Another one from the frequently asked questions file at the Irish Pagan School is how to make offerings to Pagan Gods and Goddesses, so if you’re confused or have questions on this topic – you’re not alone!
The following is not specific to Irish or ‘Celtic’ Gods and Goddesses, but does of course apply to them too, as that is the perspective I am writing from.
Hopefully this article will help you on the path towards right relationship with your deity.
Types of Offerings to Pagan Gods
Firstly, there are a few different types of offerings you can make. In brief:
- Items – things (like maybe jewellery or weaponry) which you dedicate to the deity, and then either wear/use in their honour, or break in this world so it ‘dies’ and goes to them in the Otherworld.
- Perishables – things (like maybe food or alcohol) which you give to them from your kitchen stove or dining table, lay out on an altar, or at a time/location that is sacred to them.
- Intangibles – things (like maybe a poem or piece of art, a song or a prayer, physical or mental training, self development work such as therapy, or a specific piece of work you do) which you create, or do, that is specifically dedicated for them or to them.
What you choose as an offering will vary by the deity themselves, for example if there’s something that the God’s accurate cultural source mythology (not just ideas gleaned just some rando wiccan associations list you saw on Pinterest, please) that is particularly associated with them, it would be good to include this.
The Mórrígan is definitely associated with corvids, so ethically sourcing and offering some feathers or even a crow/raven skull would be appropriate. The Dagda was guardian of a cauldron that never ran dry, so offering the act of cooking your family’s food, or a portion of your dinner, to him each day would be appropriate. Ogma was the mythological creator of the Irish Ogham writing system, so dedicating your study of the Ogham, or indeed any academic learning, to him would be appropriate.
You get the idea, I’m sure. But if you’d like to learn more about how to work with Irish gods and goddesses, you can go to this article here.
What to do with Offerings to Pagan Gods?
With some perishable offerings, and some deities, it is fitting consume the offering in honour of the gods as part of your ritual, perhaps even when their spirit is present in your own form (done through invocation), or present with you in the space (done through evocation), and sharing the experience in that sense.
This is not a necessary component when you make offerings to Pagan Gods however, and is a little outside the scope of this article, but I did want to mention it at least.
In the normal run of things, once your offering has been made we understand that the spirit or energetic essence of what you offered has been consumed by the Gods.
As such, it is not generally appropriate for you (or anyone else within your household, including pets), to consume an item which was offered.
If this does happen by accident, please don’t worry. My understanding of this, through the Irish tradition at least, is that the goodness has been taken from it and it’ll not do you any good to eat or drink it. If the Gods have already taken their due, I don’t think they’ll be angry if the leftovers get eaten up by a greedy kitty or something by mistake!
This also helps with the idea that many have that they are ‘wasting good food/drink’. It’s not wasted – you have given these items as offerings to Pagan Gods, and if you believe they exist, then you should believe they deserve and can gain the benefit from that food or drink, and it is not being wasted.
I always leave perishables for at least 24 hours, but occasionally 2-3 days. After that they are poured outside if liquid, or left to the wild birds or animals IF it is safe for the local plants, birds and animals (please, always do a quick google to check the specifics in your area!)
When I lived in apartments and didn’t have an ‘outside’ that was easily accessible, I kept a designated plant pot filled just with soil which I left by a window for liquids, or on a balcony where birds could access it for solids. I would change out and refresh this soil seasonally, usually at each of the Fire Festivals, as part of my ritual preparation for the changing times.
For perishables that aren’t suitable for disposal in this way, I would just use the compost or regular rubbish bins. As I said, the Gods have already taken the good of the offering, so it is ok to dispose of the energetically empty remains in whatever way is safe and respectful for your living situation, and makes sense to you.
When it comes to items which you dedicate to the deity, these can be used or worn as appropriate to your devotional practice, and simply left in situ as altar or room decoration if not being used in that way.
If there comes a time when you wish to re-purpose or replace the item, it will be necessary to disconnect it from that deity with a simple cleansing process, and remove it from service.
I hope that tells you all you need to know to be getting on with making offerings to Pagan Gods, but if you want to take things a step further, you might enjoy my class on Meeting Irish Gods at the Irish Pagan School.