I mentioned offerings in my posts on the New and Full Moon. The subject has been on my mind a lot lately, between a deepening interaction with gods, and also reading other people’s blogs.
There’s a great post by Lupa where she mentions “taking things from one set of spirits to give to others.” It’s a brief post, and worth reading.
It has me pondering the most appropriate offerings we can give. I’ve certainly placed a hasty offering of flower or fruit on my altar from time to time–and I haven’t been in the habit of frequent offerings at all, because until recently I haven’t been in the habit of really believing in the things I believe in. If that makes any kind of sense.
And the thing is, I doubt very much that gods and spirits really need us to give them physical objects. We know that when we place food on the altar, it’s still there hours later. Of course, I understand that the whole point is the principle of the thing–we are offering what we value to the beings we honor. Perhaps the body of the food is still there and its essence, its energy has been absorbed by the spirits. The relationship between the spirit world and this one is a mystery, after all–who really understands all the ways we overlap and coexist?
So what do we give?
For our ancestors, an offering of food was a big deal. Food was hard to come by, sometimes scarce, and they worked hard for it. For us, food is almost a problem. Most of us certainly don’t see it as sacred, and many of us seem to see it as almost an enemy.
If we consider what is most valuable in our culture, it seems like the one thing everyone really longs for is more time. (A lot of us would also say money, but I really think there’s less disposable time in our culture than cash. At least that’s true in my life, and I’m far from wealthy. Really far.) Time is precious. Time is a gift.
So it seems to me that one possible offering we could make to whatever we honor is time. I’ll look at it from my tree-hugging dirt-worshipper perspective. What does it mean to offer my time to the green world? Coming back, again, to the book I’m reading on Druidry, the first thing is to just to go outside and be with the natural world–and really be there, really engage with it. Sitting on a park bench texting and emailing maybe doesn’t count. Living in the city, it’s easy to go days without really spending any time outside. So for me it becomes a spiritual act to get out there and really pay attention. Another possibility is to spend some time volunteering for an organization like The Nature Conservancy or The Audubon Society (I haven’t got this one figured out yet, but I’m working on it. Portland has an awful lot of options here.) And another possibility is to just take care of the places you find most sacred–pick up litter at the park, for example.
I guess the conclusions I’ve drawn is that whatever we offer should be precious to us. It should have a good deal of ourselves in it. And it should, in some way, benefit the ones we offer it to. It’s like a gift we give to the spirit world–and it should be a thoughtful gift, not just a giant Hershey’s Kiss picked up at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve because we forgot about getting a present for Cousin George.