Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt discouraged by the idea of alcoholic offerings!? Whether it’s to your ancestors, deities, or some other entity, alcohol is a popular choice for those we choose to venerate. But it’s not the only option, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t develop a relationship with those entities.
On December 11th of this year, I will officially be 4 years sober. I can’t tell you the gratitude I feel for that. Since getting sober, I have gotten married, had two beautiful children, graduated college and have finally dove into things I am passionate about. Alcohol was my elixir of choice, however there was a point in my life where I was pretty open to anything mind altering. That’s a scary experience, in and of itself. Especially if your like me, you’re already drunk when you choose to partake, and can never be 100% sure what it is (drunk me made horrible and unsafe choices). Alcohol is what led me to so many other things, hell it’s even the reason I smoked cigarettes.
I got sober by quitting cold turkey after a particularly rough night. I was fortunate enough to already be in a very supportive relationship. I have major social anxiety, so I don’t participate in AA but I do discuss and share my story online to those I meet. I don’t believe you have to fit the mold of a “traditional” alcoholic in order to question your relationship to alcohol.
Problem drinking take so many forms. While I didn’t wake up and start downing booze, I didn’t even drink everyday, but when I did, it was always out of hand. I drank too much for too long, couldn’t stop myself and blacked out so many times. Waking up in an unfamiliar place to only have to piece together the night before is an experience I don’t wish on anyone. So, if you are questioning whether sobriety is for you, first know that my DM’s are always open (Instagram is usually best), and I do think AA is a great place to start for those who can attend.
All of that being said, alcohol was one of the reasons I felt as though I couldn’t have a connection to my ancestors. No one in our household drinks, and I don’t care to bring it in the house. As you may know from a previous post, this belief actually sent me towards the path of deity work, which I have since decided isn’t for me at this time. But I needed to feel connected to something. I wanted the intimacy of veneration.
I decided to listen to the book Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration by Mallorie Vaudoise, and I have to say, it pretty much turned my practice upside down in the best way. I was getting caught up in the over-the-top witchery that can sometimes value aestheticism over substance. The ideas in this book, such as a simple ancestor altar with a white cloth, a white candle and a cup of water, spoke to me in its simplicity. It showed a practice that encouraged shedding excess in favor of small, simple acts. I was enamored.
Now, let me be clear. I don’t think aesthetics in witchcraft are a bad thing. I have plenty of that around my house, and I love seeing it on my social media feed. But part of my issues with addiction was excess. It was always too much, too long, too chaotic. Trimming away some of the unnecessary ideas from ancestor veneration opened this practice up to me in a big way. I didn’t need to leave out fancy alcohol for my passed relatives. As mentioned in the book, some water is all it takes.
An example of an offering I give is one I do for my grandfather. A distinct memory I have of visiting my grandparents is that they always kept cold cans of coke in the vegetable drawer. So, I keep some cokes in my fridge, and when I feel called, I place a cold one on my ancestor altar for my grandpa. I also leave flowers and water. My ancestor practice is still developing, and I can’t wait to share more with you all as it does. And definitely pick up the book Honoring Your Ancestors if this practice sounds intriguing to you. It’s a wonderful book written in a way that makes it easy to listen to (I listen to many witchy books on Audible due to my toddler mom status and the fact I’m always tired).
All of this to say, sobriety and spirituality can 100% go hand in hand. This is my experience, and as it’s personal to me, I wanted to assure you all that anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it. The beauty of witchcraft is that we get to carve out our own path. It’s special to us. You don’t have to smoke weed or participate in hallucinogens if it doesn’t feel right for you. You don’t have to leave offerings that make you uncomfortable. Your path wants to reflect the most authentic version of yourself, so don’t be afraid to draw a boundary when it comes to your sobriety. I promise, your ancestors value your health above a glass of wine any day.