MacFarlane, Robert “The Old Ways” (Viking 2012)

It was, he explained, a votive offering, a storm charm. All maritime cultures have lore about objects and substances that are thrown into the seas to calm them when a craft is in danger. Ale, oil, or blood are poured overboard to soothe the waves. Coins, bodies, swords, are two kinds of offering, placatory and sacrificial. The placatory is assuaging (oil on troubled waters); the sacrificial is substitutionary–a minor loss sustained in the present (the object lost to the sea) replacing a future greater loss (the boat loss to the sea) (127).

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