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Question of the Day: What to do with Offerings
This is going to be a fairly short and sweet post. I’ve been getting the same question via email again and again –and it’s a good question, don’t’ get me wrong---so I figure I should probably answer it. Lately everyone is asking me what to do with offerings be it to the ancestors, the Gods, or the house spirits once you’ve put them out.
It really is a good question the answer to which I tend to take for granted as a given. It’s not though and since most of us don’t grow up (yet) in families that make regular offerings, there’s no reason that we should automatically know what to do with them. There’s so much about religious traditions and culture that we learn by observation, experience, and osmosis as we grow after all, and we’re not yet at that point as a community. I think in time we will be, but for now, thank the Gods for books, blogs, and teachers!
That being said, here’s what I was taught about disposing of offerings. Ideally, one can do any of the following:
1. If you have a bit of land, you can designate a space to put the offerings when they’re ready to be disposed of.
2. Burn them in a sacred fire.
3. Bury them.
4. Throw them in running water (get the river spirit’s consent first).
Now, for those living in apartments or suburbia USA, this isn’t too practical. What I usually do, and what is perfectly acceptable (at least I’ve found it so) is to dispose of used up offerings in the trash. I treat them like I would the remnants of a dinner for an honored guest. Liquid offerings go down the sink. If it’s possible to compost anything, that’s even better.
There is a deep practicality in the particulars of polytheistic practice. Honoring the dead, honoring the land and house spirits, honoring the Gods are things that mature, responsible, adults do. It’s a normal part of growing up and taking one’s place as a productive member of the community. In this sense, there’s nothing esoteric about these things. Making offerings is a fundamental and essential part of polytheistic spiritual practice. It’s what cements and helps keep one’s spiritual relationships active and clean. It’s a normal, everyday kind of thing and so, we may infer the practical particulars.
Those are my thoughts on the matter at least. I’d love to hear how others handle this question.
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