There are two things I really love about the New Vesta tradition. The first is the way it bridges the distance between the ancient world and the modern world. The second is the way it helps strengthen family solidarity. And one of the simplest ways it does these things is through mealtime offerings or libations.
Even in antiquity, Vesta – goddess of the home and hearth, and symbolized by a flame – was a bloodless religion. Instead of making a living animal sacrifice, ancient Roman families sprinkled mealtime offerings of loose salted flour or wafers (called mola salsa) into her sacred flame that burned in their household hearth. Libations of wine or olive oil could also be made into her flame.
One of the things that I have added to my practice over the last several years is to give offerings to the spirits, the Ancestors, and the Gods who inhabit my world and who I work with .Before I left for Kaleidoscope gathering in Canada this year, I ‘put my working altar to bed’. I tidied and dusted it, put the skulls away and requested that the spirits rest but be watchfull while I was away and in turn promised to bring them back gifts if they would do so. I did not want my house sitter to feel uncomfortable while she was staying but I also wanted my house to be proteted. Apparently I was so successful at this that my cat, who it could be said, is also a spirit, also spend the entire month in the hall cupboard and only came out when my lovely house sitter was asleep or out of the house.. but I digress
The news came at work, in a text from my fiance: Oregon's ban on gay marriage has been overturned, and the state is issuing marriage licenses to gay couples effective immediately.
It's big news for us, because it means when we say our vows next September we'll be able to do it on Oregon soil--or, in our case, sand, because we want to be married on the beach. I immediately have to go lock myself in a bathroom and cry a little bit, because up until this moment I wasn't convinced it was really going to happen.
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?
I suppose I should weigh in on the offerings and consumption of said offerings. I give Loki a fair amount of food and drink. He enjoys the extravagant gesture, but having spent time starving in a cave (still starving, since time is not linear for Him and everything is happening, has happened, will happen) He doesn't really care for the wasting of food in my personal experience. Furthermore, my ancestors, particularly the ones who lived through the Great Depression, would have a coronary if I dumped lots of food regularly. If I have an excess of food, or more of a meal than I can eat, there is always someone who is hungry in my local community.
I have one exception to this: alcohol. I feed Loki more booze than I could ever consume (or should). So that gets poured out when He's done with it. It's likewise for other Deities that I offer alcohol to as well.
Americans still haven't celebrated our secular harvest holiday yet (Thanksgiving)-- which marks the unofficial change from autumn to winter, even if the official shift falls on the Solstice. So I think it's still appropriate to honor Freyr, especially at lower latitudes.