Sometimes They Take What they Want

Interesting discussion going on. First, Jason over at Strategic Sorcery talked about offering disposal. Then Gordon at Runesoup took up the topic with a more general overview of the economics of offerings. Both are well worth a read (although honestly, do I have a single reader who doesn't already read these two blogs?).

The one interesting aspect that wasn't covered is the ability of certain entities to take offerings for themselves.

When you make offerings to higher beings (angels, deities, major land spirits) that you're interested in working with, you are setting up a symbiotic relationship. More than just an economic transaction, you're asking to create a bond. But this can work in reverse as well.

Imagine that you live near a large river. The river's original name was "The Great River" in the local languages of the people who settled its banks thousands of years ago. The river has a huge body of mythology and folklore built up around it.

Of course this could be, literally, any river in the world. The particular river I'm thinking of was created during a punishment for a greedy trickster God who would insist on having his way -- though morality and punishment are always slippery when you're talking about a trickster -- and was once crossed by a landslide called the Bridge of the Gods.

Now the river is part of your landscape. You wade in the shallows and swim in the tributaries. You eat the fish from its waters. Maybe you have a boat, or even work on the water. You have a symbiotic relationship with the spirit of this river. You have one whether you like it or not... whether you even know it or not. What kind of relationship will you have? Will you be greedy like the trickster? Will you be punished for your greed?

Or maybe it's a mountain. One that was home to a malevolent demoness. Transformed by a Buddhist monk into a benevolent Goddess, the local mountain people know that this being still requires the appropriate attitude of respect and honor. Perhaps you decide you will climb this mountain. Leave your detritus and shit on her flanks. Are you in symbiosis or are you a parasite? What else will you leave above the clouds?


When I discovered Paganism in the mid-80s, one of the mythologies was that the "Old Gods" (tm) used to demand human sacrifice, but that now they didn't so don't be afraid, OK? Along with "never again the burning times" and "witches don't even believe in the devil" these are good PR, but not particularly accurate.

It's not impossible for spirits to up and decide that they have a relationship with you. Maybe it's because of where you live or something you do. Maybe it's just something about you that strikes them. A call you put out a long time ago that you don't even remember. A place where you connected and now the spirit of that place is like "is that it? don't you owe me?" If we are taking these beings seriously, the question isn't should I be doing offerings, but who did I miss?

Because sometimes they'll take what they want.


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