29 March 2012

The Joy of Making Offerings

Art of Offering from Ancient Greece
With the practices of Wicca, as well as a number of other Pagan or earth centric spiritual traditions, the practice of making libations, offerings of bread and wine (or their substitutes) when blessed and used within the circle, is common practice.  However, how many of us make offerings to Deity outside of ritual?

According to the ever reliable source Wikipedia, an "offering" is:
- a collection of monetary contributions during religious worship, (also referred to as alms, tithe or charity)
- a religious sacrifice of plant, animal or human life
- a part of devotional practice (within Buddhism where there is a ritual object referred to as a "phan").

Some people I know have an "offering bowl" on their altar or somewhere in their house where items would be placed - for example, a coin as a way of thanking deity for prosperity, etc.  My healing altar is a large version of an "offering bowl" as it is littered with coins (local currency as well as international), feathers, crystals, stones, beads, cards and the like.

Chinese New Year offerings
While contemplating this subject there is one practice I notice that I do not do on a regular basis outside ritual and that is offering up part of my everyday meal to the Gods.   By this, I am not talking about the plate scrappings and other leftovers.  A number of years ago I came across a site that mentioned "left overs" were "an appropriate offering to Hekate".  I was mortified.  Whilst I am not a devotee of this Goddess, I have worked with her and can honestly say that "left overs" are NOT a suitable offering to ANY Deity, spirit or other being one wishes to establish any kind of relationship with.  In fact, if anything, they should be given the prime serve of any meal .. after all, they are "invited" guests, VIPs.

Clootie offerings
I have an small altar under the tree that is next to my grassed circle upon which libations and other offerings are placed usually after Sabbat and other rituals.  This altar (made from a couple of bricks) is not a depository for "sacred garbage" - any tea light candles that find their way to this altar (such as from the apple candles used during the Autumn Equinox rite), I ensure that the metal holders are disposed of.  I also have a container that, like in some Buddhist temples, lit joss sticks can be placed as a way of also making offerings to the Gods.

From the branches of the tree, are pieces of ribbon, cloth, plaited wool yarn etc that, in a similar fashion to clooties (strips of cloth or rags tied to trees at wells renown for their healing principles), as they rot away, so too are any illnesses or blockages with respect to achieving any desires.

It tends to be common practice within modern forms of Paganism to constantly make requests from the Gods ... whether these requests come in the form of healing, the ability to overcome addictions, or even "peace and goodwill" to our fellow planet inhabitants of this planet.  But what about the practice of "giving back"?  Surely, those of us who follow an earth centric spiritual path are aware of the Universal Law of Attraction - where like attracts like.  If we were not aware of it before, we could now, considering the popularity of this concept is steadily increasing within the new age scene.

There are numerous of ways we can "give back" and if we truly believe in the Gods of the path that we follow, then giving something of ourself "just because" should form an importan part of our spiritual practice.

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