During a recent weekend intensive, I was talking a group of particularly intrepid explorers through the fundamental elements of magical ritual. On the morning in question, I was focusing on the final piece of the puzzle, the aspect of surrender, and emphasising the importance of closing a ritual by handing the desire or intention for which that ritual has been done over to the divine. “It’s not your job anymore; you’ve done your working in the present, your work is done. Now is the time to entrust it to the Universe; the future is her job, not yours.”
On the other side of the room, a face lit up, and said “I’d never considered that before, that it could be someone else’s job, that it’s not all just down to me.”
I know the feeling. The work that is Making Love with God came out of a time in my life where I had hit rock bottom, and was convinced it was my job, and my job alone, to make things better. A born coper, raised to be acutely independent, I was striving every day to “get it right” – whilst everything around me was going wrong. I’d get knocked down, cry it out, and get right back up again. When change came, it came in part in the realisation that, in trying to do everything myself, I had been keeping the divine at bay. I had, effectively, been treating God like a consultant; when things went wrong, I’d call on her to fix them, and fix them just so, and in just these ways, and then I’d get right back on with doing it all by myself – which is how I subconsciously believed I “ought” to be doing things.
Asking for help has never been my strong point, and it took a crisis for me to finally realise that, in trying to do things solely solo, I set myself up for failure. The moment I accepted I couldn’t do things by myself, I felt something akin to a shaft of sunlight inside me. In the months that followed, I began to allow for the possibility that God was less an on-call consultant, more an ever-present co-conspirator in my life and my desires. Needless to say, everything changed.
I call the practice of doing what I can in the present, and then entrusting the future to the divine, ‘Handing Over’. It’s a vital part of magic as I teach it. It’s also an invaluable everyday practice in its own right, and not just for creative projects or big prayers; it’s a great way to lighten the load of the myriad little things we allow to weigh us down. The last few months have proved pretty stressful in my world, and have reminded me just how much I need to make time for prayer practices like handing over. In this post, it is my intention to share some of the small and simple ways I enact that practice in my daily life.
Handing over is really all about intent. It’s all about being able to imagine picking up your worries and placing them in the hands of [insert unconditionally loving cosmic being/phenomenon of choice here], and trusting that [what you inserted before] is already taking care of it. If I’m in the middle of things, I do just that; I imagine taking what’s troubling me into my hands, and placing it in the big loving hands of Goddess. If I’m at home, and I’ve been wise and self-caring enough to make “altar time” – which is to say, time for spiritual practice before the altar in my room – I have a few extras I might call on to help with that intention.
Once I’ve made a start – which might look like calling in divine help, having a chat with/offloading onto God for a bit, getting present through deep breathing and listening – the first part of this practice is gathering up all the components of the thing I want to hand over. I have quite a lot on my mind at present, so when I was doing this this morning, each of the things I was handing over had several fears, anxieties, and hopes attached to it. In order to gather up the components of each one, I use breath and visualisation, breathing into my hands, and imagining the elements of what I’m praying about flowing out of my body, down my arms, and into my palms. Once I’m ready to let go, I might simply place my hands on the altar, and imagine my troubles draining from them. I might do something similar by putting my hands on the earth and asking her to take this from me and recycle it into something nourishing and useful to the world.
Or, a favourite if stuff feels really heavy, I might hold a candle (usually a tealight, so I can do a few of them), breathe all those hopes and fears into that candle, and light it up. This is very basic candle magic; you can add additional elements such as carving words or symbols into the candle in question, anointing it with oils, choosing a specific colour to represent what you’re letting go of/calling in, and so forth. This morning, I was guided to first breathe my fears about each thing that was weighing on me into the corresponding tealight, and then say a prayer over it for the outcome I was hoping for, before lighting up.
You can also release your prayers through writing, either writing down what is troubling you and then burning it (flash paper is excellent for this); writing the things that are weighing or wounding on your body in water soluble paint and then very intentionally stepping into the shower (the first time I came across this idea was a ritual in Fiona Horne’s little book of girly witchery 7 Days to a Magical New You); or, one I re-purposed from Abraham/Hicks, writing your to-do list in two columns, one entitled something like What I can Do, and the other What I Ask God to Do. I like to place that last one on the altar once I’ve done all I can do for the day, and then walk away.
Experiment, see what works for you. Once you’ve handed over whatever fears, hopes, desires, prayers you want to release into the cosmos, take a moment to just be still and breathe. Increasingly, I notice that if I’m in a hurry to move after a practice like this, I am guided to stay put, and take the time to breathe, and to receive. To allow. To let what I’m desiring in.
A very simple and beautiful way to receive came to me via a lover, who used to say that this practice and the Grand Canyon were the two things that convinced him of the existence of God. I include it below for your experimentation and pleasure:
Gently close your eyes.
Allow the breath to become a bright wave that washes away the thoughts and tensions in body and mind,
that cleanses the feelings and fears in emotion and spirit,
and carries you joyously, gently, down
into the warm welcoming darkness of yourself.
Let the layers and the distractions float away from you on an ocean of breath.
If you find yourself drifting, just smile and gently breathe yourself back in.
If you come across thoughts or feelings demanding your attention, give them breath, make them welcome,
and then let them soften and release their hold on you.
Breathe yourself in.
Find a still, quiet place within you.
Focus on it.
Let it fill your awareness.
Let your awareness fill it.
And let God love you.