I am sure many of us are familiar with times that are financially thin, times when we have to make difficult decisions about what to spend our money on. At such times we can feel the weight of needing to honour our Gods with offerings, feeling that we cannot afford to spend food or heating or medical bill money, but fearing Their displeasure if we don’t.
Perhaps first it is worth mentioning why we make offerings. We make offerings to our Gods as an honouring, as a sign of our love and respect for them. We may make offerings because of something we wish to receive in return. We make offerings to strengthen our connection to them and maintain their presence in our lives. I recently heard Morpheus Ravenna explain it really well. If we think of our relationship with our Gods as being like a friendship. If we forget to stay in touch with our friends, if we don’t manage to honour or maintain the friendship, the friend doesn’t disappear but the friendship will wither away.
Fortunately offerings don’t have to cost anything, there is much you can offer that is absolutely free and in some ways may be better received than bought objects. The key thing with all of this is the intention with which it is done. That the offering is made with active focus and consecration in the name of the deity it is intended for.
Here are a few suggestions for you, and maybe they will spark some other ideas of your own.
Prayer has become almost a dirty word for some pagans because of its association with Christian practice. But we spoke in quiet contemplation and focus on our Gods long before Christian priests had any say in it. Speak with your God(s), speak from your heart, honour them, show gratitude for Their presence in your life. Sometimes we pray because we need something, but it can also be a simple act of devotion. If you’re not sure what to say there are prayers available online and in books that are perfectly acceptable to use with the right intention and attitude. In time you may find your own words and voice to offer.
Story, Song and Music
Telling the tales and stories of our Gods is how we keep Them alive in the world, even if it’s only between us and Them. But if you can, tell others Their stories, tell them to friends and family, tell them to your children or if you can find the right opportunity tell them to your community.
Sing for your Gods, and never mind whether you think you have a singing voice. Song is prayer carried on voice and breath. Simple chants are just as effective as songs of many verses and no it doesn’t matter whether you learn the words by rote, use a book and sing with intention and heart.
Make music, if you play an instrument play it for Them, compose for Them. Or if you have a drum, drum for Them, the beat of the drum carries to the otherworld.
Song and story connect us with our ancestors who would have done the same, sharing with their families, tribes and communities. In this way we strengthen the ancestral lines behind us and before us.
Acts of service
There are so many of these it could become a long list but I will mention two really strong ones that in my experience the Gods really appreciate. Volunteering in your community and the clearing of sacred or natural places.
Can you spare a little time in your week to those in need? Whether it is for an elderly neighbour in your community, a young mother struggling with her children or time given to a charity in an area that matters to you. This time, these acts are a way to show that your tribe, your community matter and as such that you honour the God(s) that watch over you and them. Think about what your particular Gods represent and align your act with that.
It is an ongoing and maddening thing for many pagans to find natural or sacred sites covered in rubbish, the saddest thing is that sometimes it is pagans who add to it! None of us should be leaving rubbish on the land, and if we come across it clearing it away is a strong act of honouring, a way of showing that our lands matter. I encourage you to carry a bag with you wherever you go so that you can do this. Also think before you leave an item at a sacred site. It is better to leave a non-physical offering at a sacred site than an item that can cause damage. Even items that can biodegrade are not necessarily ok, things won’t biodegrade in sites such as caves and items tied to trees and plants can choke them and stunt their ability to grow.
Study and Learning
Dedicate some learning or study to your Gods. It might literally be the study of Them and Their stories, getting to know as much you can of Them. Or it might be your college or university studies, or training for your job. Dedicate the growth of your knowledge to Them, your efforts to be able to do more for yourself and your community.
This may not be right or appropriate for everyone but many Gods welcome fit and strong devotees. Make an offering of your physical training, your exercise regimes, take up a fighting art in Their name. Make your body your offering to them.
There are of course many ways of making offerings to our Gods and different things will be appropriate at different times in our lives and our spiritual practices. These are just a few ideas that may help you when you feel you have nothing to give. Give only what you can manage, do not harm yourself to make an offering. Better to make a promise of an offering in the future and sing Them a song for now.
Awen Clement – May 2017
*Some of the thoughts in this article have arisen from taking the class ‘Polytheist Devotional Practice’ with Morpheus Ravenna of the Coru Cathubodua, with thanks to her for her teaching.*
Awen is a priestess of The Morrigan who lives and works in the West Midlands of the UK. She is leading the 2017 Call of the Morrigan Retreat – The Queen’s Vigil in West Wales in September.