The Ritual of the Duck

Preparing for the duck

I have a lot of new readers of late who don’t know too much yet about the kind of magic I practice and how I get my hands dirty. Just a friendly warning that if you’re not okay with taxidermy and meat butchery, then my blog probably isn’t for you. But, if you have a collection of animal skulls and the idea of venison braised with port and cherries gets you hot, then you might want to stick around.

The processed duck

Yesterday I made Aves Flying Ointment. A recipe I created a couple of years ago combining the traditional herbs with the more grisly shapeshifting ingredients of bird fat, bird bone dust, and feather ashes. After thanking it for its gift to we humble spirit workers, I process the local duck from the butcher into fat, meat, organs, and bones using my very sharp ritual knife with its antler handle. I keep the duck heart and preserve it. I keep all the vertebrae and tail bones to deflesh and turn into bones for sacred jewelry and fetiches. The rib cage and pelvis are frozen to make a soup stock with later. The fat gets rendered down on the stove until it becomes a pale gold, clear liquid. This time I marinated the breasts and legs in white wine, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and herbs – which I’ll be cooking up tonight.

Duck bones and organs

Once the duck fat is ready I pour it into the mason jars of prepared herbs and add grapeseed oil to smooth out the texture. Then it’s time to add the birds to the salve named after them. I add dust from the sterile bones of  birds I’ve processed and crushed, I add a dab of wild bird fat rendered last winter, and, lastly, I add the ashes of crow feathers (burned in a small metal bowl).

A dab of wild bird fat

Making feather ashes

And now it infuses in the oven and I sit here this morning shaving delicious beeswax to add in the strained green-gold elixirs of oil and fat to turn them into ointments and pour them into jars to set and label so I can ship them out this afternoon.

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