Daily meditation anchors a spiritual practice irrespective of one’s tradition. Reserving time to cultivate calm, focused awareness provides space to release tension, investigate emotions, and observe the passing of thought and sensation. Mindfulness contributes to living skillfully as well as the practice of witchcraft and ceremonial magic. Cultivating mindfulness of the body, mind, and emotions enables one to choose their reactions rather than be driven by impulses and habits. A daily habit teaches the discipline needed prepare rituals, practice regular devotions, and observe celestial cycles. By taking time to sit still and observe, one learns to recognize their inner voice and distinguish mystical insight from self-deception.

Pagan traditions reconstructed from pre-Christian Europe lack any instructions in developing focused awareness. In fairness, the traditions of Celtic and Germanic pagans are largely lost, with no trace whatsover of daily observances. On the other hand, practices that train concentration, choiceless awareness, and visualization appear in later European occult traditions such as Rosicrucianism, and Christian asceticism embraces devoted and solitary contemplation exemplified by the anchorites. Theosophy introduced meditation practices appropriated from Buddhist and Yogic traditions, but Theosophy, and the New Age movement that replaces it today, distorted those traditions heavily to capitalize on colonialist fascination with “the exotic.” If a contemporary Pagan wants to develop a meditation practice not informed by Christianity or cultural appropriation, they have few options.

Buddhist traditions contain many forms of meditation, but the form given in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta serves as the foundation for many of them. The Buddha and those who hold his lineage saw value in teaching meditation alongside metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. As a missionary tradition, Buddhists have been active in spreading the Dharma and its practices. While one can be born into a family of Buddhists, one may declare themselves a Buddhist by taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. While some Buddhist lineages have deep ties to their home region or maintain elements of a mystery tradition, many Buddhist lineages have freely offered instruction in meditation. The Zen tradition in particular arises in China, the result of Buddhist missionary travel from India, and spreads from there to Korea and Japan. As such, Buddhism offers the means and instruction for anyone who wants to develop a regular meditation practice, even Pagans.

The absence of a mystical tradition deprives Paganism of more than techniques. Traditions that include meditation also incorporate practical insights into their metaphysics, epistemology, and theology. Rich models of consciousness and lucid phenomenology originate in the wisdom derived from the experience of meditation. Buddhist sutras contain descriptions of successive stages of realization leading from initial concentration to deep investigation of experience. Literature on the cultivation of elevated states helps deepen one’s practice by providing techniques and analytic frameworks. While we all must walk our path, our way is easier when we can follow the tracks of those who have gone before.