In an earlier post on “Calling the Directions & The Medicine Wheel” I shared a definition of medicine wheels, how to move about the wheel, and possible associations with the directions on the wheel. In this post, I share with you methods for composing a prayer to call in the directions.
Prayers are peculiar things that can take on any nature. Just because we call something a “prayer” does not make it sacred. The ego can compose selfish, greedy, unconscious pleas to God. Many people choose not to pray because they’ve become frustrated with these type of petition and gratitude prayers. God doesn’t care about material things or our choice of career. The prayers that include gratitude for things along with requests for things are no more precious. These simply show the arrogance of believing that we have a chance at bargaining with The One.
So, how do we create sacred prayers? It first helps to understand that petition and gratitude prayers are fueled by our fears. In learning how to track how our unconscious fears creep into our prayers, we can actually tailor our prayers to admit and release our fears consciously. Secondly, it helps to have a practice of cultivating your connection with your intuition and your soul. The stronger this connection, the more able you will be to create authentic, spontaneous prayers. If you feel like you are entirely new to tracking your fears and cultivating soul connection that’s okay. Continue on the path of learning and, in the meantime, rely on the written prayers of so many who’ve gone down this path before.
“Do not be anxious. There is no need for you to compose beautifully worded prayers. Use whatever words suit your needs and desires…. But don’t spend all your time summoning up the presence of God…. Simply set out your needs and acknowledge that you have no right to be always aware of God’s presence. There is a time for this, and a time for that. Observe them. Otherwise your soul will grow weary.” – Saint Theresa of Avila
There are some elements of calling in the directions that you may choose to include in your prayers for the directions. How you word your prayer for each of these tasks will vary with your relationship to them. Notice that words aren’t the only elements here. Actions are just as, if not more, critical to your prayer. The cardinal direction you choose to start at is your choice. I recommend going clockwise on the wheel and finishing with all the cardinal directions before going to earth, sky, and center.
- Aligning: To align and show your intent for working with a direction you can very simply face the given direction. For the earth you have the option of kneeling and placing your palms on the ground. For the sky you may choose to raise your arms up to the heavens. In this portion of the prayer you state the name of the direction. It may be as simple as “Spirit of the East”. Some use “watchtower” or “guardian” instead of spirit. You may also choose a more complex name that you have adopted such as “Pachamama” for the earth (this means “Mother Earth” in South America) or “Our Heavenly Father” for the sky.
- Opening: You may choose to demonstrate your openness to greet and welcome in the power of the direction by standing with your arms open and palms facing outward. In a more private prayer you may choose to bow or kneel. You can simply say “I welcome you to our circle”. In my prayers, I typically follow that with the phrase “with open heart, arms, and mind.”
- Invitation: Here is where you can take the opportunity to name the graces or gifts of that direction that you are inviting into your life. “Please bring your graces of new beginnings and fresh starts” would be a perfect prayer to include for the East. Not to be confused with petition, this portion of the prayer helps us name and embrace what we are inviting in. You may say “I embrace/allow/invite your gifts”.
- Gratitude: Although we don’t want to fall into petition and gratitude prayer, gratitude is a valuable component to consider. To avoid saying “thank you for blah, blah, blah” instead say “thank you for your presence”. One way to field test your gratitude prayer is to see if it’s attached to a certain outcome. If you say “thank you for your fresh start” that is an outcome, but “thank you for the guidance and healing you offer” is less results oriented.
At the end of the ceremony it is customary to thank the spirits again and release them. Ultimately the space we use for ceremony is left off to serve another purpose and it is up to us to release the space to its new purpose. Often the ending sounds something like “Spirits we release you. Thank you. Your service today and always is greatly appreciated.”
When saying a prayer to the directions many people like to include an instrument that goes beyond the power of words into the power of sound alone. Shaking a rattle or beating a drum while praying is common as is whistling or playing a flute. Some sing their prayers.
Regardless, it is important to say some words, so that, if nothing else, you begin to practice with the weight of words. Wording prayers like these helps us start to understand how carelessly we throw words about from our minds and mouths. When we actually go to write something sacred we can become tongue-tied. That means that we are not accustomed to saying or thinking in sacred language. It is worth listening to the words of Saint Theresa of Avila and to not spend all of our time summoning up the presence of God, and it is also important that when we do decide to summon divine intervention that we do so with reverence and attention.
About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch
Stacey L. L. Couch is a Spiritual Director who teaches about archetypes and symbolism. Her speciality is working with soul pioneers - those of you who are making it up as you go along the spiritual path. She works with beginner and life-long spiritual seekers. Through working with Stacey, lost seekers find their way home and professional spiritual guides receive mentorship. Stacey empowers people with the ability to explore their purpose and calling. Wisdom found in story, mysticism, and nature provide guidance and healing in her work. She is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.