Sacrifices and Sympathetic Magic

Like many pagans, sympathetic magic is a substantial part of my personal practice; be it drawings, photographs, statues or other symbolic representations. Although I do work with live plants, incenses, resins, animal remains and more, the real thing is not always appropriate, possible or practical.

My shrine to the Outsider uses battery-powered LED candles and lanterns because its hidden position makes using real fire dangerous-and I rather enjoy the humour of using fake fire for pop-culture magic.
The consumption of large, juicy strawberries is a perfectly acceptable substitute for human hearts in ritual as far as Lilith is concerned, as another example.
Since the issue of live animal sacrifice is a purely hypothetical one for me in my current circumstances, I leave those moral quandaries to be unpacked at another time. What I can do, however, is make symbolically appropriate sacrifices.
Although I’m not a strict reconstructionist, I do enjoy research and adapting ancient practices to fit my modern lifestyle. In this research I found accounts of animal sacrifice substitutes in ancient Greece being made with bread, beeswax and reeds. As the sacrifice of livestock would have represented a substantial financial commitment for anyone who wasn’t particularly wealthy, I imagine these sympathetic magic substitutions would have been reasonably common.
I have a lot of local natural beeswax on hand from making my own devotional candles, so it seemed the obvious material to use if I were to create my own effigies. It turns out carving/modeling straight beeswax is incredibly difficult and my first attempts were an ugly mess. Instead, I adapted my sculpting and casting knowledge to create small dog and bull effigies, sculpting them in modeling clay then creating a silicone mould so they could be easily replicated in wax.
I use the dogs as apotropaic offerings to Hekate as part of a cleansing ritual, since my relationship with Hekate has a strong bent towards cleaning. I’m yet to test out the bulls, but I have one set aside for dedication and sacrifice to Dionysus. Bulls are symbolically rich animals, however, and could be used for any number of other deities or purposes.
Since I was on a roll sculpting, I also made a tiny human heart replica for healing/cursing or whatever else one fancies. My companion uses them for enchanting and enclosing within his taxidermy pieces, which is delightfully creative.

In the future, I’d like to experiment with various additives such as incense or tiny pieces of dried bull (Companion jokingly referred to it as ‘homeopathic bull’) or dog hair. I’m not sure how I feel about using the shed hair of still-living animals for sacrifices since my practice has always had a distinctly necromantic bent. But does using the parts of an already dead animal nullify the effect of a ‘sacrifice’? Is the intent all that matters in sympathetic magic? Food for thought.


A return

I enjoy walking as a form of simple, aimless meditation.
Last night I went for walk along an unfamiliar path, and got thoroughly lost deep in the suburbs.
After some time, I met a cat. A beautiful, muscular and trusting black and white feline, who meowed at me until I noticed it; I was listening to music and may have tripped over it otherwise.
The cat had a message for me.
After I dispensed a payment of ear-scratches, it wandered off.

I sat down on the ground and felt so overwhelmed with fatigue, slipping into a light trance was unavoidable.

In this trance state I was transported to a scene I recognized as one I had painted many years ago, when She was the subject of many of my artistic endeavours.
Lilith, with grey skin, pointed ears, silver hair, and a featureless face except for her large, solid red almond eyes.
In this instance, a long serpent-like tail coiled behind her instead of legs. The way she appeared to me when I was younger was not always consistent, but always easily recognizable.
Before her, She held a brass bowl, filled with blood. She was pouring it on the sand. The bowl never emptied. Behind us, in the distance was a silent, still sea.

I’ve got bad RSI pains in my hands at the moment from overindulging in PC use.
I put my hands under the blood flowing from her bowl, letting it wash over my hands, and the pain disappeared for as long as the blood covered them.

We had a conversation without words.
I don’t remember what happened to our relationship. We had been close when I was a teen. Perhaps I had drifted away from her, thinking I needed to, because of my gender transition. She put that notion aside, reminding me my body is filled with blood, plump with it.

My concentration slipped and the pain returned. I got up and after over an hour of listening for trains and main roads, managed to find my way back to my house.