Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Bit About Offerings

Recently I was speaking with a friend of mine, and she had something she wanted to ask me regarding magic. She's a Heathen and has a special relationship with Vali. She was concerned about her spiritual practice, felt stuck, frustrated, and even came close to dismantling her shrines!

So I gave her some advice I give to anyone wanting to deepen their spiritual lives: Daily practice!

Specifically, I outlined some central daily practices I do, including:
  1. Connecting to the spiritual cosmos around me.
  2. Giving offerings.
  3. Meditation.

Today, I want to talk about #2: Offerings. Previously I've stated that offerings are one of the cornerstones of my magical practice, and that still holds true. It's honestly one of the most beneficial practices that I think any magical practitioner can do.

Before I began the practice of offerings as taught by Jason Miller, I didn't get the point or even see why it was needed. If deities are already all-powerful, why do you need to give offering to them? But through Jason's teachings in Strategic Sorcery, I discovered a little secret about it: It's not always about the offering itself, it's about the relationships you develop!

See, there are all kinds of things you can give offering to. Anywhere from the whole of existence, to those gross, awful spirits that sneak around like villains in an old monochrome movie looking for someone to fuck over. The effect offerings have on each of these is different depending on what they are. As I learned it from Jason, I consider there to be four “Classes” of spirits in regard to giving offerings:
  1. The Transcendent Divine - The Pleroma (Fullness Of Existence); Transcendent deities; ascended beings (like Buddha, Jesus, and others); etc: This category doesn't benefit from offerings, per se, but it's kind of like a child giving a horrible-looking drawing to their parent. The parent still pins it up on the refrigerator and goes on about how great it is. Again, it's about the relationship!
  2. Personal Gods & Famuli - Deities one works directly with; One's ancestors; spiritual familiars of the witch or sorcerer; guardians of the spiritual path one is on. This class doesn't require offerings, per se, but they get something from it.
  3. All Regular Spirits - The Average Joes; elementals, nature spirits, the Fey, land spirits/wights, the wandering shades of the dead and those trapped in the in-between spaces: This class gets a lot of benefit from offerings and can become fast allies through this practice.
  4. Dire & Wrathful Spirits - These are the boogeymen waiting in the shadows of the spirit world, waiting to inflict harm and curses on anyone unlucky enough to cross them, but it also includes spirits you've offended or hurt just by living your life the way you do. In this case, offerings help make reparation for offenses, like the proverbial olive branch, and also calm the wrathful nature of these beings toward you.

As you can see, many spirits gain benefit from giving offerings, but there is also the relationship you develop from it. Think of it: If you were constantly prolific in contributing to your community and worked to improve it...wouldn't you be remembered across that community with fondness?

The only caution Jason advises in Strategic Sorcery about these classes is that if you are going to give an offering to #4, also call classes #1 and #2 first.

But, some may do you give an offering? Just set some stuff out and verbally say it's theirs? Sure, you could do that, but that doesn't necessarily make the most of it, in my opinion. So here is what I do, based on what I learned in Jason Miller's Strategic Sorcery course.

The Gesture Of Offering

It's really simple: You hold both hands next to each other in front of you, palms up and more or less flat. If confused, imagine that you are using your hands to hold a large plate in front of you.

Ocean Delano's General Offering

This is given as an example, and is based on liturgy in Strategic Sorcery. This is what I use when giving my routine offerings.

Rub your hands together for a moment to sensitize them and pull energy into them. Now imagine rays of light with hooks on the ends shining out from your heart. Imagine that they draw the denizens of the spirit world to you as you speak the following call:

Whisper, “Arise.”
Speak, in normal tone, “Arise.”
Call out, “Arise!”
“Arise, you spirits both near and far!
Spirits of the Empyrean Heights and the Infernal Depths;
Of the silent, still earth and of the vast, flowing waters;
Of the whirling, blowing air and of the hot, burning fire;
Guardians of the work and you famuli bound to me;
You Fey who dwell unseen;
You dead who haunt the In-Between;
Those spirits whom I have offended,
And those wrathful beings waiting to harm and obstruct;
Especially those spirits of this very place in which I dwell!”

Make the Gesture of Offering. As you do so, release a cloud of energy, willing it to multiply infinitely and transform into what is most wanted by its recipients, as you speak it below:

“I praise your names and I give forth offerings!
May they multiply and fill the ten directions!
May they take on the forms that fulfill your hearts' desires!
Come, partake of this offering and let us be at peace.
Come, take your fill, and be thus fulfilled.

And that's it! Trust me, this does work, and it is appreciated by the ones receiving it. This is a general offering that covers a broad range of beings. It can easily be adapted to even individual spirits, following this general method:

  1. Sensitize your hands by rubbing them together.
  2. Call out to the spirit you wish to offer to.
  3. Through the Gesture of Offering, emanate a cloud of energy, will it to multiply infinitely, and to take on the form of that which the recipient wants most.

Using This With Physical Offerings

But what if you want to offer something physical, like incense or wine? No problem!

In the above example, we willed the emanated energy to multiply and transform. You can also do that to the spiritual aspect of physical offerings. You can even use the four elements plus spirit to purify and prepare the offerings. What I will usually do is hold my hand over the physical offerings, and then with my imagination...

...see the offering engulfed in fire...
...see air blowing out the fire and blowing away the ashes...
...see water washing the offering clean...
...see the offering multiplying and filling all known space...
...see the multiplied offering becoming mutable, reflecting what is most wanted by the guests I will call.

I normally have some liturgy I use with that, but it's really simple and mostly consists of verbally affirming what I visualize.

So how do you put this into practice? What I normally do after purifying and preparing the physical offering, is simply set it in front of me. If it's a candle or incense, I'll light it. Then, I'll perform the call and the gesture. Alternatively, I sometimes hold the physical offering in my hands during the gesture, and then set it down.

Before I move on, I'd like to address why someone would even want to use a physical offering. Some spirits actually derive pleasure from physical offerings. There are spirits known to “eat” scent, for example. Also, it seems to me that including a physical offering gives more substance to the overall offering, and so it's a good idea.

In short, offerings of energy and mind are fine in a pinch, while physical supports can carry even more weight in many cases.

What To Offer

So, knowing the “why” and “how” about the “what”? There are tons of different things you can offer to spirits. Some prefer some things, others prefer other things. Here are some common ones:
  • Incense
  • Wine or other alcohol
  • Food
  • Flowers
  • Symbolic objects

This can be an important point to consider, because some spirits and deities could be offended by some types of offerings. In Strategic Sorcery, if I remember correctly, Jason gives an example that one would not want to offer meat to nagas. Likewise, with spirits of the dead, cool water and light is a good offering, but unless you want them to get rowdy and wrathful (and there are applications for that kind of thing) alcohol might not be the best idea. Especially if you're offering to spirits of the deceased who were alcoholics in life.

Ocean Delano's Short Guide To Choosing Appropriate Offerings

Ask the spirit or deity, themselves! They'd be the best information source for what they like. :-) But if you don't have that opportunity, here is what I advise:

  • Try to choose something that is appropriate to what you know of their nature, but don't give something they are known to produce. That would be like someone handing you a cup of your own urine. For example, offering honey from local bees to the spirit of the land they live on? Nah, maybe give something else.
  • On that note: Research! There are plenty of online resources with tons of good info on what different deities like or don't like. For instance, with Hekate, it's easy to find that she likes eggs, honey, bread, cheese, etc. For Dionysos, wine! (because D'UH!)
  • In my experience, some types of physical offerings are appropriate to a large range of spirits and deities: Frankincense & myrrh combined; water; wine; bread; light (eg candles). Also, Brother Moloch swears by a candle dressed with spearmint oil as a generally good offering no matter the spirit or deity. Personally, I often give some of my favorite nag champa incense as offering, tying it to the symbolism of giving something I personally cherish and value. That symbolism comes across and can be appreciated by spirits and deities, but you should still consider their preferences as well.

In Closing

That's about all I have to say about offerings. They can be as complex or simple as needed, whether it is silently given or a big, elaborate ritual; it can include physical offerings or just energy and will.

Almost all of what I've written is what I learned from Jason Miller's course “Strategic Sorcery”, and there is a lot more there than I have included here. So if you're interested in learning more, consider signing up. It's some of the best money I've ever spent. I also want to give a big thanks to the man himself! Since this post contains things that are in the course, thus restricted normally, I'm very grateful he gave me the go-ahead to post this content. Thank you, sir.

And for final mention, I especially wrote this for my Heathen friend whom I mentioned at the start of this post. So, Anne, I hope that if you do use some of this information: may it multiply and fill your life with blessings of what you most need. :-)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this, it neatly summarizes a number of points about offerings. My question would be about the ways a practitioner dispose of physical offerings after they have been made. Incense and candles burn, but what about more stable things like flowers, water or alcohol? Should these be disposed of ritually? Can the practitioner drink the water or alcohol that has been given as an offering?