(following the last post’s thoughts on silent prayer while away in an unfamiliar place and how this applies in more familiar surroundings)
- In a place new-visited it is most appropriate to seek an experience of the place openly, without expectation, allowing the numen to express itself, to make itself manifest; to adopt a state of suspended animation, a quiet assumption of being at one with and attuned to all that the place as itself has to offer, and to listen attentively to what the spirit(s) of the place may wish to express in the quietness and the stillness that you bring.
- In a familiar place it is more appropriate to greet the spirits that are there, to acknowledge those things that the place has already communicated and to offer whatever is fitting according to what you know of the place. Then is the time for silent reflection and so at-oneness with the place that can enclose you and take you to deeper levels of experience. A simple devotional attitude can enrich both the place itself and the worshipper who is immersed in its its ethos.
- In a place set-up, or set aside, for a goddess, a god, or as a sacred precinct for the worship of multiple deities, a more active role for the worshipper is required. Words, deeds, work to be done, all bring offerings to the gods and to the place set aside for them. This is the basis of ritual, though my own preference these days is for simplicity: words and offerings that frame or introduce a period of silent reflection, brief or extended, which is characteristically concluded with a shiver of recognition and acknowledgement that what is brought is accepted.
These propositions concern prayerful devotions rather than visionary experiences, path working, guided meditations and other exploratory activities which may bring the gods into focus and take us to the places they inhabit. These are valuable and rewarding activities, though I find myself both less inclined to perform them and less in need of them as I have grown older and my devotional regime builds on visions and spirit journeys from my younger days. I am, nevertheless, always prepared to be surprised and new revelations do emerge, though as gradual epiphanies rather than sudden visions. Increasingly my emphasis is on the quiet extension of sacramental space – and so a place for otherness – within the white noise of the world as everyday life goes on around me.