I had a request from a covensib to write about balancing your spirituality with other areas of your life. My knee-jerk response to discussions on that subject is: Your life is YOUR life. Do what you want. If you want to be an “8 sabbats a year” Pagan, then do so, and don’t let anyone guilt trip you to be otherwise.
But then I thought on things a bit deeper.
While I still firmly believe that there’s no need for us to play “holier than thou”, I’ll also admit to being a bit envious myself of the beautiful altars on Pinterest and the folks that talk about the hour-long devotionals they do every morning. Most mornings, I’m lucky to wake up early enough to have 5 minutes to talk to my husband and scritch my cats between the ears before I have to throw clothes on and run to work.
Then I remind myself that people do carefully curate their online lives, and I don’t need to compare myself to anyone with regards to my spiritual work. I answer to myself and to the Gods. I don’t need a photospread-ready altar. I don’t need to spend hours in prayer that are better spent on other tasks.
So there’s a balance point: Finding good balance in your life is up to YOU, and as much as other people can inform or advise, in the end, it’s got to be something YOU can reasonably live with. If you’re like me and you aren’t going to get up at 5AM to do devotional rituals every morning, then DON’T. You’re just setting yourself up for failure if you decide to do something you know damn right well you aren’t going to do.
There’s a fine difference between pushing your boundaries and sabotaging yourself. Learn where that line is, and stay on the positive side of it. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way loads of times, about things both spiritual and non.
But let’s go a little deeper still.
The real root cause of this unease about balancing spiritual and mundane responsibilities is because we want to separate the two things. But when everything we do can be a spiritual undertaking, then everything is in harmonious balance.
I realize that sounds like new-age bullshit. But hear me out.
If we, as Pagans, believe that everything is sacred, then can’t everything be reframed as something spiritual? Cleaning the litter box can become a devotional to Bast. Cooking dinner can include simple spells to protect and nourish your family. Mopping the bathroom floor can utilize water you’ve charged to keep your family healthy.
Devotionals don’t need to be an hour-long complicated ritual at an altar. They can be a short prayer while you’re brushing your teeth, a blessing of your salad at lunch, a dedication of your cardio at the gym to the warrior Gods.
I love good ritual as much as the next person, but I find that the simple, everyday acts of spirituality and piety are just as meaningful. Maybe more so, because they are much more personal acts. There’s an intimacy to them that I feel builds closer relationships with the Gods than big fancy rituals do. It’s the difference between taking one friend out for a cup of coffee and inviting that friend to a big party.
So then, the question of balance becomes more one of piety. How much integration do you want between your spiritual work and your mundane life? How important is your spirituality to you?
Again, there’s nothing wrong with being an “8 sabbats a year” Pagan. There’s no litmus test for piety in Paganism, beyond what individual groups might expect as terms of membership, and those should be laid out clearly for you before you decide to join any group.
But if you find yourself struggling with how to find room for more piety in your life without upsetting other delicate balances with work and relationships, then I think the place to start is looking for where you can make the mundane sacred, instead of trying to live a double life of “regular person” and “spiritual Pagan”.