In many pagan faiths – or any faith where a deity or Higher Being is worshipped or revered – offerings and devotionals are a regular part of practice. But what does that mean?
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What are offerings and devotionals?
So, the first thing that needs to be discussed is the difference between an offering and a devotional and the definitions of both. So, an offering is a form of sacrifice. Now I know sacrifice can be a scary word depending on your connotation and your associations with the word itself. But in a modern context, a sacrifice can be anything that is a loss to you. So, food, time, objects…those can all be considered sacrifices. Therefore, they can be considered an offering. On the other side, a devotional is something that you do for someone else. So, it’s like a form of dedication, like charity work or volunteering or creating. So those are the differences between an offering and a devotional. An offering – you are sacrificing something. You are giving something up and a devotional, you are dedicating something to someone or something else.
Why are offerings and devotionals given?
So, there are a lot of reasons why people give offerings to their Gods or Goddesses or land spirits or entities or energies in their area. This is going to vary vastly depending on your own personal practice. Now, the three most common reasons for someone giving an offering or a devotional is requirement by deity or religion, a participation in a symbiotic exchange, which I’ll talk about, and a form of reverence or worship. So, let’s talk about those real quick.
Requirement by a Higher Being
The first one that I listed was a requirement by a God or Goddess or a religion. So this would be – you are devoted to a particular deity or you follow a particular path that requires the regular acts of offering and devotionals. Honestly, off the top of my head, I can’t think of any right now, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any out there that are in the pagan sphere. One thing that I can think of that isn’t pagan, but it’s a good example, is tithing in the Christian Church.
So, if you don’t know what tithing is, tithing is when you go to your church service, they sometimes they’ll pass around these little buckets and you give money to the church. That’s a tithe. Now, there are some that say you have to give 10% of your salary to the church. And then some people give pennies because it’s what they can afford. So, in this case, if you give 10% of what you earn, that would be considered a sacrifice because that’s 10% of your earnings that could have gone to something else. So, I know that’s not a pagan example. However, I think it’s still a good example
So, let’s define symbiotic for those of you that aren’t familiar. According to Lexico powered by Oxford, a symbiotic relationship is a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups. A symbiotic relationship is basically like you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, right?
You are exchanging something in return for something else. And this can be a symbiotic relationship between you and the land. Maybe, you know, like our ancestors, you’re trying to grow crops and the ancestors would give offerings to the land in order for the crops to flourish and grow. That sort of thing can still happen today. You can give offerings to the land around you to help your plants grow. You can give offerings to a specific God or Goddess in exchange for healing or wisdom or whatever that particular God or Goddess has to offer you. Now, a symbiotic relationship between you and a deity might be different and that’s a completely personal thing.
Reverence or Worship
The last one that I mentioned is giving an offering or a devotional as a form of worship or reverence. Now, this is something that I personally do on a regular basis and it’s just a form of me saying to Brighid, hey, I’m here. This is for you. I don’t expect anything in return. This is a thanks to you for being in my life and helping me when I need it, et cetera, et cetera. So, I guess you can see it as a form of prayer if that helps you understand it better.
Do you have to give offerings?
The short answer for that is I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that question because it’s an entirely personal question. It is all going to depend on your personal practice and your relationships with the entities that you are looking to make an offering to. There are some people who don’t make offerings and it works for them.
There are some people like me who do offerings and devotionals on a regular basis and it works for me. It helps keep me connected and keep the lines of communication in my heart and my mind open to Brighid her messages. So, it’s very personal and it’s all going to depend. So, I’m sorry, I don’t have an answer for you on that one. It’s just going to be something that you have to think about, meditate on, and communicate with the entities that you are trying to build a relationship with.