The Give-Away

Let me start by acknowledging right up front that I’m not a member of a First Nations Tribe, so any understanding that I have of First Nations spirituality is to be taken with a huge helping of salt.

The give-away is a spiritual practice for First Peoples that was outlawed for many years in a blatant attempt to destroy their culture and society. The fact that it has survived speaks to the power in it. A give-away is a ceremony in which a person acknowledges their blessings and all that they have received by giving gifts to their community. It’s a way of saying “I have been given so much, I have much to share.”

When a person performs a give-away, it doesn’t matter how fancy or impressive their gifts are, materially. What matters is the gift itself, the intention behind it.

With energy and spirit work, the intent is the key. Let’s unpack the give-away a little bit, dig down to the symbolism beneath it.

When people come to me and say they need help, they need a car, they need money, they need X, Y, and Z, I tell them they have to make room for the thing, first. You start by clearing space for new abundance to come to you. Set aside room for what you seek, and then create the energy to bring it in. If you’re so stuck in a mindset of need, of want, of not-having, then you aren’t creating a space for abundance.

An abundant person has so much that they can afford to give it all away. If there’s a positive flow towards you, you can make space for it easily. It’s assured, it’s certain. You know you’ll have what you need, so you can relax your grip on what you already have. You can give it away to other people.

In Wicca, there’s a saying: “To know, to will, to dare, to keep silent.” It’s talking about the way witches do magic. You know the path, you put energy behind it, you dare to dream big, and then you shut up about it. You relax into it. You don’t have to keep going back to it, because you have the certainty, you know it’s working. Your will says it’s working. You did the work, you put in the effort, you know it’s going to work and is working, so you don’t have to dwell on it. And you definitely DON’T BOAST before the work is done.

The First People’s give-away is also silent. The person giving away selects a representative to speak for them during the ceremony, and is silent throughout. The give away is about the energy, the intent of the gifts, not about the person making the give away. If they spoke, the energy would shift to them, the focus would be on them, not on the gifts. They’re silent.

Keeping the focus on the gifts, on the intent of the ceremony, is absolutely key, and it’s something that a lot of pagans and neo-pagans tend to forget about. 

The Dhammapada says “speak or act with an impure mind and trouble will follow as the wheel of the cart follows the horse.” The Bible likewise reminds us that ‘evil done in the name of good is still evil.’ The act itself does not matter as much as the intent behind it. If you make a give-away with the intent to shame people with your generosity, to show off your wealth, to boast of your good fortune, then your give-away has a terrible intent behind it, and you’ll get it in the teeth later.

Just the same, if you set out to place a blessing on someone with a sarcastic, mean spirit in your heart, that’s not a blessing anymore, it’s a curse. Your intent, your secret, hidden, inner intent is what counts for magic and energy work. Part of “to know” is to know yourself. The words above the doorway to the Oracle of Delphi are “Know Thyself”. Before you set out to conduct any ceremony or energy work, make damn certain that you’re doing your work with a clean heart, with good intention, and without any hidden ulterior motive.

As I write this, the moon is slowly waxing, coming out of the dark. The year is sliding back to the darkness as well, towards Yule and the Longest Night. Focusing on what we have in abundance is a good thing, and finding ways we can pass along what we have to each other is also a goodness. I urge anyone who reads this to consider a donation to your local food bank. Make it a give-away, in honor of your abundance.

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