15 January, 2013

Offerings (What, and How)

Hey, Readers!

This week on The Pagan Perspective, we got two questions (the text of which will follow) asking about offerings--how we make them, and how to pick flowers/plants to use for offerings. I wrote out notes for this before I recorded the video, so you can read the notes here instead of watching, or as a supplement to watching the video. As you'll notice (from the title and the questions themselves), this covers WHAT I offer and HOW I do offerings. Perhaps another time I will talk about when or why, if there's interest.

The questions were as follows:

--How do you handle and do offerings to the gods, spirits, ancenstors and so forth? furthermore how do you properly handle disposing of offerings in a proper and respectful manner? p.s: this channel has helped me a good bit, in my own spiritual path and growth. :) 
--Hi everyone, Im back with another question lol. This may be silly but i was wondering if you could explain to me how to properly pick a flower (or other kind of plant). i feel so apprehensive when i see a clover or a flower and go to pick it. Do you need to use offering stones? Im making offering stones, but what should you do in the mean time or what should you do if you dont have anything to offer? Thank you so much, you have all been such a great help ^_^ ~ Love and Light!

And now, the response, which varies slightly from the video due to improvisations while speaking, but is otherwise very close.

The first question asks about offerings to gods, spirits, ancestors, etc. but I don't have any major distinctions between them as far as how I make offerings to different energies. My offerings are basically the same for ancestors or for Deity--the variations depend only on what the celebration/working/ritual is for, where I am, and what I have to offer.

Things I've offered:
--Food (fruits, nuts, baked goods, any appropriate food for the ritual)
--Drink  (water, wine, milk, juice, again whatever is appropriate)
--Burning incense
--Burning candles
--Reading of a poem
--Singing of a song
--Thoughts/meditation time
--Heartfelt thanks

Giving the offering:
If it's food/drink, I partake of it myself and then set an equal portion aside for the offering. In most cases it's a simple, take a bite of the apple or sip of the wine, and then leave the rest of it for the offering. If it's something like flowers, I present it and leave it. If song, dance, poetry, etc. or something else non-physical, it just happens and then it's done with. Incense or candles, I just burn throughout my working and state that it's for an offering, and then I dispose of the incense ashes like I would any other offering, which I will get to. Or for candles, if it's a tall candle that doesn't burn down all the way, I will save it for the next time and use the same candle for the same type of offering, like the one candle I always use to represent the Universe, or the two candles for God/Goddess. I don't personally like the idea of burying a candle after you've used it once, I would just use it over and over for the same use, to keep up that energy, until it's gone.

Offering Disposal:
If I'm indoors, I leave the offerings on the altar until I'm done and bring them outside later. I usually just leave them somewhere in the woods for nature to consume, as Rich said he does with his. For Samhain 2011, which I celebrated with a group, we buried the ancestors' portion of the food offerings so it would go back to the earth directly, and we tossed extra apples into the woods for the animal parts of nature.

If I'm already outside, I immediately set the food in an offering place on the ground or in tree branches or on a stone (wherever I'm working, it depends), pour the drink on the ground, or place the flowers. If it's something like a physical object or piece of art, not perishable, I would leave it on my altar indefinitely or otherwise keep it for use. If it's something I did on paper, I would treat it like any other petition spell and burn or bury it, depending. (In the case of the Hecate ritual that I did with my friend's women's pagan study group, we made offerings to Hecate by writing it down, reading it out loud to the group, and burning it in the cauldron.)


On collecting flowers:
When I collect flowers for offerings, I just say thank you as I'm picking them. Sometimes I just say thank you, other times I will offer some water if I have my water bottle with me. Sometimes I go back and leave an offering stone if it's in one specific location, or a single plant that I go back to a lot. Other times I will pick up litter from the area as a thank you to the Earth for its gifts.

Litha 2012
In the above picture from my Litha/Midsummer ritual last year, you can see my natural offering bowl. I built up a bowl shape out of sand to hold the flowers and plants I had collected. It's very near the water, so that after I left, the water would eventually break down the bowl and pull the flowers into the lake.


Bonus Question!

On waste:
Someone commented on Rich's video asking what he thinks about wasting things used for offerings, and as we both said, we put food outdoors for nature so it's not sitting around, but an offering is never waste because it has a purpose. If I ever do feel like "oh I don't want to waste that by offering it to the energies I hold dear" then I'm not really offering it if I feel it's waste. Some people offer jewelry by burying it, for example, and I feel weird about that because I know it won't really go back to the Earth and I think it's impractical for me to buy an object just to bury it or something, which is another reason I tend to use food or other things that break down. What I do think is wasteful is like I said with the candles--I think it's wasteful to burn a candle for an hour and throw the rest away, only to burn another one the next time and throw that out, too. So in that case, I reuse it until it's done so I don't feel like I'm wasting resources. So if you feel like anything IS being wasted, you can probably come up with a way to do it so that you feel like you're using your resources well. Or you can opt to offer things you don't need to dispose of, like your words or actions, song and dance, music, etc.


That's it for me until next week, so let us know in the comments what you like to offer or how you go about it. If you have any new ideas for people to try, we'd all be glad to hear! Thank you very much for watching (or reading, if you're reading this on my blog), and until next time, Blessed Be, and goodbye!


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