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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Simple Sacrifice

Sometimes magic and our relationships with spirits need to be touched through simple things. These simple things should not only be those that we are weaving into the regular occurrences of our lives but rather things in which we find the magical in our lives. I’m not going to write about all such spaces in which we can do this but just give an example or two.
          Sometimes we can do things as simple as walking around outside and talking with the elements of nature and the spirits thereof. This not only reminds us that the living magical nature of the world around us does not only exist when we do magic – it is something which surrounds us at all time; but it also reminds those spirits we know them and they know us and we have bonds with them.
          Similarly, if you have some touch point for your ancestors or household spirits or gods near the entry to your home, speak to them when you come or when you go or both. Again, they’re not only there when you do magic, they watch over you always and are part of your family and your household. In my own practice, I have a picture of my father, which my grandfather had made for me after his death, that hangs on the wall immediately upon entry to my home. I great the picture every time I return home from going anywhere. My ancestor altar is also in the walkway as I enter my home, and so I greet my ancestors whenever I return home. With this greeting I thank my father, my ancestors, and my gods, angels and other allies for all help they have given me in recent times.
          Sacrifice crowns the title of this piece and so I should perhaps reference sacrifice. We often think of sacrifices as big things, or things where we give up something close to us. This is not always the case. It’s just to separate something out, to make it sacred, and give it over to the gods or spirits which aid us. It’s a moment where we can give a gift, and we can show respect, and when it is woven into our lives it becomes a moment where they participate with us in life. It’s a moment where we turn our thoughts to them outside of more formal ceremony.
          So, I have two examples to give, which are really essentially the same thing. In many cultures fat and bone were the objects of sacrifice. Meat was for mankind, but the glistening fat and the rich smoke that rose therefrom was desired by the gods. When cooking we often have meats with much extra fat. Whenever I cook chicken, sometimes when I cook beef, there is fat to be cut off. I imagine this would be the case with pork and mutton, but I don’t cook those. When I’ve cut the extra fat away, I take out outside and burn it as an offering. I usually make a prayer like this, “May the smoke of the fat rise and please the gods, may the ash fall upon the earth and please the gods of the underworld and the dead. May they be pleased with this and be pleased with me and pour their blessings upon me.” When cooking ground beef, the fat which cooks off into grease I’ll generally drain off and let cool. Then I go to a spot that receives offerings pour out this fat, with the prayer “May the fat of the animal become the fat of the land, may the spirits of nature, the gods of the underworld and the dead receive its richness, and may they likewise pour their richness upon me.”
          Simple, right? Not everything needs to be complicated. We can find simple options. I like this because it’s part of something as normal as preparing a meal. It’s part of an essential daily activity, so it brings our spiritual life into those daily activities. It also allows us to make meaningful something that we might otherwise cast off. There are a lot of other things you can do with fat, if you prepare other foods, or compost or whatever other useful thing, this specific act may not be for you, but the idea is there. Find small things that tie your spiritual life to your daily life.

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If you would like to explore more of my ideas on magic please check out my book Living Spirits: A Guide to Magic in a World of Spirits, and keep an eye on this space for information on my new book, Luminarium: A Grimoire of Cunning Conjuration, which will be coming out soon.

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