This last weekend I attended a weekend workshop by RJ Stewart and Anastacia Nutt which is the Oak, Ash, and Thorn workshop for Faery work. I highly recommend their classes if you are wanting to learn more about magic in general as well about working with the Faery. In any case, they made some interesting points about oaths and offerings, which I want to share, as well as my own considerations of what was said. I've included pictures of my finished dragon tattoo, which is an offering I made to Dragon to honor his role in my life.
In regards to oaths, RJ noted that the stereotypical treatment of oaths is that when an oath is made, if its broken dire consequences occur and that it's implied its entirely on you to honor the oath. However he offered a different perspective on oaths, wherein an oath should be made in good faith, but that both parties need to do their part to honor the oath. In other words, if I make an oath to a particular spirit or deity, it's both on me and the deity to honor the oath. He said that the effort should be 50% from both sides. Not only did I find this to be a much more sensible explanation of oaths, but I also think there's some value to approaching oaths in that way. If an oath is entirely on the head of the person giving the oath, then there is an imbalance already involved because who or whatever the oath is being made to is expecting everything and providing nothing. On the other hand if the deity is also contributing to the upholding of the oath, then what occurs is a genuine relationship. I don't think I've come across an explicit explanation such as what RJ offers, but I find his explanation to make the most sense and certainly to be a better one than the stereotypical definition offered about oaths.
In regards to offerings, RJ noted that the reason spirits want food is because they get something back from our process of manifestation. The spirits can't cook food, are responsible for the initial growing process. However when we cook food we are doing something they can't do and changing the nature of the food, and this provides them a kind of sustenance or energy as a result. He recommends making an offering a week, and suggests moderation in this practice. Again this is something which makes sense to me and I like his approach to this particular practice. I have been integrating offerings into my daily work via the form of a prayer of thanks, but his suggestions about offerings are ones I'm also going to integrate.
I recognize that other people have their own perspectives on offerings and oaths, but I find that RJ's perspectives are what resonate with me, and I think it is important to discover and recognize how a given principle of magic manifests in your life. It may manifest differently for you than it would for others, or you may find that one definition makes more sense than another. Different people will have different perspectives on what works and why it works...the key is to find your own and understand and implement it.