Tributes VS Offerings
[Note: This is a continuation of the previous Ancestral Working Essay #3: Praising An Individual Ancestor and should be read in conjunction with that essay.]
You may deem it necessary to work with a single, individual ancestor for whatever reason. This is not uncommon and you should not shy away from this idea if such is your wont to do so. I know some may feel you’re slighting your other ancestors however I assure you such is not the case.
When you work with an individual ancestor, you begin to form bonds which are akin to what some magicians can have with their familiar spirits if you work long and often enough with your ancestor. Your ancestor will also of course need to be okay with working with you as well however if you’re this far along then I doubt there is any issue in that regard. Thus carry onward.
What Is A Tribute?
The online dictionary defines ‘a tribute’ as an act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration. Whereas an ‘an offering’ is defined as a thing offered, especially as a gift or contribution. Bearing this in mind, we can see that a tribute is a bit more personal than an offering is. Typically I myself separate these as follows:
1. Offerings are given to saints, gods, celestial (angels), cthonic (demons) and the like type of spirits because it’s more of a gift or contribution or payment as per our contractual agreement.
2. Tributes are given to ancestors, guardian spirits, Head Spirits,
Nativity Angel, and so forth due to the fact these spirits are more personal and closer to my heart.
Obviously some may say they’re the same thing and if you’re of that mindset then stop reading this essay and move on to something else. However if you prefer to learn, continue.
When Do I Give Tribute Or an Offering?
The way I do it is to give an offering to the saints or heavy duty spirits as noted above so say you’re working with St. Expedite and He comes through for you. Cool! Now you need to reward Him but is it a tribute or offering? Since Expedite is a saint, it’s an offering. You simply give an offering as I have instructed in my previous ancestral essays and all will be fantastic.
However, let’s say you did some work with the PGM’s supernatural assistant. Is this an offering or a tribute? This would be a tribute since the spirit is an assistant to you as the practitioner. It doesn’t leave you so it’d be a tribute. Now perhaps you’re working with a familiar spirit you gained from one of the celestials? Say an Enochian spirit? Tribute or Offering? In this case again it would be a tribute because even though the spirit came from a very powerful spirit origins, it is a personal spirit of yours so it should be given a tribute instead.
How to Give A Tribute
The manner in which you give a tribute has more to do with your reward to the spirit than the gift itself. For instance practitioners often worry over what brand of liquor to buy this saint or that angel when in truth most of them are fairly open minded in the beginning of working with them. It’s once you’ve been working with a saint, fey, angel, demon and etc for a long while is when they begin to expect you to start remembering what it is they particularly like. And you bloody well should! You would take issue with anyone you knew & worked with regularly for say a year who failed to remember what beverage you drank in the morning or what your favorite lunch was or other things that you should well know about them. Thus make it your business to learn about them.
So your ancestral uncle Joe helped you out to get that job you so desired. Terrific! Now you wish to reward him for his help and you’d like to give him his tribute. Swell. What you have to do is first know what uncle Joe liked in life. I’ve discussed this previously in ancestral essays so go review them if you’re unsure. But choose something uncle Joe would like and make it ready to serve to him. Let’s say for example your late uncle Joe’s favorite thing was a fresh pack of Marlboro red cigarettes and a pint of Jack Daniels whiskey. (Trust me easy offering as I have a couple of uncles that had the same taste.)
So you get out your white ceramic plate and dust it off. You take the new pack of Marlboro smokes, open them and pull one out of the fresh pack. Then you open the pint of JD, pour a shot glass full of it, recap the bottle and place it back on the plate next to the shot glass. Light a plain white tea light candle and sit this carefully on the plate. (It helps IF you have a photograph of your relative here but it’s not absolutely necessary to have.) If you’re using a photograph of your ancestor, lay it on the plate first, face up, then set the offering on top of it then set the lit candle somewhere on top.
Time to Get Personal
Here’s where things get different than offerings. Typically you follow the same protocol of giving a tribute to the Four Corners in the same manner as you do an Offering except that instead of just calling the four corners, you’re also talking to your ancestor, guardian, Nativity Angel, etc, to tell them what a terrific job They did and how you appreciate the hard work They put in for you.
In essence, you’re making this more of a one-on-one motivational/reward talk sort of like how your boss would reward you for not just a good job but a great job well done. The type of job when you went above and beyond expectations. So you spend a little time talking to your ancestor thanking them. Don’t make this a canned talk rather let this be a stream of consciousness straight from the heart sort of thing. It will matter in the long run. Why? Because uncle Joe is going to be someone you’re going to call on more often since He’s capable of getting work done for you.
Believe it or not, good workers are hard to find even in the spirit world! There are a LOT of saints out there and many of them could give a damn about you and your troubles. Just because they’re a saint does not mean they’re willing to step up to the plate and go to bat for you all because you asked or because you are willing to give them some sort of offering. Work is work even to spirits. So this is why you may have to try different spirits until you find a couple who are willing to work for you and when you do, treat them well.
So just be personal and it’s not right to say, “Good job” because now you’re being an ass all because you’re too thick headed to think of anything to say but by god you’re not too thick headed to ask for their help! Use some common sense and thank your spirit properly! Remember you’re trying to show both courtesy and respect. This is your ancestor. Someone who is related to you. Take some time with them. Have a sip of the liquor and tell uncle Joe, “Uncle Joe, I drink with you!” which shows him the liquor is not poisoned. You don’t have to smoke the ciggarette though it would be nice to light it for him if possible but if you’re allergic then just tell him you can’t light it and why, he’ll understand.
This is why I have an outdoor shrine which I use to make offerings and tributes to my spirits with. Often my spirits like cigars, cigarettes, pipe tobacco smokes that stink up the home so I instead burn these outside where the smoke doesn’t bother me. True when inclement weather, especially in the winter time occurs it makes for a difficult situation but we manage. (Smile)
How It Works
While it may sound silly, the idea of praising an individual spirit, especially a deceased relative, I assure you the concept is sound and works. Practitioners the world over have developed good working relationships with their spirits by simply using the old Pavlov’s Dog’s concept or stimulus-response. Thus you give the spirits a goal (the reward) to be attained for a stimulus (the task to be completed). There have been artificial spirits created in laboratory settings such as ‘Phillip’ (lookup the Phillip Experiment Canada for more info) who was created by a team of researchers over the course of a year and Phillip was given stimulus-response cues to which He responded favorably well. If an artificial spirit can respond as such, then why couldn’t your deceased relative(s)?
Now that you understand the difference between an Offering and a Tribute, you can make appropriate gifts to your spirits be they ancestral, saints, or whatever. The goal here is to give you the proper tools so that you can work wiser not harder.