The Pagan Blogosphere is losing it this week over Offerings, and clearly, I’m late to the game, and have missed all the drama. Still, I’ll say a thing or two.
To my mind, Offerings are a part of devotion, and taking care of your deity. This is my rate of exchange for the things that they give me and the things I ask them for. In the same way that I offer Laure Beth a small token of money in exchange for her answering my question in her Seidhr practice, I also offer my deities a small token of appreciation in exchange for what they do.
Imagine blessing, and blessing, and blessing someone and never having your hard work noticed or cherished, never being thanked, or being offered anything in exchange. You’d probably cut back on those blessings. In fact, you may quit giving them.
Let’s face it, you’d probably quit your job if it stopped benefiting you.
Gods to me aren’t entirely unlike humans. Even when I’ve volunteered in various places, I’ve been shown gratitude. I might even get a few treats, perhaps a volunteer appreciation party, or if the organization could muster it, a discount on the services they provided. However, even if the gratitude were only verbal, it was given. This would correlate to praise poems we speak aloud to deity. This, too is an offering.
In a rune class, we spoke of “Gebo” which is a general theory of exchange. “A gift demands a gift”. We discussed how this really meant that I could expect to be rewarded, in some way, and from somewhere- for the gifts I gave, and the things I shared. I believe that our Gods feel the same.
In African traditions, it is customary, when you make a request, to offer a small bit of something, with a promise of a greater offering when your request is fulfilled. Many people criticize this system, calling it an exchange, a business deal. But it is so much more than that. It is the ability to respond, it is a reminder that anything we desire needs us to be involved, energetically, and yes, financially.
And let’s face it, in many traditions, when the oracle is asked “I appear to be blocked in X. What can I do?”
The answer is invariably, “Cleanse and remember Deity X in your prayers.” Or “Make offerings and praise Deity Y.”
Because it works.
Many churches pass a collection basket during services, often more than once. At one point you could purchase “Indulgences” which would absolve you of your wrongdoings, leaving you blameless.
The concept of exchange in religion isn’t new.
But as Morpheus points out ( http://bansheearts.com/2013/12/ritual-theory-for-polytheists/) offerings are also a part of devotion. Devotion, some people have forgotten, is a theory wherein someone offers something *without expecting to receive something in return*. Doing this often makes it far more likely that your chosen source of Divine help will *actually come through for you*.
Personally, my offerings run a wide spectrum. Booze, sweets, and whatever I’m having are most common offerings I give. Occasionally, I buy something specifically for the deities. Often, they take the form of energy. I keep plants for most of my deities, and I consider the time and money it takes to care for them an offering. I have a Special Needs kitten and I devote her care and expenses to Freyja, to whom cats are sacred.
Do I eat the offerings? Rarely. A 3 day old Baklava? Not likely to be yummy. Marzipan left out on a warm day? Unappetizing. Generally, if they won’t cause harm, I put them into the woods (chocolate is quite poisonous for most critters). If they will cause harm I eat them or compost them.