Pagans pray. This is something some people can’t always get their minds around, sometimes even pagans can’t get their mind around it and can only relate it to Christianity but I don’t know of any religion or spirituality that I’ve ever heard of that doesn’t pray. They may call it something different like a libation or offering but it all comes down to asking or thanking or even adoring the universe or a particular deity for something.
Maybe it’s because I was raised in the twilight between Presbyterianism/Church of Scotland and my grandmother’s instructions on living with the other beings seen and unseen that exist around us but I have always seen fit to pray.
If you are Christian, you know about Intercessory prayer or praying on behalf of someone, the real difference in Wicca is the fact that you must have permission from the person you are praying for to do it. Sometimes we might be tempted to do it unasked for but when looked at, the person may be using that thing you want to pray to get rid of as a crutch to get through life as warped as that may seem to you. It may be the only thing holding them up and that could be sickness, a political viewpoint, general negativity or a prejudice you want them to get rid of. If they lost that thing would their world collapse? It’s not our job to do it unless they ask for it. We have to remember to harm none even if we don’t like it.
But how else can we pray? I don’t know any pagans that haven’t lit incense. The ancients thought the smoke carried prayers to the gods. According to archeologists the first written prayers were recorded 5000 years ago. Humans have probably always had some form of prayer even if it was a form of “Feet, don’t fail me now” when being chased by a bear. There are many recorded prayers and hymns from the Greeks and Romans and other peoples.
Hymns and chants are forms of prayer. They can be sung as adoration or in thanks. We sing or say grace for nature’s bounty, that is prayer. We light candles with intention. We ring bells in Circle to call to the deities as invocation. Prayer doesn’t have to be words. Some of us have trouble with words but we can sing, drum or hold an image in our minds.
We don’t need to kneel, or be in submission on the floor, we don’t need to flagellate ourselves to obtain real or imagined needs to feel forgiven. We can take a walk in nature and send our consciousness out into the world to commune with our living world. We can sit in stillness and just be in our bodies. We can light incense and follow its path to the heavens. We can blow a bubble and fill it with our wishes and needs and let it go. We can write it out and burn or bury it and let it pass away into the earth. We can send it down a stream or out on the waves on a bark or origami boat. We can use the elements to pray.
When we pray it can be to our higher self, a specific deity, it can be to our ancestors for needed wisdom. We can pray to the universe, in general. We can pray to the Fae. We can request things of nature around us.
Sometimes we just have the need to express ourselves to something outside ourselves when we are feeling, whether that feeling be grief or joy, love or despair, hurt or healing and sometimes just because we are human on this earth, in this time and in this place. We pray.