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Author Topic: Going through the motions  (Read 2910 times)
HeartShadow - Cutethulhu
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« Topic Start: May 12, 2007, 12:30:30 pm »

What do you do when religious ritual feels like going through the motions and there's no real point to it?

Have you ever had a "long night of the soul", and what happened when you came out the other side?
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« Reply #1: May 12, 2007, 07:22:10 pm »

Have you ever had a "long night of the soul", and what happened when you came out the other side?
Alright, I'll be the first to put something out there. I'll try not to be too long-winded in my story.

Absolutely, I've had that experience.  I went through a very long night of the soul a few years ago.  In a nutshell and without making everyone cry, I lost my beloved one who was the first pagan that I connected with on a spiritual level (I had been a closeted solitary prior to this).  Because this was something we shared, I really had a hard time with spiritual matters after he passed, even after all the other hurts had healed.  I'd acknowledge my beliefs without acting on them in any meaningful way and I would not do anything formal (the last circle I cast was with my departed friend the night he passed).   I finally went into a spiritual shut-down and stopped practicing for a long period of time. 

Fortunately, for me, my deities didn't give up on me. A friend came into my life with very similar beliefs to mine and we'd talk about all things spiritual.  Our talks got me longing for that spiritual connection I'd felt before and helped bring me back into meaningful practice.  I'm not sure even today that she realizes just how much she helped without ever uttering a single word of advice. I emerged on the other side with a faith stronger than ever, a new relationship with my deities, a sense of release, and a best friend who is sister and soulmate.  Happily, there have been no more dark nights, even when I've felt my faith was being put to a test.

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« Reply #2: May 12, 2007, 09:03:57 pm »

What do you do when religious ritual feels like going through the motions and there's no real point to it?

I went through this several years ago.  I started to feel self-conscious and ridiculous dancing around and waving my hands in the air.  I started to feel like I was only doing it for the dramatic effect.  So I stopped, not practicing just the rituals.  That's when I began simply having deep meditations with a candle and incense and I began to reconnect spiritually.  Now I rarely have rituals.  Every now and then I'll have a celebration (music, drumming, dancing, etc.), but my actual ritual observances are now only me, a candle, incense, and the goddess or god I'm honoring.
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« Reply #3: May 12, 2007, 10:09:27 pm »

What do you do when religious ritual feels like going through the motions and there's no real point to it?
 

Keep doing it, because when you come out on the other side, you'll be glad you did.  <g>  I speak from experience, lol.  There have been days when that was the only familiar bit of routine I had, and, while my head wasn't in it, my heart still was, deep down, and when things were better, I was happy that I hadn't given up on that. 

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« Reply #4: May 13, 2007, 12:22:24 am »

What do you do when religious ritual feels like going through the motions and there's no real point to it?

Have you ever had a "long night of the soul", and what happened when you came out the other side?

I find when I just can't feel the ritual it's usually because I need my energies focused elsewhere.  Usually I need to either just meditate, or I have some sort of drain on my physical energy that is drawing away from my spiritual energy.
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« Reply #5: May 13, 2007, 10:21:44 am »

Keep doing it, because when you come out on the other side, you'll be glad you did.  <g>  I speak from experience, lol.  There have been days when that was the only familiar bit of routine I had, and, while my head wasn't in it, my heart still was, deep down, and when things were better, I was happy that I hadn't given up on that. 

This is how I am, every once in a while I'll have a day or so when I really don't feel like doing my devotions. I do them anyway, but it feels like I'm just not in it. I've never had a really long period of this.

I actually had the sort of opposite, where spiritually I was really growing and changing, and physically I was just *not* there. Mentally, emotionally, physically I was depressed and ill. But spiritually I was growing, and my spirituality was the only thing that got me through the physical issues I was facing.

I went through this several years ago.  I started to feel self-conscious and ridiculous dancing around and waving my hands in the air.  I started to feel like I was only doing it for the dramatic effect.  So I stopped, not practicing just the rituals.  That's when I began simply having deep meditations with a candle and incense and I began to reconnect spiritually.  Now I rarely have rituals.  Every now and then I'll have a celebration (music, drumming, dancing, etc.), but my actual ritual observances are now only me, a candle, incense, and the goddess or god I'm honoring.

I always do my rituals in the way you described; you're not alone. I feel absolutely ridiculous doing the "standard" rituals, or even speaking out loud. I found ways around that and now, I simply don't do it that way. :p
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« Reply #6: May 15, 2007, 12:20:56 pm »

What do you do when religious ritual feels like going through the motions and there's no real point to it?

Have you ever had a "long night of the soul", and what happened when you came out the other side?

When I hit those points, I tend to give myself a break.  I have a habit of working really hard on something, concentrating and pushing at it until I'm just sick to death of it and questioning everything.  So I wander off for a bit - read stupid romance novels and stick my head in the sand.

Usually within a few days, or weeks depending on how exhausted I am, something will move my soul.  A piece of music, or a flower, or just a friend reaching out to me and I'll pick up again.  Not necessarily where I was before, maybe steps backwards or even on a different path, but spirituality will come back into my life.
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« Reply #7: May 31, 2007, 01:50:46 am »

What do you do when religious ritual feels like going through the motions and there's no real point to it?

Have you ever had a "long night of the soul", and what happened when you came out the other side?

I'm just coming out of something like that right now.

Once upon a time, I used to try very hard to pray to all my six gods at once on near the beginning of the month at the stroke of midnight. Not because I had researched it or anything, it just was because it was. Overtime, I got lazy and started doing this once every other month...then once whenever I'd remember...I always felt bad that I didn't keep it up, but I figured it was my ritual, I'd do it when I wanted.

I found, though, when I stopped completely, that that was when my doubts would erupt with more force than usual. But, aside from a brief bout with atheism, I managed to keep on trucking in a less formal, more "peaceful state on the bus" kind of thing.

I love that my faith is so portable now, but I want to get back into ritual again. Who knows, maybe it's cyclical.
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« Reply #8: May 31, 2007, 01:52:59 am »

but my actual ritual observances are now only me, a candle, incense, and the goddess or god I'm honoring.

You see, that's why I need this place. Just as I was reading that, I got a semi-exasperated "Hmm...maybe that's what you need." from TPTB. Grin
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« Reply #9: July 18, 2007, 06:24:55 pm »

What do you do when religious ritual feels like going through the motions and there's no real point to it?

Have you ever had a "long night of the soul", and what happened when you came out the other side?

I've definitely felt this way on a few different occasions, times when I seriously wondered why I was doing what I was doing, if I actually believed what I was trying to practice, and if I wasn't just possibly totally nutty.

For me most of these unpleasant events were an announcement that what I was doing just plain wasn't working and I had to stop the spiritual shoehorning. At least once however it was an indication that something was wrong in the non-spiritual sphere and I should stop trying to ignore that problem by focusing on religion as a smoke screen.

I got through most of my "long nights" through radical change, I discarded ideas and practices that really didn't work for me, searched for new ones that did, and through this process I think I've gradually gotten closer to where I belong (even if it's not where I thought I should be), and this has helped me have fewer of those periods of doldrums.

Getting out alone into nature is another way I've found to break out of the long night. I find the uncertainties of over thinking an idea, the self-consciousness that comes from believing something out of the mainstream and the personal doubts don't stand up well out there, the trees and the sky are immune from spiritual confusion and I think that rubs off a bit.  Smiley 
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