At some point in our Pagan lives, we all find ourselves in a situation where we are held back from practicing the way we want to. It can be a because we're living with people who do not understand our religion or practice, or whom we simply do not want to come out to. It can be because we are on holiday, because we have guests over or because we're busy and life is chaotic.
Before I start on the practical, I need to address something I realized. We are held back not only by external factors, but also by internal factors. The amount that external factors like time, space and privacy hold us back is usually directly linked to our confidence level (with)in our practice. Doubt uses the external factors as excuses for not practicing. It's important to realize which of the factors holding you back are internal and which are actually external. Because no matter how many external factors you end up clearing up, if you're still struggling with the internal ones, nothing will change in your actual practice.
That having been said, there are a lot of things we can do to practice our religion within the restraints placed upon us by either internal or external factors. Privacy seems to be the big one. Many of us don't have it and/or are limited to practicing without fire or incense. Time is also a difficulty. Here are some tips to deal with these issues:
- Strip your religion back to its basics and/or find out which practices matter most to you. This allows you to maximize the time and the amount of privacy you have by uncluttering your head.
- Make a portable altar/shrine kit. This is a box, can or any other medium in which you place those things you can't practice without. I have two sets; my original Eclectic one and a Hellenic one. Within my Hellenic box are two tea-lights and a holder, a container with khernips, a container with ethanol, a container with olive oil, a cup for khernips, a cup to burn offerings in, cloth to dry my hands and face, some incense, a hair clip, matches, a little prayer book of the hymns I use most, a spoon and a container of barley. I use this kit when I travel but it can also be used to quickly set up a place of worship and break it down just as quickly. The box can be hidden away when not in use so it does not take up living space, a valued commodity for some people.
- Find substitutes. For those who like to have some sort of permanent altar or shrine but don't have the liberty to do so, find substitutes for the basics of your altar needs. I have seen eclectic altars set up with pebbles, seashells, flowers, pompoms, even Barbies. For those who are not allowed open flame or candles, find substitutes. Electrical candles work just fine and look pretty realistic. Use essential oils to smell and a feather to set the air in motion. Substitutes are not perfect but they get the job done. Often, it's the thought that counts.
- Find religion and/or magick wherever you can. When I have to run out the door, I rarely have time for a complete hymn or even a few words to Hermes for protection while on the road. I do that in the car. I turn the radio down, think of my shrine for a second, recite a hymn or speak a few words and promise to give offerings when I come home safely. Go to the park during your lunch break, be thoughtful of nature surrounding you, even in the urban jungle. Think of Hestia when you cook a meal or dedicate a romantic evening to Aphrodite. Find the basics and for from there.
- Don't be afraid to practice Slacker Paganism every now and again.
- When something works, do it again, and again, and again. This is especially true when you're simply struggling to add meaningful practice to your daily life. Find a moment in the day where you have the time, space and privacy to tend to one of the basics of your faith or practice and try to do something at this time of day, every day. Say a prayer to the Gods before bed. Say a hymn to Hestia during your morning coffee. I read somewhere that if you do something twenty-two times, it'll become ingrained in your routine. I'm not sure if it's true but it can't hurt to try.
These are some practical tips and tricks to make practice easier when you truly want to practice but are not at liberty to do so. If you have other tips to offer, don't hesitate to post them in the comments. If you have a practical problem which isn't covered by these tips, let me know and I'll try to help any way I can. To all struggling; I wish you the best of luck. Don't forget to enjoy yourself while doing it!