Retreats, Rants, and Priorities

When last we left our hero Kalagni was proving eir inability to make reasonable decisions and had entered into a tantric retreat while working.

Anyways, I survived. The retreat was, not surprisingly, rough and tough and emotional. To make matters worse near the end I was told to complete the retreat a week early, meaning adding in about a thousand extra mantras per day.

It was definitely intense, and I can’t wait to do the next one.

Even though I finished a week ahead of schedule (a week before solstice) I’ve been decompressing and processing the experience since then. The retreat itself was a big event, but it’s finished with a fire puja, which is a long elaborate ritual of burning offerings. I spent two hours in the snow and slight drizzle invoking gods into a fire pit, and throwing food, alcohol, flowers, a hell of a lot of melted butter, and more into a fire. It was awesome, I cried…not cause of the ritual, because I had thick viscous black smoke in my eyes for a lot of the ritual.

One thing that came up with people before, during, and after was the fact that people often say to me things like “How do you manage to make time for all these things?” or “I wish I had the extra time to spend on my practice.” Here is the thing that bothers me, so here beginneth the rant, it is very unlikely that you don’t have the time, the thing is you’re not making it a priority. Don’t blame your life, you’re choosing not to do these things in most cases. I didn’t have a casual extra three hours a day to spend in my basement calling up gods and saying mantras, and there are things that would have been more fun, and more practically productive, at least short term, that I could have been doing. The thing is I make my magickal practice a priority.

When I did the Abramelin I had a fulltime working commitment, but still managed to dedicate nearly five hours a day to the ritual. Currently I work, volunteer, and go to temple three times a week (doing stuff unrelated to the retreat, and each temple session is a three hour minimum commitment), and I still managed to set aside two to three hours a day for the retreat. I even went out of country for a few days to spend some important time with friends, and still had time to follow through with my commitments.

How? It’s nothing special, I’m not saying it as a point of pride, it’s simply a matter of priority. Cut down the time you spend on email/twitter/facebook/youtube. Don’t watch tv, drop your hobbies, stop playing games, whatever. You probably work 8-10 hours a day including travel time, sleep another 8, you spend maybe two hours a day between preparing and eating food, one hour doing chores, that’s still 3-5 hours free. And to be honest most people spend less time preparing and eating and doing chores, and most people don’t sleep as much as they should. Your day is filled with all this time, it’s just a matter of prioritizing it. Even when I was at my friend’s place I made the retreat a priority, and as much as I loved spending time with everyone there, I still would excuse myself for a few hours a day and hide in a secluded area to do the ritual.

We’ve become a culture that often treats our entertainment as a right and necessity, and our commitments as choice. It should generally be reversed. Remember when you were a kid and your parents said you could go outside and play, or watch tv, but only after your homework and chores were done? That’s how we should treat our spirituality, especially if we’re trying to do something intense, or make time for a retreat. When you come home from work, don’t hope onto the computer or watch tv, go to your altar and do your prayers and mantras for the day. Don’t settle down to knit or play video games until your commitments are done.

It’s tough, you’ll miss your hobbies (but probably not as much as you think), you’ll have to really ration your social time with friends/family, and you might have to let things slip a bit. (Apologies to my neighbours about the state of my backyard during the retreat) But if you want to take your practice seriously, you have to treat it as seriously as anything else, if not more so. It shouldn’t be this boredom activity of “oh, I have an extra twenty minutes before bed, maybe I’ll meditate and talk to my Patron,” it should be something that you’ve made time for, that’s scheduled into your life, and everything not a necessity comes after.

If you don’t make the time for your gods, why should they make the time for you?

3 Responses to Retreats, Rants, and Priorities

  1. […] Think magick and spiritual practice takes a lot of time and effort? Of course it does. It’s all about priorities. Check out Kalagni‘s wonderful rant, “Retreats, Rants, and Priorities.” […]

  2. Just discovered this blog (and am loving it). This post just nails it. Seriously, this is it right here. Problem is, we want to “feel like” doing our practices. It gets so much easier when we accept that feeling like it has nothing to do with it. Just do the work and reap the rewards.

    • Kalagni says:

      Thanks, and I completely agree. I liken it to exercise a lot of the time. Most people don’t /want/ to exercise everyday, they want to be in shape and be healthy…so working out becomes a priority, and they, as you said, reap the benefits. Magick and spirituality are the same.

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