I’m going to apologize in advance because I think over the course of the next few months, I’ll be promoting and talking about the experience and tools I use as a spiritual companion. I graduate from the Cherry Hill Seminary Spiritual Direction program in March. I’m excited to be free, take on as many clients as I want, and begin to work as someone who works as a guide and witness to those who want someone beside them on their spiritual journeys.
One thing I have noticed and am trying to prepare for is that in its conception, spiritual direction is normally seen as a Christian practice, though almost every spiritual director I’ve worked with, spoke with and learned from is either very accepting of other religions (and find beauty and each) or simply not Christian. Spiritual direction, or as I prefer to call it, Spiritual Companionship is about more than religion- it’s about finding the Divine, whatever you define as Divine, within your life and sharing that journey. To learn more, you can visit my blog post about spiritual companionship here.
As a Pagan woman, a polytheist and witch, I studied with Cherry Hill because I wanted to learn how to take this practice of spiritual direction and transform it into a spiritual companionship for myself and others that could be seen as Pagan. I want the unique views and beliefs of pagans to be honored and respected- and I want magick to be integrated into the process.
Have you ever heard of the term Lecto Divina, or Visio Divina? The two divinas are based on a simple concept- prayer. If anyone tells you that pagans don’t pray, they are very much mistaken. Prayer is nothing more than an invocation of deliberate communication to an object of worship. Pagans pray to their Gods, they pray to Nature, they pray to their Ancestors. There are different forms of prayer as well- adoration, contrition, gratitude, and devotion- I’d argue that most pagans tend to not participate in contrition as often, for the obvious reason that things like sin don’t exist.
Lecto Divina simply means divine reading. Traditionally is a four part exercise- You read, you meditate, you pray, you contemplate. In this, as you can see, there’s nothing innately Christian about this practice. It was intended to be used with the bible, but honestly, it can be used for any book, or reading material. I’ve known pagans and witches who use Lecto Divina as a form of divination- they take a book, turn to a random page, read a passage- and go from there. But you can also use this, I think, as a way to hear important messages. Reading a passage, and then meditating on that passage. What was the message of the passage? What was the deeper meaning, and how does it touch you, affect you?
Then you can move on, saying a prayer of gratitude- who comes to mind? Is there a God or Goddess you hear? An ancestor? Let them know your heart and spirit is open. And for pagans, this part doesn't need to be anything more than letting the Universe itself know you are listening.
And that’s when contemplation comes in. Contemplation is reflective thought. How does this passage, and your meditation and your prayer come together?
Visio Divina means divine image, and is sometimes described as Praying with the eyes. The practice, while used more rarely, is the same, only you are going to look at art, or nature, or even a moment in time such as pictures. And it’s the same process as Lecto Divina, only you are looking at something.
Both of these can be done at home, alone, of course. You can also go to a museum, or anywhere with books, art, photography, and even go to the woods. I love to do this camping, finding a space that’s quiet and stirs something inside. I’ll sit with my journal, and study it (or sometimes take a picture and come back to it at a later date.), and then journal each of the stages. It’s been a very comforting practice, a reminder to myself that the Gods, and Spirits and Ancestors are everywhere. It keeps me in touch with my sacred self.
But it’s also something we can do within a spiritual companionship session. It can be your own art, a book nearby, a book I have, even a google image search. One of my cohort members uses an AI art generator using words his companions used in a short meditation. I’m not keen on AI art so instead, I found that I could do the same by entering all the words in that mediation in google and bring up real art. For example, we did a meditation where we listened to music. I wrote down words that the music evoked within me- sacred, wild, forest, flow…etc etc. I entered all those words, plus art, and got some nice pictures. I picked a few that called to me, and used those.
It’s made for some fantastic journaling (not to mention some nice art inspiration.) It’s also allowed me to go deeper within myself- sometimes shadows are revealed, sometimes realizations, both good ones and bad have come out. This is just one tool we can use in a spiritual companionship session, and if it's not something that you would resonate with, it's not something I'd use. There's certainly a lot more tools out there- and the real secret is that we don't need any tools at all. Some of my best sessions with others have been simply talking, with me simply listening.