Edible Offerings

I’m not sure I’ve seen someone point out a difference between an offering and a sacrifice like this [Why make offerings, anyway?]. I’m pretty sure past-me would have found it helpful because I tried not consuming edible offerings, and it doesn’t really work for me. I can understand the stance of composting food and pouring a drink outside, but I’m not in a position to do so.

For me, it literally amounts to throwing food away (or if I’m with my family, our dogs get the chance to finish off plates of food, so it fucks with the whole ‘don’t consume’ stance anyway). When I’m literally putting food in the trash, it’s really hard to accept “but the Deity ate it” when my mind is locked on “that’s perfectly good food, someone could eat this, you are wasting PERFECTLY GOOD FOOD”.

I don’t know if it was growing up and always being told to finish my plate, hearing a lot about food waste when talking about composting in classes, or some sort of compulsion, but I can’t throw away food that I could still eat. I’ve had to deal with overeating and setting specific boundaries on only being able to control what I do with my plate, in a manner of speaking.

(I love my one friend dearly, but the first time I ate dinner with her at a dining hall on-campus I had to fight some panic at her getting a plate of some sort of pasta product, taking one bite, and throwing the rest away. If she had said that the food was being offered to Someone, I still would’ve been panicky. It’s the literal food being thrown away, still.)

Wasting food is some sort of thing with me and my brain. It doesn’t matter how many people say that it’s rude, equivalent to stealing from the Gods, or not showing the proper devotion or piety. I can understand where traditions have rules about not consuming edible offerings, but someone throwing out Hellenic examples kind of misses the mark for me (because I’m not a Hellenic polytheist).

I know that some people are multi-trad and/or have side practices where they have to follow different rules and those rules can leak over into other practices sometimes. But my main problem with those making this argument was: 1) They talked like everyone in the ancient traditions did X just because the ancient Hellenics did X, 2) They took it upon themselves to define how poor someone else could be before they could consume offerings, 3) They talked like they wanted / expected everyone else to be able to do what they could do in terms of offerings, and 4) Did I mention the part about how they tried to define being poor and what poor people can do?

Some of this came out in follow-ups and not all within one post, if I remember correctly. I was unbelievably angry at their assumptions of what services poor people can access (Sebastian referenced the internet comment in his post, for example) and how they were defining a group of people they didn’t belong to. There are working poor, there’s the federal poverty line, people can get gifts that make them appear to have more money than they do, and there’s a component of racism and/or generational poverty. There’s also a matter of living with family, friends, or roommates, and what public services you can access. There are a lot of variations in how poor people live, and assumptions based on one person’s experience aren’t going to cut it.

While I was personally angry enough to say ‘fuck off’ to their opinions on consuming offerings, I ran into issues. I was new to this polytheist thing, they were very vocal about Heathenry, and I wasn’t exactly seeing a lot of evidence that you could consume offerings. Sebastian references prasad (a Hindu example), but I mainly sighed in relief at finding the Kemetics (they were vocal about not supporting the language the group of people used to imply that everyone shouldn’t consume offerings). And then a bit later, I found Grumpylokeanelder’s post On Heathenry and Consuming Offerings that looks at Lore examples and comes to the conclusion: “…we’ve got evidence for both consuming and not-consuming offerings within the Heathen tradition.”

At a certain point, I sat my ass down and did some divination because I was a nervous wreck about throwing away food, guilty for not “giving enough” to my Gods, and I was tired of trying to live my devotional life according to what someone else said. I switched to saying a prayer and offering up my food and drink before a meal to most of the Powers I interact with, They can split the energy however They like, and then I consume it. On holy days and special occasions (or periodically, by request) I offer up to a certain group or a specific Someone.

And you know what’s happened since I started doing this? The world has not ended, for one. Deities and Powers Who don’t want to use this system and be included opt out and ask for other types of offerings. I feel like I’m including Them in my life more, and it feels more like we’re sharing a meal rather than me just shoving a few bites at Them. Win-win. Not to mention that it gave Some a foot in the door about eating healthier and/or requesting stuff, but They probably could’ve gotten around to that in a different way.

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5 thoughts on “Edible Offerings

  1. Sebastian Lokason says:

    *applause*

    I REALLY plan on making my rant about how not all polytheisms are the same and people need to stop applying one culture’s standards to another (like Hellenic standards applied to Norse paganism), sometime soon. It’s an important rant. I’m also glad it’s not just me observing this and screaming into the void.

    The assumptions made about poor people during that big Internet blowup two years ago were INFURIATING. I really hate it when people try to define groups they don’t belong to in general, but especially when people who have never actually been really poor have assumptions about what poor is.

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  2. I do what you do. Whenever I eat or drink, I always offer to share with Them. Sometimes I make things special for One, like steaks for Fenrir or ham for Freyr for dinner that I share with Them and the mortal family. Or special treats, like cakes or cookies. 🙂

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  3. […] One of the more problematic elements of said brouhaha was the way some folks went after poor people who talked about consuming offerings (and I was in a position two years ago where I was that poor) and, as Narda Fenrirsson put it in a post: […]

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