For the two “O” weeks of the PBP, I decided to do posts about offerings. I had pretty much decided I would do those posts when we were still on the letters “B” or “C” in all honesty. I had noticed a lot of older pagans getting kind of snarky with some of the new members when they asked the de riguer questions regarding offerings and this didn’t sit well with me. By writing these posts, I could cleanly refer people to a basic guide when they had questions and also show that not every pagan who is “older and wiser” can be considered a jerk. You will note that there are three entries in total. The reason for this being that I wanted them staggered by what I felt was a level of hardship. So, things like “what” and “when” are answered in my first post, but things that are a little more difficult to explain or understand can be found in the subsequent posts.
You’ll also notice that as far as questions go, there aren’t many in this section. That’s because when it comes to the harder things, there aren’t as many questions. This may be because people don’t get this far or that they think no one has these kinds of questions. If, for whatever reason, you don’t see a question you really want answered in this series, please contact me. Now, not everyone is going to be comfortable leaving the questions in the comments below. With that a possibility, I’m going to have to say that your safest and best way to get a hold of me (and a quick response) would be via my page on FB for Mystical Bewilderment. If that’s not possible because you don’t have a FB, then you can ask for my E-mail in the comments below and I’ll do my best.
All right. Let’s get started!
Can OTHERS™ get tired of the same old offerings?
This is one of those questions that should be based on both research as well as your UPG (unverified personal gnosis). The thing is that when you do the research on a specific OTHER™ you will find that there are lists upon lists of offerings. For example, if you are doing a quick Google search for offerings for Yinepu, and you stumble on WW Wiki, you’ll see an entire huge-eye-normous list of possible offerings. It covers rocks and beverages, scents and items. In doing other types of searches for other types of OTHERS™, you’ll find similarly. The Theoi site for Greek practitioners have similarly long lists. So, when it comes to giving offerings, the staples of your particular trad (Kemetic being bread and beer, Greek being oil and wine, and Nordic being mead) may not necessarily be something you should stick to.
On top of that, too, we should look to what your gut is saying. (I’ve always been fond of the thought that my UPG lives in my gut, but I’m not quite the norm here.) Or, if you don’t think you have any instincts or UPG to forge through, let’s go at it a different way.
So, let’s think about this from a human perspective because, really, what other perspectives do we have? So, there you are. You are living on your own for the first time and you’re barely making ends meet. So, four nights a week, you’re stuck eating Ramen noodles or macaroni and cheese. The sameness of it really starts to flag on you after a while. Not only do you know that you are eating the most unhealthy diet you could possibly have chosen, but you practically salivate at the idea of something new and exciting, even if that just happened to be a piece of [boring] celery. So, as a human being, the sameness would get to you after a while. Now, let’s think a little bigger. Instead of just being a human, you’re an entity that relies heavily upon the offerings that your followers give to you so that you can manifest in their lives. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little change up? They change up their meals all the time, but we only get water and bread. What the hell?
So, while sticking with the same old can guarantee that they manifest in your life that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be happy about it. So, change it up. Substitute your usual routine with a bouquet of wild flowers you picked yourself. Or, maybe you could add a smidge of your delicious dinner to their plate once a week. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to offer them – although as a recon, I will admit that sticking to the status quo is both safe and time-tested so therefore, next to the word of the gods themselves – as long as the intent is there. If you mean to give X item to them, then they’ll be happy with that. But try not to get stuck in a rut. If your stomach doesn’t like it, why would theirs?
I think my OTHER™ wants a poisonous offering…?
This is one of those very odd and tricky things that do happen to some of us. For example, when I first started working with Hekate, I read up all I could about what to offer her and I was struck by how many plant offerings were actually poisonous plants. She likes things like deadly nightshade. And while she may enjoy having the pick of some of the more poisonous plants out there, I can’t possibly go around and just pick that stuff up to leave as an offering on her altar. It’s dangerous. It’s childish. It’s foolhardy. And especially with the fact that I have two dogs and a son who likes to touch everything, it’s practically criminal. With that in mind, in my house, poisonous offerings (and poinsettia) are not allowed. If the OTHER™ in question doesn’t like it, then tough nuggets. I have to protect my family and friends from making a mistake that I could have foreseen coming.
Now, I’m not saying an all-purpose NO DON’T DO IT or anything like that. Some of you may not be in a situation like mine. You may not have pets. You may not have kids. And the people who come to visit may know better than to touch whatever you have laying around just in case. With that being possible, then I suggest you go with whatever you feel is necessary. I would just think that an ounce of foresight is a pound of cure. Maybe putting these things into lovely jars with airtight seals would be in your best interest. Or, even, why not print out a picture of the plant in question, get a nice frame from your local dollar store, and ta-da! An offering of the poisonous variety has been given.
My house isn’t pagan friendly. I can’t just leave offerings around… how do I get around this?
This is a short and sweet answer. The reason being that, as I’ve said in my 101 post, it is possible to be living with parents who aren’t interested or willing to tolerate spiritual nourishment that they haven’t decreed. Or, maybe, you live in a dorm room and you can’t exactly wait until midnight to do a little ceremony because you have classes the next morning. So, how do you ninja shit for the OTHERS™ you honor if you aren’t in a pagan-friendly environment?
My advice on this is simple: actions. We’ve all heard the phrase, a thousand times and then some, about actions speaking louder than words. This is also the case in regards to what we do and care for with our OTHERS™. While I enjoy leaving water and other little items to Sekhmet on occasion, I can honestly say that I feel more relaxed and upbeat and like I’m a capable servant of hers when I go out and donate blood to her. When it comes to Legba, my greatest satisfaction in offering form is when I’m helping to open the way for others, either in the voodoo realm or in the realm of paganism in general. Yes, sometimes, you just want a place to put a rock down and say, “This is for X-OTHER™.” And I can completely understand the desire and need to want a place for such things. (I have never been more honest than when I say that I am an idolator at heart and so therefore, when I pray or work with an OTHER™, I need a station for such things.) So, let’s say you’re like me and while actions are awesome, you still want to ninja those offerings to your OTHERS™.
Are there places in your area that are wild or forested or maybe a park? People are probably going to look at you funny in a park if you light a stick of incense and leave a pile of bread behind, but it’s better than having the parental units thinking you’ve gone bat-shit. And I’ve learned from a lot of different pagans that certain places, the wilder feeling ones specifically, are the best places to go out and do things like meditation, leaving offerings, or having big huge celebrations. Dver does this all the time for her major celebrations. She goes out to the ocean or the mountains or the forests and does her thing. While it’s still not quite the same as having a space at home, the thing is that with constant use by us, these places pick up on the power that we’re injecting into it. So, after a years’ worth of use, the spot you’ve chosen will have more power than it did when you initially chose it for rites to X-OTHER™. My only precursor advice to doing this is make sure you get to know the nature spirits in that area first, leave offerings, explain what you want to use the place for, and come what may. Remember: just because you’re human doesn’t give you any more right to a spot than the nature spirits and animals that already live there.
I think my offering was rejected; what do I do?
This is actually one of those questions that rarely gets asked. I think this goes hand-in-hand with my belief that most pagans don’t want to discuss the things like the gods not being pleased with us or any mistakes we have made in regards to the gods, their offerings, or even magical workings. However, this is actually something that should be discussed. We all get the feeling, sometimes, that we’ve displeased the OTHERS™ for whatever reason. Now, as far as I can tell, there are a couple of reasons why an OTHER™ would be rejecting your offering. They could be angry with you. They could be uninterested in you. They could be displeased with the offering itself. (If there are any other possibilities out there, then please place them in the comments so I can go back and edit this section to include them. THANKS!)
If you feel like your offering is being rejected for whatever reason, then let’s start off with the third possibility. Perhaps, the OTHER™ in question didn’t like the quail eggs you left them as an offering. Now, why could that happen? Let’s go back to the books and double-check on the offerings for that particular OTHER™. Are quail eggs in that list? Or is this something you thought you get away with? If it’s not on the list, especially as someone who is either just starting out on this whole path or with this OTHER™ in question, then you should probably figure it as being rejected because it’s not something they appreciate for whatever reason. Maybe they have a thing for living quails, as opposed to their eggs. Or maybe, they think the thought is more over-the-top than they require. Let’s face it. Yes, these are gods, but there’s no need to go over-the-top when it comes to offerings. If the simple things worked back then, they should work just as easily now.
Well, if that’s the case, a simple change to the menu should fix the problem. But, maybe it wasn’t the offering itself. Let’s look at the next possibility, which I think would qualify as “maybe they’re not interested in you.”
Now, this does happen. You come along and find a god that you like, but for whatever reason, no matter what you have tried and done, they have not responded to you. You feel like a fool. You feel like you’re doing it wrong. You feel like a failure. This happens to the best of us. We all have chosen gods that we like, but that weren’t really interested in us for whatever reason. I’ll give you another example. When I first got into paganism, I chose Ma’at as my goddess. Yeah, I liked Sekhmet back then too, but I thought embodying and following Ma’at was the best way to go about a Kemetic pathway. And all I ever felt from her was a generalized, “aw, that’s so cute,” and nothing more. I felt like I was getting the send off and in effect, I was. That goddess didn’t want me for whatever reason. It wasn’t that I was a failure but that I just wasn’t what she was looking for. And the same is probably the case with you and the OTHER™ you’ve chosen at this particular moment. It’s just not meant to be. There can be a hundred reasons or just one reason, but it doesn’t matter. They probably think the effort you’ve put in is nice and all, but they’re just not interested. Your next step here is to move on and either find someone else, something else, or to take a break for a little while. (Never, ever underestimate the power of a vacation even from your religious life.)
The last reason, as far as I can see, is that the OTHER™ in question is angry with you. This does happen, as well. I’ve been known (probably more than most pagans – lol) to piss off my OTHERS™ on a nearly regular basis. Sekhmet was angry with me when I first started out because I pretty much ignored everything she ever told me and ended up suffering for it. Hetharu was pretty angry with me when we first got together because I wasn’t interested in her teachings and I felt like she was being shoved on me. And Legba is actually angry with me right now because I’ve put off a project that I started in his name and I haven’t gotten back into it. (That’s a tale for another day.) The thing is that we all do things now and again to piss of the OTHERS™. It’s just a matter of figuring it out and trying to fix it.
And while I’d love to give you the answers on how to fix it if that is the case, I just can’t. That’s between you and your OTHERS™.