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.


18 Responses to “The Ritual of the Duck”

  1. Michael Robbinette (Selwynn WhiteThorne) says:

    Your article on “Ritual of the Duck” is absolutely wickedly AWESOME !!

  2. I am duly impressed, all the more so since, as I said on Twitter, I would have a very hard time sacrificing yummy duck fat to any non-culinary use.

    My favorite combination for venison was Marsala and blackberries. I sear the meat and then make sauce in the pan while it rests.

  3. hands up to volunteer as your apprentice/help-meet/general dogsbody and gopher

  4. I’m a new-er reader and I just have to say your blog combines all of my favorite things in one place. Look forward to reading more posts by you!

  5. Carnivalia says:

    I love how you use (or plan to use) each part of the duck letting nothing go to waste. Also, the marinade sounds delicious. Blessings.

  6. Alex says:

    This is fascinating. Thank you.

  7. Lovely! Might I ask how u r going to finish the duck? Bake, grill ? Also, I appreciate how u find a way to use every part of the duck. This inspires me to be more creative with the food I cook. I from time to time will save pork fat from salt pork and make tallow candles but that is about it…so far. I think I must try harder to incoporate more of this in my workings. :)

  8. Another great post Sarah, thankyou :)

  9. Soli says:

    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.

    I know I was certainly fanning myself! Anyone who can combine witchy fun with my sort of food sensibilities gets an A.

  10. Nymphaea says:

    Lovely as always! I actually want to eat duck now…..and of course yay to the flying ointments, but now I really want to learn how to cook duck….

  11. Pixie says:

    Such a lovely ritual… and also I am hungry now! Ohhh… glorious duck fat… I’m in the camp of it would be a big sacrifice for me to use duck fat for anything other than eating.

  12. Kat (Juni) says:

    Well, I don’t have any animal skulls here, but I’ll still stick around if that’s okay with you!

    I’ve awarded you with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award here:

    You’re not required to participate or anything- I admit it’s all a little silly, but fun- but I wanted to let you know!

  13. phoebefields says:

    I think you must already have this award. But I am nominating you for the Fabulous Blogger Award. You can pick it up from my site. Thank you for your wonderful sharing of your craft!

  14. A witch who isn’t vegetarian! Oh, the horror of it! ;-)

  15. I absolutely Love this!! For years I thought I was the only one that mixed my kitchen witchery with the art of every day life. You truly are an inspiration and I cant wait to be a follower to your blog :)