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This may be an odd thing to talk about or think about, but my mind goes to interesting places sometimes. People have been making offerings to deities for ages. The thing is, most of the traditional offerings are pretty basic and boring, and it got me to thinking about my own offerings, and my feelings on offerings in general.
For one thing, I do not believe that there is any such thing as the “right” or “only” offering that should be made to any god. Yes, there are things that have been traditionally associated with certain deities or things that people have been offering for hundreds of years, but I can’t imagine any god being bothered by any offering, so long as your heart is in the right place. I also am very much against anyone who says that you have to buy expensive things that you will not partake of (like expensive wine) to offer to the gods.
On the topic of having your heart in the right place, I have some feelings there too. An offering is supposed to be your way of showing love and gratitude to the higher power, not a payment or a bribe. Many people give offerings to try to get the gods to do things, or to basically say “look at this fancy thing I gave you, I’m better than someone who gave less.” That’s not how it’s supposed to work. An offering is to show that you notice your higher power(s) and that you love them, not to win favoritism or rewards. Giving something fancy or expensive does not mean more than giving something inexpensive or simple, nor does it make you a better or more spiritual person.
Now, on to the offerings themselves. Long ago I noticed that many people believed that offerings of wine, bread, plain cakes or rice were the expected options. I got to thinking though, after eons of receiving the same stuff, don’t you think the gods would get bored? Sure, it’s about the essence and the intention and not actually about the physical thing, but still, a few thousand years of bread and wine and I’d be ready for a change. Why not think of the gods the same way?
Personally, I offer whatever I’m having. I don’t give offerings every day, but when I do, I usually do the same thing each time. I give them a bit (usually the first bit) of everything I have that day. For instance, a few days ago I made an offering plate with a shot glass full of my morning coffee, a good spoonful of my udon soup, some fresh jasmine rice and a forkful of my shrimp fried rice that I had for dinner, and a black olive from my evening snack. I made sure they got a bit of every ingredient from every meal. I felt that they would enjoy the variety. At the end of the day, after they have taken the essence of the food and received my love and thanks, I take the food items outside and put them on the ground to nourish the insects and the earth. To me, that’s a perfect offering.
I suppose there’s no right or wrong thing to offer, so long as you’re doing it from a place of love and gratitude and not to show off or win favors. I just like to do it the way that I do. If I were a god, I wouldn’t want the same thing all the time, I’d really appreciate experiencing all the consumable wonders that people are able to create. To me, what I do means more than offering specific things at specific times and expecting specific results. I give what I want, when I want, and I always have my thoughts on appreciation when I do it. Everyone is different though, and I suppose that’s part of the beauty of it all.