Offerings, Blessings and Omens – Why I do things as I do.

In the previous post I have brief explanation of each part of the ritual.  There are four sections of particular interest that I wanted to expand upon and explain how I, being a practitioner of gentlidecht, would handle them in group rituals.

Offerings during invitations – When inviting the gods and ungods we make physical offerings of various items.  These offerings should be consistent with the nature of the beings and over the years I have taken great care to consider what is provided to them.

  • Irish Gods – This can vary, some give mead, some give physical items.  It depends on what part of the ritual.  During the invitation I tend to use some form of alcohol or a meal that the group will share.
  • Local land goddesses and nature spirits – These are the two groups of beings I am most particular of when making offerings.  Being native to North America they have been receiving offerings from the local tribes for centuries before we arrived and while they may accept what we give them the BEST gifts are those they expect.  Untreated tobacco, maize, corn flour are three items I use.  One thing for sure, I NEVER give them alcohol.
  • House spirits – These beings are only included in my private rituals indoors. They are more likely to have come with us from other places, even followed families for generations. I like to make them small offerings of sweets.
  • Ancestors – I offer them items from a meal that I am eating or that will be shared with the group.  Barring that, I give them good bread and something to drink.

 Praise and Offerings –  I differentiate between the offerings of a physical nature given to the gods and ungods during invitations and those offerings given as praise to them.  Praise offerings can been verbal, silent, physical objects, dance, poems…I have seen many types of praise offerings.

However, during public rituals allowing people to make offerings in whatever fashion they choose can prolong the ritual beyond a reasonable time and can become a bit of showmanship which I do not think is appropriate – after all the offering is not about the giver and having witnessed what I thought was one-up-man-ship when it comes to offerings I think it appropriate to define or even limit how offerings will be given.

For this reason I prefer the rituals of the Asatru known as the blot.  As praise offerings a horn is passed around to the congregation, the holder of the horn makes a silent or verbal offering to whomever they choose and then passes the horn to the next person (drinking is optional.)  This continues until all have give up a praise offering (some kindreds pass the horn three times.)  This allows for every attendee to give praise in a manner that is consistent with everyone else and prevents showmanship.

A gift for a gift – This is the point at which the congregants ask the gods for a blessing in return for the offerings.  This blessing is not placed on the congregation but on a consumable product that is then taken in by the congregation.  In Greeks rituals I have attended they have used bread but in most ADF rituals I have attended they use water or some other form of liquid.

In my rituals I have started using apples as the medium in which we receive the blessings.  Apples are mentioned in the lore as fruit associated with the Otherworld.  They are also fairly abundant year round due to modern agriculture but what I feel is just as important as its connection to the Otherworld, is that no one is allergic to it and it can be broken apart so that it can be shared without concern for communicable disease without a logistical solution.

The Omen – In ADF the most common thing seems to be a set of questions to learn the direction the group should go.  In some instances I have seen them include a question regarding the offerings.  In CR group I have only ever seen them ask if the offerings were acceptable and other types of divination were done OUTSIDE of the public ritual, see Imbas Forasnai.  

Maybe is it my being a gent that influences me but I agree with the reconstructionists, that the omen in these public rituals should be about determining if the offerings have been accepted, and if not, making more offerings or determining why the offerings were not enough and moving forward.

So there you have it.  Brief explanation of how I would run each section and why.  If there is anything readers would like me to write about, feel free to comment or contact me.

2 thoughts on “Offerings, Blessings and Omens – Why I do things as I do.

  1. We used a similar structure when doing public rituals. We did allow for personal offerings for those who wished, usually using chanting to keep everyone engaged and also using it as time for the Seer to do her or his thing, as it was often fire scrying and it takes time to fully get into it and allows for the Seer to See how things are going through the offering process. So it wasn't a wait around sort of time.

    Of course, as a localvore and homesteader who focuses on seasonal activity, the idea of using apples year round because modern forced farming allows it rubs me the wrong way personally. We try to keep things with the seasonal changes, we use apples as Samhuinn because we have them then, but berries at Lùnasdal, for example. Of course, we also gauge when we do the rituals by when these things are ready here. I guess I just don't understand that because if the blessing of the season isn't of the season freely given I just don't understand what the point is. I get the Otherworld thing, of course, but for me there's a seasonal connection of when They give them to us. We're also lucky to have a vintage apple orchard which has spread up the hill we do ritual on so we have our own apples and never buy them. Our bile may have apples *as well as flowering, just leaved and totally barren branches) when we See it during ritual, but i think eating them would be dangerous. ~;) It's probably our personal relationship to the apples which made me feel a need to comment on it.

    • Funny you bring up the localvore aspect. As I was writing it I knew it would be an issue, and you are not wrong. For Lughnasad and Samhain I always make a point of using seasonal items and I should look into making the rituals consistent with that in both offerings and what we use to receive the blessing; for all of the rituals.

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