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You’ve made an offering of food to your deity. You’ve burned a candle until it went out. What now?
Can you throw it away? Do you burn it? Should you bury it outside?
There are many ways to dispose of ritual items, but it can be difficult to determine what is the most respectful way. These objects had great meaning and although we don’t need them anymore, we also don’t want to toss them into the garbage. Let’s discuss as we learn in Wicca how to dispose of offerings.
Types of Offerings
Disposing offerings varies on many factors.
- Are the offerings organic or inorganic?
- Are they biodegradable or compostable?
- Can they be burned safely?
- Can you dispose of them in your home, or do they need to be taken away to another location?
- Does your coven or magickal tradition give any guidance?
- How long do you need to keep the offering around?
- Does your ritual or spell prescribe a particular method of disposal?
These questions and more will affect when and how you should dispose of the offering.
Disposal is Magickal
In Wicca how to dispose of offerings should be thought of BEFORE giving the offering. Disposal might be a final step in a ritual, but don’t let it be the last thought in your mind. As with all parts of a ritual, we want to be intentional and respectful throughout. Offerings are magickal items, and their proper disposal is a powerful and conclusive part of the ritual.
Additionally, disposal might be an important piece of closure to a spell days or weeks after it takes place. Some spells may require you to keep the objects in your home or another location for a specified period of time. So you may reserve disposing of the items to a small ceremony later on, when you view the spell as complete and seek closure.
Also keep in mind that keeping old offerings and ritual items around can clutter up the magickal energies around your home. Don’t let old magick affect your current magick. Keep your new magickal endeavours fresh, clean, and clear of old energies.
The material composition of the offering is very important in determining how to dispose of it. Organic, biodegradable, and compostable materials can be treated differently than inorganic materials.
Simple organic items like water, ash, or plants will return to Nature naturally without much work on your part, so their disposal can be simpler. One of the most common methods to dispose of such items is using the Four Elements.
Burning ritual offerings is a quick and easy way to dispose of items. It is permanent, final, and sudden. Disposal by burning is great for a number of reasons.
First, it allows you to dispose of them with the powerful and vibrant energy of the Fire Element. Second, disposal by fire can almost always be done easily in your own home, in your backyard or fireplace if you have one. If not, the fire can stay contained in a cauldron or pan. Finally, the remaining ashes are quite small which makes for tidy removal. Once cooled, ashes can be buried, washed away with water, or thrown away in the trash.
Almost any organic offering or ritual item can be burned, although there are a few exceptions. Items which will create a lot of smoke or a strong smell should be disposed of in other ways. Also, bones may not be completely broken down by burning. It takes high temperatures and a long time to break down bones, so disposing of them by fire in your home may not be practical.
Take special care with hexed items or items which you think were affected by black magick. These items are volatile and need their dark energies contained. Due to the powerful nature of flames, disposal by fire can release some of this energy, and so it is not recommended.
Burning offerings can be incorporated into the end of your rituals. Use it as a final way to close the ritual and dispose of your offerings with respect and intent.
The permanence of Earth can be used for final disposals. The Earth will absorb the offering’s energy, and so it is a great method of disposal for negatively charged or hexed objects (always cleanse these items first before disposal). Use it also to remove items with stubborn energies. There are three different ways to dispose into the Earth.
The first is to bury ritual items outside. Burial is a great way to dispose of objects affected by black magick because it is a safe and permanent resting place for such objects. When burying, consider practical aspects.
For example, if burying in your own yard, don’t bury items on top of one another. Find a new resting place for each object. (The only exception to this is for materials which will decompose quickly, like plants and herbs. After burial, wait a few weeks for them to return to Earth, then you can use the same location again.)
If you don’t have a yard, buy a potted plant or create a small indoor garden for yourself. Then, bury items in the plants’ soil. You can also bury items outside in parks and forests. However, always respect the rules of the park and be sure to not leave items that will not compost.
The second method is to place the item on the ground. In this manner, it will decompose back into the Earth or get washed away. In the case of liquids, you can pour the liquid as a libation back to the Earth. This is a quick and easy method for perishable items like herbs, alcohol, or blood.
Use your best judgement about what and where to place outside. If disposing of items in public places, make sure you are following any applicable laws. Be careful with materials that may draw animals or pests like sugars, or honey. Also be wary to leave items out in the open that will become smelly if left outside, like rotten eggs or souring dairy products.
The third method is to incorporate offerings in your compost bin. This is a wonderful and regenerative way to dispose of offerings. The spent offerings will enrich your soil later on, providing further life and growth. What a great way to honor your deities. If you don’t keep a compost bin, you can grind up your remains and sprinkle them as fertilizer onto your plants.
Use the flowing and ever-changing nature of water to sweep away your ritual remains. Water is especially suited for disposal of items related to transformational magick and new beginnings. It’s a great disposal place for offerings to the Goddess as she brings us change and transformation. Disposal into large bodies of water is especially suites to the Goddess, because she causes tidal forces.
Religions of all kinds for thousands of years have been disposing of holy items into bodies of water. However in today’s age, we must be mindful about what we immerse to avoid polluting waterways and damaging the environment.
Stones, sand, rocks, leaves, and small branches are perfect to dispose of in water. They are normally found at the bottom of lakes and rivers, or floating on the surface. So by disposing of them, you are not leaving anything unnatural.
However never dispose whole man-made items into water, especially plastics. If you have larger items made from organic materials, for example a wooden statue, it is best to burn first then deposit the ashes into the water. Use your judgement when choosing what’s acceptable to dispose into water and what’s not.
When disposing into the water, keep in mind that the object may not rest where you deposit it. Water is constantly changing and moving. Unless the item is heavy enough to sink to the ground, tides, currents, waves, and water flow will cause the item to move along with it. If it’s an item from a transformational spell, this may be what you want. But if not, either weight the object down with a stone, or find another disposal method.
A fun twist (and super easy) way to get rid of remains is to flush them down the toilet. Obviously this isn’t good for deity offering remains. But if you do a banishing spell or have an item with subtle negative energies, give it a fitting goodbye spiraling down the toilet!
Air is an important but very particular method to dispose of offerings. First, there are practical concerns. Only very light objects that won’t harm the environment can be released into the air. Dry herbs, ashes, salts, sands, perhaps a bit of loose dirt or maybe flower petals.
However, magickally, air doesn’t give a solid, formal, permanent good-bye. The Element of Air is loose, flexible, and changeable. Use it to give a farewell to well wished items, and do a visualization of the particles separating and dispersing into the wind to seal it in.
Naturally recycle offerings of food by feeding them to animals. You can directly feed it animals, like ducks in a park. Or, you can leave food outside and available to passing wildlife and insects. Please take care to research foods that might be harmful to animals though. Chocolate or sweets are probably not good ideas, but fresh fruit or seeds might be a nice snack!
We’ve learned in Wicca how to dispose of organic and biodegradable offerings. But what about materials which cannot safely be disposed of outdoors, like jewelry, wax, metal, cloth, or plastic? We have a few options here.
If your item doesn’t carry any negative energies with it, try reusing it! Many items which you use, you recycle anyway without realizing it. Think about stones and crystals. You would never dream of throwing away rare or hard-to-find crystals. Simply cleanse and program for another use. The same goes for metal and glass objects and all of your consecrated altar tools.
Next, you may be able to reuse some items which you might otherwise throw away. Do what you feel comfortable with, and consider what your budget allows.
For example, you could keep candle stubs and melted candle wax to melt down into a new candle. Conventionally this might seem wrong, but what if the saved money allows you to practice more comfortably? Or what if you donate the money you’ve saved to charity?
Also consider that Wicca is all about honoring the Earth and recognizing its importance. What better way to respect the Triple Goddess than to avoid creating waste? Think about what this could mean in your own practice.
For items that have good energetic qualities that you have no further use, consider donating them. Not only do you dispose of the item but you also help someone else in the process.
For some items, there’s just no redeeming them. Dangerous or toxic materials cannot be salvaged. Neither can items with dark energies. For these items, there is no avoiding that they just need to go in the garbage outside of your home. Any sharp, dangerous, gross, gooey, or smelly items fall into this category. Take them to a place designed for waste like landfills, dumpsters, or any other rubbish repository.
We have learned many ways in Wicca how to dispose of offerings. Many avenues allow for natural disposal and a return to the Elements, while others allow for upcycling or donation. As always, use your own common sense and good judgement when disposing of offerings.
If you feel that any material you need to dispose of might be harmful or toxic, contact your local poison control for guidance. And always make sure to remove any personally identifying information before disposal. Magick and spells are very personal things and might include us writing down words of vulnerability. Be sure to keep your innermost magick and secrets private if that’s what you wish.
A hotly contested subject, some believe that dustbins are a disrespectful resting place for offerings. However you’ll find others who believe that every place can become sacred with some ceremony. So a ritual disposal into the rubbish bin can be a respectful place. Others believe that because garbage ultimately ends up in a landfill, it’s an eventual return to the Earth anyway. Listen to your heart and decide what’s right for you.
Eating offerings is a subject of intense debate, but is ultimately up to your personal preference. Some may feel that eating offerings feels wrong and is not respectful as the offerings were intended only for the deities. Others feel that the offerings have been blessed by the deities and so are partaking in the offerings’ sacredness. Still others are more practical, believing that the deities wouldn’t like to see offerings go to waste. Anything which feels right to you is correct.