To Walk a Pagan Path
I started this blog because it occurred to me that my spiritual life was getting lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day concerns of modern life. With everything else that I was doing it always seemed as if spirituality got pushed to a back burner, or was mufti-tasked with something else, and not given my full attention.
And that bothered me.
So, since I was “too busy” for religion, I took on something else – this blog. It at least got me thinking about my path on a more in-depth and consistent level, even if I hadn’t actually increased the doing of it.
And shortly thereafter I started going to a weekly gathering of Pagans. No workings, just getting together and socializing: more attention to be paid to my path as I participated in and listened to conversations that flowed around me.
I was, however, still not quite succeeding at creating a daily practice. Oh, sure – I was more focused on my religion, was devoting more time, energy, and thought to it, but something was still missing.
Enter Alaric Albertsson’s book, To Walk a Pagan Path: Practical Spirituality for Every Day.
Hmmm, I thought when the Pagan Coffee Night’s group page announced that he would be there doing a book signing. This sounds like something I could use.
So I bought a copy.
And, instead of relegating it to a shelf for “later” I read it.
And I took notes.
And I have added it to my list of recommended reading material.
This book is exactly what I was looking for, even though I didn’t know I was looking for it.
This isn’t just a “how to” book, or even a “this is how I do it” book – it is a “Do It” book. In the very first chapter Alaric challenges you to stop reading and start doing, by dedicating yourself to the work of “Hal Siddu” – of developing traditions that bring together the body, mind, and spirit.
The rest of the first chapter is devoted to seven steps to assist you in that goal:
Connecting With Spirit
Creating Sacred Space
Creating Sacred Time
Sacralizing Daily Activities
Making Regular Sacrifices/Offerings (Observing regular (monthly) rituals)
Observing the Holy Tides (Wheel of the Year)
Finding Your Folk
Chapter Two talks about creating your own sacred calendar, based on the path that you personally follow and what resonates with you, with a strong emphasis on understanding why you celebrate the days that you do. He gives examples of sacred days from various traditions, not only from his own path.
Chapter Three goes into daily devotions: everything from greeting the gods in the morning to meal time blessings to bedtime prayers, and everything in between as well, truly drawing the sacred into every facet of your day and making it a part of your daily life.
Chapter Four talks about familiars, discussing the pros and cons of various species as well as the historical accuracy (or inaccuracy) of the traditional “witch’s familiar.” He also gives tips for training your familiar to participate in a circle.
Chapter Five, “Leaf and Fruit,” begins introducing you to ways to connect with the cycle of the year, in part through planting, tending, and harvesting a garden, or at least a few vegetables. (I think I’m going to try to grow leaf lettuce and radishes in my planters next year.)
This theme continues in Chapter Six, “Bark and Branch” with ways to honor trees and woodland deities and spirits.
“The Birds and the Bees” (Chapter Seven) returns to the concept of knowing where your food comes from with a lengthy discussion of keeping hens and bees. (I know you were expecting it to be about something else. Don’t try to deny it!)
Chapter Eight has some great recipes, making it near and dear to this Kitchen Witch’s heart.
Chapter Nine covers crafting items to be used in ritual: candles, incense, corn dolls, even a scarecrow – including how to make one for smaller spaces. If I do plant lettuce and radishes in my planter boxes next year I am definitely making scarecrows to guard them.
The final chapter covers a variety of Yuletide traditions, and, of course, gives you suggestions and ideas on creating ones for your own sacred calendar.
The entire book is filled with humor, personal experiences and anecdotes, along with factual information presented in a way that is never dry. This isn’t just a book that I’m going to recommend to others — it is one that I am going to keep and use as a reference for a long time to come.