Religious Practice While You’re Sick

By Eric Rolph at English Wikipedia - English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, love taking topics for my spiritual blogs from my actual experiences. For my friends, it’s no secret that I’ve been knocked down with the serious strain of flu that’s been going around. This has naturally put a dent in my practice, much to my frustration.

Obviously if you’re sick, injured, or otherwise not feeling your best, your first duty is to get well, through whatever self-care you can apply. But if you’re like me, and your spirituality is part of your self-care, part of what keeps you well and whole, how can you tap into that while you’re sick? These are some ideas I have tried.

Prayer: I find myself spontaneously praying a lot. Not the formalized, memorized types of prayers–although I find those very comforting!–but just brief sentences in my head or under my breath, especially when life is hard. Sometimes “please help me” is the most powerful prayer you can make. Don’t feel like you can’t pray for help healing, no matter how “minor” you think your illness or injury is. In my experience, the Powers want very much to support us!

Physical Comforts: A lot of my spiritual practice is grounded in physical sacred objects. Deity images, figurines, ritual tools, natural objects. I’m very tactile and sometimes just holding a set of prayer beads or a special seashell is enormously comforting. When you’re too sick and exhausted to even formulate a prayer, just touching your altar or looking at a sacred image can form a connection. For others, there might be different senses to be engaged. I used to brew a special tea only for rituals, so that I would associate the taste and smell of it with spiritual workings. Maybe a candle or incense, if they don’t aggravate your airways, would be a nice connection. And yes, I’m going to say it so that someone else who would be comforted doesn’t have to feel embarrassed: even stuffed animals or dolls can have a spiritual connection for you, and holding one can be enormously comforting. I have used them to represent Gods, Ancestors, and animal spirits, as spirit houses, and even in magical workings.

Asking others to pray for you: When I’ve been in the hospital or facing something serious, I have always asked others to pray for me, and been very glad when folks have offered. When you’re too tired, miserable, or in too much pain to do it for yourself, having others pray on your behalf, or even better, sit and pray with you, is such a lovely way to connect you to both physical and spiritual community. It’s like knowing the Powers have your back and that people in your life love you. I can’t recommend it enough.

Listening to a spiritual podcast or reading a book: If you’re up for it, taking in some spiritual programming can be a nice distraction from how crummy you feel, and help you to stay connected to your practice even when you can’t physically practice anything.

Just remember, you don’t have to do anything other than rest and get well, so please don’t take any of these ideas as some kind of yardstick of “being a good Polytheist”. Whatever you’re going through now, I hope you feel better soon!


One thought on “Religious Practice While You’re Sick

  1. Last night, I had plans to do a small celebration for a particular spirit. But then I got this horrendous headache. The spirit told me not to but I argued with her a bit. Then I concluded that I don’t want to reproduce capitalism in my religious practice and force myself to do a thing even when I am ill. So I appreciate this post.

    ALSO I love stuffed animals and still sleep with some. I definitely have one associated with a particular group of spirits. Action figures can also be good for associating with a deity or spirit.


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