Is there Sacrifice in Magic?

rumpelstiltskin Jack wrote an exasperated (but justified) response to the above meme, which has been circulating the magical and pagan blogs of late (evidently). The caption that is supposed to go with this picture is "All magic comes with a price, dearie!" Jack's point is that none of us are being asked to sacrifice our first born children to magic, to get what we want, which in the show is something that Rumple expects from the various people he helps. All we are ever asked to sacrifice is the time we spend learning magic, practicing it and discovering who we are in the process. To my mind that's not much of a sacrifice at all, but then I love studying and practicing magic.

But I think that Jack, and others miss perhaps a more subtle message that is implicit in that statement of magic coming at a price. It's a negative message, a negative belief about magic and what it costs. If you watch Once Upon a Time, magic is treated as this corrupting force, this power that can't really be controlled, which makes the people who practice it become complete asses to everyone. I don't buy it, don't really agree with it, but I see it as an example of mainstream culture using pop culture to comment on magic, to paint it in a very specific light (ironically in the process just making it more attractive). All magic comes with a price...and that price is the sacrifice of your child or something else you don't want to give, but that you'll willingly give for something you prize more. when magic is looked at that way it becomes both something tragic and malicious...pity the magician who has fallen sway to the forces of darkness, while recognizing all over again that magic is something a person shouldn't dabble in.

Given the source, Disney, we shouldn't really be surprised. Look at any of what's been produced and magic is always treated as some force a person can never control, something that will corrupt the person who uses it. But that belief isn't something Disney just cooked up. It's something that was cooked up by the Christians, there way of demonizing the spiritual practices of the religions that weren't Christian.

I don't think there's sacrifice in magic, unless you choose to make a sacrifice (and sometimes that can be appropriate). I think, if you're doing it right, the price is your time and effort, or whatever you agree upon. Certainly I haven't sold my soul to any capricious spirit for the dark delights of magic. Whatever agreements are made are ones that don't demand a pound of flesh or an ounce of soul. It all boils down to this: You decide what you want to give and do...but don't automatically assume there's price. There's only a price if you make it about a price.

Some Thoughts on Offerings

In the latest lesson from the Strategic Sorcery Course, Jason talks about Offerings. It was interesting to read what he said and to see a similar philosophy when it came to offerings, but a different approach to doing offerings. I think his approach works and I'm actually doing it with two entities I'm working with right now.

Ironically before even reading that lesson or starting the course, I'd been doing a weekly offering to Dragon. Each week I make an offering of rice and tea to Dragon. Once a month I do a full ritual, where I paint myself and allow Dragon to do a full possession of my body.

I've also done an offering to Bune, which has involved writing about him on occasion, as well as doing a painting to him, and even incorporating him into my vision board for 2012. In the forthcoming book on wealth magic, don't be surprised if you see his seal on the cover. It's another offering I'll make to him.

In Magical Identity, if you look carefully, you'll see the seal for Purson, another entity I've worked with in the context of time magic. His seal shows up on the cover of another of my books.

I've also offered daily prayers or devotions to different entities I'm working with. So I don't think my approach is all that different from Jason's, but my expression isn't as traditional, at least in some cases. For example, when I was eighteen, I offered my blood (and life force) to the elemental spirits in return for their life force. One could argue it was a bargain, but I don't think of it in that way. I see it as more of a kinship oath, where each person swears kinship with the other person. Certainly my connection with the elements is different as a result of that working and I feel its fair to say that my elemental balancing work is its own offering to the elements.

But another type of offering I do is through tattooing. I currently have five tattoos, with at least two more planned. Some of those tattoos represent life events, but the dragon on my arm is an offering to the spirit of Portland, and the tattoo on my right forearm is an offering to XAH as well as a recognition of my emptiness working. My newest tattoo is an offering to the elemental spirits. By giving them skin, what I am truly offering is an acknowledgement of the highest form. They are placed on my body as a way of acknowledging their role in my life. The next two tattoos will also be offerings to specific entities I've worked with or am working with.

What it really comes down to is making the offerings from a place of sincerity and appreciation. Nothing less will do.

Making an offering

When I was eighteen I made an offering to the elemental spirits and every so often I make offerings to different spirits I work with. Sometimes the offering is an exchange of one service for another, but sometimes its just to make an offering, with no strings attached. The reason I make the offerings is to show respect, but it's also sometimes a release of attachment. An offering gives you a chance to give something that has meaning, but also release you from that meaning. The other day I took my old wedding ring and the handfasting cord off the wall and decided to make an offering to the elemental spirits. I no longer felt a sentimental attachment to either object and I realized I needed to let go of them, to let go of whatever lingering emotions there were that were attached to the objects in question. I took a walk with both objects and found a place where I could make my offering to the elements...and I made it.

The release was palpable, as was the response, a surge of energy that shot up my body after the offering was made. A sure sign of approval as any, and also a release for me. They accepted the two objects, accepted the meaning associated with them, and accepted the value of the release of those objects for me.