Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rituals for the Gods & Offerings

My spiritual education is eclectic Wiccan. I draw from the rites of the Asatru community, the Wiccan community, and generic Christian forms of worship in my own practices. Many of the rites of the Filianic community resemble the Christian worship methods because the ritual structure is what is most familiar for many of the worshipers, as they come predominantly from a Judeo-Christian background (here in the USA). My rituals of worship are generally fairly simple affairs that are woven into my daily tasks.

Most days, I say a prayer of greeting to the Sun at sunrise or when I first see the Sun. When I do so, I address my prayer to Sunna, the Norse goddess of the Sun, and give thanks for her bringing the new day to us. My prayer is very simple and often consists of:

Hail Sunna! Thank you for bringing light and warmth to us after the long night. May you be blessed.

I try to remember to say a prayer of gratitude for that which I have in my life when I sit down to my meals. It is not one I remember to do every meal or every day. I haven't settled into a comfortable prayer routine for this. As I do so, I will note what prayer coalesces for this purpose. My goal with this prayer is two fold. First it is to recognize and be thankful for the food and good things I have in my life. Secondly, it is to hallow the simple act of eating so that I remember that it is necessary and valuable. Some people, like myself, struggle with eating and we need reminders to stay healthy in doing so. Prayer is the vehicle that I have chosen for this.

After I have had my breakfast, I go to my altar. I light three candles. One is a scented candle for Loki. (He really seems to enjoy the food scented ones, especially if they're scented like baked goods.) One is a novena candle for Dea. I like using novena candles for my offering to Dea because I hallow one candle and it lasts me approximately a week. In the end, I then recycle the glass container. My third candle is one that is dedicated to all the gods and goddesses who love me. Because I have limited altar space and the potential for a fire hazard with many candles is very real, I use one candle for this purpose, unless directed otherwise by the deities. When I light each candle, I state whom the candle is for.

Lighting these candles in the morning and having them burn while I am home and awake does two different things. First, they are a reminder of the presence of the Divine in my life. The scent of Loki's candle is a subtle reminder through out the whole apartment that he is with me or but a prayer away. The light of the other candles help me to focus upon the gods rather then my anxiety or more mundane troubles. It is something that soothes me and helps my life to go more smoothly. The second thing that these candles do is they silently carry my prayers to the gods, even when I haven't the words to express them. Looking at them (or in the case of Loki's candle, smelling it) turns my mind to the Divine and helps to open up a dialogue between us. It assists me in turning every act that I do into a prayerful one.

There are times where I am pulled to do something more formal. I have a special bowl that I pour offerings out into. It is in someways like the Hlautbowl of an Asatru blot. My offering bowl is a footed silver bowl that I found at a thrift store many years ago. Interestingly, the inside of the bowl never tarnishes. I think this is a sign of the approval of the gods upon this choice of vessel for offerings. When I make an offering, I place it within the bowl and hold it up. As I do so, I call upon the gods to be aware of my offering. After this, I place it upon my altar.

Sometimes, the offerings that I am encouraged to give come from a different direction. Loki likes to share coffee with me. He has his own glass demitasse where I put a small portion of my morning coffee in before I have any. Freyr likes it when I share tea with him. There is a small pottery demitasse that I was gifted by my sister-in-law that I use for this. As with the coffee, I give the offering before I drink any. The one offering that does not go into a special container or have any sort of special statement made before I give it is flowers.

I try to have a bouquet of flowers on my altar at most times. In the winter, my bouquet is fashioned from artificial flowers. During the spring, summer, and fall, I have fresh flowers in the vase. I try to use wild flowers when I can but when I am moved to do so, I will purchase a bouquet from the store for this purpose. The offering of flowers is something of a hold over from my Wiccan practices. While the Wiccan Lady does not ask for blood sacrifice, an offering of flowers is something that I found She approved of, when given freely.

Interestingly, handmade artificial flowers from recycled materials have been met with greater approval then fresh flowers. I think this is because nothing living is harmed in the process of making the offering and the offering is a dual sort. It is not only the sacrifice of an object but also of time and effort. Giving these things to the gods will always be appreciated. Indeed, it seems that the giving of time and effort is valued more highly then that of material goods.

If I am not called to make an offering, I spend my day doing my usual tasks about the home. I try to dedicate my efforts to the gods. It does not equate to making things like washing a pile of dishes more fun, but it is my feeling that it gives it deeper meaning. Indeed the things that you do which require greater effort, when they are done in honor of someone (Divine or not), has greater value then it does alone. Why? Because you are giving the action additional layers of meaning and yourself additional motivations to do so. If we undertook an action for our own sake, we have only ourselves to win approval from. If we do so for another's, we have their scrutiny to uphold.

Now, it is my observation that the gods are generally looking for us to give our best efforts, irregardless of how difficult the task is. They tend to frown, however, upon people who say they will do something and then fail to do so. The failure to act, even if it is an action that results in unsuccessful or unsatisfactory completion of a task (including the inability to complete it), seems to be the thing that counts as an affront to the gods. It is a failure to keep your word and honor the promise that you have made in making the offering.

At the end of my day, I extinguish my candles. As I do so, I quietly thank the gods for their presence in my life. Where some people would say a prayer before they go to sleep at night, I don't because I have done my nightly ritual of gratitude when I extinguished my candles. There are, however, some things that remain lit through the night and during the day.

I love electric tea lights. They are safe and effective ways to give a 'fire' offering even during the night when you are sleeping. I am in the midst of looking up ways to dispose of the batteries that are ecologically friendly. I have one that I keep lit upon my ancestor's shrine at all times. This is because it is my offering to them and my sign that they are welcome in my life.

I also have one that I keep lit upon my altar as an offering to Dea. During the day, the light of the tea light candle is replaced with my novena candle. The candle for Dea is much like the one in a Catholic church that signifies the presence of the Eucharist (and by this the presence of Christ). The candle for Dea signifies not only my prayers and my spiritual reaching towards her. It also signifies her presence and her reaching towards me. The only time that light is extinguished is when it is Hiatus. This is because during Hiatus, the Daughter is not with the world.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool!
    As far as the electric tea lights - there are pillar electric candles now that you could probably get re-chargable batteries for, if thats an option for you instead of tea lights.