A year ago, a Harner-style shamanic practitioner recommended that I begin making offerings to the spirits of my spirit-work tools. According to her, these spirits desired attention. Being an animist, it wasn't news that my tools had spirits but I hadn't given much thought to what they had to say. My staff had a personality and my guitar and tambourine weren't uncommunicative; my divination tools, especially the runes, all spoke to me. Once I started thinking about it, all my tools had distinct voices all their own. It made sense that they would want something in exchange for their cooperation. I was intrigued so I agreed to give this practice a try.
I began by acquiring a cup from a thrift store and some red juice; the practitioner had recommended I use red wine but told me that juice would also be acceptable, so long as it was red. I'm more able to afford good juice than wine; I figured that if the juice was unacceptable the spirits would let me know. When I went to make an offering for the first time, I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed a second, matching, cup. Not really sure what the spirits were driving at, I went back to the same thrift store and bought a second cup.
Suitably armed with two matching cups and some juice, I was all ready to begin making offerings. When I sat myself in front of the tool altar for the first time I had no idea what to do or what to expect. I needn't have worried; the spirits reached out and guided me through the exercise. Since that first day, this devotional practice has become an important part of my daily altar work. This is the form the exercise took when I first started out; I've shared this here in the hopes that it will be a useful practice for others.
I begin by holding the cup that belongs to the spirits; I settle it in my hands and let it be filled with my attention and respect. The cup functions as a small portal that allows my energy to reach the spirits and I feel a connection open up between us. When the connection feels right (you'll know when) I pour a measure of juice into the cup; the juice acts as a physical representation of the energy I'm offering the spirits as well as a vehicle that moves that energy between the worlds.
Once the spirits have drunk their fill, I feel the tide of the energy turn around. The spirits offer energy to me and I accept what they want to give me. At the right time (again, you'll know when) I pick up my cup and pour the juice from their cup into mine. Then I drink the juice, making the energy they've offered me a part of my body. I finish by thanking them and washing the cups before setting them back on the altar.
As a spirit-worker I know commented, it's no surprise that so many objects in Norse lore are named; they certainly possess unique individual spirits. Mine are no different; over time, I learned their unique voices and I consider them partners in my practice, even bosses, since they often know more than I do about how they should be used, and for what reason. These spirits have agreed to live with me so I make sure they have a place to call their own. My tool altar doesn't receive quite as much attention as my deity altars do, but it's still a place of power in my home, and I respect it. This simple devotional exercise has transformed the way I treat and regard my tools. I have become suitably grateful for their willingness to share this life with me and the relationship between us continues to grow.