious God,

1 now enter the realm of dreams.

Weave now, if You will, a web of protective light around me.

Guard both my sleeping form and my spirit.

Watch over me

Until the sun once again

Rules the Earth.

0 Gracious Goddess,

0 Gracious God,

Be with me through the night.

invocation Before Sleep Lady of the Moon; Lord of the Sun; Protect me and mine Now day is done. New Moon Chant Silver flowing, Dianas growing; Growing, showing Love for me. A Short Chant For Help Divine Mother, Mot her Divine, Show me the way ; Give me a sign.

Offerings must be consciously made, done with thanks, intent and focus. Empty offerings will have little effect. In past times, such offerings were considered vital to the worshipper's continuing existence. Today, we might see them as vital to our spiritual existence.

You may decide to make an offering once a day, once a week or once a month, every three weeks, every full moon. (Rhythms of this type are preferred rather than haphazard offerings) The time of day isn't really important, though most prefer the night. Again: find your own best plan.

Offerings certainly can also be made at any time in thanks for answered prayer.

The rites that follow are suggestions. Use your intuition and experiment to find the forms best suited to you.

After making the offering, reflect for a few moments on the meaning of your actions.

A Daily Offering

Place the offering in the bowl (or in the ground) while saying:

What I take I freely give.

Accept this offering, Goddess and God.

Another Daily Offering

Make the offering while saying; I give you this symbol of my devotion. May it strengthen my bonds with you.

An Offering for a Special Request

This should by no means be seen as a bribe. We don't bribe the Goddess and God, for They created and possess everything in existence. However, giving an offering before making a special request (during prayer) is again a symbol of our need. The actual energy that exists within the offer ing is sent by the power of our prayer to the Goddess and God, and so further emphasizes our need.

When you have a special request, choose a suitable offering: something quite important to you, either emotionally, mentally or monetarily. Bury it in the Earth while praying for the request.

It is done.

(Never dig up and retrieve offerings. Once you've given them to the Goddess and God, you've relinquished their physical forms. What's done is done.)

rites of thanks Thanks for An Answered Prayer

Goddess

What no human ear could hear, you heard.

What no human eye could see, you saw.

What no human heart could bear, you transformed.

What no human hand could do, you did.

What no human power could change, you changed.

Goddess of love; Goddess omnipotent;

You through Whom all power flows;

Source of all;

Queen of the Cosmos;

Creatrix of the Universe;

Accept this humble token of thanks

From a Solitary Wiccan

Who has spoken

And who has been heard.

(Place an offering, such as a flower, a coin, a jewel, a picture that you've drawn, or some other object precious to you on the earth. Or, bury it in the earth. If this can't be immediately done, place the object in the offering bowl and later give it directly to the Earth.)

A. Solitary Ritual of Thanks

(You alone will know when to perform this ritual. It can be done at any phase of the moon, during the day or night, whenever needed.)

You'll need one large white or pink bowl; one white candle; water; small, fresh flowers (white blooms are best) and one piece of white cotton cloth.

Place the bowl on the altar (or on any table). If desired, cast a circle. Affix the white candle to the center of the bowl with warmed beeswax or with drippings from another white candle (so that the bowl acts as a candle holder).

Pour water into the bowl. Float the fresh flowers on the surface of the water. Light the candle.

Visualize your reason for the ritual; remember why you're thanking the Goddess and God. Touch the water on both sides of the candle with your fingertips, saying these or similar words:

Lady of the Moon, of the stars and the Earth;

Lord of the Sun, of the forests and the hills;

I perform a ritual of thanks.

My love shines like the flame;

My love floats like the petals

Upon You.

Lady of the Waters, of flowers and the sea;

Lord of the Air, of horns and of fire;

I perform a ritual of thanks.

My love shines like the flame;

My love floats like the petals

Upon You.

Lady of the Caves, of cats and snakes;

Lord of the Plains, of falcons and stags;

I perform a ritual of thanks.

My love shines like the flame;

My love floats like the petals

Upon You.

Look into the candle's flame, then down into the water. Blow gently upon the water's surface and watch the flower's movements. Meditate. Commune. Thank.

When it's time, remove the petals from the water. Place them in the center of the white cotton cloth. Wrap the cloth around the petals. If you've cast a circle, close it now. End your rite of thanks by quenching the candle's flame, pouring the water onto the ground and burying the flowers in the Earth. It is done.

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