It seems (and I have been guilty of this myself on many occassions) that in the morning we are all in a rush, rush, rush to start the day and get out the door. Where it becomes valuable to get those last few minutes of sleep possible, and further causing a state of rush, rather than giving yourself a leisurely time to get started. As for me, I try to always give myself 2 and a half or 3 hours in the morning to get everything done that needs to be done before I have to be in at work. That means if I have to be at work at 9am, I am getting up at around 6 or 630 am in which time I can enjoy breakfast and coffee, give myself to become mentally “here” and so on. Now what might this have to do with religion? Well this is the perfect time to do an early morning prayer in front of a shrine/household altar. To focus on the gods and what blessings that they give us during the day and how we might work to prefect our own lives. Of course this being after the morning abulations for cleanliness. It gives a sense of focus during the day, even if you don’t necessarily bring out the incense and libations, just a few minutes praying to and praising the gods is highly valuable. Once I started doing this I noticed a change in how I approached the oncoming day…it was not the concern and anxiety over the oncoming haggard hustle and bustle but rather a calmer and more focused greeting of what I needed to accomplish. I suppose you can say I feel more “grounded”, or “centered” as some folks might call it. And on a day off it can give a certain sense of purpose or direction in the context of a slower pace that you can fill with those things give you joy. So I say savor the mornings: wake up early, wash up, eat breakfast and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee, and spend some time with the gods. It is worth it!
Right now I am doing this morning prayers in front of my shrine for Artemis and Apollon, but ideally I would like to move alot of this activity over to the family altar for which I would like to do a large scale painting of the 12 Olympians to sit over it. The personal shrine to Apollon and Artemis is a great part of my daily devotionals, for light a candle, share a bit of incense and spend a bit of time with them, but I think that alot of this activity is best reserved for the family altar where all the gods can be honored more effectively! And to briefly revist what I have said before about oils versus incense, I would like to make a slight amendment for that…for the shrines I often prefer stick incense over the oils because the shrines are not the place where I am doing actual ritual activity (libations and the full nine yards) but are more of personal prayer centers in which stick incense is a bit easier to incorporate. However, that said, I don’t buy the cheapy sticks if I can help it but prefer the nice quality sticks from India and Arabia (sadly I ran out of the Arabian sticks that I had brought home with me!). So even I am adjusting and tweaking my own daily practices that will likely result in first homage to Apollon and Artemis and a bit of incense and prayer, and then more focused and longer period with libations etc at the family altar as a beginning to my day, and ideally for the end of the day too. I am constantly in the process of trying to bring my personal religious experience into a greater state of meaning for me! Now I just need to get together 70 or 80 dollars for the canvas for the painting of the Olympians 😉