Despite autumn starting weeks ago, it’s really just starting to feel like autumn around here. New England never really knows what it’s doing weather-wise so that’s not a surprise.. But, it does get me thinking about the practicality of offerings.
I don’t know about you but I don’t really want to do much of anything when there’s a ton of snow on the ground and it’s so cold I need thirty pounds of winter gear to check the mail. Just, no. I like you Jack Frost. Just not that bloody much. (I do all of the shoveling during the winter so that might play a part in this too.)
There are a lot of things to consider when you’re creating an offering. You probably have to think of the appropriateness of the offering and perhaps the historical relevance of the offering. But here’s some other things to think about, in general:
- Price – Can you afford this offering all year around or will it be more expensive during certain months? Will you need to save up for this thing?
- Availability – Are fresh offerings available all year round? Are those offerings of quality? Is it just plain hard to find?
- Temperature – Will it freeze? Will it melt or change texture in the heat? Is rot a concern?
- Is it appropriate? – Sometimes, there are better and more appropriate offerings for deities or spirits based on what’s available right now – and what you want to achieve with that offering. A goddess of agriculture probably isn’t going to want an Oreo.
One thing people think of when they decorate their altars is switching out the tools and imagery according to the seasons. Like decorating your house for the holidays, many people dress their altars and sacred spaces as well.
Your offerings can also change for the season. It’s easy to throw a tiny pumpkin in the offering dish in addition to the usual but how about swapping out the usual? Switching out your usual offerings for something more seasonal can not only help your wallet but add a new dimension to your practice. Suddenly, you’re operating with the seasons which can make a significant difference, especially if your practicing is feeling static.
Want to know the secret to make easy swaps for every season? You need to think of the spirit or deity’s sphere of influence and associations. A sphere of influence is what a spirit or deity is associated with. What they can do and affected. The association are what they are associated with. Example: Freyja is a goddess of war, beauty, and magic certainly. But she drives a chariots pulled by cats and has a battle boar Hildisvíni. Those aspects of her (and many others) also play into who she is and can help you make good offerings no matter what the season is.
If I was to make an offering to Freyja in the spring, I might offer gold coins (or those chocolates in the shape of coins covered in gold foil), strawberries, spring water, and crocuses. In the summer, I’d do bouquets of fresh flowers, light wines, and bowls of ripe fruit. In autumn, as the leaves die, I’d offer the most beautiful fallen leaves I could find, bones from a homemade stew (she’s a goddess associated with death after all), perhaps some pretty stones, and homemade pastries. In winter, apples, melted snow, mulled cider, and slices of ham would grace her offering table.
Other things to think of is the quality of the offerings. Strawberries are great offerings but I find winter-born strawberries aren’t nearly as sweet as the ones found in in late spring or early summer. To me, it’s not as good of an offering because the quintessential element (sweetness) isn’t there. Additionally, here in the north, fresh out of season fruit can be very expensive when you consider what you’re actually getting (not sweet strawberries). And, since strawberries can freeze, they’re really not appropriate for outdoor offerings.
Adapting your offerings takes some initial thinking and research but it can turn your offerings into something special and fantastic each and every time you make it.
I like adjusting my offerings to what’s available. It makes me feel like I’m sharing my life and my world with those from the spirit realms. And, I’m always up for the practicality factor. And if you need inspiration for altars and offerings, check out my pinterest board dedicated just to that!