Ask A Witch: “I don’t understand offerings.”

Here is another Ask A Witch questions from someone looking for a little help. Want to have your question answered in the blog to share with others? You’re likely not the only person that has your question! Email me at rowan@rowanpendragon.com and place “Ask A Witch” in the subject line and ask away! And now for the most recent question…

Hello Rowan Pendragon,

I am fairly new to Wicca and have been having some difficulty understanding the purpose of doing offerings to the God and Goddess is and how they are supposed to be done. How long do you leave an offering out for and how do you know what to use?

Thank you for your help.
Mike

Greetings Mike,

Thanks for your question. It’s a great one and one that is pretty common for a lot of people when they are getting started. I’m going to break your question down into three parts. First, why we do offerings. Second we’ll talk about deciding what to use and then lastly we’ll look at how long to leave an offering out and what to do with it after.

Offerings are something that we do for a few different reasons. We do them as a way of saying thanks to the Gods, we do them as a way of showing respect, and we do them to mark different times of the year. A lot of the time the idea of making offerings is misunderstood as an exchange in order to gain something from the Gods. Offerings are not made as a way of “paying” the Gods for a wish or favor. Rather than saying “I give you this so you can give me that” we say “I give you this because I am thankful for what you have given me” or “I give you this because I respect you.” Another way that we might give an offering is as a sacrifice. When we do this it is a way of showing that Gods that we are willing to give up something that is important or vital to us in order to show our willingness to give in order to receive.

One of the most common reasons that a beginner in the Craft will give an offering to the God or Goddess will be to show respect in order to help create a relationship with them. If we are giving offerings to a patron deity that we have been working to develop a relationship with or whom we’ve started to do regular work with, we don’t need to wait for a special occasion or after they have helped us in order to give an offering. In these cases you may choose to give an offering to your chosen God or Goddess once a week in order to show your respect.When we make these kinds of offerings we are often making an effort to give something to the Gods that is of particular significance to them. Things like a specific fruit, flower, or drink are often used while other offerings such as homemade cakes or breads that correspond to the deity in some way will be offered. Items other than food can be used as well, such as a piece of writing, music, and art. When an offering can be crafted by hand, whether it be in the form of fresh baked bread or a painting, it will contain more of your natural energy and intention, especially if your offering is crafted with intent and done in a reverent way. No one type of offering is better than another, however one item may be more appropriate than another. This is where knowing your Gods and knowing what they like becomes important.

There are a few different ways to determine what would be the best offering to leave. You can get to know the God or Goddess you wish to make and offering to through reading their myths and histories. With this method you will come to find what items they may have favored or become associated with. These connections build energy with the Gods and become strengthened over time and are always strong offering options. Another method is to ask the God of Goddess you are going to offer to during meditation as to what would be acceptable. They will often guide you toward the best option in a personal manner this way. And lastly, you can offer something to them that is somehow associated with what you are thankful for or that represents honor or respect in the culture that your chosen God or Goddess comes from. If you are not working with a specific God or Goddess you can still offer something to the archetypal God and Goddess (sometimes referred to as Lord and Lady in this case). You can choose to either offer an item related to your reason for the offering, such as a piece of rose quartz for blessings of love, or a basic food offering of bread, milk or wine as these are often consider acceptable to any deity.

When you make your offering, you do not need to have a large amount of the item you will be using. The Gods are not going to literally take your item from your altar or sacred space and physically eat it. Instead they take the energy and essence of the item along with the intent you have placed in it as their sustenance. So for this reason, you do not need to offer up a whole loaf of bread to the Gods. Instead, give the first piece or a chunk of the loaf as your offering and then you may use the rest in a ritual feast. You may wish to share your offering at your altar with the Gods as well. For example, if you are offering up wine, fill your chalice with wine, giving it your intentions, and then pour out half of the chalice either in an offering bowl on your altar if you are working indoors or on the ground before you altar if you are outside, and then drink the rest yourself, consuming some of your intentions of thankfulness to manifest within as well.

When you proceed to place your offering on your altar, in your sacred space or wherever it is that you are leaving it (you may opt to leave the item outdoors or in a sacred place in nature), leave it with words of intent and reverence. You may wish to hold the up over your head in a gesture of giving the item to the Gods and say some words expressing what you are offering up and why. For example if you are going to give an offering of mead to Thor to thank him for a blessing of strength that he has given you, you may wish to hold up the chalice, horn or bottle of mead in offering and say words such as “Mighty Thor, I offer to you this blessed mead as a token of thanks. Your blessings of strength have carried me through this difficult time and I honor you for aiding me. So mote it be!” Then place your offering where you wish it to be.

If you are making your offering at an indoor altar, you may wish to leave the item out for 12 to 24 hours. Once this time has passed and you feel that the Gods have received your offering, you can take the item and either return it to the earth or dispose of it in whatever other way is most fitting. For some who are urban Pagans this does mean needing to toss out food in the garbage because there is no other safe place to put it or having to pour liquid offerings down the drain. If you must go this route, that is fine, however it is best to return your offering to the earth whenever possible. I once had someone ask if that meant it was OK to put bread offered to the Gods on an altar out on a window sill for birds to take away. Yes! This is perfectly fine as it will then feed the bird and the item will make it’s way back to the earth through it’s use that way.

The last thing that I’ll mention here also comes from a question I’ve had before which is basically how do you know your offering has been accepted? Everyone will feel this differently because in large part it will depend on the deity you are offering to and your relationship with them. It’s usually a rare thing to have an offering rejected and typically when this happens it’s because the item offered is completely off base. When something that is completely unassociated with a specific God or Goddess is offered, it’s seen as a sign of disrespect; it’s as if you know nothing about them and are just offering random gifts to appease them. This is why it is so important to get to know them as best you can and find out from them, either in meditation or through their myths. However, should an offering not b
e accepted, you will find that you feel either hesitation in leaving it behind or as though something is missing. When an offering is accepted you will often feel as though when you place the item on the altar it’s as though you are placing it in the lap of the God or Goddess themselves. I have experienced feelings of my hands being touched or as though a hand is being placed on my shoulder in acceptance. You will eventually learn to read the signals from the Gods you work with if you do offerings regularly.

Mike, I hope this has helped you to get a clearer view on what offerings are and some of the ways to do them! Different traditions of Wicca will also have some different ways of making offerings, so this is just one way of doing them. Hopefully this will be able to get you started.

Many Blessings!

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  • FernWise
    October 1, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    In my never humble opinion (there are real reasons why some say that ADF stands for not only Ar n Draiocht Fein but also Arrogant Druid Fellowship), one good way to look at 'offerings' is as an exchange of energy. In ALL matters, we get back what we give out, modified in some way. Or, to quote the Astaru "From the Gods to the Earth to us, from us to the Earth to the Gods, a gift for a gift.".

    Avoid spiritual/emotional/mental constipation – keep the energies flowing!

    Frondly, Fern

    • RowanPendragon
      October 1, 2009 at 4:45 pm

      Excellent comment Fern…truer words couldn't be said. 🙂

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