Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lectio Divina (lex-ee-oh dih-vee-nuh)

Christianity and various forms of ancient and modern witchcraft and paganism have mutually adapted and adopted elements since Jesus arrived on the ancient scene. The lines between are ever so blurry sometimes. Which brings us to: the Lectio Divina (divine reading), which is a Catholic practice that has been fruitfully be adopted and adapted by people of any faith, but I think perhaps especially so by those who practice magic and seek to both hone their ability to focus with intent and also to open themselves to divine and intuitive inspiration.

Although the foundation of this practice is reading, it is the opposite of how we normally read. This practice lets the words open naturally so the reader can enter a text on a very different level. If you are interested in giving it a try, here are some steps that I use:

1. Read. Select a brief passage from a text that is appropriate to your practice. Read it aloud, slowly. Do not be hurried. You might also choose repeat it more than once, perhaps employing a significant number such as 3. Or you might try reading the text with different emphases and tones of voice to see how those changes affect your experience of the text. Note which words or phrases stand out most to you.

2. Meditate: In this context, meditation means holding the text gently and letting yourself explore the effect of it. Play with it. Turn it this way and that. Questions you might employ to approach this time include: What is the word or phrase that stands out most? What annoys you? Inspires you? Does the reading make you physically feel anything (e.g. a sense of light, a tension in the chest, weight, etc.)? Did you find yourself smiling or furrowing your brow? What effects did the different methods of reading convey?

Once you have been able to see your reactions to the text, ask yourself: What does this passage have to do with my life right now? How does it relate to my path and my choices?

Here’s what not to do: Think about context. I know, it seems out of character for me to say that-- but I am not talking about scholarship here-- just one meditative practice. Don’t try to think about the rest of the book, text or surrounding controversies, cultures, histories, debates and traditions. There is no need to go off on a theological treatise in defense of the text. The text is the ocean. Let it roll over you. Let it inhabit you.

3. Pray: Your prayer is your immediate response to the text. Any response is appropriate.

4. Integrate: Rest for a moment and allow the meaning of the experience to sink in. Let the experience change something for you. Do something new. See something differently. At the very least, jot down your insight.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reminding me about Lectio Divina- I've only ever tried it with the Bible, a while ago. Will put some thought into how to use it now :)