Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth
In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.
Laying Down Offerings
What's the best way to leave food offerings?
Libations are simple: one pours directly onto the ground.
Food offerings, though, are a little more difficult. If there's a sacred fire present, one can burn them, but what if there isn't? It seems rude to lay them directly on the ground. (If I offered you a sandwich and set it on the floor in front of you, how would you feel?) To set out food offerings in non-bio-degradable containers pollutes both physically and spiritually. What to do?
A number of folks that I know have a designated bowl or platter that they use to hold food offerings when they're placed outside. After a set amount of time, the bowl or platter comes back inside sans offerings. But what if there's food left? What does one do with that?
Ceisiwr Serith says, “When confronted with a new question, consult ancestral precedent.” Sure enough, there's an answer: one finds it again and again in the lore of the Indo-European diaspora. (I don't mean to imply that this is necessarily restricted to an Indo-European culture sphere, but as it happens, those are the cultures in which I'm most conversant.) Having collected this information quite unwittingly over the course of numerous decades, I can no longer provide specific documentation for each example, alas. The answer seems clear, though. When one sets aside the god's portion from a kill, for instance (this from Britain), one lays it down on a bed of leaves. In Hinduism and Zoroastrianism, one first makes a bed of grasses to hold the offering. This same trope I've come across elsewhere as well. Even a bed of twigs will do. It seems a neat (not to mention bio-degradable) answer to the question. One lays down food offerings on a bed of vegetation.
Not all that long ago, as human history goes, this would have been a pointless question of protocol, because everyone would have known the answer without having to be told. Not that long ago at all. Our job and our joy as the new pagans is to ask these obvious questions and then to search out the answers. Fortunately we've got the lore to help us in the process.
Thank the gods for Tradition.
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