I recently submitted 2 prayers for the Goddess Saga to Her shrine and to an agon held for her by Galina Krasskova. While discussing this submission with a couple of friends, they asked me how I go about writing prayers because they currently prefer to use pre-written prayers or just talk to their Gods on the fly (both of which are perfectly fine, btw). I thought I would answer how I go about Writing Pagan Prayers in a blog post because there isn’t a lot out there – most people I find just say “write from the heart” but if you feel stuck this can create a cycle of worry for some of us as we want what we write to be pleasing to the Gods, which is a tall order.
Before You Write Pagan Prayers
First, I want to encourage you not to worry about your own writing skills.
I read somewhere, I can’t remember where, that what we offer the Gods is received and admired in much the same way as a mother accepts the finger-paint creations of her toddler.
Now that I am a mom of a toddler, I completely understand this. My child’s creations are beautiful in that he worked hard and is very proud of that work and longs for my praise of it as I pin it to the fridge. However, I know my child’s “masterpieces” are not comparable to those that hang in great museums.
In the same way, even our greatest pieces will never compare to those the Gods create – see the beauty and magnificence of our world and our bodies and the cosmos. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t create our prayers and writings and art though. It means we try our best because the purpose isn’t for praise of mankind but to honor the Gods.
Secondly, there are different kinds of prayer based on what the prayer’s purpose is. There are prayers of adoration, or thanksgiving, requests, etc. When deciding to write prayers, its important to keep the purpose of said prayer in mind. For example, the 2 prayers to Saga I mentioned before: one was a request prayer for Her to help me as a writer and the other was a prayer of Thanksgiving/adoration in praise of Her and all She is.
Three, prayer is a powerful thing. That being said, I agree with a common devotional polytheist concept that a little bit regularly is better than a lot only once in a blue moon. Don’t worry about writing an epic poem or novel of a prayer your first time. Not only is this difficult it also might be difficult to pray on the regular and put you off prayer all-together. it is better to use a short prayer you can say mindfully every day. Also, don’t go into writing a prayer with the believe that the Gods will hear and swoop in to solve all your problems. your problems will still be there for you to put in the work to deal with after your moment of prayer has ended. the difference is that cultivating a regular devotional practice changes you, not the problem.
How to Write Pagan Prayers
To write pagan prayers there are a few things you need to keep in mind going in:
- The purpose of the prayer (praise, thanksgiving, request, etc)
- Who you are praying to
- Where are you praying (is this a formal occasion, public prayer, holy day event, personal, etc)
- How are you praying (is this meant to be a daily prayer, used for prayer beads, chanted with drums/instruments, or said only once for an occasion such as a holy day or request)
Once you decide all of this, you can consider what style and wording is best.
Choose what you are most comfortable with. Start small if you feel intimidates. As small as “Thank you, [Deity’s name].”
Look at prayers other people have written. These can also include poems, stories, art, songs, and essays on the Gods – not all prayers are obvious. I have 2 songs that I often listen and sing for Odin – Twa Corbies and Alfahirhaiti.
Look at stories about your Deity for inspiration including names and titles they are given. I find a lot of my own prayers are inspired by names. Saga I often call Lady of Lore and Mistress of Words. These titles show up in my prayers.
Examples of Pagan Prayers
One example is prayers said over prayer beads. Making my prayer beads, I chose prayers written by others and ones I wrote for myself. One of the ones I wrote is for my ancestors and is more of a blend of affirmation and praise.
“Praise be to my Ancestors.
I am the result of ten thousands. I am the result of my Ancestor’s strength and love.
In all I do, may I be mindful of Their example.”
Short and sweet, right? This is something that is said repetitively with mindfulness as I use my beads as a sensory item to help me along. These sort of short prayers are great for when you want to memorize and repeat the same words over beads or in a chant.
An example of a longer prayer that I use on holy days or when I’m doing special devotions to Frigga, a Goddess beloved to my heart is actually inspired by a form of Christian prayer – an adoration.
“Adoration is perhaps the highest type of worship, involving the reverent and rapt contemplation of the Divine perfections and prerogatives, the acknowledgment of them in words of praise, together with the visible symbols and postures that express the adoring attitude of the creature in the presence of his Creator. It is the expression of the soul’s mystical realization of God’s presence in His transcendent greatness, holiness and lovingkindness. As a form of prayer, adoration is to be distinguished from other forms, such as petition, thanksgiving, confession and intercession.” ~ Bible Study Tools in reference to Adoration within the Catholic Church.
Adorations are often repetitions of the ways in which the God or Goddess appears and often includes their epithets or various names and titles.
And then there are prayers that are long and intense because our experiences of deity are intense. Raven Kaldera is an excellent poet and a devotee who’s praise of his Gods is beautiful and inspiring. The following prayer to Hela is a longer piece that I wanted to share here not to intimidate you but to show you that there are of course instances when longer, poetic prayers are called for.
A Final Word on Writing Pagan Prayers
Write from the heart.
Sit for a moment and feel the love for your Gods and write from that feeling.
Pray. Even if all you can say is thank you, I love you.
Prayer is powerful magick as any of us who have been in the darkest pits of our own personal hells know.