Disposal of Ritual Offerings
A common question that comes up is the matter of how to dispose of offerings made during a ritual once the ritual has concluded. Disposal methods may vary, depending on a few things. For instance, does your particular magical tradition require you to dispose of offerings in a certain way? Also, what is the offering? Organic materials can be disposed of in different ways than non-organic offerings. Finally, does the spell or ritual itself include a method of disposal? Consider all of these factors when you’re deciding on how to dispose of a magical offering.
Let’s look at some of the different ways that you can get rid of an offering you’ve made:
Earth & Water
If your offering is an organic item, such as blood, fruits and vegetables, tobacco, or other plant material, you may want to consider burying it. A garden is a good place to do this, particularly if you have a compost bin, because the nutrients will go back into the soil as the offering biodegrades, continuing the cycle of life.
Some people choose to bury non-biodegradable items as well, such as candle stubs and incense remnants, but if you do this, you should make sure you do it in your own yard. Disposal of organic items into a moving body of water, such as a river or the ocean, is acceptable in many traditions as well – make sure, though, that you’re not putting any non-organic materials in the water. Use your best judgment here.
The Power of Fire
Nearly any ritual offering can be disposed of by burning. In some hoodoo traditions, burning an offering is considered part of the ritual itself – for example, Cat Yronwoode says that to destroy an item’s influence, it can be burned in the ceremony. You can also burn ritual offerings such as meat, bread, and other foods.
Sharing With Wildlife
Got a pile of seeds and nuts you used in your ritual? As long as they haven’t been tainted with anything toxic, you can feel free to scatter them outdoors for the local critters to snack on. One Indiana Pagan named Apollonia says, “My coven does a lot of rituals that make offerings to grain gods, so we always have a lot of bread left over. Typically, the day after the ritual, I’ll take it to a local pond and leave it out for the ducks and geese. They consume it, and the life cycle of the grain continues on.”
Also, don’t discount the science of nature itself. Some offering items can be left out until they go away on their own. For instance, if you make an offering of consecrated water in a bowl, eventually it’s going to evaporate. If you do an outdoor ritual and you’ve offered herbs and flowers, those are going to blow away at some point, and find their way to a new home.
What About Icky Things?
Sometimes, let’s face it, we do a working that involves something negative. Maybe you’re trying to banish a pesky former lover, or you’re trying to get that crazy fundamentalist lady down the street to leave you alone. In cases like this – particularly if you’ve created a poppet – you may want to get the item as far away from you as possible. In cases like this, simply because of the nature of the ritual, you may want to go ahead and find a place such as a landfill, a port-a-john, or some other foul place to be rid of the items. Just make sure you’re not putting anything into the ecosystem that is going to cause damage down the road.
In the matter of spell components, you may not always want to permanently dispose of the items right away. Depending on the purpose of the spell, you may choose to hide the item in someone’s home, bury it in your own yard, or tuck it into a tree. Obviously, your disposal methods are going to vary depending on the ritual or working itself, and on the nature of the ritual offerings that you need to be rid of. Use common sense, think outside the box, and find a way to adapt to each situation as needed.
Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
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