Tag Archives: pagan

Offerings The Energy of Reciprocating

Offerings are often an integral part of practice for many Pagans (of any variety; witches, Wiccans and more -oh my! ) But is the practice leaving offerings something that is outdated and what are some of the reasons we might choose to do this? I stood over the stove this morning preparing an offering of gratitude when the inspiration for this article came to mind. In this, I’ll tell you how I feel about offerings and what I think about them as I’m sure there are varied opinions.

Offerings are an exchange of energy which may be literal or symbolic. When we make friends, we often first begin by exchanging names. Offerings can help us build relationships through the act of reciprocation. The power of offerings functions like that of magic in the sense that it is not really about the food, the art or whatever we are leaving. It reminds me of the old adage: It is the thought that counts. In this case, it is a bit more than that. It is the thought but it is the feeling, the gratitude, and intention.

Do the spirits really eat offerings? Again, sometimes things are taken quite literally which can be a mistake in acts that are often symbolic and heavily meaningful. It could be argued that spirits partake of the energy of the offering or in a literal sense, animals might eat whatever you leave out (consider that carefully.)

Why Do We Do it?

For many Pagans, the offering is truly about giving back. This doesn’t always take the form of food. An offering can be anything meaningful; a specially prepared dish or treat, a carefully composed piece of music or visual art -even dance can be considered an offering. When something fills me with joy and I feel so grateful there are no words, I use that energy to create an offering. I spend time and energy creating them and then offer that up with the feel-good energy in my spirit.

What Kind of Offering

Now this one is a biggie! I think what is chosen should, of course, be culturally appropriate to the deities/spirits you are choosing to work with. When I first started working with the ancestors I was unsure where to begin. I decided to begin by calling my mother on the phone and ask about the favorite things that some of the elder family members loved. I whipped up a list and made sure that I wanted to connect with these energies. Because let’s face it, not every ancestor is one you want to be working with. That being said, who you are working with might have a preference, ask them.  If you don’t know and have issues getting the answer, then offers something meaningful that you appreciate. In my home, we go through honey as fast as a bee can make it (tea problems lol). So, it isn’t unusual for me to feel value about honey and I symbolically associate it with peace, relaxation, joy, and family. I do think the bees would agree!

What Do We Do With Offerings?

The answer to this pondering lies in who you are and what you do. If you are a garden witch you may just compost your organics into a special heap as offerings to the land. It will quite literally give back fertility and nourishment. If you are a hedge witch that happens to love animals you may just spend time and energy creating an animal sanctuary in your backyard or volunteering at a local animal shelter. If the offering is art you may place it above a shrine or exhibit the pieces in a gallery where the beauty or love is projected to those who look upon them. Offerings may also be hung on special trees, buried in the ground or offered to the flames.  The possibilities are many.

The Gift of Giving

Some final thoughts concerning the meaning of offerings regard the message they send.  My daughter began helping me leave out offerings during the full moon by the time she was five.  She loved having a sweet piece of bread with honey and milk too and she knew she could look forward to getting a little for herself (not those on the offering plate of course!)  Leaving offerings presented a unique opportunity to gift my child with something important because the act of doing so became a living illustration to the younger generation about feeling and behaving in a mindset of gratitude and appreciation to all of the wonders around us.

The Mundagical

Aaron and I stood outside last night and gazed for a while at the recent planetary alignment. He pointed, “which one is that?” “That one is Mars.” “It looks like a tri-force.” We laughed. “You’re a geek, but that alignment explains the intensity of things lately,” I said, as smacked my ankles. Mosquitos nipped viciously at me and I scampered up the steps complaining about them before jumping into the cool sheets for a nice, relaxing sleep. This morning, Aaron’s curiosity got the best of him. I woke up seeing him swiping his phone screen while reading an article on the alignment. It spurred a conversation about whether or not there are meaning in such things.

My partner is a particularly rational individual. I often get the “eye” when I say something unusual, “superstitious” or mention things that could very easily be interpreted as coincidence. A bird breaks its neck on the window, sure it could be because there is a house there that got in the bird’s way. That is the practical answer. From my own perspective, it may be an ill omen of a death in the family. Mercury slams into retrograde and I’m a little cautious about signing contracts and making sure the car has been serviced, I shift awareness to the way I am communicating and double check that my emails went through. These behaviors may seem silly to some -even obsessive or as I’ve been described -a bit quirky.

Human beings are off-kilter. Attuning to natural cycles such as moon phases or seasons assist people to tune-in to natural rhythms. When we are connected and in sync, even the most mundane things have a meaning. When we are off balance it is difficult to make the connection. I’d used similar wording to explain this morning. Aaron looked over at me and smiled. “So, basically, regular things are Mundagical.” Amused, I wrapped my arms around him, “Exactly.”

When someone hears me talk about signs or omens, they may immediately think, this person is very superstitious -what hogwash! Often, I find it quite pointless to explain. This time, I thought, how can I explain this in a way that the most rational person may say Yes, that makes some amount of logical sense -if not in an illogical way. I’d like to share a few things that may illustrate what I mean.

Three Playing Birds
In 2002, while riding my bicycle, I passed a home where three cardinals sat together in a yard. My attention felt drawn to them and I recall thinking, I’ve never seen three all together that way. Two blocks later, at a completely different house, I saw the three cardinals again. I slowed my bike to the side of the road and watched them for a moment. They hopped around one another and pecked the ground. There was not a “why” or a “weird” or a need to analyze, I simply observed them. A bead of sweat trickled down my temple and I remembered the hot sun above me. Pushing forward on my bike, I was eagerly riding to a cool glass of water beckoning me from home. As I approached home, I nearly stopped in the middle of the road. There, on the corner of the lot, three cardinals danced around one another in play. I rounded the corner to the porch and noticed a white car. My mother had a visitor, an old friend we had not seen in several years.
Long before I knew what augury was, this experience had entered my life. Several years later, I’d find myself reading a passage in a book long forgotten that briefly mentions the behaviors of birds as a kind of divination. I came across a passage about cardinals representing the visit of an old friend. -How curious, I thought, it was exactly what had happened to me. I filed the memory away but pondered the chances of discovering text that correlated to my very experience.


Bad Luck and Black Cats

Chat dans un jardin

We’ve all heard it before: If a black cat crosses your path, you’ll have bad luck. I’ve never found this one to have relevance in my life. In fact, it is almost the opposite. I dreamt three people stood straight and tall in a line -the way kindergarten teachers wish their children would stand after school recess. Behind them, approached a strange, skinny, sick looking, white, mangy cat with large yellow eyes. Though I stood facing the three individuals, they could not see me but the cat’s eyes did not waver. It approached them and began weaving around them. In and out, in and out, the cat moved steady, stopped and glared at me. Then it made another weaving loop in the opposite direction with its tail swishing back and forth as though it were aggravated.

Most conclusions I’ve drawn in retrospect. Several months after this dream, I was arranging a small gathering of witches. Several of us had not seen one another in some time. Other individuals were brand new and wanted to meet witches in the local area. What a terrible but necessary disaster ensued when the several individuals in the group began verbally assaulting the other in a most victorian manner. It was not done with yelling or screaming but with rude and quaint insinuations, leaving a severe disequilibrium in the circle and several people choosing to walk away.

After the circle disbanded and damage control was complete, I discovered the “white cat.” Two women thought to keep the original group together it would be appropriate to cast a binding spell. They cast this spell upon themselves and one other member. The goal was to keep them together. However, they did this spell without the other person being aware of it. The result was complete dissension among them.

So what does this have to do with a sick kitty? The three individuals lined up in the dream were the same witches who’d cast a spell on one another. The cat was the binding spell. I too was a part of that circle, only I was not included in the binding spell -hence the cat did not weave its loops around me. The state of the cat indicated the state of their relationships and in my opinion the energy related to the binding spell.
Now, it would take several more “magical cat” dreams and encounters before the idea of sick cats or deformed cats of pale or unusual colors correlated these experiences with actual events beginning to manifest. That is when it hit me. This is the way superstitions were born and sometimes lasted for generations.

I do not find myself merely superstitious. I find that the superstitions have meat when personal experience has rooted them in some way. Therefore, I am not merely saying that I believe that if I see “this” then it means “this.” To the contrary, I am stating, this experience has connected with this type of event over and over again and has come to have predictive relevance due to repetition. These same observed patterns may or may not reoccur in families. When they stop being experienced, they become the watered-down beliefs that many people call superstition. Seemingly simple or even pointless happenings become little ways to see the web of connection or pathways for communication that give me better insight into situations that present themselves in this most curious, beautiful life. Embrace the mundagical.

Happy Harvest

The First Harvest

The garden is in full bloom with tomatoes, kale and a variety of herbs.  Trees are heavy with greenery and the Killdeer birds wake me early with their songs.  This morning, it was unusually cool as I sat on the back-porch watching the blue jays frolicking in the large oak tree who’s shade I’ve enjoyed all summer long.  The harvest can be felt approaching for those of us who work closely with the seasonal tides.  It can be seen as twilight approaches with more haste.

I’ve lived in the Heartland for most of my life, surrounded by farmers.  This time of year, the tractors are moving from field to field.  If your out early, you know that traffic jams are not the result of too many cars around here.  When I see these machines gilded with teeth and claw,  I think back to the days when having a garden in the yard was a necessity and people worked it with minimal tools and their bare hands.  A grateful feeling wells up in me concerning the comforts of life we enjoy and the privileges that are easily taken for granted.

While I do enjoy the small garden in my back yard, the immediate realization is that it is not necessity. I began a garden to learn a skill and to help me to connect to the Earth.  I decided right away not to use pesticides or even tillers.  It was me, my daughter, and my partner with rakes, hoes, shovels and a few other hand tools.  My body quickly learned how much work was involved doing things “the old fashioned way.”

Many people today live modern lives away from the toils living close to nature. Never-the -less, our lives are still dependent upon the seasonal harvests in one form or another.  How can we relate to the seasonal harvest beyond plants and soil?  What does the harvest mean to people today living in urban settings?

I like to begin with questions.  What work do you do?  What direction are you moving in?  What steps are you taking and What intention have you set?  Harvest are far more than planting seeds.  It is the promotion received after years of hard work, saving funds for investing in a future car, it is the student taking steps toward their dreams.  A harvest can be in the act of attempting to improve ourselves and our lives in many different facets.



Although I enjoy summer and I feel some sadness in its ending,  I eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Autumn and its shades.  The first harvest sets my mind into a reeling motion.  I begin to think about the eminent changes of weather, what costume my daughter and I might wear for Halloween, and how I’ll save food from the garden for the Winter season. As a child, I can recall that August was the month my mother took down her large picnic basket from the top of the refrigerator.  I’d watch as she packed it with sandwiches, fruit and other goodies. It was still warm enough to visit the lake and sit down at a table for a picnic lunch.

Questions I asked myself when attempting to relate to the harvests were questions like:  What is working in my life?  What do I need to let go of?   What do I need to prepare for the season ahead? During a harvest such as this, when the moon is waning, I review and reconsider relationships, work, projects, choices, and more.  If you happen to enjoy a system of divination, reading runes, cards or implementing other tools for guidance is a good idea.  This year, my focus for the harvest is the symbol of the sickle.  I am ready to cut out what does not serve me, to cleanse myself of “old baggage.”  The effort to cleanse is centered in the purpose to clarify intentions and create a more clear vision of what I am working towards in my own life.

In the past, I’ve worked with the season’s energy by baking bread with friends and family and then having it at dinner with everyone.  My daughter enjoys playing with salt dough to make creative harvest designs.  Working with flour is a way to  honor my ancestors, who once relied upon bread as a primary food for survival.

The harvest season is a wonderful time of year to consider the path we are currently on. It is a time to take stock and to enjoy time with those we love.  After the intensity of the summer sun fades, I will pull down my own picnic basket from the fridge, pack it with satisfying delights and a small offering for the land spirits. My family and I will drive to the park with filled with trees and a small pond.  We will play until we are tired before sitting down to a refreshing drink and outdoor meal.  The smiles of my family, cool shade and beauty will be only a few of the things to be grateful for as the sun sets on the Harvest day.  Discover the way you relate to the harvest, embrace the season and have a happy  celebration!


Striking Out As A Solitary

Some of us are meant to walk the path alone.  Two years ago I set off in a journey in the Mark Twain National Forest.  I didn’t hike alone.   I traveled with a man who lived near it for over seventeen years and was familiar with the land and the unusual trees that were bent over to mark passages to villages long gone.  He showed me these places and I left offerings at the places where spirit pulled at me.  After a mile and a half of walking, I came to a place that was perfect for me to sit, to listen and just breathe for a while.  I noticed I held my breath often.  Stress was an easy culprit to blame and a nagging feeling tugged at my chest for over two weeks before I’d made the decision to journey and invite the woods to speak to me.

My companion showed me a bleached spot on a tree where coyotes  were marking their territory during their rounds.  I saw where bears had been and where a stag had rubbed his horns on a tree.  He showed me indigo, wild carrot, black cohosh and wild geranium.  We talked about plants and other wild things. He had a love for the land that was deeply knowledgeable but it was not wisdom he shared with very many people.  He confessed that he feared it wouldn’t be appreciated.  I wrote down much of what he showed me on that journey. When I look through it, I think of him, I appreciate what he shared with me and the revelation it brought.

The forest speaks, ask those who know how to listen.  Upon returning home, there was a need to scour my body for those terrible vermin called ticks.  Four were promptly removed and disposed of.  I bathed in a cool shower and wrapped myself in a loose sarong.  That night, I dreamt of the forest, it was dark and deep.  There were eyes staring at me; too many to count.  Light broke over the horizon and out of the woods walked a bobcat.  She was so very beautiful.  I was both mesmerized and afraid of the power that lay behind the strong paws and teeth.  I looked to see that my own sleek gray cat was safe.  I watched her legs stride confidently and she lifted her head to turn towards me.

The fear faded when I locked eyes with her.  Warmth spread through my bones as my mind suddenly went quiet.  I felt for a moment I was looking directly at myself.  A knowing unfolded in that moment; a knowing that spoke of my need to have time alone, to reconnect, and a reminded that I didn’t have to feel lonely during these moments.

My eyes opened.  Awareness of darkness around me made me wonder if I’d been asleep only a short while.  I felt my hands rise and fall with my breath a few times before I flexed my ankles and placed my feet on the floor.  Warm slippers were a welcome comfort.  I stood and walked to the door.  The night was gone.  The break of dawn greeted me.   I closed my eyes and in that moment decided that I would never feel lonely again.