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.

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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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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward Wednesday, 09 April 2014

    This tradition seems to be carried forward by restaurateurs, as well.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Thursday, 10 April 2014

    "...served on a bed of greens." Sounds good to me.

  • Linette
    Linette Wednesday, 09 April 2014

    I live in the wilderness, and I have some stones I lay my offerings on. They are always well received by the local wildlife who leave their calling card in return.

    It never fails that when I return to the stones, there is not a dollop of "poop" as a thank you for my sharing....or more likely as a signal to other wild folk that anything that shows up on that stone is THEIRS.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 11 April 2014

    Writer Paul Tuiteann (reborn to the people) once told me, "Circles and house wards are all fine and good, but if you really want to protect your place, what you really need to do is to go around the outside and piss on all four corners of it."

    Scent-marking: the oldest mammalian magic of all. Fortunately, my yard is well accommodated to provide for such a possibility.

  • Grant
    Grant Wednesday, 09 April 2014

    This has been something which has been on my mind for some time as well, still now and in the past, I have always layed my food offerings at the base of a chosen tree on my property. Though, I also have a stone from my "homeland" that I have been kicking around standing in the ground and using this for offerings. Though, the use of laying them upon, "prepared" vegetation certainly takes care of offerings when one is not within their normal abode.

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