Guest Post: Amanda Thomas on The Importance of Hospitality

One thing that ADF-style ritual is very big on is sacrifice. During the course of a ritual, I give sacrifices of barley and oats to the Earth Mother, I give incense to the fire, silver to the well, and enjoy anointing the tree with oil. I give sacrifices to the three Kindred (the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and the Gods). In short, I give something for everyone that is invited to share in the sacredness of ritual space and time.

Courtesy Andrew Dunn via Wikimedia CC license

It tends to make a girl count all the offerings before the ritual starts at least 7 times to be sure they are all there. Nothing destroys the flow of ritual more then to have to run off to go get a sacrifice that was forgotten to be placed out to start with. There is a good reason for all this giving of physical and creative energy, and that reason is because it is polite to do, and part of being a good host.

During ritual, I invite the Kindred to share my house and space, and like any good host, it is my job to make my guests feel welcome and comfortable. Just as I would offer human guests a drink and something to snack on, I offer sacrifices to the kindred during ritual. This is what is meant by hospitality. We have asked these very powerful spirits into our lives, it is good to show that we care that they have indeed come to participate in our ritual. We provide for wants and needs as best we can, just as the Kindred do for us in our everyday lives. I also try to give the best I can afford without my husband getting too irate, because what I give shows how much I care about the relationship. Cheap and tatty gifts are looked at askance by our human gift recipients, so should we expect different form the Kindred? The manner in which I offer it is also something to consider. A costly gift is great, but wouldn’t be too pleasant to get if it was thrown in my face like a fast ball going over home base. My attitude in how I give my sacrifice is just as important as the gift itself.

Many of us desire close friendship and relationship with our Gods/ancestors/nature spirits. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t bother with half of what we do in pagan ritual. What is applicable in human relationships also applies to those with the spirit realm. The more we spend time with our Gods, the closer our relationships become, which is why a daily practice of some sort is of such value. Being polite and courteous to the needs of our friends, keeps them as friends; being rude and unpleasant has a tendency to make all but the most sturdy not want to hang out. It is through conversation that we come to know each other better and feel that connection deepen; this is the value of prayer and meditation. Time together, polite behaviors, and intimate talk are all part of my ritual time and is a type of offering to the Gods and other Kindred as well as the grains, oils, and alcohol. Ritual should be more than a list of actions that need to be done, ritual should be seen as time with friends, even the invisible ones.

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  • Wes Isley

    Thanks for the reminder about sacrifice. And yes, “time with friends, even the invisible ones”–how perfect!

  • Wes Isley

    Thanks for the reminder about sacrifice. And yes, “time with friends, even the invisible ones”–how perfect!