Once upon a time, ritual sacrifices — particularly of the human and animal variety — were a way to appease the gods and spirits. Thankfully, today, most religions and cultures call this practice “ritual murder,” and it’s generally frowned upon pretty much everywhere. The idea is simple. You make a trade. If you butcher some poor lamb, maybe the gods will bless your crops with rain. Then again, maybe they won’t.
Nowadays, we’ve (mostly) all agreed that killing in the name of gods, kings, and whatever else is wrong. Does that mean sacrifice has no place in modern times? Of course not! We make sacrifices all the time. Just the other day, I sacrificed my hard-earned money for another notebook I didn’t need. We sacrifice our time, our resources, sometimes even our morals, in exchange for things we desire.
In witchcraft, there are many different things practitioners will offer to specific spirits and deities, or simply to the universe, in hopes that their magic will be more successful. I’ve seen eggs, milk, honey, and cigarettes used as small sacrifices. I should acknowledge that sometimes this is a more spiritual exercise and it’s just a matter of making an offering. Other times, the witch is hoping to gain favor — which is good! Why not tip the scale in any way you can? Personally, I’m not religious, I don’t incorporate deities into my practice, and when I perform spells and rituals it is for one reason only: to see results. Therefore, the sacrifices I’ll be talking about in this post will pertain to that, getting better results through small sacrifices in your magical routine.
We learn from a young age that you cannot walk into a store and just take something off the shelf. You have to pay for it. This isn’t serving some higher power nor is it an offering of any kind. It’s simply an exchange. To get you must give. It’s a balance. After all, you can’t just wish all day long and hope to achieve anything without putting in some effort. And speaking of effort…
I mentioned above a few of the common things I see witches “sacrificing” on their altars, things that are for the most part, easily attained and easily offered. For example, sacrificing an egg yolk or a bowl of milk. Well, at one point, these were luxury items and giving perishables like this in offering was a big gesture. Now, it’s not. Aside from the money you spend to initially purchase these items, does a sacrifice like this cost you anything? If you’re not giving up an item you treasure, or you’re not losing something of value to you, it’s not a true sacrifice. If you’re performing a spell and adding a sacrifice in hopes of helping this spell along, I suggest giving something that is genuinely important to you. I don’t mean placing it on your altar, I mean sacrificing it.
The Things We Do For Magic
Whenever I start a new spell, a question goes through my head unbidden: What is it worth to you? A few things always jump to mind and I usually squash them. Your health? No. The health of a family member? No. Your job? Maybe. Your talent? Hmm. Giving up Diet Pepsi for good? Let’s just take it easy now!
You figure out in a hurry how badly you want this spell to work by what you’re willing to give up for it. So, if you want to start practicing sacrificing while working magic, ask yourself right off the bat: What is this worth to me? By figuring out how important it is, you can actually work on perfecting the spell and giving it more focus.
Say you want something to happen, and now you’ve got a broad idea for the spell. But you can’t think of anything to sacrifice that’s worth this thing coming true. Doesn’t mean you don’t want it, it might just mean you aren’t being specific enough. Maybe you want a new job. Well, it’s hard to think of a sacrifice for that because what if the job you get is terrible? You’re probably not willing to give up something big so you can listen to annoying customers all day. But what if it’s your dream job? That’s different. What are you willing to sacrifice for that? Hard work? Yes. Dedication? Yes. Your favorite piece of jewelry? By figuring out what you’re willing to give, you can figure out if the spell is even worth it to you or if you need to clarify the spell so it is definitely worth it. Making spells more focused is an excellent way to make them more successful, so adding a sacrificial element is a way to sharpen that focus very quickly.
How To Perform A Sacrifice
No, I’m not going to tell you to destroy anything on your altars. That’s a little medieval for my taste. Instead, I am going to offer suggestions to you once you’ve figured out what you want to sacrifice and maybe give you some ideas on sacrifices you can make.
Donating: It’s mentioned all the time, but it’s so important for you to believe in what you’re doing for spells to work. Some people call this intention, some call it will, but the point is the same. Spells you doubt don’t really work. So what’s a way to show your unwavering belief? Making a sacrifice! Instead of offering up something on your altar, pick something of value and donate it to your favorite charity. Don’t take any money for it, simply give it away. If you don’t want to donate an item, cut your hair and donate it to Locks of Love or donate some blood to the Red Cross (if you’re medically able). Donate food, clothing, or time to a shelter. Do this on the same day you perform the spell and add a statement during the spell of what you sacrificed, something along the lines of “in exchange for this favor, I offer my ___.”
Give something up: Our modern lives are filled with luxuries we take for granted. Some of these luxuries are even considered vices, like smoking, drinking, or social media. If you don’t want to part with something precious, you can part with something negative instead. A win-win, although much easier said than done and using this method means your spell’s success will be dependent on keeping up your end of the bargain. Make a deal in the wording of your spell, just with yourself, that if this spell delivers what you desire, you’ll give something up that you truly don’t want to and give it up for a specific period of time, or even for good. Remember, the first day is easy but it gets harder, especially if you don’t see results right away. Make sure you find ways to motivate yourself and keep at it!
Add a little something: This method is a little more positive and sacrifices mainly your time, but like giving something up, it’s crucial that you maintain it for the spell to work. It’s simple; add something positive to your life, like exercising, volunteering, meditating, gardening, painting, reading, cooking, or whatever else that will be of benefit to you. While most wouldn’t call adding something good to your life a sacrifice, for many people it’s a difficult commitment to make. We all know we would do well to de-stress, exercise more, or eat better but … it’s easier not to. This is why it’s a sacrifice. If you’re already doing these things, great! Think of something else you could add to your life that would take time and patience. I recommend this sacrifice with betterment spells and rituals — magic already focused on self-improvement.
Swallowing your pride: This is without a doubt the most difficult one for me personally. It’s definitely hard for us to admit to mistakes and — even worse — take the consequences. This sacrifice requires self-examination and thinking of a time when you were just plain wrong, then making amends. If you’ve recently had a fight with a friend or you did something less than kind, apologize. Ask for forgiveness. Maybe you’ll get it, maybe you won’t, but the point is to clear your slate and right a wrong you’ve done. Again, this can be difficult, but it’s a good way to show your sincerity and that you can see yourself clearly and acknowledge you’re an imperfect person. If you’re working on a spell to gain something, this will be especially potent as it humbles you. Alternatively, if your spell is about moving forward in some way or getting past a certain obstacle, this sacrifice will be enlightening and just what you need to add that extra boost.
Adding a sacrifice to your spells does two things: It makes you question what you want and if you really want it, and secondly, it solidifies your commitment to your spell. Long ago, one of the reasons witches were so feared was because people believed they performed grisly sacrifices on satanic altars. This stereotype is often perpetuated in bad movies and books, but the truth we all know is that magic is not about hurting other people or things, it’s about empowering yourself. A sacrifice is not about mutilating a living thing, but understanding that everything has a price and to get what we want, we have to give up something of value. There are thousands of different ways to make sacrifices, and if you play your cards right, it can be a positive and effective way to enhance your magic.
One final note: this method of adding power to your spells is not for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who struggles to give to yourself, who gives to others to the point of wearing yourself thin, or who has poor self worth then this is not going to be an effective method for you. Focus on pouring your time and effort into yourself and working your magic from a place of abundance and self love if you struggle with these things. Sacrifice is only one means of making magic work, there are many others and you should always choose the method that is healthiest for you.