I am either the best or the worst High Priestess in the history of, well, ever. Whichever you tell me, I will likely argue anyway. One of my beloved, and I do mean beloved, long-time circle members messaged me today with a perfectly reasonable question.
BLCM: We have a rosebush in our Earth quarter that needs to be removed right away with great prejudice. What can we do to appease the Earth quarter once it is done?
ME: Leave a five dollar bill on the nightstand and promise you will call.
I was admittedly in a strange headspace. I had just finished a particularly steamy scene in the new novel I am writing and I was, shall we say, all dressed up with nowhere to go. Of course, during those times, the Goddess is not just present, telling you where to turn and how fast to go, but is driving the bus.
The appropriate response is about leaving a nice crystal or a different plant or a pretty statue for restitution. I could throw in some stuff about being at a crossroads at midnight with a vial of menstrual blood and a crow’s feather and while that is fun, it really is kind of superfluous to the process. But then, as I will drone on about momentarily, ritual is for us, prayer is for us, homage is for us.
I am very much an Earthy person. I have so much Earth in my astro chart that when we are in periods of strong water influence, I tend to turn to mud. Earth, I know well and Earth loves me like an obsessed girlfriend. I am in Earth’s speed dial. Earth mutters my name in its sleep and smiles. Earth drinks forties with me under a streetlamp on the corner and sings doo-wop songs in harmony with me. Earth tells me my ass looks fat in these jeans. Earth and I are like|this.
Then I thought about why we pray. (Stay with me here) A friend of mine mentioned in a post today the song “Jesus Take the Wheel,” which has always caused me to roll my eyes. It’s not because I am not a Christian, but because I have never been a strong proponent of playing the helpless victim in situations. Throwing my skirt over my head and running crying into the woods asking Jesus or Kali or the Universe to clean up some colossal shitstorm I caused just is not my way. I understand why it works for others, but I am more of a “get in there and roll up your sleeves and fix it” person or a “wait until the world turns a few times and then get in there and roll up your sleeves and fix it” person. I believe we hold accountability as adults for the circumstances that find their way to us. As such, it is our job to do fix what’s broken with the blessings of the Divine upon us, not while sitting on the couching letting the Divine do all of the heavy lifting.
I will be back to the Earth quarter momentarily. This is just a little mercury retrograde-fueled detour.
So why then do we pray? Most people pray when they want something and rarely at any other time. Some people, like myself, spent most of their time between the worlds, playing with the veils, draping them around ourselves to make ethereal togas, and therefore, we pray endlessly, always babbling away to this deity or that one, just spending time and enjoying the relationship. I am sure Deity sometimes hangs the phone on the back of the chair from time to time and goes off and just leaves me yammering, but it makes me feel good and that is why we pray. So there. My ex-husband told me as he was walking out the door one of the many times he left before he finally stayed gone, “I cannot respect you because you talk to things that are not there.” Of course, I shot back, “I cannot respect you because you do not see them and furthermore, put down that photo album and the Eagles vinyl, they’re mine.”
We do not pray because we believe Jesus or the Goddess is ignorant of what we are going through. Hell, they probably created what we’re going through. “Um, hey! Some help over here would be nice!” implies that the Divine is little more than a distracted, negligent force that does not know or realize that we are in some kind of distress. No. We pray because it centers OUR attention on the matter. When we set up a prayer circle, we are focusing the attention of many others on the matter and that multiplies the effect, just like Newtonian physics. (If one person pushes with 1 Newton of force and another person pushes with 1 Newton of force, there is now 2 Newtons of force applying energy…) The Universe moves in concert with or without us, unless you subscribe to whole “You all exist because I made you up and if I die you go away” theory. The Universe goes on before us and after us in that wibbly wobbly timey wimey way, but the Universe is also affected is some way because we were here.
Those of you who have studied the Christian faith at all know that there is a story in the Bible about the disciples asking Jesus, “Master, tell us how to pray.” When Jesus Himself laid down the instructions for prayer, it was a very balanced recitation. It is short and sweet and to the point, unlike my Grandmother’s rambling grace-askings when our food would be decomposing by the time we got to eat it. The first point to address in the prayer Jesus laid out as an example is “thy be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Fate, “the plan,” “the process” has ultimate control and we work in tandem with that rather than dragging our own desires into the process and it takes place both on Earth and in Heaven; a joint effort. The next point is to ask for basic sustenance and life: “Give us this day, our daily bread.” Following that, there is a dictate to forgive ourselves and to forgive those who have wronged us. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” After that, we have an acknowledgement that life can take us to places where are are not our best and highest selves: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The prayer is then turned over to the holy words we have spoken many times in many languages: Ateh Malkuth ve-Geburah, ve-Gedula, le-Olam, which translates to “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.” We live in the world that belongs to the Divine and we are a magnificent and perfect reflection of that power and glory. What is absent from that prayer template are things such as “please heal…” and “please give me…” and “please make…” and “please take away…” Basically, it says, “As above, so below. Grant me life this day. Help me to forgive. Keep me out of trouble and in a sacred mindset. It’s your ballgame. So be it.”
Prayer brings US closer to GOD. GOD is already there and does not need us to direct attention or command results.
If we hold to the idea – and of course, not all of you will – that prayer is for ourselves and not for Deity, we can further that thought to say that much of ritual is also for us, to put our minds and spirits into a particular place where we are more receptive to the expressions and the voice of the Divine. We pray and we have rituals because the practices bring us to a sacred place that is closer to God/Goddess/The Universe. I wrote a whole book on this called Reuniting the Two Selves, so I won’t belabor the idea here because in this post, my point lies elsewhere ultimately. A Christian kneels humbly at the altar and prays to God because that is what feel right and sacred to them. Jewish people read the Torah in Hebrew not because God only speaks the one language, but because it is a sacred and venerated practice that brings them closer to God. Pagans meet under the trees and work with the elements as well as God and Goddess because that is what brings them closest to the Divine. The Holiness speaks to us and through us in different languages. If we pray in Japanese instead of the King’s English, does God not hear us? Of course, it is just as valid. Worship is the same. That Which is Divine and Sacred understands us, regardless of the language (words, inflection, action, ritual) we use to express ourselves and that language is often different ways that we feel holy and close to God/dess.
That brings us back to Earth, as in “the element of…” not necessarily the planet. Most religions accept Nature as an extension and expression of the Divine. The elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) are the most essential representations of Nature and therefore, of God/dess. Earth does not distinguish between a rose bush and a ragweed. All are growing expressions of Earth. As most of you know, the Earth loves attention. When you till a field for planting, does the earth seem to be screaming and rebelling? No! The Earth rejoices, the Earth sings, the Earth explodes with joy. The Earth loves to be groomed and touched and worked. The Earth loves when you pull out one of Her hangnails or trim Her hair or rub Her back.
If thy rosebush offends thee, pluck it out. Honor the Earth quarter in the way that feel right to you. Give it a gift in return if that feels good. Your Earth quarter is YOUR sacred expression to that energy and just like with The Divine, Earth does not care what language you speak when you engage its energy… only that you come with a pure heart, good intent, and a nice set of gardening tools.
Dr. Katrina Rasbold is an author and public speaker. She lectures throughout Central California and is available for classes and workshops. She and her husband, Eric Rasbold, are co-creators of the CUSP (Climbing Up the Spiral Pathway) spiritual path, which focus on using the ancient agricultural calendar to create positive manifestation in everyday life. You may find more of Katrina’s writing on her personal blog by clicking here, or on her Facebook page by clicking here, or through her books by clicking here.