Offerings and Etiquette

Jason made a good post about not being moved into inactive with the goddesses due to fear and disposing of food offerings and then Gordon made really great points that offerings shouldn’t just be oh gosh you sure tried, sport and be viewed as a competitive sport.  I agree with all of that!  I too will throw away offerings because animals shouldn’t eat chocolate in most cases, if you are serious about your intention, offerings is not where you should be half assing it.

Howevah.

I will politely but firmly disagree on the matter of ingesting offerings made to your goddesses.  It’s not an across the board event, it’s an etiquette issue.  You try offering Oshun honey that you haven’t tasted first and see where it gets you, champ.  Here’s a hint: not any place you were trying to get to.  Why?  Because one time, She was poisoned with it so if you are a devoted devotee, you taste it first to say, I trust you and love you and want you to have this!  So much that I am your food taster.  Look!  Not dead!  Have some, you love it, despite that One Incident.  

If you are working with Hindu goddesses, leaving the food uneaten is the equivalent of saying, This is disgusting, I don’t want it so I’m giving it to you because I will not eat it myself.  I am treating you like my dogs, goddesses!  Prasad in Hinduism is a very serious thing, you are giving your goddesses your best food, they are saying this is delicious, thanks for the food! and then putting a teeny tiny bit of their essence into the food which you in turn say, I’m so happy You liked it and I’m honored You would give me this bit of Your essence!  Nom!  Nom!  Nom!  I love my friends, family and neighbors so much I will share this gift You gave to me with them as well!  

There’s kind of, like, a literal billion Hindus in the world.  It’s not a small number, especially when you lump us interlopers in as well.  I know everyone wants their spiritual life to be easy and it’s easier to say, don’t do that stupid which is true in many cases.  Eating something that was for Persephone, Mary Magdalene, Babalon, Lilith . . .not going to be well received.  But not eating the offering in many other cases will be equally not well received.

It comes down to what it always comes down to: if you want to be a cultural trespasser and do anything that was not part of your birth spirituality (or do stuff to your birth spirituality that is not traditional), you need to find out how to not be a boorish, offensive asshole before you do anything.  Like, serving Shiva a cheeseburger is not going to be viewed happily in most cases as you just served him his best friend, dead.  Yay!  I tried!  No.

Some goddesses do not like alcohol, some want it.  My dead father can want booze offered til I drop dead too but guess what?  Not on my altar.  Ever.  Sorry/Not sorry.  If you want an across the board offering that will likely not offend, stick to water and light.  Is that going to get a goddess’ attention for a big ask?  As Gordon discussed, probably not.  It’s fine as a hi (goddess) Mom, just stopping by to say hi.  Hi.  offering.  If you are trying to make new friends, it’s not offensive but it’s not the most impressive.

If you want to impress, like everything else in magic, it’s going to require you getting uncomfortable.  It’s going to require some thoughtfulness, it’s going to require asking some adultier-adults, it’s going to require research and/or apprenticeship.  Treat it as an etiquette/cultural sensitivity issue and do the required reading and you’ll be okay.  But don’t expect anything besides possibly light and water offerings to be cross-culturally acceptable.  Not the offerings themselves, not how you offer them, not what you do with them during your rite and not what you do with them after.

Once you have an actual relationship with your goddesses and spirits and you want to leave “stopping by” offerings (not big ask favor offerings), I can tell you in my experience that if you are giving the first part of your dinner, say something like “if this food is not offensive to you, please accept this offering.  If it is, just ignore it.”  Jow and I have not run into problems with offering food that way.

Also, make offerings when you don’t want something, otherwise you are that annoying, needy friend everyone is trying to ignore.  Stop by to say hey.  Tell them they are pretty and nice or whatever your goddesses like to hear.  Tell them you appreciate them.  Treat it like a for-realsie relationship and not a one way relationship where you are constantly whining for crap and treating them like gumball machines.  You don’t like it, They don’t like it either.

Once in a very blue moon, you may feel called to give a non-traditional offering.  You are now doing science.  Should you do science? Only if you are willing to deal with it not going according to plan.  There’s a bigger risk but there’s also a bigger opportunity for success.  I will personally always do science because that’s what I’m doing with this incarnation.  Like . . .with everything.  Sex, intoxicants, feels, getting fat, getting skinny, spiritual stuff, writing, it’s all science for me and learning my ever shifting boundaries and the ever shifting boundaries of others.  But if you don’t like getting a stern, I said no!  Bad human!  Bad, bad, bad human! smack on the snout from your goddesses, then . . .well, first why are you doing magic because it’s inevitable?  But otherwise, then um . . .don’t do science.

 

Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  

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2 Responses

  1. […] rather comment on other people’s blogs who are saying a lot about magic. But this week, Deb and Jason and Gordon all weighed in on the subject of offerings — offerings in odd places, […]

  2. ‘Look! Not dead!’ … love it. 🙂 And the rest of the post too.

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