Kemetic Round Table: Offerings.

The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek!

I tend to associate the act of giving things to the gods as the “next step” on anyone’s religious path. It’s one thing to say that you are a devotee of X deity or a specific pantheon, but it’s still a realm of theory. It’s easy to debate that theory, both with yourself and with others until you’re blue in the face, without having anything concrete to back it up. You’ve read all the books; you’re hip to the lingo; you follow all the “proper blogs” everyone has recommended; you’re down with it. But in my experience, it was only once I began to actively do in the name of the gods I was working with that I began to feel as though I were an established practitioner. Everything, to me, prior to that was just something that I could wipe off easily from a chalk board. When I went to the next level by actively providing things to my gods, I realized that I had carved a message into the slate and going back would be a hell of a lot harder then.

When it comes to providing offerings, I think what to offer is probably the most popular question asked.

I honestly think the more important question is less about what and more about who, if anyone. The thing is that most people, when it comes to offerings, they’re ready to explore the next step, but it usually means that they have a specific deity in mind, usually termed as the “patron deity.” While I don’t necessarily discourage the practice of feeling the need to have a patron deity, I don’t necessarily encourage it either.

By focusing all of their newbie excitement and willingness into a single deity, perhaps one who may not even be interested, they are willingly excluding themselves from other deities who may be interested. We’ve all heard about deity collectors – those “weird” people who “collect” deities on the regular, such as myself – but I think what people are neglecting to take into account is that those who “collect” deities as often as I do is why the hell some of these deities are approaching established devotees when there are whole avenues of newbie blood available.

I think, too, that by giving an all-encompassing offering to all deities within a pantheon, the person in question will be better able to establish themselves as someone serious about this polytheistic life. I have always maintained that it was the act of giving an offering on a daily basis that established me on this path – it was the ability to do that daily rite, day in and day out, that gave me the ability to feel like I was actually living my religion, which was important to me. By moving forward with not having a specific deity in mind, they’re leaving themselves breathing room before the fun begins and a relationship begins to become fully formed.

Pictured: two priestesses provide food and wine offerings. Temple of Ramesses, Abydos.

Pictured: two priestesses provide food and wine offerings. Temple of Ramesses, Abydos.

As to what is to be provided to the gods, most often people get stuck here. Personally, I always recommend the more tried and true offering methods as shown in ancient Egypt to start off with. According to every offering related picture ever created in ancient Egypt, things like bread, flowers, figs, wild game, incense, cool water, water fowl, meat hanks, grains like wheat and barley, onions, lettuce, and wine were all used as providing offerings to the gods. Any of these items can be provided to the gods without worrying too much based on legitimacy. Since this comes from historically attested sources, you can’t really go wrong with using any of those.

(Obviously, I’m not going to recommend that you place a pair of live ducks or go and hunt down a deer to give as an offering to the gods. Unless that’s how you roll, just don’t do that.)

Another form of measure is to decide how modern the food product is. I can show that you won’t find a bag of Doritos or a can of Arizona on any of those offering images depicted in ancient Egypt. If possible, it’s always a good idea to stick to as historically accurate an offering as one can get when first starting out. Offering junk food, like chips or overly processed foods is okay, but it’s always best that the beginner go with as natural an offering as possible. There’s no need to have to defend oneself against the “you’re doing it wrong” brigade and again, you know that you aren’t entering the realm of UPG, so therefore, won’t have to defend yourself to anyone who feels like saying anything.

As time goes on, however, and a level of comfort is established in the act of providing offerings, then I highly recommend branching out of the established patterns the ancient Egyptians have set for us. We live in a modern world and I am a very vocal person when it comes to providing a more modernized practice for the gods. This will include items like chocolate, soda, Doritos, and ice cream. While I don’t think it’s a good idea to give these things every day, I think it can be an added bonus or a sort of treat to provide on “big occasions,” such as festivals and feast days or to celebrate something big that you accomplished [for or with your gods].

Fruit offerings provided to Sekhmet during one of my services in her name. Chocolate is hiding on the outskirts of the image.

Fruit offerings provided to Sekhmet during one of my services in her name. Chocolate is hiding on the outskirts of the image.

Some more modern offerings that I can and do give to my gods include chocolate. I will also give shots of vodka and diet Coke to my gods. I’m not sure if the ancient Egyptians had cheese (and I’m too lazy to give it up), so I’ll give that in lieu of milk. All of these things are things that I ingest regularly (to a degree) and so, in my eyes, by giving them as an offering to my gods, I am actively sacrificing something to provide it. Even though I will revert it later, it’s still hard to just plunk it down in front of them and not immediately gobble up that chocolate square or drink down that perfectly chilled glass of diet Coke.

When it comes to offerings, obviously, the most commonly cited things are food. But in ancient Egypt, sweetly scented oils and incense were often provided to the gods. Nice smelling things were very important to the ancient Egyptians and so, these things were provided to the gods. Based on what I can find historically speaking, some of the more common incense blends were kapet (which is most often known today as “kyphi”), frankincense, and myrrh. Scented oils included scents perfumed with lilies and roots of iris.

(When searching for a good incense blend, I will often look for something that is organic. The ancient Egyptians abhorred bodily waste and most often, modern incense is made with urea. While I don’t hold too much with ritual purity, which can vary from practitioner to practitioner anyway, I do attempt to find incense blends without urea within them.)

Offerings can include non-historically attested items, as well. Usually, when it comes to giving things that aren’t historically accurate, it depends highly on the deity the item is being offered to. I have a knife blade on my altar to Sekhmet since she is a deity of warfare and bloodshed. The knife type isn’t something found in ancient Egyptian annals, but the concept behind the blade is. I have offered pink quartz to Hetheru, which is not attested to in my research on her, but it’s a pretty item and she is definitely a deity of “the finer things in life.” I have a rock with the word “magic” etched in it that I gave to Aset when she and I began working on strengthening my heka together.

None of these are things that, on the face of it, would have been given to the gods in the temples. It’s possible these smaller items would have been given in family shrines in the home, if these types of items existed back then. However, these are all items that make sense to me and are specifically entrenched in my UPG. As time goes by, a newbie will begin to create their own UPG that perfectly encapsulates the relationship(s) they are building with their deity(ies).

The final form of offering is to do things for the gods. Since most ancient religions are orthopraxic, I think it makes a perfect kind of sense to get up and go in the name of the gods. Sometimes, actions that I choose to provide to the gods are specific to that deity – I am cleaning for Hetheru as a household deity; I am singing and laughing with my son in the kitchen to Bes as a fun-loving and child-protecting deity; I am execrating my enemies for Sekhmet as a justice deity – but sometimes, they are all-encompassing actions to all the gods on my steady, but sure progress to live in ma’at.

Spongebob, telling it like it is.

Spongebob, telling it like it is.

I think that most people will get a little more nervous when they decide to offer actions to their gods, mostly because they’re not sure about how to go about it. Do you announce what you’re doing? Or do you just do it? Won’t it be weird if you just say that you’re going to do something for the gods? But won’t they already know what you’re doing? Personally, I used to announce that I am doing X for a specific deity just to ensure that they were listening. As time went by, however, I found that it mattered less and less if they were listening because I was going to do the thing anyway. While I reflected later that I had done that thing for the deity in question or possibly mulled over whether or not they liked that thing, it didn’t matter at the time of action if the deity was aware of that. All that mattered was that I was doing it and upholding ma’at in my own little way.

And above all else, upholding and maintaining ma’at, no matter how we define it ourselves, is probably the greatest action that can be given to the gods. It is to them that ma’at is upheld with their actions and it is our ability to assist them with our own actions that it continues. Even if cleaning the bathroom for the gods doesn’t seem like you’re upholding ma’at or even if it doesn’t seem like a suitable offering to the gods, it actually is. It’s something you are doing. It is maintaining your household. It is a part of your life, for good or ill. No matter how big or how small the task may be, if you decide it’s an action offering, then it’s an action offering and so be it.

When it comes to offering foods to the gods, we always talk about reverting the offerings. In ancient Egypt, the priests would disseminate the food items out to the people of the temple and eat them down. This is most often what Kemetics are discussing when we mention “reversion of offerings.” It’s one thing to sacrifice a food item to the gods and quite another to just throw it away afterwards. Sometimes, it may be a part of the offering to feed the birds with bread offered to the gods, but especially for those of us on a very strict budget, we can’t just throw food out because it was the gods’ food first.

However, sometimes, even the idea of offering food on a regular basis can be kind of dicey because of strict budgets. Another work around would be to offer meals that you are eating to the gods. This way, you don’t have to feel like you need to leave something out for “long enough” so that the gods take their fill before you whisk it away and devour it yourself. Offering what’s already going into your stomach also provides you with the ability to hide what you’re doing if you are living in an environment where you have to practice your religion on the down low.

Getting right down to it, the things to provide to the gods will vary from practitioner to practitioner. Whether or not the offerings are overt or quietly; whether or not they are done each day or once a week; whether or not they are provided with play food (like dollhouse food items) or with real food… it all depends on what works best for the person in question. And of course, the only way to find out how it will work out for each one of you is to give it all a try.

Related Posts

  1. Offerings 101
  2. Offerings 201
  3. Offerings 301
  4. On Offerings

Poor-As-Fuck Polytheism.

As some people may already be aware, there’s been a shit storm this weekend. I’ve been watching it from my couch in between bouts of coughing and high-grade fever. It’s been entertaining and interesting to see all the various blog posts, finger-pointing, and general comments flying back and forth. I’ve enjoyed it while I attempt to recoup as much energy as I can before heading back to work tomorrow and contending with the energy requirements of Christmas Eve and Christmas. I will admit that the original post that began this latest firestorm really did get to me. I even commented on it – not that anyone clicking on that link would know. Tess wasn’t willing to approve my comment, which is her right. It is, after all, her blog. However, I pointed out that since the original post she was referring to was actually based on a Kemetic standpoint, more specifically the god Serapis asking for some low down from someone, that her libations statement was incorrect. But, of course, it’s okay! She put a parenthetical statement that said “it can depend on context.” However, if you’re going to start making posts regarding someone’s attempts at starting a relationship with a new god, then you should probably refer to the relationship building in terms of the culture that god stems from.

It’s a novel concept, but I digress.

What came later was a lot of shit flinging from the on-high polytheists that usually end up doing this. Tess Dawson followed up her middling to fair post with a true gem in which she makes racist comments and bitches about poor people. She decided that poor people shouldn’t have “nice things.” Apparently, owning a newfangled cell phone is above and beyond the poor; having an Internet connection in your home is seriously pushing your budget; you should only buy your clothes in second hand shops; and last but not least, you can definitely pour out a few drops of wine, milk, water, etc. to the gods in question since people “living in an inner-city ghetto in a gang war zone can manage on occasion to pour out a 40 to his homies.” Ouch. That’s a lot of assumptions and broad generalizations there. It was these comments as well as her absolutely staunch believe that she knows the financial situation of every poor person who happens to be a polytheist that really got people up in arms. Of course, her posse purposely misunderstood why people were upset.

Galina waxed poetic about having been poor once and then shamed poor people into giving offerings because they can afford food. And of course, Dver kept it classy by defending Tess’s racial statements and then proceeded to bitch at a Latina for having an opinion before she and her cronies bitched out a Haitian descendant for having an opinion, as well. I think we can just slow clap this one down in the history books.

Not only did these people completely miss the point that the working poor polytheists out there were making, but they really made themselves look about as classy as a three dollar bill. What makes all of this worse is that they really and truly believe their way is the only way. Since quite clearly, it takes all manner of people to make the world go ’round, the same applies to polytheistic traditions. If Tess hadn’t made an attempt to make an “all-encompassing polytheist guide” to the polytheists out there, this probably wouldn’t have been such a huge issue. The problem with these people – and their pet pit bull, Sannion – is that you cannot speak about polytheism an “all-encompassing” anything. The only similarity between my flavor of polytheism is that we all believe there are a lot of gods – and that’s it. My practice is not their practice is not your practice is not Joe Blow’s practice is not anyone else’s practice. It is unique and personal and wholly mine just as the same applies to their practices and to yours. There is no right way; there is no wrong way. There is only a practice that is what each individual makes of it.

The real issue with these types of ignorant statements about what poor people can and cannot do or what they can and cannot afford is the fact that they just simply don’t know how fucking poor we all are. Unless they take a poll of each polytheist who professes to be poor, they’ll never know why they have nice things. Perhaps the nice things were purchased when times were easier. Perhaps the nice things were after saving hard for the item in question. Or perhaps the nice items were acquired because sometimes the “bad decisions” poor people make actually make perfect sense. Whatever the case may be, they’re only taking a single and very narrow viewpoint about what poor people should be like and ignoring the majority of what poor people are actually like.

Another thing that they are not taking into consideration is that being poor isn’t just about financial status. It isn’t just as simple as making money or not making money; being on assistance programs or not being on assistance programs. There is no neatly defined specifications of what a poor person is or is not. But every single one of us have something in common with one another. You see, the thing these people are forgetting or merely just don’t know is that being poor isn’t only about the money, but it’s also about the mentality and emotional state that goes along with it. It’s about being poor and being poor. There’s a certain mental state and emotional frazzled state that goes along with the burden of being poor and that is something that is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to fight against.

With each day, if a poor person has a job, they go out and they do the job. In those instances, if they don’t have anything that can take their mind off of their financial situation, then they’re thinking about what bills haven’t been paid and how long they have before the electric company will turn off the electricity or where the next propane gas tank payment is going to come from. If they’re lucky enough to shut that shit down at work, then they get to go home and return to that careworn and frazzled state that they left that morning. It’s harder when they’re at home to ignore all the pending crises that could be sneaking up on them because they’re at home, whether that’s with a steady roof over their head or in a shelter. And they have to face their state over and over again. With that comes guilt, horror, shame, failure feels, and a myriad of other mental and emotional pinpricks that can get under the skin deep enough and far enough to make it nearly impossible to keep from losing all hope. Dante had it right, “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate,” but it’s not just about the Ninth Circle of Hell: it’s also about being part of that classification of being poor.

And with all of those dangerous and painful feelings comes the ongoing blather from the mind.

I have it pretty bad. I’ve been scraping by with my job. I actually made more money when I was unemployed. I’ve only recently been granted food stamps again because I am about a thousand dollars a month below the federal poverty level for a family of three. Let that sink in for a minute: as the only person working, I make about a grand less than the federal poverty level each month. And with the money that I do have, I have to pay all of the bills and all of the extraneous and silly items, like gas to get to work, on that income. What makes it worse is that I have a son. I have a beautiful little boy who really and truly makes me feel loved and like I can do no wrong, but in my off moments, I’m often wondering how I could have brought him into a life like this. On top of the usual terrible feelings of failing and shame, I get the added bonus of feeling like a really shitty parent because I can’t afford to get my son new clothes, I can’t afford to let him go on any school field trips, I can’t afford to give him nice things like some of his friends have. But he looks up at me with those love filled eyes and for just a moment, I know it can be okay.

I’m lucky that I have a child because sometimes, the feelings go away.

I know there are plenty of people who don’t have an out like I do. I know there are a ton of people who can’t shut their mind off at work. I know there are a ton of people who don’t have distractions handy to forget the horrible situations they’re in. So, in that regard, I’m lucky. What else makes me lucky is that I still have my faith. I may be a poor polytheist by the Piety Posse’s standards, but I know that I’m not. I know, strongly and without doubt, that what I do and how I do it is okay. It works. They’re pleased with it. And I think that if others can kind of use what I have in similar situations, then maybe, just maybe, the horror of their situations may just fade, just a little bit and for just a little while. So, let’s get to it. Here we go.

  1. Food and beverage offerings.
  2. Food is pretty expensive. I spend a lot of my time in the grocery store, hemming and hawing over what I can afford versus what I actually need. The two lists don’t usually meet down the middle. Sometimes, I can get things like vegetables in my house because the frozen vegetables go on sale. At my grocery store, last week, I was able to get those really expensive name brand, individual vegetable portions at a buck a piece. I sure as hell stocked up. But in my house, we’re big on fruits. And outside of bananas, which are pretty cheap, I end up holding back a lot when I would prefer to go wild. I would like to buy pomegranates for Sekhmet and I would like to buy grapes for Djehuty and I would love to be able to figure out how to purchase a pineapple for Papa Legba, who has been asking for some months. Instead, I look at the prices of the apples and the pears and the grapes and I usually end up with a bunch of bananas and two apples and maybe an orange if they’re on sale, too, and my son, TH, and I end up eating them. They rarely go to the gods.

    When it comes to other items to offer, I’m on even less of a good scale here. The idea of leaving bread out for even a second is anathema to me. My son is at a piss-poor nutritional phase right now. That means that bread and peanut butter are all he’s willing to eat without serious arguments. So, we go through a lot of bread and I’m not usually the one who ends up eating it. I’m not going to take away from my son’s daily routine just so that the gods can have some bread. I’m also not going to remove a piece of steak from my mouth or my son’s mouth just so the gods can have some once in a while. None of them seem particularly interested in chicken, which is one of the cheapest things I can afford right now, no matter how many times I offer it. And now that things are as hard and as expensive as they are, I don’t dare sacrifice even a hint of food to them. My survival and the survival of my family is first and foremost. Besides, if I’m suffering from malnutrition because I’m too busy loading food off of my plate to the gods’ plates, then what good am I really doing? I may look like a totally “awesomely devout” polytheist, but point of fact, I would just be emulating a bunch of selfish twatwaffles who don’t deserve the time of day. So, why bother?

    Besides, the gods don’t seem to want me to take away from myself on their behalf. It isn’t so much about sacrifice in an attempt to look more devout, but about the intent behind what you’re offering. And if you’re so worried about money and how not to waste things, then the intent isn’t going to be there. There are other ways around this, whether you eat your offerings or not.

    A while ago, I was crying to my netjeru about money. I was feeling awfully low and feeling like I wasn’t doing my duty as their devotee. I mean, my offerings were very sparse and far between. I felt like a heel for failing to give them food stuffs. I thought that I could maybe bake for them, but even scraping together the money for eggs was pretty hard. So, I was just coasting. And that’s when I remembered votive offerings. Now, Devo is probably the best known Kemetic who does this. She uses Re-Ment to provide food offerings of varying quality to her gods. Votive offerings were pretty big in ancient Egypt, so it’s historically attested. When I waltzed into the Hobby Lobby near me and saw that the dollhouse food items were on sale for less than a buck on payday, I figured that it was a sign to go ahead and do so. It’s not the quality of the dollhouse food items because, really, they’re pretty crappily made (as someone whose family did the dollhouse stuff when I was a kid – I know the difference between the “good stuff” and the “cheap stuff”). But the intent was behind what I was aiming to do.

    The really neat thing about this is that we don’t even need to buy things like dollhouse food stuffs or Re-Ment. If a polytheist is even remotely good at drawing, they could maybe draw up an offering plate of bread and butter and meat and whatever else comes into their minds. Even if they’re not, they could simply write down the names of what they wanted to offer. It would still be considered a votive offering of the items in question because the intent is still there. Yeah, sure. It’s nice having a physical reminder of what you want to offer your gods – an image of some sort – but even words are good enough. If there are polytheists who can get by on providing nothing but prayers to their gods, then I think we can get by with writing out what a full meal would look like or be comprised of in order to make ends meet.

    A lot of people end up only being able to provide beverage type items in offering to their gods. Before I managed to find the cheap ass dollhouse food, I was in that boat. While the idea of being able to give shot glasses of booze or cups of milk or maybe some juice, even, sounds like a good idea, the money problem comes up again and again. Each cup that we may leave out, even for a second, could be taking away from what we need and what our families may need. Sharing a cup of tea with the gods is one thing but if you don’t even have the money for tea bags? Well, it goes beyond sacrifice and moves into the realm of “nope.” Of course, reversion of offerings stands here along with food, but the idea of leaving it out for an untold amount of time while the gods drink up what they want kind of squicks me out. It’s one thing to leave out a glass of juice for a few minutes, but there’s something less than pleasing about drinking a cup of milk after it’s already been sitting out for five minutes. (Personal preference here, maybe?) Whatever the reason – I’m not going to remove a cup of anything from my stomach, my son’s stomach, and I’m not going to discuss it. So, what else did that leave me?

    Before the dollhouse food, I was only giving cool water to the netjeru and nothing else. I just couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice the food, so I gave them cups of water. I’m not a huge fan of water, but I also understand that conservation efforts need to be made. We can’t just assume that the resource will always be there. If there are states that can send people to jail for collecting rain water, then maybe it really is a pretty hot commodity. Whatever the reason, we need to think about conservation here while also being able to provide beverages, right? We can always re-use the water in some way, too, though. I actually end up re-using the water in my dog’s water dish every day. I give her the cups of water after the gods are “done” with it. I’ve also reused it to water plants in my home as well. However, water is free for me. It goes along with my rent. And I know that not everyone has that luxury. I used to have to pay for water in the apartment I lived in down south and there may not be a lot of landlords/landladies who are willing to throw in any bonuses in this economy. So, what to do?

    Again, we come back to votive offerings. If the above example of dollhouse foods or Re-Ment is used, then we can go ahead and have more than just a simple cup of water to give. There are wines and beers and milk and juices to provide for the gods. And in same vein, as said above, if push comes to shove and the purchase of votive offerings isn’t something that can be done, then write about it or draw it.

    What if, however, the polytheist is too poor to afford paper? Paper, like food and water, can be pretty expensive. You may not have ink to print something off and be unable to afford it. You may not have the ability to rub two pennies together so owning a pen and paper may be hard, too. What about speech? I realize I’m coming from a Kemetic viewpoint so my point-of-view regarding how powerful speech is goes beyond what other polytheists may believe. But even in ancient Egypt, the act of speaking, the words themselves, had power to them. And if you used your heka just right, you could probably just get away with speaking what you wanted to provide for the gods and they would be okay. I don’t know if the other cultures have similar views about words and the power of speech. But I bet if a polytheist inquires after the gods and how they feel about the power of speech, they may give you a good idea.

    And if they prefer the votive food offering, on paper for instance, maybe borrowing pen and paper from a friend or from a center could help. I know that when I have to go to my local food stamps office, there is paper and pens everywhere. And sometimes, I walk away with those pens. (Not on purpose, but because I stick them in my hair and then leave.) And there is scratch paper left behind from various others who have needed it to figure out their finances or needed to write down extras that the little paper applications don’t have room for. So, maybe surreptitiously taking the paper from an office like that, maybe that could go to providing the libations and offerings that you want to give to your gods. Besides, if a resource that is available to the poor is willing to leave things like that out, then maybe they really mean for you to have the things in questions like spare paper and pens. Whatever the case may be, if words aren’t sufficient, I think paper and pen can work just fine in a pinch.

  3. Non-perishable offerings.
  4. Offerings aren’t just about the food and the water, though. As much as people make a big deal about those things, they’re not the be-all, end-all. A lot of people forget that offerings, at least in antiquity, weren’t just about the pile of food that the priests or the people could provide for their gods. While the offering formula, at least of ancient Egypt, talks a big game about food, there were other things that were offered. Specifically, the formula says, “He gives invocation offerings of bread, beer, oxen, birds, alabaster, clothing, and every good and pure thing upon which a god lives.” And sometimes, it would end with something like, “Every good and pure thing that the sky gives, the earth creates, the inundation brings, on which the god lives.” This wasn’t just about the mountains of food that would be reverted to the priest, but about other items as well. So, how would someone who is poor be able to offering things to the gods as well? And what other types of things could they offer, perhaps even in lieu of food?

    If we look at relief, then we know that it wasn’t just about the food that was provided to the gods. We have images of them offering ma’at, we have images of them offering gold and semi-precious stones, we have images of the people offering every “good and pure thing” that the god may desire or need for life. Things have changed in the last thousand years, I can tell anyone who is willing to read this. What was once “good and pure” may not be so anymore. And in same vein, what once may never have been thought to be “good and pure” may be now. I’ve looked around my house and at the accrual of things that have happened in the last thirty years. I have a lot of things that can be easily and obviously changed over into one of those “good and pure” things that the gods may desire. I use them as a kind of back up or instead of when it comes to providing food to the gods.

    I have repurposed stones given to me to the gods. I have a carnelian rosette that I give to Sekhmet every day. It used to be a pendant on a necklace. I have a quartz pyramid that I bought when things were easier on me and I use that as an offering to Hetheru every day. I gave a pair of winged earrings to Aset just last week. I have books aplenty and each book can be provided as an offering to Djehuty. I have pens, too, that I keep on his altar in offer since reed pens and ink are no longer the way, but it seemed silly to prevent him from having some form of writing implement to give to him. I have Tarot cards that I’ve been given over the years and I’ve used these as offerings to them, as well. I have a huge store house of incense that I have been given or I was able to purchase in the good years. Since I use the incense so sparingly, I have a lot left for giving to them during the “big rites.”

    These are all obvious items to give to them, though, right? They all, in a way, hearken back to bits and pieces that they would have been given in antiquity. While my practice is definitely historically informed, it’s not the only bit in there. I’ve given other modern type things to the gods as well. I found a needle and thread, which I gave to Hetheru. I have a hand broom which I gave to Bes once. My laptop is an object I’ve given to Djehuty more than once. I’ve given dandelion pollen to Geb. The Ouija board mints that Devo gave me, I give on a daily basis to Aset. I give candle stubs to the gods, as well. Anup was given a huge three-wick pillar candle that I’ve owned for years and he loves the smell. My son gave me the gaudiest fucking Dachshund ornament last year for Christmas and I gave that to Anup as well. It was a joke, at first, but it’s because a real thing since then.

    All of these things are “good and pure” because they are all things that I’ve appropriated to incorporate in what I give to the gods. It’s not the object that matters. It’s not what other people that think about the object that matters. All that matters is the intent behind why I’m giving it. If I think it’s a good idea, and I don’t immediately get smacked with laughter, then it can’t be all bad. These are things that people tend to forget about. It’s easy to take something that we have been given from others or by others, things we have lying around the house and utilize them in the context of our devotions. Everyone gets hung up on the things, though, and there are other things that can be provided to the gods.

  5. Devotional acts.
  6. Being devout isn’t just about things and stuff. A lot of posts seem to focus on the things and stuffs. I get it. In a poor person’s mind, it’s the accumulation of things that makes us not poor anymore. In my house, the accumulation of stuff is just a testament to how much of a pack rat I may actually be. Things and stuff are all well and good, to an extent, but there are other ways to go ahead and show your devotion to the gods: actions. Actions speak louder than words, or so people say. I don’t know if that’s really true in this day and age where the Internet is based entirely on the words people are using. Whatever the case may be, just because we live in a world where the written word is probably far more important than it was a hundred years ago (and back then, the written word was all about conveying opinions and learning things), it doesn’t negate the fact that there are still actions that can be taken to show the devotion one has for their gods. It is through those actions that we live our lives, in some cases, and through those actions that we can live another day. Devotional acts, I think, are not really as properly discussed as they could be. And I think they should be paid more attention to because, you know, when you’re poor, the things and the stuff aren’t the entirety of a person’s practice.

    Devotional acts can take all forms. Some people give their time to homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Some people donate books to their local library. Some people donate gently used clothes to the Goodwill or Salvation Army. Whatever the case may be, there are a lot of people who will go ahead and do something that is entirely dedicated to their religious practice. But when it comes to poor people, we don’t really have the time and energy, a lot, to go ahead and do that kind of a thing. And in some cases, we may not even have the items to donate, either. I can donate clothes to my local shelter because I have a kid who is constantly fucking growing like a weed and he is always in need of new clothes. But that’s the extent of what I can provide to them. But that, honestly, isn’t a devotional act to me. It’s a basic human act for me. To me, honestly, a devotional act is something that I do on a daily basis and give it with intention to my gods.

    I clean my house for Aset and Hetheru and Bes. I read a story to my son for Bes and Djehuty. I wash the dishes for Sekhmet and cook dinner for Aset. I neatly rearrange my books for Djehuty. I walk in the grass, barefoot, for Geb. I watch the clouds float by for Khonsu and Re. These are all things I would normally do in my day, but occasionally, I dedicate them in the name of the gods. It’s not only an attempt to provide them with the “good and pure” things that coincide with my living in ma’at but they are also attempts to bring my gods more fully into my life. Too often, I think, people who are in dire circumstances forget to have faith, forget to have hope. I’m one of those people. So, especially during the hard times, I will do something obvious and something that I may do on a regular basis and dedicate that action to a specific deity. That way, I can remind myself that they are there, they are in my life, that I have faith, and someday, maybe, things won’t suck so badly.

I’ll tell you what – being poor is hard. Being a poor polytheist is hard. We don’t have a ready-made group of people that we can turn to in a lot of circumstances. Some polytheists can go to the local UU and have a community that may be there to hold their hands. Some of us aren’t so lucky or aren’t capable of finding that type of community to turn to when things are rough. In many instances, the only community we have is the one we’ve forged through our Internet relationships. In cases like mine, where the only community I have is the one I have online, it can be quite painful to have people like the Piety Posse tell you how much you suck at being a devout polytheist because you’re poor and won’t “sacrifice” like they think you should. It can be really fucking hard because they’re making broad generalizations about individual circumstances that they know nothing about. But that’s the thing about them – they’re always making broad generalizations about polytheism when each polytheist’s practice is unique and individual, no matter how much cross pollination there may be.

What these kind of people really forget, though, about being poor is that it isn’t just a matter of what you can give or why you can’t give something. It’s a matter of having the ability in all instances – monetary, mental, and emotional states – that can cause a lot of poor polytheists’ problems. If your heart isn’t in it, then don’t do it. And when you’re poor, a lot of times, your heart isn’t going to be in it because you’re too busy worrying about where the money for things are going to come from or where the energy to clean your house is going to come from after working 12 hours and coming home to tend to your children. That’s fine. That doesn’t make you any less than me, or Galina, or Tess, or Dver, or Sannion, or Devo, or GLE, or Desh or any other polytheist I can think of, no matter where they stand on this particular issue. It just makes you human. It makes you human and it makes you have a religion and it means that you are going through some shitty fucking circumstances.

Maybe those circumstances will change and maybe they won’t.

But don’t let your situation make you feel bad for having the practice that you have. And certainly, don’t let anyone who thinks they have the high-and-mighty ability to pass judgment on others make you feel bad about your practice. Whatever you do and however you go about is good enough. Otherwise, the gods probably wouldn’t stick around. Of all the beings you know who should care about what your practice looks like? It’s definitely going to be the gods you work with that matter most. And if they don’t mind you cleaning out the lint trap of your dryer (if you have one) in their name, then why the fuck should anyone else care?

Thanksgiving, Polytheist Style.

Before we get to the meat and potatoes here, I should inform people who I had a regular, American thanksgiving. It was good. We spent the day at TH’s aunt’s house. We got to Skype with her son who is living in Japan as a teacher. (I think he’s teaching English, but he may be teaching Japanese? I’m not sure. His major was Japanese something-or-other.) However, I don’t really see the point of the holiday aside from getting together with your family and eating a turkey. I don’t find it very spiritual and I don’t find it much use aside from eating turkey. It’s the only time of year that I eat turkey.

Also, this thanksgiving polytheist… thing fell in my lap… today.

This morning, I awoke from a very odd dream. I don’t normally dream about my OTHERS™. Or, if I do this on a regular basis, I never recall them. When I do wake up with them in my memory banks, there tends to be a large reason behind it, usually a warning of some kind. What was even more fascinating was that I dreamed of Hekate for the first time.

I was at her altar in my home, but it was outside. Or maybe, there was no roof above the alcove I have her table in. (And that makes sense since I want to try and find a scarf with stars on it, as pictured in this image of Nut to tack to my ceiling.) Anyway, I was kneeling in front of it and I was being incredibly formal as I made offerings. I couldn’t see the offerings, but it was definitely me, kneeling, and formally giving her offerings of some kind or another. I was also speaking formal words, possibly some of the ones I’ve been reading about in Hekate: Liminal Rites by Sorita D’Este. Again, I don’t remember what words I was speaking or what I was offering, but the dream was important.

I’m pretty sure Hekate was trying to tell me something. I figured I would do something big and bad ass for her on the new moon.

Today, however, is the first of the month of Sf-Bdt according to my Kemetic calendar. This is also the first of the new season of Peret, or winter. I knew I was going to do something in commemoration of this. Since I’m not huge on festivals and big-huge things, I try to at least bake something at the start of the new month and I’ll go a little more extra on things when it’s the start of a new season. But over all, I’m really not a huge ritual, celebration person. I like being the low-key, lay person I’m pretending to be. Of course, it’s funny how you assume or figure things will end up in one way but they really end up in another. Today was about giving thanks for the things that I do have.

You see, things haven’t been very well over here. On Friday, I go back to being unemployed and I’m pretty sure I can’t file for unemployment benefits because I’m only a temporary employee. After this, I don’t know where money is going to be coming from. We receive TH’s miniscule weekly allotment from his unemployment, but even with me trimming the fat on certain bills, it’s not enough to pay for everything. I figure that if I could get cash assistance from the state in the tune of, say, three hundred dollars, we should be able to survive… as long as we also get food assistance. So, suffice it to say that I’ve been wicked depressed and moody. It’s at the point where I’m cleaning like a fiend, taking non-cleaning out on my family members (even though it’s not their fault that they didn’t do something, but I feel like it is because I’m angry at the world), and rearranging my entire house to boot. Well, parts of my house. I’m sobbing internally at the thought that I won’t be able to buy anyone anything for Christmas, again.

Since my daily rune pull today was othala, I decided to take this as a sign that I should be thankful for what I do have.

Sure, I don’t have a job or won’t in the near future, but I have to have faith that I will be provided for by the universe. As easy as it is for me to slip into a deep, black depression over all of this, I really can’t. I have a four-year-old and a twenty-four year old who relies on me. I have cleaning and laundry to do. I have the ability to ask for help from numerous people and I will receive something. I still have some money in savings so maybe Christmas and bills won’t go completely to shit. My car is still functioning even if she’s not at tip-top shape. So, while I’m liable to be miserable and depressed again in the upcoming week or two, TODAY, there’s no fucking room.

And I’m thankful for that, too.

To get the party started, I went to my local Goodwill and purchased some items.

I bought a wooden bowl, two small tumblers, and a pretty picture with flowers on it.

I had actually gone in there with the intention of finding a small, but wider bowl for Hekate. She was going to get pomegranates when I did the thing for her, but I was hoping to have a bowl that had a wider lip than the one I have. No dice on that, obviously. The wooden bowl was purchased for Papa Legba. At a future point, I’m hoping to paint it red and get a black paint-pen to inscribe his veve into the middle. Since I can’t afford a real calabash bowl, like they do in Haiti, but I can afford the fifty cents this bowl cost me… Yeah. He was all for it. The two glass tumblers are for Hetharu and Sekhmet. They’ve recently requested oils for offerings. Right now, they’ve got regular old extra virgin olive oil, but I think they really want scented ones. The picture was for Hekate. She likes plants, right?

Before I went home, I decided to stop at the grocery store. I had AN ITCH and I couldn’t go home. So, in a half-daze, I wandered around the grocery store and picked up cheap items for tonight’s dinner and for any of my OTHERS™. The only one who didn’t cost me anything, oddly enough, was Papa Legba. (Although, he almost talked me into another red candle in a glass holder. ALMOST.) Hekate sent me to the fruit section for a pomegranate and then I went zooming down to flowers. They had a pretty little bouquet on special for five dollars. I was shocked by her choice, though; oranges? I think it’s a last lingering feels regarding the end of the autumn, but who knows what’s going through a person’s head when they– OH. You know. I read something about her getting lilies from someone as an offering and guess what kind of flower is in the bouquet? I get it.

The next step was to notice that I was being trolled by the land spirit.

That tree is the tree I focus on when I’m working with the land spirit, so it IS the land spirit in a sense. The leaves from that tree are all leading up to just below my living room window.

It’s the full moon tonight and that was when I decided I would leave my monthly offerings for the land spirit. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t leave them until it was cold and dark outside. But, later, I went out and did leave a diced apple and some kumquats for the land spirit. Tomorrow before work, I’m going to leave a slice of bread and the big fucking rock I plucked up from one of my local cemeteries. I also talked, briefly, with the land spirit today about how things are going really badly in my life (again). I got the overwhelming feeling from it that I needed to stop worrying so damn much. I guess I’m getting it from all over: the gods, the lwa, and the universe will provide, so knock it off. It was nice to talk with it, though, since I always think that winter = land spirit communication being remote. INCORRECT, SIR.

So, after a lot of cleaning and generally annoying labor, I went around and began baking. If nothing else, when I celebrate a new month, I will bake something for Hetharu. However, I got the feeling that my baking was more in line with a Certain Other Feminine Deity than the one living with Sekhmet. I’m just getting trolled by all the female deities… Of course, I have to admit to everyone here that I’m not surprised. I know that Aset’s statue was in that dream I had about Mut a while back, so I was kind of expecting it. I’m just… I hope she likes small offerings in my kitchen. I’ve been putting her off for a while and she’s been patiently waiting. Apparently, patience has run out. And I’m pretty sure that she’s here in the FOREVER WAY, like Sekhmet. So, this should be weird and interesting. And it explains so much shit…

But that’s a post for a different day.

Continuing on.

So, after I did my baking chores, I went around and started making my thanksgiving dinner. Of course, it was small and tiny. I can’t afford big and expansive. And besides, that’s kind of the point, to me, in a thanksgiving meal. It’s my family sitting down and enjoying what I make. It’s the three of us lauding my cooking abilities (of which are good, okay, but I always wait to see how people react when I cook, all nervous like, because what if I kill someone by accident?). It’s the three of us arguing over who gets the last dollop of milk in a cup. It’s the three of us being a family.

And of course, before we all sat down, all of my OTHERS™ were summoned to their respective places.

He wanted rice, but he got orzo in a garlic and butter sauce. We argued for five minutes about why he needed a fork. Obviously, he won.

Water, oil, cookies, and steak for the two of them. They were also given more items on their altar, per requested.

Flowers in the background, pomegranate in the foreground, and Grey Goose and diet Coke. She was also given a rearrange and clean.

So, that, ladies and gentleman, is how a polytheist can get down with the giving of thanks.

The How Vs. Why of Qebech (PBP).

First of all, for those of you are not of a Kemetic background, you won’t know the Q word I chose for this week’s post. Let me explain it. While I was mulling over what to write about, I mentioned that I didn’t have a damn clue as to what I should be writing about for this letter. There are a few gods and some words that are ancient Egyptian in origin and they begin with Q. The thing was that I couldn’t be sure whether or not I could do it justice. So, I just put it out there that I was stuck and any recommendations could be useful. Bezenwepwy, who is the supreme knowledge fount of all things jackal god related, gave me the following suggestions, qebeshu and qebech. The first means ‘cool water’ and the second, the one I chose, can either mean ‘to purify’ or ‘make a libation.’ I’ve decided to use qebech in its meaning of ‘make a libation.’

Now, the point of this entry stems from a conversation I monitored between two Kemetics of differing practices. That’s where the whole idea – after being given the word in question – came from. So, let’s see how much justice to this topic that I can give it.

Now, I’m not going to rehash the disagreement here. You’ll just have to trust in the fact that it happened. The thing is that the basis of the disagreement seemed to be a misunderstanding (which happens for more often on the Internet since we can’t watch facial cues or body language while reading whatever is written). The entire basis of this argument, besides a misunderstanding, seemed mostly because someone was worried that qebech and food offerings being left were due to “an easy way out” versus based on actually being thought over. And that’s the thing. This person who thought this way has seen and watched and realized that too many people getting into this lifestyle – not just Kemetism, but paganism, in general – tend to get stuck on the how question when it comes to leaving our offerings instead of paying attention to the why question when it comes to leaving our offerings. And as they mentioned, when you get stuck in the how you tend to autopilot when it comes to doing the daily offering jazz.

I’ll admit this because I have no problem explaining that I fuck up regularly: I’ve been stuck in that little smidge lately. It’s not just that I have to put actual thought into what I’m leaving, but that it is incredibly easy to just go about the motions instead of actually focusing on what you are doing. After a while, you just start falling into the pattern. At first, you might think that doing it this way will build up the ability to just remember to leave these things for the gods. And in a manner of speaking that could be the case. I know that when I let the autopilot take over whenever I was doing a daily offering to the gods and the lwa and whomever else desired something, I was not likely to forget what was going on. But, I found it unsatisfying after a while. I was going through all of these motions and instead of being stuck on the why I was doing all of this, I was still stuck in the how phase. Let’s call that the Beginner Phase.

The Beginner Phase, I think, is common. I also am becoming to believe that it may actually be a test of the gods. No, no; hear me out before you laugh me off. I think that this Phase is necessary. It teaches us to get into the habit of leaving things for the gods on a regular basis, which is something we should be doing, especially those of us practicing a recon form of religion. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if we don’t do this, how will they manifest in our lives? Not just the God Phone and all of that, but in miracles and tribulations. If we don’t get into this Beginner Phase, then what is the point in all of the work we try to put into it? If we can’t lay a foundation, what the hell is the point? But like I said, I think it’s a test. I think it’s a test because we have to not only get into the habit of doing this, but we also have to be conscious of what we are offering and the very reason behind it: the why.

I just said it above and so, I’ll say it again.

I honestly believe that when I’m leaving things to my gods and my spirits and my lwa, it’s so that I can feel their presence in my life. Am I saying that these actions or qebech are wholly necessary to feeling them? No. Before I was called to this path, I didn’t leave offerings at all. I didn’t do anything. There were no prayers or thoughts or anything in that direction. But Sekhmet and Legba and Hekate have all managed to come into my life and make themselves made manifest in some form or another. Now that they are here, I want to keep them in my life. I want to continue to forge a stronger and stronger relationship with them. And while the offerings that I give them may not be the whole enchilada, I think it’s a pretty big and important aspect to maintaining that relationship. But it’s not like I can just go around and give them the same things, day in and day out. As I’ve said in some of my offering posts, isn’t it possible that, just like us, the OTHER™ get bored with the same thing on a daily basis?

We do; so why not them?

But the other aspect to this, which is something that we forget, is that we have to remember the why. And in so doing, we should put more effort into the qebech that we leave and the food that we leave. We shouldn’t just stick to the Grain and Drain Train*. While water and bread were two of the biggest things to leave, we can’t just assume that they want it daily. It’s not just an aspect of being bored here, either, but how much manifesting or relationship can we have with the gods if we’re doing things on autopilot?

It’s the effort, it’s the desire, and it’s the why.

This is me, rethinking the usual. Instead of water, I gave the Ladies small rocks from my crystal collection and booze. Legba got coffee and booze. And a little later, some pennies.

So maybe the next time you decide to give your gods the same old, same old… maybe you’ll sit back and rethink the autopilot you’re on. Maybe you’ll actually put a little extra and give them something you’ve never done before, like a piece of cake or a finger or two of booze. And maybe, they’ll manifest how much that worked better than they do with the same old, same old. Maybe, just maybe.

Offerings 201 (PBP).

Note: Now, this isn’t everything, you guys. Be on the look out for a 301 post to appear some time this week.

Last week for the PBP, I did a kind of offerings 101 post (my first besides Fallow Time discussions!) and realized that I was leaving a lot out. Honestly, with that last post, I wanted it to be a simple and basic. I wanted to be able to say that you can do this and this and this and worry about the rest of it later. This week, I’m going to continue that post with a few things that I either left out because I am forgetful or because I didn’t think it was something a 101 post should have as content. So, this is the next step to offerings.

How much do I offer the OTHERS™?
Honestly, when it comes to how much, we have to rely on what feels like the best at that particular moment. For me, in the mornings, I give drinks to my OTHERS™ to get their days with me going. This is the extent of it unless I’m feeling otherwise. I go this route because it is the simplest thing I can do before I’ve had enough coffee to make coherent thought. However, it also doesn’t leave me scrabbling around every morning, freaking out because I don’t know what to give them so early. (Ha. I’ll laugh at myself here – “so early” is usually equated to between nine and ten in the morning.) And I’ve gone through that, honestly.

Back when I worked shitty shifts at my old job, I would be up some mornings at about five o’clock in the morning. I would scrabble around to give them something to eat until I was just grabbing whatever entered my hand while I was freaking out in my cupboards. While the gods appreciate the efforts we are putting into this, we also have to keep in mind that burning ourselves out via what we’re giving them, how much we’re giving them, and all of that is absolutely no good. What is the point in doing this if we’re going to burn ourselves out? It’s not worth it. So, if you are giving offerings, don’t worry about how much. Your instincts will tell you what you can handle and how much the gods want at that time. Just listen to yourself long enough and trust in yourself, as well as your OTHERS™.

Now, obviously, when it comes to candles and incense, “how much” doesn’t really qualify. The reason being is because, are you really going to inundate your altar with six incense blends all at once? Are you really going to light six hundred tapers for an OTHER™ and possibly start a fire? And again, when it comes to actions as offerings, it’s pretty much entirely up to your guts on this one. So, say you work with an OTHER™ who has requested that you volunteer at a homeless shelter or a woman’s abuse shelter. How much are you willing to give before seeing and hearing all of that could start to affect you in a negative way? Would you want to go ever day? Or would the OTHER™ in question suffice with a once a month, once a week kind of thing? For example, when I donate blood, I have a specific time requirement for doing this. I can only give once every two months, but maybe after that time is up, I feel that Sekhmet is satisfied with this round of blood donations. So, (as I am currently), I wait until the overwhelming need to donate overtakes me again.

As much as it may suck to realize this, when it comes to the “how much” question you have to rely on common sense and your own judgment. There are some things that others who have been in your situation can tell you, but there are some things that are really up to you, and you only.

How often do I leave offerings?
This is one of those questions where it’s time to hit the books and do some research, either on the tradition that you are following, the traditions of the OTHER™ you are giving offerings to, or merely just sitting down and trying to divine an answer from the OTHER™ itself. Your safest bet, especially as a beginner, would be to do the research of the tradition of the OTHER™ or the path that you are on. As much as you may dislike following a recon style branch of practice, it’s the safest basis for a beginner. The reason being is simply this, if it worked so well when these gods and spirits proliferated the earth, why wouldn’t it still work now?

For example, say you have an altar set up for Hestia in your home. On a daily basis, you give her an offering. This is to bless your home and to continue to have her manifest in your life, as I mentioned in the why section on my first post. Also, you give her the first part of every offering. So, let’s say you have altars set up to Hestia, Aphrodite, and Hermes in your home. And it’s time to get them all a cup of tea and a bit of bread to tide them over. Hestia “has the richest portion,” as quoted from Homeric Hymn 5. You can use that particular quotation to denote that she gets first dibs, but that if you are planning a feast for all three examples stated above, she gets the choicest cuts of meat. And as possibly found in the Homeric Hymn 24, “glorious is your portion and your right.” This could be denoted to mean that not only does she get the first bit of the offerings you are apportioning out, but so too, she gets the first choice of every meal. In regards to the interpretation, it’s entirely up to you, what you are willing to do, and how much you are willing to give.

But again, let’s not quite discount ancient practices. As I said, they worked before, so why not again?

What do I do with the offerings when I’m finished with them?
Again, it’s time to hit the books because maybe, the tradition you are following or the tradition around the OTHER™ in question has that answer for you. In a lot of ancient traditions as well as the African diaspora traditions that are so hot nowadays, you would eat the offerings when you were finished with them. But, also, let’s say you’ve left out offerings to the fairies. You don’t want to eat those. So how do you know? Again, it’s time to do the Google-fu and try to figure it out, or pick up a couple of books that are highly recommended by others of said tradition, and get to reading.

Now, in both of the practices that I follow, eating and imbibing the offerings is normal. However, I don’t do this. The particular reason is simply because I just didn’t think eating whatever I was offering at five in the morning was a good idea for me. I am not a breakfast person – I am a coffee person, who then eats her first meal around noon. So, forcing myself to ingest whatever it was that I was offering was draining me instead of fulfilling me. In regards to the offerings, I would actually break up the bread I would leave for the gods and leave it for the birds or squirrels. I went through a phase where I would walk to a particular wooded area in my neighborhood, and I would leave the offerings there.

But, maybe you live in a busy city and you don’t think that animals proliferate your neighborhood – I had this issue, too. I found that when I was leaving bread in my yard, it was just waiting there until I walked my dogs and they would eat it. So, what then? You can do as I did and try to find a wooded area where you think animals will retrieve the offerings – give back to the earth, so to speak.

Or, and this is actually quite common, you can give your leftovers to the “guardians of the trash receptacle and sewers.” I’ll dump the coffee I leave out to Legba in my sink. As far as I know, trees and plants aren’t too keen on coffee. But the water could go to good use, right? And there’s the thing. I have pets so I’ll use it to refill their water dish. You may not have this option or even the plant option, so, if you have nowhere else to revert these offerings to, then it’s time to get friendly with your local sewer system. (And for those of you despairing that you have financial woes and you can’t waste food, I will get to you, in a minute.)

How do I know they’re done with the offerings?
In some cases, you’ll just know because the incense has guttered out or for some reason, the taper you lit in honor of the OTHERS™ is no longer burning. We can safely assume that they’re finished with that particular offering. However, maybe you leave food out to them. How long do you leave it there, right? Do you leave it there to rot? Do you get rid of it after a couple of hours? What works? How do you find out? Well, the thing here is that I rely entirely on gut instinct and common sense.

For example, let’s say you left out some bread and water to your gods and that you ingest the offering after they are done with it: do you really want to drink dusty water and bread that is as hard as a rock? No. So, find a time frame that works for you. But, maybe you left out the bread and the water, but you don’t ingest afterwards. You can pretty much leave it there for eternity if you wanted to and that’s okay because it’s not like you’re going to eat it, right? Well, in that case, how often are you leaving these things? If you change them out daily, as I do, then you’re not going to want to leave them there for more than twenty-four hours. And too, you also don’t want to get an ant problem. So, maybe you should set a time limit how long that bread is hanging out on your altar space. Then revert as you have decided to do and ta da! You’re ready for a new offering the next time you give it.

You mentioned us with financial problems…?
Currently, I am not the richest pagan out there. In fact, I’m far from it. This is part of the reason why I only give the sparing offerings that I do to my OTHERS™. I can give away a cup of coffee in the morning to Legba and water is easily accessible from my kitchen tap. However, not everyone who is in the same or similar financial crises as myself only give beverages as I do. So, what do you do then, most especially if you’re one of those people who isn’t going to eat the pomegranate that Sekhmet asked that you get for her and you went around and did so? Well, again, you can revert to the earth, you can give actions only as offerings, you can give offerings when your financial crisis let’s up or is over, or…

…you can give something like Re-Ment as an offering. Now, this Google image search will show you all the different types of offerings that you could give in idol form. The reason I even know about this is because Devo gives this as her daily offering to her gods. In ancient Egypt, there were a number of idols found in the form of possible food offerings. This substitute was acceptable then, so she thought, why not now? Not only does it stop her from worrying because she has food allergies and so, can’t just imbibe whatever it is she gives to her gods, but she also doesn’t have to worry about what she’s giving out on a daily basis or if she’s having a harder month with bills this month, she doesn’t have to worry about any food she may “be wasting.” And as far as I know, the big huge lot she bought went for fairly cheap on eBay.

You can also go into second-hand stores and get those plastic foods you had as a child when you were playing in your kitchen. They make a lot of different selections out there, so you won’t have to worry about “boring, old offerings.”

Offerings 101 (PBP).

One of the most common questions that I ever saw on the forum I used to belong to had to do with offerings. (The other most popular tended to be, “what path do I follow?”) I knew from the get-go when I started the PBP that when I hit “O,” I was going to say everything that I ever said on that forum to the newbies who were asking questions. This isn’t because I think my responses are the best or anything. For all I know, they’re actually the shittiest responses ever, but I think my shit don’t stink and I have a blog, so… The thing is that I remember older members of that forum complaining about how newbs always asked these questions and it was “irritating.” While I’ve made commentary on how I feel about older pagans being jerks to newbs just because they can, I’m not going to get into that here. What I’m going to offer is a stream-lined and simple question-and-answer session that people can reference to others who are asking these questions. That way, they don’t have to get irritated by these newbie questions and I get more hits on my blog.

Who do I leave offerings for?
One of the things that I know I tend to forget when I’m bumbling around and doing my thing is that not everyone is “lucky enough” to have a patron. I can think of a couple of pagans who either have asked for patrons and never received one or who do not work in that type of frame-work. In these cases, then who would you leave offerings to, if you wanted to leave them at all? Let’s not forget that some people just want to check out the whole pagan-sphere and so, they want to cultivate relationships with various gods. In those cases, it comes down to preference and what you think is in your best interest. Have you always had a fascination with a certain pantheon of gods? Or maybe there was always just a single kind of god that you thought was pretty much the cat’s meow? There you go. You can start leaving offerings for those god(s) in question.

However, not everyone wants to cultivate a relationship with a god the way that I have a relationship or some of my pagan friends have them. They want to be “free range” in the gods department. So, maybe the offerings you leave should be based on ritual only, moon phase only, or whatever holiday you think is nifty and is coming up. Then again, you may not like that idea either. And that’s okay, too. You can leave offerings to animals, the fairies, plants, sprites, or whomever you so desire. Really, the who doesn’t matter so much. If leaving offerings is something that you are inclined to do, then experiment. For those who are free range, you have a wealth of gods (from Greece and Italy to Japan and the Americas) to look into. You have a wealth of nature spirits and fairies and elves and all of that to look into. Shake it up!

Where can I leave my offerings if I don’t have an altar/shrine?
Space is one of those commodities that most pagans don’t think about when it comes to worship. I have exceedingly finite amounts of space. I’m lucky enough to have three areas where I can clearly place a table or a little mini-shrine to a god or to the dead or whomever I so desire. However, I’ve seen smaller apartments and so, I know that space is one of those things that a lot of people have a hard time contending with. So, maybe you don’t have a shrine to leave these offerings out. Okay, so where do you place them, then?

When it comes to leaving offerings for any of the lwa that I may want to honor, I’ll leave them out on my kitchen counter. I make sure that the space in question is clean and empty. I then place the offering in question in that space for however long I feel is necessary. (I tend to limit this to a day since my counter space is as limited as the rest of my apartment.) That way, I have it out and I know that it’s visible, but it’s also in a spot where I won’t forget about it to clean up after the fact. In regards to nature-based spirits or fairies, many people tend to leave their offerings out-of-doors, either on a patio or all of that. When I revert my offerings (more on that in a minute), I tend to lace them around a base of a tree. This way, I know that they’ll be taken up by nature spirits and fae, but also any local wildlife that’s looking for a quick meal.

What do I leave as an offering for the OTHERS™?
Here is where simple answers fly out the window and research becomes part and parcel to what you want to know: whatever you are leaving should be based upon the tradition you are following or the tradition of the god that you are offering, the fae you are offering to, the nature spirit, the Deadz, the lwa, the whomever. So, for example, I am both Kemetic and Voodoo in my practices. So, when it comes to leaving offerings, I had to look up what kind of things these gods and spirits would prefer to receive on a regular basis. Of course, you could leave this entirely to your gut instinct and that may see you through, but if you’re even remotely thinking about practicing a recon path, then you have to look into the research. And really, if you want to cultivate a relationship with these OTHERS™ then you should probably look to what they’re used to receiving instead of going to your local convenience store and getting them a bag of potato chips and a diet Coke. If you were on a first date and that’s what the guy/girl brought for you to eat, would you really want a second date?

Maybe picking up books isn’t in your budget or you live with your parents, though, and bringing home books about this kind of thing isn’t a good idea. The Internet is at your fingertips and looking for information may take some time, some questions, some frustration. However, this is the nature of the path you’ve chosen: frustration is part and parcel to it just as much as joy and happiness. But, it is fairly easy once you get the hang of what kind of Google-fu search terms you should look into. (I recommend the name of the entity in question coupled with the word offerings for simplest.) And of course, you can always leave me a comment here and I’ll do my best to find out what it is you need help with. I have no problem helping – but I won’t do your work for you.

Now, maybe leaving food and drink isn’t something that you can get away with. (As I said, there are some pagan practitioners who live with parents who are not amenable to the path they’re walking.) The gods understand that humans have restrictions via social conventions or familial respect. So, maybe, libations at the feet of a statue isn’t something you can easily get away with. How about actions and services? There are a number of pagans that have gone out and actively done things – volunteering, going into a work associated with a certain deity, etc. – as a form of worship and offering to their gods. For example, I go out and I donate blood in Sekhmet’s honor whenever she pushes at me to do so. I know another pagan who dances for her gods. I know another person who works as a librarian because of who their patron deity happens to be. So, when you’re thinking about offerings to your gods/spirits/whomever, let’s not just think of this as a simple line, but a three-dimensional box. If your intent is there, why wouldn’t the gods enjoy actions and services as a type of offering as well?

Some other kinds of offerings can include prayers, hymns, candles, incense, gold, and other items. I give Papa Legba keys and pennies whenever it crosses my mind. I give Hekate a fresh bowl of salt every week. I give Sekhmet and Hetharu glasses of water when I first wake in the morning, but they also get candles lit in their honor and incense cones lit in their honor. It doesn’t necessarily have to be you going out to volunteer or feeding them a piece of fruit in the morning. I know a number of pagans who write hymns for the OTHERS™ that they work with or are in service to. In Kemetic practice, incense is like the be-all, end-all in offerings. And in the ancient tradition, incense was offering during every meal. A simple thought of, I light this to honor OTHER™ and then lighting an incense stick or a candle can mean just as much, if not more, than the offering of a six-course meal. So, when it comes to leaving offerings for the OTHERS™, again, let’s not think about this as a simple line but a three-dimensional box.

But, what about taboos?
This is a tricky question. There are certain taboos that other pagans claim in the name of certain gods. For example, my patron is Sekhmet and there is a number of pagans who claim that offering her blood is a “serious no-no.” I’ve discussed this in another entry, but I can tell you that when I donate blood in her name, I have never once heard anything but content from my goddess. And I can think of at least one other Sekhmet kid who donates blood to her on her altar instead of going to the Red Cross. And again, that particular pagan has never once been told by her patroness that she shouldn’t be doing that. And… In certain traditions in Kemetism, giving Sutekh/Set lettuce is considered a taboo because Heru’s semen was placed on the plant in question, Sutekh ate it, and so therefore, he suddenly hates his once coveted favorite dish. I know of at least two Set kids who give him lettuce in some form or another, and they haven’t been struck down. So, when it comes to taboos, we should probably take these with a grain of salt. (Of course, I can only comment in regards to the Kemetic gods on this since I haven’t finished branching out and learning what I can in a Greek, Roman, Norse, or Celtic arena… yet.)

But, there are some taboos that you shouldn’t ignore. Let’s talk about the lwa for a minute. In the voodoo tradition, you do not drink or smoke whenever you are giving an offering to Damballah. This is a respect thing but also because he will not abide by these two aspects. I’ve read that if you are in service to Freda, then you do not want to have sex near her shrine. (I can’t remember the reasoning for this.) When you’re working with the fae, chances are they’re not going to want you to leave them an offering of something made of iron. If you’re working with a specific animal totem and you want to leave them offerings, you probably wouldn’t want to leave them pieces of that particular animal in offering. Some of this is pretty much “no duh” and obviously. Others, not so much. And that’s where research comes to hand.

So, when it comes to certain types of taboos, some of them you can flaunt and some of them you can’t if you want to continue to maintain the relationship in question. The best advice on when you know that it’s okay versus when you don’t know is to network with other pagans who work with the OTHER™ you want to cultivate a relationship with. So, in my case, I could tell you about Sekhmet and I could point out some other blogs of Sekhmet kids. In the case of Sutekh, I could point out where to look for information. And of course, you can always leave a question here and I’ll do my best to see that you get the information you desire, either from my fingertips or the fingertips of someone more knowledgeable than I. (And again, remember, I won’t do the work for you, but I’ll sure try to assist as best I can!) As time goes by and you cultivate the relationship more and more, you’ll quickly learn what is and what is not acceptable in the eyes of the OTHERS™ you’re working with.

Why am I leaving these offerings?
This is one of those subjects that I’ve come to see not a lot of pagans talking about. Why are we doing these things for the gods? Is it just, in the Kemetic fashion, to feed their kas? In a manner of speaking, yes. This didn’t actually click into my head until I started working with the lwa, actually, but when it comes to leaving these offerings, we’re giving the OTHERS™ the energy to manifest in our lives, via the god-phone or miracles wrought or just feeling their presence. In offering these libations and food offerings, these actions or services, these prayers or hymns or incense or whatever, we’re giving them the food necessary to manifest in our lives. So the next time you leave something for the fairy or the gods or the spirits, think about how it is you are feeding them so that you can continue to cultivate the relationship that you so desire.

You Are Silent In Your Mouth When You Are Addressed.

Over the last two days, I’ve been ruminating about the offerings I leave my goddesses every day. (Or, well, in reality, six our of seven days a week.) I’m not very adventurous in this regard. I offer grapes, some bread, some water, and that’s about it. It never changes. This morning, unequivocally, I was given the nod to skip the offering and there would be some serious discussions about what to offer from now on. I guess they’re tired of how unadventuresome I’ve been?

But, in all honesty, I’m a little nervous and uncertain about just what to offer them.

I mean, as a recon, then I should be offering them around the same things that would have been available in ancient Egypt. That would be bread, beer, water, and some meat. I don’t think they would be particularly unhappy to receive honest foods that would go down my gullet with the purest of delight, but can you honestly say that a reconstructionist is willing to offer her netjeru green beans in the French cut? What about a cup of corn, an American food product that never once touched Egyptian soil. I mean… olives and grapes and cucumbers (which aren’t well received around here unless they’re in a salad) are all fine and good. However, I still have to eat the stuff afterward…

Another major issue with this (and the gods agree) is the timing of my offerings. Four days out of the week, I’m up at about seven-thirty/eight o’clock with my son. I take my dog outside and start brewing coffee while my son debates about getting up. After I’ve had at least two cups of a coffee and the dogs are rearing for breakfast, I bring in my offerings. Both of my goddesses seem to prefer this later start to the day. I’m not saying that they wouldn’t appreciate having they’re daily rite take place at sunrise as it should.

However. They’re not exactly morning people, either. (Note to self: offer coffee tomorrow morning and see how that’s received…)

They abhor the other three days a week since I’m giving them offerings at around four-thirty in the morning. That’s nearly two hours before sunrise. What kind of sustenance can sleeping goddesses possibly be getting from my bread-and-water offerings at four-thirty in the morning? And seriously, its’ just wrong to ask me to eat a damn thing at that hour, so how can I possibly ask that the goddesses partake of these things so early? It just seems so… muddled.

I think a large portion of issue is my energy is completely stagnated. I’m not playing around or even remotely trying to dick around here. I am utterly stagnated in everything and I know the cause of it… I just have to either remove the blockage (impossible since it’s my job) or learn to work around it (how the fuck do you do that?). So while my goddesses are trying to get my attention because I could quite possibly be fucking things up beyond repair here, I have to figure out exactly how to work around all of my offering issues on top of the job from hell.

Oh, to be a mom full time and have time to write again…

It’s funny; I hated staying at home when I was unemployed because I was always worried about money (which proved problematic in faith arenas) and now I want to be unemployed (which may or may not prove to cause issues in the faith arena). Ha. Ha. Ha. The irony is not lost on me…

So now… My first step is to figure out what to do about the offerings. My second step is to figure out what other kind of offerings would be tolerated. My third step is to try and figure out how modern offerings of corn or blueberries correlate with my reconstructionist path. And my fourth step is to try to get this wrapped up under a pretty bow.

But, no. Seriously. Step four is to try and figure out what I should do about a nightly offering. Because I think I have to go that route. And if that’s the case… what do I do for that?