Ritual, Routine, and Prayer as a Guide for the Subconscious

In Manifest , I mentioned some basic philosophy around manifestation, authenticity, and facing one’s fears in order to heal one’s subconscious emotional material, effectively stopping this emotional material from influencing your actions and beliefs, thus allowing you to consciously craft beliefs that are more aligned with what you are manifesting.

The next step in the process is action.

For me, the difference between a good day and bad day can be as simple as waking up at 8 or 9 o’clock versus 11:30. The sense of time lost and things not done from waking up late gives me existential anxiety, perhaps worsened by the fact that I just turned 30. In truth, I’m so excited to be thirty. My twenties…well, they were fun but I’d never do that shit again. I feel like I’ve barely come out this side alive and even then I’m still standing here catching my breath. If my life were a video game I’d say I like to play on hard mode with nineties cheat codes and my twenties were like Laura Croft on PSP, good idea but the controls sucked and the rebirth of the franchise went to shit until PS3. Get it? 3? Like 30? Three is where it’s at.

All joking aside though, the number 3 is a big deal. The rule of 3 in Wicca is that for every finger you point at someone else you have 3 more pointing back at you. We celebrate and acknowledge three in the concepts of mind, body, spirit. We name three in calling upon the Mother, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 3 is known as the holy trinity.

In Betty Bethards Dream Book: Symbols for Self-Understanding, the text says, “dream has a spiritual message.” One excellent way of discovering our subconscious fears and working through them gently and easily is with dreams.

Try this, before going to bed at night, intend with a conscious breath, to dream tonight. Sleep with a journal by your bedside, and perhaps some mugwort (either tea or you can burn it like sage but it smells kind of like weed. Don’t drink mugwort tea if you are pregnant). If you have a dream book, great. If not, I would recommend being choosy about your book if you are going to try this out. My mom, her mom, and my sister and I have all used the same dream book, the one by Betty Bethards mentioned above, and it has made for some great conversation between my sister, mom, and I. The symbols are numerous, simplistic (which is good), and follow a Jungian archetypal model, so I believe many people in the western world can subconsciously identify with it’s symbols as they are as cultural as they are individual. I tend to think that the simpler and more common the definitions, the less suggestion is involved and the more we are allowed to interpret the meaning of a dream on our own. So, that’s the next step. Write down the actions of the dream, the sensory details, whatever you can remember upon waking up. Then look up the symbols in a dream book that you resonate with and see if you can uncover the story your subconscious mind is trying to work through. Write down a story about it. Connect the dots. Craft meaning. Doing this as a daily practice has had tremendous results for me, allowing me to stay present during the day, conscious of my self-talk and my inner narrative/dialogue, and dreaming regularly does wonders for creativity and opening the third eye chakra if that’s the kind of lingo you’re into. This is also a tremendous way to practice crafting a conscious narrative about your life, something that does change yourself and the world as you influence and are influenced by it. Perception is half the battle or half the fun depending on how you look at it. Ha.

Which leads a bit into the next point: Ritual/Routine.

Oddly, we can train ourselves like dogs. We are creatures of habit. When I work on the line, my line is set up the same way every day because if we get busy, I want to know where the pickles and the squash and fennel and dressing and dessert and cheese and sauce and fig compote and everything else is at without having to think too hard about it. Having things in place (mis en place) and knowing one’s mis en place can be the difference between a smooth service and a disastrous service. If I know where things are, I’ll put a salad together without even thinking about it, leaving my mind open to listen to expo, call back, organize plating next tickets, whatever. It just makes life easier.

Similarly, ritual is as effective, if not moreso, in changing our minds and behavior as routine. Routine is good as long as you are working for what you want or what is good for you…whatever. But sometimes we find ourselves in routines that need to be broken.

Ritual is like holding a tuning fork to one’s heart and soul. I like the good old fashioned Wiccan practice of drawing a circle around me, thanking each of the elements and each of the directions, and then simply clearing my head, asking for guidance, and meditating for a short while, focusing on my breath. Holding my hands in prayer at the heart chakra or palms up on the knees is centering as well.

I very much like to use crystals, herbs, cups, candles, incense, and or sage in my rituals because giving ourselves sensory reminders of what intentions we are setting during the ritual creates more neural pathways to this memory of setting this intention and therefore reinforces it.

If a ritual like this is too hokey or woowoo for you, something as simple as a bath, a walk, a sit at the park, a meal, or a dance can be a ritual, so long as you set an intention.

To me, routine is the track and ritual sets the direction, so if you find you are in a routine that is taking you the wrong direction, ritual is a great way to reset the arrow. Doing a big ritual on a full moon with some friends full witch style or just going to a body of water by yourself to take a dip are just as effective.

Try this: Get a piece of thread or string that is a pleasing color to you. Tie it around your wrist or ankle and just let yourself feel what the color inspires in you. If it had a word what would it be? If you could picture yourself feeling this way, what would you be doing? Where are you? Now, every time you notice this thread, stop and let yourself breathe in that picture.

Here’s the deal: if what you are picturing is very much out of alignment with your life, you’re probably going to start noticing those blocks. For instance, if one notices the thread in a business meeting, imagining a trip to Thailand could feel awful since you are not in Thailand and won’t be for quite some time. This then equates negative emotions with the envisioned vacation and, if you ascribe to the notion that emotions are the tuning fork for the frequency one is manifesting, the response from the universe is vacation=badfeels and we do not get vacation.

It could also be inspiring. The point of this exercise is to inspire but it can backfire. You are responsible for crafting the narrative. Positive breeds positive and negative breeds negative. If you are envisioning something and telling yourself it’s impossible on a subconscious level, that’s the vibe you’re putting out. I might recommend starting with something small, like picturing yourself eating breakfast every morning or something. We often need to prove to ourselves that we can do little things in order to do bigger things, so it’s okay to take baby steps.

I’m fully aware how out there and hokey and bogus a lot of this sounds, but I wouldn’t be writing it down here if I hadn’t tested and practiced these methods for the better part of my life. That’s another story for another form of media perhaps. I’ve approached these philosophies with skepticism and tried them with as much objectivity I could muster and can say that they have helped me and others and my life is richer for them.

Lastly, I will touch on Prayer. Rebecca Campbell in her book, Light is the New Black has an entire chapter on prayer and, indeed, spells out a lot of concepts I touch on here in a user-friendly guide sort of way. It’s a tremendously inspiring book if you are into the concept of manifestation.

Prayer was something I felt forced into. Always. When I was younger, the concept of the ruthless Christian God was lorded over my child psyche and my hands came together in prayer because grandpa said so. I believed for a little while, and then decided being in fear of god was no way to live. I returned to prayer a couple years ago because I nothing was working. I surrendered and prayed to a version of the universe or god or grace as I had come to understand it, and my life changed. Drastically. Quickly. Tremendously. However prayer is something one comes to in one’s own time. I remember being encouraged to pray and finding it distasteful, so if you do not pray, that’s okay. I think if we do come to it, we do so through surrender and sometimes we are not yet ready or willing to surrender our egos to our souls. For my part, prayer, routine, and ritual are the nuts and bolts that were necessary to lay the groundwork for building a better life than the one I was in and remain tools I use to plant the seeds for what life is to come.

Do you have other tools or methods for laying the groundwork? Have you used these tools before?

May you plant some good seeds today and cultivate those you are blessed with.

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