Apotropaic Offerings?

I recently encountered the practice of making so-called “apotropaic offerings”: offerings made, at some distance from the site of one’s primary ritual practice, to placate potentially disruptive beings.

Such offerings as described above are not a part of my own religious or spiritual practice. And looking in from the outside, something very quickly seemed “off” or not-quite-right about this. Hence this blog post, which I present in the spirit of (a) working out a bit more precisely my own understanding of why we make religious offerings, and how such offerings work; (b) clarifying exactly what my concerns are with the “apotropaic” practices described above; and (c) opening a space for conversation, where others might help me refine this understanding and/or resolve some of these concerns.

Continue reading “Apotropaic Offerings?”

Iamblichus on the Discernment of Spirits

In book V, chapter 10 of De Mysteriis, Iamblichus gives us an elegant and straightforward method for distinguishing genuine Gods and Daimones from impostures.

We observe that the Demiurge provides us lower creatures with everything we need for our sustenance. So, why should he fail to do so, for the daimones? If their sustenance were adventitious, dependent on us (such that our neglecting them would somehow harm or disequilibriate them), then they would be inferior to us, and we would be superior to them, which is absurd.

We can conclude that any being which depends upon an offering is an inferior being, and not the God or Daimon to whom sacrifice is properly given.

As Iamblichus himself explains, “Each thing derives its nurture and fulfillment from that to which it owes its generation.”