For the most part, people are spiritually lazy. Even the fundies who spend more time protesting, planning protests, and praying for the conversion of everyone is doing it ALL in vain. The Neopagan community is not a good example of a pious people either… most only celebrate their pagan ways at the turning of the year or at festivals. What happens when they go home? Do they, in the excitement and fervor after a weekend of preparing, discussing and sharing, go home to their altars and continue that energy? If so, for HOW long does it last?
Most people approach Deity out of convenience or when in need. It’s a sad fact but the Gods are used to it; over the course of human history there have been a plethora of worshipers only fulfilling sacred duties, going through the motions without right intentions. I have an eye for these folks at public rituals and events; they are the ones looking awkward or talking too much to over compensate for their lack of experience. Because really, there ARE those in the Pagan community who are actually doing stuff every day, every week, every month and year without need of a holiday. I think the only exception to this group of Pagan procrastinators might be the African Diaspora Religions; such as Vodou, Santeria, Umbanda… they all are VERY dedicated to keeping their Deities and Spirits happy.
I get so irritated by the folks who don’t “get it”: they create altars to every Deity they find interesting and try to create deep, meaningful relationships with each so they can receive blessings. By spreading themselves so thin whilst trying to serve several masters, they usually end up not making the time actually needed for true connections, there is no advancement on their paths. These are the magickal and Neopagan folks I see who always have troubles and woes; the ones who spend more time on Facebook knit-picking and trying to call each other out than serving their Gods. On the other hand, constant offering and feeding of spirits, deities and ancestors is not something that is necessary to have a fulfilling spiritual life either , not to mention nearly impossible.
But those who DO practice prayer or any other pious activity DAILY tend to have a stronger connection to Deity because every time it occurs the bonds between them are reinforced. This relationship goes one step further in Druidry, with the concept of ghost-i ; banking up the offerings and prayers like credits in a slot machine which might pay off someday. Daily giving without future motivations is humble and more appreciated by Deity, making for a richer praxis.
I believe Piety is something which requires self-discipline, cognitive thinking and a passion/love of Deity. I do not give so I can receive later, my gratitude extends beyond love into a devotion I enjoy daily. Tending the shrine, cleaning, talking to my icons, washing them and sometimes oiling them down… much care goes into choosing the right colour schemes, flowers, incense and other preparations become more than mundane acts of accumulated religious paraphernalia. The very ACT of thinking or executing the prayers begin a chain of events which, if kept up with in the momentum, will eventually become easier and more frequent. It takes 40 days for something to become a habit, for our brains to create those new neurological pathways of behavior and thinking. If a prayer is said every day, a candle is lit, or a moment of presence is acknowledged for 40 days, it will become second nature.
I have been so busy thinking about piety that my prayer work and devotional offerings increased. For the last week, I have been involved with learning to be a medium, traveling trances, reciting prayers, singing songs and engaging in conversations related to pious activities. I became so engulfed in my own shrine flames that I forgot to write my blog post, which is another sort of piety…. a devotional act to my Muse and Self , an oath honored and a promise kept.