Prayer and Pagans

On my personal Facebook page I get feeds from a few different pagan and heathen (or related) pages and profiles and one that I’ve been seeing just by sheer chance more than others the last few days is one which regularly puts up a daily prayer post… thing… Each day they put up a new thread with some kind of theme, calling it the Xday Prayer Thread.

Being me, I immediately wonder if the word ‘prayer’ applies to what Pagans and Heathens practice?

I don’t mean this in a ‘Oh, prayer is a word that belongs only to X’ kind of way, I mean it in a more technical kind of way – Does my using runes constitute a prayer, even though I am not calling upon (strictly speaking) divine aid to achieve my ends. The runes themselves are a medium by which specific ends can be achieved, sans divine intervention. Which is not to say that runes CAN’T be used in that way, but rather to ask: Does the act of using the runes constitute a form of prayer?

Typically a person thinks of prayer as directly addressing, for lack of a better phrase, a particular divine personage and asking them to do something. The most commonly known… approaches, to prayer are the Abrahamic methods, although from what (very, very little) I understand of other religions such as Hinduism the process is similar (though not exactly the same). In it’s most fundamental form, prayer by this understanding is the equivalent of a beggar on the street holding their hand out and waiting for a passerby to drop a coin in their hand – in this example the person praying would be the beggar and the universe and all the deities within it are the street and passersby.

From what I’ve seen and experienced and researched, Pagans and Heathens are far more direct in their approach to interacting with divinity. A few people I know would say that it is because what Pagans and Heathens do is an exchange of energy with deity (I’ve kept that sentence in its simplest form for the sake of not abusing my / button). A pagan/heathen does ‘their practice’ for a specific thing, to bring about a particular effect for a prescribed purpose. Like choosing the right tool for the job or medicine for the sickness.

So, does prayer apply all that much to Pagans and Heathens? Certainly, there is a shared appellative quality (appealing for help) to Pagan and Heathen practices and prayer, but is there an implication (explicit or otherwise) in prayer that you’re leaving everything up to whoever you are praying to – even whether or not what you prayed for gets done?

This could almost become another long term topic…


4 thoughts on “Prayer and Pagans

  1. I think prayer, moreso in the case of “Wiccans” comes about as spells, really, incantations. I don’t perform these, as I try to sit back and let the “universe” (I don’t always like using that term either! Whatever it is . .. LIFE) do its work naturally these days and whatever comes, comes. Instead of prayer, work for what you want. Then it will come to you.
    How do you use your runes? Is it not a form of divination? I know little about them so hard to comment. I work with the Tarot, and I use as a form of divination, predicting what will naturally come to you, whether you like it or not . . . I did one have a tarot spellbook, but as mentioned, don’t take much to spellwork these days . . .

  2. Not all Pagans work magic. Although prayer usually implies a petition of some kind, to me it’s more about the communication. I don’t use the term “prayer” much but if I do, to me it’s more about making a connection with the All, and taking a moment of reverence. I’d say it largely depends on the Pagan/Heathen. I’m sure some pray, and others don’t. I’ve never been completely convinced by the magic-as-prayer idea, though.

    1. What you’ve raised is related to what I was trying to convey in my original post. In a few ways, if you look at the typical understanding of prayer, prayer can be seen as a method for the ‘every-person’ to ask for what is essentially divine intervention (of one kind or another). I don’t know that I personally could quite go so far as to say that prayer is a definite approach to magical practice, however I do think that there is an element to it that should be looked at more because of its close relation to what can be described as magic.

      I am quite intrigued by your opening line however, I don’t suppose you would be able to elaborate on your thoughts behind saying “Not all Pagans work magic”?

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