Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Finding your own time
When you start to look into building a spiritual practice, there is suddenly a time for everything. Moon cycles, planetary alignments, Sabbats....everything happens in it's own time and we are expected to bend and adjust to make our own timing match.
And sometimes it is worth the effort, if the timing is something you can manage, even if it takes a little extra work. Being able to tap into those energies, at their peak, can be incredible. But if you can't, that doesn't make you a failure, or mean you can't do things!
When we look in the past, at the things our ancestors did, everything was on natural time, because that was all their was. They timed things by the movement of celestial bodies. It wasn't just scholars and spiritual people who knew the moon phases and the equinoxes, but everyone did because those were the cycles that life unfolded in. You celebrated on the dates, at the specific times, because everyone was, it was just a part of life.
Now, we have schedules upon schedules, and sometimes no matter how much you might like it to, things just don't line up. You may want to do a ritual at midnight, but you have to get up at 5am the next day for work, and that puts your job and your health at risk. You might want to do an indepth reading for the new moon, but you have a million appointments that day that you just can't move. You have family or friends who need to see you on certain days, and so you know you have to set those times aside, because you care about them and want to spend time with them.
I normally write my blogs every Wednesday, but this week my parents are coming for a visit. I know that we will be out and doing things and visiting, and when Wednesday comes around, I might not have time to sit and write (or the mental energy to come up with anything). So, because keeping up my blog is one of my spiritual practices, I am sitting down to write it ahead of time (on Thursday the week before actually, so for me, it's two blogs in a row!)
Sometimes, things like this happen. I've been on vacation during Sabbats before. That leaves me with basically three choices: do nothing, do some kind of limited or visualized ritual, or observe the Sabbat either before or after my trip. I don't have a hard and fast way I do things, each time I decide what I need in that moment. I prefer not to skip them entirely, but let's be honest, sometimes life just gets in the way, and there is no sense in beating yourself up for being so overwhelmed that you don't have time to get everything done.
I am much more liberal in other timing aspects of my practice. I have charts and charts of the right day (and hour!) to do different spells and rituals in. And I do try to time some things with the appropriate days. For example, I picked Wednesday to blog because it's Odin's day, and for me, making a regular blogging practice is a form of devotion.
I almost never time spells based on what their focus is. If I need to do some self-love work, I don't wait until Friday to do it, I do it as needed. I don't typically do divination on Monday. I used to, but I find that, for me, it just bogs things down and makes it more likely that I won't actually do anything at all. If I put things off, things don't get done.
One place I have found that really works for me is moon cycles. I like having that repetition in my life. I work with an eight phase moon cycle, and that breaks down to three days for each of the set phases (new, first quarter, full and last quarter), and between 3-6 for the inbetween phases (crescent, gibbous, disseminating, balsamic). Three days is normally enough time for me to manage to schedule something, but if I'm off, I just roll with it. I do a small divination spread for the month during the new moon, that gives me guidance on what I need to do, and I try to work with the other phases as they come up, doing little things to help my focus along.
I have also found that trying to do ALL of my Sabbat work in one day just doesn't work. I like to set my computer and phone desktops to something seasonal, change my altar, do some kind of observance, and journal about it. If I try to smoosh all that into one day, I feel like it's too much, and I put it off and then I am frustrated because I've not done anything. However, if I spread it out, if I change up my backgrounds sometime that week, set my altar up a few days ahead of time, and then do my ritual (I mostly journal the same day, but if I'm really crunched for time, I'll journal later), then things just flow better. I have also found that keeping my altar set from one Sabbat to the next helps me not only stay in the energy of the current season, but it's less fuss than setting the altar just for the ritual then reverting it to a 'base' setup.
And, if you work with others, sometimes this timing negotiation becomes even more complex. Hosting ritual on the actual full moon or the day of the Sabbat might be impossible, just due to people's work schedules, kids, and travel needs. It is pretty common for groups to have a set day to meet, one that works best for all involved, and to celebrate on whatever meetup day is closest.
My local group does a yearly Day of the Dead (Samhain) ritual, and it is almost never on October 31. It might be a full week off....but it is our tradition and it works for us. I have never felt like it 'wasn't the right time' to celebrate, it always feels properly magical!
Ultimately, you have to do things in the time that is right for you. You may find that putting in the effort to find even just five minutes on the appropriate day really helps you feel that sense of sacred...or you may find that it just stresses you out and brings you out of the moment. Don't hold yourself up to impossible standards, just allow your practice to unfold in the way it needs to. Things will take how long they take, and they will happen when they happen, and sometimes that is exactly the right time.