Beginners Everyday Magick Gods and Goddesses

Offerings to Gods and Ancestors: The Basics

What is the point in giving offerings to gods and ancestors? The tradition of giving offerings dates back to prehistoric times. We see this practice in the Bible and ancient holy texts, as well as through archaeology, cave paintings, etc. Our ancestors thought giving offerings to gods and goddesses would gain their favor. Today, people give offerings in a variety of places where religious rites are performed.

Should Pagans Give Regular Offerings to Gods and Ancestors?

As a pagan, you might wonder whether you should give offerings to gods and ancestors. This should actually be a part of your tradition on a regular basis. To give an offering to a god or ancestor is like making an exchange or a deal. “I’m giving you this in exchange for that.” On the contrast, you can also give an offering to thank the god or ancestor for their support. Think of it like this, if someone you loved gave you a thoughtful gift just to say thank you, how would you feel? Wouldn’t you be grateful and more wont to bestow gifts upon that person, too? It’s the same thing with offerings to gods and ancestors – think of them as gifts.

Pagan offerings can be anything from nature.

Offerings to gods can include anything of beauty from nature.

What Do I Offer My God or Goddess?

Many people get confused on what offerings to give their gods, goddesses, and ancestors. This isn’t difficult and should be a fun part of your pagan practice. The key to giving good offerings to gods is to simply be mindful of what you are offering. Some gods and goddesses have preferred offerings. Look up your god or goddess online + offerings and I’m sure you’ll find some great suggestions.

Ideas of offerings to gods and goddesses:

  • Incense – research what type of incense your god or goddess would like the most.
  • Bowl of herbs or flower petals – research what type of herb/flowers your god or goddess might like then leave it on your altar.
  • Foods – certain types of foods can be used as offerings to your gods. These can be left on your altar or set aside on your dinner table.
  • Drink – a bowl of water or some other form of beverage associated with your god can be left on your altar.
  • Candles – you can dedicate a certain candle’s flame to the energy of your god or goddess.
  • Song – sing a special song or play a special song dedicated in your god/goddess name.
  • Poetry – if you love to write, write a poem or story for your god or goddess
  • Stones – offerings to gods of stone and crystal are also appropriate. Some deities are linked to stones…if you’re unsure, look it up!

As you can see, there is no limit to what you can offer your god or goddess. First research what your god or goddess would prefer before giving an offering. But, if you don’t have a special kind of incense or you can’t afford that particular offering, give what you can. The gods aren’t jerks (mostly) and will understand if you give an offering with a pure heart. Keep in mind, don’t give offerings to gods that you wouldn’t enjoy receiving as a gift yourself!

Examples of Deities and Appropriate Offerings

Aphrodite
Osiris
Brigid
Cernunnos
Roses
Cedar
Red clover
Acorns
Perfume
Dates
Poetry
Coins
Myrtle
Myrh
Candles
Evergreens
 

What About Ancestor Offerings?

Ancestors are a bit different from the gods and goddesses as far as the types of offerings. Our ancestors make up our bloodline, so therefore we should put extra thought into the offerings to ancestors. If you have an ancestor altar or shrine of some kind, it’s best to leave their offerings on their altar. But always do what feels most appropriate to you.

What Did Your Ancestors Enjoy While Alive?

If you are giving an offering to an ancestor that you knew in life, think about what that person liked while they were alive. For example, maybe it was your grandfather and you know that he smoked cigars. You can offer a cigar or a bit of tobacco. Or maybe it was your great aunt and she loved tulips, you can offer a vase of tulips to her. Maybe your great grandmother loved caramel candies, leave a few of these on the altar for her. The options are endless and it is really about being mindful and thoughtful of what you are leaving as offerings. Artistic offerings are always appreciated by the ancestors: poetry, song, paintings, sketches, etc. I also believe when we put time and effort into our family tree, this is a form of offering as it brings your ancestors’ memories to life. 

Offerings to Ancient Ancestors

If you didn’t know the ancestor while they were alive, and let’s say you are giving an offering to your ancient ancestors, think about your ancestors’ heritage. Think about where they lived and what was common as far as foods back then. Perhaps a bowl of milk might be appropriate for those who lived in Europe in Medieval times. Or maybe leaving a bit of dried plant matter or herbs that were common to your ancient ancestors in those times. For example, red clover for Irish ancestors, Elder berries for English ancestors, etc. Learn more about ancient ancestors and how to connect with them here

Offerings to pagan gods should be separate from the ancestors' offerings.

Leave your offerings to gods and ancestors on separate altars.

How Do I Dispose of Used Offerings to Gods?

Many people want to know what they’re supposed to do with the offerings to gods once a sufficient time has passed. This is an easy enough question to answer. Do what you feel is best. However, it seems somewhat disrespectful to throw away certain things.

Here’s some tips on how to dispose of offerings in appropriate ways:

  • Food – if it was vegetable or fruit matter, throw it in the compost or throw it outside for the birds and wild animals to eat. The gods and ancestors would be appreciative of such a gesture.
  • Water/Wine/Liquid – can be poured as a libation outside on the ground. Don’t drink it after you’ve offered it.
  • Dried herbs and plant material – again, can be given back to nature or used in the compost.
  • Trinkets, jewelry, knick-knacks – you can keep these on your ancestors’ or gods’ altars and switch them out with the seasons (see section below on seasonal offerings).

Seasonal Pagan Offerings and Conclusion

You might find that as the seasons pass you will get the urge to change your altar decorations. This can also include seasonal offerings to the gods and ancestors. For instance, if the summer solstice is on its way, you might want to take down your Spring décor (eggs, rabbits, etc) to make room for summer décor. This can include switching out plants, flowers, bowls of dried herbs and stones all dedicated to the gods and ancestors.

Seasonal Offerings to Gods and Your Altar

Often when I clean and reorganize my altar, I am thinking of what the gods associated with the coming season would enjoy. This typically includes different stones, dried flower petals and herbs, and even boughs or branches of evergreen trees. Depending on what gods you work with or what branch of paganism you follow, this will influence how you set up your altar and whether or not you change your offerings and altar décor with the seasons.

Be Mindful and Experiment

The choice is ultimately up to you what you want to offer to your gods and ancestors. The key to giving the best offerings is to simply be mindful and intentional of what you are giving. You wouldn’t invite an honored guest over for dinner and throw out a bowl of two-day-old leftovers, would you? So treat your gods and ancestors with just as much respect, if not more. Think about what you are giving them and whether or not they would really enjoy it if they were sitting across from you at your dinner table. While I’m sure most of the gods and ancestors are just happy to be recognized after years of being ignored, we still want to be respectful, polite, and thoughtful.

Learn the basics of offerings to gods and ancestors.

More on Gods and Ancestors:

21 Comments

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  5. Hailey Davis

    March 25, 2020 at 12:02 am

    I move a lot because of school! also seasonal offerings sometimes. What do you do with the stuff after you take it off or have to move it? I dont wanna piss anyone off and I wanna be respectful I’m just not sure how yet!!

    1. admin

      March 26, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Offerings of food or beverage can be trashed or poured out onto the ground outside. Incense ashes can be saved in a jar and used to make black witches’ salt.

    2. Alaska

      August 17, 2020 at 12:39 am

      Is it okay to cover food offerings? And about how long should a food offering be left for them?

      1. admin

        August 17, 2020 at 10:52 am

        Food offerings should be left open to the air. I leave food offerings over night.

        1. Robbie Richardson

          November 19, 2021 at 9:43 pm

          I’m norse pagan and we are a feasting community that shares their spoils so I’ll put my offering out and when they gods are ready they share it with us… so yeah like some of the drinks and food that don’t spoil (loki loves candy) they’ll share their offerings with us… and yes they share because we’ll get an overwhelming sense of you gotta eat/drink this now

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