Happy Thor’s Day – July 29, 2021
I’ve been trying to deepen my prayer practice lately. I feel like somewhere in the rush of grad school, I fell away from some of my regular practices and that’s not where I’d like to be. I plan on writing more about how and when I pray, sharing prayers, quotes, and other ideas that have helped me and maybe might help my readers.
I don’t think there’s anything more important than prayer. It’s one of *the* most basic, most foundational practices we have in building a solid, personally sustainable spiritual life. It can be difficult to know where to begin, especially if one wasn’t raised in a devout household (I realize more and more that I was so incredibly lucky to have good devotional models growing up). There are formal, “set” prayers, extempore praying, and quiet contemplation, the type of daily engagement that roots one deeply in awareness that we are surrounded by Gods and spirits and this is good and holy. We move through a world graced with the sacred. Having grown up praying (which doesn’t mean I have a good prayer practice. I don’t think I do.), I never thought of this as a potential problem, but more and more, folks have been asking me about prayer, how to do it, and what is right or wrong in the process. I’m happy to answer questions to the best of my ability to send your questions along and I’ll do my best. In the meantime, I’m going to talk about my Thursday routine.
Firstly, the moment I open my eyes, I usually try to mutter out Sigdrifa’s prayer (from the Sigdrifumal, the translation I use reads: Hail to the Day, and Day’s sons; Hail to Night and Her daughters. With loving eyes look upon us here and bring victory. Hail to the Gods! Hail to the Goddesses! Hail to the mighty fecund earth! Eloquence and native wit bestow upon us here, and healing hands while we live.). Because this prayer really sort of reifies our entire cosmology (I read “Hail to the mighty fecund earth” as including our ancestors, whose bones rest in the earth. Also, we are formed in part from the minerals our parents and their parents, and so forth back generation by generation have eaten courtesy of the food and water taken from the land) I usually say it multiple times a day as the mood strikes.
I’m not a morning person, but once I’m mobile, I start the Mundilfari adorations, which you can find here. These are brief prayers for waking, noon, sundown, midnight. I usually manage them all and what I miss, my assistant catches.
I have a huge set of prayer beads that I use and I often find myself going through these when I exercise. I don’t use the beads themselves at the gym, but keep count in my head – I try to get to the gym a couple times a week. Often I will dedicate the workout to Hermes, Thor, or one of our Healing Deities.
I try to pray before meals. This is the one I forget quite often because with my work schedule, I tend to graze rather than have sit-down meals at a set time. I’m working on this one though, to be more mindful. I think it’s important and I’ve gotten into a bad habit of not being mindful about this here that’s proving harder than I’d like to break.
I also offer a prayer to various Gods (usually Odin, Mani, Loki, et Al) before I begin my work. Sometimes I’ll pray to other Deities (Hermes, Apollo) if I’m feeling more pulled to the Roman part of m practice that day. It depends on what I’m doing, what I’m teaching, etc. I also read quite a bit of early Christian material for (academic) work and there is quite a bit of good information there, so I parse that out when I find it and tuck it away. Why reinvent the wheel? So I’ll try to also read something polytheistic to cleanse my mind just in case, and center myself in our Gods. When I find a good piece of Christian writing though, I will add it to the florilegia I typically keep. Likewise any other writing including secular. If it helps, it helps. I try to read or meditate on something like this a little each day. I ask myself what this can teach me about my own practice. What can I learn? How will this deepen my relationship devotionally to my Gods? Lately, also, I’ve been spending a great deal of time contemplating our [Norse] creation story. I think this is maybe the most important part of our lore and every time I meditate on it, I go more deeply into it and come up with greater insight. It refreshes my practice and it’s this that taught me that when we do ritual or prayer, we’re reifying the moment the Gods came together and set the architecture of the worlds in motion. It taught me the deep need to align our wills and our hearts and our souls with our Gods too in every possible way (even if we have to keep plugging away at it for the rest of our lives to get it right).
Sometimes in the morning there is a small ritual I do as a spirit worker, but that is a simple greeting to all the Powers with some minor offerings. I also tend our household Lararium and make offerings (usually candles, water, coffee, or liquor) to our ancestors.
In the evening, on most days (we miss here and there), we gather as a household and pray. There’s no set time for this: we pray as long as we feel like praying and often conclude with prayers for those in our families and household who are sick or struggling, or the well-being of those we love. There are also certain prayers of protection we do regularly.
Lately, and I’ve just gone back to this after a fairly long absence, I’ve been trying to make special offerings and prayers to whatever Deity rules the day. For Heathens, Monday is Mani’s Day, Tuesday Tyr’s, Wednesday Woden’s, Thursday Thor’s, Friday Freya or Frigga’s (we honor Them both), Saturday a day for cleansing. Originally in Latin it was Saturn’s day. Personally, I tend to give special offerings to Loki and Sigyn on this day, and then Sunday of course, is Sunna’s.
Thor is just amazing. I’ve written about Him before here here.
Because today is His day, I intend to pay special focus to Him all day, turning my mind to His stories, His nature, the feel of His presence when He is invoked, and the incredible way that He cleanses away pollution and evil as though it were nothing at all. He truly is the great Protector of humankind. I want to center my day, each day, around gratitude to the Powers remembering always how deeply blessed I have been in my life. It changes the way we move in the world to think of these things, to consciously choose devotion, faith, and gratitude, to choose to cultivate that which most benefits our devotion to cultivate. I pray to this God of strength and fortitude, that I shall always have the strength to make the appropriate choices in these things, especially when it is most difficult. Here is a prayer that I have written for Him today:
Today, I want to call You by Your English Name: Thunor, God of Thunder, Mighty Hammer Wielder, Friend of Humanity, and Protector of all the worlds. You protect our sacred places, our groves and sanctuaries and most of all the shrines and holy spaces of our hearts that we may lay ourselves down before our Gods in adoration, in love, in deepest gratitude without fear, without hesitation knowing that You, Great-Hearted Husband of Sif, Generous beyond measure, will always guard our comings and goings. You are a loving Father to three joyful children and just as You would no more allow Them to come to harm, so we too may rest securely in Your watchful care. Oh God of the oak, God of holy places, God of the mound, I shall never for sake You. Please, I pray, watch over my ancestors, those of blood and those of spirit. Grant that our dead may rest in peace, strengthened by Your care, the vitality only You, son of Odin bring. That is my prayer for today. I am so grateful for the chance to honor You, so grateful for the chance to pay You homage. Hail Thunor, Thor, Thunder-riding God of Asgard.