Everyone has morning routines.
Even if you’re the kind who rolls out of bed, splashes water on your face, and puts on the first clothes you find before heading out the door, routines are built into that.
With just a bit of a tweak, you can turn that morning routine into a ritual that starts you off with a bit of magic, a connection to higher powers, and a great setup for the rest of your day.
What are Routines?
If you look up the word “routine” in the dictionary, you will find the following:
- a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program;
- something performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason;
- something organized for automaticity.
In short, a routine is a set of activities you do every day, day in and day out, regardless of the day of the week or the day. You do them so often that you don’t even think about them anymore.
I love my morning routines. I complete them every day, weekdays and weekends, no matter the season. In fact, if I miss my morning routines for any reason (everyone has had their morning disrupted by a dog barfing on the rug, a baby whose diaper mysteriously fills just as you’re heading out for the day, or an alarm that gets ignored), I feel unprepared, and even cheated. Here is my typical morning routine:
- Wake early (5:30 am at the latest) before everyone else; Wash my face;
- Make a cup of coffee. While the coffee brews, I load stray dishes into the dishwasher and start a load of dishes;
- Light candles and incense in my breakfast nook and get out my journaling materials;
- Do a daily tarot pull (1-6 cards, depending on my reason for the reading) (one of my cats has usually joined me on the bench by this time);
- Continue with whatever ongoing research I’m doing (right now, I’m studying goddesses of justice and the kether [crown] sefira);
- Journal, make my schedule, pray and set my intentions for the day;
- Add items to my altar to correspond with my intentions;
- Walk my dog and talk to the sun, moon, planets, stars, and whatever wildlife greets me.
If it’s a work day, there are a couple of steps after this (make breakfast and lunch, say my goodbyes to whoever is still sleeping). But this is how my day starts, no matter what the date. These are my morning routines – and they are also rituals. Let me tell you why.
Why My Morning Routines ARE Rituals
When I first started on my path to the Great Spirit, I thought meditation was something only seasoned yogis do well and that rituals involved fancy incantations, moonlight escapades in the backyard (my poor neighbor…), and maybe secret potions. Then one day, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Magic & Alchemy by Tamed Wild, and heard one of the co-hosts, Kristin Lisesnby, state that the best way to add ritual to your day is to look for the magic in the ordinary things that you already do. What a relief!
Let’s compare the definitions of routine and ritual and see how we can turn the first into the second:
We can see that routines and rituals differ in one important way: the why. The same ordinary action, such as the first sip of your morning coffee, takes on a more metaphysical, spiritual meaning if done with purpose or intent. The intent might be increased mindfulness (e.g., feeling the warmth of the cup in your hands, smelling the aroma of the fresh brew, sipping the first sip, noting the way it feels in the mouth), or it might be your gratitude toward something greater than oneself (e.g., giving thanks for the quiet, the new day, fresh opportunities, and comfort). If you’re walking the dog because it’s what you do every night before bedtime, that might be just a routine. However, if you take the time to talk with your dog, greet the moon, look for Jupiter shining in the night sky, and feel the energy of the stars rejuvenating you, you might be engaging in a bit of ritual magic, especially if it’s the way you end your day every day. This ritual closing of the day takes on a spiritual meaning when done with intent.
The Benefits of Morning Routines and Rituals
Scientists have studied the many positive results of morning routines, including increased productivity, creating a positive context for the rest of the day, increased energy and feelings of control, decreased feelings of stress and forgetfulness, and improved relationships, confidence, and flexibility. Adding the element of intent focuses the energy of the routine into a specific area: mindfulness routines, such as making your bed, sipping tea, or writing in a journal focus that energy on connecting with your inner self (the “shadow self”), while setting the table for breakfast, filling the bird feeder or lighting incense focus that energy outward, toward others or the divine.
Turning Your Mundane into Magic
While there is always a place for that special ritual, such as lighting candles at a shrine or participating in a baptism, everyday tasks can become magical when done with a spiritual purpose. Let’s look at ways to turn your morning routines into rituals, and make your world a little more magical.
Create a table with three columns. Start by listing 5-7 tasks you do every morning without thinking about why, in the first column (maybe this is your FIRST journal page?). Next to each, write why you do it. If you don’t know, leave that blank. In the last column, think about how each could be an opportunity to connect to yourself, others, or the divine. Choose one of your routine tasks, and practice doing it with intention every day for a week, two weeks – however long it takes to feel you are now doing it with purpose. Be grateful. Be thankful. Be mindful and aware of changes in yourself, in your view of the world and of others. When you feel the magic, add another ritual to your day.
What’s Your Favorite Morning Ritual?
I’d love to know what your favorite rituals are for starting your day. Better yet, what routines did you turn into rituals, after reading this post? Drop a picture and share in the comments below.