What do we give the Gods?
This is often a matter of confusion with new pagans, and a question I asked myself. I talked to different people about it and got a whole lot of suggestions, but no real guidelines. The most common answer was “whatever the deity likes that you want to call on. Another common mindset was that many pagans see the offering as “bait” for the deity they choose to work with. I didn’t like the mindset that brought on.
After Utiseta, or sitting out in the woods meditating, my mindset changed. I began to look on offerings as nothing more than hospitality. To call on the gods should be like calling on a friend, albeit a very important friend. If you were friends with the leader of your nation, would you expect them to come by every day? Absolutely not. So, to call on them should be important. Though like any good host, you should be prepared for guests.
Side note: interesting how this host/guest theme permeates the Havamal and the wisdom passed down from Odin.
An offering, in my opinion and practice, should be a hospitality gift. If you were to invite a friend over that just so happens to love flowers, herbal tea, fruit, & chocolate, you might have some of those things on hand to offer them if you invite them over. Decorate with flowers, have some tea ready, and maybe some fresh fruit. This would be a wonderful offering to Freyja.
And I don’t believe you should offer everything, all the time. The gods are busy. But always have something available just in case anyone comes to visit.
My outdoor horgr/alter often has some herb, fruit, vegetable, or other random item on it. This is my hospitality gift. I tend to keep my offerings focused on a few specific deities that I connect closer with. These offerings rarely last long and are taken by wildlife or washed away in a storm. I consider this acceptance.
In my practice, a sacrifice or blot is a little harder to let go of. A bundle of wildflowers picked on the way are nice, but hardly considered sacrifice. To continue with the host/guest theme, if an offering is a gift for casually stopping by (afternoon tea), a sacrifice is for when you NEED them, and is a much bigger deal (a feast).
In my practice, a sacrifice is typically an animal product like meat, eggs, or cheese; 2 different plant based foods like squash, tomatoes, beans, etc.; some form of drink like wine, mead, beer, or juice; and some fragrant herbal offering.
As a grower, I am sure to have an annual blot for Freyr, Freyja, Thor, and Sif. Though my horgr is almost always adorned with gifts for Freyja and Freyr year round because of their connection with nature and the natural processes associated with my small farm.
Another practice of mine is to have more than one horgr, or alter. I have my main horgr in a grove on my property as my main site for most offerings and every ceremonial sacrifice, but have smaller alters on tree stumps throughout my gardens. I often pick a few herbs or a vegetable to place atop these alters as a gift back to the earth.
All this being said, this is not a religion, belief, or practice with set doctrine. This is simply my practice and individual journey. Your methods will undoubtedly be different. But I hope this can be a simple guide or example of what works for me.
If you have and questions or comments, I will happily answer them.